It’s no secret that Indian restaurants are not hard to come by in Birmingham. In fact, if you’re after a cheap, cosy curry house, or a Friday night take-away, then you’re completely spoilt for choice. There are, however, a select few restaurants in Birmingham that go far beyond the basic (and quite British) classics that are common on most menus, and offer a dining experience that challenge any pre-conceptions of what ‘going for a curry’ involves. Itihaas, on Fleet Street, is one such restaurant, so when I was invited to a bloggers dinner to showcase their new menu, I was excited to see what they could pull out of the bag.
Upon arrival at Itihaas it was immediately clear that the restaurant is going for a luxurious, almost exclusive feel. We were greeted with a glass of bubbly and shown to the downstairs dining area, which looks out onto the canal. We then had a chance to mingle over an abundance of canapes and cocktails, which were brought round by very polite (and patient – we were taking a lot of photos!) servers. My favourite canape was the Samosa Channa Chaat, which, although difficult to eat delicately, was the perfect mix of spiced chickpeas and potatoes and cool minted yoghurt.
We were then treated to a selection of the new dishes on the menu. These included salmon roasted in a banana leaf, scallops, spiced lobster, and a couple of meat dishes. The lobster was certainly the star of the show, served in its shell but mixed with a rich, creamy sauce. Coming in at just under £30 however, it had to be something special. The salmon was also delicious; it had a melting texture and was clearly very fresh. The scallops were fine but a bit tasteless, and I wouldn’t recommend them if you’re visiting Itihaas. I also really enjoyed the pomegranate raita, which was the perfect cooling side dish for the spicy food, and had a definite home-made feel.
Next on our tables was a selection of desserts from the new menu. Most of your average curry houses are absolutely pants at desserts, so I’m always interested to see what the finer restaurants can offer. My favourite of these was the gulab jamun, which was doused in some kind of alcohol (of which variety I can’t remember, as by this point I’d already consumed a fair bit of the stuff!) and lit before us. The selection also included a creamed sponge pudding, a beautifully indulgent chai masala mousse and a brambley apple samosa which, at £7, we thought was a bit steep considering it was only slightly nicer than a McDonalds apple pie. Yes, I went there.
Alongside our food we were also served cocktails made with Polish Torunska vodka. Unfortunately, not one of the three cocktails I tried was to my taste, as they were all made with far too much sugar syrup – to the point where a couple tasted like children’s medicine. Apparently these recipes were created to compliment the food which we were enjoying, however, maybe it’s just me, but the last thing I want is a sickly sweet cocktail to sip with incredibly rich food.
Overall, I really enjoyed sampling the new menu at Itihaas. Though some of the dishes were hit and miss, there were some really outstanding options to balance this, such as the lobster and the salmon. I’m definitely looking forward to returning to Itihaas for a regular dining experience, as I think it would be perfect for a date night or special occasion meal. Thank you to Raj and everyone at Itihaas for having us all, I had a great time and will see you again soon!