Exposed meets Lavang — an Indian restaurant with a twist
Since opening its doors just over six months ago, Lavang Indian restaurant has gone from strength to strength. We spoke to co-owners AJ, Nash and Jay about the venue’s distinct philosophy and what the future may hold.
So, chaps, we’re almost seven months in. How has the experience been so far?
N: To be honest, it was fairly hectic at the start. This was a completely new venture for all us, but we’ve settled into the routine now.
AJ: Owning a restaurant was a completely new thing to us, but we’ve been received really well by the Sheffield community. I think it’s been a bit better than expected to be honest! To cope with demand we’ve near enough had to double our staff numbers since opening.
N: Our customers have all been great. We already have some regulars who come in three or four times a week – seriously!
Tell us a bit about your backgrounds?
AJ: I’m from a retail background; I used to be a supermarket manager so the other guys bring the real skills when it comes to the restaurant trade.
N: I’ve been in the restaurant trade from a young age. For me, this is a real passion and it’s not like I’m doing it for the money or anything like that. I used to work at the Saffron Club on Glossop Road, then Nonna’s on Ecclesall Road and also Alma’s in Dore village – so it’s something I’ve been doing for a good chunk of my life, and work I genuinely love.
J: I’ve been working in restaurants since the age of 13, some of it in Indian cuisine but I’ve had the experience of a working in a range of different places. That was helpful as it allows you to see all different sides of the hospitality trade and other ways of doing things. I’ve worked at cocktail bars, sports bars and hotels, doing bits in the kitchens but also interacting with customers. Even when I’m at home I’m always cooking … I never stop!
How did you first decide on opening a restaurant?
AJ: Me and Nash met at his cousin’s wedding down south about 10 or 11 years ago now. We stayed in touch and would away together every summer. One year we were on holiday and saw this brilliant glass-fronted restaurant, we’d had a few drinks by this point but we started talking about how we’d love to do something like that ourselves. Obviously he had the trade experience and I was getting a bit fed up in my line of work, so we started to put plans in motion from then on.
N: Then a few years later, here we are. Everything has worked out perfectly with this place: the look, location and way things came together has been great.
So you had a clear vision of what you wanted from the beginning?
J: We wanted a place we would like to visit ourselves; somewhere clean, relaxed and not too packed.
N: Back in the day it was more of a norm to go out, get hammered and have a late curry before going home – almost like an afterthought. Things have changed now and it’s more of an experience: it’s about having a nice meal with your partner or family and friends.
J: We offer a full evening out here – you can come just for a drink, some food, or both. Some people just come in for a chat! That’s the sort of comfortable vibe we want here.
AJ: We didn’t think twice once the place became available. It’s a lovely area of town, located really well in terms of being close to bars and pubs, so it’s a nice destination for an evening out.
What’s the key ethos at Lavang?
N: The main thing for me is quality over quantity. Our menus aren’t massive when compared to other Indian restaurants, but the focus is on fresh ingredients, customer service and providing a nice ambience.
J: The menu concentrates more on great flavours, not necessarily just your standard Indian cuisine.
And what are the main inspirations behind the menu?
J: Before opening we all had a long chat about exactly what we wanted from the menu. We came to the conclusion that a lot of Indian cuisine today kind of goes through the motions, the same things over and over again. We wanted something fresh, something original and exciting.
AJ: We want to think out of the box. We’ll be doing seasonal menus and Jay’s already working on the next one; that way people don’t have to order the same thing every time and risk getting bored.
J: We want to refine the menu to the highest level possible, putting stuff in there that you won’t find on every Indian menu.
AJ: It’s about the restaurant evolving with the menu and bringing something new to the table – literally.
And how is the future shaping up for Lavang?
AJ: Well, this is our baby, there will only be one Lavang. Our short-term plans are to master the menu, keep developing and we’ve also applied to put some decking and seating outside so customers can go al fresco.
N: We’re not just an Indian restaurant; we like to offer something a bit different. I’d recommend anyone out there to come give us a go and experience it for themselves.
Lavang: 478-480 Fulwood Rd, S10 3QD // lavangsheffield.co.uk // 0114 263 0106