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Turners Restaurant Birmingham Review

Turners Restaurant Dish

Turners Restaurant Dish

Philippe Boucheron experiences a tasting menu Master Class at Turners Michelin Restaurant In Harborne.

Every week tens of thousands of viewers switch on their TV to either watch professional chefs strut their stuff, or see them struggle to become the Master Chef of the year.  Most of us watching these programmes are committed couch gourmets, yet how many of us actually go out to eat at one of their restaurants?  True, we are not all that likely to find the most popular television chefs actually at the stove in their own restaurants, this is because their regular appearances on the small screen makes them very much in demand earning big money elsewhere.

But the West Midlands is fortunate, one of our three Michelin starred chefs has so far been overlooked by TV.  A consummate and most talented cook, he is Richard Turner whose small restaurant in Harborne High Street has become a haven for those food lovers who appreciate the art and skill of a most outstanding chef.  On Saturday evenings he restricts the restaurant to his exemplary eight course tasting menu, which at £80 is well beyond the reach of so many of us; that is unless you have something important to celebrate.  My excuse was the blond, herself a wonderful cook, had just moved into her new home and richly deserved a serious culinary treat.

We sipped our glasses of Canard-Duchêne rosé champagne (£15) as we took in the elegant room full of contented diners and sat back to be spoilt.  The front of house team demonstrated that seamless skill that is the hallmark of a really great restaurant that operates, if you will forgive a mixed metaphor, with the silence and smoothness of a Rolls-Royce silver ghost.

Although Turners does offer a full flight of wines for £60 to accompany the tasting menu, they also have a list of white, red and rosé wines by the glass.  I selected a couple of whites – a well rounded Torrontés, Hacianda Los Haroldos, from the Argentine (£9) that was full of citrus marmalade aromas and flavours; and a beautifully balanced South African crisp and refreshing Chenin Blanc (£10.50). The helpful and knowledgeable sommelier suggested a red that he had already opened that evening that was not on the list.  This was a really delicious La Soula, a blend of Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz created  by the legendary Gérard Gauby at his vineyards up in the hills of Fenouillèdes on the western edge of the d’Oc, high in the Pyrenees Oriental; a really special deep and evocative red, with aromatic plums and dark berries, highlighted by hints of rosemary and thyme.

Our opening dish, described by the Maitre d’Hôtel as an amuse bouche,was a rather prosaic sounding risotto of muscat pumpkin with sage, parsnip crisps and nutmeg espuma (foam).  The perfectly cooked rice and the tiny cornet of parsnip crisps was transported from the good to magnificent by the magic dusting of nutmeg in the foam.  It fulfilled its role by getting our taste buds up and running.
This was followed by a tiny strip of house cured organic salmon with an avocado purée, a smattering of horseradish snow and hint of honey.  This can best be described as a ‘combination devoutly to be desired’, the hot horseradish tamed by the honey to form a perfect foil for the soft, yielding salmon.

What followed was a sensationally stunning creation.  A slow cooked duck egg over which was poured a duck broth to be followed by a generous serving of truffles grated over the top and accompanied by a tiny duck club sandwich.  This combination of flavours was profoundly orgasmic and took dining to a new plateau of sublime excellence.  Now I know what that girl enjoyed so much in that Seattle restaurant.

It was now that Richard Turner showed his true genius.  He followed this food for the gods with a simple fillet of Cornish line-caught mackerel accompanied by peanut, celery, orange, yogurt and caraway.  The sharpness of orange cut through the oily fish to present our palates with a delightful combination of flavours. The Cape Chenin Blanc was served with this dish.
The kitchens now presented us with their version of Surf and Turf, a seared diver scallop with braised oxtail, topped by an apple and parsley root espuma that delighted the eye on the plate as much as it did the taste buds.

The main dish, if a tasting menu of this sophistication and complexity can be said to have a focal point, was roast breast of red legged partridge wrapped in Parma ham and served with parsnips, braised onions, chourcroute and liver dumplings with a rich game jus.  Here the red wine showed just what an ideal marriage the right choice of food and wine can make.  Here was the very essence of English game cooked to perfection and accompanied by a truly sublime wine.

We sensibly skipped the optional Farmhouse cheese board, as to tell the truth by this stage we were both positively flagging.  But to the battle cry of Excelsior we carried on to the two desserts.  First a most acceptable autumn fruit crumble accompanied by a cinnamon ice cream – simple, sustaining and delicious.
The final dish that I shared with the lady (well, I was always brought up to be a gentleman) was a piping hot gossamer prune and Armagnac soufflé, that had a morsel scooped out of the top into which a slither of exceptional Armagnac ice cream was inserted with surgical skill.

Chatting with Richard Turner at the end of the experience we put the restaurant world to rights – but if tasting menus like the ambrosial nectar we had just shared are available in Harborne, then there isn’t much wrong with the culinary world.

Save at Turners Restaurant Birmingham Here

Ends © Philippe Boucheron November 2012 for ETM

Turners Souffle

Turners Souffle

Turners Restaurant

Turners Restaurant

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