Itihaas Restaurant | Selfridges, Bullring
[by Ahmed Ahmed]
Birmingham and curry go hand-in-hand. Despite the wealth of cuisines from around the globe, this city will always be famed for its Indian culinary connection. Which is why a recent trip to the new Itihaas restaurant food stall in Selfridges was doubly disappointing. It’s rare for hot food to leave me cold, but on this occasion, it unfortunately did.
The strength of the new outfit is its location. Seated slap-bang in the middle of the sleek white food hall of Selfridges department store, diners at the Itihaas concession can indulge in people watching and enjoy the general entertaining bustle of Birmingham’s favourite place to shop and be seen.
The street food menu offers a good variety for those who like to try a bit of everything, tapas-style. We ordered dahi puri, crispy wheat shells with potato, chickpea, tomato and sweetened yoghurt, which I found just a bit too sour and overwhelming. The very similar but yoghurt-less gol guppa, which were also stuffed with potato and chickpeas, were much more friendly to the palate.
We also ordered some samosas – a staple of the Anglo-Indian repertoire. The chicken samosas that turned up, however, were frankly greasy and lacking in flavour. We were very kindly treated to an unusual salmon and goat’s cheese samosa as well. Despite being quite delicious, this option unfortunately doesn’t appear on the standard menu.
When it came to choosing a main, I opted for a non-spicy option – the butter chicken curry, while my guest went for the fiery classic lamb rogan josh. Both of us were underwhelmed. While the delicately seasoned naan and fragranced basmati rice accompanying the orders were faultless, the curries themselves were unexceptional. The flavours weren’t robust enough, and the spices hardly came through at all, leaving us both feeling unsatisfied. Bland is not a word you can usually apply to Indian cuisine, but in this case, it sprang painfully to mind.
Wine lovers will find the selection minimalistic, with just two reds, two whites and two sparklings on the menu. A better option might be to go for an exotic refresher. The drinks list includes a selection of traditionally-inspired kulfi shakes – Indian ice cream blends with malai, mango, pistachio or coconut; and juices including lychee and mango.
In my opinion, this was a case of enviable location and attentive service let down by disappointingly bland dishes.
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