Annexe: does it deliver for the price?

I write this review having checked in the mirror that I don’t have the word ‘Sucker” emblazoned on my forehead.

For the waitress anxious to up-sell at Annexe seemed to regard me as an easy touch.
She brought a small glass of red wine to the table suggesting that a bottle might go very well with the guinea fowl I’d ordered, neglecting to mention that it was £52.
I’m sure it would have been a delightful pairing, but the price was far beyond what I’d want to pay for a midweek meal of, frankly, mediocre nosh.
Plus I like to choose my own wines unless I’m getting guidance from a talented sommelier.
Thus I declined and instead chose an adequate and far cheaper syrah from Chile.
This, you’ll gather, isn’t a restaurant to which I warmed.

The decor

Stroll into the narrow long bar and walk to the large dining room at the back and there’s a feeling that you’re entering a Parisienne brasserie.
There are candles, rich colours and black and white photographs of movie legends on the walls.
At one end of the dining room grainy images from classic films flicker and seemed to me as indistinct as Annexe’s identity.

The food

By which I mean the place has the feel of one of those modest but French restaurants that are such a joy, but appears to think of itself as a fine dining destination.
The waitress who sought to flog us a bottle of expensive wine tried, too, to direct us to the £59 five-course tasting menu or its £79 seven-course sibling.
We declined and chose instead from the a la carte, which, again, was heftily priced.
To begin, I forlornly ate a bowl of Jerusalem artichoke velouté that was over-seasoned and brutal.

artichoke
Neither a drizzle of thyme oil nor a few brioche croutons rescued the dish.
The seafood bisque with crab ordered by my wife cost £8 and was a ghastly thing.
The lurid red soup appears to have sat too long on the pass and had formed a skin on top.
Its overwhelming flavour was of tomatoes and salt and a separately served slice of toast topped with crab was of parsimonious size.
My wife left much uneaten and, to the waitress’s credit, she noticed, asked why and deducted the item from the bill.
We both progressed to an £18 guinea fowl dish – a course that was better but not spectacular.

bird
The breast was slightly over-cooked and dry, though oddly the skin hadn’t crisped and a cloying layer of fat lurked below.
Croquette and roulade were nice and savoury, parsnip was perfect pleasant, smoked potato puree tasted of little, glazed grapes added only excessive sweetness and too little jus was on the plate for me to form an opinion of its merits.
My dessert featured sweet potato, hazelnuts, chocolate and orange in various forms and was largely enjoyable.
But not enough to make me anything other than disappointed by a restaurant that seemed confused and rather more confident than appeared appropriate.

Need to know

We spent nearly £100 on two glasses of white wine, a bottle of red, a starter, two mains and a dessert.
Eat more cheaply from the lunch menu – £9.50 for one course, £12.50 for two.
The wine list kicks in at £19.95 for a carafe but also includes some high-end classics.
Vegetarians are catered for.
The place is suitable for disabled people.
There’s P&D parking outside.

Annexe
220 Corporation St, Birmingham B4 6QB. 0121 236 1171.
http://www.annexe.co