New Oxford House, 16 Waterloo Street, Birmingham, B2 5UG, United Kingdom

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Adam Stokes with his wife Natasha opened Adams in January 2016 after a two-year pop-up. Adam Stokes remains as executive chef, but there are currently two joint head chefs, Adam Wilson and Simil Gurung. The restaurant seats 36 people and is spread over three floors. The main dining room is on the ground floor behind an initial bar area, seating up to 55 diners at any one time. Tables are well spaced and the room is carpeted so noise levels are low.  There is also a chef's table in the downstairs kitchen. There was a seven-course tasting menu at £130, a five-course tasting menu at £105 (£75 at lunch) and a three-course a la carte at £85, along with a three-course lunch option at £55.

Wine pairings were available at either £89 or £135 per person, with corkage at £45. The extensive wine list had 463 labels and ranged in price from £35 to £7,291, with a median price of £176 and an average markup to the retail price of 2.8 times, which is not unreasonable. Sample references were Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve

2018 at £68 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £25, Leeuwin Estate Sauvignon Blanc Art Series 2020 at £82 compared to its retail price of £30, and Vincent & Jean-Pierre Charton Mercurey 1er Cru, Clos du Roy 2016 at £99 for a wine that will set you back £40 in the high street. For those with the means there was Château Clinet 2018 at £322 compared to its retail price of £92, and Penfolds Grange 2007 at £702 for a wine whose current market value is £457. Corkage was available at £45 per bottle as an alternative to the wine list. 

Initial canapés began with a beetroot macaron filled with foie gras and kalamansi gel. This was excellent, the livery richness nicely contrasted by the earthiness of the beetroot, and the macaron had a particularly good texture. A vegetarian alternative of chickpea macaron was also very good. Croustade of veal tartare with shallot and gherkins and jalapeños had delicate pastry, the gentle hint of spice lifting the flavour of the veal (17/20 canapés). A further amuse bouche was a steamed Cornish mussel with dashi glaze and white asparagus foam, which had a usefully sharp acidic element that contrasted well with the mussel.

Sourdough bread was from the nearby Medicine Bakery, and had excellent crust. This was served with a choice of regular butter and marmite butter. There was also a ginger and Bovril-flavoured brioche, which was quite sweet. The first formal course of the meal was a prettily presented Cornish red mullet with Isle of Wight tomatoes, purple artichoke, olives and focaccia croutons. The fish was nicely cooked and the tomatoes were good. I don’t think Isle of Wight tomatoes ever reach the heights of the very best tomatoes from the sunnier climes of the Amalfi Coast or the south of France, but they were certainly good (16/20). Personally, I would have found this easier to eat from a plate than the bowl it was served in.

Next was Orkney scallop with morel cream and foam, a little Alsace bacon and coffee gel. The scallop had nice natural sweetness and morels are almost always a welcome addition to a plate. The bacon was pretty subtle but I didn’t really understand the addition of the coffee gel, which seemed to me a discordant flavour and simply unnecessary (15/20).

Better was quail breast from Brittany with langoustine, peanut condiment and bak choi in a sauce flavoured with Thai spices. the combination of quail and langoustine was unusual but both elements were lovely in themselves, and the gently spiced sauce worked really well with the langoustine in particular (17/20).

Wild turbot from a large 6.5kg specimen came with leek mousse, finger limes, koshihikari rice (a slightly sticky Japonica rice usually used in sushi) with mirin and sake along with bergamot gel. On the side was a milk loaf bread with crab meat and espelette pepper. The turbot itself had excellent flavour and was carefully cooked, the rice an unusual but pleasant accompaniment. The crab and milk bread on the side was also nice but seemed rather disconnected from the main dish; I am not sure that it really added much (16/20 overall).

Beef chateaubriand (front cut of tenderloin) from Herefordshire came with chicken mousse, truffle, an allium condiment, chives and a Bordelaise sauce. The latter is a sauce originating in Bordeaux made with red wine, bone marrow, shallots, butter and a base demi-glacé, the classic veal stock reduction enriched with red wine and a little tomato. On the side was some bread with beef cheeks. The beef itself had good flavour, though the chives seemed rather stringy and I am not sure that the bread on the side added a great deal. The sauce, however, was rich and enjoyable (15/20).

The first of two desserts that we tried featured gariguette strawberries from Normandy. Almond frangipani (a mix of ground almonds, eggs, butter and butter) was wrapped into a cylinder with strawberry tuile and caramel mousse. Alongside was strawberry chutney with red onions and ginger, and a strawberry sorbet with melon and lime champagne and mint. This was a refreshing pre-dessert with a nice set of contrasting textures (16/20). Chocolate soufflé with chocolate crumble and salted chocolate sauce came with tiramisu on the side. The soufflé was good but I actually preferred the tiramisu, which had excellent deep coffee flavour (16/20).

Coffee was just basic Nespresso, which seems an odd choice for a fine dining restaurant. There is nothing wrong with capsules, but then at least use the top blend of Nespresso, their Kilimanjaro blend, or better coffee from a company like Difference Coffee.  Alternatively, there are plenty of specialty coffee roasters these days. Petit fours comprised chocolate choux bun filled with Valrhona Namelaka chocolate cream finished with honeycomb. There was also a rather eccentric Guinness pate de fruits and a Macaroon of milk chocolate ganache with toasted Earl Grey tea gel, and a chocolate truffle with crumble and white chocolate mousse and raspberry gel.

Service was lovely, and the waiting staff were very attentive and friendly. The bill, which included corkage for two bottles, came to £238.85 each. Of course, if you opted for the three-course choice and shared a modest bottle of wine then your bill would be lower, maybe £130 or so per person. Adam’s is a very good restaurant that provides an excellent overall experience, with nice decor and charming service in addition to very capable cooking.


Further reviews: 13th Mar 2017

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