Itihaas has a reputation as one of Birmingham's best Indian restaurants. Situated on Fleet Street, right in between the city centre and the Jewellery Quarter, the restaurant has a prime corner position.
Although I have been here once before, and still lament the loss of Itihaas's Selfridges Birmingham outpost, I was invited back to try out the new menu with a host of Birmingham Bloggers for a feast fit for royalty.
We were lucky enough to visit on a fairly sunny day, and we met at the reception where there are plenty of plush leather sofas to lounge on and drinks ready and waiting to be served at the bar. I was taken by this giant bottle of Chivas Regal, and realised quite quickly that they have a plentiful selection of whisky available.
Moving downstairs, which happens to be where the private dining area is located, we sat in the main restaurant banqueting style. Before we did so however, we were treated to plenty of canapes such as Lamb Parantha, Alloo Tikki Channa Chaat and Salmon and Goat's Cheese Samosa. Unfortunately, none of these options were gluten free, but the staff were incredibly kind in making me my very own canapes that were gluten free! I really didn't expect the team to go to so much trouble for nibbles, especially since we were about to sit down and eat, which just goes to show how excellent the staff and service is at Itihaas.
We were also able to sample a delicious grape based cocktail.
Onto the meal, we took our seats and were regaled with stories of rum and brandy by Yves, the drinks ambassador.
The Soft Shell Crab Pakora appetiser was quickly brought out, but sadly was not gluten free. Instead, I was served Chicken Tikka and Lamb Chops, a meat lovers paradise! The chicken pieces were huge, nicely browned at the edges, soft and juicy, and served with a lovely Raita. The Lamb was again, charred at the edges to bring out the flavour, and still soft inside. This was served with our first drink, Bonpland Rouge VSOP Rum over ice.
Next, onto the actual starter. For everyone else, this was a Reshmi Lamb Tikka, Chargrilled Salmon Fillet and Salmon and Seabass Fish Cake Tikki. For me however this was a Chargrilled Butterflied King Prawn, Chargrilled Paneer and Lamb Sheesh. Again, the Prawn was a huge size, as were all of the portions! The flavours were all chargrilled, which I prefer as it adds some depth, and the lamb was again, soft and tender. The flavours were spicier than I was anticipating, but not enough to overpower.
The main course was served at the table, with plates and plates of food arriving at the same time. First up, the Chicken Biryani, served with a choice of three dips, raita, chutney and a onion and tomato raita, ceremonially served in a silver pan. Next up was the Jaipur Lamb Tikka, Methi Murgh Mirch, Goan Lobster Curry and Tandoori Soya Tikka Masala. This was all served with Truffle Oil and Poppy Seed Naan and Chilli Naan.
Again, my gluten free meal was slightly different, with a different Chicken Biryani brought out to the table along with a chicken curry and lamb curry. The cocktail of choice that was served alongside the main course was an Old Fashioned JM style using JM VSOP rum and JM Shrubb orange liqueur. This was delicious and I'd definitely order it again.
Of all the gluten free dishes, the Biryani was my absolute favourite. I could eat this every day, it's not too heavy, but full of flavour and a mix of meat and rice, making it a whole meal in one dish.
Finally, it was time for dessert. For the others, this was a choice of a very unusual Gajar Halwa Cheese Cake or Mango Colada Slice. For me, this was my absolute favourite Indian dessert, a classic Gajar Halwa. Nobody else seems to like this dessert, but for me, it's just the right amount of sweet with a great texture that's not too smooth and not too crunchy.
Overall, I was impressed with everything from the food to the service at Itihaas. The hospitality here is always spot on, with a warm welcome and a "nothing it too difficult" attitude that makes dining a delight, especially if you have dietary requirements.
Would I come back again? Absolutely! I'd come back for my two favourite dishes, a Biryani and Gajar Halwa dessert, washed down with a cheeky whisky.
*With thanks to Itihaas restaurant and Delicious PR for the complimentary meal.