Fine dining can be a fantastic foodie experience, but it’s not always affordable. If you want the quality, but not the cost, you need to visit the newly rebranded Restaurant at Birmingham College of Food.
The restaurant is based in University College Birmingham and is staffed by students from the college’s chef, bakery, food service, and hospitality courses. Graduates from these courses are now working at the top of the hospitality industry in a range of field. Past graduates include Brad Carter (owner of Michelin starred Carters of Moseley), Leo Kattou (Masterchef: The Professionals finalist), and Sonal Clare (GQ sommelier of the year).
As the students are still training, you might notice lecturers offering guidance or experience the occasional teething issue, but you’re helping the next generation of talent to hone their craft. In fact, you could be eating the food of the next big name in the food industry.
I was invited to take a friend to try out the menu.
Our meal started with an amuse-bouche of a parsnip velouté. Prettily served in an espresso cup, this was a great way to wake up our taste buds and get us both excited for dinner.
My friend and I both started with the English Asparagus. Fresh, crunchy asparagus is topped with a crispy poached hen’s egg and hollandaise, which you can have with or without bacon. Obviously, we had it with bacon. The poached egg was perfect and popped to reveal a deliciously golden, oozy yolk. The hollandaise itself was rich and creamy, with some saltiness from the bacon crumb.
For the main course, I chose the Pan Fried Line-Caught Sea Bass, which is served with caramelised leeks, broad beans, and a warm tartare sauce. Thanks to the pan-frying, the skin on the sea bass was perfectly crisp, and the fish itself was flaky and full of flavour. The richer fish was paired well with the creaminess of the accompaniments, making for a light, summery dinner.
My friend chose the Blossom Honey Glazed Gressingham Duck, with apricot puree, croquette of leg, spring greens and a cumin jus. I was slightly jealous of her choice, as it smelled amazing when it hit the table. The duck was lightly pink inside, and when I asked for her review, my friend told me it was delicious, and she’d eat it every day. That sounds like high praise to me!
I’m not usually a dessert eater, but even I was tempted by the dessert list. I went for the Blackcurrant Mousse, which comes with a poached pear, pistachio sable Breton, and apple sorbet. When I cut into the mousse, I found it was bright pink inside, which was very striking on the plate. The dark chocolate was slightly bitter (just how I like it), and the apple sorbet cut everything nicely to stop it from being too rich. As someone who gets overwhelmed by huge, too sweet desserts, it was ideal. Not too enormous, and well-balanced so it wasn’t sickly.
My dining companion took on the chocolate, with the Alunga Chocolate Mousse, which is served with mango and passion fruit compote, ginger biscuit, and Tanzanie ice cream. She reported that it was well balanced between sweet, tart, and fruit flavours.
All in all, we were both very impressed. The food was all absolutely delicious and beautifully presented. The service was friendly, and we were encouraged to quiz our servers on their studies or the menu. Everyone we spoke to was enthusiastic, eager to please, and keen to chat about the restaurant.
The major advantage, I think, is the price. As the team are still training, prices are incredibly reasonable, at £26 for two courses, and £30 for three. Drinks are just as well priced, with cocktails all priced at under £5. It’s a very affordable dinner out, while still getting exceptional quality and the smug feeling of doing something that helps the students.
I was invited, with a guest, to review Restaurant at Birmingham College of Food. Our meal and soft drinks were complimentary in exchange for my honest review, but we paid for alcoholic drinks. All opinions are honest and my own.
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