Earlier this week, we saw Sunset Boulevard at the Birmingham Hippodrome. You can find my review here. Before seeing the show, we decided to test out the Hippodrome’s own eatery, the Circle Restaurant.
The restaurant offers a pre-theatre menu, from two hours before curtain up, and often have menus themed around the show in residence. For Sunset Boulevard, there was a themed menu priced at £24.50 for two courses, or £29.50 for three. You can also keep your table for the interval, and pre-order deserts or drinks.
The restaurant is pretty, but felt a little crowded to me. It could have done with a few less tables, as navigating between them was a bit challenging. Unfortunately, it took about fifteen minutes before anybody came to take any kind of order, and then I could see our drinks sitting on the bar getting warm before anyone brought them over (which ended up being after our starters arrived).
I started with Ham and Eggs Benedict. The ham was salty and delicious, topped with a perfectly oozy poached egg. I am very particular about poached eggs, and this was spot on. I would have liked a little more sauce, but what was there was delicate and complemented the ham well.
Dave chose Fillet of Soused Mackerel with fennel and dill remoulade on toasted rye bread. The mackerel was excellent; meaty and plentiful, and held it’s own against the strong fennel.
For mains, we both chose Pork Belly served with sea salt crackling, apple and celeriac puree, tenderstem broccoli and creamed mash. The sides were fabulous. The mash and the puree were both smooth and creamy, and the broccoli still had good bite. Dave’s pork was very good, but mine was very dry and I ended up not finishing it. The crackling was also dry as a bone, but somehow chewy. Dave managed to get through his, but mine was totally inedible as I couldn’t even get my teeth through it. I suspect the plate had sat under a heat lamp on the pass, which would explain why the crackling was under and over done at the same time.
After we’d eaten, we had about forty minutes until curtain up, so we had time to order desserts. Sadly, by the time a waiter came near us, we did not have time for dessert before curtain. I asked for the bill and to pre-order some interval drinks, and was met with great huffing and was told, “Oh…well, I guess you can.” Who knew the advertised option to pre-order to your table for the interval was such a nuisance? By the time a card machine arrived and we’d paid, we had to run to our seats, and were sat with only a minute or two to spare.
It was opening night of Sunset Boulevard, the main house was very full, and they had invited press in, so I am willing to give the Circle the benefit of the doubt on this one, but I do think a theatre’s own restaurant should be able to handle a pre-theatre menu in a timely fashion. Our starters were excellent, and Dave really enjoyed his main course, but mine wasn’t great and the crackling was frankly shocking. I would like to go back and try it again, not on press night, and see if the service is better.
We paid in full for our food and drinks. All words, images and opinions are my own. I didn’t tell them I’m a blogger.