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Loves, Birmingham


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Former Roux scholar and National Chef of the Year Steve Love and his wife Claire opened their Brindley Place restaurant, quietly in September, with a formal opening in October.

Having worked with Gary Jones (Le Manoir) Alan Ducasse and briefly alongside Claude Bosi plus three years at Michelin starred Mallory Court it seemed full of promise.

I stumbled on photographes of Steves food some while ago when he was in charge of the kitchens at Cotswold House in gorgeous Chipping Campden and decided to pay him a visit when we were in the area.

Not to be, we caught up with him back in October at his new place.

Difficult to find, Canalside, across a bridge off the beaten track, and away from any commercial neighbours it is quite welcoming. Seating up to thirty two with a private dining room for eight its small but perfectly formed.

We were treated to an espuma of carrot, cumin, coriander, goats cheese and herb oil. This had a real depth of flavour, we could have enjoyed quite a bit more of this.

Ham hock and parsley terrine, celery salad, and crispy white pudding.

Leek, ginger and potato velute',girolles,peas, pike mousse.

Claire spooned the peas, girolles, and pike mousse into the dish and poured the soup into the bowl, this tasted better than may have been imagined, as did the Ham hock which is being done to death up and down the country.

Slow cooked shin of Beef, butternut squash, cabbage and root vegetables.

Whiting fillet, bouillabaisse potatoes, fennel, cos, brandade croute.

We both had the beef, which was sitting by the side of some red cabbage puree, and a medley (in a row) of vegetables sat on the side of the plate. The beef was tender but a little on the dry side and was well short on sauce to help it on its journey.

The fish was taken as an extra course for a small supplement and chef very thoughtfully plated it for us both. I for one could have tackled a full plate to myself, it was well tasty although the brandade croute was not to my liking. I did however appreciate the slow cooked tomato infused with, garlic, orange, and a hint of rosemary. The mashed potatoes were presented in a separate pot.

Marinated sherries, apple and pistachio cake, vanilla ice cream.

Sticky toffee pudding with malted ice cream.

We had a pre dessert of passion fruit creme with a tasty biscotti.

The pudding was a work of art presentation wise, a feast for the eyes, tasted good too, I seem to remember some caramelised banana and a dome of chocolate. Mrs G enjoyed her choice too.

Good, approaching very good, we think Loves is another most welcome addition to the Birmingham fine dining scene. It has much potential, our only concern was the time that it took for the food to reach the table considering that there was only fourteen diners in the room

By the way, apart from the extra course that we had, all of the above is yours for an absolutely stunning £19.50.

Go before the prices go up

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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David

I passed on your review to a good friend in Brum and they sent me back the Birmingham Post review. It looks like the reviewer didn't get a long with Clare, I wonder if there is a back story there? I am told by my friend that they stopped going to their previous restaurant at the College Arms because of the attitude.

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David

I passed on your review to a good friend in Brum and they sent me back the Birmingham Post review. It looks like the reviewer didn't get a long with Clare, I wonder if there is a back story there? I am told by my friend that they stopped going to their previous restaurant at the College Arms because of the attitude.

Phil, you may well be correct, Marmite(love it or hate it) tells its own descriptive story perhaps. Having said that, and we have had a bit of dodgy service ourselves recently, we can't grumble at all.

I know a few egulleters have also been and am looking to reading their reviews, in the meantime this is the other Birmingham newspapers take on it

http://www.birminghammail.net/lifestyle/food-and-drink/restaurant-reviews/2009/09/24/love-s-restaurant-canal-square-browning-street-birmingham-tel-454-5151-97319-24769931/

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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  • 4 weeks later...

I wrote a really long review of this place but lost it when I accidentally browsed away from the page. No time to rewrite here so here's the concise version. We had a very nice meal here about a month ago. It was pretty quiet on the weekday evening (about 10 people in) which was good because the tables are pretty close together and it would be less than intimate when full. The head waiter that night was not the owner but an extremely competent Irish lady with an excellent taste in wine, steering us towards an excellent Pinot Noir. We had the tasting menu. Rather unusually all of the cutlery was put out in advance leading to a rather bling selection of knives and forks. The starters were excellent. Very technically accomplished, perhaps more so than the obvious comparator for thsi restaurant, Richard Turner in Harborne. The amuse bouche espuma was PACKED full of flavour. Oxtail ravioli on a bed of white beans was superlative. Cured salmon with apple was the best starter of this type I've ever had. The main course of chicken served at least 4 ways was also technically excellent but was not really to my taste. Puddings were less memorable but very pretty. For such a new restaurant this has great promise. I'm not that keen on the location or the room but the cooking certainly demands a return visit very soon and the a la carte will have to be explored in some depth.

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I wrote a really long review of this place but lost it when I accidentally browsed away from the page. No time to rewrite here so here's the concise version. We had a very nice meal here about a month ago. It was pretty quiet on the weekday evening (about 10 people in) which was good because the tables are pretty close together and it would be less than intimate when full. The head waiter that night was not the owner but an extremely competent Irish lady with an excellent taste in wine, steering us towards an excellent Pinot Noir. We had the tasting menu. Rather unusually all of the cutlery was put out in advance leading to a rather bling selection of knives and forks. The starters were excellent. Very technically accomplished, perhaps more so than the obvious comparator for thsi restaurant, Richard Turner in Harborne. The amuse bouche espuma was PACKED full of flavour. Oxtail ravioli on a bed of white beans was superlative. Cured salmon with apple was the best starter of this type I've ever had. The main course of chicken served at least 4 ways was also technically excellent but was not really to my taste. Puddings were less memorable but very pretty. For such a new restaurant this has great promise. I'm not that keen on the location or the room but the cooking certainly demands a return visit very soon and the a la carte will have to be explored in some depth.

[/quot

Shame you lost your original review,they are very time consuming to write

You are not on your own though its happened to me a few times, annoying isnt it?

Sound like you really enjoyed your visit, I am hopeful they are supported by the locals as there is no passing trade.

The Irish lady that mentioned served a couple of our dishes and indeed she is very well informed. I'm fairly certain she told me she worked previously at Deane's in Northern Ireland.

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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Shame you lost your original review,they are very time consuming to write

You are not on your own though its happened to me a few times, annoying isnt it?

Yes, I must remember to write the reviews in an editor and paste them in later.

Just had a nother look at Loves a la Carte. http://www.loves-restaurant.co.uk/downloads/Loves%20Menu%20-%20A%20La%20Carte.pdf

Herefordshire Beef - Herefordshire rump, ox cheek and tongue, smoked potato mash, celeriac chouxcroute sounds like a winner.

As does Gloucestershire Pork - Belly, crepinette, pig’s tail nugget, Pease pudding, cider jelly, red cabbage

I feel a booking coming on.

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  • 9 months later...

I've just returned from lunch there and have to say, thought it very good indeed.

I had the degustation and the only wobble (IMO) was the tuna / beetroot starter. Lovely to see all the variations of the beet, but the plate was very busy, further accentuated by an overly turned sculpture that looked like an up-ended version of the Open University logo. As this was the first course I thought, 'oh oh', it's going to be all fur knickers and no trousers, but was delighted to be proved wrong. Everything that followed was superlative.

Great scallop with pork belly and a black pudding crumble which added both flavour and texture. Although not personally convinced about novelty fusion dishes cropping up in amongst gastronomic menus, the chicken satay easily overcame my suspicions and worked on every level. And as for the current beef dish with the cheek, rib-eye and toungue, well, it's a complex stunner.

I agree about the earlier comment on the foams. I've been pleased to see the 'fad of foam' (Ferran, you've a lot to answer for!) die-out as, more often than not, have always found them insipid and pointless. Not so here, I can echo they are absolutely packed with flavour; the dhall variation that came on the side with the chicken being notably innovative and pleasing.

Pud of pineapple was good, but over-shadowed by a passion fruit cream amuse. The lovely waitress (it wasn't Claire) said she keeps trying to persuade the kitchen to expand it on to the menu proper and she was right.

But perhaps the best thing about Loves is the current price point. The Tasting Menu with a well-portioned wine paring for every dish AND a glass of Gossett champagne to start is £89. I don't care what anyone says, that's a bargain by any standards. Even allowing for their fledgling status, I don't think there are many - if any - places that are as competitive right now. Yes, the decor may not be to everyone's taste (including mine), but I'll forgive them that in the face of such incredible value.

I will return and, given the pricing, it's most likely to be soon.

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  • 1 year later...

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I'm not too sure how many chefs reach AA three rosette standard, but guess its not many at all. Especially considering how many chefs are cooking in the UK. Some who do, also have Michelin stars, certainly the most coveted award.

If I were pushed and had to hazard a guess, and a very rough one at that, perhaps one hundred and fifty chefs with the award? I really don't know.

Steve Love is one of the few with the rosettes.

I cannot believe we have not been back here in the last two years considering that it is a lot closer to us than London, which for us, is the biggest draw of them all.

Things have changed to the interior, it has been expanded by taking over a unit next door. This has resulted in not too many extra covers, more a feeling of spaciousness in the room resulting in the tables being less crammed together. The room itself is split into two with the help of partition just above head hight. It really is light and airy especially for daytime eating, as a window seat affords views over the canal with its brightly painted boats.

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We could not help but notice on the sign outside, a special Wednesday night offer on the tasting menu at £48 instead of the normal £68. A very good deal resulting in a normally dead night turning into a very busy one because of it.

As we were lunching we wanted to try the carte and the set menu to compare value. This is what we had.

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Bread is freshly made daily with a choice of five types.

We were offered an amuse of deep flavoured pumpkin espuma with goats cheese, and in my haste forgot to take a photo, but I did take a photo of my messy Villeroy and Boch empty dish and Villeroy and Boch spoon.

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Steve has two helpers in the kitchen (last visit it was one) and perhaps because of that the menus are short on choice. Not unnaturally the Prix Fixe Menu is two, two two. The carte is three times three. The eight course tasting menu is also available, with dishes off the carte.

My starter from the set menu was a cute little pork pie shaped pasta parcel of Salmon Mousse which was billed on the menu as Salmon orellier, meaning pillow.

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This was perched on a bed of creamed leeks and a couple of slices of chestnut mushroom. The pool of bouillabaise sauce in the pasta viod is centred with a drop of herb oil. I was also informed that there was pecorino cheese too. On reflection in the leeks perhaps.

The other starter, this time from the carte was billed as Gloucestershire Pigs Head. Now it seems to me there's an awful lot of pork coming out of Gloucestershire these days as that all we seem to be eating these days. Still no worries its pretty tasty stuff nevertheless

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My wife thought it a bit of surf and turf as it had the addition of pickled mussels. It consisted of, braised pigs head, crispy pigs ear and at the base is iberico ham and black pudding crumbs. Oh and some spiced apple is in there too.

Mains next, and mine was Gloucestershire Pork Belly. See I told you it was popular.

Brined and water bathed over days with herbs and spices and then very slowly ovened to finish. A lot of work but ultimately worth it for the flavour packed end result. Served with the belly is the pigs tail crepinette, savoy cabbage and bacon, pease pudding and black pudding and iberico ham.

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From the carte my wife chose Warwickshire Venison. Ideally I wanted her to choose the Herefordshire rib eye in carrot ash, crispy tongue, ox cheek, celeriac choucroute, smoked potato mash. This dish was on the tasting menu so it confirmed what I thought it to be a signiture dish that we should be trying. The reason she did not choose it is because she is off ox cheek, perhaps because at home I bombarded her with ox cheek dishes a number of months ago. I was still a bit surprised as the venison dish had cockscombs in it which she also does not like.

Still.

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Said cascade of cockscombs were heading my way I guessed, and in a way this confirmed what I thought, that I was not too keen on them either. I think its something about the texture and really for me not a lot of flavour, still I like most things.

The venison was great, moist, tender, delicious in fact. It sat on a bed of kale and what I thought initially was oxtail, as it tasted to me like oxtail. I was wrong, I checked and it was actually shoulder.

Thinking about it I,m not too sure my wife likes barley also, but it was in the dish and she did not say anything. Intersperced between the cockscombs were pickled carrots, sprouts, and chestnuts. Not a bad dish nevertheless, although even though we had a little pot of sauce provided we both thought it needed a bit more moisture.

Nearly forgot. We were served some gorgeous mashed potato with the mains. It was top notch.

With such a medley of flavours bouncing around my mouth I needed the pre dessert to clear my palate.

Passion fruit cream, Biscotti.

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I honestly though that after all the complexity of the food so far, this little dish was a stunner. It whacked my taste buds back into standby mode ready for the desserts. Looking back to my report two years ago it was on the menu then and I can understand why it has stood the test of time.

My wifes dessert off the carte first,Blackberry and Apple.

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Marinated blackberries, red wine syrup, apple and walnut cake, buttermilk panacotta, apple sorbet.

Steve Love likes desserts, and it shows. He spent some considerable time learning his trade in pastry and it has paid off.

Damson jam cake poached and marinated plums, mint creme fraiche ice cream, custard, spices of angels.

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Both very enjoyable desserts, well crafted, interesting tastes and textures.

Normally we dont take coffee, but it was included, as were the petit four which again were made on the premises.

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So all in all an enjoyable way of spending a drizzly grey autumn day, cosetted in a warm environment with good food and good company.

If your in Birmingham, apart from its other three Michelin starred restaurants we think its worth seeking out Loves. Its quality food at good value prices very close to Brindley Place right in the heart of the City and ideal for sightseeing and to explore its restored canal networks.

One a la carte, one three course set menu including coffees and petit four, bottle of bargain priced and enjoyable Chilean Merlot, jug of STWA water, service charge, £95.70.

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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  • 3 weeks later...

Steve Love features in the regional final of Best Dish, The Chefs on ITV at 5pm today.

I did say in my review above that he is good with desserts. His dish is well worth a look.

Click here for a sneak preview.

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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