The intention was to go and have a wonderful meal to celebrate my 40th birthday with Mr Fletche and Ma & Pa Lee. No camera, no Instagram stories, no live Twitter updates on my food choices. But I couldn’t resist sneaking a few photos (ok, no-one could eat til I was done) and it would be rude not to tell you all about our fab experience at Tom’s Kitchen.
Michelin-starred Tom Aikens opened his Birmingham restaurant in January and I’ve been hankering after an opportunity to try it. A combination of my birthday and the restaurant’s inclusion in Birmingham’s Flavour Fortnight meant that this was the perfect chance. The communication was top-notch even beforehand when I emailed two days prior to the reservation to get the Flavour Fortnight discount applied to the booking.
It’s an elegant but welcoming venue, nestled in a corner on Level 2 of the Mailbox, away from the hustle and bustle of the canal-side chains on Level 3. It’s a mix of industrial ceilings, funky lighting, wood panelling and comfortable leather seating, and the menu can be best described as posh comfort food. Fish & Chips. Duck. Steak. Risotto. There’s nothing on the menu we don’t recognise. There’s also an extensive Gluten-Free Menu, and three choices of vegetarian starter and main course.
We peruse the drinks menu; there’s a good cocktail selection and I opt for the Tom’s Garden, a sparkly combination of Hendrick’s Gin, St. Germain, Lime and Apple Juice. Ma Lee opts for the classic G&T, whilst Pa Lee and Mr Fletche both go for the Whitstable Bay beer options. As the birthday girl I’m also presented with a complimentary glass of fizz.
We forego starters in favour of still-warm homemade crusty bread for the table. This is Ma and Pa Lee’s first taste of Em the Food Blogger in action as I scream at them not to touch until I’ve got a perfectly positioned photo. The main courses arrive, with each one causing food envy around the table. Apart from Ma Lee who turns her nose up at my La Creuset pan full of mussels with a garlic, herb and cider sauce. She can’t be tempted, even when I waggle a mussel in front of her face. The mussels are perfect, not a morsel of grit, and the french fries are a perfect accompaniment. There are no complaints from the rest of the table either. Pa Lee, always a traditionalist, opts for the steak, perfectly pink and melt-in-the mouth, as is Mr Fletche’s roast breast of duck on shiitake mushroom risotto. Ma Lee goes for the chicken schnitzel with cherry tomato sauce and confit cherry tomatoes. That’s a cherry tomato overload right there.
Good restaurants do that thing where you say “oh, I couldn’t eat another thing” and then present you with a dessert menu which magically creates a space in your belly which is just big enough for a pudding. Pa Lee and I never shy away from a challenge so we go for the amazingly rich chocolate and peanut butter marquise. I’m still unsure what a marquise is but it sure tasted good. Ma Lee had the most luscious tasting banoffee pie ever, whilst Mr Fletche opted for the tart from the specials menu. Every dessert was declared a winner.
There was a slight confusion with the bill where our 20% Flavour Fortnight discount wasn’t applied, but this was soon rectified by the efficient and friendly staff. Even without the discount we felt that £170 was a great price to pay for four people, two courses each plus drinks for food and an experience of this quality.
There was so much on the food and drinks menu that I wanted to try that there is no doubt we’ll return soon, and hopefully it won’t take another zero-ending birthday before I make it back to Tom’s Kitchen.
We paid for our drinks and meals ourselves (well, Pa Lee did) and the only freebie was my birthday fizz. Opinions are all mine regardless.
7 Commercial St, The Mailbox, Birmingham B1 1RS.
Monday: Lunch 12:00-14:30, Dinner 17:00-22:00
Tuesday to Friday: Lunch 12:00-14:30, Dinner 17:00-22:30
Saturday: Brunch & Lunch 10:00-15:00, Dinner 17.00-22.30
Sunday: Brunch 10:00-17:00