Paul Gilmore: tracking down an old Birmingham favourite

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Gluttons of a certain age will remember fondly Restaurant Gilmore, tucked away in the Jewellery Quarter in the days before the area had become hip and trendy.

It won critical acclaim when Birmingham was still a fledgling foodie city.
But Paul Gilmore upped sticks and moved to Staffordshire to a restaurant at Strine’s Farm, which closed, and has now resurfaced at the Wheatsheaf on the outskirts of Stone.

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The decor

This is an old pub with a small and cosy bar and a much larger area set aside for food.
The dining area is light and airy – very much in the style of so-called gastro-pubs the land over.
Tables are well-spaced and it’s a convivial place to sit and chat.
There’s probably between 50 and 60 covers.

The service

Don’t expect silver service – this is very much a pub that does good food.
But the young staff are enthusiastic, informed, efficient and thoroughly charming.
All of which adds to the welcoming nature of the place.

The food and drink

To call a menu ‘old-fashioned’ is loaded with danger, for that can be a way of suggesting it’s outdated and dull.
That’s not the intention here – rather the combinations and cooking techniques are those that have survived the tests of time and which, in the right hands, produce satisfying, pleasing dishes.
You won’t find foams and fermentation and exoticism.
Paul Gilmore is a chef with skill, experience and a passion and a respect for well-sourced ingredients – and it shows.
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A starter of perfectly-cooked Staffordshire asparagus with a precisely-poached egg and a Hollandaise sauce with just the right balance of richness and astringency was a delight.
The ribeye steak to which I progressed was slightly unevenly cooked, but was beautifully tender and flavoursome.
The accompaniments of grilled tomato, mushroom and chips were excellent.
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Elsewhere on the table there were murmurs of contentment over bowls of chunky wild sea bass with a lobster bisque and a chicken dish.
The strawberry sundae with which I finished my meal was an utter joy – an explosion of textures and spring flavours with fresh strawberries, meringue, strawberry popcorn, cream and other elements.
This was a playful and clever dessert that I ate despite being replete because of the generous nature of the previous courses.
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We drank modest amounts of beer and white wine from a reasonably-priced list.
Then set off on the long journey back to Birmingham.

Need to know

Expect to pay around £30 a head for three courses and a drink.
Vegetarian options are available.
The place is child-friendly and accessible for the disabled.
There’s a great Sunday roast deal – you get to take away the leftover roast you order.
There’s plenty of parking.

Gilmore’s at the Wheatsheaf
6 Kibblestone Rd, Oulton, Stone, Staffordshire ST15 8UW. 01785 817580.
www.thewheatsheafstone.co.uk