This time round it was my Dad’s 60th birthday that warranted a trip to Turners Restaurant in Birmingham. Nestled in the unlikely location of Harbonne high street, this place was a bit of a hidden gem. Only capable of seating about eight tables worth of diners, you get a more intimate experience than you might at other restaurants, but the food experience is up there with some of the best.
The photos don’t quite do it justice, I was unfortunately sat in the most dimly lit seat with the light source firmly behind me. Bad food photography practice indeed. Uusually, I would totally make people move, but alas I didn’t want to disturb the birthday ambiance and so I am afraid you will have to put up with my shadow across most (all) of the snaps.
Oh well, you will just have to go to Turners to see everything with your very own eyeballs instead!
There was a full tasting menu available, but we opted for the modest (!) seven course affair – the Simply Turners menu.
I should say that the staff were very accommodating, initially my Dad wanted the full taster menu but, as with most tasters, the whole table must go with the same menu. When he remarked that the only reason he was looking at the full taster was because he wanted the oyster – we were told that they would be able to sort that for him. Naturally we all assumed it would replace one of the other courses, but actually they brought it out as a sneaky interlude for him.
And of course, as you may remember from previous restaurant reviews, my Mr Yes (the boy) is not a fish fan (for this I call him ‘picky pants’, he’s not a fan). But he was delighted when he was served with an array of delicious alternatives to replace any sneaky fish courses.
Our first course was a montage of delicious bites including Mackerel, lime, buttermilk and seaweed, Gougére, 36 month aged Gruyere, Chicken, liver and Perigord truffle and Pigs blood, yeast and brioche.
Now, here is my word of warning. Generally I find it is best not to worry too much about what the menu says when I am eating out at a particularly snazzy restaurant. Why? Invariably I will turn my nose up at something – or much – of what is on offer (mackerel? Pigs blood??). But when it arrives it is (in my experience) ALWAYS delicious. These guys really know what they are doing, huh!?
Every last crumb of these delights were amazing. I actually like the mackerel the most, ironically, but I couldn’t fault any of it. All of the flavours were perfectly balanced, thoroughly tantalising my tastebuds. From this point on, I knew we were in for a huge treat.
Next up was a squid carbonara – with a fabulously frothy cloud atop it. The squid in the boy’s carbonara was replaced with potato.
This was another course that I didn’t think would take my fancy, but actually it was deliciously creamy, light and packed with flavour. Of course, on account of said froth it is actually difficult to appreciate the full glory of this dish from a picture – but trust me, it was dreamy!
Not yet out of the realms of the starter courses, next up was scollops.
There was some caviar thrown in for good measure. As you can see, the plate was so beautifully dressed it almost looked too good to eat. Almost. Luckily it tasted as good as it looked, better in fact.
The boy snuck in a sneaky round of duck liver, in lieu of the scallops. I was actually pretty jealous but luckily we are good at ‘sharing’ (/he doesn’t bat an eyelid when I steal off his plate).
By the time we got to the main I felt like I couldn’t possibly squeeze anything else in. Luckily our bodies have ways of surprising us, don’t they?
The Fillet of Longhorn beef, Jerusalem artichoke, swiss chard, braised oxtail, snails and salsify was heavenly.
I have to confess I didn’t indulge in the snails (though I have tried them before and don’t actually find them too unpleasant), but everything else was utter perfection. It literally melted in the mouth – a sign of impeccably good beef.
Now, I’ve already mentioned how full I was getting at this stage. The rest of the party seemed to be with me on that as well. Yet, for some reason, we thought that ordering the cheese board would be a stellar idea.
The biggest cheese board I have ever seen in my life.
In actual fact, it was quite a good idea. We sampled some award winning cheese, and discovered the Lancashire Bomb which may well displace Black Bomber’s place in our hearts as our favourite cheese. Even the bad taste that a slightly overly pungent goats cheese left in our mouths didn’t spoil the experience.
As huge cheese lovers it was like heaven to be confronted with such an array of choice.
And actually, it seemed to give me a renewed appetite, After ploughing through a taster of each and every cheese on our plate, I was ready and raring to go for pudd.
Our palette cleanser was a delightfully zesty Bergamot, Curd, biscuit and meringue.
You’ll be noticing a theme here but, again, this is not my usual bag. But it was beautifully refreshing. Just what we needed at this stage in our over-indulgence.
I have to confess that for the final course I ignored my own advice. While the rest of the team were eagerly awaiting their tart tatin (apple, bay leaf and caramel), I opted to switch for an alternative. You see, I can’t stand apple in desserts. I was pretty sure even michelin starred dining couldn’t change my mind on the matter, and I had spied a chocolate lovers dream on the full taster menu…
Yep, I greedily tucked into a chocolate, salted caramel and popcorn dish. It was super indulgent, the gold topped chocolate disc that you can see above had a fondant-like texture and taste (my favourite), whilst the popcorn added a much needed crunch.
It was glorious.
We left the restaurant a full 5 hours after entering, stuffed full as little piggies, but very happy with our lot.
My only criticism of Turners would be that their food is infinitely better than their communication skills, I tried to contact them numerous times before the booking to confirm that everything was secured (as I didn’t receive the promised confirmation email) to no avail.
The service on the night was also a little slow, they seemed to be a bit short staffed – so much so in fact that the chef himself (Richard Turner) served us for the entirety of the night. Our meal took a little longer than it perhaps normally should – though be warned, if you are going for a taster menu you DO need to be in it for the long hall, you will be enjoying course after course for several hours. BUT it was actually quite a nice experience to be served by the brains behind the food that we were consuming.
I can wholeheartedly confirm that any persistence and wait involved in the booking and during service was well worth it. It was a beautifully put together meal that I will most certainly always remember and it helped us celebrate my Dad’s 60th in true style.
If you get the chance to go, I would certainly encourage you to do so – it’s a small but perfectly formed restaurant that will really wow you.