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Known for its cosmopolitan community and vibrant social scene, the Birmingham suburb of Moseley plays host to a number of popular and high-quality bars and eateries.
A relatively recent addition to the area’s eating-out offer is Little Blackwood, opened a year ago by award-winning chef Ben Taylor.
Boasting innovative, seasonal and locally sourced British food, the restaurant is Ben’s first venture since moving back to his home town, having previously made a success of stints at Cen at Celtic Manor, The Boot at Lapworth and Malmaison in Liverpool, to name but a few.
On arrival, my partner and I were politely greeted by Zsofia, the restaurant’s bubbly and wonderful manager, who showed us to our table. We were wowed from the moment we walked in. ‘Oysters?’ she asked. We couldn’t have wished for a more perfect introduction - she evidently knew the way to our hearts from the off! The restaurant’s trendy décor and relaxed atmosphere further added to our sense of wellbeing.
The aesthetically pleasing interior features exposed brick, velvet chairs and brightly coloured statement lampshades. Set within the wooden floor is a circular glass section which exposes the underground wine cellar - a fantastic feature in a splendidly quirky establishment.
Following a couple of delicious oysters came our starters. Choosing from a mouthwatering selection, my partner and I opted for the Scottish salmon tartare served with a seaweed tapioca cracker, caviar and nasturtium, and the braised pig cheek served with a langoustine bisque topped with black olive tapenade. Each dish was elegantly presented and wonderfully tasty. The pig cheek was tender and without doubt the nicest I've eaten anywhere, the creamy, strong-flavoured langoustine bisque was beyond delicious, and the saltiness from the tapenade worked as the perfect addition. A warm, comforting and thoroughly enjoyable dish.
The fresh and delectable salmon provided a nice contrast. Visually it was a work of art, and the unusual tapioca added some real texture and crunch.
For the main event, we chose fillet of beef served with bone marrow, potato croquette and Bordelaise sauce, and monkfish tail and king prawn curry with sautéed sea vegetables and butternut squash, served with banana leaf sticky rice.
The steak was cooked perfectly, resulting in a melt-in-the-mouth sensation, the knife gliding through the meat as if it were butter. The sweet, nutty flavour provided by the bone marrow, along with the light and fluffy croquette, complemented the steak perfectly. Featuring red wine, bone marrow, butter and shallots as the main ingredients, the sauce was rich, flavoursome and helped bring the dish together.
On to the curry. As with the steak, the monkfish tail and king prawns were cooked perfectly. The sauce was creamy and the samphire and butternut squash cooked nicely. It was a dish that I'd definitely order again.
Zsofia suggested we tried a few of the side dishes, and the moment they touched my lips, I absolutely knew why. The crispy sprouts, served with kimchi puree, were just to-die-for - I didn’t know it was possible for a sprout dish to taste so wonderful! I love kimchi, and the flavour combination was something of dreams. The hipsi cabbage with nori dust and parmesan, and the parsnip served with pumpkin seed were both fantastic too. Featuring an inventive choice of accompanying ingredients, it’s rare to find side dishes that are so good.
To end the evening, we shared two naughty desserts - the Little Blackwood chocolate bar with peanut butter, salted caramel and strawberry gel, and the chocolate brownie with white chocolate ice cream, popcorn and burnt white chocolate. The descriptions more than speak for themselves - although I feel it’s appropriate to mention just how tasty the brownie in particular was. The sweet, homemade treats were the perfect end to a perfect evening.
Our visit to Little Blackwood was one of our most enjoyable evenings out in the city to date. From the exemplary and welcoming service to the downright magnificent food, this is a Moseley gem that you’ll want to return to again and again.
To book a table visit littleblackwood.co.uk
***** Lauren Foster
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