Verbena Kitchen opened a week ago with little fanfare.
There’s been no well-funded PR campaign and no wooing of food journalists and bloggers.
Its social media presence has been sporadic, though engaging enough to put the place on my radar.
But I predict confidently that Verbena, run by a young female team, will be a success.
Tables are being snapped up and a photograph posted on my social media platforms elicited numerous responses from people saying they were visiting soon.
They’re in for a treat – because Verbena is a bit of a gem.
There’s an overwhelming sense of hospitality, a good buzz, charming service and inventive, modern, well-crafted food that’s good to eat.
It’s located in tiny premises on Pershore Road in trendy Stirchley – a district that already boasts some great places to eat and drink.
The decor is unfussy but smart.
The short, frequently changing menu ticks the right boxes, with options for vegetarians, pescatarians and us blood-spattered carnivores.
The emphasis is on seasonal ingredients sourced locally or foraged when possible.
At £25 for two courses and £30 for three, it represents superb value.
The home-baked treacle and wholegrain bread that began proceedings was fine stuff, with great texture and flavour. Homemade butter was rich and sprinkled with bee pollen.
My starter was an example of how simplicity in food is so often a good thing.
Jersey Royals had been roasted lightly then gently crushed and came with a well-balanced anchovy emulsion and subtly pickled strands of onion.
Opposite, roasted leeks in a gently cheesy cheddar sauce sprinkled with burnt leek powder were eaten with enthusiasm.
Just one note of criticism: I thought both starters were slightly under-seasoned.
There were no complaints whatsoever, though, about the main course.
Lamb loin was cooked perfectly – the meat pink and succulent, the fat rendered and crisp.
Mashed potatoes had a good earthy flavour and a spring salad added verdancy.
But the star of the show was a sauce that had tremendous depth and notes of caramelisation, with freshness, beguiling hints of tarragon.
This was cooking of a very high standard.
As, indeed, the chocolate custard tart that followed.
Absurdly thin pastry enclosed a delightful chocolate filling that packed plenty of flavour yet was light in texture.
Alongside whipped caramel ice cream added more sweet notes.
A cheeseboard – a bargain £10 extra – comprised five generous chunks of cheese in peak condition.
There was more excellent bread and a tangy damson jelly served separately.
The drinks list, like the food menu, is short, with plenty of craft beers, some intriguing soft drinks and a handful of interesting wines.
It would be good see the a sweet wine or two added to the list because pastry cookery of the standard displayed here deserves to be toasted with a good glass of something suitable.
Meanwhile, don’t wait to book – Verbena is destined to become a favourite.
I’ll be back. Soon.
1474 Pershore Road, Stirchley, Birmingham B30 2NT.
Here’s the menu from the evening I visited. But it changes often.