Extend your palate of classic French dishes at this quirky bistro
Jimmy Carr, the Happy Mondays and Dan Clark were all performing in Birmingham on the night that Ross and I were dining at Annexe, so we weren’t the only couple grabbing a quick bite to eat before shows.
Tucked away at the very end of Corporation Street, Annexe is a cosy, candlelit bistro that mixes vintage elegance with their love of films. Two screens project classic black and white movies, the walls are dotted with film posters, blackboards show the wine specials and towering pot plants between tables adorn this nostalgic restaurant. I’d quickly looked at their Face Book page enroute and loved the photos of diners in flapper dresses at the speakeasy parties, burlesque and 1920’s themed parties that they also run.
With a warm welcome by Restaurant Manager Damien Portefaix, Damien showed me the larger dining space at the back of the restaurant where we saw Head Chef Suzanne Russell getting ready for service in the open kitchen.
Suzanne’s childhood passion for cookery and an Italian grandmother have naturally influenced her cooking style. Trained at Birmingham College of Food, Suzanne combines Italian and classic French dishes at Annexe with a sprinkle of British ingredients.
Garlic and chilli prawns with rosemary bruschetta and roasted garlic aioli (£7.50) was a fiery starter, so the lemon mayonnaise was a nice addition to this dish.
Chorizo picante croquetas (£6.50) was exactly as expected. Three plump, crispy croquettes filled with gooey cheese and nuggets of chorizo, topped with shavings of parmesan and a side of Ancho chili sauce.
Annexe Rossini weighed in at a hefty £24.50 for beef fillet, pancetta, sage and potato galette, pâté de fois and sauce Forestiere. A lot of elements to this dish, some of which worked better than others, but they all combined to give an earthy Autumnal flavour. With still pink meat though, my partner wished that he had chosen the four hour braised venison osso bucco instead, as he likes his meat to fall apart from the fork.
Sole Grenobloise (£18.95) usually has capers, croutons and a brown shrimp butter with it, so I wasn’t expecting the mound of gherkins with my main course. Underneath the heaped pickles was a beautiful piece of Dover Sole that didn’t need the vinegary accompaniments. I was sold on this dish because it also came with truffle mash, which wasn’t quite as generous with the truffle oil as I am at home!
Onto desserts. Semifreddo al torroncino is simply nougat ice cream covered with crushed hazelnuts and praline. A delicious mixture of sweet treats with the added bonus of a shot of hot chocolate to pour over the ice cream (£6.50).
A mini tower of pear, pomegranate and tonka bean mille-feuille with wild flower honey, bee pollen and cinnamon syrup (£6.95) contained some lovely ingredients that were light and fragrant.
Our three course meal, with a cocktail, glass of wine and three beers would have totalled around £110. In addition to the kitchen’s main a la carte menu, are prix fixe lunch menus which change weekly at a much more wallet-friendly £9.50 for one course or £12.50 for two, if you want to give Annexe a try during the day.
Value for money 3/5
Annexe 220 Corporation Street Birmingham B4 6QB
Tel: 0121 236 1171
*Thank you to Maija Atanasova for the invitation to review Annexe and the team’s hospitality