Does the new-look Simpson’s Restaurant hit the target?

Chef-patron Andreas Antona is the man most responsible for the transformation of Birmingham from a culinary backwater to the gourmet destination it’s become.

Countless great chefs have blossomed in his kitchens and gone on independent success.

And when he moved Simpson’s from Kenilworth to Edgbaston, the city gained its first Michelin star and Brum’s dining scene began to play catch-up.

He’s got an eye for talent, the experience and passion to nurture it and an uncanny ability to adapt to changing culinary fashions.

Thus, after a decade in Birmingham, Simpson’s has undergone a radical facelift.

The decor

Prepare to be surprised, maybe even shocked, by the new look, which involves a major reconfiguration of the restaurant.

The old private dining room has been moved to overlook the rest of the restaurant, with the lounge expanded.

Gone is the old awkward shape of the main restaurant area, which is now a large, open space.

There’s a contemporary Scandinavian vibe, with bare-topped tables, chairs of arching blonde wood and muted upholstery and exposed beams on the vaulted ceiling.

A wall of glass overlooks a smart new terrace and garden and one end of the room is taken up by a Cotswold stone wall with irregular shaped windows.

Not to everyone’s taste, apparently. But certainly to mine.

The service

As always, front-of-house service at Simpson’s was polished without being stiff, friendly without being familiar and unfailingly efficient and informed.

The food

Nathan Eades has taken over as head chef, with Simpson’s veteran Luke Tipping as chef-director.

Don’t expect gimmicks – do expect food with a modern edge that celebrates clear favours and contrasting textures.

The dishes remain in the Simpson’s tradition – well-conceived, well-executed, uncrowded.

Thus the famous crisp duck egg – once deep-fried in panko crumbs – is now wrapped in a coating that almost resembles a demented Shredded Wheat and comes with sweet Jerusalem artichoke and a deep flavoured cobnut and truffle pesto.

Superb, too, was a bowl of carrots treated in various ways served in a crystal clear carrot consommé with a hint of vanilla that lifted this gentle dish to new heights.

Duck was precisely cooked, beautifully flavoured and perfected complemented by toasted pearl barley, spelt and black quinoa, with pumpkin adding earthy sweetness and damson and verjus offering lively, sharp notes.

A dessert of honey parfait, fennel and yoghurt sorbet and lemon and poppy seed cake was an understated delight.

Here was a meal that provided plenty of evidence that Simpson’s remains a jewel in our city’s culinary crown.

Need to know

  • The three-course lunch, including half-a-bottle of wine, costs £45 a head.
    The five-course menu costs £65, the eight-course £90.
    Children’s menus and vegetarian menus are also available.
    The restaurant has a cookery school and three bedrooms.

20 Highfield Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 3 DU.
0121 454 3434.
www.simpsonsrestaurant.co.uk