Pork chops feature as infrequently on restaurant menus as truth in the utterances of Boris Johnson.
Which is a great pity because – unlike the porcine Prime Minister – pork chops are reliable and likeable things that can be trusted to deliver on expectations.
And that was certainly true of the pork chop that I ate at Noel’s Bar & Restaurant close to the Mailbox.
Like all the restaurant’s meat, it comes from that impeccable supplier, Aubrey Allen: an indicator of commitment to quality.
French trimmed, it was a thick chunk of protein that has been chargrilled so that the fat was rendered, the outside was scorched and the interior remained succulent.
It had an almost gamey intensity of flavour offset beautifully by a rich, sticky Madeira sauce.
The plate also contained roasted new potatoes, which were good.
Colour and vegetal nutrition was supplied by a side order of ever-so-slightly too al dente green beans, with diced shallots.
There was a simplicity about this satisfying dish that suggested that this is a kitchen lacking neither skill nor confidence.
The menu is extensive, but not alarmingly so, and is Mediterranean influenced.
Plates are prettily dressed. Ingredients are well sourced and sympathetically matched. Cooking is precise.
Earlier, a starter of mild but tasty goats cheese drizzled with honey, gently melted over croutons of homemade bread and served with perfectly ripe figs and a zingy herb oil was a winner.
Opposite, a caprese salad was a generous thing showcasing burrata of the highest quality.
My partner’s chicken souvlaki was likewise a generous serving and packed rustic punch.
Two skewers of nicely cooked chicken, interspersed with vegetables, came with a hearty Greek salad, pitta bread and that loveliest of dips, tzatziki.
There was, however, nothing remotely rustic about the dessert we shared.
Pistachio cheese cake with Italian meringue was exquisite – the mascarpone topping rich with nuts, the base thin and melting.
Again, presentation was pretty.
Rather like the restaurant itself – a canalside space that’s light and airy and decorated with kind of 1980s bravado.
Service was slick and friendly.
It’s a place at which I’ve now eaten three times and to which I’ll certainly return.
Need to know
Expect to pay around £100 a head for food and drinks.
Bottomless lunch is great value, kicking in at £19.95 for two courses and a cocktail.
Private dining is available.
Noel’s Bar & Restaurant
22 Waterfront Walk, Birmingham B1 1SN. 0121 389 3896.
The meal on this occasion, but not on my previous two visits, was gifted to me. But the review is an accurate account of my opinions.