Despite my last several Travelling Foodie reviews being from restaurants located in London, I don’t actually live anywhere near there. I live a lot closer (but still over 30 minutes drive or train) to Birmingham! With that in mind, I thought it was time to give some Midlands restaraunts a closer look. First up? Cielo. I stumbled across this Italian after a Wowcher deal cropped up (hey, I’m a foodie on a budget, what can I say!) and have to say, I’d never heard of the place before, nor seen it on my previous ventures to Brindleyplace.
Now, can I please apologise for the photos in advance – there was some extreme sun glare vs. shadows going on throughout our meal!
Upon entering Cielo’s we were seated quickly – but given it was just before 2pm on a Saturday, and we had pre-booked, I would of been pretty miffed if there was any kind of problem! That said, we weren’t the only diners – always a good sign. As I said before, it’s slightly away from the main part of Brindleyplace so it probably doesn’t get the casual walk-in traffic that some of the other restaurants there enjoy, but there were 2 other tables inside, 3 tables outside seated already, and two more came in while we were dining. Good sign!
Our waitress showed us to our table and I ‘fessed up, handing over the voucher – usually it means a set menu, but she said we could choose anything we wanted and the prosecco would be over shortly. Wow! My OH and I both had sky-high eyebrows and started eagerly reading the menu. Straight away OH picked eyed up some Seafood Linguine – one of his favourite dishes. Just as we were discussing which dishes to choose, another man came hurrying over and confiscated the menus, saying we actually had a set menu. Ah.
Strike one – not for the set menu, as I’d originally assumed we’d be dining from one anyway, but the attitude, lack of apology for the confusion, and way he came over were just not very polite given it was their error. Picky, I know, but this was clearly supposed to be a classy place.
So, now our choices were down to three to four per course, things were much quicker. We both went for what I’m calling the seafood trio to start; it’s official title was “Smoked salmon, crab meat mousse and Atlantic prawns, avocado puree, Marie rose sauce”.
The crab meat mousse was amazing. Seriously. Both my OH and I took our first bites and just looked at each other because we were having the same thought ‘wow!’ – and then we discussed how to replicate it at home, because we’re sad like that. The smoked salmon and prawns were just salmon and prawns, nothing added. The Avocado puree was a little bland. It was literally just pureed avocado, and it had been thinned somehow I think too. It needed a little extra flavour to make it stand out – perhaps a little black or cayenne pepper, or some lemon juice… I’m not sure. It needed something.
I opted for the sea bass as a main. I’m a sucker for sea bass! If I see it on a menu, 9 times out of 10 I will order it, if I think the restaurant can handle it (Red Peppers in Birmingham is one of the exceptions. They can’t cook good sea bass!) So while I went with “Fillet of sea bass topped with prawn crevette, wilted spinach leaves, lobster bisque sauce”, the OH went with, as he described, what he thought would have “the most meat” – he was hungry, bless him, so he opted for the pork, or as it was known on the menu “Medallions of pork loin, apple puree, crispy pancetta, creamed Savoy cabbage, Madeira wine jus”.
The sea bass was very good – and plenty of it! I would of preferred the skin slightly crispier, as it went a little slimy by the time I finished and so, to me, unappetising. I pushed the skin of one whole half to the edge of my plate, along with a rather large spine bone that escaped the de-boning process. The spinach had been seasoned wonderfully and I gobbled that down pronto.
My OH reported on the pork as very nice – and certainly lots of pork! It was pork city! However, his main complaint was the lack of carbohydrate or side-dish to fill out the meal. He would of sacrificed a medallion of pork for a little potato.
For dessert, there was nothing on the menu that really sparked my interest apart from the ‘exotic fruit’ option, so I ordered that: Exotic fresh fruit, raspberry pannacotta, syrup of Grand Marnier liqueur, and my OH went for Mango and passion fruit cheesecake, served with fresh whipped cream”.
Ok – strike two is a semi-strike because I genuinely forgot anyway so clearly wasn’t that fussed, but as a place that calls themselves “one of Birmingham’s finest Italian restaurants” I would of expected at least a side note from the waitress to say they had changed my dessert option! Because I actually got a trio of mini desserts. And no exotic fruit. Hmpfh.
That said – the ice-cream was delicious, and I like that better than the pannacotta or the cheesecake. Though I’m not a big fan of non-New-York cheesecake, theirs wasn’t too bad either. A little sweet for me with the mango topping, but honestly, it was good. My OH mopped his big slice up in record time!
The final ‘course’ was “coffee with Amaretti biscuits. Biscuits – plural. Ok. Call me crazy here but I would therefore expect perhaps two or three little biscuits each, or maybe a small plate with four-five on. It’s the plural. However what they mean is: one tiny, eeny-weeny biscuit each. It was kind of funny that it was classed as a course, to be honest.
It was good. It was nothing to write home about. The initial confusion left a proverbial ‘bad taste’ in my mouth. The service was good, but we had bout 3 different waitresses. I had a different dessert to that which I ordered. It’s the kind of nice place somebody else would pick to go, and I wouldn’t complain because I know the food would be pretty good. That said, I wouldn’t go back there of my own accord.