Lahore Kebab House Review – Birmingham

For my second review I thought I would return to my Sparkbrook roots and the famous Balti Triangle. Back in the 90’s the triangle was the place to eat, these days the Triangle is a pale shadow of its former glory. There are still a few jewels dotted around including Al Faisals and Desi Grill but some of the names from years gone by are no longer with us. Ladypool Road continues to carry the banner for the Balti Traingle but the Stratford Road in the last decade has lost institutions like the Royal Naim, Sher Khan and the Grand Tandoori amongst others.

For my first Balti Triangle review I’ve picked one of the golden oldies the Lahore Kebab House on Ladypool Road. For many Brummies Lahore is an institution and a firm favourite for the city’s Pakistani community. The restaurant occupies a prime corner plot on the Ladypool Road and has bizarrely opened a second outlet across the road which is almost an identical twin of its older sibling.

Walking into Lahore Kebab House is like walking back in time, the restaurant is split between a takeaway area which is the main entry point and a family dining area open to larger groups of diners.

Our dining party of three opted to eat in the family dining area post Jummah prayers. The restaurant is definitely quieter in the afternoon than the evening. The first thing I noticed was Lahore has decided to replace its famous plastic covered tables with new wooden tables and big leather chairs. The chairs I liked the tables looked dated and ours had a distinct sticky feel to it….

Lahore might have upgraded its furniture and added new black signage on the outside but the interior walls remain dated and in desperate need of a face lift. Pride of place on the dated interior goes to Imran Khan paying homage to his pathan roots with a rifle in his hands and traditional Pashtun hat. Imran is joined by Lady Diana veiled by a white scarf watching over the diners at Lahore. There is also the token PIA poster!

We were greeted by our waiter who was prompt in bringing over some water and dishing out some new menus which include a glaring and rather funny missing word on the back of the menu as part of the Lahore Customer Commitment! I’ll leave it to readers to go and see Lahore’s clanger for themselves.

Food I hear you say!

Lahore Kebab House as the name suggests is famous for its Kebabs and Grills. Whilst the restaurant serves curries and baltis I have to confess in all the time I have ever visited Lahore I have never summoned the courage to try one and lack the enthusiasm after seeing them sitting under the counter looking as appealing as a bag of brussel sprouts!

For our dining option we picked Fries and Chicken Pakora as a starter followed by two classic mains of Masala Fish in Nan and a Large Kebab Roll.

The starters arrived promptly, a rather small portion of fries appeared in a traditional plastic roti holder and a more generous portion of chicken pakora arrived on a plate accompanied by a rather basic salad lacking cucumber and tomato but with generous proportions of lettuce and onion!

The chicken pakora was ok, not great just ok. There was as much gram coating as there was chicken. I’ve yet to find a restaurant in the whole UK that does better chicken pakoras than Mushtaq’s Sweet Centre and Lahore failed to meet the Mushtaq challenge.

For our mains we had a large kebab roll and masala fish in naan. Over the years I have witnessed a shrinkage in the size of masala fish portions and kebabs. There was a time when your masala fish order and kebabs dominated the naan that they were served on. Today both the fish and the sheesh kebabs seemed to be dominated by the naan. Both dishes came with a side salad which again was missing key ingredients this time it was the cucumber but we had bonus cabbage, of the joy!

The kebabs were ok, one was overcooked and resembled charcoal more than a kebab but in all fairness the other two were up to a good standard. The masala fish was slightly on the small side but well cooked and flavoured. PS the photo of the masala fish above is a classic photo from 3 years ago and was probably twice the size of the portion served today. I must remember to take a camera with me to my reviews!

After years of dining at Lahore I have to confess the food didn’t set my taste buds on fire, when I eat out I expect good, today I got ok and a sense that Lahore has seen much better days and is now more a place to eat because its convenient rather than because its food is the talk of the town. There is a real need to revitalise this former jewel of the Balti Triangle, the dining area is dated and in need of a major face lift.

On the positive side price wise Lahore continues to deliver good value for money and customer service was prompt and polite.

If you’re in a rush and just need a kebab on the go you could do worse but if you’re looking for space to enjoy a meal out I think there are better options on the Ladypool Road including the new Desi Express further up the road.

My bigger concern is that the Lahore experience today is a wider reflection on the Balti Triangle which has gone from great choice to good choice to limited choice. A couple of months ago I was on the Wilmslow Road in Manchester and it was a real eye opener to see the diversity of the food experience in Manchester compared to our balti triangle in Birmingham. As a regular eater out I find myself drawn more to Small Heath and Alum Rock than the Balti Triangle and fear the continued demise of what has been a Birmingham institution.

Here is hoping further reviews of restaurants in the Balti Triangle give me more hope to be optimistic about its future.

Quality of Food: 6
Quality of Service: 7
Quality of Space: 4
Value for Money: 7

Overall rating: 6