It’s a wet April evening. Really? Well of course it is. It’s also the first night we’ve had off from the kids for quite a while, so we fancy something different. The wife is off to discuss weddings with her best friend, and I’m meeting a food writer Swapon who specialises in vegetarian and Indian cuisine.
Where better than escape to the Punjab, or rather Punjabi Rasoi, a fantastic fresh thinking eatery on the Warwick Road in Acocks green.
Standing in the former building of the Little Havana Restaurant, this is an all together revamped and refreshed space with one of the finest menu’s outside of the Balti Triangle.
Rasoi is a family run business and the warm reception we get upon arrival illustrates the attention to detail and intimate atmosphere the team has worked tirelessly over the last couple of months to create. The décor is refined with a gorgeous expansive dining area with handmade brown velvet light shades hanging from the ceiling. The tables are classic with a high backed sea green upholstered velvet chairs and the tables are complete with traditional table cloths, rather like the upmarket appeal of Shimla Pinks.
Manmeet Randhawa, Pubjabi Rasoi manager sings the praises of a variety of restaurants in the city which have made a name for Birmingham as a Mecca for foodie heaven. However, he’s quick to outline the lack of quality that can be found outside the centre. “We have tried to combine a fantastic menu, with one of the best chefs in the country, with the local feel and family setting that you can find outside of Birmingham in order to create the perfect balance between food and atmosphere.
“We’re also extremely competitive and a family of four can still dine for less than £20 per head which we think sets us apart from the some of the more expensive, but not necessarily better quality restaurants in Birmingham.”
To start we opted for a combination of vegetarian appetisers and fish dishes to include the succulent and tender fish pakoras, lightly fried in a mouth watering batter. A dish from the golden city of Amritsar, these crisp fish pakoras have just a hint of mint and cardamom to bring out the eye popping delicious tastes. Next a chilli paneer with a rich chilli gravy sauce basted over the soft and delicate flavours of the infamous Indian cheese tossed with chunky onions and capsicums and more garlic sauce. And, finally, the street snack Gol Guppa. This is a traditional Punjabi street snack of mini puff pastries filled with chick peas and potatoes complimented with masala water. The sour burse of masala water and chick peas left us laughing and joking as this dish gives the diner a real sense of occasion, rather like the warm and spirited rail children of the Punjab.
The service at Punjabi Rasoi is second-to-none too. The team work well together to offer just the right amount of attention to make their guests feel spoilt but at the same time, ensuring you have the space to sit back, relax and enjoy the ambience.
My associate Swapon opts for the stunning vegetable Tinda to enjoy as his main course. Complete with a rich masala curry, condensed and marinated in spices some chapattis are the perfect accompaniment to this dish, sharing a rice between us.
Having recently developed a love for the keema naan I take the plunge and try my first keema main dish, a fusion consisting of chicken tikka and minced lamb, joined together with herbs and spices; cooked in medium sauce. The chapatti helps bring everything together, washed down with a cold beer, it’s absolute perfection.
Looking out the back we can see a large conservatory window and ask if there are any plans for opening the space out, not that we’ll ever have the weather for it in England though. Manmeet explains that they are still considering ways to evolve and improve the restaurant and are looking at options such as open kitchen spaces, through to expansion of the back room.
Finishing our meal with some sweet and spectacular gulab jamun, this is the ultimate end to a very pleasant introduction to Acock’s Greens most promising new cuisine.
To book a table at Punjabi Rasoi call 0121 706 6450 or visit www.thepunjabirasoi.co.uk