Wednesday, 11 March 2009


"IT FEELS like we're on holiday," mused the boy as we took to our table at Turners restaurant last night.
It was true. With it's dark, cosy interior, buzzing atmosphere and walls of wine bottles, it felt like we'd ducked into a bistro down a Parisian side street.
To add to this, the Harborne High Street restaurant has just been awarded the ultimate French dining accolade - a Michelin star.
However, a glance at the menu reminded us that we were definitely not in Paris, with the three course Auberge menu priced at a very reasonable £17.50.
Choices are limited to two per course on this menu, although this made deliberation a lot easier, which was a bonus on a hungry Tuesday night.
A basket of warm breads followed, one of the rolls was made using Hovis flour, the waiter strangely informed us. I felt they were a little too crusty, but the salted butter was good and they were eaten anyway.
My starter of tomato and onion galette with mackerel and herb salad tasted as good as it looked. The skin on the fish was perfectly crisp, yet the flesh underneath still succulent. The stewed onions atop a pastry disc were sweet, although the tomatoes a tad anemic.
The boy felt his wood pigeon, which was served with a quenelle of foie gras and butternut squash, was chewy, despite being served very rare.
He was more impressed with his main course of cap rump of beef with winter vegetables, red wine jus and Guinness foam, which we both ordered.
The beef was superbly tender, perfectly balanced by the sweetness of the vegetables and rich sauce. A crispy potato galette atop the beef provided a good contrast of texture.
This was French-style bistro cooking at its best.
Unusually we ordered the same pud, a bitter chocolate tarte with peanut butter icecream, which was heavenly.
The tarte was topped with chocolate-flavour popping candy, which I admit makes me laugh, but is a sensation I don't know if I like. It almost spoiled the rich, sultry texture of the chocolate ganache and exquisite, slightly salty pastry.
I felt the peanut butter ice-cream could have packed a bigger punch as it was slightly too subtle against the chocolate.
So is Turners worthy of it's new accolade?
Cooking is of a high standard, although flavours are not as bold or progressive as those at Purnells, and food isn't as elegant and refined as Simpsons.
I'd say it's excellent bistro food in lively surroundings - worthy, certainly, of a Bib Gourmand, but not yet a Michelin star.
At £17.50 for three courses, it's a steal but I probably would not want to pay anymore.

Turners on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

hi emily,
thanks for dropping by. I would just like to touch on the subject of Bib Gourmand and 1* Michelin that you brought up.
In general the 1* Michelin rating is a very gray area (as is their 2* and 3* rating.. especially when it comes to England) Using London as an example, the level of cooking between a restaurant like Ambassade de L'ile and Chapter One, both of which gained a star, is like night and day. Coming back to Turners, it is at a level which is better than most Bib Gourmand places (admittedly I haven't dined at as many Bib Gourmand places as I would have liked) but is one of the weaker 1*s. It is still better than a lot of other 1*s but I do agree that Michelin have been pretty generous in handing out their asterisks this year.

p.s. I dined at Simpsons the following day which was a more interesting experience.


Emily said...

Hi G

Thanks for such thoughtful comments. I agree that there seems quite a wide margin for starred restaurants. Michelin has certainly been generous is handing out their stars, do you think this is to give businesses a helping hand in times of uncertainty?
Are you blogging about Simpsons?