What’s in a name? Does it matter what a restaurants called? Nomad was or is (until 7th May when it becomes The Wildernes and reopens on the 25th May) the best Vegetarian food experience in Birmingham.
Ruth and I’s final experience of its current incarnation came a couple of weeks ago. We’ve enjoyed and got immersed in the food on three occasions, twice in Kings Heath and once in its new Birmingham City Centre location. Their is something immersive, something involving about eating here. You feel you become the ingredients, you can smell the earth, feel the sweat of the producers, sense the innovative ideas that come from the kitchen that lead you on your food journey, that’s your own journey, your own personal experience, a connection to the ingredients.
Spring is abundant with renewal. Blossoming trees signal newness, freshness and fine ingredients, the dawn of asparagus season, Jerusalem artichokes, rhubarb, radish, celeriac, beetroot, the list is a vegetarians friend, a long lingering hug of the senses, the light at the end of a long winter.
Dishes come thick and fast. Beautifully and sublimely presented echoing the natural world that nourished the ingredients, and inspires the chefs of which Alex Claridge is turning into a master worker of delicate innovation.
There’s a savoury Apple and Chedder morsel of such delicacy and flavour that leaves the mouth tingling with further anticipation.
Then the simple Baby Radish, crunchy, light paired with Seaweed Hollandaise becomes a thing of beauty within its own simplicity. Like it had just been picked from the ground with its vivid and perky peppery crispness that when dipped into the hollandaise snuggles with proof that good things come in small packages.
Apple and Chedder.
A 64 Degree Yolk, Asparagus is a dose of sunlight, crisp yet tender asparagus, so fresh it hadn’t been named yet is the perfect foil to the yolk that is a masterclass of well…yolk with a luxurious after taste.
Followed by Beetroot, Apple, quail egg: Where earthy beetroot meets sweeter Apple with the delicate and runny quail egg lapping at the sides. Unusual combinations bump up against one another to create a sunny sunlight of spring. An elegant dish.
Then a Jerusalem artichoke, vinegar gel, cauliflower is a cauliflower lovers dream, coming with the chunky artichoke with masses of flavour. A sweet surprising marriage, of textural contrasts that worked perfectly.
A main course of sorts was the best of all Celeriac Three Ways, Dill, white sprouting broccoli: A complex dish of galactic cooking. The ingredients felt elegant and restrained with nutty slightly cheesy overtones from the celeriac presented beautifully with the unusual white sprouting broccoli. It exudes gentle charm and is a culinary garden of attention to detail.
Then there were desserts. Buttermilk sponge, fennel, meadowsweet: Nostalgically soothing and full of gentle harmonies of flavour, beautifully comforting.
Followed by Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, celebrated 3 ways: parfait, meringue and foam. A sharp and light dessert, delicious and full of the love of spring, and in fact food. We chased the last morsel from the plate. (So good I forgot to take a photo).
Maybe it’s a sign of even better things to come that Nomad is to be renamed and rebranded as The Widerness. Vegetables are placed at the centre of the dishes, and through the crucible of the imagination a journey of flavours and textures takes place. The cooking is masterful, complex and consistent as dishes flow and twinkle with playful creativity. The food stands up to its own beauty.
Yes Spring is abundant with joys for Vegetarians yet it’s the expectation of the unexpected that makes Nomad a beautifully immersing experience. With added charming and informative service its a game changer and makes you look at Spring ingredients anew.
So whatever the restaurant is called Just try it for its beauty and celebration of vegetables and then when you’ve tried it go again, tell your friends, grow your own and please if the Wilderness is this good, then take me, as I desire to be lost in its immersive culinary garden world.
Thanks for reading,
You can find Nomad/The Wilderness on Dudley Street, Birmingham City Centre. (By New Street Station/Grand Central)
We both ate the vegetarian menu. Our food was complimentary, we paid for drinks only on the night. My opinions are honest as always.
Look out for my future blog post about The Wilderness next month.