It arrived bound roughly in twine like a Conservative MP at a sex party.
Remove the string, lift off the top shell and there it is – a plump Porthilly oyster that had been poached gently for six minutes in beef fat.
This was a thing of beauty – a perfect marriage of the salty, ozone-snappy seafood and the unctuous beef dripping.
It was a clever homage to the beef stews that Victorians would bulk out with oysters in the days when the bivalves were cheap.
Coming as one of four snacks at the start of the eight-course tasting menu at Michelin-starred Carters of Moseley, this was a perfect illustration of chef-patron Brad Carter’s strengths.
Here is a young chef who doesn’t crowd plates with lots of ingredients, but keeps things apparently simple.
A chef who has a tremendous palate and a huge degree of craft.
A chef who presents bold and sometimes surprising flavour combinations.
Chicken liver cereal – a preternaturally light chicken liver parfait topped with various grains – is becoming a Carters signature dish and rightly so, for it has tremendous flavour and texture.
House charcuterie was cured lamb meat, funky slivers of leg with a peppery bite.
Vividly green raw kohlrabi, its cabbage earthiness offset by a light pickle, was combined with pine and salad burnet.
Cornish cuttlefish came beautifully white and tender and in a sweet dashi with the consistency and flavour of savoury caramel. Tiny girolles added woodland notes.
An Orkney scallop was a big bugger – cooked beyond the semi-raw state favoured by so many contemporary chefs and better for it. Seaweed butter anchored the dish firmly at the water’s edge.
Now for me the evening’s star – pine mushroom porridge with the cheese moliterno al tartufo.
Firm grains of pearl barley and spelt luxuriated in a rich broth with heady umami notes.
This is a satisfying bowlful of comforting flavour that I could eat every night curled up on my sofa in my Postman Pat pyjamas.
Monkfish, a jerusalem artichoke puree, kale and smoked bacon fat was another dish of great balance.
Highland grouse came as a tender, gentle breast cooked sous vide and little bon bon of leg meat with a proper gamey punch.
Beetroot added earthiness. Elderberries brought sharp autumn fruitiness.
A chunk of the English-made soft cheese Bix arrived on top of a tiny sour pancake balanced by a Wiltshire truffle maple.
Here was a dish of great purity and simplicity and one that was utterly convincing.
Simply, Carters has the most intriguing drinks list of any Birmingham restaurant that I know.
There are so-called orange wines, organic wines, biodynamic wines, beers, fortified drinks and other drinks all very well priced.
A refreshing artisan Italian vermouth was a great partner to the snacks.
A Tavel rose from the southern Rhone was a remarkably dark version, fruity and nicely acidic with almost farmyard notes.
It worked well with seafood and many of the other dishes.
Desserts were well-served by an intensely sweet Canadian cider and an unfiltered and pétillant sake.
With the Bix pancakes came a deliberately oxidised chardonnay that had the colour of a tramp’s piss but the flavour of an angel’s urine – a rich, complex wine similar in taste to an amontillado.
Staff are young, helpful and well informed.
They’re keen to share their knowledge of the food and drinks on offer.
Glasses seldom remain unfilled.
But the place is unfussy and unstuffy.
Need to know
The eight-course tasting menu is £85.
A lunchtime four-course menu is available at £45.
Various other menus are available, including vegetarian.
Carters is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Carters of Moseley
2c St Mary’s Row, Wake Green Road, Moseley, Birmingham B13 9EZ. 0121 449 8885.