My friend and I had planned a shopping trip & lunch in Birmingham last Saturday, but when the other halves got wind of the plan they decided they would join us! Why not make a day of it we thought, so I made a reservation at Simpsons.
We arrived a little early and headed inside – it’s hard to explain the feel of the place when you walk in – modern stately home maybe? The ceilings are high, rooms are large and the structure quite traditional, but mix that with framed photography, plush contemporary furniture and extravagent coloured glass light fittings and you have the perfect mix of old and new – it works very well and feels incredibly inviting
We sat in the lounge and enjoyed some champagne & olives whilst taking a look at the menu. There were two menus on offer, a 3 course or a 6 course – we chose the 3 course
When our reservation time came round, our drinks were collected and we were taken through to the dining room. As with the rest of the space, the restaurant had such a lovely open feel and was flooded with natural light (great for taking pictures – Simpsons I salute your sky lights & huge glass doors!)
We were seated beside the aforementioned glass doors, with views onto the lush green garden with decked terrace and trickling fountain
Soon after we sat down, some snacks were brought to the table…
Chickpea crackers with a subtle smoky flavour and edible flowers, that reminded me of some we had at Fera at Claridges
Followed by a warm cod brandade with red pepper dipping sauce – a delicious crispy little bite that definitely whet your appetite!
After the snacks came bread…the crunchy, chewy sourdough with whipped butter was lovely, but it’s swirly little friends you can see below are olive tapenade rolls and they were insane! Warm, rich, salty little scrolls of dough, laced with olive tapenade – amazing! Apparently these were taken off the menu for a while but after protests they were brought back and I can see why!
Champagne finished, we ordered a bottle of Spanish albariño to accompany our food
I loved the sound of every dish on the menu so choosing was difficult, but I eventualy settled on the Aberdeenshire beef tartare with mustard, gherkin, shallots & sourdough
The dish was concealed beneath a thin slither of toasted sourdough…
The raw beef underneath was soft and silky, and I appreciated the fact that it had been relatively coarsely chopped and not minced (pureed raw beef is not for me!) The dish was very delicate and well balanced – sharp ingredients like mustard, gherkin and raw shallot could easily overpower in the wrong quantities but as expected here, the ratios were spot on
For main I chose the pork rib eye, and was immediately impressed with the two thick pieces of tender pork – no scrimping here. The meat was served with a smoked apple puree that was just the right amount of sweet, and whole & pureed jerusalem artichoke which didn’t have the strongest flavour but added both colour and texture to the dish
It was finished with watercress, a rich, meaty jus and charred onion & leek – both of which I adore, especially when they that have that dark, caramelised almost-burnt edge to them
A moreish little pre-dessert of sweet & sticky toffee apple crumble with ice cream was delivered to the table by the chef that had prepared it – a lovely touch and nice to meet the behind-the-scenes experts
As with the last time the four of us ate out together, we all chose the same dessert – chocolate cremeux, black sesame doughnuts & yoghurt ice cream. The nutty flavour of the sesame was abundant throughout the dish, from the moist sesame cake, warm sugary black sesame doughnuts and the amazing glass like sesame shards that garnished the dish (how they are so clear I will never know!)
Sour yoghurt ice cream balanced out all that sweetness and lightened and lifted the dish – as with everything else we’d been presented, it was not only delicious but visually beautiful
We all fancied a little cheese so ordered a plate to share – the cheeses on offer were all English which was nice to see. We each picked one (St Eadburgha from Worcestershire, Little Colonel from Dorset, Wigmore from Berkshire and Double Barrel from Lincolnshire). The only thing we were missing was a blue, so we opted for the Beauvale from Nottinghamshire. A really fab selection and the blue seemed to be the stand out favourite, even with my friend who is not usually a massive fan!
The cheese was served with wafter thin sesame crackers, fruity toast and a tomato chutney, but we were a bit cheeky and asked for some more of the amazing bread that we had at the start of the meal (yes, I’m still going on about the olive tapenade rolls!)
After coffees for the girls and a digestif for the boys (not that they needed it after two bottles of dessert wine…) it was reluctantly time to say our goodbyes
All in all we were at Simpsons for almost four hours and it was the most delightful leisurely long lunch in a beautiful venue that feels special, but at the same time relaxed and without a hint of stuffiness. We were regularly checked on but never rushed – it was just a shame when we had to leave! We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and would definitely recommend a visit
The restaurant also has guest rooms so you could make a night of it, or book onto a cooking class in their Eureka kitchen – definitely something I’d love to do!