Let’s start with a splash of brilliance: an oyster dish.
Served in dark glazed bowl, a plump oyster had been precisely poached so that it retained slight resistance to the bite and a wonderful freshness of flavour.
It came topped with caviar.
My apprehension about the strawberry and kimchi soup in which it wallowed was ill-founded.
Far from being a mismatch, it was a marriage made in heaven.
This was a dish that sang of the sea and revealed layers of favour – salty, gently sweet and boldly sharp.
It was as enlivening as a blast of ozone-scented wind on a deserted Hebridean beach.
The dish – audacious but, at heart, simple – proved that Kray Treadwell is a chef of burgeoning talent.
Which probably doesn’t need saying since he was named Michelin Young Chef of the Year and has worked for culinary stars Glynn Purnell and Michael O’Hare and was a Great British Menu finalist.
Now Solihull-born Kray has returned to Birmingham and opened his own gaff – 670 Grams near the Custard Factory.
It’s a tiny place that’s edgy in its graffiti-led decor and music – lots of rap and reggae, as well as a bit of soul and classic rock.
The staff are young, chilled and incredibly friendly and efficient.
Because 670 Grams has a small kitchen with a small brigade, the restaurant offers only a tasting menu.
Expect the unexpected – with an eclectic range of ingredients from various culinary traditions.
The £60 a head (plus service charge) that I paid for a 10-course Saturday lunch was great value, I thought.
The oyster dish, obviously, stood out.
Likewise a plate of lobster, spring onion oil, soft cheese and bread enriched with stock made from the crustacean’s shells.
This was luxurious but not heavy and packed with flavour and contrast.
Beautifully flaky, luminously white cod served with ackee, puffed wild rice and plantain was also a flavoursome winner.
And there was plenty of flavour – and more influences from the Caribbean – in a dish of moist, tender lamb neck served with fried dumplings, pickled carrots and jerk gravy.
Again, this showed a chef who can play with big flavours and balance them deftly.
The following course, Pickle Kray, a riff on an Indian restaurant pickle board, combined masala mango, green tomato, mint, cucumber and yoghurt was further proof of Kray’s emergence as chef not afraid to take risks but with the craft to succeed in creating memorable, tasty food.
There were dishes that didn’t work for me, which is unsurprising when 10 courses were served.
Halibut, served at room temperature with radish and lobster buttermilk, lacked the oomph of other dishes.
Kray FC – fried chicken served with homemade hot sauce in a pottery skull – was also a bit “meh”.
Nor was I convinced by the addition of pork scratchings to a dessert of rich, beautiful dark chocolate, gorgeous lemon curd and olive oil.
Likewise, I found the inclusion of seaweed in a dish of plum, jasmine rice ice cream and rice noodles and intrusion rather than an enhancement.
But these are matters of personal taste and others will disagree.
One thing that I believe to be certain is that 670 Grams is destined to cause a stir in the culinary scene well beyond Birmingham.
Welcome home, Kray.
4 Gibb Street, Deritend, Birmingham B9 4AA.