Reviewed by Shelly Owens
Conveniently situated for the ICC, Symphony Hall and city night life, nestled in Regency Wharf on Broad Street, Birmingham, the Blue Mango restaurant has found a perfect combination of traditional meets modern in their food and décor. With an almost colonial feel, the restaurant is furnished with dark wood furniture, wooden floors and dark leather upholstery. The tables are as interesting a read as the menu with a scrapbook style print depicting vintage passports, maps, culinary information and fascinating food “factoids” protected by a heavy glass top. Large palms adorn various corners of the room and through a chunky wooden screen, the chefs can be observed working their magic.
Greeted at the door, we were seated at the bar which was abuzz with cocktail shakers while the hum of the conversation drifted over from the restaurant area and captured our attention! The room was packed, granted there were a few large parties which is to be expected at this time of year but the room had an energy about it that was unmistakable – we really got the feeling that this was going to be somewhere a little bit special and we were not disappointed!
Shown to a table in a quiet area off the main restaurant floor, we were told that this was a room reserved for parties and meetings as well as being used when the restaurant was exceptionally busy and I would definitely recommend considering this as a venue for a large family celebration having sampled the menu and hospitality! The rear of the restaurant overlooks the Wharf itself and we enjoyed watching the party and restaurant barges passing by throughout the evening.
The menu at Blue Mango is extensive with many unique dishes, combining years of tradition with a modern flare. The wine list is extensive with a mix of affordable and prestigious wines, priced as you would expect in a City centre restaurant.
The dishes on the menu are well described, listing spice blends is especially helpful when selecting an unfamiliar dish! My husband chose the Sea Bass starter, marinated and served with asparagus and Tamarind water which he described as lightly fragrant and not over powering the taste of the fish, a plus in our books but we did note another table wasn't as impressed with the lightness in flavour – I guess you have to know your fish! His main course was the Nihari Lamb, tender chunks of meat in a ginger and spiced gravy, truly mouth-watering and thankfully only scoring one chilli on the heat scale as the “Pulao rice” he chose as his side order was quite highly spiced (be warned).
My starter of choice was a Dosa, a traditional rice flour crepe served crispy with spiced potato filling, traditional broth and served with a tomato and a fresh coconut chutney. Also available with a tikka filling and as a main course I was shocked by the size of my portion and wondered if they mistakenly given me a main course portion but apparently size matters to manager Mukesh and he insists on his chefs serving ample portions!
My main course was equally mammoth sized as I chose to sample their Tawa-tak-a-tak menu and opted for the chicken dish peppers, tomatoes and chilli cooked on a traditional iron skillet brought sizzling to your table – this dish was outstanding! The flavours exploded and in spite of being a definite “two chilli” the blend of spices was delicious.
We rounded our meal off with a shared dessert ( far too full to manage a portion to ourselves!) and we opted for the Gulab Jamun, traditional deep fried milk balls soaked in sugar syrup and served with a cardamom flavoured sweet Rabri (sweet milk sauce). The balls were light and sticky, balanced by the creamy sauce and ended the meal beautifully.
The service at the restaurant was excellent. From the moment we walked in we felt welcome and that our happiness was incredibly important to them in spite of how busy the main restaurant was. When our waiter took our order we were asked if we wanted to order in stages or choose our main course and starter at the same time, not an option I have had before but I can see the appeal, observing a large group of diners choosing and enjoying dishes as they went created a great sharing atmosphere. The skills and efficiency of the chefs mean that food is cooked to order in a very quick time, we were apologised to because our starters were going to take more than 10 minutes to reach the pass!
I would recommend this as a great restaurant to a round off a day out in Birmingham or when heading to or from a show. They are family friendly with baby changing and high chairs available and have menus to suit most pockets. Their set menus start from £24.95 per person for two courses and also include a side dish, rice and naan bread or you can select from an array of dishes from £4.75 for starters, £8.95 for main dishes and £3.95 for desserts.
When we identified ourselves as being from What's Good To Do the manager apologised for not having placed us in the main restaurant, as they had intended. A case of mistaken identity meant that he seated us intuitively and placed us in the quieter area , where we could enjoy each other’s company and soak up the atmosphere – I'm rather glad he did! We had a fabulous evening, were treated like royalty, ate like kings and parted as friends – an excellent evening all round!
A definite 5/5 from us!
For more information, to view menus or book a table visit www.bluemangobirmingham.co.uk.