Living in France, where Japanese food takes prevalence in the Asian takeaway market, meant we had a hankering for some Indian food when we visited the UK. We decided Birmingham was the perfect place for it, and luckily for us the weather was on excellent form for Indian food too (read: tipping it down with rain).
It turned out we didn’t regret choosing Itihaas for our lunch after seeing it recommended in the Louis Vuitton travel guide we had acquired as part of a box set (the guide also covers London and Oxford, so served us well throughout our stay, which saw us visiting all of these destinations). We were slightly early, getting there just when they opened, but staff welcomed us warmly and led us to a table – which, perhaps unfortunately for some, was located right next to a bunch of smouldering incense. This does well in helping to cultivate an authentic atmosphere, but is slightly overbearing when you’re sat right next to it.
But onto the important business of the food. While admiring the sumptuous interiors – which encompassed red, gold, shiny dark wood, glass chandeliers and more – our choice of food was made easy by the presence of the set lunch menu, which is so bargainous that you’d be silly not to choose it. Great for the uninitiated (as it offers a bit of everything for your delectation) or for the plain indecisive (what’s not to like when you have everything on one plate?!), its six courses cost a mere £9.95 per person and are all served on a massive silvery tray for extra wow-factor. A vegetarian version and a more elaborate ‘business lunch’ version are also available, priced at £8.95 and £12.95 respectively.
When our plates arrived we weren’t disappointed. The lamb rogan josh and the makhani murgh (made with chicken) were fragranced with intense flavour and not swimming in oil, and as for the dhal? I defy anyone who’s ever had a bad experience with lentils to come here and be amazed as your perception of the humble legume is changed. It’s rich, creamy, and gives the meat courses a run for their money. With this, you have ample amounts of tri-coloured basmati rice, an enormous naan bread to mop up with, and a cucumber raita to cool things down a little – refreshing and well-made, it’s a welcome addition to the spices of the curries.
We chased all this down with iced tap water, and we were reassured to see Indian locals also visiting this restaurant, paying testament to the age-old rule that going where the locals go usually pays off. The meal was so filling, and of such high-quality ingredients for the price paid, that we felt we didn’t need dessert (which was a shame in a way, as among the authentic dishes on offer were the incredibly tempting sweet ginger cheesecake and chilli chocolate indulgence). Toilet facilities were clean and luxurious, and took you through the cavernous downstairs floor, which is full of mirrors and highly decorated in an authentic style.
In short, this is a brilliant find, and we were surprised that it did not become busier. Would recommend and revisit.
Itihaas, 18 Fleet Street, Birmingham B3 1JL
0121 212 3383