Lasan will be no stranger to the sofa-loving foodnerd: since he opened it at the age of 22, head chef Aktar Islam has been a regular on Great British Menu, cooking at the final banquet, and Lasan has featured in the Sunday Times’ 100 UK’s Best and won Gordon Ramsay’s ‘F Word’ accolade for Best Local Restaurant.
Found in a quiet side street just off Birminghma’s Jewellery Quarter, Lasan is an elegant space- think bare wood, neutral shades- and service is impeccable throughout, and particularly considerate towards an overtired 3 year old.
Pre-starters of delicate little puri puffs come filled with chickpeas and diced tomato, and are laced with tamarind at the table; poppadoms come with smoky yoghurt, spicy-sweet mango and a sour lentil and tomato concoction.
Crisp pakoras with more tamarind- it’s impossible to have too much of that tang- and tomato lentils are good. Very good. But it’s the next dish which ensures Lasan will linger long in the mind.
Navrataani Lamb teams a cutlet of free range Wiltshire Downlands lamb with a gilouti patty. I’m told this translates as ‘so soft it melts in your mouth’, to which I can only reply it’s perfectly named. A lightly pickled red onion and green chutney provides a simple complementary dressing, but without dominating the superb flavour and texture of that meat.
This meat is sublime, with a seductive softness you only get with some substantial exposure to tenderising marinade and careful handling. It’s proof of some serious skill in that kitchen, which pretty much lets the meat do its thing without too much distraction with only a coriander dressing and tomato concasse. I’m reassured that my gamble of doubling up on lamb courses (there’s no finer meat for carrying spice, in my book) hasn’t been a miscalculation.
The prospect of basmati rice cooked in lamb stock sounds too good to ignore and seems designed to appeal to my hardwired inner glutton.
Bhuna lentils with a tranche of tandoori-roasted cauliflower is my wife’s main, and very good it is too, the fierce heat of the flames bringing out the nutty flavours of the vegetable. It’s the kind of meat-free course which could rival many more carnivorous options.
Breads are a highlight: never too doughy, puffed and scorched in all the right places. Thick sweetened butter chicken curry comes slightly adapted for a 3 year old’s spice threshold, which is a nice touch; Lasan is clearly ‘family friendly’ or whichever dread phrase people use these days.
My lamb main- Sikandhari Raan- comes highly recommended by our server and it’s soon easy to see why. It’s a triumph of a dish, a slow-braised shank of lamb served alongside its bone. With a squeeze of lime it sings, and the accompaniments of a raita and tempered cumin lentils are perfect partners.
It’s a ‘get stuck in’ kind of dish, this, as you seek to strip every last trace of tender flesh from the shank and chase those slippery, glossy scraps of bone marrow: in short, a barnstormer.
This was a thumpingly good meal, one to plaster a smile over your face and keep it there. Lasan clearly isn’t in your typical ‘Indian’ price range- meat mains tend to lurk in the twenties, with vegetarian options appreciably less- but it zips straight to the top of my ‘best posh Indian’ meals and it is easy to see why the place is at capacity at 6pm on a Thursday.
It’s not difficult to see why this kitchen has attracted those plaudits. If you needed another reason to visit Birmingham, this might just be it.
3-4, Dakota Buildings,
St Paul’s Square,
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This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.