Located at the Five Ways end of Broad Street is the biggest restaurant this city has to offer (no less than 500 covers). Not only is it huge in scale, but every inch is dripping in opulence. I was blown away when the doors to Varanasi were opened for me, and here's exactly why.
You’re walked through a tunnel entrance which is deliciously dark, with Bhuddas lined either side. This opens up to a grand bar area that is so inviting you could lose a few hours there and barely notice the time go thanks to rich interiors and decorative nods to Eastern culture. Dimly lit and overtly indulgent, diners are taken downstairs to a spacious underground level which exudes more sumptuous decadence (there are, in fact, two floors). There are two private dining areas which are unmatched for a premium feel outside of a Michelin star venue. There’s also an intimate dining space for two, and I can only imagine how many proposals will happen at a table such as that.
The Food & Drink
It’s certainly not style over substance when it comes to the food and drink at Varanasi. We had the Kashmiri Lamb Cutlets (£12) and Monk Fish Tikka (£10) to start. The portions are seemingly generous for starter-esque dishes, but you’re under no rush. The lamb was perfectly soft and with just the right amount of spice, while the only way the monkfish could’ve been tenderer is if it came out singing Marvin Gaye.
For our selection of mains we kept to the sea. First up was the exotic Malabar Fish Curry (£19) – a crisp-skinned piece of fresh water sea bass carefully placed on a bed of sautéed baby spinach, coconut shavings and pan fried red chillies. I’m by no means afraid of spice, but I do have a weakness for coconut, so the Chingari Malai Curry (£21) was the dish for me. Blending king prawns in coconut milk and tempered with delicate spices, this was an incredible dish of flavour and clear finesse. The sundries you’d expect are on offer, and in particular the cucumber and pomegranate raita (£3) was delicious, adding the perfect lightness to our meal.
The wine menu along with the food has clearly been picked with care as I got about to enjoying a gorgeous and plump Malbec. I would bet good money the cocktails are out of this world, and I’ve heard rumours of a £500 cocktail, the most expensive you’ll find in Brum.
The Atmosphere and Clientele
It’s pretty damn sexy here, and feels like just the kind of restaurant to frequent if you're into the finer things in life. Not only is the atmosphere as elegant as they come, the service of the restaurant is no less than impeccable throughout. Not only were we looked after from beginning to end, we weren't rushed, creating a perfect and seamless dining experience that will no less go down in our dining history books.
Amongst the kebab and pizza stops is a restaurant like nothing you’d expect in Birmingham. I was sceptical that Broad Street could offer something of outstanding quality, and I’m happy to eat my words. You can’t fail to see that love, pride, and a lot of money, has gone into Varanasi, and we were more than impressed with our experience.