Dinner At The Recently Opened Lagan Indian Tapas In Nottingham
The restaurant formerly known as ‘Paris’ closed at the back end of 2023, but new owners took over in November and as ‘Lagan’, an Indian Tapas dining offering. The Man Bird and I were kindly invited along to try the food for ourselves, so we jumped in the jalopy and headed for the city lights.
Walking through the door, we were greeted very warmly by one of the Lagan team and were asked if we’d like our coats hanging up – a nice touch. Our reservation wasn’t on the system, but the situation was handled most professionally and we were shown to a table in the central area. It transpired that the owners hadn’t wanted to alert the team to our presence, so as to get a true feel for the levels of service…I love doing a bit of ‘secret squirrelling’.
I’m very happy to say that the incredibly ornate chandeliers are still insitu; something so beautiful really needed to be kept. Also still kept as part of the décor are those gorgeous blossoming branches, though much of the artwork has more of an Indian feel to it; that said, you can still admire the street scene prints on the far wall.
Water for the table was offered without being asked for and we both then perused the drinks menu, which has a great range of beers, wines and cocktails. I settled on a glass of Cab Sauv, His Nibs had a pint of Cobra; well, would’ve been rude not to in an Indian, wouldn’t it?! Lagan has some fab early bird offers (4-6pm) that incorporate a Gin n Tonic, a pint of beer, or a glass of Prosecco with 3 Tapas dishes for £19.99pp. Unfortunately, we’d arrived a bit later than 6pm, but it’s an idea for next time we go.
Whilst we looked through the food menu, we ordered some Poppadoms and Pickles to nibble at. I was a jolly happy bunny to see that the Poppadoms were broken into large pieces and served in a stylish black dish. The trio of pickles were in separate little dishes: Tomato and Onion Salad, Minted Yoghurt and Mango Chutney. The Poppadoms were beautifully crisp and not at all greasy, and the chutneys were nicely chilled and tangy where appropriate.
The Man Bird and I created our own starter by choosing Chicken Momo and Paneer Ka Sholay, both £6.95, from the Tapas section and some Papdi Chaat (£5.95). For mains we selected Goan Seabass and Boatman Fish Curry, both £15.95, a side of Achari Aubergine (£7.95), some Pilau Rice (£2.95) and Garlic and Coriander Naan (£3.50). I have to say, though, that we were sorely tempted to have the [frankly budget-brilliant!] special that is priced £22.95 pp, and offers you a choice of starter, a mains Thali of 4 dishes, rice, Naan, Chutney and Gulab Jamun to finish! You can upgrade to a Naan of your choice for an extra £1.95 and have Lassi for £1.50.
Our starters were presented on a range of stunning platters, all selected for their colour and the visual impact it will create against the food. The quartet of Chicken Momo (Nepalese dumplings) were a good size and served with a spicy chutney, and each parcel was amply stuffed with aromatic minced chicken. Beautifully delicate on the palate, the chicken was complimented by the dumpling pastry being perfectly cooked to retain a hint of firmness – there’s nothing worse than soggy dumplings, is there? The chutney added the perfect hint of heat in the mouth and didn’t overwhelm the dumplings at all.
Paneer Ka Sholay is described as Indian Cottage Cheese, but it isn’t the small-curd we know as Cottage Cheese. The Cottage refers to it being produced on small-scale in homes and villages, so it is actually in large blocks that Lagan serves in slices that are pimped with fresh Mint, nuts, spices, and vegetables before being grilled/charred. My mouth was awash with a symphony of flavours; what an incredible starter – even His Nibs remarked how tasty it was! A scattering of jewel-toned Pomegranate seeds added more taste and prettied the dish up perfectly.
If you’ve never had Chaat before, then you’re missing out on a super-tasty snack! Papdi Chaat has scrummy whole-wheat crackers at its heart, along with thin, crunchy gram flour noodles – this pair are your crunch super-heroes. Bringing balance (and some silky smoothness) is a hefty dollop of natural yoghurt and some tangy Tamarind paste, partnered with tart Pomegranate seeds. Chaat translates as ‘lick’ owing to its finger-licking tastiness, and characteristically has everything you could want in the taste stakes: sweet, smoky, spicy and tart. Chickpeas played a major part in this particular interpretation from Lagan, giving bulk to the dish, and a liberal scattering of fresh Coriander piled in to add another layer of flavour to this excellent offering, as well as making it look gorgeous. In my opinion, this is the ultimate ‘munchy’ dish: perfect for those times when you want a ‘tipple, nibble and natter’ session.
The Man Birds’ Boatman Fish Curry had sizeable chunks of batter-coated Codin, that were bathing in a rich sauce of Green Chilli and Lemongrass-infused Coconut Milk. At first glance, you’d think that this would be quite fiery, but the inclusion of the milk brought the heat down a notch to a very pleasurable medium strength. Spicy, this curry certainly was, but it didn’t drown out the inherent sweetness of the firm-textured fish.
I have had Goan fish curries before, so I knew what to expect form my choice but, even so, I wasn’t prepared for the sheer amount of Seabass I got! A pair of generous, moist fish fillets languished happily in their unctuous sauce. Like His Nibs’ selection, my curry had Coconut Milk as its base, but I had different spices to zhuzh my meal up: Green Chillies, Cumin, Ginger paste and Tamarind. Again, Chef had balanced the sauce with the sweet, delicate fish beautifully, and this made for a wonderful dish.
Fluffy grains of rice were plentiful, and I smiled as I glimpsed the whole Cardamom pods and pieces of Cassia bark in amongst them. Rice can be quite plain and uninspiring, which I think is a real shame as it plays a supporting role to any Indian meal; like soggy chips with a burger, lack-lustre rice can diminish the impact of a good curry. Thankfully, the Lagan team lavish the same attention to detail on their sundries as they do to the stars of the show, so you can be sure of tasty rice.
For some reason, I particularly like Aubergine at the moment – no I’m not pregnant! The Achari Aubergine is available as a main course, but I opted to try some as a side dish, and I wasn’t disappointed when the platter was carefully placed on the table. Slices of perfectly cooked Aubergine were combined with Onion in a superbly piquant, sour sauce that contrasted exquisitely with our sweeter curries. I’m not sure if I’d want it as a main dish but, as a side, it was delicious.
Just as crucial to an Indian meal as the rice, is the humble Naan bread…or any bread, for that matter. We’d decided to have the Garlic and Coriander Naan at Lagan, and they thoughtfully quarter it for you before they serve it – I love all the little touches that save me faffing about! Wickedly buttery and soft, both the Garlic and Coriander were discernible in the mouth, and the bread was pillowy soft and comforting as we chewed it.
For dessert, The Man Bird went for his favourite, Gulab Jamun, and I had Matka Kulfi; both £5.95. I love how the Kulfi melted on my tongue and left a fine grittiness that I wanted to bite into, but it was the gentle taste of Pistachio and Almond that had me humming to myself with happiness. Across the table, The Man was chomping merrily away at the two sizeable spheres of sweetness, grinning like the village idiot as he did so. Gulab Jamun is comprised of Khoya (milk solids), Flour and Butter, and typically served with a tooth-chatteringly sweet syrup; the one at Lagan is less so, and has a marvellous Cardamom aroma that dances at the periphery of the palate. Both of us remarked how much we liked our respective choices.
I had a fresh Mint Tea to conclude my meal, whilst The Man had his usual black coffee, both £2.95. Throughout our evening, the team had checked that we were enjoying our food and whether we needed more drinks. I have to say that this was one of the friendliest teams we’ve encountered…and they didn’t know who we were – that sounds dead pretentious, I know, but it isn’t, and you know what I mean! The shock on their faces when one of them came across the card we’d left on the table was priceless!! He came running up and said “is this you?”, “Yup, it is”. “Oh wow, I follow you guys! I didn’t know you were coming!”. “No worries, glad you like the blog, and you and your colleagues have all been lovely”. The smile on his face was great, and I know it’s geeky, but we both still get athrill from reactions like this!
Hot Wings happily given to Lagan Indian Tapas restaurant in Nottingham; we had a great evening with you. For more information, visit the website www.lagatapas.co.uk – you can book a table by hitting the ‘book a table’ button in the top right-hand corner and there are buttons with details of the menus on. You can also ring 0115 648 6666 to book your table, if you prefer.
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