Andy Munro visits a worthy recent addition to Birmingham’s restaurant scene.
Just because my last request as a condemned man would be a genuine Birmingham balti, that doesn’t mean that I don’t like both a spot of fine dining and other types of dishes and styles of cooking from the Indian sub-continent.
Opheem is Aktar Islam’s latest project and given the high standards he set at both Lasan and in media appearances, a visit was eagerly anticipated. Right from our arrival, the service was excellent from the team of knowledgeable waiters and the experienced sommelier through to the pastry chef who came to our table rightly proud of his celeriac ice cream based amuse bouche. I suppose if I had one complaint it was the usual fine dining custom of topping up our wine glasses continually – and a couple of bottles of quaffable Primitivo Red was ample in our cases.
Starters were shared including a trio of soft shell crab which featured a tempura-style presentation, shredded crab and a delicate crab cake. The other dish was a scallop and lentil based offering which was tasty and well presented although my only gripe was that it was both described and served in the singular and at eleven quid plus seemed a trifle pricey.
The main courses lived up to every expectation with my spiced mallard duck breast and accompanying leg confit beautifully matched, and with a daughter living in France I like to think I know my canard. Equally the excellent Goat Biryani made me wonder why this meat is so little seen on menus. The Biryani rice was extremely tasty with layers of rice and meat creating a great mix of flavours and was served up Moghul style, sealed in an edible based casing. This was a first for us all but hopefully not the last.
Afters didn’t disappoint with the Kaveri, a lavish mix of passion fruit and chocolate and the Shirkand which was sheep’s yoghurt with a spice winning combo of cardamom and liquorice. Incidentally, it would be churlish not to mention a procession of unusual and creative amuse bouches which were served along with a bread course of a quality that would kick the proverbial sand in the face of a baguette du monde, not least as it was accompanied by a moreish shredded lamb pathia.
Definitely there will be a return visit to a restaurant that does Birmingham’s fine dining scene proud, although in the meantime it will be back to my weekly balti!
Opheem 48 Summer Row, Birmingham, B3 1JJ