Talk about famous Birmingham restaurants and bets are someone will mention Lasan pretty quickly. It’s not hard to see why, with it’s Indian fusion, fine dining cuisine and nationwide recognition from being voted Best Local restaurant by Gordon Ramsey’s F Word to inclusion on BBC’s Great British Menu and several British Curry Awards.
After enjoying food a few times as Lasan’s sister venues, Fiesta del Asado and Raja Monkey, I was keen to try Lasan for the first time and so my friend Ed and I ventured down to see what all the fuss was about. We had a look at the menu, but after hearing rave reviews about the tasting menu we decided to treat ourselves.
First up was an Amouse Bouche, an Indian broth of reduced lamb stock, black cardamom and cream with a sort of na’an breadstick on the side. This was deliciously creamy and certainly set me up for the next few courses. After that was a smoked duck samosa with sweet tamarind chutney and cucumber. Although tiny this was delicious and a little sweet, with perfectly cooked pastry and I’d certainly have been happy to eat this again. Our third dish was Kekda, soft shell crab dipped in ajwain and Kashmiri chilli batter which was inspired by the winning fish course on the BBC’s Great British Menu and so I had high hopes. It was nice and the crab was beautifully light and dainty, but if I’m honest I wanted a bit more spice.
Continuing the fish theme was Sarson ki Jhinga; a fresh water prawn marinated in mustard, turmeric and lemon, served with grapefruit, orange and fennel shoots. The prawn was lovely and meaty with the turmeric giving it a nice flavour without being overpowering. The accompanying salad garnish was also a lovely zingy contrast to the prawn and its marinade. The Nellore Chappa, a pan fried fillet of wild Cornish bass on slow cooked aubergine was equally delightful with a lovely crisp ship and flavoursome meat.
Until this point everything I’d eaten had been lovely, but a real standout dish for me was the Haleem; a speciality from Hyderabad of mutton cooked slowly with pearl barley and lentils, with fresh ginger, fried onions and lime. Named after the Persian for ‘patience’ because of time needed to cook it, this was a wonderful, complex mix of savoury mutton with a hint of heat from the ginger and a nice twist of citrus. I would go back for this dish alone.
The last savoury dish was Hiran Achari – slow braised haunch of venison and pearl onion bhuna and tandoori spiced loin of venison with Bengalo sauteed chard and okra bhajee and picked pumpkin puree served with Achaar gravy. Beautifully cooked with a lovely pink hue to the meat this was a close runner up for me in terms of favourite dishes. I’m not sure the dish really needed the rice and na’an bread, but I was pleased to see their inclusion and would certainly allay any fears someone might have of fine dining being tiny portions.
To finish the sweet course was Bombay Mess, a twist of the classic Eton Mess with mango mousse, raspberry sorbet, berries, mango, pineapple and meringue with a hint of cardamom and Thai basil. I much preferred this to Eaton Mess with its fresh flavours, contrasting textures and bright colours, it had a lovely simple playfulness to it and beautifully executed dessert.
By this point both Ed and I were pretty full, which is a bit of an unusual feeling after a fine dining menu. Each of the dishes had its own unique flavour and whilst the Haleem was a particularly favourite, I would struggle to pick one I didn’t like.
The tasting menu was a great introduction to the breadth and complexity of flavours in the dishes at Lasan. Having eaten there it’s easy to see why they’re rated so highly amongst Brummies and a host of celebrities, as well as chefs. I’m looking forward to returning and trying some dishes from their menu soon.
Disclosure: I was invited down to Lasan by the team to give my honest opinion on the food. A certain portion of the bill was deduced and the rest Ed and I paid for ourselves, although this didn’t mean I had to be nice about the food. Please note, that the photo of Hiran Achari also includes what is apparently becoming a sort of ‘photo-bombing’ of food blogging photography where your dinner guest partially ends up in the photo. Although Ed made me re-take this photo because he didn’t like the first one.