Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Event: itihaas Birmingham Blogger Dinner

I'm a big fan of curry. Despite never having really enjoyed a curry until I discovered Brick Lane at uni, I've since made up for lost time.

I was invited to dine at Itihaas in Birmingham along with a host of bloggers a few weeks back. With an offer to taste the new menu and provide some feedback, I couldn't say no to the chance to try out a restaurant that I've walked past many times.

Itihaas is located in the Jewellery Quarter on the corner of Fleet Street and is one of the city's more established Indian restaurants. Promising "award winning cuisine inspired by the Mughul era, when dining was imperial and extravagant", there are lavish touches such as the 300 year old doors and 18th and 19th Century antiques.

Walking into the relaxing reception area, we made our way downstairs to the Maharaja Suite for a private dinner away from the main restaurant. Being downstairs, it was quite dark so I apologise for the photos in advance.

The room was pretty packed with bloggers and there were plenty of canapes making their way around, from smoked salmon and goats cheese samosas to tempura cod in paprika butter, lamb kofta, delhi paapri chaat and chicken tikka wraps.

Spiced mini potato cakes deconstructed and served with curried chickpeas, yoghurt and a mint tamarind chutney

Sliced Chicken Tikka served in a buttery naan bread wrap with a spicy mayonnaise sauce and a fresh green salad

Scottish smoked salmon enveloped with creamy goats cheese in a filo pastry casing

Tempura Cod in a Spiced Paprika Batter served with a Tomato Chilli Relish

The only gluten free option for me was the lamb meatballs but I enjoyed these, especially for the sweet flavour on the outside which worked well with the fresh coriander and earthy sesame seeds.

Spiced Minced Lamb Meatballs roasted with fresh mint and coriander, presented with toasted sesame seeds

Following a welcome from Raj and Tara, as well as an introduction to Torunksa Polish Vodka which we were able to try at the end, we sat down to a veritable feast.

The great thing about Indian food for me, is the fact that flour is rarely used in sauces. Granted, I usually have to sit the starters out, but for mains I am usually spoilt for choice.

We were treated to a total of eight dishes, sides and sauces which were:

Lobster Panchporan £29
Nalli Ghost off the Bone £18
Scallop and Prawn Masala £18
Roasted Salmon in a Banana Leaf £15
Butter Chicken on the Bone
Vegetable Pakistani Pulao
Garlic and Coriander Naans £3
Pomegranate Raita £4

These were presented in the middle of the table and we were able to help ourselves to the dishes.

The highlights for me were the lamb and chicken dishes. Both of these were full of flavour, not too spicy and perfectly cooked.

As for desserts, we were again spoilt for choice.

Chai Masala Mousse £8

Apple and Cinnamon Samosa  £6

Sambuca Flamed Gulab Jamun £4

Pomegranate and Pistachio Rasmalai £4.50

I tried a little of most of the desserts, with the exception of the Gulab Jamun and Rasmalai as these are not gluten free.

                                                                          Garam Gajar Halwa Tart £6

The team were even kind enough to bring out a Gajar Halwa for me as I was limited to just one gluten free dessert, the Chai Masala Mousse. I adore Gajar Halwa and the itihaas nutty interpretation of this dish was fabulous.

I also tried a little of the Torunska Vodka, which was exceptionally smooth!

The service we received on the night was exceptionally good. We never once wanted for a drink as we were constantly attended to and the team were all helpful and friendly.

In terms of asking about gluten free options, the waiter I spoke to was very helpful and knowledgeable about which dishes I could and couldn't eat.

The food was all tasty and well cooked, with plenty of sauce so definitely order sides such as rice and naan breads to accompany your dishes.

Some of the mains and desserts were a touch pricy, but if I were to come back then I would probably order some less extravagant options. It's always a pleasure to be given the opportunity to try some of the more high end options on the menu at blogger dinners.

A big thank you to itihaas and the team for inviting me!

*I was invited to dine as a guest of the restaurant.