I was tremendously excited to be eating at Adams Restaurant, hotly tipped to be the 4th establishment in Birmingham to get that coveted Michelin Star, which has only been open a few months. We booked a fair bit in advance to celebrate our 1st Wedding anniversary, so I was hoping not to be disappointed.
The proprietors Adam Stokes and wife Natasha, have come from bonnie Scotland where Adam held a Michelin star as Head Chef of Glenapp Castle. In Birmingham, Adams is billed as a ‘two year’ pop up, with rumours on the street of a swanky hotel gig after this. Usually, I save my overall opinion to the end, but for Adams, I’ve got to get it in early – it was spectacular. The best meal I have eaten in Birmingham in the last couple of years (and this includes all of the other Michelin starred establishments)
My husband and I both commented during the meal that the style of cooking, presentation and what we call ‘inventive simplicity’ (making something that’s probably very technical and involving a lot of work look simple) reminded us both of our meal last year at L’enclume ( which can only be a good thing as it’s the best meal we’ve ever had…) and wondered whether Adam had worked there (we looked it up, he hasn’t!) The service was impeccable, polite and attentive but non intrusive staff, willing to engage in conversation about the food and very knowledgable. My only comment was that we were asked if we wanted more bread a lot (5 times) which was probably going it a bit, when after the second time of asking, our answer was consistently no!
The choice of menu was either a 5 or 9 course tasting, with or without accompanying wine pairings. We went for the 9 (well it was our anniversary) but opted for a bottle of wine instead of the pairings. Disappointingly our first choice of a Malbec (one of our favourites) was sold out but there were plenty more to choose from. I do love a bit of a tasting menu, it gives me (indecisive at the best of times when it comes to food) a way to try a lot of things at once! I also think that tasting menus are quite forgiving, a poor course within a tasting menu goes more unnoticed than a poor course when you’re only having 3 in an A La Carte menu.
Anyway that’s beside the point so enough of my waffling and onto the food.
First up, while we were still choosing our wine, a raft of little appetizers were brought to the table in a steady stream. One was a little golden fried croquette of chicken – we advised to eat it whole and not to bite and we could see why when there was an intense burst of liquid chicken and stuffing flavour – a mini roast dinner in one mouthful. Later we would learn how the chef made this little miracle in the mouth happen, but I won’t be revealing his secrets here! The second was a beetroot meringue with goats cheese mousse, again wonderfully packed with flavour and extremely delicate, perfect meringue, vibrant in colour. Last of these little warm ups was a spoonful of steak tartare, bursting with salty, sharp and sweet flavours and ever so tender. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, if you are going to judge a meal on the canapes before it has started, then we were in for a good time.
The first proper course of the nine was brown shrimp, béarnaise, salt & vinegar. This was really amazing, juicy little shrimp, the taste of tarragon really coming through in an outstanding béarnaise and little pops of salty and sharp puffed rice which really made the whole dish sing.
Second up was pollock, coriander, charred sweetcorn, curry. The pollock in this was just on the edge of being undercooked but the combination of flavours was really special. The charred corn, hints of coriander and also tiny bits of sharp grapefruit were little explosions in your mouth.
Thirdly, grouse, bread sauce & crumb, savoy cabbage and they kept getting better and better. The grouse was probably the best dish of the night. The meat was perfectly cooked pink and tender (the likely work of a sous vide machine) with creamy bread sauce, a salty crumb and delicate little girolles, savoy cabbage an slithers of crunchy baby turnips.
Course number four and one I was really looking forward to – fallow venison, blackberry, walnut, beetroot. Sadly this was the only one that slightly disappointed ( and only slightly!) The venison came as a tartare, mixed with beetroot which just seemed to lack a bit of punch, the addition of some slices of tangy blackberries, crispy garlic and powdery walnut lifted it.
Back on top, top form was the halibut, sea aster, garlic & lemon. Flaky fish covered in minute chopped capers and chives with a deep-fried ball of smoked fish alongside some delicate sea aster was really wonderful.
The last of the savoury dishes was hare, purple sprouting broccoli, red cabbage. Yet another bit of game on the menu, which was really great – I always like to try different things, and things I havent tried much or ever before, and I believe this was the first time for hare. The red cabbage puree was sublime.
A palate cleanser of pea, curd, lemon was fantastic. Fresh peas, goats curd, lemon curd, it was all delightfully fresh and delicate.
We were recommended a gorgeous dessert wine to go with our sweet courses, particularly the dark chocolate, lemon verbena, olive oil. This was a lovely tasty dessert , but lacked that something special that makes your heart beat faster. The meal ended with strawberry, fennel, cobnut. A sweet strawberry soup with cobnuts, vanilla parfait and micro fennel. A lovely light way to finish the meal.
We declined coffees as it was getting pretty late, but were still served a couple of tasty chocolates flecked with black pepper for our petit fours.
Whilst writing this I have searched and searched my vocabulary for more complimentary adjectives as there were so many good things to talk about. It’s not cheap, but certainly no more expensive than other Birmingham based Michelin places, and the quality is second to none. It might not be affordable to most for everyday dining, but is perfect for special occasions. It really was an amazing meal, and as mentioned before, probably the best we have had in Birmingham, and near the top of the all time list.
Adam’s, 21a Bennetts Hill, Birmingham B2 5QP
Note: Since our visit, Adams has earned a Michelin Star
Disclosure: We paid for our own meal, and all opinions expressed are honest and our own