We ate our last meal out ahead of the first national lockdown at The Oyster Club, on the night all bars and restaurants were ordered to close as soon as they could (for posterity the link to that speech on 20th March is here). We were pleased to be able to visit again, albeit because of CV-19 restrictions just the two of us rather than with our group of friends, and we booked in just before the second national lockdown was announced. We hope that Adam and the team don’t start seeing us as harbingers of doom!
The restaurant is chic. The bar is on the upper level and is bright, perfect for dinner with friends, a working lunch, or after work drinks. The double height lower level allows for more formal dining, including a large space which has a glass partitioned view to the kitchen, and can be closed off to act as a private dining room. A great place for a romantic meal, or for a celebration.
Given we realised that this would be (almost) our last meal cooked for us for a month at least, we went all out starting the meal with three Oysters. Birmingham is as land-locked as a place can be in the UK and there are only a few places oysters are frequently found so if you’ve never tried them then this is the place to go – rumour has it there’s an oyster happy-hour early on weekdays just after work. Plump and cool our three oysters were prepped and served with a Japanese dressing in their pearlescent shells, fresh as an ocean breeze.
For my starter I had the dressed white crab, topped with crispy chicken skin, burnished sweetcorn, grapefruit, avocado and sourdough croutons. A delicious combination of textures, each element adding a pop of flavour. We also had the smoked haddock “scotch egg”, crispy crumbed with a runny yolk, and smoky fish – Brum went scotch egg crazy a few years ago but this wins top alternative for me.
For mains, while there are meaty options we both had fish given there are few places in Birmingham it’s reliable – my top picks would be the Michelin places, Opus, and Harborne Kitchen. We had the fattest skate wing I’ve ever seen, sweet white meat with a glossy roast chicken sauce, and shimeji mushrooms adding an umami hit. We also had the roasted turbot on the bone, again a generous portion with velvety beurre noisette and soft cockles. On the side we had tenderstem broccoli with hazelnuts and garlic, and “The Perfect 12” chips: golden and crisp, fluffy inside.
We had the “Pink Lady Apple” for dessert; an elevated apple pie. Fine crisp filo pastry sandwiched smooth crème patisserie and cooked apple, topped with cinnamon ice cream, and raw apple offering a hot of sharp freshness. To finish, alongside our digestif cocktails we were served petit fours of chocolate, sesame and hazelnut, and cubes of plum jellies which tasted like the plums had just been plucked from the tree.
Dinner here excluding drinks will cost around £50 a head. It’s one of the few restaurants in Birmingham that offer à la carte dining of this quality.