Holding a Michelin star since 2000, Simpsons in Birmingham is owned by Chef Andreas Antona. Executive Chef Luke Tipping and Head Chef Adam Bennett complete the talented team heading up the kitchen.
What Michelin says: ‘Smart Georgian mansion with stylish lounges, pleasant garden terrace and summer house. Tables are well-spaced; service is formal and efficient. Classical menu displays Mediterranean influences, contemporary twists and excellent produce.’
I visited for a Saturday lunch in March, taking advantage of their Set Lunch Menu of 3 courses and ½ bottle of house wine* for £40. I supplemented this with and additional starter (the Egg dish).
(*I cannot comment on the quality of the wine as I was driving and had a tonic water as an alternative; I paid for my second tonic water, which suggests to me that the house wine was pretty cheap plonk if they were only prepared to give me one tonic in its place.)
What I ate:
Amuse – Curried Jerusalem artichoke soup with hazelnut foam. A beautiful soup with great flavours, served nice and hot.
Breads – Cumin & Gruyere, Black Olive Tapenade, Sourdough & French Baguette. All the breads were good but the light and crumbly Black Olive Tapenade bread stood out.
‘Mackerel’ – line caught mackerel, salt baked beetroot, pickled shallots & frozen horseradish. Good clean, classic combination of flavours. The horseradish ‘snow’ could’ve been a little punchier but this is just a niggly criticism.
‘Egg’ – crispy duck egg, smoked salmon, savoy cabbage & potato foam. A fabulous dish – the salmon was good quality and enhanced by salmon roe that were pleasingly secreted under the foam. The combination of crispy crumb and rich runny yolk was an obvious delight but I felt the Savoy Cabbage had been dicked about with too much.
‘Chicken’ – roast corn fed chicken, leeks, toasted pearl barley & truffle sauce. The best tasting piece of chicken I’ve had in a long time and perfectly cooked pearl barley with the heady truffle jus. The niggle here came from rubbery leeks.
Pre dessert – Chai Pannacotta with mango coulis & crumble. I loved this dish; I’ve not come across a chai Pannacotta before but have since made one at home (not as good as this one, mind.)
‘Carrot’ – carrot and walnut cake, cream cheese, carrot jelly & vanilla ice-cream. A good dessert – the main component of the carrot and walnut cake was moist and tasty, buoyed with the textures from the carrot jelly and sugared walnuts. The cream cheese added richness without overdoing it.
Food high points: The chai Pannacotta and the duck egg dishes were excellent.
Food low points: There were no low points – every dish was very good or better.
Décor / ambience: I visited on an unusually sunny day for March, I imagine their conservatory and gardens are fabulous in the summer.
Service: The greetings and staff interactions were spot on but it did take 15 minutes for my plate to be cleared after my main.
Verdict (Would I return?): To my mind, Simpsons serves very good, tasty food. If I lived locally, I’m sure it's the sort of place we’d get along to everyone and then for a reliably good feed in comfortable surroundings. Not being a local, I’m unlikely to return as I’d prefer to seek out more of what else the city has to offer when in town.