Restaurant Review: Lasan, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham. A sophisticated experience for Vegetarians.


It was roughly twelve years ago that I first entered Lasan’s doors. I was gobsmacked by the textures and flavours of this exotic place and of then head chefs Aktar Islam’s touch in creating such beauty on a plate. There was nothing like it in Birmingham.

Two years later i met Ruth and it soon became our go to place for great food, celebrations and an all round good night out ( who can forget one New Years Eve and scarf gate).

We took Ruth’s parents, friends, my Mum enjoyed a few meals there with me and anyone who cared to listen we insisted it was the best place to get s curry in birmingham.

Roll on a few more years and chef Aktar has now left to follow other exciting dreams. We are both a little older, with less money and less time to eat out, but hey, Lasan is still here. But wait, now with its refurbishment things have changed.

Launched In 2002, Lasan, based on James Street just off St Paul’s Square, has now experienced a £500.000 re dawn. Lighter, brighter, glistening in its re birth. The decor in the dining room is beautiful and comfortable. It’s A triumph and so much better than the dark and slightly dull, tired look of before. The bar area is also light with tables, bar stools and a cocktail menu. A place for a pre or post meal drink that makes a loud statement of intent when you walk into it on arrival.

The food has always been the thing with Lasan, but to me it had sadly dipped in its importance and felt as if it was trading on past awards and praise. Ruth and I hadn’t been for awhile, says it all really.

Now, in its reincarnation the vigour feels like its back. I feel an excitement return like the days of old. Hopes have stirred.

The Popadoms have always been some of the best in the city, but often the sauces have let them down. Not now, the pineapple one is one of the nicest small bowls of food you can taste anywhere, the mint sauce was superb. Popadoms, Crisp. They come with three Pani Puri, tiny morsels of chickpeas and tamarind to be eaten in one go. They are lovely.

My starter of Ananas Paneer, Pineapple infused Paneer, garlic and onion seeds, textures of beetroot highlighted the point to me where majestic cooking can make a simple sounding dish sing, lovely flavours, the Paneer perfectly cooked so that it soaked the delectable gentle pineapple, not sweet but holding a well balanced flavour. A stunning dish perfectly presented.

My main course Shakarkand Kofta, followed the same line, roasted sweet potato kofta roundels were gently simmered in a yoghurt and turmeric sauce. Again the execution of the dish showed the simple art (for some) of presenting simple ingredients and spices to perfection. The kofta roundels sparkled in their gently spiced sauce with overlapping flavours punching the taste buds with a soft delicacy that was quite enrapturing.

Two sides were chosen to have with the kofta, both complimented the main course perfectly. The Gobi Angara, tandoori roasted cauliflower sautéed with Nigella scented onion masala. A knock out side with a stunning complex earthy flavour.

The Nigiri Paneer, soft Paneer, slow cooked spinach and fenugreek nilgiri korma sauce which was also beautifully cooked and both sides made perfect additions to the kofta main course.

I’m overexcited by desert. The Beetroot Halwa, a clean precise plate of refreshment that engulfs and rewards with every slither. Caramelised nuts apples, pistachio ice cream create a delicious combination of flavours with the earthy Beets. Gentle notes of harmony with lovely contrasting textures, A charming pudding of classy and sophisticated pleasure.

Lasan’s food is ambitious, made to a higher standard than the norm, harmonious flavours, quality ingredients, perfectly cooked and spiced, in a polished, relaxing dining room that has a touch of luxury about it.

The attentive, well informed service simmers gently and is relaxed.

The vegetarian dishes sing, refined spiced perfectly each ingredient can be deciphered from the next.

For lovers of fine food and a dapper and quietly amazing food experience it’s comforting in my world that when all else in my life has changed in the last year beyond comprehension Lasan is now truly back in pole position of Birmingham’s Indian food scene and the world is better for it.

Thanks for reading,

Andy 😊

The beautiful recommended bottle of red wine enjoyed on the night. Sadly not on the menu.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<
Fulford and Lasan for the invite and Paul and fellow Brummie blogger Laura from Bite Our Brum for the company. All food and drink was complimentary.

All opinions and photos of the food are my own. The photos of the restaurant and bar are courtesy of Lasan with thanks.

For Laura's blog

https://t.co/ztvfni9Pvk

Lasan, 3-4 Dakota Buildings, James Street, off St Paul's Square, Birmingham B3 1SD.

https://lasan.co.uk/

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Review: Lasan Restaurant: Birmingham


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Lasan’s reputation has often in recent times proceeded it. Offering a fine dining like experience, it’s Indian dishes are refined, and woo the diner with their keen and exquisite seasoning and little touches of street food delights. It feels more like an experience than a general night out.

It’s those touches that have brought it accolades not only from Gordon Ramsey but The Sunday Times newspaper who have named it as one of Britain’s top 100 restaurants, the Good Food Guide and the Michelin Guide. A true list of quality.

Chef Aktar Islam and his team have consistently created on all my numerous visits (and there have been many from whence Lasan opened) Vegetarian dishes that demonstrate those techniques, textures and flavours that are a joy to discover and heavenly to taste.

On our mid week arrival Ruth and I decided to enjoy a Gin and Tonic in the smart bar area with the menus. A good thing to do when visiting Lasan.

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I discovered disappointingly a few weeks previous that Lasan doesn’t serve a vegetarian tasting menu-minus points- but only a non veggie one. Though this is sad, as other fine indian restaurants in London do its not the end of the world, as the menu for vegetarians is excellent, with plenty of choice and from previous experiences delightful.

Having taken our seats at our favourite mezzanine level table, good for people watching, we observed the restaurant filling up with large table bookings and couples. Excellent to see mid week.

I like the decor of Lasan, slightly modern, slightly Eastern influenced, a lovely wall mounted sitar and large ornate mirrors give the space a brightness, though with an intimate feel.

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We began our meal with a complimentary Indian Street Food morsel (not an amuse bouche, that’s French) called Panipuri which originates from the Magadha region of India.

A popular street food snack it consists of a round hollow puri, fried crisp and filled with a mixture of chaat masala, potato, onion and chick peas. To be taken in one mouthful, it was delicious, sweet, savoury, gently spiced. I love Indian street food. I could have quite happily eaten more.

Plus some quality crisp and flavoursome poppadoms and dips.

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For a starter Ruth and I chose to eat the vegetarian shared platter. A dish we’ve ordered before many times. The street food leanings of this dish is the main draw for me.

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It combines an assiette of two each of Caraway Spiced Paneer, Spinach and Potato tiki, onion and spinach palak pakora, South Indian potato cakes and a selection of well made dips.

A dish of differing and contrasting flavours and textures with vibrant touches. The potato cakes an all round taste sensation, the spinach and potato tiki, superb. All round for veggies this starter can’t be beaten and is my favourite. The only catch you have to find someone to share it with. Ruth as a meat eater loves it.

For my main course I ordered the veggie Chamon Punjab (paneer) with two vegetarian sides to share with Ruth-the Gobhi Angara and Ghar ke dhal, with a Garlic and Coriander naan and Pilau Rice accompany.

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The Chanon Punjab was delicious. Spiced with caraway seeds and scented with cloves, with a smooth spicy Kashmiri spinach and fenugreek gravy it was probably the best paneer I’ve tasted in Birmingham and only the one I ate at Michelin starred Benares in Mayfair London beats it. The flavours were deeply spiced and went perfectly with the two side dishes I ordered. A lovely vegetarian main dish.

The Gobhi Angara, is a North Indian delicacy. As lovers of cauliflower in curries both Ruth and had to choose this dish. The nigella scented masala with roasted cauliflower a gentle lighter contrast to the paneer punch of the main dish. More subtle in flavour, but delivering with aplomb.

The Ghar Ke Dhal offered once more a delicious contrast. The blend of lentils, simmered gently and spiced with green Cardamom and cassia bark had finely tempered flavours, with the tomato base and fresh herbs providing subtlety. A lovely dhal.

Ruth didn’t have space for a pudding so ordered some petit fours for her coffee. Disappointingly they proved to be sadly underwhelming which we thought would be homemade but wasn’t. Not great, she felt and for £2.50 very expensive. Why not a plate of traditional Indian sweets or small Indian deserts instead. More authentically Indian please.

For pudding I ordered the superb Gulab Jamun Rabri.

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To describe: the Gulab jamun Rabri is a Holi festival recipe with cardamon. It can be defined as deep fried melt in the mouth dough balls which are coated in sugary rose water and cardamon, slightly warm. Gulab means rose in Hindi and Jamun is a South Asian fruit. An Indian version of doughnuts. Drizzled with rabri a form of sweetened reduced milk flavoured with nuts and spices.

It was a delicious melt in the mouth pudding. Creamy, nutty, lovely. Not heavy to eat, but light and perfect after the spice of the previous dishes.

Lasan do the traditional deserts well, more please.

Throughout the meal the service was impeccable, courteous, charming, they explained every dish enthusiastically and with knowledge but not overwhelming you with attention. The balance was as it should be.

With our food we also ordered two glasses of wine, Ruth had a white-a lovely Gewürztraminer and me a punchy Red Malbec, both complimented the spicy food well.

Plus to follow two brandies to follow our Americano coffee. (Ambre Pierre Ferrand cognac)

Lasan is the real deal for curry in Birmingham. More pricy than some, it’s certainly a splurge kind of place and why wouldn’t you. A treat to enjoy, overwhelm and dive into. The vegetarian dishes (as the non are, according to Ruth) are inspiring, and flavoursome.

There are more than enough vegetarian dishes to return to again and again, their can be no complaints.

The service, hospitality and the food is testament to the hard work that goes into making the Lasan experience whole and nearly complete, (veggie tasting menu, more indian puddings) please😊

one that ‘teases the senses and stirs the soul’.

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

0121 212 3664

http://www.lasan.co.uk

@lasan

@akrarislam

Facebook/Lasan-Restaurant

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We were invited as guests of Lasan Restaurant Group, we received part compensation for the bill the balance we paid ourselves. As always my opinions are honest and my own. No positive review was required though there is no doubt you couldn’t fail to be impressed. 

 My previous review of Lasan Restaurant last year. 

https://vegiefoodie.com/2014/06/03/lasan-restaurant-teasing-the-senses-review/



#TastyMorsel: The Eight Foot Grocer opens: A Feast of Veg in the Jewellery Quarter


If you are a vegetarian and you don’t eat or like fruit or vegetables, then maybe ask what’s the point. Veg are the kings of vegetarian and vegan living. All hail the veg 🙂

So in that respect any news that an Independent food grocer is opening in Birmingham is therefore greeted with the applause and plaudits it deserves.

That’s why I love the idea of The Eight Foot Grocer. i did wonder if the guy who owned it initially was a giant, that eating all those veg like your Mother told you to do had made him grow so much that he had turned into a fairy tale character, old Jack himself.

No in fact, his name is Chris James and his grocers is in the lovely Jewellery Quarter and is housed in a eight foot wide former loading bay near
St Paul’s Square.

Chris has turned a quirky venue into a new fruit and veg store selling exciting deli produce locally sourced where possible and all in a eight foot wide space. The store is in Caroline Street next to the Braderie Vintage shop and opposite The esteemed Bloc Hotel.

The shop is an eclectic mix of local art, and photography, and receives daily fresh bread deliveries from nearby Peel and Stone bakers and stocks such items as jams, marmalades, loaclly made Cufuffle preserves,
Kneals Chocolates, Pip’s Hot Sauce, pastas and olive oil.

It also serves porridge for breakfast, and sandwiches, salads, and cakes for lunch.

It’s a proper shop, independent and local and open from
8am-8pm Monday-Saturday.

The Eight Foot Grocer
13-15 Caroline Street
off St Paul’s Square
Jewellery Quarter
Birmingham
B3 1TR

@The8footgrocer

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#Coffeetime: Coffee Lounge, Wake up and smell the coffee


Coffee Lounge is a newish independent coffee shop located on Newhall Street in Birmingham City centre near St Paul’s Square.

It’s tucked a bit out of the way of the main drag of the city centre, but is well worth the walk.

It was in mid week, feeling quite stressed due to moving house that I decided to find some calm and enjoy the soothing harmony ‘s of lower Newhall street and the nearby St Paul’s Square.

On entering Coffee Lounge I found a laid back and contemporary coffee shop that was quite quiet and had the peace and serenity that I required to read and relax.

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Coffee Lounge has a good mix of sofas and table seating and bar stools that should suit all tastes and customers. Though it is apparent that at certain times of the day it caters for the local business sector, it’s was also popular with families and customers eating afternoon tea and stopping off after touring the Jewellery Quarter.

The decor is modern, light with a good purple and white colour scheme that is cosy whilst been spacious. It’s a relaxed space, good for work, good for catching up with friends and good for reading.

It’s not crammed full of tables so it feels a place whereby you don’t feel rushed to leave. You can take your time and relax. Perfect😊

My flat white was good, well made, a good coffee flavour and though not the best in the city it came with a nice biscuit that is quite rare to find generally in coffee houses in Birmingham. Very welcome as I didn’t feel like any cake or sandwiches, well not on this occasion.

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The food on offer last looks good though, from cakes, pastries, sandwiches, afternoon tea, breakfasts such as full English, and burgers, soup and jacket potatoes, it is quite a lengthy list.

Charmain and Daphne are the owners, the service is friendly, and they have created a fun, modern and relaxed place to while away time and in my case chill for awhile.

As an independent coffee shop it’s a nice addition to the growing Birmingham scene, and has a different feel to the ones in the main part of the city.

This is good and I recommend the informality and charm this brings us coffee drinkers.

The Coffee Lounge is a place to return to, and for me to eat in and read or write.

A good detour with a nice vibe.

I used my Independent Birmingham card to obtain 10% off my drink. You can also gain 20% off afternoon tea for two people with the IB card. See website below if you wish to purchase one or two.

Twitter: @cdlounge
http://www.facebook.com/cdlounge

http://www.independent-Birmingham.co.uk

Coffee Lounge,
101 Newhall Street
Brindley House
Birmingham
B3 1LL

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Thanks for reading.

Has anyone been to the Coffee Lounge?

Please feel free to leave a comment underneath or via Twitter @andydhare

JEWELLERY QUARTER MARKET 14TH AUGUST ST.PAUL’S 4-9PM


Event details:

Date: 14th August 2014
Time: 4-9pm

Event Location:

St Paul’s Square
Birmingham
B3 1QU

http://www.24carrots.org.uk
@24carrots
http://www.facebook.com/24carrotsmarket

http://www.jewelleryquarter.net
Twitter: @MyJQ

In the beautiful surroundings of St Paul’s Square every Easter, summer and Christmas 24 Carrots organise a food and crafts festival comprising of local food and arts and craft producers and traders.

This week sees the Summer festival take place on Thursday 14th August between 4-9pm.

It will be just the occasion to grab a bite to eat and browse the stalls in beautiful surroundings.

There are always superb vegetarian and vegan options including The Vegan Grindhouse for vegan burgers and hot dogs and Italian slow food principled Squisito Deli.

St Paul’s Square is at the heart of the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham near the city centre.

The stalls will range from hot and cold food and handmade gifts, real ale and chocolates to coffee.

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The good stalls confirmed so far with some superb vegetarian options are:

-Afia’s Samona Shop: Delicious Indian food.

-Beans and leaves: speciality coffee and tea

-Cutfutile: conserves and chutneys

-Pips Hot Sauce:) spicy hot chilli sauces

– Squisito Deli- Italian deli and food

-The Bean Stall: great coffee

-The Vegan Grind House: vegan street food 🙂 and snacks brought to you by vegan Vox.

– TwoTowers Brewery: local ale

-More Cocoa- chocolates

-Peel and Stone: bakery in Jewellery Quarter

-Mrs Milk Cakes- cakes and bakes.

The Summer Market is organised by the Jewellery Quarter Neighbourhood forum
http://www.jqnf.org.uk

It should be a lovely evening, and is always a good occasion. There will be more vendors added in sure.

See website, twitter and Facebook for updates.

If anyone has any comments on the JQ summer market or knows of any other food based stalls please let me know and I will add them to the list.

For food and creative things check out the summer market at St Paul’s Square.

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Lasan Restaurant-teasing the senses-review


Let’s get this out of the way from the begining 🙂 I think Lasan is one of the best restaurants in Birmingham. I have been there many times over the years since it opened and I think it is one of the best places for vegetarians to eat in and around Birmingham City Centre.

Lasan is located in the Jewellery Quarter area of the city just off St Paul’s Square. It is in a tidy location, one that is smart and discerning, with many good eats and drinks.

Inside Lasan is smart (again), with a contemporary style and old world charm that feels comfortable and spacious, with its ornate mirrors and its F Word trophy 🙂 It feels busy, it feels popular, the food aromas are good, it ‘teases the senses and stirs the soul’. I like it. I really do 🙂

Lasan restaurant has won numerous awards winning Gordon Ramsay’s the F Word a few years ago. Chef Director Aktar Islam has graced our TV screens on the Great British Menu with aplomb cementing his and Lasan’s reputation as a culinary go to destinaion.

My wife Ruth and I were visiting to celebrate our Wedding Anniversary, its a special place for us, one of the first places we went together, its friendly charm and service along with the glorious food makes us feel that its a restaurant deserving of a celebration.

So to the food.

There are many good vegetarian options on the menu. Ruth and I decided to share a vegetarian platter for two which includes a assiette of traditional vegetarian bites, caraway spiced paneer, which is a subtle blend of mild cheese and tasty spices that coated enhances the flavour, spinich and potato tiki, onion and palak pakora,, south indian potato cakes and sweetcorn and onion bhonda, all served with a tamarind and mint sauce. It is superb, the flavours and variations of scents are magnificent. It is without doubt the dish to have for vegetarians for the full flavour of Lasan. For me the Panner is perfect, the best I have had anywhere, and the potato cakes an all round taste sensation.

To follow (Ruth ate non veggie, because she is) 🙂 I ate the sweet potato kofta, a particular favourite. This is sweet potato roundels flavoured with crusted corriander and cumin seeds, rolled in toasted cashew crumbs resting in a rich onion and tomato sauce. This main course is superb. The rich tomato and onion sauce is subtly creamy, its spice resting around the sweet potato with a punch that is not to overpowering but richly compliments the toasted cashews and onions of the kofta. A taste sensation that when accompanied by one of the many side dishes that are all vegetarian makes for a hearty main course with many tempting flavours.

On this occasion I chose the Gobhi Angara, a tandori roasted cauliflower which is coated in a beautifully scented onion masala. A lovely dish, that compliments the silky rich tomato sauce of the kofta perfectly.

There are many good veggie options on the menu.

We ordered two puddings to follow. Ruth ordered the spiced apple macaroon, which was a warm cinamon scented apple macaroon that she said was delicious. A good flavour of spiced apple against a well made macaroon. Superb.

I ordered a the Gajar halver Samosa, which was a sweet carrot and ground pudding with pistachio in a traditional samosa pastry, served with kulfi. It was lovely. The pastry was delicious, not too thick, the cinamon gave it a subtle flavour that proved to be a superb surprise, and a good desert to order if you have the room. Well we were celebrating 🙂

The service throughout was friendly, and as always with Lasan is spot on.

The lasting impression of Lasan Restaurant is one of confidence. A confidence in their dishes, their flavours and their hospitality. Those are all the things to applaud with Lasan, and the feeling you have the diner when you leave is when can I return.

This is a testament to the hard work that goes into making the Lasan experience whole and complete.

One that teases the senses and stirs the soul.

Thanks Lasan for that last line 🙂

Disclosure: we paid for our meal and all the opinions are honest and my own,

Lasan Restaurant

3,4 Dakota Buildings

James Street

St Paul’s Square

Birmingham

B3 1SD

0121 212 3664

http://www.lasan.co.uk

@lasan

@aktarislam

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Great British Menu Finals week. Go Aktar!


If like me you have been following the Great British Menu on BBC 2 in recent weeks, you will know that the finals of the competition for 2014  are starting on Monday 2nd June and continuing all week until Friday 6th June when the banquet will be held.

Birmingham’s own Aktar Islam, Chef Director of acclaimed Lasan Restaurant in Birmingham’s St Paul’s Square area (apt) is competing against 7 other chefs. Only 4 of them will get the honour to go to St Paul’s Cathedral to cook a very special banquet to honour the men and women who gave so much for our country. The banquet itself will be televised on Friday 6th June, the 70th Anniversary of D Day.

I have always loved Aktar’s food and Lasan restaurant is one of the jewels in Birmingham’s fine food scene. As a veggie I have enjoyed some superb food over the years. See my review to come shortly of Lasan Restaurant.

On watching the Central region’s heat I loved and admired Aktar’s desert choice, (always a good section of the programme for veggies) called ‘Victory is Sweet’ which proved sweet for the judges in the heat. Aktar’s take on the queen of puddings featured  a Winston Churchill cigar filled with ganache, plus crumble, meringue, a quinelle of raspberry sorbet and spun sugar crowns. The judges said it was ‘the perfect pudding’ giving it a perfect score of 10 all round, making 40 points of sweet indulgence!. Fantastic!

The competition will be tough as there are some great chefs and competitors on show.

It should be a great week on the Great British Menu (GBM).

I wish Aktar a great week, we are rooting for you. Go Aktar! Go Birmingham!

 

Lasan Restaurant

3,4 Dakota Buildings

James Street

St Paul’s Square

Birmingham

West Midlands

B3 1SD

0121 212 3664

http://www.lasan.co.uk

@lasan

@aktarislam

@gbmofficial

@gbchefs

http://www.greatbritishchefs.com

 

 

Peel & Stone New bakery opening Jewellery Quarter


As revealed in the Birmingham Mail last Friday there is a new bakery opening in Birmingham. Which is very exciting!

Peel & Stone will be based on Water Street under the train arch near Snow Hill station in the city (near the Jewellery Quarter and St Paul’s Square). The bakery will provide bread, brioche, burger buns, and sourdough to the public and to resturants and outlets.

They will also have a fully transportable wood fired oven by Soul Food Project which will allow it to be taken into the community, for weddings and parties.

This Saturday 10th May 12pm-6pm Peel & Stone are holding an open day where fresh bread, Buns, Pastries and Doughnuts will be available.

For orders email, bakery@peelandstone.co.uk

http://www.peelandstone.co.uk

Twitter: @peelandstone

Watch Great British Menu tonight 6.30pm


Watch the Great British Menu tonight on BBC2 from 6.30 to see chef Aktar Islam fight it out in the Midlands Heat.

Lasan is one of my favourite restaurants and is superb for vegetarian flavours and the choice of dishes. Look out for my review in a couple of weeks.

Go chef! Watch for the whole of this week.

Www.lasan.co.uk