The Gastronome Restaurant Reviews - The Wilderness 27 Warstone Lane, Birmingham B18 6JQ

Visit: 8 March 2024, lunch for two

Award: Michelin Guide Recommended, 3 AA Rosettes

Price: **

Website: https://www.wearethewilderness.co.uk/

The Review:

The Wilderness is a Michelin Guide Recommended, 3 AA Rosettes restaurant located in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham.  It has collected a number of impressive ratings, including Good Food Guide 20 Most Exciting Restaurants 2022, SquareMeal Top 100 Restaurants 2024, and Harden’s Guide Top 100 Restaurants 2024.

The chef patron is Alex Claridge who first opened the restaurant on Dudley Street in Spring 2016 and then moved to the Jewellery Quarter in Spring 2018.  I recommend reading his blogs that are available via the restaurant web site https://www.wearethewilderness.co.uk/blog.

There were two menus priced at £100 or £125, and there were vegetarian and pescatarian menus available.  The £100 menu was 6 courses and an optional Wagyu course (£42), while the £125 menu included many of the courses from the £100 choice plus additional courses.  The Wilderness serves “provocative, playful tasting menus in a restored factory, set to the soundtrack of rock, punk and heavy metal”.

Wine flights were available, or you could order glasses and bottles of wine from the full wine list.  There was a range of different wine flights, the basic selection (£65 or £115 of either 4 or 6 glasses, depending on the menu chosen), a Super Wine Flight (£175 or £275 depending on menu selection), and a Mystery Flight (£55 or £80) of paired beverages, including sake and hacked wines.  The full wine list was extensive and very accessible, with clear descriptions of each of the wines available.

Stuart Clarke Restaurant ReviewWe started with two canapes.  Due to an oyster allergy, I was served a white and green asparagus tartlet with crème fraiche, dill emulsion, layered with an onion jelly, and sprigs of dill.  Then, a mussel taco, with a garlic mayonnaise, lovage emulsion, and pickled celeriac.  Both were excellent.

The first course was chutoro tuna (medium fatty tuna belly) with a touch of soy sauce, jalapeno dashi, jalapeno smoked extra virgin olive oil, olives, and a jalapeno sorbet.  This was very innovative and extremely flavoursome.

Next were pink fir potatoes cooked on the barbecue, finished with Parmesan, sea truffle (pepper dulse seaweed), onion caramel, onion miso, and dashi beurre blanc foam, and dehydrated egg yolk.  This dish had very good flavours and combination of textures.

The veal sweetbread was cooked in a curry butter, served with barbecued carrots, green chutney, coriander yoghurt, with carrot and lemon grass sauce.  Sweetbread is a favourite of mine, and this was cooked perfectly with a sauce that was a perfect accompaniment.

The Skrei cod was poached in brown butter, and served with caramelised fennel puree, pickled fennel, a dill emulsion, and a yuzu champagne sauce.  The cod was precisely cooked, and the sauce was magnificent.

An optional course of barbecued A5 Wagyu ribeye was served with smoked aubergine puree, a spiced oxtail “patty”, with a superb oxtail and kampot pepper broth (optional supplement £42).  The kampot pepper is a cultivar of black pepper grown and produced in Cambodia.  The kampot broth was light but with deep peppery flavour that was not too spicy hot.  All the courses were very good again today, but this was sensational, and definitely worth paying the supplement.

The main course was barbecued cull yaw, with barbecued wild leeks, served on a jam, with shiso, and a lamb sauce.  This was served with a side dish of an English muffin with some barbecued lamb belly on top.  Cull yaw mutton is a term commonly used to refer to a cull ewe, which is a sheep that is no longer suitable for breeding.  In the UK, any sheep that is older than two years is considered mutton.  This had great lamb flavour but was slightly too fatty for me.

The first dessert was a Riesling poached pear, with a pear custard, a cinnamon biscuit, brown sugar, and bay leaf ice cream.  The main dessert was a black garlic and chocolate chip cookie in the form of an excellent dark chocolate entremets.  This was a cake composed of multiple components assembled into layers, with dark chocolate vermouth, a zesty black garlic gel centre, encased in a malt mousse, sprayed with a milk chocolate and coco butter to give a textured glaze, served with a hazelnut ice cream, and a malt sugar puff.  This was extremely good!

Finally, the petit four was a white chocolate shell frog encasing a Matcha green tea ganache, and a mango gel.  A perfect ending to a superb lunch.

Service was top drawer throughout.  This is one of the best restaurants in Birmingham. I’m still confused why it hasn’t got a Michelin star.  It’s as good as others in Birmingham that have got one.  I highly recommend a visit.

The Menus:

The Food:

 

The Restaurant:

Outside the restaurant in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter:

The open kitchen:

Inside the restaurant:

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