I love a hidden gem, and Birmingham is full of them. Unexpected places serving up beautiful food. I’d been hearing whispers that Don Diego was one of those places, so when I was invited to join Laura and her husband there for a double date, I was excited to find out if the rumours were true.
Don Diego is hidden in a parade of shops in a housing estate, in Edgbaston, and until we were in the carpark, we were sure the sat nav was leading us astray.
Inside, the restaurant is small, with well spread out tables, lots of booths and the walls are heavy with pictures of birds and butterflies covering every inch. It’s a light space, and I love that they haven’t squeezed in as many tables as possible, instead focusing on keeping the space so you have room around the table and they have time to focus on the customer.
Don Diego is run by two Spanish brothers. One does all the cooking, while the other serves. On busy nights, you might see one member of staff helping front of house, but there is always only the one brother in the kitchen, keeping this a true family affair.
The wine list is sizeable, but there are also several options for beers, spirits and soft drinks. I started with a Prosecco, before swapping to a white wine. To be honest, I have no idea what the white was; the brother serving us was full of recommendations on what we should order, and when said in a Spanish accent, the white he suggested sounded excellent, so I just told him to bring whatever he recommended. He was right; crisp and fresh and a great accompaniment to my fish main course. Order whatever he tells you to.
To start, I chose the Warm Goat Cheese (£5.95) with salad leaves and honey mustard oil. The piece of cheese was huge, and had been gently warmed, making it gooey and delicious. The fresh salad had plenty of dressing and helped cut through the rich cheese.
Dave had the Fried Whitebait (£6.50) with paprika alioli. An enormous pile of whitebait arrived, and the fish were strong and salty. Perfect.
For a main course, I chose Grilled Swordfish (£12.95) with salsa verde and Grilled Vegetables (£3.95). I’m not the biggest fan of paying for sides separately, but the veg was well seasoned and had plenty of crunch. The fish was stunning. I was given a huge, meaty slab of swordfish, which was well salted, and perfectly cooked; firm and juicy. The salsa verde was fresh and zingy and beautiful.
Dave had Butterfly Breaded Chicken Breast (£12.50) with a grilled tomato, chorizo salsa and Chips (£3.95). The chicken was moist with a crunchy, seasoned bread crumb coating, while the salsa was rich and meaty. The chips were just how I like them; crisp and with plenty of salt.
For dessert, I found room for Whiskey Chocolate Semifredo (£5.50) with a berry dressing. It was rich without tipping into sickly (and I don’t have much of a sweet tooth), and was well paired with the sharp berries.
Dave’s White Chocolate Soup (£5.50) with prune compote caused much confusion at the table, but he assures me that while unusual, it was delicious. It was somehow not sickly, with the prunes giving good contrast to the sweetness of the chocolate.
The brother serving us was full of suggestions for what to order, and was immensely friendly and helpful throughout our meal. He was happy to mix up the menu a bit, and instead of dealing with separate side orders, opted to bring out big sharer plates of both chips and vegetables, even though only I had ordered the veg.
Laura and I were also summoned to the kitchen, which while clearly not a regular part of the dining experience, was a great chance to chat to the chef about his mission. Between feeding us tastes of sauces, almond tart, poached strawberries and whatever else he happened to be making, he told us about his vision for Don Diego. There is clearly a real love of food, and an immense respect for his ingredients. The brothers focus on good quality ingredients, allowed to shine, cooked simply. Very impressive.
I’ll be back to try the Octopus Leg after speaking to the chef about it. It’s his favourite, and prepared with great care, so seems to be a must try! We had a fabulous evening, with the typical Spanish leisurely pace between courses that I adore. I hate to be rushed at dinner! I
I was a guest, with a plus one, of Don Diego. Our food and drinks were complementary for the purpose of honest review. All prices correct at the time of writing. All words, images and opinions are my own.