Having now been open over a year, Umami Indian Kitchen and Cocktail Bar has created a new menu for diners. Though I couldn’t make the official re-launch, I was invited down to try out the new food on offer, and see how the restaurant has settled in after its first year. After previously having had a great experience at Umami when it first opened, we certainly had our hopes up about what they could bring to the table, as it were, this time round. Read on to found out whether our second visit lived up to expectations!
The restaurant, just off Harborne High Street, has undergone a bit of a spruce-up, which was really nice to see. Gone is the rather odd wall mural, as the new decoration adds a bit more class to the dining area. The service was fantastic; our waiter looked after us brilliantly throughout the evening, checking we always had everything that we wanted, without being intrusive. Unfortunately the restaurant was extremely quiet, so the atmosphere wasn’t exactly buzzing, but I imagine it would be far better at the weekends.
The champagne cocktails were two-for-one on our visit, so of course we couldn’t say no. Umami certainly know how to do cocktails, and the selection of fizz-based drinks were notably creative and interesting. Jack opted for a Julep Royale, a mix of Jim Bean, fresh mint, sugar and champagne. Neither of us had tried whiskey with champagne before, but we were both pleasantly surprised, as it really worked. I ordered the Bombay Dreams, which was a delicious mix of honey and vanilla liqueurs, fresh lemon juice, pressed apples, vanilla infused sugar and champagne. This drink found the perfect balance between the refreshing fruits and the sweetness of the honey and vanilla – a real winner! At £6.25 each, these champange cocktails are very reasonable even without the two-for-one offer.
To start, Jack went for the chilli paneer wah wah. This decision was based on having had paneer at Umami previously, which to this day is still the best paneer either of us have ever had. This time it was just as delicious, but the chilli added a real kick that may be too much for some! Jack, however, adored it, as the paneer was succulent and juicy with a sticky glaze.
For my starter I oredered the masala mussels. These mussels were fantastically fresh tasting and packed with flavour, which was added to by the garlic, lime and coconut masala. This dish was fairly mild and a nice, light, way to start the meal. By the end, I was left with that severe disappointment that you feel when you realise all the shells are finally empty!
When we came to order our mains, we were really impressed with how many vegetarian dishes had been added on the new menu. Each dish had clearly had a lot of thought put into it, rather than just ‘vegetable’ versions of the meat dishes. Jack went for the tandoori soya tikka kadhai, an unusual dish of chargrilled soya chunks with bell peppers in a spicy masala sauce with ginger. This dish went down a treat, with the soya chunks working perfectly with the aromatic sauce. Jack also ordered a peshwari naan, which came as a very generous serving, and was beautifully sweet and full of flavour.
My main was the mohali malai kofta. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect with this dish as the description on the menu didn’t give a lot away (perhaps something that needs changing?). I was served a dish of large dumplings in a thick, creamy sauce, similar to korma. Fortunately, I’m not afraid of a bit of stodge, so I enjoyed the sweet, mild curry and the chewy cottage cheese dumplings, though even I couldn’t finish it. If you like your indulgent curries then you will definitely enjoy this dish, but it certainly isn’t for those looking for something a little lighter!
After our mains, we were unfortunately both far too full for dessert, so we decided to order a couple of mocktails as a sweet treat to end on. Jack ordered a mango mojito, as he’d been having a fair few of these recently and wanted to see how Umami’s would compare. I was assured that this particular drink stole first prize, as it was bursting with flavour and the ginger beer gave it a little kick. I went for the grape infusion, which was an interesting mix of fresh grapes, cinnamon syrup, raspberries, elderflower and ginger ale. This was a really refreshing mocktail, and it was nice to have grape as the star flavour for a change.
Overall, our second visit to Umami did not let us down, as we thoroughly enjoyed every mouthful. At Umami, the fantastic service and cocktails support the stars of the show – the innovative and delicious creations on the food menu. This delightful independent restaurant in the suburbs of Birmingham certainly doesn’t deserve to be as quiet as it was on our visit, so if you get the chance I really recommend a visit to Umami in Harborne – you won’t regret it! Thanks to everyone at Umami for having us, and happy first birthday!