Mint, Birmingham

Things have been a bit tougher than usual recently, and as a result my life is even more hectic than normal. W came up to visit for a few days and on her last night here, we decided to eat out and W suggested going for a curry somewhere and for me to choose. Now, I try not to go to Balti Triangle only because it’s a bit out of the way and the food doesn’t make up for the distance I have to travel for it, I wasn’t going to get a last-minute reservation at a higher-end restaurant like Lasan or Asha’s but that didn’t matter so much as I think they’re more for a special meal out and want a sense of occasion. I did think of going to Lasan Eatery – which is my regular go to place, but again it’s a bit out of the way and they don’t have a great deal of curries on offer. So, I ended up choosing to go to Mint, not only because the last time I ate there is was good, but also because it’s very local to where I live. In fact it was so local, that I didn’t think it was appropriate to lug my D-SLR so the pictures were taken with my phone.

Even though we got there fairly early in the evening, there were already a few tables in – mainly of whole families which was nice to see, including a large family table out for a special occasion which was especially nice to see. The decor is of the new modern Indian kind with the faux leather chairs (mines sagged a bit so wasn’t especially comfortable, but that could also be my large derrière at fault there). It was very clean and modern, I especially liked the upstairs seating area, but the artwork and lampshades on the walls were somewhat eclectic – the same art print design but in different colours and the frame didn’t enhance the prints in any way. However, I should stop being so pernickety and point out that whilst the artwork and lampshades may have looked out-of-place, they didn’t dampen our experience there in any way. I liked the fact that each table setting was properly laid out with napkins in silver napkin rings which added to the sense of occasion.

The menu was presented to us and as ever with menus in an Indian restaurant, the choices were vast. In fact, they were so vast that after W and I finally started to decide upon something (W likes VERY hot dishes and whilst I can take hot food, I’m going through a temperance period so stuck with something more medium-hot), by the time we considered if we wanted starters or not, side dishes or not, etc. etc. W pointed out the set menu for 2 which looked nice, except there was a LOT of chicken and we were going to go for 1 lamb and 1 chicken dish. So, we decided that we would ask if we could change one of the main chicken dishes to something else, if we could then we’d go for the set meal. Told you, we were both a bit brain-dead so needed something that was already decided for us. The waiter said that we were allowed to change the one main chicken dish so set menu for 2 it was. Order in, time for the food:

The poppadoms were the same as what you’d get from any Indian restaurant, but the difference is always in the condiments you get with them; in this case we got mango chutney, sliced white onion and coriander, chopped red onion (and tomato?) in a sweet red sauce and a chilli + tomato sauce. The only item I could eat of those was the white onion and coriander, so we asked for some yoghurt and mint as one of us was diabetic so couldn’t eat anything sweet. Sadly, the yoghurt and mint that came out was also sweetened so I couldn’t eat that either. Never mind, I was sleeping alone that night so a bit of onion breath wasn’t going to make much difference. But on a more serious note, why not listen to your dining guests? I mean, imagine if they brought something out with nuts in and one of us had a nut allergy?

Thankfully, this was the only grumble food-wise that I had. The starters of chicken tikka were moist and the spicing wasn’t overpowering, the other starters were meant to be vegetable pakora but they certainly didn’t resemble what I would recognise as a vegetable pakora – That being chunks of vegetables dipped in a gram flour batter and deep fried to resemble a fritter. What we got was something round and breadcrumbed, the insides of which consisted of puréed and whole chickpeas. Not that I’m complaining because whatever it was, it was delicious. I only wish I knew what it was so I could let you all know!

Mains-wise, the North Indian Garlic Chilli Chicken was pretty special – Hot enough for W to compliment it (and trust me, she likes her hot food so this is truly a compliment) and again, the meat wasn’t dry and the spicing not overpowering. It was hot enough to get your juices (and your nose) running, but not so oppressive that yoghurt was required. Our substitute dish of Lamb Satkora was citrussy and packed a punch enough for me to enjoy it. Neither dishes were too oily and given that the portions were very generous, we both struggled to finish it all, especially as the accompanying vegetable pilau rice and mushroom bhajee were equally good. Actually, we ended up taking some of it home in a doggy bag as there was enough and more importantly, it was tasty enough to do so.

It was exactly what we both wanted; quick, tasty food without having to spend too long deliberating over the menu and given that it’s so local to me that I could waddle home afterwards, I daresay I’ll be coming back.

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