As part of my new role at work, I was invited to attend a meeting with work colleagues held at University College Birmingham, which meant our lunch was to be served at their hugely acclaimed and award-wining restaurant, the Atrium.
The Atrium should be at the top of everyone’s list of places to eat in Birmingham. However, it wasn’t at the top of mine, it was on my radar, but I never actually said I need to go there. Well, you guys need to go there.
The concept is that everything from the food to the hosting is done by students at the college as they train to take the hospitality world by storm. You will need to bear this in mind when visiting as things are a bit slower than a normal fine-dining restaurant. They are, however, all supervised by lecturers and those who looked after us on the day were faultless, well from my eyes anyway.
There were quite a few of us in for lunch that day, all from the company I work for, but we were the only people in the restaurant. The menus were nice and simple with just 3 starters, 3 mains and 4 desserts to choose from but the choices, I felt, covered all requirements.
We were presented with a lovely selection of breads and freshly made butter to keep us going until our starters arrived. I am such a stickler for good bread and butter, especially the fresh and salty variety and this lot below ticked all those boxes.
For starters I went for the Pan Seared Monkfish, Curried Carrot, Coconut and Lime Rice served with coriander sauce.
The plating of this dish was just beautiful and they say that you eat with your eyes first. I did expect quite a strong taste from the coriander sauce, as this was the predominant colour on the plate, but the majority of the flavour came from the curried element of the dish. Although the curried flavour was quite over powering, it wasn’t an unpleasant taste to be overpowered by, if that makes sense!
For mains I went with the Wild Mushroom and Spinach Pithivier, with globe artichoke puree and a sauce Béarnaise.
Again, presentation was spot on. The main highlight of this dish for me was the pastry. Super flaky, buttery and just melt in the mouth. The mushroom and spinach filling was nicely seasoned and not to wet. The béarnaise sauce was silky and really complemented the dish.
Dessert was a problem! I couldn’t decide what to have. Luckily, one of my colleagues wasn’t really a dessert person so I choose his too! We (I) went for the Dark Chocolate Delice, Salted Caramel, Crème Fraiche sorbet and chocolate pastille, and the other option we (I) went for was the Vanilla Cheesecake, baked oats and cherry gel.
The desserts were definitely the highlight of this meal for me. The Dark Chocolate Delice was really rich without being too much and the crème fraiche sorbet cut through that dark chocolate leaving a nice clean taste.
The Cheesecake was like a heavenly plate of milky deliciousness! It was a set cheesecake rather than a baked cheesecake, which is my favourite type of cheesecake. It was so smooth and creamy and the sharpness of the ice-cream and cherry gel matched extremely well.
I would really struggle to choose which dessert was my favourite, with them both being amazing dishes.
The Atrium is definitely somewhere I would consider for either a leisurely lunch or an evening out. And the best bit is the price! Because it’s a training school you don’t get charged top dollar for what is evidently an excellent fine dining experience.
Definitely a place to think of visiting for your next special occasion or just a nice treat, because let’s face it everyone needs one of those every once in a while.