Mishtidesh Review – Birmingham

Having sampled the delights and at times pitfalls of Arabic and Pakistani cuisine in the past fortnight I thought it might be time to try some Bangladeshi inspired food. My timing as always was impeccable and I’ve chosen to review Mishtidesh the very week it launched its new buffet offer.

Now we all know Muslims love their food and we love our food more when we hear the magic word BUFFET!

So some background information on Mishtidesh. I have to confess I’m not an expert on Bangla cuisine or the scene in Birmingham but I sampled Mishtidesh in the company of two Bangladeshi friends both of whom have worked in the trade. To add to the ethnic mix of our trip we were joined by friends repping the Afro Caribbean and Irish communities.

Mishtidesh is best known for its sweet centre and catering service for weddings and functions. From a sweet centre perspective I guess its to the Bangladeshi community what Ambala and Mushtaqs are to the Pakistani community.

I was reliably informed this was the second attempt to relaunch Mishtidesh as a dining destination the previous attempt didn’t fare to well and the buffet marked a return to a more traditional style of Bangladeshi cuisine that lends itself to home cooked favourites rather than High street dishes.

Mishtidesh is located on the Coventry Road in the Small Heath area of the city opposite the well established Dar Ul Loom mosque or the Bangladeshi mosque as its better known in the city. From the outside there is nothing spectacular about Mishtidesh its a standard retail outlet with a strong emphasis on its sweet offer.

Inside the restaurant the decore is clean, simple and welcoming. You do get a feeling they have tried to cram as many covers into the downstairs space as possible especially around the front of the space where you are likely to have takeaway customers becoming more intimate with your table than you would like!

Towards the back of the dining area there are a couple of booths which are designed for family diners, again these were a tight fit especially with the guests we had around the table!

As with our previous reviews we arrived just after Friday prayers to find the buffet being set up, our nervousness at seeing a few dishes was quickly replaced with the enthusiasm you expect Muslims to have at the mention of a buffet as more dishes arrived out of the kitchen area albeit in a slow and disordered way!

Food I hear you cry!

For my first trip to the buffet counter I topped up my plate with vegetable pakoras, some potatoes, what I can best describe as round sheesh kebab mini balls, some salad and spring rolls. At this stage we were still crying out for some sauces which thankfully arrived in the form of mint and chilli sauce.

The starters were a mixed affair, the pakoras were good albeit a bit on the cold side, the spring rolls were more pastry than filling and the salad was a flood of lettuce with the odd tomatoe and cucumber hiding in the undergrowth of lettuce. The star of the starters were the sheekh kebab balls which were spicy, tender and simply delicious!

For my mains I had a mixture of pilau rice, keema, chicken balti, cauliflower and potatoe balti and a fish curry coupled with a few more kebab balls for good measure! This for me is the beauty of any buffet the wonderful ability to mix and match some bizarre and delicious food combos. There were a number of other dishes including a plain rice, lamb and lentil option that I didn’t sample but as far as a selection of mains went I thought Mishtidesh offered a good mixture and there was something for every taste.

I enjoyed my mains much more than my starter plate, the chicken and keema in particular were very enjoyable, the fish was tender and delicate. My only critisism of the latter was the number of bones but thats a minor quibble in the grand scheme of things. The variety of flavours on the plate definitely packed a punch and there was a distinct spicy taste to the overall mix of dishes on my plate.

The views around the table varied dramatically. Whilst I thought the starters were on the average side I felt the mains delivered a good variety, some great flavour and a real spicy kick! This view was echoed by the non Bangladeshi diners.

Our two Bengali heritage guests however seemed less impressed not so much at the quality of the food itself but its lack of adventure and eating out feel. The buffet variety was described by both as “typical wedding food” and “what my mum makes at home”.

On a personal level when I dine out I like to eat what different cultural communities would eat and that made the Mishtidesh experience a welcome insight and journey into traditional home cooked Bangladeshi cuisine.

Price wise the buffet is a bargain, at £5.50 you can’t go wrong price wise and the choice is varied enough to give you a number of different options to sample.

I have no doubt the buffet will develop over time, if I was to offer advice it would be to add more variety to the starters which pale in comparison to the main courses on offer. The layout of the space and buffet area needs further consideration. The dishes almost sit one on top of another there is no room to swing a cat let along swing a serving ladle!

Despite the minor grumbles I think the buffet offer definitely has potential and will improve over time.

Quality of Food: 6 ( I would have scored higher but the starters were a let down )
Quality of Service: 7 ( Self Service!)
Quality of Space: 6 ( Cramped )
Value for Money: 9

Overall rating: 7