We’d planned to have lunch here last year but illness prevented the trip to Birmingham. In fact, we’ve wanted to eat here ever since we saw Lasan featured as “best Indian restaurant” on Gordon Ramsay’s F-Word programme. Not that I would automatically give credence to that programme’s definition of “best” – I know the winner in one of the other categories and wouldn’t rate it anywhere near as “best” in its resident city, let alone the country. But Lasan was somewhere we knew we were going to have to try sometime.
It’s a short walk from the city centre to the Jewellery Quarter, where Aktar Islam has his very modern restaurant. It's about as far away as you can get from the “any protein with any sauce” high street curry house, both in the look of the room and the menu.
To start there was an onion and spinach pakora. Well seasoned, crisp and working well with the chutney. That was followed by an absolute knockout veggie main course – sweet potato koftas were spiced with coriander and cumin and then rolled in crushed cashews to give an interesting texture. They sat in a rich tomato and onion sauce.
It’s not often you see beef on the menu of a south asian restaurant but Lasan has it as a starter and a main. They make something of food provenance with the proteins, noting the beef is from Herefordshire. For the starter, it comes as burrah kebab – chunks of aged “oyster cut” (no idea what that is), marinaded in yoghurt, cumin and nutmeg and then cooked in the tandoor until medium rare. It came with a little salad and chutney and was delicious.
Lamb lababdar was a winning dish on the F-Word and I can see why. Presented in a very western style, there was a marinated chop, long cooked shoulder and a quenelle of paste made from lamb breast and lentils. “Lamb three ways”, as any western menu would have it. There was a little gravy decorating the plate but, instantly winning me over, a jug of much more was served separately. Yes, it looked western and it looked very elegant but there was no doubt where the flavours came from. This was a belter of a dish.
We shared a side order of gobi angara and I think both of us would have been more than happy if this had been our main course. The cauliflower is roasted in the tandoor and then dressed with a masala sauce spiked with onion and nigella. Rice and bread were as good as everything else.