We were outraged when Birmingham planning officers decided that the wonderful Comida tapas restaurant on Gordon Road in Harborne was to be denied a permanent licence when its temporary use licence expired. Much to our relief the resilient proprietors, Jade and Stewart, picked themselves up from the disappointment of losing the much loved venue and found a new home on Highfield Road in Edgbaston. Thankfully it’s equally as easy for us to access, just opposite Michelin starred Simpsons restaurant, and just seconds from luxe cocktail bar The Edgbaston.
We ate often at Comida when it was in Harborne, popping in after a long day at work rather than cooking, and having celebration meals there with groups of friends and family, all of whom would remark on the excellent food and friendly welcome. Whilst it has lost its name in the move to Edgbaston – for it is now known simply as “@21 Restaurant” – it has lost none of the charm, with wait staff striking just the right balance of familiarity and professionalism.
Jade has worked her interior magic on the typically 70’s glass fronted building. The dining room, on the first floor, is sympathetic to the architecture with light woods and high design furniture lit by candles and warm lighting. White walls are accented by striking planting and mirrors. The ground floor offers a covered outdoor area, which will be wonderful for summer al fresco dining, and a bar overlooking the open kitchen in which Stewart works his equally accomplished magic.
While Comida started out as a more traditional Spanish Tapas restaurant with lots of small plates, the menu @21 is a less flashy, more homely, but perfectly executed affair. We started in the bar with a some crisp salty pork scratching straws to go with our pre-dinner Estrella beer, wine, and olives.
Dining with friends we took a large candlelit table in a cosy nook and ordered bottles of spicy and brooding Rioja to share. We ate family style, sharing dishes as they arrived in the middle of the table, starting with a meat board of earthy bresaola, parma ham, pickled chillis, and salty sour giant capers. We also took the old Comida favourite of salt cod fritters with pesto, pink onions, and dill, crispy on the outside and soft, hot, and comforting in the middle.
We then tried the pork. To be precise, twelve hour slow roast pork, deliciously moist, with glass-like crackling, served on matchsticks of apple. One our diners who is not a big pork fan said it was the best pork he’d ever had. High praise indeed, and I feel much the same. We also had tender corn fed chicken with chilli, mint, courgette, and feta – a warming and comforting dish of crisp skinned roasted chicken with cool courgette and mint. Our final “main” meat dish was the bourbon glazed short rib of beef, another triumph of man over meat, soft and sweet.
As sides for our meaty mains we had the chorizo, tomato, and white bean pot, and a pot of white beans with potatoes, parsley, and pesto. With some bread for dipping these would have worked as a supper dish on their own as they were filling and tasty.
I’m sure a solo diner wanting a dish for supper and a glass of wine after the office would be equally as welcomed here, and feel just as comfortable, as couples out for a romantic dinner, and groups of friends putting the world to rights.
Cesar Chavez said that “the people who give you their food give you their heat”, and that’s really why I like this place so much, there is care and love in every forkful.
@21 Restaurant is a wonderful addition to Edgbaston, and we wish them much luck.
Their website is available here: http://at21.co.uk