Cheese and wine dinner @ Opus, Cornwall Street

Events, restaurants, Review / Thursday, September 20th, 2018

When I found out Opus was hosting a 5 course cheese and wine dinner I booked a ticket. I didn’t care that it was to cost me £75 nor that it would give me weird cheese dreams, I just wanted a seat at the table.

I love cheese; anyone who knows me will testify that I really bloody like cheese. My love affair with the good stuff started when I was a child and has only got more intense as I fall head first into my mid-thirties. I still remember my tastebuds going bonkers trying feta for the first time in Greece as a kid; the satisfaction of eating a whole baked Camembert to myself much to the horror of my then boyfriend; realising how much more I enjoy a stinky blue if it’s melted on a massive burger. I’m not a snob nor am I precious about it. I’ve enjoyed numerous cheap cheese slices at BBQs as much as an expensive Torta del Casar imported from Spain. I’ve plenty of cheese-based memories and a deep love for pretty much any variety, so when the opportunity came to eat the good stuff in the striking surroundings of Opus, on Cornwall Street, I couldn’t resist.

Set in the private dining room, a welcome from Irene of Opus preceded an explanation behind the choice of cheeses used through the meal; all the cheeses are sourced via Harvey & Brockwell. Through the five courses we were to cover multiple regions, from the far flung shores of the Isle of Mull right down to the land of my step family: Somerset. They’re not cheese producers or anything (more’s the pitty) but whenever I see Somerset mentioned I do fondly think of my extended family. And cheese. I love cheese…

A beautiful Bath Soft Veloute started proceedings but remained a firm favourite. A potato dauphine bathed in the creamy cheese sauce, butter rich and as heavy in savoury oomf as it was calories. Additional softened caramelised onions hidden below the potato sphere provided contrasting sweetness and matched the earthy undertones of the dish. I’d like to eat live on this dish for the rest of my life, but I’m not sure my arteries could. Shame, because it would be a glorious existence.

Side note: I’m a big fan of the Bath Soft cheeses; they’re organic, totally handmade, and you can buy them online.

Because there’s no better combination on earth than complex carbs and dairy products (don’t tell me otherwise; you’re wrong) I adored the next course: Butter Poached Native Lobster. Tender crustacean claws topped curls of pasta wrapped in a silky blanket of Isle of Mull cheese. The full-flavoured Scottish cheddar sauce managed to be both rich yet mellow, pairing nicely with the firm chargrilled baby leeks. Collectively, it’s comfort food with the volume turned up to 11 and, as far as I’m concerned, pretty much faultless. Simple food executed with quality and insightfully sourced ingredients.

I’m usually not that fussed about eating pigeon, mainly because they remind me of my uni days in Leicester when one feathery little git lived loudly in my roof. Thankfully the Pan Roasted Squab Pigeon dish created by Ben and co in the kitchen managed to change my mind. Plump but tender, I savoured the pink meat, resisting the braised leg lollipop for my final bite. A Stratham potato gratin was insanely rich, made even tastier by a pool of golden whisky sauce that gave the dish some warmth. Santa, if you’re reading this, I’d like it bottled for Christmas.

A simple Cheese Board came next, served with a selection of Peter’s Yard artisan crackers and a vibrant, robust fruit chutney made in the kitchen yards away. By this point the copious wine pairings had kicked in and my ability to retain cheese names (I’m not even sorry) was as lost as my size 10 jeans. But the piquant goats cheese was a highlight, with an interesting and moreish rind.

Dessert had a blue cheese twist, with a Creamy Cashel Mousse piped generously into a crisp, sticky sweet cylinder casing. Served with pickled blackberries this sweet and savoury dish playfully combined textures and flavours. Both creamy and acidic in parts, each mouthful delighted and confused my palate; I went from liking it, to disliking it, to loving it. A delightful green apple sorbet connected the dots for me, cutting through the richness of the blue cheese with a clean finish.

Big love to fellow cheese fiends Ellen, George and Vicky and others for the wonderful company. Excellent food, service and hospitality; I’ll definitely be booking in for another event here soon.

Opus, 54 Cornwall Street, Birmingham, B3 2DE

Disclosure: I paid in full for my ticket to the dinner, which included all of the food and drinks. All words and photos are my own.

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