Disclosure: Paid in Full
It’s not like us anymore to actually get to eat in a place only a month or so after it opens. But I had set my sights on trying Opheem as soon as humanly possible as I was THAT excited about it, and a few weeks ago we achieved just that!
We booked on a friday lunchtime, and started with a drink the spacious bar area. It was certainly a far cry from it’s previous incarnation as Meechu bar. The decor is opulent but tasteful and I loved the unusual light fittings.
A couple of classic cocktails later and we were ready to go through the dining room
We opted to eat from the A La Carte Menu, but there is also a small selection of ‘traditional’ curries and lunch menu too.
The first thing we tried was a selection of little snacks, that really got the tastebuds going. Firstly an Imli Pani – a tamarind broth shot and a Sabundana – squid ink tapioca cracker with smoked cod roe, pickled and black garlic. If you wanted a taste explosion to start a meal then there’s no better way than this. The tamarind broth especially was just spectacular.
The third of our little snack treats was a mini ‘Mr Whippee’ made from cured trout, pickled mooli and pea ice cream. Maybe not quite as in you face as the other flavours, but delicate and delicious none the less.
After these came the first of our chosen courses. Lee had the AFGHAANI CHAMP – Dorset Cross hoggat cutlet, date & sultana puree, green cardamom. Now if I’m honest here, neither Lee or I know huge amounts about the nuances of Indian cookery, but we know good food when we taste it, and this was a simply stunning starter.
I started with the PARAI – Fjord trout, cumin and pomegranate crust, Tokyo turnip. I love to eat trout, its possibly my favourite fish, and this was cooked to perfection with such delicate intricate flavours and was so light too.
Now I’m quite aware that it sounds like I’m gushing about this meal, it was already quite superb and my vocabulary just doesn’t contain enough superlatives to do it justice. Some bread and ‘lamb pate’ was up next, rich in flavour and had Lee doing the silent grunty thing he does when something is just so tasty he doesn’t know what else to do.
We were really being spoilt with extras during this meal, and the little ‘palatte cleanser’ of tamarind ice cream ( i think?) that came before our mains kept up with the amazing food so far. although maybe not so much of a cleanser as the intricate spicing was pretty fiery!
For the main event Lee chose the VINDALOO – Pork loin, smoked hock, trotter, pickled vindaloo puree, anise heritage carrots, roasted whey onion. I went for the AKBARI DOPIAZA – Coquelet, roasted shallots, charred leek, chicken pappad, dopiaza gravy and we shared a side order of the JEERA ALOO – Anya potato tossed in cumin and jakha mustard.
Both mains were such accomplished and well round dishes, full of tradition flavours but also more unusual aspects too. The pickled vindaloo puree on Lee’s dishes was something very special indeed and everything was just perfectly cooked.
More treats up next, 2 small but perfectly formed macarons.
Usually, Indian desserts are something we shy away from, but with such amazing food up until this point we had to try some.
Lee’s FIRNI – Bengali Rice Pudding with Yorkshire Rhubarb and Basil was probably the superior of the two taste wise. The little bits of puffed rice added a lovely crunch to the dish. I wasn’t as much as fan of the texture of my DOODH – curd dumpling, milk sorbet, granita, finger lime, but I think this is more the fault of my palate and taste rather than the dish itself. The milk sorbet, granita and lime gel were outstanding.
I was so excited about Opheem opening and it didn’t let me down in any way. For me, one of the most exciting and interesting first meals in a restaurant in Birmingham for a very long time, second only and possibly on a par with Adams and I can’t wait to go back as soon as possible!