Birmingham is home to a handful of Michelin Starred restaurants. Purnells was one of the very first to achieve a star back in 2009 and has continued to hold it ever since. We headed along for lunch, our first Michelin lunch in The Midlands.
Glynn Purnell is known for his slightly odd combinations of flavour. A starter of cornflakes with smoked haddock doesn’t exactly prompt you to order it at first glance. Similar dishes were exhibited on the television show ‘Great British Menu’ on which Glynn regularly featured for The Central Region.
We honestly didn’t know what to expect from Purnells. In an industrial city such as Birmingham you don’t expect to find a classy venue with a chef delicately putting together plates of food. That is, however, exactly what we found.
Walking into the restaurant, you could easily be in London. The smell of money, the French waiters, the well dressed clientele – this is a classy venue. The dining room is equally chic. Just across our table you could see the kitchen door regularly being held open by Glynn, it’s nice to see a chef at work.
The menus are tremendous value for a restaurant of this level. Five courses on the ‘grazing’ menu is tremendous value at £55 or a tasting menu at £75 named ‘The Purnell’s Journey’. The highlight even before you’ve had your amuse bouche is the bread at Purnells – light as a feather and highly addictive.
Speaking of amuse bouches – ours arrived in the shape of small baked potatoes with a parsley mayonnaise, a great way to begin. The following dish was a veloute of butternut squash along with a slow cooked egg yolk, persillade of garlic and (more) parsley plus parmesan.
A smooth veloute is a comforting thing. An egg yolk to enrich the bowl takes it one step further. We thoroughly enjoyed this dish with the persillade and parmesan alternating the flavours once mixed through the veloute – very good indeed.
Next – a dish from Glynn’s book ‘Cracking Yolks and Pig Tales’ which is a great read. Goats Cheese Mousse with Beetroot Sorbet, Watercress Puree and Pickled Beetroot. Before I had this dish I really didn’t enjoy beetroot, thanks to Mr Purnell I now order it all the time.
The crunchy, fresh beetroot was the absolute standout on the plate. The sorbet adds a different texture and all the elements work superbly with the rich mousse. The only slight criticism was that the mousse became quite heavy as there is a fair amount of it.
A standout dish at Purnell’s is The Monkfish Masala, a piece of monkfish rolled in a special spice blend and cooked sous vide before being pan roasted. The winter offering is a slightly different take on this dish but still a complete knockout – Monkfish rolled in mushroom powder and served with slow cooked beef, lentils and a confit parsnip.
Words can’t describe how good this fish was. Honestly the most tender piece of quality monkfish that you will ever taste. The cep powder is a powerful companion but perfectly matched with slow cooked beef and lentils. A dish that shouldn’t work but does.
Pork belly and a breaded nugget of pigs trotter arrived next slathered in a rich pork sauce. A simple dish after its predecessor but very tasty. A particular nod to the trotter nugget which had a very intense pork flavour. Also like the previous dishes this was presented beautifully.
Dessert was a play on one of my absolute favourite – Baba au Rhum. This classic had been given the signature Purnell’s twist by using a rich pineapple glaze with white rum on the sweet sponge.
Marinated fresh pineapple was the perfect foil for the rich baba. A coconut sorbet completed the tropical theme on the plate with some black sesame tuiles for both texture and a welcome nutty taste. This was a first class pudding.
For just over £100 a lunch at Purnells is a superb option for a special treat when in Birmingham. The food, service and setting are all very good indeed. Is it worth more than one star? Quite possibly. With competition just down the road from Adam’s it’s a daily battle for recognition on the culinary map of Birmingham for Glynn and his team.
Opening Times: Tuesday – Friday 1200-1630, 1900-0100
Saturday 1200-1630, 1830-0100
Nearest Train Station: Birmingham Snow Hill