When you arrive at Tipu Sultan it feels far more like a 5* hotel than a restaurant. An impressive exterior dwarfs other restaurants like it in Birmingham with real charm and character that’s hard to find in the city.
Two cannons sit symbolically beside white lions below a grand sign lit up in twilight – Tipu Sultan. Even the carpark is special. Gone are days of it being the Jug of Ale’s former wasteland with graffiti and broken bottles. It welcomes you with huge iron gates that lead up to twenty thousand square feet of landscaped driveway. Rather like something you might see in a Dubai continental hotel and spa. As you walk from your car towards the entrance lobby a feast for the eyes can be seen through the floor to ceiling windows.
Stunning spaces lit by ceiling lamps, elaborate chandeliers and table candles. Warm mahogany furniture, oak tables and beautiful chairs each carved to an emperor’s liking fill the restaurant.
I can’t help but feel this is more like checking in to your favourite hotel than going for dinner in a restaurant. There are two or three staff to welcome us when we arrive. We are quickly signed in and taken through the restaurant to our own private booth with a view out across the interior. Our waiter introduces himself to us and quickly returns a moment later with our refreshing fruit juices and some poppadoms which are still lovely and warm. Freshly prepared this a good sign of things to come. After tens minutes of catching up on business, family and festivities we are ready to order. But before that our excellent waiter has already been helping me choose the perfect flavour combination. It’s a fantastic test of a chef’s palette when a carnivore like myself would happy to eat vegetarian food from the menu. Luckily this evening I don’t need to as my friend is vegetarian.
The origins of both the restaurant and its food lie in a magical story. Tipu Sultan was the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore from 1782 to 1799, a scholar, soldier and poet. He was the most powerful of the native Princes of India. Tipu Sultan was hunting in the forest when he came face to face with a tiger, his gun did not work and his dagger fell on the ground as the tiger jumped on him. He reached for the dagger, picked it up and killed the tiger with it. This then earned him the name ‘the Tiger of Mysore’. Tipu Sultan was a descendant from the Mughal Emperors of the North and it is from this region the restaurant take the inspiration for their menu.
To start I go for the sweet and sour Sultani Jinga. Succulent King Prawns skewered in a light batter and complete with a rich punchy hot sauce.
On the opposite side of the table my friend has a cheese tikka. This excellent mix of mozzarella & cottage cheeses blended together with potatoes, spring onions and coated in bread crumbs is a meal in itself.
Fried till golden it is served with garnish and dips. Everything about these dishes is made to perfection and the prawns have just enough spice to give the perfect kick.
The service at Tipu Sultan is impeccable. Not intrusive and timed well our waiter asks us exactly how long we would like to wait for our mains. More restaurants need staff like this!
Next up is a rich velvety main course…the opulent Sultani Karahi Lamb. A devine boneless lamb dish prepared traditionally with a wealth of ingredients works incredibly with a delicate Lacha Parantha. They say in all fine dining that the sauce is what makes the dish. Here’s the lamb has infused with the spices and tomatoes, with a rich gravy left bathing tender lamb pieces which have been marinating overnight for an intensity which sets the dish off extremely well.
The second main, a paneer makhani was a delicious classic with a certain sweetness to it that brought the flavours to life. Paneer makhani as the name suggests is a very rich subzi from the lap of punjab. It uses one of punjabi cuisines most loved ingredients butter. In traditional punjabi houses, the women folk make pure white butter from thick creamy milk. The liquid that is left over after the butter has been removed is very delicious and cooling and makes a tasty drink. Soft paneer chunks are dunked into a rich tomato based gravy, a must try for all paneer lovers!
A delicious and fragrant biryani rice completed the meal, cooked to perfection, it wasn’t greasy at all but a true testament to the excellent chefs at Tipu Sultan.
After a stunning meal we had a little room for dessert, and what a fine selection can be found. Near to the front of the restaurant, there’s an enormous glass cabinet packed full of delicious treats, cakes, puddings of all colours, creams, chocolates, fruits and nuts.
After some careful decision making we decide to opt for an indulgent chocolate cake with hazelnut ice cream and a decadent strawberry cheese cake with marbling detail to match the finest hotels around. When the puddings arrive we take a moment to savour the meal we’ve just devoured and reflect on good times.
Tipu Sultan is a hive of activity now, full to the brim with families, couples, people old and children new. It has a welcoming atmosphere that is hard to find in Birmingham these days. Yes, it has cultural roots but this is something to be explored, enjoyed.
The chocolate cake is a rich and delightful cake where the hazelnut ice cream makes all the more delicious. The strawberry cheesecake is rich and plentiful, and the raspberry ice cream is a tangy treat to complete the meal.
If you don’t fancy having a big meal, then you and friends can choose all the mains as starters, choose a set menu, a mixed grill, in fact, as it states at the bottom of the menu, whatever dish you can imagine, providing it’s traditional, you can asked to be prepared and it will be.
Tipu Sultan has brought the magic of the past back into the modern age, and the restaurant earns its place as one of the city’s finest dining establishments.