As The Wilderness' following is growing, it's becoming harder and harder to get a table at the quirky, backstreet wonderland. Weekends for them seem to be chocka, a few months ahead, but if like us, you can make yourself available on a weeknight, we advise you go as soon as possible.
After a round about journey to get there, we eventually made it to their discreet premises, tucked under a bridge on Dudley Street. Turns out it's much simpler to turn left out of the John Lewis exit at Grand Central and follow the road round, but as non-natives, we took the scenic route.
The dining room is all foliage, trees and moss, surprisingly well carried off.
The staff are the right mixture of courtesy and perfect friendliness.
The menu is in tasting format. Six courses, each with it's own drink (often a cocktail, rather than a wine) £100 all in.
So weeknight or not, we settled in for the "full story".
Dashi with trout and mushrooms served with acorn G&T
Pork belly with celeriac and pear with a cider brandy cocktail
Pollock and crispy chicken skin with an Australian Touriga Nacional
Venison with squash and beetroot (named "Graffiti Venison". Very photogenic!) with a plum liqueur
Apple crumble inside a black toffee apple (awkward to eat, but worth the effort)
Chocolate, cep and cherry (yes, with cep - completely delicious combination as it turns out) with another cocktail of a cherry-ish disposition.
A coffee and a tasty salted caramel to round things off, and that was that. Wilderness tried.
The food was all very good, and well presented. Sometimes innovative, sometimes classical, often with a story attached and always interesting, it is very difficult not to like The Wilderness. Their brand and ethic are woven through everything they do. The staff are charming, service ran smoothly, and the environment is relaxing.
There are things I would like to change; I wish the Venison had been served with a 'jus'. possibly just a personal preference. I enjoyed the cocktails, but there's a little part of me that loves wine too much to give it up so easily. It adds complexity. And I can't decide whether I enjoyed the toilet facilities or not. Unisex and complete with freaky art installations, they resemble something from a dystopian hospital.
But these are small grievances in the context of a lovely evening. I would recommend reserving your table now.
The Wilderness, 1 Dudley Street, Birmingham
N.B. We booked and paid for dinner at The Wilderness ourselves, and all opinions are our own.