Birmingham: A Guide To The Modern UK City

Where to eat – CURRY FAVOUR: Tucked away in a quiet side street in the Jewellery Quarter is Birmingham’s finest curry house – and here in the Balti Triangle, there’s stiff competition. At first glance, Aktar Islam’s menu at Lasan (about £50 for two) doesn’t look all that different from a standard Indian restaurant, but in his hands dishes are transformed: fluffy Punjabi-style pumpkin with fennel seeds and fresh coriander; succulent mahi machli (salmon marinated in tomato and red pepper with lime). Even his dahl a dull staple in most restaurants, tastes divine. I’ve never eaten a better curry anywhere in the UK.

REACH FOR THE STAR: Birmingham has four Michelin-starred restaurants, more than any other UK city outside London, and one of them, Turners, is along the road from an Iceland on Harborne High Street. How like Birmingham to have such a superb restaurant in such a down-to-earth location. Largely self-taught, local chef Richard Turner opened here in 2007 and won his first star in 2009. It’s an intimate space, softened with mirrors and muted greys, but the food is the main attraction: beef is slow-cooked for 48 hours; the coconut-and-liquorice parfait is delicious. For such fine cuisine, it’s also excellent value: the three-course lunch costs £32.50.

The Richard Turners restaurant is the ideal location to spend the evening in a romantic, quiet atmosphere.

OUT TO LUNCH: Within six months of opening, Adam’s, a city-centre restaurant run by Adam Stokes and his wife Natasha, had been awarded a Michelin star. Squeezed into a former sandwich shop, the tiny dining room can only seat 26 (there are plans to expand this year), but the understated decor makes it feel a lot larger. That elegant simplicity is reflected in the food. My three-course lunch (just £32) was delightful: spelt and crisp pigs’ trotters, followed by cod with fennel and whitebait, and rounded off with several contrasting textures of dark chocolate. Comparisons with Turners (see above) are invidious. Try them both.

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