3-4, Dakota Buildings, James Street, St Paul's Square, Birmingham, B3 1SD, United Kingdom

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This Indian restaurant in the Jewellery district of Birmingham has quite smart decor, and aspires to food that is more ambitious than curry house norms. There is a tasting menu available at £49.95 to give a rough idea of pricing. With a chicken jalfrezi at £21 and vegetarian side dishes at around £8, so this is not your typical balti house.

The first course that I tried was soft shell crab with chilli, along with crab cake, raw mango and tomato chutney. The crab was from Devon and had good flavour, the batter quite delicate and the spicing carefully controlled (14/20). Salmon was marinated in tomato and red pepper purée, with lime, mint and coriander chutney. The fish was correctly cooked and came with thin slices of radish (13/20).

Chicken jalfrezi used Cotswold White chicken, and came with concasse of vegetables (roughly chopped) as well as a masala made with red pepper onion and spices. The chicken had good flavour and the masala had a nice spice blend, though for me it was a bit tentative in the level of chilli used (13/20). 

Marinated cauliflower had curried lentils and green herb korma sauce. The cauliflower was tender and the gentle spice of the sauce worked well. The sauce was a little under powered spice wise but the lentils were excellent, retaining their texture nicely (13/20). However given that a whole cauliflower costs £1 in a London supermarket, charging £19 for this dish seems ambitious verging on greedy. On the side was rice with enoki and field mushrooms. 

As a separate side dish, bhindi featured okra that almost avoided sliminess (12/20). Potato with curry leaves, mustard seeds and red chilli was better, the potatoes retaining their texture well (13/20). Naan bread was quite good though nothing remarkable (12/20).

For dessert, kaffir lime posset came with raspberry sorbet and shortbread. Posset is a simple dessert (fruit, cream and sugar) but still has to have the correct balance, and here the mix of sugar and acidity was about right (13/20). Shrikand was pleasant enough, piped onto the plate with less saffron than it might have had, and garnished with assorted fruits (pineapple, blackberry, raspberry and tinned lychees), with orange sorbet and good caramelised pistachios (12/20).

Service tried to give the impression of being upmarket, but was actually quite bad in my opinion. From unnecessarily pressing us to move from the bar to our table on a quiet evening, through to pouring the last drop of red wine from the bottle (complete with sediment) into our glass, it was too intrusive and slightly inept. Asking "who ordered what?" is tolerable at a cafe, but not at these prices. The bill came to £90 a head, though that was with plenty of good wine. If you shared a modest bottle of wine then a more typical cost per head might be around £60. The pricing here is quite ambitious, but to be fair the food is good, and the menu is aiming at a quite high level and frequently hits the mark. I think the main question mark is in value for money, given that the service falls well short of what you may reasonably expect at this price point.



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