I moved to the Midlands nearly 15 years ago now, where’s that time gone? I love that where live we’re within touching distance of some of the most heart swellingly beautiful countryside in the whole country (I’m biased) and in the opposite direction, we’re just a jump away from Birmingham City centre.
That adopted city of mine has been home to so much of my life. Office life and first dates, partying in sticky floored bars of Broad Street (oh to be 18) and seeing The Bullring open. The theatres and the afternoon teas, my beautiful Moor Street Station and the flourishing foodie scene. And the curries. Oh the curries.
Lasan is not another Birmingham curry house.
The morning of our visit, my father in law asked where Mr TT and I we were off to for our rare midweek day together. I tried to explain about Lasan and received a quizzical “curry in the middle of the day?” look in return. I love Birmingham’s Balti Triangle as much as anyone but Lasan is something really very different.
This is precision cooking and there’s not a Chicken Tikka Masala in sight.
We decided to make the most of our afternoon off together and opt for the lengthy tasting menu (him with accompanying wines).
The menu began with a lamb broth amuse bouche. Light but comfortingly meaty, it warmed and welcomed us as snow started to fall outside. I could’ve drunk bowls of the stuff. It was the sort of restorative broth you wish you had a long lost aunt to deliver to you when you’re ill.
This was followed by the tiniest samosa I ever did see. Filled with smoked duck and served with a tamarind chutney, it was crunchy, smokey, sweet and fresh all at once. A real treat and I wished there had been more, but of course we were in this menu for the long haul. No getting ahead of myself.
Next was a spiced, battered soft shell crab. It was served with a fragrant chutney that cut through what may have been a slightly greasy dish otherwise. Full of interesting textures, this was one of Mr TT’s favourites.
This was followed with a marinated king prawn served with (among other exciting things) grapefruit. I can’t stand grapefruit normally, why eat something that makes your ears sting and your mouth wince? But in this dish there was just enough for it to be magic. Something about that tartness with the prawn made this one of my favourite dishes from the whole menu.
The final fish course was a fillet of seabass with aubergine. This was the only course that I didn’t love. The seabass was a touch on the dry side, although it was just about rescued by a delicious coconut milk, tamarind sauce.
The next dish was haleem, a meat and lentil stew. It has a similar texture to dhal, soft, creamy, meltingly rich. The onions, lime and ginger on top made me want to rush home and recreate it.
The main course that followed was venison, some braised with pearl onions and a perfectly cooked loin. The pearl onions popped like sweeties in the slow cooked dish, balancing the earthy flavour of the game. It was served with rice and crisp, garlic studded naan that we mopped up the signature curry gravy with.
This was a stunning dish, so many elements on one plate, with so many flavours but somehow just sitting gently beside each other.
Maybe it was the wine or the slight awe of the food, but we became rather fascinated by the minuscule, shrunken, dehydrated flannels that arrived for us, with hot water poured on them to wake them up. Remember them from your childhood? Or is that just me, being a child of the 80s again?! Anyway, I must find some of those for the children, they would love them. A fun touch.
The final course was a kind of mango, raspberry Eton mess. This wasn’t the prettiest dish of the day by far but it was a gem. Perfect meringue, gentle spices and textures that were full of surprises. Absolutely delicious.
Our Lasan experience was superb. I have to say that I think this was partly down to the tasting menu being such a fantastic showcase for all that the restaurant offers.
My only negative comments about the whole experience are about the setting rather than the food. The restaurant was very cold. It was a quiet lunchtime, without too many bodies to warm the place up, but a bit more attention to the temperature would be welcome.
Finally, perhaps I’m terribly old fashioned and this is such a silly thing, and just my personal preference. I think white tablecloths are needed. For cooking of such high quality (and matching prices), the slightly cheap looking tables tops just don’t cut it for me.
Birmingham is full of amazing places to eat curry, but Lasan is a world apart. It’s such an experience, I’ve been day dreaming of it ever since and we’ll certainly be back next time Mr TT and I manage to find time for a sneaky lunch date (possibly 2020).
What’s the best curry you’ve ever eaten? And tell me.. What do you think, tablecloths – yay or nay?
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We were invited to dine as guests of Lasan, but as always all opinions are my own.