Birmingham in UK’s top ten cities for eating out

Birmingham has secured fifth place in the latest edition of Harden’s Best UK Restaurants 2017.

This annual guide is based on one of the country’s most detailed surveys of regular restaurant-goers. In Harden’s 26th poll of diners 7,500 participants contributed 50,000 reviews for food, service and ambience.

hardens-uk-restaurant-guide-2017

Congratulations to top scorers Adam’s, Carters, Lasan and Original Patty Men with 5/5 and Al Frash, Gourmet Burger Company and Jyoti with 4/5.

The full listing of Birmingham restaurants (including a new entry for Rofuto) are:

Asha’s
Edmunds
The Karczma
Lasan
Opus Restaurant
Purecraft Bar and Kitchen
Purnells
Purnells Bistro
San Carlo
Simpsons
Turners at 69

Full-bodied events

Three key dates for the diary this month, all feature wine events in Birmingham.

 Portuguese Wine Dinner

The Picked Piglet Birmingham Independent

Portuguese wine has risen in reputation over the past few years,  so local wine expert, Sarah McCaffrey of Connolly’s Wines, will be the host of a Portugese Wine Dinner at The Pickled Piglet.  As she guides diners through the wines and ports from this lovely country, diners can enjoy a four course meal by Chef Patron, Mark Rafferty for £40 on Tuesday 21 January.

Just Perfect Wines launch

Just Perfect Wines

I’ve been invited to the Just Perfect Wines trade launch event, at Loki Wines in the Great Western Arcade. Julia Phillips is the owner of Just Perfect Wines, a new company based in Staffordshire that imports high quality sparkling wines and premium DOCG Prosecco from some of the finest producers in Northern Italy.  I’m really looking forward to finding out more and interviewing Julia for a feature on Midlands Gourmet Girl.

Greywacke wine tasting dinner

Purnell's Bistro

Tickets for this event will go quickly! Legendary winemaker Kevin Judd will host an exclusive Greywacke wine tasting dinner at Purnell’s Bistro on Thursday 30 January. Greywacke is the Marlborough label of Kevin Judd, founding winemaker of Cloudy Bay and one of the true pioneers of New Zealand wine.

The name Greywacke was adopted by Kevin and his wife in recognition of the high prevalence of the rounded river stones of the same name in the soils of their first vineyard. These quality focused wines source fruit from only the finest mature vineyards within the central Wairau Plains and the Southern Valleys. A specially created four course menu has been chosen to pair with a selection of wines for £60 per person. Tickets available at www.lokiwine.co.uk

Purnell’s Bistro new Spring menu

Purnells invite

Last night I joined Birmingham foodies at Purnell’s Bistro to sample canapés from Glynn’s new Spring menu.

Purnell's Bistro canapes

Glynn says:  “Although we have seen a delay in the wonderful produce coming through because of our reliable British weather, it is finally time to embrace the delicious, colourful ingredients of the season.

“I have decided to experiment with the new menu, showcasing different cuts of meat,
combinations and flavours. All of the dishes have been created using only the best quality ingredients to complement this time of year. ”

The new Spring menu has ham hock terrine with homemade piccalilli and confit English chicken thigh with polenta, sun-dried tomato, black olive and marjoram as some of the starter choices.

Main courses include Brixham cod “BLT” with bacon, lettuce and tomato or slow braised shoulder of lamb with Moroccan spiced couscous and red pepper purée.

Fruity dessert options include strawberry parfait with vanilla marinated strawberries and crisp meringue and a lemon and lime posset with a Cassis sorbet.

Gingers Bar

During the evening mixologist Dan, from Gingers Bar, also made three refreshing cocktails. Thyme and Elderflower Collins, Scorched Lemon Margarita and a Basil and Watermelonade.

Coming soon…..

Purnell's Bistro

Returning from a long weekend away to a full inbox, two invitations stood out – the launch of the Spring menu at Purnell’s Bistro on Wednesday 15 May and the Sweet As Pudding Society the day after. I’m looking forward to updating the blog with these new features next week.

Love Food? Love Gastro Card!

Gastro Card banner

Gastro Card is sharing the love for good food with Midlands Gourmet Girl readers by offering a year’s worth of discounts at some of the Midlands best independent restaurants!

From Purnell’s Bistro in Birmingham to No 9 in Stratford upon Avon, Gastro Card restaurants offer members exclusive offers that you won’t find anywhere else.

To enter this competition to win a year’s membership to Gastro Card, simply like this post. A winner will be chosen at random after Valentine’s Day.

If you can’t wait till then to see if you are a winner, get £10 off a Gastro Card now by using MGG1 code  http://www.gastrocard.co.uk

Review of 2012

As this is my last post for 2012, I thought I’d look back on some of the highlights of the food and restaurant scene in Birmingham and Warwickshire.

Scooping awards and accolades – The Malt Shovel in Barstoncelebrated being named Warwickshire Dining Pub of the Year in the 2013 Good Pub Guide.  Pub Restaurant Chef of the Year was Rob Hartwell from Rose & Crown in Warwick. The Bluebell Henley in Arden won Good Food Guide Readers’ Restaurant of the year for the Midlands. Blue Bistro in Coventry was awarded Best Newcomer in the Warwickshire Life Food and Drink Award and Peel’s in Hampton Manor were awarded Best Restaurant of the Year. Restaurant Bosquet in Kenilworth (with chef Bernard Linier pictured below) impressed Birmingham Post’s Richard McComb to pick up a McComb Award for Dining (MAD).

Bernard Lingier

 

 

 

 

 

Birmingham’s reputation as a fine dining city continued with Purnell’s named the BMW Squaremeal Best UK Restaurant. Lasan and Simpsons were included in the Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants of the Year, as voted by Harden’s readers. In Restaurant magazine’s Top 100 Restaurants in the UK Loves featured. Purnell’s, Simpsons and Turners all retained their Michelin stars.

Purnell's

 

 

 

 

 

 

The region’s hotels saw significant investment and heavyweight chefs drafted in to support new openings. Marcus Wearing consulted on the menu for Hotel La Tour’s Aalto restaurant, where I became a fan of their afternoon tea.  Hogarth’s completed a £4m make-over and chef Martin Blunos was appointed as Culinary Director.

Hotel La Tour scones and afternoon fancies

 

 

 

 

 

 

The popularity of single ingredient restaurants spread from London to the Midlands. High quality steak and chicken cooked well won new customers for the New Inn in Harborne and The Flat Chicken in Stratford. Barbecuing meats was the hottest cooking trend of the year, with the openings of Argentinian Fiesta del Asadoon the Hagley Road and Brazillian Rodizio Rico in The Mailbox.

The competition for the most glamorous makeover was a tie between The Warwickin Hockley Heath and The Star & Garter in Leamington, which was given a £500K make-over by the Peach Pub Co.

The Warwick

 

 

 

 

In the culinary Olympics it was a cook-off between the French and Italians. Funky brasserie Le Truc Café and Purnell’s Bistro opened to give Brummies a Gallic twist to their dining. While the award-winning San Carlo Group launched Fumo in Waterloo Street. The cocktail bar, restaurant and late lounge serves small dishes of Venetian tapas known as Cicchetti (pronounced chi-KET-tee).

Fumo appetisers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chefs on the move included Solihull chef Mathew Ebdon joining The Beeches in Hampton in Arden and it was all change at Edmunds in Brindleyplace, who welcomed Dider Philipot to head up the French fine dining restaurant as Andy Waters left to run the restaurant at The Queens at Belbroughton Worcester.

Didier Philipot Edmunds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sunglasses and crowds came out for food festivals. Kenilworth followed the successful Stratford and Leamington food festivals by launching their first Foodie Fortnight promoting local restaurants and food producers. I went to the Chilli Festival in Brindley Place for the first time and admired how the contestants kept their cool, as the torture of hotter and hotter chillies were administered. The Colmore Row Food Festival returned for a second year and filled Victoria Square with tasters from local restaurants including Saffron and Opus.

Birmingham Chilli Festival stall

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Leamington Spa Restaurant 23 moved to bigger premises in Holly Walk and the bar/ restaurant / club Altoria opened its three floors to diners. High Pavement in Warwick and The Lazy Cow in Stratford were welcome additions to the towns’ dining offers.

High Pavement Warwick

 

 

 

 

 

Going to events meant that I was able to meet lots of local producers. I met the Mini Jar Company and Napton Water Buffalo Company at the BBC Good Food Show Winter, Tan Rosie and cheesemaker David Jowett at the Stratford Food Festival and  Jabberwocky at the Leamington Food Festival.

David Jowett

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artisan food producers saw the benefits of collaboration in Kings Heath Birmingham. Lucky13 Bakehouse, Change Kitchen, Cuffufle Chutney, Wanton & Furious and Capeling & Co joined forces to form B14 collective. Delish Deli in Rugby moved to bigger premises and Summersaults opened their new deli next to their vegetarian restaurant.

Summersaults deli counter

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our regional food sector is thriving and I hope that my blog has highlighted how easy it is to shop local, eat local and support Warwickshire’s food heroes.

 


 

New Food Features

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m currently working on some new features – a foodie  guide to Leamington Spa, a review of Purnell’s Bistro and Le Truc Café, a new chef profile  plus a guest post for British Cheese Week. I’ll be adding these to the blog over the next two weeks. Oh and pictures from the Statford Food Festival next weekend too.

Table Talk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glynn Purnell’s new bistro, in place of The Asquith, is scheduled to open on Wednesday (5th September) which I will be reviewing shortly.

Every Wednesday at The Bell in Alderminster you can enjoy £5 off a bottle of wine or £10 off Wine of The Week. Both are served with complimentary cheese nibbles. http://www.thebellald.co.uk

For wine lovers in Coventry, Blue Bistro has set up a Coventry Wine Group. Contact the restaurant for more details or meetup.com. http://blue-bistro.com

Every Friday evening The Granville in Barford offers “Fizz & Chips” – a sharing platter for two with fish goujons, whitebait, hand-cut chips, crushed minted peas, tartar sauce, bread and  butter plus two glasses of “fizz” for £20. http://www.granvillebarford.co.uk

The Asquith to reopen as Purnell’s Bistro

 

 

 

 

 

Michelin-starred chef and Great British Menu mentor Glynn Purnell is to close his second Birmingham restaurant, The Asquith, in September and plans to reopen as Purnell’s Bistro. You can read the press release in full here.

http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/02/08/2012/344815/glynn-purnell-to-close-the-asquith-and-reopen-as-purnells-bistro.htm