Nomad: Razor-sharp with the clams!

Audacity is a good thing in a chef. It challenges the tedious. It creates new experiences for customers. It’s exciting.

It can, of course, also deliver puzzling or duff dishes and produce an inflated opinion of what is being provided for punters.
Here at Nomad, which uses foraged and locally-produced ingredients and is quite probably Birmingham’s most unusual restaurant, both sides of audacity’s character were, I thought, displayed.
Though the majority of the eight dishes I ate were delights, there were a couple of poor ones, too, and the charge of £50-a-head for the tasting menu seemed to me high.
Especially in the surroundings.
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The decor

Nomad is situated in a 1960s office building from the Indoor Markets in a ground-floor area partly partitioned from an arts and media space.
With its exposed wood, pared-down decor and dark colours, it’s got an edgy urban feel.
A refurb is pending and it will be interesting to see how the restaurant is enhanced.

The service

Two waitresses who were working could hardly have been more knowledgable and passionate about the food and drink they were serving.
They were utterly charming and worked with quiet efficiency on an evening when most of the tables were occupied.

The food and drink

Seldom can a carrot have been so satisfying as the whole one served here as the first course. Slow-roasted for 12 hours and then cooked briefly in butter and thyme, it was fudge-like, with earthy and herbal tones.
Equally convincing was a strip of mutton belly with crisp edges and melting fat and meat. A creamed anchovy topping sprinkled with green tea added fascinating contrasts to the sheepy richness.
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Less convincing was a salt-baked Jerusalem artichoke that emphasised the root’s crunchy and cleansing aspects rather than its squidgy sweetness. A smear of pine puree was refreshing with it.
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Then the evening’s star dish – a gorgeously-presented combo of perfectly-cooked razor clams with punchy crab, various sea herbs which each added something to the plate, puffed black rice that offered crunch and a palate-enlivening splash of elderflower vinegar. Here lay a touch of brilliance.
A bowl of creamy celeriac, smoked garlic and pearl barley was also well-conceived and wonderfully executed – a rich, satisfying, wintery risotto.
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The cod that followed with scallop roe and purple sprouting broccoli was, in contrast, underwhelming.
And the roast mutton chop that followed this was sweetly flavoursome but difficult to eat because the fat seemed inadequately cooked. It was partially rescued, however, by a tangy borlotti bean puree.
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The kitchen was back on form with a parsnip ice cream with grated blue cheese – beautifully balanced and textured.
Then another star – tender, blushing rhubarb given an exotic,almost Middle Eastern twist by honeyed pastry, rose petals and cream cheese with a hint of rosewater.
There’s a drinks flight at £30 to accompany these courses and a short but well-chosen wine list in which the qualities of the wine are described than the wines actually named.

Need to know

The eight-course tasting menu is £50.
The drinks flight is £30.
You could cut costs by going for the £25 weekend lunch menu.
There’s plenty of parking nearby.

Nomad
1 Dudley St, Birmingham B5 4EG.
http://foodbynomad.com