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Nocturnal Animals

Restaurants, British Central Birmingham
4 out of 5 stars
Nocturnal Animals
Photograph: Greg Milner

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Inventive fine dining with a tongue-in-cheek ’80s aesthetic. You’ll feel like you’re in a David Lynch film.

If this retro restaurant-cum-cocktail-bar were a beast of the night, it would be the Birmingham Bull with a mullet and shoulder pads, charging at your preconceptions of stuffy fine dining.

Chef Alex Claridge of The Wilderness has gone all 1980s with his second venue, and it’s like stepping back in time.

Following our tradition of never taking yourself too seriously, a lurid neon sign said ‘swanky fine dining’ but the ‘S’ kept flickering off. That was the first joke. Another sign above the open kitchen screamed ‘It’s only fucking food’ and neon-stripped corridors evoked David Lynch, but thankfully more ‘Twin Peaks’ than ‘Eraserhead’.

Highlights included a dish called Not Another Fucking Balti (he likes a swear, does Alex), a rich quail, mushroom and chicken liver parfait under a creamy butter chicken sauce topped with puffed wild rice. But then came a slightly dry pan-fried salmon dish, upon which half a potato stood on the sidelines like a dork at a school disco.

We were holding out for a hero as Bonnie Tyler blurted over the speakers, and it arrived with the small but pink and moist fillet steak, enlivened by a sweet massaman sauce, with some ace black garlic gnocchi made to look like black pudding.

At times the food was a bit like the early days of synth pop: lots of experimentation, not enough tunes. But it was immense fun, with upbeat and welcoming staff and a cracking atmosphere.

By: James Brennan

Posted:

Details

Address: 20 Bennetts Hill
Birmingham

Transport: New St rail
Price: Dinner for two £140 (including drinks and service)
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