When meat-free doesn’t mean boring

For #MeatFreeMonday I’ve returned to the vegetarian bistro 1847 Birmingham in the Great Western Arcade for a new lunch review.

1847 Birmingham exterior

A lot has happened since my last visit – chef Alex Claridge has left to host his own creative pop-ups (featuring wood ants!) and the restaurant owners are gradually expanding their veggie empire to other cities including Brighton and Bristol.

A busy Saturday lunchtime, as a pitstop between shopping with a girlfriend, seemed as good a time as any to perk up our tastebuds. Even though it was 2pm when we arrived, the ground floor of the restaurant was full, with many customers taking advantage of the £10 meal and a drink deal.

You will have eaten pretty much everything on this menu, but perhaps not in these combinations and that to me is the beauty of 1847. You think that you know how things will taste then you try them and are very pleasantly surprised at how light and flavoursome they are together. Each dish packs a punch with only a few, select, ingredients.

1847 Birmingham starters

For Tara’s lunch, her starter of three falafels on a bed of quinoa, with burnt baba ghanoush, yoghurt and watercress was a good choice. I normally avoid falafels as I always seem to get dry, crumbly ones but these were bound together perfectly.

My starter, even for fromage fans was a bit overkill on the cheese. Mille feuille of two wafers of flaky pastry sandwiched together with a huge dollop of creamy ricotta cheese that even though I like I just couldn’t finish. The cold slices of courgette and two cherry tomatoes forlornly plonked onto a blob of tapenade would have benefitted from being hot.

1847 Birmingham mains

Tara moved on to Mac ‘n’ cheese which was just on the right side of moreish with a golden brown crumb topping (she will kill me for saying this but she could have quite happily put her face into the plate it was that good.)

For my main course I had the tried and tested deep fried halloumi with chips. The three golden balls overshadowed the five chips considerably and rightly so, all with a fabulous pea puree and a drop of lemon curd as well. This is a signature dish that 1847 have absolutely nailed.

1847 Birmingham desserts

Tara had left enough room to enjoy a brownie, with the seasonal pears replaced by raspberries which was a tangy cut through the triple chocolate. I’d already seen two other diners share the deep pink Earl Grey cake, so intrigued by the beetroot jam that was my dessert choice. It didn’t need ice cream, sorbet, cream or anything else with this lovely, moist cake.

1847 cocktails

Two mocktails later and we tripped lightly out to House of Fraser, feeling almost virtuous but definitely refreshed, after a tasty lunch of imaginative and delicious food.

When you can spend £20 in a coffee shop, £19 for two courses and £25 for three at 1847 Birmingham is very good value in a relaxed city centre venue. If my lunch review has piqued your interest, then discover more in the five or seven course tasting menus in the evenings.

Tony Cridland

The new Autumn menu is on its way, so you won’t have to wait too long to see what seasonal treats Head Chef Tony Cridland has in store for diners, who says that his last meal would be: “Confit cauliflower, wild rice, black truffle and crispy egg”.

Food: 4/5

Atmosphere: 3/5

Value for money 4/5

847 Birmingham 26 Great Western Arcade Birmingham

Monday – Saturday 12 – 3 & 5 – 10pm. Sunday 12 – 8pm.

*Thank you to Vicky Osgood and Damien Davenport for both the invitation to revisit 1847 and kind hospitality.


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