Coming from the creative minds behind The Humble Pub Co, owners of The Prince of Wales, The British Oak and next door neighbours The Dark Horse, Cheval Blanc comes with an estimable pedigree.
Run by GM Abigail Connolly and Chef Cyd Tachdjian their aim is to bring a wine bar with impeccable food to Moseley. Wifey and I heard about their special weekend offer on Mussels and a glass of Wine for £10 (also available as Mussels only for £5), so we took the brother and sister-in-law over for a taste on one of their rare visits from Jersey.
The decor could be described as eclectic, with bottles for light shades, vintage lampshades and mismatched chairs, all tastefully done. The star of the show is the wine cellar. Positioned in front of the bar and topped with thick glass, it’s a nice touch to look down and see some of the bottles on offer.
The wine to the accompany the mussels was Clip, a Portugese Vinho Verde. Made by two friends, Pedro Barbosa and João Maria Cabral, they are aiming to celebrate the local variety Loureiro grape. This is done by following a policy of minimal intervention and care for the ecosystem, in order to grow grapes that ripen well and can display the terroir from which they come. The wine wasn’t dry but crisp, at the same time with a slightly floral taste and a complex almost mineral aftertaste.
The mussels themselves were no small portion – a huge bowl, full of large juicy morsels in a chilli and lemongrass broth. The mussels were very fresh with no overpowering ‘fishy’ taste. The broth was heavy on the lemongrass but enough chilli to make its presence known. Perfect for Wifey but brother-in-law would have preferred a touch more heat (maybe some chilli flakes on the table as an added extra would have allowed us to adjust for taste).
The accompanying crusty bread was delicious and soaked up the broth nicely, my only disappointment was there wasn’t enough! After munching through the mussels, there was still plenty of broth which I would have loved to dunk an extra slice or two into like the savage that I am! Maybe an option to pay a pound or two more for an additional portion of bread for the table would be welcome.
All in all, we loved the experience and will look to return again soon. Cyd will be rotating the recipes for mussels with other flavours such as chorizo, paprika and madras sauce. There’s enough temptation to keep returning…
For my 50th post,I thought I’d treat you all to something a little special. Birmingham is very lucky to have 5 Michelin starred restaurants.
Wifey and I have so far visited three of them. We visited Purnell’s pre blog days for a special birthday; visited Simpsons with Birmingham Breakfast Club a few months back and now we can add Carter’s of Moseley, Birmingham’s latest member to the Michelin Club.
We went on Thursday 24th March, a very wet and windy night, and were glad to be embraced by this cosy 35 cover restaurant, just off the main Moseley Village High Street on Wake Green Road.
We were dining with a couple of good friends, who had arrived before us, and we were seated towards the rear with a lovely view of both the wine cabinet and a window into the busy kitchen. Before we dived in, we started off with a few drinks, three of us went for gin and tonic whilst Wifey went for a vodka and tonic.
To keep us fed alongside our drinks, we had some crunchy wholemeal bread, with flour milled just up the road at Sarehole Mill. The bread came accompanied with two types of spread, one a simple salted butter, the other a nice pork dripping.
Wifey loved it being in a small brown paper bag and I liked the wooden butter knife. The bread was very crunchy with a thick crust and was very moreish and filling.
Whilst we munched on our bread and supped our shorts, we went through the menu and chose the full 7 courses with wine pairing. We thought if we were doing it, do it properly!
To start, there was a selection of five snacks for whetting our appetite:
The snacks were:
Chicken Liver Cereal – The liver was beautifully rich and went well with the crispy cereal and sultanas
Ogelshield Gougeres – These little balls of delight were scrumptiou and my favourite of the snacks the savoury choux pastry really complemented the rich raw milk creaminess of the cheese.
Smoked Cod’s Roe Cracker, Seaweed & Fish Floss – A little pearl of roe dusted with seaweed and topped with fish floss, it was quite salty but iIparticularly enjoyed the dusted seaweed.
Blood Cake with Bramley Apple – Wifey is not a fan of blood cake or black pudding normally but made an exception in this case. The blood cake was quite smoky with a strong offal note, which I really enjoyed and was counterbalanced well with the sharpness of the bramley apple.
Cider Cured Sprats & Dill – These were Wifey’s fave of the snacks. Deliciously pickled little fishes with an intense dill sauce.
After a brief break and more chatting, it was time to start our 7 courses. Our first course was an Orkney Scallop with a lava bread and brown butter sauce.
The Oyster Scallop was HUGE, it was cooked perfectly, piping hot and delicately sweet flavour with a rich salty sauce made from ‘Welshman’s caviar’ and was beautifully presented on a scallop shell.
The wine pairing was a Muscat, a full bodied fruity buttery wine which complemented the scallop well.
Our second course was Yukon Gold Dauphinoise, with Spring White Truffle paired with a Chardonnay. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a decent enough picture but it was a well cooked dish with the perfect potato pick for me with its rich buttery gold colour and firm texture. The Chardonnay was closer to a white burgundy in flavour with a complex taste.
Course number three was Cotswold White Chicken with Bread Sauce & Calçots.
The chicken was again perfectly cooked and tender, the gravy was exceptionally rich and the bread sauce was the best I’ve ever had. The Calçots, a relative of the spring onion, added a light bitterness to offset the richness of the gravy. Accompanying the dish was a Arneis. It was a very citrusy wine with subtle overtones of blossom, yet sweet, and merged well with the chicken.
Course number four was Skrei Cod with Fermented Garlic & Monk’s Beard.
The cod was delicate and flaked with a brush from the fork. the black garlic sauce was rich almost treacle like in colour and oh so complex in flavour, almost chocolatey, sweet and bitter at the same time with a powerful hit of umami. Monk’s beard (Goat’s Beard) hails from Tuscany and is only in season five weeks a year. It’s probably quite unknown in this country but tastes similar to spinach with a high minerally flavour. It was a very well balanced dish and perfectly accompanied with a Gavi. This wine is made from Cortese grapes in the DOCG protected region of Cortese di Gavi. This was another fruity wine, mainly with peach coming to the fore with a little bit of gooseberry following it up.
Our fifth and ‘main’ course was beef with string beans and gravy:
It was my favourite dish of the day, the beef was cooked with enough pinkness for me and well done enough for Wifey. The gravy was a joy with a deep richness and really bringing the umami of the beef to the fore.
It was accompanied by a beautiful Beaujolais, my second favourite red after Chateauneuf du Pape. It was fresh and fruity and almost verging on a white in flavour but it went down a treat.
Wifey, not being a red wine fan had an alternative white, however Holly was kind enough to let Wifey sample an almost rosé Red, which Holly had converted her mother with previously. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll ever get Wifey to drink red on a regular basis!
Course six and our first dessert was a watermint sherbet
Watermint is a less well known mint compared to garden, pepper and spearmint but it is abundant in northern Europe’s waterways and has quite a strong menthol flavour. It was combined with the sherbet (a sorbet made with milk rather than a fizzy powder). The accompanying Moscato d’Asti was very sweet with pineapple and grapefruit being the main flavours. Combined with the carbon dioxide, one of our friends coined it similar to an alcoholic Lilt in flavour!
The seventh and final course was Sheep’s Curd & crystallised blood orange.
The sheep’s curd was very rich, like a very soft cream cheese; the crystallised blood orange added both sweetness and sharpness. It disintegrated on the tongue and blended into the curd. A wonderful end to a great meal. The final wine was a Demi-Sec and matched the dessert elegantly with its strong citrus and honey notes.
A special mention must also be made for the service. It was faultless , informative and informal, a relaxing change for fine dining. The sommelier was very knowledgeable and more than happy to change some of the red wine pairings for Wifey.
There was one final extra little treat. We were presented with with cardamom-flavoured chocolate nestled in a bed of edible cocoa shavings. We ate this the following day, too stuffed to eat any more, and it was delightfully bitter with the spicy sweetness of cardamom pervading throughout.
We had an amazing evening and wouldn’t hesitate to return, the food and service was amazing and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a special meal in Brum. Next time we’ll probably hit the lunch menu.
Where: Carters of Moseley, 2c St Mary’s Row, Wake Green Road, Moseley, Birmingham, B13 9EZ
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