mixing seasonal produce, delicate presentation and well selected flavours, lasan offers a fine dining experience of indian cuisine. along with a whole host of culinary accolades, birmingham's lasan is hailed as gordon ramsey's best indian restaurant. whether you're looking for light lunch with well paired wine or an indulgent seven course indian banquet, chef aktar and his team of welcoming staff bring a whole host of dishes inspired by indian street food right through to superior techniques worthy of those coveted stars.
whilst we waited for our starters, a complimentary classic mint, mango and lime chutney combination came out with some light and crispy poppadoms. alongside this was an indian street snack that i'd not tried before, light wheat puffs filled with tomato masala and eaten in one. crunchy and moreish, leaving my appetite well and truly whet.
to start, i'd chosen the konkan kekada and my boyfriend the white cabbage and lentil pakora. this translates as soft shell crab dipped in a crispy ajwain and kashmiri chilli batter accompanied by cucumber raitha and sour raw mango chutney. there were also devonshire crab, green pea and potato cakes dotted around the plate, making for an impressive starter in size, flavour and quality.
with the fresh, rich crab meat flavour and subtle harmonising flavours, you can see how this was inspired by the winning fish course on the bbc's great british menu. i only wish i'd got a better photograph. from just trying a tiny taste of sam's starter, i picked up on the warming cumin and fenugreek flavours coming through, contrasting with a spicy mango sauce.
for our second course i opted for the seabass fillet on slow cooked aubergine spiced with tumeric and green chilli, with a fenugreek, coconut and tamarind sauce, samphire, mooli and a fresh edible violet. the beautiful presentation was finished at the table with a pool of sauce poured into the fairytale like ring of florals by the server. upon tasting, the crispy skin was met with a fragrant sauce, peppery aubergine and crunchy mooli. a joy to eat, although i felt a little inconsistent in size since the starter seemed to be bigger.
still with this fantastic dish, i couldn't help being jealous of sam's elaichi beef, a winning main course from the final of gordon ramsey's f word. the naturally reared hereford beef from stokemarsh farm was served three ways; a blade braised overnight, marinated sirloin and a bone marrow pakora. again drizzled at the table with a black cardamom gravy, it's no surprise the beef fell apart to the touch of a fork. thoroughly enjoyed and barely shared.
to accompany, we shared steamed pilau rice, peshwari naan, kashiphal ki subzi and dhal makhni. the latter two were pumpkin cooked in homemade punjabi style masala, flavoured with fennel and fresh coriander, and a lentil dahl simmered overnight with garlic, tomato and kashmiri chilli.
well, i can see the chilli in the pumpkin masala photograph now, but i certainly didn't at the time. not long after that picture was taken, i delved in for a full spoonful including that tiny chilli. probably one of the hottest things i've ever eaten, it took a while for my palette to calm down and enjoy the rest of the accompaniment. just warning you too, in case you don't do well with heat.
the lentil dahl was warming has you'd expect, with a light texture and inviting aroma. we enjoyed the variety of side offerings, as well as good size portions. call me old fashioned, but i would have really liked to see a paneer dish on there, although i welcomed the alternative accompaniments.
the good side of full, i couldn't help but take a look at the dessert menu. toying with the idea of a refreshing lemon and cardamom posset, i couldn't help but order the pistachio kulfi. with the restaurant filling to the brim (especially for a wednesday night), the service slowed down and it did take a while for my dessert to get ordered or arrive. that said, it was worth the wait.
banished was the processed green triangle of ice cream, this was exquisitely presented with spun sugar, toasted pistachios and a scattering of cardamom. again, after many photography attempts accompanied by the fear of melting ice cream, i only wish i could've got a better photo. trust me, it's good.
throughout the evening, the staff were more than happy to talk through the origins of the dishes, give advice on accompaniments and top up our glasses. a leisurely fine dining experience of inspiring indian dishes, with knowledgeable and friendly staff. when i return, the elaichi beef is mine.
3-4 datoka buildings
st paul's square
note: i was invited for a complimentary meal for purposes of review. all opinions are honest and my own.