Where to eat in Birmingham

I am quite often asked where to eat in Birmingham, a city where great eats are difficult to find in a sea of mediocre chain restaurants. But you can eat very well in Birmingham, if you know where to look.

Birmingham has good offerings at the high-end, reasonable stuff at the low-end and hardly anything in the middle, a source of consternation after a busy week at work where you just want a reliable, friendly source of sustenance. Birmingham has the greatest number of Michelin-starred restaurants outside of London (Turners, Simpsons and Purnells). Birmingham is also rightly famous for its range of Indian restaurants, and the balti – perhaps not the greatest gastronomic invention – but certainly worth trying once. Birmingham has a large Chinese community with plenty of restaurants concentrated in the Chinese quarter. And despite being land-locked, Birmingham is also a great place to find fish and chips.

High end restaurants

Turners, Harborne

A Michelin starred restaurant on Harborne high street, nestled amongst hairdressers, charity shops and just up from Iceland is a bit of a surprise. But Turners, for my money, is the best restaurant in Birmingham, delivering technically brilliant cooking. Richard Turner is an obsessive perfectionist and the cooking from the kitchen is invariably bang on. The style is modern, utilising seasonal ingredients and sometimes the water bath. Main courses are very rich and filling, don’t fill up on the bread. You should pencil in 3 hours minimum to eat here, even when eating a la carte, so an early booking is often preferred. Bookings are pretty much required all the time except for weekday lunches. Saturday night is tasting-menu only night and the kitchen is firing on all cylinders. The room is a little small and cramped and the service is efficient.

Simpsons, Edgbaston

Simpsons is a contrast to Turners and is probably more what diners expect to find when they book a starred place. Service is friendly and efficient but with the little touches that makes it feel special. The restaurant feels comfortable and luxurious, with conservatory tables looking out to the nice garden. Cooking is a little more restrained than Turners, the menu changes less frequently, but some of the dishes hit real heights such as the foie gras served with pain d’epice. This is the place you go for your birthday, a graduation, but the set menu is good enough value to go more often than that.

Mid-Range Restaurants

Lasan

The definitive “posh” curry restaurant. One of the first restaurants we went to when we moved to Birmingham, we absolutely loved it. Then bloody Gordon Ramsay came in, awarded it “Best Restaurant in the UK” on the f-word and ruined it for a while. Bookings became near-impossible to get, and the standards maybe slipped a little bit. Thankfully I can report they are back and firing on all cylinders again, with a pared-down menu which is universally superb. Aktar Islam has continued to refine the dishes and the presentation. Start with tandoori lamb chop, or smoked “oyster of beef”. Then try the dum ki biryani, goat meat biryani cooked in a sealed clay pot. Keralan prawn curry is another crowd-pleaser. Shirkhand, rasmalai or chai brullee are all excellent desserts. Service is always lovely and friendly, booking is usually necessary at least a few days before.

Carters of Moseley

I’ve put this in “mid-range” but Carters is a restaurant with serious ambition. Run by Brad and Holly, relatively recent graduates of the Birmingham College of Food these guys are pursuing the modern agenda of local and seasonal, with very accurate cooking and a few neat touches like the beer menu, a starter of “bar snacks for 2” complete with scotch eggs and pork scratchings, and pudding of sticky toffee pudding served in a Lyon’s tin. Service is very keen. The one negative is the long room which can get very noisy if there’s a large group in. Bookings necessary for weekends.

Cheap Eats

Rossopomodoro

Jyoti’s Vegetarian Indian Restaurant

Fish and Chips at the Black Country Museum

Dim Sum at the Golden Pond

Mount Fuji

Lasan Eatery

New Sum Ye

For triple roast meats – check out Lap’s three-way face-off.

Outside Birmingham

The Chef’s Dozen, nr Alcester

40 thoughts on “Where to eat in Birmingham”

  1. Can’t have where to eat in Birmingham and not include Edmunds – my face place in Brum – amazing bread and set menu. Lovely service too!

    1. Hi Charlotte, thanks for stopping by! We ate at Edmunds a real long time ago now, I think just after it opened in Birmingham and weren’t blown away, but I guess it deserves another try as I have heard lots of people say they like it.

      1. I had a very good meal at Edmunds. I wasn’t blown away but everything was done very well. The lamb I had was really enjoyable and the pork I tried of somebody else’s was perfectly cooked. I can’t remember my own starter but I tried the lobster curry dish which was excellent. The desert was my most memorable – a molten chocolate boat thingy with peanut brittle ice cream – amazing if indescribable. Having said this, the dishes were fairly classic flavours and perhaps without the theatre you get at other places but they were all done perfectly really. I found the service to be (although very friendly) a little bit overdone on the explanation of the dishes that were basically a repeat of what it said on the menu. Not necessarily a terrible thing unless all 4 of you have ordered 4 different things.

      1. Bank is everything that is wrong with mid-range Birmingham restaurants! Terrible staff (rude and poorly trained in general), average food, expensive for what they serve and with all the invention of a greasy spoon. We need more Carter’s! Similar price but miles better. Or the Annexe on corporation st.

  2. Great list and I agree with most. Can I just ask when you went to Mount Fuji as I went and it was truly so awful we left? This was when it first opened though and I haven’t been back. Sounds like things have improved. Also, have you eaten Dim Sum at Chung Ying? I always classed that as ‘the place to go’ for Dim Sum but I’ll have to try the Golden Pond now.

    1. We go to Mount Fuji quite often. It can be variable depending who is cooking. If you do go, try and order a selection of the side dishes which are the most interesting. We usually go for some salmon, tuna and eel sushi, dashi tofu (really nice!), miso soup, perhaps some gyoza and some tempura. The chicken karage is also good. Wash it down with a ramune. When the cooking is on form this always hits the spot.

      Our Brummie-Chinese friends swear by Golden Pond and reckon it’s the best in the city. Try a wide selection of dishes, it’s dirt cheap. Try king prawn dumplings, chicken claws, satay ox tripe, shanghai style dumplings, squid, bean curd cake, caramel buns, crispy egg tarts, cheung fun etc.

  3. I’ve been to Loves more than anywhere else and always enjoy it. Comparable to Edmunds, certainly. Also been to Asquiths a couple of times and had some classy food.

  4. Jyoti is wonderful – so lovely to have somewhere I can take veggie friends but still really enjoy the food myself. I’ve known the Joshi family since there first little take-away in Stoney Lane, regularly had a masala dhosa & chai breakfast at the Jaaneman in Ladypool Road. Sadly I now live in Worcester & only get in to Brum occasionally. Last time I was there Raj was saying none of the kids have any interest in taking business over, so when the brothers decide to retire that will be the end. But I think that day is a way off yet

  5. Hi Nick! I’m a journalist writing a piece about how best to spend 48 hours in Birmingham for Red magazine’s online edition and I wondered if you’d be interested in being featured? I’m looking for 2-3 bloggers to give me a 1-2 sentence hit on what they’d do with that time in the city. What do you say? We’ll put a link in to Smoke & Umami…

    Laura

  6. I’m curious as to why you’ve put up Jyoti’s as a recommended place to eat. I live opposite it and have been a few times, and I would concede that the masala dosa is okay.

    I eat out a lot, but with limited means of transport I can only visit easy to get to locations. Is Jyoti’s by chance the only Indian vegetarian in Birmingham? Because honestly Indian vegetarian cuisine gets a lot more exciting than what they serve there…

    1. Anato – I put Jyoti’s up there because I like it! I’m not aware that there are any other vegetarian Indian restaurants in Birmingham, but if you know of any, I’d be happy to check them out for you! I did recently see that some enterprising souls in King’s Heath have set up a Pop-up Dosa restaurant in their house, see: http://popupdosa.blogspot.co.uk/ for more details.

      1. Sorry, my comment came out rather jumbled!

        I was trying to ask if you’d recommended Jyoti’s because it was the only Indian vegetarian in Birmingham, but you’ve answered that question anyway.

        I don’t know any similar places either, but fortunately my vegetarian friends kind of stopped being vegetarian a while back so I don’t have to worry about it so much any more!

        1. Pop Up Dosa is an always sold out event in B’ham. Check them out at Stirchleys (sold out in two hours first day there) and coming up, at Moseleys. Good good food. Beautiful people 😉

          1. Yup we love a good dosa and the popup crew makes a damn fine one. I particularly love the toasted lentil ‘gunpowder’ he does but if I have one criticism it’s that his dosa are on the soft side, I much prefer the crispy kind!

  7. I really recommend a few places in Moseley/ Kings Heath. Byzantium is great tapas (and La Plancha is good too) with very friendly staff; Blue Ginger in Kings Heath for Malaysian/ Singaporean…

  8. Have you or anyone tried Priya Indian Restaurant In Moseley village? I drive pass it everyday, Having had some bad experience in some of the other restaurants in Moseley (no name mention) I tend to stay in my local.

    1. Not yet there are just too many curry houses offering all too similar fare. I drive past Priya regularly too and haven’t been tempted to try it. Piquant and Deolali are about 20 metres away and both are fairly decent. Hope neither of them are the culprit?

      1. Finally went with couple of friends to try out Priya, the new restaurant in Moseley . To our suprise the food was much better then some other local ones and staff were very friendly. Claire tried one of the house specials called sonali
        (A mild dish with 24ct edible gold) the price is more then average but she enjoyed it. Sam had a bhuna dish and I tried my usual meat and spinach . Both dishes were really tasty and price were average . Restaurant was fairly quiet mid week, either due to that or possibly because its still relatively new. Food & service we good, worth a visit to try them out if nothing else. By the way we all loved their little goody bags at the end. I wish them good luck.

  9. For Japanese, I’ve had a really sad time at Fuji. Aside from the Pika Pika pop ups, I haven’t found great Japanese food out here…

  10. For the best Sichuanese food I have tried outside China, (including London), then BBQ Village, 55 Station St is the best place in brum. Mapu Dofu and Kou Shui Ji, are truly authentic, do a good hotpot too. Everytime I go home, it’s my first stop!

    1. Yes I really love it in there too, even after all the bad press regarding hygiene. If anything it gives it that extra element of authenticity! The mapo tofu is great as is the beef in chilli oil 水煮牛肉 my favourite dish.
      Need to put this on the Brumfoodmap ASAP

      1. Hahaha all part of the charm, and living in Asia for 10 years it is nothing that phases me. Myself and my partner (thai) will be moving back to brum in 2 months, just found your website and loving the advice… definitely will be checking out indoor market based on ur recommendations…if you know any good thai places in town let me know. thanks!

        1. We intend to be based in town, so close access to the chinese supermarket in arcadian where we went over christmas and was surprised how many thai products there are! We will be cooking most often as UK is so expensive and often rubbish asian food, bar the few “authentic” places, but never knew about inside the indoor market so thanks for that, and def be visiting the fish mongers there.

          1. We’ve struggled to find reliably good Thai food here in Brum. Sabai Sabai in Moseley was decent last time I went. They expanded into a bigger premises in Harborne but Nick said the new place is atrocious. Thai Orchid on Bennett’s Hill in town has some pretty nice curries but can be inconsistent. Shiny glitzy places like Chaopraya and Thai Edge are complete rip-offs. I’ve never been to Thailand so have no frame of reference but as I can find all the ingredients here I like to cook Thai from scratch using David Thompson’s encyclopaedic tome. Honestly, compared to his recipes most of the Thai food in Brum tastes generic. I get the feeling they’re pandering to local tastes.

            The nearest Thai restaurant of any repute is in Shropshire, an hours drive away, The King and Thai. Neither of us have been yet but is on our foodie radar.

  11. I’ve only just found this site; it must be good because I agree with all of the articles. Your comments about the Fish market are spot on – Geo Smith’s and Satchwell’s are treasures that we should all use as often as we can. Being half Pakistani I am always searching for good Punjabi food only to meet with disappointment again and again. Lasan is good but can anyone tell me where to get a proper chicken curry on the bone. You’ll be my friend for life. Best wishes to all you good food lovers.

    1. Hey thanks! I’m pretty sure the chicken karahi at Mughal e Azam is cooked on the bone. If its as good as their other curries then it’ll be fantastic.

  12. We visited Ne Sum Ye on Saturday night. After reading rave reviews, we were very disappointed with our meal. We ordered triple roast meat and a side of Chinese vegetables.

    The duck came with the bone through the middle rather than breast, making it difficult to eat. The meat was also cold. While the pork was ok, i wouldn’t shout about it.

    The vegetables came swamped in garlic oil – not what i would expect at all.

    Needless to say i’d be wary to return despite the low price.

    1. That is the big problem with New Sum Ye and its ilk. They normally only do one roast a day so by evening you run the risk of having some very tired meat. If you do give it another go try it at lunchtime and ask for a breast or leg.

  13. Just stumbled onto this site by accident but will be a regular visitor from now on. one question, Irealise a lot of younger folk wont have a clue what I am on about but, where can I get Bombay duck?

    1. Thanks for reading. I’ve often seen it in the indoor market, ask for it at the Asian fishmongers like All Seasons. Never bought it myself. What do you do with them?

  14. Deep fried,crispy little fillets of fish,they make a fantastic addition to any indian curry, it was banned by the eu in the 70s but is now allowed in under certain regulations. its a bit like marmite, in a way, you either love it or hate it, personaly I love it.

  15. Hi there I’m just finalising a food guide of Birmingham’s 50 hidden food heroes and I would like to speak to you re this as I would like to feature you. Could you please contact me by email and I will give you a phone number to call.

    Thanks

    Carole

  16. Hi great site what’s your opinion on kababish? I’m considering booking a table there for a works do. I used to love la fibule but last time I went about 2 months ago I felt food wasn’t as good as it once was and was disappointed the service was mote than fantastic though. So anyway I’m considering kababish… website makes place look impressive. What’s your thoughts?

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