Even in his Michelin-starred restaurant, Glynn Purnell’s food draws heavily on nostalgia, his dishes inspired by the tastes of his Chelmsley Wood childhood and delivering tantalising memories of those flavours.
Here at the nearby Bistro, the food is simpler, especially on Sundays when the lunchtime deal of £17.95 for two courses and £19.95 for three must rank as one of Brum’s greatest culinary bargains.
But both his high-end restaurant and the Bistro share in common one thing – that top-quality ingredients are treated with skill and respect to deliver food that’s great to eat.
Walk through the stylish Ginger’s Bar (great cocktails, by the way) and the restaurant is located at the back.
The tables are smartly set but not fancy. The lighting is subdued, the decor understood.
It is contemporary with a slightly retro vibe. The dishes and plates are gorgeous.
The young staff are enthusiastic, informed, friendly, charming and efficient.
The Sunday lunch menu is simple: nothing left-field, nothing that would frighten your gran.
There’s a choice of three starters, four main courses and three puddings.
Smoked ham hock terrine was a loosely-set, flakey, moist disc of piggy loveliness. Grain mustard cream alongside was punchy of flavour but light of texture. Ssalad leaves were properly dressed.
My wife’s celeriac and apple soup with creme fraiche and crunchy croutons was a soothing bowl of contrasting textures and tastes.
The star of the meal, however, was undoubtedly the main course, which is how it should be with any Sunday lunch.
Blade of beef had been formed into a cylinder and braised long and slow so that it was beautifully tender, then browned in the oven with the addition of lots of beef stock to add real savoury oomph. It was, in short, a joy.
A roast carrot, confit root vegetables, delightfully airy Yorkshire pudding, great roast spuds and mashed potato were robust and suitable partners for such a treat. The gravy was nicely understated.
Portions were very generous and our plates remained unfinished, my wife and I being dainty people.
Other options included chicken, smoked haddock fishcakes and parmesan gnocchi with tomatoes.
The white chocolate torte to which I progressed was the day’s most cheffy dish – a light quenelle of white chocolate, its sweetest restrained, scattered with a few shards of thin, crisp dark chocolate pastry.
Blackberry mousse of splendid texture and flavour lay alongside, along with a few whole, lights-poached berries.
Lynn’s bulging pavlova, crisp on the outside, squidgy within, with cherries in kirsch and cherry sorbet was a thing of beauty.
Wines kick in at £17.75 a bottle and there’s also a great range of cocktails, beers and artisan spirits.
Need to know
Sunday lunch is served from midday until 3.45p.
Cut costs by choosing from the bar snacks – nibbles of more substantial dishes.
It’s child-friendly and there’s P&D parking nearby.
Purnell’s Bistro & Ginger’s Bar
11 Newhall St, Birmingham B3 3NY.
0121 200 1588.