I knew I didn’t want to cook Sunday lunch this week. I also knew that I didn’t want a crappy Toby Carvery either. Out came Mr Google. A quick search for the ‘best Sunday roast in Birmingham’ gave me The Plough in Harborne (excellent, but I do go there all the time) or Purnell’s Bistro in the city centre.
Michelin-starred chef Gylnn Purnell’s second restaurant in Birmingham, Purnell’s Bistro is meant to be a more laid-back, casual affair. Or so I’ve read. And that’s what we all wanted, because Sunday’s are no place for any formal, fancy dining are they.
It was a beautiful sunny day in Birmingham, and we sat in Pigeon Park by the Cathedral to wait for my sister Alex to arrive. My parents had gone away on holiday and had taken Verity with them, so it was just the three of us for lunch.
When I’d called to book, rather late at about 12pm, to see if they could fit us in, they only had a table for two available, which I booked and gave my sister the bad news. Sorry Alex. I’m a horrible sister aren’t I?! But the restaurant called me back about ten minutes later saying that they’d had a cancellation and would I still like to book for three. Excellent!
As you walk in, the front of the Bistro is actually Ginger’s Bar – a lovely light and open area with a mix of leather chairs and small tables, with a really well-stocked bar. The restaurant bit was towards the back it seemed. We were greeted quickly, and then taken behind a wall to the dining area. It was full, which gave it a certain level of atmosphere, but it wasn’t half as nice as the bar area.
Our waiter was extremely attentive, and as soon as we sat down we were offered water for the table – still , sparkling or tap. I always ask for tap water anyway, but feel really cheeky, so it was lovely for it to be offered.
Alex said she probably hadn’t been sober since Friday morning, so would be sticking to the water. Matt fancied a cocktail, and I had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Alex caved and ordered a Mojito.
Just look at this menu – what a deal!
We were given a bowl of the most beautiful, seeded focaccia bread to share, served with butter that had been whipped into the lightest, creamiest thing you’ve ever tasted. The crust on the bread was divine. It was crispy, from oil I think, and sprinkled with salt. It didn’t last long, and when our starters arrived, we were offered another bowl.
We all chose the Ham Hock Terrine to start. Matt’s portion was about twice the size of mine for some reason though, so I photographed his. The meat was perfectly seasoned, and although chunky, just melted in your mouth. It was beautiful. The little balls of apple were perfect, and there was just the right amount of leaves piled on top. The mustard dressing was such a subtle flavour, offering just the tiniest bit of heat, and was sweet and buttery.
The mains came as just the meat, a Yorkshire pudding and gravy. For a moment we were a bit like ‘oh, this can’t be it?’ before the vegetables were put in the centre of the table. I don’t know why they were served separately. It meant that the food arriving didn’t have a ‘wow, look at that! It looks GREAT!’ moment, because visually, everything on the plate was brown.
For the three of us, we were served two bowls of roast potatoes, a small bowl of mash, a bowl of green beans, and a jug of gravy. We all found a whole, soft and buttery carrot beneath our roast beef or chicken.
‘The Best Roasties in Brum’ were beautifully soft, and fluffy inside. Not at all grainy. With a lovely, almost chewy outside, rather than crunchy. But I’m sorry Glynn, turns out you have some serious unexpected competition, as Alex exclaimed that our nan’s roast potatoes are better!
The mash was light and creamy, with a subtle flavour of chive. The beans were cooked perfectly with good crunch, but no squeakiness, and my beef was absolutely gorgeous. Alex’s chicken (I know, because I pinched some) was lovely and moist. Yum.
Alex & I both had Raspberry Parfait with Raspberry Sorbet. The parfait was lovely, but the star of the show was the sorbet. It was like you’d been smacked in the face with a punnet of fresh raspberries. Stunning. It was served on plenty of shortbread biscuit crumb, that was rich and buttery. And this may sound odd, but I particularly liked that the strawberry garnish was warm. I HATE cold strawberries, often getting weird looks at work when I’m microwaving my fruit.
Matt ordered the chocolate mousse, which was HUGE, with the coconut sorbet. So good that he wasn’t going to let me photograph it before he started! And Alex said I was taking so long, that the sorbet was melting and she was going to have to drink it with a straw.
So we were finished, and stuffed, and a little bit merry. A brilliant lunch, at a really good price, made a little bit more expensive thanks to our love of alcohol.
Disclaimer: All food was paid for by ourselves. The restaurant were not aware that I would be reviewing our meal (although me taking photos of everything may have given the game away at some point!)