Travelling Foodie Review: Simpsons, Birmingham

simpsons

I suggested asked for but one thing for my birthday this year – an awesome foodie-related dinner, perhaps at a Michelin starred restaurant, or perhaps one that had been Michelin recommended. Now, not only did I get it, I was also spoilt in many other ways! But we won’t talk about that, my guess is you’re here because you’re thinking about going for a posh dinner or lunch in the Midlands area, and Simpsons has come up in your search!

My birthday fell on a Monday, so that’s when we went. We’d booked many weeks ahead (apparently) but on arrival, it was clear that for a week night it was perhaps not entirely necessary: we were the only ones there! The first impressions are very impressive – it’s set in a large, historic house so think big open fire places, tall ceilings and huge windows! We were led to a small seating area on arrival and asked what we wanted to drink while we chose which menu we wanted. It’s a pretty simple choice: five or eight courses of a Taster menu. We went for the five because, well, we’ve frankly never eaten eight courses of anything!! I was also allowed the matching wine, which I whole-heartedly recommend getting if you can. However I am going to blame the wine for the ensuing photographs!

The decor contrasts to the building – it’s modern rather than classic, but not too ultra-modern that you feel out out of place. It’s not abstract, just tasteful. The dining room itself seems to be in an extension – it was my favourite room. One side is full of windows to the outside, which I imagine is lovely in the summer months. We just had darkness, but it felt more like a cocoon than emptiness. The opposite side is a window to the kitchen, though sound-proofed of course! You can’t see too much – perhaps because there was never more than three tables all night. There did seem to be an over abundance of chefs with little to do! In the middle of the room there’s a raised, bedded tree. One of those skeletal ones – very modern style, as I said before. I loved it, personally.

Anyway – enough with the room! The food! This was most likely the last non-vegetarian/vegan meal I’ll eat for a while (I watched Cowspiricy. And Vegucated. And Earthlings. And Forks Over Knives. And Fed Up…) and I very much enjoyed it. I felt sad for our planet, the fish and animals though. Still, I’ve reconciled that with myself. I savoured the food – and boy was it to be savoured! They changed their menu since we went, and I can’t find a copy of the old one so I’m having to guess.

canapes
canapes

My OH scooped up one on the left before I could take a photo, cheeky devil. Can’t blame him though, we were very hungry at this point! They explain each course as they bring it out (basically a fancier way of a waitress asking who’s [insert-dish-name-here] is going where. One of these came with a walnut pesto (the one my OH had already eaten one of!) – which I unfortunately can’t eat! But they whipped off back to the kitchen and bought me my own special, non-walnut one instead. Yay!

CRAB: avocado, yuzu, cucumber, radish
crab, avocado, yuzu, cucumber, radish

No idea what Yuzu is, still don’t!

starters-2
poached duck egg, artichokes, watercress

For the life of me, I cannot remember what made up this dish. I think the crispy things were potato related. Yummy. This was also my first ever duck egg! Very creamy, very rich yolk.

Cod, I think
cod, I think

This was nice, but… OK. I can barely remember it. It was fish.

duck breast, squash puree, onions
duck breast, squash puree, onions, seeds

I do love duck breast. Alas, I love ducks more. Thank you mr. duck, it’s over now!

sorbet/cheesecake thing. tiny and delicious.
sorbet/cheesecake thing. tiny and delicious.

This was so good. And so cute. I think they called it a pre-dessert. I think I love anywhere that has two stages of dessert!

all the banana! banana sorbet, peanuts, grilled banana, hazelnuts
all the banana! banana sorbet, peanuts, grilled banana, hazelnuts

The ‘main’ dessert. It was nana-tastic! Dark chocolate, banana sorbet, nuts… this did not last long, although it lasted longer than Adams!

extra course: chocolate birthday torte
extra course: chocolate birthday torte

I also remember that the last wine was a beautiful golden dessert wine that tasted like toffee apples, but the flavour was purely down to the grape. Amazing. It also came in half bottles, because that’s how the wine maker has stored them – all the half bottles at the front, all full bottles (currently inaccessible) at the back. I loved that detail.

All in all, a fantastic treat. The setting and the staff were lovely and their posh-ness made it feel special, but not in an isolating way (because we are clearly not posh!).

Summary

If you want a Michelin-starred restaurant with really good, safe, food, go to Simpsons. On a week day, it’s lovely and quiet and there’s no challenge with the waiting staff not being able to pay you attention. I’d totally go back – in fact, I’d be interested to see if they could handle one vegetarian and one pretty much vegan. If you’re not driving, and like wine, I would recommend the matching wine.

In fact, the only reason I’m docking a point is because it was all so safe. There was nothing fusion, or modern, or any kind of twist to make it stand out. It was exceedingly good food, though!

Rating: 9/10

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