Restaurant review: Purnells Bistro, Birmingham.


  
If the way to get to a good restaurant is to go through a good bar, then Purnells Bistro is quite probably top of the hit parade. 

Ginger’s Bar embraces the relaxed vibes of Manhattan, inspired by Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, the decor and ambience is cool and collected with smart re-mastered classic cocktails. Ruth and I have visited numerous times, The Negroni is superb, the Old fashioned glitters. The Gin Martini possibly the best in Birmingham. 

Purnells Bistro offers a menu inspired by rustic British fare. It is very much ‘rustic home cooking with an eclectic twist’ where dainty traditional food meets more exotic ingredients. Founded by Michelin Starred chef Glynn Purnell (his wonderful restaurant Purnells restaurant is around the corner) it shows his passion to good food in slick and chilled surroundings. 

The Bistro decor has a relaxed and pleasant feel with soft moody lighting which felt quite chilled and modern on a quiet Monday lunchtime. It’s semi fine dining, nice pared down tables, smart cutlery, it felt like a place to celebrate in, which was a good thing as it was Ruth’s Birthday in the lovely company of her Mum. 

On this occasion we went straight to the table rather than have a drink in the bar.    

    Old fashioned.

  Cocktails at Gingers.

  
  Purnells Bistro

  Ginger’s Bar

 

We ate off the Extended Weekend menu. Which is on offer only on a Monday where all items on the menu (including bar food menu) have discounts up to 50% off, which I think is a great deal.    Having settled in the Bistro, which wasn’t surprisingly quiet for a Monday lunch time, we were given some pleasant rather than spectacular bread to have as we looked at the menu. 

 
The starter I ordered Potato and Gruyere terrine, poached egg, Autumn Purée, potato crisp, bursting with flavour of the assertive Gruyere cheese, into an earthy noted and Moreish terrine, with a runny egg to give the depth of luxury into what mounted to a lovely brunch like dish. The purée adding a seasonal harmony or just simply shouting I am lunch. A real starter of note. 

    Potato and Gruyere terrine, poached egg, Autumn Green purée, potato crisp.  £3.00

Pumpkin Risotto, Goats Cheese, Watercress. £7.25.  

So onto the main course. Risotto’s fall into three camps for me. The not good at all, bland, grainy, why? The ok, (so many Italian restaurants in Birmingham do it this way) and the wow risotto, I’ve had two in my life. One in Florence (of course) deep earthy mushrooms, in season, outside in the evening sun. Then the best of all at Raymond Blanc’s gastranomic temple that is Le Manoir Aux Saison another Wild mushroom and Alba Truffle concoction (again in season) that blew me away and remains to this day the best I’ll probably ever eat. I vowed to not eat another risotto again, this lasted for only six months until the Asparagus season began, but still I feel Risotto desire when I think about it.

So began the journey to another temptress the (Pumpkin, goats cheese and watercress Risotto.)

The discovery pleased me, as it proved to be the second most enjoyable Risotto I’ve ever had in the UK. 

The best Risottos  are the simple ones, less is more. Pumpkins slap bang in the Autumn/Winter season, with harmonious gentle goats cheese. Soothing, comforting, satisfying, with plenty of deep seasonal flavour . A well executed risotto that surprised me. A triumph of simple things done simply well and with the confidence to lavish love on a plate. A stylish plate of food.

We also ordered some excellent seasonal vegetables that were a welcome addition. 

  Pumpkin Risotto, goats cheese, watercress. A bargain.

  Seasonal vegetables. £1.37.

By this time I was glowing like a glow worm on a sunny day, and felt impassioned to dive into a gooey pudding. So I ordered the most gooey and chocolatey pudding on the menu, the Dark Chocolate cheesecake, ‘Cafe Liegeois’, Amaretti crumble. An elegant and refined desert without been fussy. Deep, dark chocolate, with a swish of coffee flavour from the cafe Liegeois, beautifully presented on a black slate, the amaretti crumble deconstructed and adding the desired crunch against the soft cheesecake. 

A lovely elegant desert, again like my starter, rustic refined. 

Suffice to say Ruth had a good Birthday lunch. She had the meaty type of food. Enough said. 

    Dark Chocolate Cheesecake ‘Cafe Liegeois’ amaretti crumble. £4.86 Warm Ginger Sponge-rum and raisin ice cream. £4.76, went down well also, with plenty of ginger flavour. 

We also enjoyed a bottle of Chardonnay, Blue Ridge wine from Bulgaria. 

   

Purnells Bistro serve the bistro classics well. In fact on this occasion with excellence. The food is simpler more rustic than Purnells Restaurant, less experimental, but it’s joy to eat such flavoursome and hearty Vegetarian dishes where ingredients are seasonal and treated the right way and presented beautifully. Made by a kitchen that takes pride in their dishes.

Maybe it’s the pedantic and greedy veggie nature in me, but it would be nice to have more options across the menu, (maybe specials) as vegetarian cooking this good shouldn’t be hid under a bushell, but should be delivered with aplomb, ambition, enthusiasm, and dare I say a bit more added variation to the standard (but well made) vegetarian  pasta and risotto model. 

Though this is only an opinion, I add that Purnells Bistro is a lovely restaurant, where service is excellent and a classy bar meets a clever bistro that shows talent and a sure touch, excellent for celebrations or an informal meal, but i can’t help thinking it could do much more with those seasonal simple (vegetable) ingredients. 

Now that would be a Bistro that’s not feeding only the darkness of the  Vegetarian past, but the authentic magic of new bistro vegetarian dining. But, that risotto…Mmm, was a joy to behold.

Thanks for reading, 

Andy😊

We paid for our meal and drinks in full. All thoughts and opinions are my honest opinion as always. 

Purnells Bistro and Gingers Bar, 11 Newhall Street, Birmingham B3 3NY.

0121-200-1588.

http://purnellsbistro-gingers.com/

https://m.facebook.com/PurnellsBistroAndGingersBar/

https://twitter.com/purnellsbistro?lang=en-gb

New Purnell’s Bistro Spring Menu.   

New Spring menu at Purnells Bistro With a lovely sounding Aubergine Rotolo and an interesting cream of onion Risotto. Two solid and nice looking options. 

  

PURNELLS RESTAURANT BIRMINGHAM: ‘NOW’ VEGETARIAN TASTING MENU


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Any visit to Purnells Restaurant in Birmingham City Centre is a real treat, when visiting with a couple of friends even more so.

Purnells Restaurant on Cornwall Street in the Colmore Business District is one of the go to restaurants in Birmingham. Chef Glynn Purnell has stamped his food footprint on this glorious city like a bright shining Michelin star that he has above his door.

Glynn Purnell has represented Birmingham well. He won The Great British Menu in 2008 and then again in 2009, one with a desert, one with fish.

Since it opened in 2007 Purnells Restaurant has always been a chic place to visit, a celebratory place. Well that is how it has been to Ruth and I. We have celebtrated special birthday’s and getting engaged there.

Purnells won a Michelin Star in 2009, its a contemporary space, fine dining without the stuffiness, way more modern and knowing than that.

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Being a vegetarian at Purnells Isn’t difficult. As long as they know in advance you will then be treated to some of the best vegetarian dishes that you’ve ever tasted. There is no menu to be found on their website or on their window. That is because the food served is of the ‘now’ seasonal, fresh and adapted from the main menu with what’s available. It’s a fine skill to be able to do this, some chefs are daunted by vegetarians, Glynn Purnell and his team aren’t. Hence the lack of menu. We are a challenge:)

It is always best to mention your dietary needs when booking, and whether vegetarian or I’m sure vegan you will be well catered for.

Purnells is a spacious restaurant, with a large bar area. This is where we began our night with a glass of champagne and some aperitifs with the menu.

The bar area is a comfortable space, designed to help you relax and before being taken into the main event.

The large dining room has seating for couples, small parties and one for a large group.

The menus represent the ‘old’, and ‘new’ or ‘now’ as its called.
This is the menu the four of us dined from. The adverb of which is titled

‘Summer, Sunshine, fun times and sand castles’.

Over the years I’ve eaten some stunning dishes at Purnells. The ‘now’ vegetarian tasting menu is 12 courses long. Each dish is a visual treat that is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.

The imagination and skill across the menu was only bettered by the textures, flavours and playfulness of the menu.

The dishes are listed in the photograph of the menu. I’m not going to go through each dish individually but mention my favourite dishes on the night. Your menu may be different, dependent on the season and your personal tastes.

The vegetarian ‘Now’ menu is adapted from the non veggie ‘Now’ menu. The last two desert courses were the same on both menus.

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1.Lime potatoes in oats and spices duck egg maionaise. Photograph courtesy of the restaurant.

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2. Poached egg yolk leek purée, lemon balm Brummie cake.

Refined, delightful wonderfully presented it sets the scene with its eggy notes of flavour.

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3. Thus the third course of Beetroot mouse with horseradish, salted beetroot was a fine dish, an ensemble of harmonious flavours and fresh beetroot which floated gentle notes of flavour over the horse radish. A lovely balanced and fresh dish.

4. Provencal morsel. A delicious interlude. Well executed.

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5. Next came The pea salad with its fresh flavour of peas, broad beans, that exalted the seasonality of the produce to create a wonderfully hypnotic dish. Fantastic.

6. Remoulade 2012: A palate cleanser, three morsels designed to be eaten in succession in order to increase the flavours of the first. Breathtaking cooking.

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7. My favourite dish:) served along with the divine spicy lentils, which have an advanced spicy note that compliments the pickled carrots a harmony of stunning complicated flavours, with superb depth.

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8. Main course: tomatoes bursting with flavour, Mediterranean like textures, with the gentle borlotti beans, contrasting with the scorched lettuce and courgette, lovely.

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9. Waffle: morsel. Underwhelming dish because of the quality of before.

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10. Deserts: Strawberries and violet ice cream.
A delectable simple dish, summery and pretty. Lovely, a take on strawberries and cream.

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11. Mint choc chip, a playful take on summer ice cream and chocolate. Pure theatre, with minty notes wafting off from the steam stimulated at the table. Rich chocolate, pure heaven for chocolate lovers, teasing the palate. A lovely desert.

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12. Lemon meringue pie: demonstrating Glynn Purnells, nostalgic playfulness. The best lemon meringue I’ve ever had. A truthful report of his culinary vision. Evocative of childhood, a refreshing desert.

Purnells Deserts are playful, all fabulous, always original.

The service throughout the meal was excellent, formal/informal with the right balance between interaction and restraint. The staff at Purnells represent the restaurant well with enthusiasm and knowledge.

A vegetarian meal at Purnells is a cosseting experience. Glynn Purnells technical competence is evident. My food was incentive, seasonal, with superbly executed dishes that struck the right balance of flavour and texture. Delivering on all levels, of indulgence and nostalgic fun.

Purnells shows a keen focus on sourcing on the ‘now’ menu, quality ingredients, evident in the freshness of the menu and the work put into the dishes to make them delightful to the palate.

This star still shines brightly delivering stunning refined vegetarian cuisine. Every course delivers something new, always innovative and thoughtful.

A playful vegetarian treat.

Simply stunning.

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Please note, your dishes may not be the same as the ones I enjoyed. Due to seasonality and dietary preferences.
Let then know your desires and enjoy.

The cost of the vegetarian tasting menu is £85 per person.

Ruth and our two friends had the ‘Now’ tasting menu (non Veggie) and said it was superb.

Has anyone else being to Purnells and had athe vegetarian tasting menu? What did you think?

Disclaimer: we paid for our own meal at Purnells. The opinions expressed are my own and are honest and true.

For booking see website:
http://www.purnellsrestaurant.com

Info@purnellsrestaurant.com

Purnells
55 Cornwall Street
Birmingham
B3 2DH

0121 212 9799 option 1

Reservations taken up to 90 days in advance.