This Sunday was never going to be a day of rest for our stomachs, after being invited to the brand new Fleet Street Kitchen in Birmingham. Replacing the old Bluu Bar on Summer Row, the new venue has been widely trumpeted as the latest word in casual yet upmarket dining, with a definite carnivorous bias thanks to its Spanish-style barbacoa, a large showpiece barbecue filled with lumpwood charcoal.
[by Ahmed Ahmed]
Fleet Street Kitchen is spread over two levels, each with its own distinct character. Downstairs (below) is a dark, moody lounge bar planned as a late night venue for sophisticated grown-ups. Upstairs, in the restaurant area, the vibe is a bright and bustling one. The ample lighting and white brick walls give it a chirpy daytime feel, while the mixture of tabletops here and more simple wooden furniture there tries to strike a balance between elegant and cosy.
Something about the decor and the bar reminded me of Fumo. Gentle mood music helped to calm the busy atmosphere a little – this was the first service and so there was a bit of frenetic to-ing and fro-ing service-wise.
We went for the 2 meats and 2 cheeses deal for starters, picking wild boar salami and venison carpaccio for the meaty options, with cropwell bishop stilton and edgar mature to accompany them. The chorizo, which had a good kick, and the stilton, nice and strong on the palate, won the day. The venison carpaccio was pleasant but not very memorable, while the edgar mature needed help from the chutney and red onion marmalade that accompany the platter to help bring it alive.
A special mention for Fleet Street Kitchen’s seared scallops, pan-fried and served with crispy chorizo. We polished them off almost immediately, loving the way the gentle taste of the scallops complemented the peppery meat.
Then it was an 8oz rib-eye steak with rocket and parmesan salad, and lamb cutlets with hand-cut chips for the main courses. An excellent range of sauces included traditional béarnaise and peppercorn, as well as more exotic options like coffee chipotle BBQ and tonkatsu, a Japanese condiment influenced by Worcestershire sauce.
The steak was succulent and cooked well, our only gripe being that a choice of how it’s done isn’t offered as standard – expect to have a medium rare unless you specifically ask for something different. The lamb cutlets really stole the show. Despite being ever-so-slightly burnt on the outside, the rich flavour and tenderness of the insides made them a real treat.
I admit with shame that the naughty endings dessert menu was beyond our capabilities. Although the list boasted several tempting if somewhat safe options — including sticky toffee pudding and spotted dick — we finished up with tea and espresso.
The wine list is conveniently divided into sections according to flavours and not just ‘Red’, ‘White’ etc, offering hints and tips to help you choose the right tipple to complement your choice of dishes. A bottle of the full-bodied yet gentle montepulciano d’abruzzo was the Italian red that accompanied our meal.
In Fleet Street Kitchen, Birmingham has gained a respectable new restaurant and bar venue. It’s not particularly cheap, but not horrendously pricey either. The combination of easy luxury and friendliness is quite seductive. It felt like a place you can be at ease, while still being a cut above your run-of-the-mill steakhouse.
2 meats and 2 cheeses = £7.95
Seared scallops with chorizo = £8.95
8oz ribeye steak = £18.95
Rocket and parmesan salad = £3.50
Lamb cutlets = £16.95
Hand-cut chips = £3.00
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo = £14.95
Mug of tea = £2.25
Espresso = £2.50
Total (for 2 diners) = £79
- Address Fleet Street, Islington Gates, Birmingham B3 1JH
- Phone 0121 236 0100
- Category Bar, Barbecue & Grill, British, Steak
- Location Birmingham City Centre