Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
Published August 19th 2012
The Birmingham restaurant where top chefs go to eat
Acclaimed British chef Jamie Oliver can't get enough of the place and nor will you.
This relatively small eatery in Stratford Road, Hall Green, has a simple frontage that belies its status as one of the best vegetarian Indian restaurants in the city and one of few places in the country serving South Indian speciality dish, Dhosa.
This family-run business has existed in Birmingham for over a decade and has grown into larger premises since attracting attention from the country's culinary elite.
Walls are adorned with photos of the family with Jamie Oliver and other TV chefs including Antony Worrall-Thompson and Brian Turner during their frequent visits to eat at the award-winning restaurant. The owners tell me that Oliver dines regularly when he is passing through the city and is so taken with the place that he has asked for them to feature in an up-coming edition of his magazine.
It focuses on quality food rather than luxurious surroundings. While the front area is a take-away counter for Indian sweets, snacks and orders from the main menu, the rear is the relaxed, casual restaurant. It does not have an alcohol licence but diners are allowed to bring a bottle.
Extensive Menu The varied vegetarian menu boasts 15 starters, desserts and 72 main course dishes from South India including Dhosa - a large crispy savoury pancake containing curried vegetables.
Dhosa prices range from £2.95 to £5.50 but I would recommend the Masala Dhosa, which is particularly delicious and filling at a reasonable price of £4.75.
Another key dish is Chana Batura chickpea curry served with two fluffy fried breads for £5.50, while for those with a larger appetite, the Thalis start at £8.25. The basic Thali features two curries, two roti breads, a daal lentil curry, rice, pickles, papadum and barfi Indian sweet dessert.
There are also dishes specifically for vegans.
Sweets On the desert-side of things, there is an extensive range of barfi - a crumbly cake like sweet in chocolate, almond, pistaccio, mango flavours - at 50p a slice that go particularly well with a cup of hot coffee at the end of a meal. There are also the usual desserts including Rasmalai - a spongy pudding in sweet milk sauce - and Indian ice cream, called Kulfi.