This week I went to Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham to try out the Indian cuisine of the intriguingly named 1580 restaurant. 1580 is the year that Drake circumnavigated the globe in the Golden Hind and the food on offer reflects that east meets west idea. It’s a cut above the average curry house and this is reflected in the decor, the quality of the ingredients and the care with which the dishes are prepared.
We started with 1580 signature cone poppadoms with a range of accompaniments including onion, tomato and chaat masala. I liked the idea of the cone and it certainly makes a change from the usual poppadoms. Be careful not to fill the cone with something very spicy though as it might come as a bit of a shock.
Next up was a platter of starters. My favourite was the Kochi Kekraa which is made from crispy soft-shelled crabs tossed with curry leaves, chili, pepper, onion, ginger and garlic from the port of Kochi. Tasty too were the lamb chops (flavoured with distinct red chilli and dried coriander flavour cooked and served with Laccha Salad) and the succulent Chicken Tikka. Spiciest of all were the juicy tiger prawns (Tandoori Saffron Jumbo Tiger Prawn Tikka flavoured with saffron, ginger, garlic and other spices).
For me the starters were the stand out dishes of the night and I’d have happily eaten just starters. The main courses were very flavoursome though, but they did lack the star quality and the range of the starter selection. One of the most interesting dishes was the Bater Curry (or Quail Railway Curry) which was a Tandoori quail cooked with fresh ginger-garlic, tomatoes, onions and green chilli in a typical North Indian railway style.
Desserts can be problematic in Indian restaurants. We sampled the Gulab Jamun which is a milk reduction and cottage cheese dumplings which was served with a delicious coconut flavoured ice cream. I do like that 1580 are making the effort to serve traditional Asian desserts and I always like to try something new in the sweet department. Sometimes Indian desserts are overpoweringly sweet, but I like that the Gulab Jamun provided a better balance of flavours.
1580 is well worth a visit to try out the innovative and interesting menu and discover new flavours and taste experiences. The restaurant is easy to get to being situated on the Chester Road and only a few minutes walk from Chester Road train station which is on the cross city line.