Whilst in Birmingham at a conference I delayed the trip back south so that I could have dinner at Lasan. This Indian restaurant that came to prominence by becoming The F Word's best local restaurant of 2009 which they are obviously proud of: as you walk through the door you almost stumble into the massive trophy!
The actual restaurant is contemporary wood, mirrors and creams. There are also a large number of intriguing architectural features with holes in the wall and many levels. We got there at 6pm and I expected to us to be the only one in there. I was mistaken there were two other parties in there with us and by about 7pm the place was full and buzzing. On to the food:
PoppadomsSurprisingly good poppadoms that were elevated above the normal fare. Great mango chutney which had a pleasant hint of chilli, probably the only time during the meal that the chilli heat was appropriate.
Mans Ke Shooley
Smoked lamb fillet marinated with hung yoghurt and mustard oil cooked in tandoor, served with salad and mint coriander sauceAs you can see, this place is going for high-end fine dining. The peppers were almost raw, I think if they had been char-grilled they would have added a lovely sweetness to the dish (the green peppers did nothing for it either). The spice of the marinade was over-powering the lamb fillet was simple over-whelmed. Amazingly it was also pretty tough definitely not what you expect from spring lamb!
Dum Ki Biryani
Goat meat and basmati rice cooked together in sealed pot with yoghurt and mint. Scented with cardamom, mace, and dum masala served with Lucknowi gravyThis was delicious. The goat was tender and flavoursome and the fragrant aroma that wafted from the biryani was mouth-watering. The flavour of the subtle spices was delicious. Then I put some of the Lucknowi gravy on my plate; it was the last thing I tasted. The chilli heat just ruined me. I had to eat almost a whole naan (I know, I know no-one has naan with a biryani: carb overload!) to return my mouth to a state where my taste buds actually worked again.
The extent to which chilli took over my mouth meant that I couldn't really taste J's Thengapal Duck, but she said it was excellent.
Lasan seems to be trying to hard. The first two pages of the menu are dedicated to the awards it has won, as if it doesn't believe it is a good restaurant and needs other people's praise to prove it to the customer. Also it's the first Indian restaurant that I've been to that gives no indication of the heat of the dishes. I know I'm not particularly chilli heat tolerant, but I didn't expect to get my head blown off.
I think I understand why this place had garnered so many plaudits. The restaurant experience is every good, but I feel like I was let down by the food. I'd need to go back and be much more wary of my menu choices before I could whole-heartedly recommend it.