"You Choose" — Estado Da India

Once a week I walk into a restaurant and ask the staff to order for me

Venue: Estado Da India, 42-44 High St, Harborne, B17 9NE; website
Choice: Goan Pao Bun (£7.95) Chooser: Front of house

I accidentally spent £6.50 on a can of beer at The Plough before this meal, because ordering by app is something I seem to struggle with. So I positively skipped across Harborne High Street to Estado Da India knowing I was about to take full advantage of their 50% off food launch offer. I had losses to make back, folks. Estado has taken the spot left behind by taste vacuum Cafe Rouge and the food is the exact opposite. Bold, burly, spicy hits of Indian and Portuguese tapas-size dishes, from the people behind Lasan, Fiesta Del Asado and my personal favourite, Raja Monkey. Operationally these guys know what they're doing so it must be put down to teething problems that there were looooong waits between the two separate orders. Tapas works because dishes come out when they're ready and you can keep ordering when you realise the food is ace or, you know, pop off if it's not. Doing as instructed I ordered a first tranche of dishes and waited. I should have taken that as my cue to order more when the dishes arrived, all in one go. Never mind, the food was mouth gold, particularly the Goan Pao Bun — Goan spiced lamb mince, stuffed in a Portuguese roll. Meltingly gorgeous, if I had my way a second would have been ordered and I would have filled up on bread. It's what I'm best at. A lot of people have pointed out the the Samaar Cod is somewhat punchy when paying full whack of £10.95. They are absolutely right, but this is a standout of a dish if you're feeling flush. With Opus gone great seafood has become that little harder to find in Brum, but this Icelandic cod loin, baked in Goan samaar spiced aioli with roasted garlic and cumin set the tone for dishes from the ocean, the skewered wild Atlantic prawns in citrus, garlic, green chilli and coriander being worth every penny of £6.25. The octopus and potatoes was also a hit and the beef vindaloo was a welcome whack of heat — dried Kashmiri chilies pitch perfect, hot but not over-powering the ginger and garlicky gravy. Smoked morcela sausage trumped the less impressive spicy chorizo in what was very much hits over misses — the biggest miss definitely being the long wait for both the first and second round of food. They'll get this sorted, no doubt, and I did indeed mention it to the team who were completely lovely about it and agreed we'd drawn a short straw that night. I didn't quite catch what the waiter said due to facemask mufflage but I'm pretty sure it was something along the lines of "we'd knock a load of money off if you weren't already getting a 50% discount." Completely fair enough too.