The Maharaja restaurant in Birmingham’s Hurst Street could not be better placed or more convenient for the Hippodrome Theatre, a mere fifty yards away. Its rather unprepossessing exterior conceals an Indian restaurant of the very highest quality.
The owner, Nat Batt, is passionate about his food and its preparation. Everything is fresh and sourced by himself. In fact, following a recent marketing survey, the Indian retail and catering supplier Patak could not believe Mr Batt’s claim that he was not using any of its prepared herbs or spices and sent one of the family along, unannounced, to investigate. They could find no trace of their commercial products in the food; everything was fresh and sourced independently.
Nat is almost obsessive about this and for the past forty-two years has concentrated all his efforts of this one establishment, avoiding the opportunities to open other restaurants or create a chain. He has won many awards including the 1996 Egon Ronay Indian Restaurant of the Year, the 1999 Good Food Guide Best in the Midlands and BBC Olive Magazine Best Restaurant in UK.
Not surprisingly the Maharaja welcomes most of the stars appearing at the nearby Hippodrome, the stage-door of which is only twenty-five yards across the road. Wisely Nat has resisted the temptation to cover the walls with luvvy photographs, preferring, as his visitors do, discretion over self aggrandisement.
The interior of the Maharaja is small, tastefully decorated and comfortable and the staff are friendly and attentive. But it is the food which dominates everything.
We tried a selection of dishes all of which were full of deep, rich flavours and aromas. The tandoori chicken was especially good and one of the best I have tasted. However, for me the outstanding dish was the Fenugreek Chicken, something I had never tried before. Although the herb is widely used in Indian and Thai cooking, this was the first time I had eaten a dish where it was the predominant flavour. I urge you to try it, it is quite different from anything you’ve tasted before.
The service was excellent and Mr Batt was a friendly and charming host. Ignore the rather shabby street and dull exterior, the Maharaja is an exceptional Indian restaurant. Highly recommended. – Michael Hasted June 2013
The Maharaja, 25 Hurst St, Birmingham B5 4AS
Tel. 0121 622 2641 http://www.maharajarestaurant.co.uk
Every day except Sunday 12:00–14:00 and 18:00–23:00