Posted by: Natalie | December 20, 2010

Birthday Surprise!

Friday was my birthday, my 29th in fact, and for the very first time in weeks I felt genuinely healthy – thank God! I had a leisurely morning at work before returning home for an afternoon of preening before a truly luxurious evening.

Steve had organised my birthday meal weeks ago, something of a novelty! He has, in the past, had slight hiccups surrounding my birthday meal by forgetting it was the week before Christmas and the height of office party season. Therefore, and to me fairly obviously, bookings are required. Something my darling boy may have previously forgotten until the morning of said birthday. The lesson was learned the year we were told there was a three hour wait for a table!

This year he managed to ruin all other birthdays ever to come – he took me to Glynn Purnell’s Michelin Starred restaurant in Birmingham’s suave and sophisticated heart. I always said that just once in my life I would like to experience such food, just to understand what the hype is all about, and my word do I now know.

CLICK ME

I admired Glynn after seeing him on the Brit TV show, The Great British Menu, where top chefs play their menus off against one another to win the chance of serving on some Royal occasion. I liked the look of his food, unique, beautiful but food you would actually want to eat; sophisticated yet somehow humble. And this is exactly what you got with the whole restaurant experience, friendly, inviting and without the slightest hint of pretension.

I was spoiled utterly rotten and can without exaggeration say is was the most outstanding meal food experience I have ever had. I would visit again in a heartbeat as the memory and promise of such exquisite cuisine is almost more than I can stand!

We were treated to a series of appetisers while selecting our menu, warm choux puffs with parmesan, olives, freshly baked bread etc. We chose the market menu which delivered some of the most visually stunning and taste exploding food I will ever encounter.

Our menu consisted of the following:

Warm Vichyssoise amuse bouche with toasted pine kernels and truffle oil, eaten with a tiny spoon!

A starter of goats cheese cream on beetroot sorbet, and a type of goats cheese mousse all surrounded with watercress bits and blobs and swishes of reduced sauces and crunchy pieces of beetroot. This looked absolutely incredible and thinking back is still the dish that impressed the most. I have never tasted something so intense and beautiful.

Slow cooked cod with purple potato mash, creamed leeks and purple potato crisp (with some sauce I cannot remember). I’m not really a fish eater but this I could quite happily eat almost every day!

Cooked on the bone beef loin with puy lentils, savoy cabbage, parsnip chip and mushroom reduction. Oh My God. I have never had beef so perfect. It simply melted in the mouth. I wanted to go and summon Mr Purnell from the Kitchen (I was so impressed he was actually there and occasionally serving to tables too) and demand he teach me then and there how such a feat was possible. I actually had dreams about that piece of meat. A sheer carnivorous delight.

Cherry pavlova with pistachios and spiced cream. Two mini meringues, one topped with cherry, the other the cream and surrounded with pistachio brittle and hot, I’m guessing flambéed, cherries. Nyom, nyom, nyom. Steve swapped this for the cheese plate and cherries and nuts combined are possibly his idea of hell!

Coffees were also served with petit fours, three delightful little ‘sweets’; dark chocolate and peanut butter lolly pops, nougat and a small cassis jelly which seemed to explode with juice in the mouth.

I was quite surprised really by several things. I was surprised how at ease I was in such a place, I was not frowned upon for being common and out of place. Throughout the meal the staff could not have done more to make you feel welcome and completely relaxed. I was surprised at the size of each course – I always assumed that Michelin standard food would be tiny and almost insignificant, but not so. There was obviously a tremendous amount of skill in every course, flavour jumped from each plate in a dizzying manner and the portion size was a good one.

But, what surprised me most was the price. Yes, I could have chosen the eight course menu with wine to match but there were courses on their I did not fancy. Besides on viewing other guests, I think I would have found the wine element a little over facing. I selected the smaller menu pretty much solely on the ideas of beef and pavlova! For all that food and for, as I have said, an incomparable quality, it was only £45 per head. So ok, this isn’t a price you would want to pay every time you eat out, but I could not for one second quibble the issue. It was magnificent and worth every single one of Steve’s pennies!

Now, I wonder how Steve could possibly manage to beat this next year for the big 30. Perhaps a restaurant with TWO Michelin stars?!

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