I had quite a surprise when I popped in to Trenchers sandwich shop on Bennett’s Hill for an egg and cress last Friday evening: I ended up eating the 9 course taster menu from the Michelin starred chef that’s set up there. Since the previous eatery closed the unit has been transformed from white slice to plush fine dining by the eponymous Chef Adam and his wife Natasha. They’ve had a vision which they’ve pulled off perfectly in the creation of Adam’s restaurant. This certainly is not a venue created by the paper pushers, it has character and charm, and is overseen by a couple who clearly know their onions, so to speak.
The restaurant offers three menus: lunch 4, taster 5, and taster 9. We thought we better test it out properly for you so went for the 9 course taster menu with the accompanying wine flight – wines chosen by the sommelier to properly compliment each course. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, a taster menu is a collection of dishes put together by chef that are taken as a whole i.e. you don’t choose specific dishes, you eat what you’re given. We counted and including amuse bouche and petit four, we ate 13 delicious plates of food, and drank 7 different wines. Chef was very accommodating of one of our party’s shellfish allergy and another’s aversion to foie gras (I know, as if someone doesn’t like foie gras, heathen). Having so many courses may sound excessive but at the end of the meal we were replete, neither hungry, nor overly stuffed – it was a great balance of meats and veg. Likewise with the wine, although there were 7, we weren’t sozzled by the end of it, we were nicely merry. Moderation in all things!
Our marathon dinner was started with the first amuse bouche of a radish under onion ash. That may sound simple but the radish was a taste of the fantastic produce to come, and the onion ash was delicate and tasty. It reminded me of plucking a fresh sweet radish from a garden. That was followed by a classic flavour pairing of Hendricks gin foam with cucumber, and then the most clever liquid roast chicken in a golden fried capsule. It had heady poultry flavours delivered in a mouth bomb – words do not do it justice.
After the amuse bouche we moved on to the first of the nine courses – pig’s trotter, smoked eel, and bacon jam – a cube of porky goodness on smoky sweet “jam”. Then onwards to a neat dish of tiny Jersey royal new potatoes with squid and lime, decorated with Toytown sized crisps, a squid ink and Oyster cracker, and unusual Oyster leaf. This dish was served in shell-like crockery, but rest assured all the tableware here, although not completely plain, is stylish and certainly usable – no stupid roof slates to eat off!
Although I’m cantering through the courses our service was not rushed, and neither was it overly slow. At one point I dropped my napkin and before I could pick it up a clean napkin was unfolded on my lap by one of the ever attentive but not intrusive waiting staff. Water was topped up, glasses cleared, and bread delivered, discretely. Simply, the staff were great, and it was a pleasure to be served by them.
The next course was of baby leeks, brown shrimp, and red mustard. This was one of the courses that chef happily changed for one of us due to a shellfish allergy. Both versions of the dish were equally good, and the one without shrimp didn’t look like a poor cousin.
Next was a vegetable course – asparagus, grapefruit, and hot mayonnaise with a wild garlic crouton. Some of the nicest asparagus I’ve had and perfectly dressed with the mayonnaise. Following that it was time for a fish course – brill, saffron, buckwheat and cauliflower, then on to the richest course of lamb with a lamb neck accompaniment and gentleman’s relish.
Then we moved on to hot pink rhubarb with gratings of foie gras. It was a beauty to look at, and the sharpness of the rhubarb played superbly against the silky foie gras. Almost there now, just two more courses and a petit four to go…
The milk chocolate with coffee and espellette pepper was as delicate looking a sweet as I’ve had, although personally I’m not a fan of the chilli heat and chocolate combo, I didn’t eat my spicy brittle. The coffee dressing had a fantastic flavour against the shiny chocolate tube and mousse. Finally, there was an iced goats curd, with cherry chips, and sorrel – a herb with a strong berry flavour. Actually, not quite finally, because we then had a chocolate brownie petit four with pumpkin seeds (I think). De. Lish. Us.
It is pricey but actually not so when you compare against the other Michelin chefs in Birmingham. The 9 course taster menu will set you back £75 and the wine flight to go with it £55. In the wine selection I particularly liked the Gruner Veltliner, the Gavi de Gavi, and the dessert Tokaji. Lunch is a fair bit cheaper at £45. It’s not somewhere you go every week, it’s a celebration venue – anniversaries, birthdays, new jobs. We felt truly spoiled and you will to.
Oh and one last thing, congratulations on not just the birth of a fantastic venue, but also on the other baby heading your way shortly…