Reaction to Jay Rayner Opus Review

Some strong / strange reactions to Jay Rayner’s review of Opus in the Observer today:

notnowjez: @jayrayner1 loved that, a friend went last week and described it as the real life online kids sensation habbo hotel restaurant.

manlyartichokes: @jayrayner1 is it not disingenuous to complain about a resto ‘trying too hard’? Would you prefer they didn’t try enough?

sandman1600: @loafonline: RT @jayrayner1: Dinner. Birmingham. Feel my pain.” Wow. Bitter. A little dumb at times too. Pity he had to choose Opus though

winewchristina: @jayrayner1 I feel it Jay. A completely underwhelming meal for me last night too..

edibleornamenta: RT @jayrayner1 Dinner. Birmingham. Feel my pain. (expand) / oh dear. Glad I don’t own this place.

PRBloke: @marvovox @jayrayner1 I ate at Opus recently. It’s not a ‘destination’, but brilliant for business. Allows you to get the job done nicely!

HERMANOPRIMERO: @Mcmoop @jayrayner1 I don’t mind places trying too hard – better than not trying at all. And there’s a lot of *that* around.

Marvovox: @PRBloke @jayrayner1’s review was v bleak. Granted I haven’t eaten there, but that didn’t stop me from shedding a tear 🙁

PRBloke: @marvovox sounds like @jayrayner1 was either stood up or got dumped at Opus. Review makes it sound bleak. In my experience it’s perfectly ok

the_bald_man: @jayrayner1 Couldn’t agree more about Opus, the most over priced experience ever. Give me Simpsons any day.

HardensBites: @jayrayner1 Think your tweet is a bit unfair to Brum – city which has become surprisingly strong at top end (only) in recent years.

ChickswKnives: Sigh. Lesson here: When in B’Ham, stick with Indian food. RT @jayrayner1: Dinner. Birmingham. Feel my pain. (expand)

Debbiegreeneyes: @jayrayner1 oh gawd! Off to B’ham for culinary delights later this year. Fortunately to Purnell’s!

NathalieFindlay: @jayrayner1 They’ll have to rename it ‘Oups’!

It’s hard to disagree with the substance of Jay’s review – the menu at Opus does play it safe.  Dishes can come a little underseasoned and flavour pairings can be uninspired.  The quality of the meat is not always as good as the advertised provenance suggests.  The room is huge and uncomfortable, and usually fairly empty which gives it a soulless quality. And it is expensive, very hard to get out for under £100 for 2.

But, but, BUT! The sad thing is that Opus is actually one of the better Birmingham “mid-range” options – which are usually dire. Despite the above caveats we’ve eaten there at least 7 times in 4 years.

The first part of the review about women owners feels like a non-seqitur, I’ve not noticed a strong feminine presence at Opus and the head chef is a man – David Colcombe.

David does take time to put on themed events, highlights suppliers, and offers a market menu with slightly more interesting options than trad beef or fish. I wonder if menu choices reflect the business clientele that must keep this place afloat.

Sigh, Birmingham, what are we to do with you. We’re brilliantly catered for at the top end (Turners, Purnells, Simpsons, Loves, Edmunds) and there are also decent cheap eats options, usually Indian (Jyoti’s being my absolute favourite).

But in the mid-range the options are dire: I’d rather stab my eyes out before going back to places like Bank, Piccolino or Cielo.

And that just leaves the chains: Jamie’s Italian (poor), Cafe Rouge (best restaurant in Brum according to the Retail Birmingham Awards, and all the others that I can’t be bothered to even name.

I would have much preferred to read a skewering of Bank – for instance – than Opus, which genuinely is “not trying hard enough”. However, I think after the initial shock for the Opus owners (man and woman) wears off, I know they will resolve to pull their socks up a little and continue to improve their offering.

4 thoughts on “Reaction to Jay Rayner Opus Review”

  1. An interesting appraisal and point taken re the female ownership thing. I mentioned it only because it was the owners themselves who drew attention to the place when I tweeted out a request for places under female management. It was, as I said, a stupid way to choose a restaurant.

    Thanks again

  2. Jay, fair enough, and thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

    A few people have pointed out that Opus was listed in the Guardian as one of the city’s Top 10 budget eats ( and that this somehow negates the review.

    I’m not sure I take the point – firstly £19 without drinks is not especially budget. Also that list is not brilliant and feels like a compilation of tips rather than an heavily researched article (Homemade Burger Co, really?).

    Secondly I am entirely comfortable with the idea that two writers on the same paper have two differing opinions. It would be much stranger if the Guardian insisted on a particular editorial line to be enforced to maintain consistency!

    1. Glad you’re comfortable with that, because I pay absolutely no attention whatsoever to what anybody else thinks of a restaurant before I review it.

      Re pricing I went for dinner, and ordered three courses at full whack with wine. The bill was actually a little over £130 for two, but I cut it back to that because we had, outrageously, had an extra drink each at the bar. Opus is many things; cheap ain’t one of ’em.

  3. February 2013 – time for Jay Rayner to revisit Birmingham’s best restaurant. Let’s hope Opus doesn’t try too hard this time !?!

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