My commute to work is about 45 mins, and when you drive the same route twice a day for enough time you begin to notice even the tiniest detail and changes that occur! One particular commercial space in a small row of shops and restaurants in Streetly that I pass is now on it’s 3rd reincarnation in what seems like as many months, although its probably a little longer than this. The latest to occupy the space is Indian ‘fine dining’ restaurant Ganesha. We tried out the places there before (both Thai) and if I’m honest we weren’t keen on either so last Friday night decided to pop along and see if we thought that Ganesha would fair any better and stand the test of time.
It shows how much attention I pay when I’m wandering around Birmingham, as until the invite to this private dinner at Vivaanta popped into my inbox and I looked up where it was opening, I didn’t even realise that Kinnaree Thai, the former occupants of the large space on the corner or the canal opposite the Mailbox had closed down!
Vivaanta have really taken the space upmarket with their quest to fit into the saturated Indian dinging scene in Birmingham. Their unique selling point is their focus on seafood, with a separate menu dedicated to this alongside their A La Carte.
Now as usual at events such as this I’m not going to review the food in detail, I simply don’t think it fair to review a large group event where the kitchen is under pressure and the food is communal, but I will give you a little first look into what you could try whilst there.
We tried a taster selection of starters including Tandoor Salmon, Cod Pakora, Giner & Lime Mussels and Crab cakes, and then following that some extravagant dishes including Whole Grilled Seabass marinated in lime coriander and tumeric, Kingsize Freshwater Prawns in a garlic mustard marinade with a tomato and fenugreek sauce and a similar dish featuring Lobster tail. Meat dishes we tried included Lamb Gosht and Chicken Jeeri Methi.
Vivaanta has a lot of competition in Birmingham for excellent Indian food, form fine dining to the authentic Balti House, but I’m sure it will find its place. I’d like to head back and try it out properly, but in the meantime let me know if you head down and how you find it!
Disclosure: The food we tried at this event was free of charge.
I’m always a bit wary when I notice a restaurant uses a play on words for their name. So it’s taken a while to visit this Indian restaurant in Lichfield, named after the ever popular spice! Nevertheless, it came with a decent report from my parents, so it was about time to give it a go. It was pretty busy on the Friday evening we visited, service was ever so pleasant and professional, if a bit slow overall, especially when it came to paying the bill. We started (obviously) with some poppodoms and chutneys – decent and very edible, but I’ve had better versions.
Both our starters were pretty good – a Salmon Tikka for Lee and a King Prawn Puri for me. I really liked the presentation of my dish, the prawns were well cooked and the sauce really flavoursome. Lee also enjoyed the flavours of his salmon, but found it a little overcooked.
For mains we both chose off the Chefs Speical section of the menu. We shared a Chana Palak with Tandoori Chicken, and a Murg Nowabi. The prize for dish of the night went to the Chana Palak – the depth of flavour in this was fantastic. I also really enjoyed the big hit of mint in the Murg Nowabi dish, it reminded me of a tikka masala but much lighter. It was nice, but not great, I wouldn’t order this one again. A garlic and coriander naan was very well cooked also.
We found Qmin good overall, with a few little negatives here and there, but nothing that would spoil a meal. Worth a look if you’re in the area.
Disclosure: We paid in full for the meal
Love Pickle was founded in 2013 by Michael Sohel. After leaving behind a job in the City, his quest was to bring to market an old family recipe – a unique chilli and tomato pickle. This pickle won a Great Taste Award AND a National Chilli Award in its first year of trading. More recently the same team have bought Love Chutney to the range also – a premium tamarind chutney.
The company were kind enough to send me a jar of each to try out to see what I thought, following the launch of their Love Chutney.
The first thing to say is, I really like the design of the jars. Its bold and simple, but grabs the attention – certainly something I’d be drawn towards in a shop.
I first tried the Love Pickle – which comes in 5 ‘strengths’ from Mild to Super Hot with different coloured corresponding labels. I received the Extra Hot, which I think is one step down from the Super Hot. The love pickle is an ‘authentic Indian pickle’ made from ripe tomatoes, fresh chilli’s, garlic, ginger and a selection of spices. I usually avoid the ‘pickles’ when I go for an Indian, but if this was the one being served I would ask for more – it really was excellent.
The Love Chutney I must say was the one I was soon looking forward to trying as I have a mild addiction (who am I kidding? its a MAJOR addiction!) to tamarind at the moment. This chutney is made from tamarind and jaggery along with speical blend of spices. A divine smell hit me as I opened the lid and I couldn’t wait to try it. Again this was a delightful chutney – It would be great with cheese or to use as a glaze on meat as well as the more typical use as a dip or accompaniment to Indian foods.
Definetly a couple of condiments worth investing in, in my opinion. They are available from many independent stockists and some online retailers too – check out their website for stockists and more information!
Happy eating 🙂
Disclosure: I was sent a jar of pickle and chutney to try out free of charge. I was not required to write anything nice – and I’m a bit of a condiment fiend, and very picky, so you’d know if I didn’t like it.
Lasan, as I’ve told you before on the blog, is an excellent Indian Fine Dining Restaurant in Birminghams’ Jewellery Quarter. Amongst their accolades, they’ve won Gordon Ramsays ‘F Word – Best Local restaurant and Chef Aktar Islam has featured on the Great British Mneu on the BBC, and they’ve even been included in The Sunday Times Top 100 UK Restaurants. They are certainly a credit to the Birmingham Food Scene and we recently returned to try out their tasting menu. The interior of Lasan is modern and spacious, with a lovely mezzanine level as well. The decor is simple, but with a few nods to Indian culture, such as the small statues and a couple of Citars on the wall.
As always, the service in Lasan was second to none, you can certainly see they have focused on this, with a lot of emphasis on a fine dining style of service, such as the dishes being explained to you on arrival at the table, and the refilling of wine and water glasses when the levels are dwindling, and the staff have an extensive knowledge about the food and it’s origins. This was really interesting to us on this most recent visit, with Brajesh taking the time to explain each dish, where in India it originated and how it came about.
Lasan also do a wine pairing flight to go with their tasting menu, but the double whammy of bringing the car and it being a ‘school’ night meant we couldn’t indulge in this. I did however have a single glass of their prosecco, which was the matching drink for the Amuse and the first course. Our Amuse Bouche was a North Indian Broth of reduced lamb stock, Black Cardamom and Cream. This was delicious, and you could almost feel the restorative properties of the broth seeping into your system!
The first of the courses was a Smoked Duck Somosa, bound with Aubergine Caviar spiced with Ginger and Ground Raw Mango with a Sweet Tamarind Chutney and Cucumber. The tamarind chutney was the star of this dish, I would give my right arm for a jar of that stuff to have at home!
Next up was Soft Shell Crab dipped in Ajwain and Kashmiri Chilli Batter, a Devonshire Crab, Green Pea and Potato Cake with a Tomato and Sour Raw Mango Chutney. The batter on this was so crispy and light, and all the flavours were spot on, contrasting and complimenting each other really well.
After this followed a Tandoori King Prawn marinated in Mustard Tumeric and Lemon, served with Grapefruit, Orange and Fennel. The sharpness and bitterness of the grapefruit and orange really complimented the sweet flesh of the prawn, which was perfectly cooked. Even my non prawn loving husband really enjoyed this!
Our main fish course was a Pan Fried Seabass Fillet, on slow cooked Aubergine Spiced with Tumeric and Green Chilli, with a Fenugreek, Coconut and Tamarind Sauce. The Seabass was a perfectly cooked piece of fish with a lovely crisp skin. It was so beautifully presented, and the sauce that accompanied it was one of the most delicious things I have tasted in a long long time. They left a mini copper pan full of the sauce on the table, and it was all I could do not to drink the sauce straight from the pan!
Next was a speciality from Hyderabad – Mutton cooked slowly with pearly barley and lentils, finished with Ginger, Fried Onion and Lime. The presentation of this is a gorgeous copper pan was lovely. There was a great use of texture in this dish with little bits of crisp and crunch amongst amongst the soft meat and lentils.
Our last savoury course was a Slow Stewed Venison Haunch and Roasted Loin, Curried Pumpkin Pureé, Shallots, Wilted Chard and Okra with a Mughlai Style Pickling Gravy. Another really well rounded dish packed full of interesting flavours, and the pureé was outstanding.
Dessert was a Bombay Mess, a playful twist on the English Classic. This one consisted of Mango Mousee, Raspberry Sorbet, Berries, Mango, Meringue with a hint of Cardamom and Thai Basil. A lovely fresh way to end the meal.
I can honestly say we adored every bit of the tasting menu, and would thoroughly recommend it to others. It’s pretty well priced at £59.95pp with the win flight coming in at £24.95. A perfect idea for that special occasion, or just if you feel liking splashing out on some fantastic food. http://www.lasan.co.uk Disclosure: We were invited to Lasan to try their food complimentary, but we paid for our own drinks. As always all opinions are honest and our own.