Amantia is a new family run (and family friendly!) independent, Spanish and Mediterranean restaurant right off New Street in Birmingham City centre, taking the ground floor and basement of the iconic Sun House.
This building on Bennetts Hill was the house of the Sun Insurance offices, which were founded in 1710. The name Amantia is the name of some ruins near chef and owner Andrea’s birthplace and also includes the initial of him and Marta’s (owner and front of house’s) children.
Amantia is a smart place. Inside the space is large, bordering on vast, with a sweet bar area to the right of the entrance as you walk in. Serving pinxos or Pincho (Basque country small snacks from Northen Spain). Oh the memories of San Sebastián are returning. It is in itself a good spot for after work downtime.
I digress though. The decor of Amantia, contemporary- purple, grey with black and white prints on the wall, smart, and cooling.
Though it could feel impersonal it doesn’t. The atmosphere is good, quite busy too on a Friday evening and the warmth of the service from Marta and her team is a joy. Marta twinkles with charm and enthusiasm for the food and the adventure she and her husband are on with Amantia.
Ruth and I were invited by Marta and her sister Silvia (also from Amantia) to taste and review some of the Vegetarian dishes on the menu and some new ones not yet on the menu. For that reason the food came out of the kitchen like tapas (discussed on arrival with Marta) and thus this review will reflect that. I like small plates though, tapas is one of life’s pleasures whether italian in nature, or Spanish (tapas) or pintxos for that matter.
It is fun to have an element of surprise and not order from a menu. It’s very informal and thus more interesting.
Ruth and I ordered some Olives and two glasses of Manzanilla Sherry whilst waiting for the tapas. The sherry a refreshing fino from Andalusia, served chilled it’s a perfect aperitif and goes well with tapas like dishes.
The dishes we shared ( Ruth was a Vegetarian for the evening) were a selection of croquetas Amantia, (blue cheese and creamy mushroom) a Rustica mushroom Crepe, a Greek Salad, Roasted Vegetables and Vegetable Moussaka.
On the other hand, the Mushroom croquetas were disappointing. Quite bland in flavour, with not a lot of mushroom filling, the croquetas lacked an intensity of flavour that maybe a porcini mushroom filling could have brought. A shame.
Oh the contrast The Rustica Crepe with its mushroom centre had a deep intensity of flavour. It wasn’t too cheesy which was a relief and the quantity and quality of the mushroom filling made for a very satisfying and enjoyable crepe and served with a side salad would make a excellent and filling main course offering. Maybe use the intense filling for the mushroom croquetas. Recommended.
Lettuce, tomatoes, sliced cucumber, onion, Kalamata Olives, Feta cheese, in Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It was well seasoned, with salt and oregano and the splash of olive oil made for a nice ripe and fresh salad. The feta creamy and the flavours bold. A very refreshing contrast to the hot dishes. Lovely.
Our Roasted Vegetables were also well presented and looked stunningly appetising. I think roast vegetables get a bad press sometimes from vegetarians and vegans, cited as a bit boring, but when the veg are fresh and carrying a good in season flavour there arn’t many better summertime dishes. It always makes me think of sunshine and hot sun and alfresco dining. (Appologies I was lost in memories of Italy there).
The final hot dish we tried was the Vegetable Moussaka. I think of all the dishes We tried on the night this was our favourite, we felt we could have eaten more of it, it was that creamy, hearty and warming. The combination of aubergine, and potatoes, and tomatoes worked well and made for a classic Greek dish with a veggie twist.
It also went well with the Greek Salad. A complete summer main course.
We washed down our mains with a delicious Spanish White Wine: a Marques de Luna macebo. Amantia has a good wine list and also serves cocktails and Sangria.
As Ruth and I border on hungryly greedy (or just nosey or easily tempted) types when it comes to food and the fact that Tiramisu was on the menu we felt we had to try a desert.
Ruth chose one of her favourites the Churos Con Chocolate
Of course onto my Tiramisu test.
One of my test dishes Is the above pudding. I’ve had it all over Italy and one in particular in Verona on our honeymoon I remember with salivating affection ( the restaurant had won the world tiramisu award, yes there is such a thing! ).
Yes, it true I wasn’t disappointed.
It looked stunning for a start and had the right quantity of coffee flavour and certainly ‘picked me up’. It was very cool, dreamy and light. It had a classic image and was nicely layered. Delicious, it passed the test and was one of the best I’d tried in Birmingham.
We also enjoyed an after dinner Liquor and two double espressos.
I would like to see more in particular in the tapas section of the menu for Vegetarians (tapas and summer go well together) how about a veggie paella? On talking to Marta I know they are rolling out a Vegan menu at some point and are working on new veggie dishes which will be introduced dependent on seasonality of the ingredients.
Amantia though has many strengths, it’s in a good location just off New Street and has a warming and cooling (at the same time) kind of atmosphere.
The service is charming and aims to please. It’s friendly and demonstrates that it cares.
Amantia is a good Authentic place for a lunch whilst shopping in Brum or for a delicious evening meal With a group or with a partner. It ticks all the foodie boxes.
Maybe some live music would be nice, some Spanish guitar or flamenco or a pianist would help fill the space. That’s Always good for atmosphere (Maybe live music nights).
I liked Amantia, it’s a gem in the city and the type of authentic mid price restaurant that Birmingham needs more of. Good Solid cooking without the gimmicks, independent and with a good heart.
And as Feargal Sharkey sang in 1985 that’s hard to find.
Thanks for reading.
Thanks to Amantia (Marta and Silvia) for the invite to the restaurant. Our food was complimentary, though we paid for our drinks in full. My review is honest and has my own opinions as always.
Amantia, 9 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham, B2 5RS.
0121 643 3647.
Amantia do an after work social from 4-7pm with a free Pintxo with your drink and £2 for all cocktails weekdays.
It also has a children’s menu for £6.25. For a main, desert and a drink.