Experience: Lasan – Jewellery Quarter

Lasan is a well known name in the foodie scene of Birmingham. What many don’t seem to realise is how close it is to the City Centre.

Nestled just off St Paul’s Square, on James Street and a touch past the concrete collar which encircles the city, it feels like a million miles away from the bustle of the Bullring. There’s almost a country village feel to it…

A peek through the windows, feeling like Scrooge in ‘A Christmas Carol’, is a different story; the inside has been transformed into a light, airy space which a few press shots can show you much better than my camera can.

This was (shamefully) my first visit to Lasan, the jewel in the crown of the Lasan Group, having been founded in 2002. After their refurbishment is a new ethos: ‘True to India’. They’ve handpicked a range of dishes from all around the sub continent to cover all tastes, whilst giving each dish a homely feel. There’s also a decent sized space to have pre or post dinner drinks, with an extended bar area that has views into the main dining room.


My dining companions for the evening were the superlative Paul Fulford – food writer extraordinaire, and Alev Dervish, fellow MFDHA finalist and who blogs under Bella & Robot. Both were great company for an evening of food….and what a wonderful bit of food it was. After a Jaipur IPA from Thornbridge Brewery, it was time to settle down and choose from their Menu.

For starters I had Haleem on the recommendation from Mr Fulford.  A Hyderabadi mutton stew combination of slow-cooked pickled shallots, pearl barley, five varieties of lentils and crisp salt lamb, commonly found in Hyderabad and across the Middle East. This was a rich, hearty peppery dish perfect for a cold evening; the lentils, pearl barley and lamb slow cooked for multiple hours into a smooth experience.

Alev picked the Ananas Paneer as it suited her gluten free needs. This was a pineapple-infused paneer tikka, marinated in red bell pepper, garlic and onion seeds, with textures of sweet baby beetroot and pineapple chutney; it looked stunning.

For main I had a Punjabi Makhan Chicken, made from marinated chicken tikka slowly simmered in a creamy tomato kaju sauce, partnered with a plain naan. I have a real love for Chicken Tikka. There’s something about the seared meat cooked in a tandoor. When teamed with the velvety tomato and cashew sauce, it was a delight with a tangy hit, smoky meat and then the tinge of spices at the end of the palate. This is Chicken Tikka elevated to the next level. The naan, another tandoor classic, is the perfect compliment to the dish and was mainly tasked with mopping up that delicious sauce in between big bites of chicken.


My final dish of the evening was their selection of sorbet, in this case, raspberry paired with fresh fruit and ‘meringue wings’. This was a great palate cleanser after the richness of the starter and main. I did look at their wider range of desserts but there wasn’t much room to squeeze more in but that will have to wait for another time.

It was time to saunter off into the crisp autumnal air for a walk home. Both belly and eyes, full and content. A return visit is on the cards with Wifey in tow, as I’ve been remiss to treat her to a good curry for a long while…


When: 07/11/2017

Where:  Lasan, 3-4 Dakota Buildings, James Street, St Paul’s Square Birmingham, B3 1SD

Who: LasanLasan Group, Paul Fulford, Bella & Robot

Disclaimer: For this visit, I was a guest of Paul Fulford and Lasan who provided all food and drink. This provides no bias to the post. This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.



Open House at Itihaas

Birmingham is well known for a curry, being the inventors of the Balti. There is a growing trend, however, for a more sophisticated curry, away from the usual experience, for those with a slightly less ‘rustic’ palate.

In these restaurants, there is no short supply in Birmingham either with well known names such as Lasan, Pushkar and Asha’s, with Itihaas being one of the founding members of this group.

Itihaas is currently refreshing their menu and earlier in the month, I was invited to try it. The restaurant claims to offer an ‘authentic Royal Indian dining experience’ and ‘a culinary journey through the North of India with a couple of stops through Kenya and vibrant Mumbai’, and I curious to see what dishes were on the table.

The restaurant is just outside the city centre in the Jewellery Quarter, on the corner of Newhall Street and Fleet Street, a few minutes walk from Snow Hill railway station.


We started off with a welcome cocktail featuring Torunska vodka; one of the night’s special cocktails with the guys from Torunska showing off some creative Mixology.

We headed downstairs to the ‘Maharaja’ suite.  With its opulent interior and views over the canal, the decor certainly matched their concept of fine dining with garnishes of 18th and 19th century Indian artefacts. I also popped a quick sneaky peek behind the 300 year old Indian wooden doors into the Tiffin Room, which seats 12. It came complete with a bar, library and your very own dedicated butler if you choose to dine in there.

We were served a delicious range of canapés whilst a sizeable portion of Birmingham’s Food blogging community filtered in.  Some of the treats we tried included:

  • Tempura Cod in a Spiced Paprika Batter served with a Tomato Chilli Relish
  • Spiced Mini Potato cakes served with curried chickpeas, yoghurt & mint tamarind chutneys
  • Scottish Smoked Salmon with Goats Cheese in a filo pastry casing
  • Chicken Tikka in Naan wrap with spicy mayo and green salad
  • Minced Lamb Meatballs roasted with mint and coriander
  • Crispy Pastry topped with gram sev, onions, potato and pomegranate pearls

My favourites to try were the Tempura Cod and the Crispy Pastry Sev. The cod was very moreish, hot little battered parcels of delicate cod which matched well with the spicy relish.  My hand dipped into the basket as it went past on more than one occasion!  The crispy pastry was a new experience to me, topped with crunchy noodles made from a chickpea flour.  They added a really nice crunch to counterbalance the soft  onions and potato.

We had a quick chat from Raj, the Executive Chef of Itihaas, who explained how the new menu was to take us on a tour of the subcontinent and highlight the range of cuisine available. We were also introduced to Torunska vodka. Hailing from the birthplace of Copernicus, Toruń, it’s billed as one of Poland’s best kept secrets and as a vodka for whisky drinkers with a complex palate.

With that on to the mains, I was prepared!


To try, we had:

  • Lobster Panchporan – a whole lobster simmered with five spices in a creamed mustard powder
  • Nalli Gosht off the bone – lamb off the bone stewed in a hot masala gravy
  • Scallop & Prawn Masala – pan seared scallops and freshwater prawns cooked in a sauce tempered with mustard seeds
  • Roasted Salmon in a Banana Leaf – salmon fillets in a marinade, roasted in banana leaves.
  • Butter Chicken on the bone – chicken cooked on the bone & blended into a smoked tomato sauce with cream and yoghurt
  • Vegetable Pakistani Pulao – basmati rice cooked with spiced vegetables and saffron in a dum style
  • Pomegranate Raita – thick Greek yoghurt decorated with pomegranate pearls
  • Garlic & Coriander Naans – don’t think you need a description for this one!

The lobster was delicious; the meat had been removed from the shell, simmered in a delicious curried sauce, then returned to the shell for presentation. Not too spicy but flavourful, and it really enhanced the sweet lobster meat.

The salmon was also a great pleaser, cooked well and presented beautifully in the banana leaf. The butter chicken was also well cooked, with the rich creaminess as you’d expect.

I was, however, slightly disappointed in the Nalli Gosht.  The lamb had taken on a bit too much of a cinnamon flavour for my liking.

And finally, after another quick cocktail break, we sampled some desserts for what little room was left in our bellies.

We tried:

  • Sambuca flamed Gulab Jamun – golden brown milk dumplings doused in rose water sugar syrup and flambéed in Sambuca
  • Chai Masala Mousse – milk mousse infused with cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg
  • Apple & Cinnamon Samosa  – apple compote infused with cinnamon enveloped in pastry
  • Pomegranate & Pistachio Rasmalai – a creamed sponge pudding in a rich milk pistachio base, sprinkled with pomegranate.

I was a big fan of the Gulab Jamun, already one of my favourite desserts, which I had became enamoured with when working in Mumbai for a short while. The sambuca added a really nice aniseed element to the dish.

The Apple Samosas were like miniature apple turnovers, dusted with icing sugar and paired with some of the Pistachio and Mango Kulfi ice cream.  I thought they would have benefited more from a sweet dipping sauce or chutney to balance the sweet-sour fruit.

I will definitely be returning to Itihaas, and it was nice to see a modern twist on a menu in an opulent setting.

Disclaimer: For this event, I was a guest of Itihaas and East Village PR who provided all food and drinks; this provides no bias to the post. This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.

When: 02/08/2016

Where: Itihaas, 18 Fleet Street, Birmingham B3 1JL

Who:  Itihaas, Torunska


Truffle Hunting in The Chocolate Quarter

The Jewellery Quarter is having a bit of a renaissance recently, attracting new and creative independent stores.  One of the most recent editions is a new chocolaterie in the form of The Chocolate Quarter.

On #StarWarsDay (aka May the 4th for non-geeks), I had the hardest job in blogging to go and attend a chocolate making class and investigate this little (chocolate) gem courtesy of The Chocolate Quarter team, Kembes, Maninder and Jay, and Susie of Susie81Speaks.

The shop is artfully simple in its decoration to show their wares and gift packs. They’ve made use of the previous occupiers map of Birmingham to great effect showing off happy local customers.


I could even find BG towers on the map!

To start off, we had a cup of Aztec drinking chocolate, made traditionally with just chocolate and a touch of water. It was rich, smooth and unctuous and there was a range of spices, including chilli, cinnamon, nutmeg and inger, to spice up your drink.  I picked the ginger, which worked really well.

Following our drink, we had a quick talk about the history of chocolate and how to taste chocolate correctly with samples of three different dark chocolate from Madagascar, Tanzania and Ecuador. All were high values of cocoa mass and all different in taste and texture. The Madagascan is grown in a humid and acidic soil but with a very strong citrusy taste.  The Ecuadorian variety  came from close to the Equator having a longer day, giving it a much smoother taste.  The Tanzanian climate was probably the most closest to what you’d expect a dark chocolate to taste like. We also learnt white chocolate was not a true chocolates (gasp!) due to its lack of any cocoa mass.

Jay took us through making our own chocolate truffles and how to fill our truffles with caramel, then tempering the chocolate from 45 to 33 degrees for sealing and coating our filled truffles. The tempering was the hard part, requiring constant stirring and the addition of beta crystals to give the chocolate that firmness and shine.  The bloom most people see in chocolate is where the beta prime crystal melts away, allowing the fat to come to the surface and discolour the chocolate.


Then it was our turn. We had 4 little hollow spheres to fill and coat…

I tried my best but still managed to get messy! After filling, we dipped them in the molten tempered chocolate and then rolled them in our choice of coverings. I went for icing sugar, cocoa powder, coconut and one just chocolate.


We went through a few flavours created especially for Father’s Day gifts, which we tasted and reviewed.

The three flavours were Stout, made with Jewellery Quarter’s own Jewellery Porter from Two Towers Brewery; Smoked Bacon made with real salty bacon and a dash of Laphroaig to give it a smoky kick; the final was Whisky made with Hard to Find Whisky of choice Glen Garioch. My favourite was the Stout which was rich and creamy. Whisky was very whisky and the Smoked Bacon was a touch too smoky for me. There was enough variety for everyone and I’m sure there’ll be some very happy dads come Father’s Day!

To finish off proceedings, we had a very tasty chocolate fondue with a selection of things to dip in, my favourite being  honeycomb. After that, I waddled home very slowly and let the choco-coma seep in!

Chocolate Quarter also offer private events and parties, including those after a delicious stag or hen do twist, and can even create bespoke chocolates! You can also buy delicious Chocolate Quarter delights online here!

Disclaimer: For this event, I was a guest of the Chocolate Quarter who provided all food and drinks; this provides no bias to the post. This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.

When: 04/05/2016

Where:  The Chocolate Quarter, 1A Spencer Street,Birmingham, Jewellery Quarter, B18 6DD

Who: The Chocolate QuarterSusie81Speaks


Urbane Caffeine and Consumption at Urban Coffee Company

To bookend a weekend of relaxation, Wifey and I did away with cornflakes and instant caffeine in exchange for a stroll down to the Jewellery Quarter and a trip to Urban Coffee Company, a local coffee chain with branches in Birmingham City Centre, Jewellery Quarter, Coventry (and briefly Harborne). The Jewellery Quarter branch in the Big Peg is the one we usually gravitate towards as it’s located a short trip down the canal from BG Towers.

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