The food day on this trip was also the day after a day full of Bruce Springsteen music, first in the small venue where Gazza where the starter and gave many Bruce songs his touch, and the main dish – at the Ricoh Stadium where Bruce rocked the house – and the sweet dessert – where a crowd of 300 peeps enjoyed Mark Wright shacking his legs and singing the songs of Elvis and Bruce into the wee wee hours. Thank you Steve “Gazza”, Bruce Springsteen and Mark Wright for making it a day to remember.
So the game was up for The Pickled Piglet and later Turners to fill this day with food to remember.
The Pickled Piglet has only been open for a good 3 months and is already rising in the tripadvisor charts and elsewhere. It is situated just below the Hyatt Regency Hotel, where a channel and few other pubs and bars would make this little area something to focus on – on the next meetings in the City Planning Commision. Really – this area could be made into somthing quite special – “hell a little touch-up and a little paint”. Birmingham Mail recently made a review giving the restaurant a good 4 stars.
Inside you will find a pretty light dining room on the first floor with original floors and a bar. Behind the bar smiling Chrissy with her spouse Mark taking care of the cooking.
On Monday evenings they are full, and one can understand why, an offer of dry aged beef with sides at 10 punds seems like an offer too good to refuse.
I loved the menu, first small tapas like plates to choose from – priced at 4-6 pounds per plate, and a large selection of starters and mains where some of the tapas variations could be found in larger versions it seemed. All this can be found on their homepage also a description of the breed of pig they use etc. http://www.thepickledpiglet.co.uk/
So having a dinner planned, we opted for a selection of the smaller tapas – tasting plates. The wine list is kept small and simple, but we were happy with our selected NZ Sauvignon Blanc. I think the bottles on offer ranges from 15-25 pounds and the wines list has a majority of new world wines.
So, with a good review, a perfect host, a great room – we were ready to see if they could live up to our expectations. Here is what we got.
Smoked Mackerel Pate, loved it. great crackers too, Crab and Celariac and Apple Pancakes – wonderful. Among the best of the day. The pancakes being done in the style of a tortilla almost. This was indeed the only complaint in the review of the newspaper, but we loved them, and understood they had adjusted the dish after the review. Third in this selection was Sweet peppers and Rosemary Cheese. Great cheese, but for me the peppers was a bit too watery and not sweet enough. Nevertheless a great first selection of tapas.
Scallops, Apples and Smoked Bacon. This bacon and apples were done like my mom used to do them, and she would call it “Äblefläsk”. The bacon being a good partner always to the delicate scallop. The scallops were – in fact – damn – cooked a little too long. I am talking a little. But those 10-20 seconds that make them go from just right to just a little chewy. However, there may be a cultural cooking difference here, because at Simpsons last year and Turner later on today, I had the excact same experience and complaint. And in compare to Simpsons and Turners, these scallops were halfed – making the “over-cooking” more understandable. Besides at Simpsons in 2011 I remember the scallops being a “signature dish” and that just underlined/exposed the error in my eyes.
Second off, Spiced Lamb and Olive Meat Balls. Now this was probably the best dish. Try them. Soft, smooth, spicy with a lovely dip. Best meatballs ever.
Third one here was the Saffron and honey belly porc. Single complaint here was there were too few. No not really 😉 Great portion size, but I could eat that dish and nothing else the whole day. Every day. Again way up there.
Crispy Shredded Porc and Pickles…GREAT taste, great texture, but with the low fat meat used – it seemed a bit dry. All it need to make it perfect would be a small greek yoghurt dip, even a tzatziki without the garlic, maybe mint…;-) Just saying.
The bread selection was great but – the only real flaw of the day -being a little bit “tired” and thus not up to par with the rest of the meal.
It is always nice when something exceeds your expectations, I had a few, my dining partner – good friend Jörgen had let planning of the whole trip in my hands had no prejudgements whatsoever. But – we were both impressed by the freshness of the produce and cooking. The simple dishes were tastefull and well crafted. Minor flaws did certainly not ruin our dining experience. And often when I do this, look for good things or bad things in food, I tend to forget what it is all about. It is like with a good Bruce concert. There will be ups and downs – favourite parts – more dull parts – but what matters is the feeling you go home with. We left with smiles on our faces, and wish both Chrissy and Mark the best of luck and success with their little piglet. I loved the way you were interested in hearing what we had to say about the food. An the way you both seems like genuine nice people. From the moment we walked in we felt at home. The food is not re-inventing any wheels, but it is well crafted and Mark can surely cook. If you are a tourist in Birmingham, or if you live here – be sure to check this little piglet out…It is worth it.
Jörgen, I thank you for your friendship and both as a friend and dining partner I treasure your opinion. Being in Birmingham I should of course leave you with a Jeff Lynne song – my scores first…
My rating for this visit: Food 7p (10), service 4p (5), ambience 4p (5), Total Score 15p (20)