Friday 16 October 2015

Carters of Moseley, Birmingham #MichelinStar

The day had been planned for quite some time. I was to take my wife to Birmingham Central to meet my stepdaughter as she arrived from Brighton. The women would then head to The Couture Company at The Custard Factory to get a wedding dress. Afterwards, we’d all meet up for lunch.

For one reason or another (of which I’m still unsure), at 12ish, I got a text from my wife saying that the two of them would not be able to make our 1:30 reservation at Carters of Moseley.

Knowing how “no shows” and last minute cancellations can have a hugely negative impact of small independent restaurants, I immediately phoned the Carters and asked them if it was better to cancel or would it be okay for me to arrive as a table of one?

Although they may have privately been cursing the two lost covers, over the phone there was no indication that this was a problem and a table for one in front of the semi open kitchen was awaiting me when I arrived.

The manner this situation had been dealt with over the phone by Holly (who runs front of house and co owns the place with her partner Chef Brad Carter), made me love Carters before I’d even arrived. Once I’d been welcomed by a charming, neighbourhood atmosphere, I loved the place even more!

In their typically understated way, Michelin describe Carters so well, as a “Lovely little neighbourhood restaurant with black ash tables and a glass-fronted cabinet running down one wall. Each dish is made up of three key components - which can include some unusual ingredients; combinations are well-balanced and flavours are intense. The young team are friendly and engaging.

With a wedding to pay for, we had decided to have the great value Lunch Menu (3 courses for £28). Feeling some guilt over letting them down, I felt it best to have the Tasting Menu (and the supplementary truffle dish) – my wife’s, stepdaughter’s and Carter’s loss would ultimately be my win!

The menu, which read like a what’s what of seasonal British produce, started with a series of canapés – Chicken Liver Cereal, Raw Mackerel, Wild Sorrell and Wiltshire Truffled Gougeres. Each bite was a delight but I particularly enjoyed the raw mackerel wrapped in wild sheep’s sorrel leaves and sprinkled in a citrusy powdered sorrel.

Heritage Tomatoes, Whipped Fresh Curd, Wild Marjoram – featuring raw, dried, semi dried and a clear tomato water the natural flavours of the vibrant fruits were able to shine, buoyed by the freshness of the curds and herbs.

Aberdeenshire Beef Heart, Sweetcorn, Horseradish – (a starter from the lunch menu that I requested as a supplementary course) despite the well judged smattering of freshly grated peppery horseradish, overall this dish lacked ‘a little’ balance for me; my opinion being that the plentiful corn to meagre heart ratio rendered the dish too sweet. A little charring of the sweetcorn would have added a savoury touch more agreeable to my palate.  

Grains & Seeds, Wiltshire Truffle – a beautiful rich pearl barley and seed ‘risotto’ came topped with generous shavings of Wiltshire truffles. Well worth the supplement paid.

Poached Cod, Fermented Garlic, Runner Beans – I loved the striking simplicity of this dish; a perfectly cooked piece of cod with wonderfully crisp tender runner beans and the deep distinct flavour of black garlic. A jot to look at and eat.

Roast Scottish Mallard, Heritage Beetroots, Elderberries – of the season, another refined yet robust dish of purples, reds and browns with classical flavours that harmonised perfectly.

Caramel Mousse, Red Falstaff Apples, Ginger Cake – another autumnal dish, full of flavour.

Black Fig Tart, Fig Leaf Ice Cream – the pretty fig dessert ended a fabulous lunch. Great value, great flavours and the most charming and welcoming service. It’s great to see a place such as Carters of Moseley get the recognition from a guide such as Michelin that it so richly deserves.

My stepdaughter got a dress. 

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