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

Changing rooms at Simpsons

After a three month break to refurbish the restaurant, Simpsons in Edgbaston has revealed a stylish new look.

Simpsons chef-patron Andreas Antona said: “The refurbishment was a couple of years in the planning and several months and plenty of sleepless nights in the making. We wanted something that captured the spirit of the time, something that was natural, simple yet elegant and I believe we’ve achieved this.

 Simpsons restaurnat Edgbaston Birmingham Mail

By knocking through the wall of the original restaurant to create a single dining space, diners are greeted with an elegant, light-filled space, with windows into the kitchen on one side and patio doors to a decked area for al fresco dining on the other.

Simpsons restaurant dining room Birmingham Mail

Leisure Concepts (in Kenilworth where the original Simpsons restaurant was based) are responsible for the interior which takes inspiration from the simple styles of Bauhaus, Japan and Scandinavia – which Andreas has always admired. The effect is natural, with artwork that focuses on natural scenes and shapes and a palette of green, yellow and oak.

Simpsons new interior

Last week I joined local businesses, chefs and journalists  invited to experience the new look Simpsons during a rather gorgeous lunch.

Simpsons canapes

Canapes of a deep fried mussel on a black seaweed crisp and a celeriac taco were served as guests admired the stylish new décor.

Simpsons salmon dish

Our perfectly cooked salmon starter came with smoked eel, pickled cucumber, radish, yuzu mayonnaise and sea herbs.

Simpsons guineafowl

The delicious grouse main course was served on a bed of toasted grains with cep puree, heritage carrots, grapes and verjus.

Simpsons pineapple
A pre- dessert of lemon jelly and lemon mousse, topped with gin and tonic granita in a shot glass was a palate cleanser before a beautiful dessert. Lightly toasted wafers of pineapple, smashed meringue raspberries and lemongrass ice cream.

Trio of new faces at Simpsons

Simpsons new team

Simpsons is also welcoming three new team members. Nathan Eades who joined as head chef, Matthew Hough who left London’s Hedone to become Simpson’s general manager and Maelys Jacquot who takes on the role of restaurant manager.

Simpsons private dining room

With new set lunch, five and eight course menus to enjoy Simpsons, who have retained their Michelin star for sixteen years, has re-affirmed their place as Birmingham’s finest place to dine.

*Image credit for two interior shots Birmingham Mail

New chef for The Cross Kenilworth

Adam Bennett

The Cross in Kenilworth is about to welcome Simpson’s head chef Adam Bennet as their new chef director, as Simpsons takes over the dining pub.

Simpsons owner Andreas Antona said; “We have been looking for bigger premises for some time now and The Cross provides us with an ideal space and setting for Adam to set up his first dining venture. We’ll spend the first few months getting to know the team, the location, the pub and its regulars so that we’re all set for an official relaunch later in the year.” www.thecrossatkenilworth.co.uk

 

Signed, sealed and soon to be delivered

Back in January I blogged about three new openings in Birmingham that I was looking forward to visiting, Fleet Street Kitchen, Adam’s Restaurant and The Edgbaston.

Fleet Street Kitchen opened in March which I have reviewed, Adam’s Restaurant opens on 12th April and I’ll be attending the press launch next week, so the only one left to update you on is The Edgbaston.

The Kenilworth

Award- winning  cocktail lounge and boutique hotel, The Kenilworth, has exchanged contracts on a new venue in Birmingham.  Owners Stuart and Darren Insall plan to transform 18 Highfield Road into The Edgbaston cocktail lounge with two bars and a six room boutique hotel.

The Edgbaston

Stuart says: “We are friends with Andreas, who opened Simpsons restaurant following his success in Kenilworth, and we aim to offer a memorable experience that further enhances the quality of leisure destinations in Edgbaston.”

The Edgbaston is due to open later this year follow @TheEdgbaston for updates.

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.

 


 

Table Talk

Birthday dinner for Purity Ale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To celebrate their seventh birthday Purity Ale is collaborating with Michelin-starred Simpsons restaurant on a special one-off event. Join them on Wednesday 28 November for a five course menu, where each dish has been designed to match the flavours and aromas of Purity’s award-winning beers and specialist imports. Tickets are £85 per person, including food, beers and a gift pack to take home. To reserve your place please contact Emma White at Simpsons on 0121 454 3434 or info@simpsonsrestaurant.co.uk.

 

 

 

 

 

Game Over Wine Evening

To celebrate the end of fundraising for Movember, No 9 in Stratford upon Avon is offering  a six course feast of British Game. Wines to match each course will be selected by Roger Barlow of Gerrard Seel Wine Merchants, who will be hosting the event. On 29 November for £50 per person, tables of 8 or more £45 per person. Book via www.no9churchst.com or 01789 415522

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taste of The Manor

Peel’s Restaurant by Martyn Pearn has extended their Taste of The Manor special offer to Friday 21st December 2012. Dine from our the Fine Dining Menu for £40 per person any Friday evening and then stay overnight in an executive double bedroom for only £50 per person. You can also enjoy this very special offer following a late five course Sunday lunch for  £28 per person and stay overnight for just an additional £50 per person. Call reservations now to reserve 01675 446080. www.peelsrestaurant.co.uk