Last week I was fortunate enough to be invited to dine at Aktar Islam’s new Italian restaurant, Legna, during the soft launch period. Hot on the heels of fine dining Indian restaurant, Opheem, Legna is the second solo venture from Aktar to join the restaurant group and Summer Row which is fast becoming a corner of Brum dominated by Aktar and that’s OK with me.
Legna is a beautiful restaurant. It’s sexy, stylish and seriously luxe. A glossy, well stocked bar with seating, dominates the restaurant as you enter, before extending out into a decadent space with low lighting, copper touches throughout, an open kitchen with a glass partition and the most dreamy outdoor space overlooking the canal.
Legna has managed to pull off a space and vibe that appeals to those who fancy an aperitif and a few plates and those who fancy a full-blown plate to plate feast that takes over the table. Very rarely do restaurants get this right, but Legna has got this very right.
The food menu is full of surprises, which is typical of Aktar’s talent. This isn’t your typical Italian fare, this is fine dining Italian food that challenges your perceptions of what Italian food should be. You’ll need to leave all assumptions and stereotypes at the door because Aktar takes you on a tour of his take on Italian food and its a unique ride full of fabulous surprises steeped in produce from all over Italy.
As part of the soft launch, we enjoy a taster menu of unique dishes and big flavours that we kick off with a delicious amuse-bouche.
We start with meaty oysters drenched in finely chopped cucumber, shallots, chilli and lemon. Instead of slurping and swallowing, we take our time because they’re sensational.
To accompany the oysters, we enjoy flavoursome beetroot, dried artichoke, butternut squash and kohirabi which have a lovely crunch and freshness to them that works really nicely with the light oysters.
Warm breads, olive oil, herb butter and an intense balsamic vinegar arrives next which is tasty, and adopts a surprising place on the menu, but then I did say to expect the unexpected.
Burrata is fresh and firm, balancing on top of juicy heritage tomatoes, dressed with basil and a tomato consomme that is poured onto the burrata to add additional flavour. It’s a nice touch, but if I’m honest, I’d have preferred a little less consomme so as not to break down the burrata, but that is personal preference.
Next comes, Rabbit Rillette packed with layers of flavour, cipollini onions and tomatoes with balsamic to the side. A typically Italian dish and if you’re a fan of pate type dishes then you will enjoy this one.
Celeriac tagliatelle is a twist on standard pasta and comes slightly al dente in a creamy, Winchester cheese sauce with meaty trompette mushrooms buried underneath and fresh truffle shavings upon serving. It’s a tasty dish, the celeriac holding a really powerful flavour despite the sauce.
The standout dish of the night is Roasted Chicken with perfectly seasoned and slightly crispy skin, hearty pumpkin risotto and a fresh and zingy salsa that oozes into the risotto. This dish is knockout good and is the plate I’ve been working up to all evening.
To finish, we enjoy a vibrant Almalfi lemon tart with a lovely browned glaze and a dollop of creme fraiche to add some luxe. It’s a dreamy finish to the taster menu and an excellent introduction to a new take on Italian fine dining in the city, it’s certainly piqued my interest to explore the fuller menu.
Legna, as you’d expect, is a feast for the senses. From the luxe dining space to the unique food and attentive and knowledgeable service, this is a restaurant that will introduce Birmingham to Italian fine dining and open our minds to what is possible and who better to take you on that journey than Aktar Islam.
I can’t wait to come back for more.
Legna, Fleet Street, Islington Gates, Birmingham B3 1JH