Some weeks ago in dreary January (so yes I’m aware this is overdue, I’ve been busy) we booked in with friends for a wintry Saturday dinner at Hengata. Opening in 2021 the restaurant menu originally felt a bit Scandi, but appears now to be worldwide modern cuisine.
The restaurant is located in The Schoolyard development just off Harborne High Street, a beautiful redbrick Victorian schoolhouse which now houses a few hospitality businesses that seem to vary in terms of performance – BTP café is still extremely popular, but neighbours Prezzo closed, then Holy Moly Macaroni opened and closed within a year, and cocktail bar Drunken Tiger seemed to open/close/open/close but now appears to have gone permanently.
The dining room is airy and simple with the high vaulted ceilings, and a completely open kitchen. There’s no bar so we were straight to our table for aperitif cocktails; I can recommend the Blood Orange Negroni (£8) and the Women’s Washed Espresso Martini (£7.75) though we didn’t get to the bottom of its name. Over dinner we had carafes of red, white, and rosé wine and found them to be great value with something to suit every budget, though it was a bit slow to get.
For my starter I chose the Corn and Lentil Fritters with green chutney, chilli, and coriander yoghurt and pickles (£7.75). The fritters were crispy and sweet and the yoghurt provided sharp relief. The chutney was punchy but I’d have liked more of it than the smear provided.
For mains I had the rump of venison (£26.95) which was served perfectly pink, with leek fondant and cauliflower puree. The venison was flavoursome and its accompanying sauce had a good depth of flavour with a tiny hint of Eastern spice, an unusual and tasty touch. The garlic and ginger chicken (£20.95) had good flavour but had homestyle presentation, rather than a delicate restaurant look.
For deserts the cinnamon red wine poached pear (£9.70) with caramelized pineapple and coconut ice cream provided a refreshing end, while the chocolate fondant (£9.95) was a gooey comforting delight.
I’d recommend the restaurant for a catch up with friends or for a romantic meal for two, it’s perfect to chat, and while it has its imperfections the food is hearty and the place is charming.