Monday, 22 September 2014

Indian Fine Dining at Itihaas

Photo:  c/o Itihaas
Already in possession of a good reputation for purveying Indian fine dining, I was recently invited with a number of other bloggers to sample a bespoke menu showcasing what Birmingham restaurant Itihaas has to offer – especially for vegetarians.
Itihaas Reception Area
Cocktails and canapés were awaiting our arrival and we were able to enjoy them in the welcoming reception area which, with its wooden furniture and artwork, has echoes of old India.  The vegetarian canapé on offer was Paapri Chaat which was a pastry parcel filled with chickpeas and potatoes with yoghurt and tamarind chutney.  Extremely more-ish, and in such cute bite size pieces, I had to be mindful not to get carried away and to save myself for dinner!
Martini Cocktail
Walking through the restaurant, the main seating area upstairs has a colonial feel with large plants, wooden Indian object d’art and vivid red walls. 
Photo: c/o Itihaas
Downstairs, beautiful traditional Indian murals adorn the walls with cosy, defined dining areas, ideal for couples or small parties. 
Wall Murals
Our dinner was served in a private room which is available for hire and is extremely popular for family celebrations and a lot of customers use it for pre-wedding get-togethers.  The room, featuring  dark panels and opulent chandeliers creates a sense of grandeur and occasion.
Private Dining Room.  Photo: c/o Itihaas
The evening for us was to introduce the breadth of Itihaas and demonstrate its versatility.   The word Itihaas itself translated means ‘history’ and the restaurant depicts that in terms of the dishes it serves and its surroundings.  So mixing versatility and history, the set menu for the evening showcased what the restaurant can do.  Our menu, was very meat orientated, however, there were a few vegetarian items for me to try.  (NB: The full a la carte menu has more vegetarian options available).
Unfortunately, with my allergy to spices (an absolute burden for a food blogger like me and a total inconvenience in general), meant that some of the food was too spicy for me.  Not a reflection on the restaurant or its standards, just a personal issue which meant I couldn’t enjoy it as I had hoped.  However, the staff were very understanding and accommodating towards my situation and brought out several options for me to try  until I found something suitable.  This is something I really welcomed as so many places prepare seasoning on  their food in advance and aren’t able to adjust it to a customer’s request, so this ability to do so, signals a quality establishment for me.  In the end, I had the: Karahi Paneer – marinated paneer cheese in a mild masala gravy served with mixed naan breads and Jeera rice, infused with cumin, which had the right spice level for me and a dish I enjoyed very much.  The only thing I would comment on is that  I would have liked to have had some other vegetables in there just to have something to alternate the paneer with.
Karahi Paneer & Naan Breads

The desserts were beautifully presented and we were all given different ones as a way of demonstraing the full menu.  I had the Chocolate Samosa & Pistachio Kulfi Ice Cream.  I’d never really thought of samosas being adaptable for desserts, but of course, why couldn’t they be?  A great way to incorporate a chocolate dessert, Indian style, with the cooling
home-made kulfi ice cream also bearing Indian flavours.
Chocolate Samosa & Kulfi

Indian food establishments form a large quota of the Birmingham dining scene, with places varying in price, quality and overall experience.  Itihaas has carved its way into the fine dining end of the scale where it offers a distinguished menu, with emphasis on food flavours and eclectic combinations.  After mentioning my visit to an Indian friend of mine, she said that the restaurant has a great reputation amongst the Indian community as an excellent venue and she was full of plaudits – a comment I felt that endorsed Itihaas’s mission to replicate Indian authenticity. 
Photo:  c/o Itihaas
In addition, the restaurant have many themed evenings throughout the year with special menus and entertainment which would add to the experience.  Their bar area is not only available for diners, but for guests wishing to stop by for cocktails & canapés enabling you to enjoy the ambience of Itihaas in smaller measure. 
Overall, a destination for when you are looking for fine dining with Indian influence and most definitely for celebratory occasions.  Vegetarians well catered for, with those with fussy preferences (like me) looked after well, ensuring that our dining experience is just as perfect as everyone else’s.
Disclosure: This post was written following Itihaas' kind invitation to dine at their restaurant.  This review was conducted honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website.  Where photographs have been provided by Itihaas, these have been credited accordingly.

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