Bank: has the reinvention worked?

Bank had fallen off my radar these past couple of years – a result, I guess, of the opening of so many new restaurants in the city.

In the time that had elapsed since my last visit, the space has been transformed.

Front Terrace
The bar and front terrace have been given a cool new vibe.
The restaurant itself has been given a major facelift.
And at the back has been created a covered terraced area that looks over the canal basin towards the glittering lights of the NIA.

Waterside Grill 3
All of which was sorely needed in a restaurant and bar that’s been around for 17 years and had barely altered in that time.
The menu has changed, too.
It doesn’t skip from continent to continent like a fidgety hippy, but has more coherence.
It’s a successful reinvention.
A recent visit as guests of its owner – the Individual Restaurant group – showed there’s a new vitality about the place.

Pre-meal drinks

Sitting in the spacious and uncluttered bar was a fine way to prepare to eat.
A G&T with burnt orange and pink grapefruit put an edge on my appetite that a fine array of savoury snacks only partially met.

dav
Which is exactly what pre-dinner snacks should do.
Chargrilled padron peppers, rich chicken liver pate and green olives were all enjoyable.
I’m reliably informed that smoked salmon was good, too.
An evening spent drinking in the bar or on the terrace whilst nibbling on snacks would be no hardship.

Starters

Baked red and golden beetroots were sweet and earthy. A tangy dressing nicely offset rich ricotta. A scattering of leaves added verdancy.

dav
This was a very pretty dish zinging with fresh flavours
My wife’s asparagus retained its bite and came with a nicely poached egg.

Afterwards

There’s not enough theatre in restaurants – by which I mean not enough live theatre.
Any charlatan can induce amusement in a diner by serving food in watering cans or amid clouds of dry ice vapour.
But I miss waiters bringing stuff to the table atop a trolley and carving or even cooking it in front of your eyes.
Here the spectacle came courtesy of a salt-baked sea bass, served for two.

dav
The waiter painstakingly chipped away the salt crust, deftly peeled off the skin and seamlessly filleted the fish.
The flesh was sweet and succulent and has benefited hugely from the cooking process.
Various vegetables accompanied the bass, the best of which were the rosemary-scented sauté spuds.
This was unfussy but skilled cooking that delivered proper flavour.
Desserts proved a course beyond us.
We drank a bottle of gerwurtztraminer, a grape with spicy and off-dry notes that worked well with both courses.

Waterside Grill 2

Need to know

Expect to pay around £50 a head to eat a la carte with wine.
Cut costs by choosing the lunch or early evening menu.
Vegetarian options.
Child friendly.
Accessible for the disabled.
Parking nearby

Bank
4 Brindley Place, Birmingham B1 2JB. 0121 633 4466.
http://individualrestaurants.com/bank/birmingham/

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