Purnell’s★ // Birmingham // England

Amongst the ranks of TV chefs, Glynn Purnell must be one of the best entertainers. With his cheeky style, the Yummy Brummy has been showing 1* star nosh at his restaurant since 2009. Birmingham is a business city, so what better test for his cooking than a busy mid-week lunch service. Locals certainly seem to be impressed if the repeat custom is anything to go by, but does Glynn deserve to hold onto his rating? The answer unfortunately is no.

Looking at the details other than the food, Purnell has a very capable, friendly young team of waiting looking after guests with a very high standards. He also has a large bar/lounge where you can have a drink before heading through to the dining room which is often lacking in other restaurants. However, the decor is not extraordinary and could most probably do with a bit of an update.

Glynn’s autumn four course lunch starts-off with a dainty little potato soup, with some crispy barley sprinkled on top to add texture. Though what you get in style, does not translate into flavour. The taste is slightly acidic, which is fresh, but the inelegant mound of cold potato at the bottom of the dish fails to impress. Similarly, the mackerel salad with pickled cucumber failed to deliver on flavour. The fish is so faintly smoked you wouldn’t know it was if you weren’t told, and the wasabi element of the dish is totally undetectable; very odd for such a strong addition.

However, Purnell’s neck of lamb does show how the chef is certainly capable of wonderful moments. It’s slow-cooked to a buttery mouth-watering state and is accompanied by a lovely mound of textured flecks of savoy cabbage and an earthy irony confit of outstanding potatoes. This dish, while simple, shows Purnell’s technique and ability to elevate simple products to gratifying heights. Desert too is pretty good with a shockingly good cherry sorbet, marinated stone fruit and a dark, caramelised tuille that really gets the balance of sweet and rich with tart and fresh right.

The problem is consistency, leading to an overall level of disappointment, similar to that at Pollen Street Social. While the Brummie might be a lovable character, it is hard to justify putting his food above what is served at Corrigan’s, which is masterful at every step (without a star). It seems this regional British restaurant has been left in the slow lane, while lesser rated restaurants are shining.

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