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Chef Adam Stokes Michelin Birmingham Profile Exclusive

 

Chef Adam Stokes, Birmingham’s newest chef/patron, is a young man who is not easily phased. The day after he arrived as chef-de-cuisine at Glenapp Castle, on the Ayrshire coast overlooking Ailsa Craig, an AA inspector arrived. There was no opportunity for the new chef to work in with his brigade, let alone fine-tune and rehearse the menu. The inspector left the next morning having awarded the kitchen three red rosettes. And this was only Adam’s second job. In ten years’ he had worked his way through from raw recruit fresh out of Stamford College to second chef at Leicestershire’s luxurious Hambleton Hall under long-serving chef Aaron Patterson.

Naturally ambitious Adam enquired if Aaron had plans to move on, and when he was told ‘No’ he set about finding himself a post as head chef at the tender age of 26. The consistent excellence of his cooking attracted attention and before he left, four years later, he had gathered together an enviable collection of awards for Glenapp including a fourth AA rosette, the accolade of ‘Scotland’s Best Restaurant of 2011’ and, most precious of all, his dishes had earned the kitchen and the hotel a coveted Michelin Star. These culinary Oscars are awarded for the dishes and not to the chef.

In very few weeks Adam has converted an O’Neils Sandwich Shop in Bennett’s Hill into a truly luxurious 24-cover ‘Adams Restaurant’. Gas and three-phase power have been laid on and a state-of-the-art kitchen installed. It is not so much a pop-up restaurant as a staging post for him and his wife to establish a reputation and build up a following for Adam’s, their new destination restaurant in the city centre, before moving into larger and perhaps more prestigious premises.

Unlike so many chefs, who cooked their way around the world before venturing into their own place, Adam and his wife Natasha – a graduate in Physics with Astrophysics – are seizing the opportunity to bring England’s second city a new culinary experience. He described this to me as a sensual journey that engages sight, smell and taste. His beautifully presented dishes blend aromas, textures and flavours in an altogether new and most exciting manner. His combinations include cured and then flamed mackerel with potato salad and granny smith apples, pork with rhubarb and lemon verbena and braised lamb with radish shoots and gentleman’s relish – an old-fashioned anchovy butter still served on toast at tea time in gentlemen’s clubs around St James’s.

The room has a wonderfully understated elegance whose grey walls and smoked glass mirrors provide the perfect foil for fashionable ladies and their well-turned out escorts, as well as the undeniable beautiful food that will be served to them. A sensational tromp l’oeil photograph of a corridor lends much needed length to what could soon become the smartest place to eat in the city centre.

Adam’s proposes a three course lunch, with two or three choices from £27, and two tasting menus for dinner, five dishes for £45 or nine for £75, with carefully selected tasting wines for £55. The extensive wine list from Enotria World Wines of London is equally costly with nothing in the affordable £18 – £25 range, although there are few (far too few) by the glass.

Oh, and I would have liked a more descriptive menu, but then perhaps we can safely leave this to the waiting staff? Nevertheless I am sure that the blond and I will be back for lunch. Let’s see how Birmingham’s keen gourmands take to the new kid in town.

More on Adams Restaurant website Here

Interview conducted by  Philippe Boucheron April 2013 © for Gourmet-LifestyleEat-the-midlands.co.uk

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