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Andy Munro’s “Not A Balti” Blog

OPUS (Cornwall St, Birmingham)


He’s normally a connoisseur of the best baltis in town, but just this once Andy Munro opts for some “fine dining”. His choice? The highly rated Opus in Birmingham’s business district.

With my daughter coming up from Brighton, she decreed that we would go for a spot of ‘fine dining’ at Opus in Cornwall Street in Birmingham city centre. This choice had apparently been inspired by an article in the Times lauding its praises and this followed up her last visit when we had gone over to the other side (of the road) to Purnells and needless to say had a great meal.

Actually I had been to Opus before for a property sponsored breakfast when I had been unfortunately deafened by the braying sounds of leading members of the property world greeting each other.

Parking on a Saturday night almost outside the restaurant was easy for me because I had a previous appointment so I was able to park up before the mayhem of post 6pm free parking. We had a table booked for 8.30. and the restaurant had phoned the day before to check that we were turning up so presumably they didn’t waste any of their ‘market fresh’ food.

We were greeted by a young member of staff and waved through to the bar area where we sat down to an uncleared table which in fairness was dealt with fairly quickly. The women had wine and a dry Martini respectively whilst I imbibed from a bottle of Bombadier bitter…try saying that quickly after a couple. I have to say that it was wonderfully ‘hoppy’ with a plate of olives and bread as an excellent accompaniment.

We ordered a bottle of Rioja at £30 (the cheapest bottle was £20 incidentally) and it was perfectably acceptable,as you would expect. The starters were mainly around the £10 mark and my daughter’s Leek and Haddock Fishcake, whilst not exactly in the ground breaking category, was pronounced as ‘nice’.

Meanwhile my wife had a crab based dish which was so unmemorable she could only recall it the next day as a’ Crab something’. In fairness my Seared Squid was delicious although in portion terms it could almost be described as ‘Diddley Squid'.

Main courses thankfully took a distinct upward turn – both women had an Aberdeen Steak, described as I recall it, as slow matured and it was so tender that it almost fell apart at the merest approach of a knife.

The steak was accompanied by a rich Mushroom Sauce and amongst other thing came with a Dauphinoise Potato – a lovely consistency but it unfortunately could only be described in the singular.

My own main was Venison which came in the pink and was beautifully tender, superbly set off by a mixture of Forest Mushrooms and some very tasty and smooth Carrot Puree which unfortunately was more a splash of colour on the plate than a portion.

Overall the mains were a great success even at £25 a piece and the only disappointment was having to order vegetables separately at £3-50p a head and to find that they were carrots and beans devoid of any real seasoning or garnishing – probably politically correct in a culinary sense but to be honest a bit of a bore for my own tastebuds.

As we were pushing the boat out, we decided to cast our digestion adrift with desserts. My wife had a Crème Brulee which she said was okay but not bruleeiant. My daughter had some special Truffle Chocolates which were quickly devoured although she described the accompanying fortified Wine as fine without touching the levels reached on her recent visit to Jerez.

I was a bit luckier because my Cheesecake was absolutely spot on and a million miles away from the cloyingly sweet varieties beloved of Harvesters and Iceland.

Overall a decent meal with some high spots and some flat spots – service incidentally was young, gifted and slack. The bill for the three of us including drinks and a service charge came to £215 which I suppose to put in context is equivalent to about 35 baltis.


Andy Munro would like to point out that 'my views are personal and not those of the City Council'


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