I used to live almost directly above Lasan. It was the ultimate temptation; my arrival home from work each day coincided perfectly with the start of dinner service. Exotic scents wafted out of the restaurant as I lugged my bag upstairs, causing numerous tantrums as I peered into the fridge and realised dinner would be nowhere near that enjoyed by those seated downstairs.
I’ve moved on since then, and so has Lasan; although you’ll still find it tucked just off Saint Paul’s Square, inside it’s been transformed. Gone is the dark, serious interior, replaced by a light and airy space full of quirky features and ripe for filling with a buzzy crowd. There is a newly formed bar area which gives much more versatility; it’s now as much a place for after work cocktails as for a special meal.
The menu has been revamped too. Some of the old favourites are there, but they’ve been joined by dishes with a bit more heart and a little less fuss. The meal still begins with delicious mouthfuls of pani puri, brimming with chickpea and tamarind, followed by three faultless starters. First, soft shell crab arrives, enveloped by a light chilli batter; it’s accompanied by tomato chutney, sour mango and Devonshire crab which appears via Kerala in delicate crab cakes. Samosas filled with venison are rich and tender, whilst chicken comes in a trio of paté, kebab and drumstick that is beautifully presented and tastes just as good.
Lasan really know how to treat their meat; the mains are proof of this. Slow-roasted lamb shank has a charred coating of spice which gives way to reveal a soft interior which slips away from the bone effortlessly. On the side there is a silky dhal makhani and raita to cut through the richness. Hyderabadi Biriyani is even better, with tender chunks of deftly spiced goat meat hidden under soft rice. It’s as good a biriyani as I’ve ever tried and alone is enough reason for a return visit. The portions are generous, so the side of additional dhal makhani is not at all necessary, but is delicious scooped up with garlic and coriander naans and paper thin Roomali Roti.
Even gluttons like us cannot contemplate dessert, so we finish our wine and depart reluctantly. I’ve always been a fan of Lasan, but I like this new direction; it’s more relaxed, more authentic, with the service and food consistently brilliant. It makes me excited to return.
I dined as a guest of Lasan.
Find Lasan at 3-4 Dakota Buildings, James Street, St Paul’s Square, Birmingham, B3 1SD