Reviewed by Dee
Jay and I had the opportunity on Saturday morning to experience a specially designed breakfast menu at Simpsons, one of Birmingham’s Michelin Starred restaurants as organised by Birmingham Breakfast Club. Tickets had been made available a few weeks ago, but demand far exceeded supply, and a second date ended up being arranged, so we were pleased to have been able to attend.
Simpsons is one of Birmingham’s best known restaurants, having held a Michelin Star since 2000. The restaurant is situated in a Grade II listed building in the Edgbaston area of the city and offers a choice of lunch time and evening menus.
The meal was served in a very pleasant dining room which sat 16 people round a large table. A choice of tea, coffee and fruit juice was offered, followed by excellent quality sourdough toast with salted and unsalted butter and Tiptree preserves.
(Note: The crab was a table decoration, not a dining room intruder)
First Course: Kedgeree
The Kedgeree was neatly presented, consisting of a buttery, herby risotto base on top of which was placed poached smoked haddock and two halves of quail egg, and finished with a garnish of deep fried parsley and finely chopped capers.
This was quite a light and delicate starter with the smoked fish rightly taking centre stage. The capers, which I thought might over balance the saltiness in the dish, were the least in evidence. It was clear that care had been taken over the timing of the cooking of the eggs to ensure that the yolks weren’t allowed to run and risk drowning the other ingredients.
Second Course: Full English
The Simpsons’ take on a Full English breakfast was an exercise in culinary experimentation which surprised and delighted in equal measures. The menu provided some clues towards what we would be receiving, but when it was served, it was clear that more fine-tuning had taken place.
The crispy fried duck egg was the initial attention grabber; the crispiness had been achieved by coating the egg in what looked like Kataifi pastry and then deep frying it. The egg was placed on a base of Mushroom Duxelle, with a small hash of beans and chorizo topped with crumbled black pudding alongside. Two sauces completed the dish: A light white coloured smoked bacon emulsion, and a darker pickled walnut puree, which we were informed was the restaurant’s take on brown sauce.
This course offered a multitude of taste and flavour sensations: A classic combination of soft and crunchy from the crispy fried duck egg, the earthy tastes of the mushroom duxelle and the beans balancing out the saltiness from the chorizo and black pudding. The sauces were also all about contrast: A light, subtle white smoked bacon emulsion and a dark tangy and intense pickled walnut puree.
Neither Jay nor I had ever experienced a Full English Breakfast quite like this before and it was great to see a Michelin Starred take on a familiar favourite.
Third Course: Granola
Although referred to on the menu as just Granola, this was in fact a small pot containing three preparations. The granola, made from toasted almonds, was the top layer. Following this was a layer of yoghurt which had been whipped to an extremely light texture, and on the bottom was a puree of English apples and Blueberries. The initial sweetness of the granola was followed by slightly sharp tasting yoghurt and further tartness from the apple puree. I wasn’t alone in detecting an interesting smoky flavour from the apple puree. It sounds incongruous to write about it like this but it wasn’t out of place at all.
Service was discreet but friendly. Refills of drinks were offered periodically, and each course was introduced by one of the chefs. At the end of the meal, diners were invited into the kitchen. Some took this up but Jay and I decided to remain in the dining room and leave them to their work.
At £25 a head, this was a very reasonably priced morning’s dining. I think it was a bespoke event rather than something that will be offered every weekend but if another event is advertised, it would be well worth checking out.