Praza: adding a touch of spice to Edgbaston

The building now occupied by Praza has housed several restaurants previously, none of which enticed me back.

There was something awkward about the space and lacklustre about the food of the places that came and went before.
Now, though, the place is light and airy and the food is a deftly-spiced and refined take on classic Indian cookery.
Its clearly the sister restaurant on the likeable Pushkar just down the road.

The food

A basket of variously flavoured supremely crisp popadoms and thick little Indian crackers with relishes was a promising start to the meal.

The barah kebab to which I progressed were plump, succulent and tasty lamb chops still slightly pink inside.
I’d have liked them to have spent longer in the clay oven to have a fewer more burnt edges, but this is a quibble.

A plate of zafrani paneer tikka – Indian cheese marinated in carom seeds and saffron-spiked yoghurt cooked in a tandoor – was a pretty and, apparently, flavoursome dish.
Alas, the gol gappa – that subcontinental veggie standard featuring crisp pastry shells filled with onions and chickpeas and served with a tangy, watery sauce – was prissily presented and not, I was assured, especially enjoyable.

No moans, at all, though, about the shared vegetarian main courses – a wonderfully rich version of the lentil dish dal makhani, a bowl of the aubergine and spud combo aloo baigaan that was zingy with fresh ginger and a mixed vegetable curry packed with contrasting flavours and textures.
A south Indian fish curry was vibrant and had great depth of flavour.

Throughout these main course dishes there were layers of flavour that suggested a chef with a masterly control of spicing.
There’s a sense that this is a kitchen with skill and passion.

The service

Service wasn’t always swift, but it was unfailingly friendly and informed and, in any case, Praza is the kind of place in which to linger.

The decor

The restaurant is situated in what I’d guess was a former grand house dating fro the mid-19th century.
There are discrete areas in which to dine and drink.

There’s a kind of restrained contemporary art deco feel to the place.
Tables are bare dark wood, seats are cosily upholstered.There are one or two bling touches.

Need to know

Expect to pay around £30 a head for food and drink.
Cut costs with the 2-for-1 main course offer at various times.
There are plenty of veggie options.
There’s an extensive ist of cocktails, beers, wine and other drinks.
Accessible for disabled people.
It has a car park.

94-96 Hagley Road, Edgbaston B16 8LU. 0121 456 4500.

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