Last month I was lucky enough to be able to dine at The Wilderness. Having booked our visit all the way back in October, it’s a restaurant I’ve been eager to visit for a very long time. Promising a unique lunch full of surprises, I was practically skipping to the much-hyped restaurant with my husband.
We arrived during the first sitting to try the five course lunch (£35pp) which was to be paired with a matching drinks flight. The restaurant itself is tiny with just 24 covers, but it’s tranquil and feels like a blissful sanctuary away from the chaos of New Street station just metres away.
Greenery adorns the walls and there’s a beautiful natural, earthy vibe which I realised is to be mirrored in the food as we began our lunch. We started with a pre-meal goats cheese and beetroot appetiser, balanced within the small hollows of a waffle; delightfully creamy and earthy. Next up two hunks of freshly made sourdough with homemade whipped butter arrived, and the warm bread melted the already soft salty butter instantly. I decided then I was moving in.
Sea truffle gnocchi kicks off the real feast, and proved to be my favourite dish of the entire tasting menu. Charred chunks and dots of vibrant creamed butternut squash balanced delicately on jet black gnocchi, bursting with garlic flavour, that were so light they melted in the mouth. The additional pickled onion rings cut through the richness and provided balance to the dish. I genuinely wish I could eat this every single day of my life.
Next up a crispy skinned mini fillet of trout arrived, nestled in a dashi broth. The tender pink fish was served perfectly cooked, skin side up, topped with a sprinkling of salty puffed wild rice and tiny fried shiitake mushrooms. Saving the broth until the end, this earthy flavoured fish dish was memorable for all of the right reasons; umami flavour was seriously on point.
A surprise course, courtesy of the chef, hit the table next; a fillet of plaice alongside cauliflower two ways. An intensely flavoured roasted floret provides the dish with texture, whilst the silky puree was delicious smeared over the white fish. Additional sea herbs take this to another level.
Dexter beef concluded our savoury adventure, with a slice of rare meat that was so juicy I think my eyes rolled back in my head. Charred leeks ramped up the flavour and pickled beer (how on earth the chefs do half of this stuff amazes me) ensured this was an unforgettable plate of food. It’s also stunning visually, and yet another example of the beautiful presentation you can expect from The Wilderness.
Onto dessert, and poached apple spheres were served with an excellent savoury miso ice cream and broken sesame pastry crisps. This was my favourite of the desserts, with the combination of savoury and sweet proving to be utterly delicious.
Finally, a dessert arrived that combined food and swearing; two of my favourite things. Oh Bollocks! is as beautiful as it is tasty, with the tarragon ice cream and raspberry sorbet proving to be the highlights. The fun presentation by no means detracts from the flavour, and is a masterpiece in terms of satisfying texture combination.
We ended the meal with a gothic chocolate treat (see next photo) and left buzzing after a wonderful lunch. An exciting and glorious food experience, I’ve not stopped thinking about the eclectic food or ogling my photos since we visited. Your bang average Saturday lunch this is not – ingredients are king here and the passion is on the plate for all to see.
This place aims to take guests on a real journey, awakening the senses and reminding you how utterly beautiful and soulful British food can be. The staff speak about the food with knowledge and passion and the attention to detail on the plate is utterly faultless. Come February The Wilderness will have a new, larger home on Bennetts Hill. Whether this upscale venue change retains its current charm remains to be seen, but I’ll most definitely be returning to find out.
The Wilderness, 1 Dudley Street, Birmingham, B5 4EG
Disclosure: I was given this meal as a gift. All opinions and photos are mine