Raising The Bar Of Indian Cuisine, We Review Aktar Islam’s Opheem, Birmingham.
With the mission to push boundaries with Indian flavours fused with both traditional and modern cooking techniques from all over the world, Opheem is raising the bar of Birmingham’s dining scene.
The brain child of award-winning chef Aktar Islam, Opheem is situated on the bustling Summer Row in Birmingham and boasts an insight into the inner workings of the Gordon Ramsey’s The F Word and BBC’s Great British Menu winners mind.
Having just opened their doors to the public, we were invited along to the soft launch to try his modern take on Indian cuisine for ourselves.
As soon as you step through the doors, you are taken on a beautiful journey, the décor is elegant and contemporary, yet light and welcoming writes Lilith Hunt-Sheppard. A beautiful glass wall divides the diners from the kitchen yet allows you to see the hustle and bustle of the kitchen in action. With glasses of Prosecco poured we were taken to our table to commence our culinary experience.
The service, throughout the entire night was impeccable. I can’t speak for the other diners, but you do feel like you are the most important people in there.
First to grace our table was the “Grazing Plate” made up of four stunning pieces of food. The Imli Pani is a gastronomic delight, a gel membrane full of tasty fluid that simply burst in the mouth releasing the tamarind broth with chilli and cucumber.The chicken wing was beautiful and full of flavour, in fact I have never tasted a chicken wing like it. The take on an onion bhaji outdoes any other bhaji I have ever tasted, crisp and tasty without the greasy residue. Each perfectly produced bit of food was a delight on the taste buds but to the eyes too. Delicate yet full of flavour and almost too beautiful to eat.
With plates cleared and more prosecco poured, we were on to our starters. I chose the award winning Kekda (soft shell crab) whilst my dining partner went for the Luvknowi Dahi. Taking my first bite of Kekda, you can taste straight away why it won the “winning course” on Great British Menu. Soft and crunchy at the same time – due to the delicate batter – it tastes as amazing as it looks. The ,mango puree adds both sweet and acidic tones and the fermented rice batter basket not only adds another textire but an almost nutty flavour too. The Luvknowi Dahi has beetroot three ways, a very pleasing surprise, showcasing the sheer talent of the kitchen. The yoghurt shami kebab is also serve with black quinoa and mint. Each mouthful is full of flavour and completely morish
Next up, a beautiful wooden box was presented to our table and as we carefully removed the lid, we were treated to tantalising warm wedges of sweet potato and cumin bread with a lamb’s brain pate. Chunky offal pieces blended with strong spices, this is a nod to eating his mother’s food smeared on bread as a child. Delicious and a great extra touch in what was already proving a fantastic dining experience.
Three courses down and we were on to our mains. My dining partner went for the Herwick Lamb Loin and I went for the Quorma Jatput (Norfolk Quail). Served two ways (confit leg pakora and roasted) it was lovely, pink and melted in the mouth. The confit leg pakora was crunchy and full of flavour. Served with wild garlic cous cous and a fennel quorma braising liquor each mouthful offers almost a different taste experience built through textures and flavour. The lamb loin was cooked perfectly, nicely pink amd erved with Punjabi aubergine caviar, barley and a smoked mathania chilli & bone marrow sauce. With both mains, the sauce is served separate, so you can add as little or as much as your individual taste prefers. Each mouthful offers and combination of flavours that are incredible and almost mindblowing.
Tables cleared once again, we were presented with the dessert menus. Between us we decided to go for the Doodh Odisha and the Firni Bengal. Bursting with flavour but less sweetness from traditional Indian desserts, they were both a great way to cleanse our palates.
Opheem’s incredible take on authentic Indian cuisine is not only delicious but is every bit the ultimate fine dining experience. Opheem is Aktar Islam at his best, and set to take Indian cuisine to a new level in Birmingham and beyond. We can’t wait to return to this outstanding restaurant.
Opheem, 48 Summer Row, Birmingham, B3 1JJ
0121 201 3377
Monday – Sat: 12 – 14:30 & 17:30 – 22:30
Sunday : 12- 21:00