Think of this as my May blog, published early on in June, about a fab meal in May.
The whole Michelin thing for me is something I feel in constant throws with. On one hand, I LOVE the experience of being fine wined and dined; consuming yourself in the feeling you know you will never eat this exact meal again, the skills and master craft of a team of chefs coming together for a mutual love of food, the ambition they seek to become the best they can be and of course the sum of it all, the extraordinary flavours and dishes you are served.
On the other hand, I’m all too aware of not only the stress, anxiety and turmoil being awarded a star can cause a restaurant team (this famous French chef actually asked to lose his 3 *s a while back so he could cook in anxiety-free peace), but also the absurd cost and (often) pomp involved. I was highly amused that following the consumption of the following meal, a 60-something solo bloke tried to lecture us on why the hell we were ‘throwing away’ money on Michelin meals rather than investing in property. YOU, my friend, need to be educated on a little thing called I Choose Birmingham and other good guys who team up for the best deals. AND you need to find friends to come dine with rather than throwing young couples into mid-twenties breakdowns surrounded by people twice, maybe thrice my age when treating my boyfriend to a birthday treat.
So anyway, him aside, how was Brum’s most recently starred restaurant?
Relaxed, modern suburban chic. I mentioned pomp earlier, something I tend to avoid. No white tablecloths, servers in white shirts and waistcoats or classical music. MY kinda pomp’s the menu full of extra the team bring to you, complete with actual magnifying glass and the canapes the team serve with your arrival drink. YES TO ALL OF THAT.
For a school (Tuesday) night, we were heavier than our usual selves, but not as heavy as some enjoying the wine flights with the seven course tasting menu. A mocktail, a couple of glasses of familiar wine and beer were enjoyed. There’s not a lot more to say on the subject.
To my surprise (and delight), birthday boy actually opted for the seven course taster.
Following canapes and sitting down at your table, the food doesn’t stop and nor do the team working tirelessly to perfect your night (nor does the sourdough). They’re a young, cool, contemporary team, which also add to the non-pomp points, but they sure do not lack in knowledge, professionalism and general greatness.
They’re seasonal produce folk so don’t worry if you go following this post, I won’t have ruined it all. Let us begin*.
Crispy potato puffs (akin to certain party snack potato crisps) with a smoked potato veloute with thyme
Asparagus, burrata and crispy chicken skin
My god how do you make asparagus tips taste so pure, so fresh? Against the creaminess of the burrata (fave) and the salty chicken crisps and jus, it was a warm spring night that you just wanted to down from the bowl in one .
Langoustine, leek and ginger, topped with crispy leeks
Top two dishes of the night. Again, HOW can one simple round of leek taste this, leeky?! I somehow managed to eke this little delight out into c. seven whole mouthfuls…
Veal sweetbreads, spiced cauliflower puree, cabbage
A surprising star of the night, featuring in both of our top two dishes of the night, particularly the cauliflower purée. As with the flavours described in my previous post re. macarons, this inspiring team manage to ooze out every note of each ingredient they use; leek, the simple cauliflower and cabbagey cabbage leaf included.
Smoked eel with kohlrabi & samphire
Oops forgot to get a photo of that one 🙄 But it was suuuuper tasty, better than your average eel… I’ve also always found kohlrabi an odd substance but something about that fresh watery crunch against the smoked fish was pretty delicately here.
Longhorn beef with St George’s mushroom and black garlic
Actually so surprisingly, the beef was probably my seventh favourite course of the night. Don’t get me wrong, it was perfectly cooked beef with a rich mushroom ketchup and wonderful black garlic running through it. The elements just didn’t shine through like single elements of other dishes à la leek, cabbage, asparagus. Spring veg wins.
An almighty palate cleanser – a passion fruit buttermilk. Would have satisfied as dessert alone.
Honey cake with fennel ice cream
OH MY GOD THIS WAS GOOD. The caramelised layer on top of the square of cake, the creamiest custard cream and a fennel ice cream that surprised us into sweet sensations.
Chocolate, three ways, with sherry and vanilla
Again, no photo as I dived so hard into this chocolate trio I wasn’t coming up for air. Believe the hype around this dessert.
Of course the Peel’s team were also kind enough to offer R a celebration plate and the most delightful petit fours based on a glass of milk and a cookie 😍
Left to right: milky marshmallow, malted milk cracker and saving the best until last, speckled dark chocolate containing COOKIE DOUGH. I mean come on, that is reason alone to visit the place.
And all this for BOGOF (the seven courser that is) thanks to King and Queen I Choose and the Hampton team coming up with a cracking deal for city folk. Snooze you lose on these things so make sure you don’t miss out again – join I Choose here now.
Complete relaxation. My post-dinner zen was very much akin to the sanctuary of a spa, that feeling of having been temporarily taken away from the everyday and whatever you had on your mind pre-dinner. A passion-filled evening, which also involved your boyfriend (I kid on any harmful connotations there). Apart from an odd couple of classical/jazz filler songs not to my taste, the soundtrack was spot on too.
As an aside, ‘comms-y’ me also adores their words, their tone of voice, their messaging. Check out their website and sign up to their newsletter (no I’m not being paid) if you’re also a words-y, brand-y fan. I think they’re bang on.
A delightfully relaxed experience from start to end.
I have on good authority their Afternoon Tea is ace and full of drama, if you like theatrical teas and all that.
It’s also really not that far from the train station, walkable (in decent shoes), you just might want a torch for the walk back after dinner.
Shadowbrook Lane, Hampton-in-Arden.
*Apologises if ANY of the above ingredients or descriptions are slightly inaccurate, they really do baffle you into speechlessness when describing the perfected dishes before you.