Wonderful Evening! Annexe, Birmingham City Centre.

An incredible evening at Annexe! There are no words to fault this restaurant. A fusion restaurant of both French and Italian cuisine; it was sheer food heaven! You know those occasions where you try something and it tastes so good that you smile like an idiot and you do a little dance in your chair (don’t act like you don’t do it!), it was one of those evenings!!!

Annexe is a small and intimate restaurant rustically decorated as one would imagine for a French/ Italian dining experience. The tables were very well decorated with a small candle which even though each table had one made the diner felt like it was a personal gesture. The lighting was dim which also complimented the candle setting which made the restaurant even more intimate and romantic. Entering the restaurant alone made you feel calm, relaxed and welcomed. The lady that served us for the evening was very polite, accommodating and gentle in her manner of speaking.

For starters we ordered leak and asparagus soup and a salmon soufflé. Soup is a common starter dish in restaurants in the UK but I am yet to fault it as a choice on a menu; it is very simple to make but sometimes simple is the best dish that one can order. The soup was very flavoursome, exactly what I needed to keep warm at this time of year.

The soufflé was divine! I am a massive salmon lover and I was in for a real treat! A warm and hearty dish that was rather ‘salmony’ but gorgeous. The sauce that completed this dish was not heavy, thick or dense but classically aromatic and creamy.

For main we had the Côte de Boeuf with garlic portabella mushrooms, confit tomatoes, winter greens and hand cut chips. The meat also came with 3 types of sauce these were: peppercorn, bordelaise and Bleu D’Auvergne. Just writing about it is making my mouth water. The meat was cooked to medium rare as requested, the tenderness of the meat was beyond believe which to my knowledge and understanding suggested that the beef had been hung and tenderised for an extended period of time. Also, the piece was well carved as there were no nerves or unwanted chewiness whilst indulging in this delightful meal. The sides that accompanied the beef were very complimentary; the hand cut chips were hot in temperature and very light and airy suggesting its freshness in preparation prior to concocting this fabulous dish.

Our second main was Slow Roast Pork Belly with pancetta, honey & sesame roast roots, tarragon & course grain mustard jus. It does indeed sound very wordy but just like the Côte de Boeuf this was also a fantastic dish. Pork indeed is a rather fatty meat but was cooked so that most of the fat had burnt off in the cooking process. The pork was also very tender and full of flavour, almost quite rich to say the least but in a way that didn’t put you off the meal- in fact I was disappointed when there was none left.

Annexe was possibly one of the best dining experiences I have encountered and would highly recommend this restaurant to any consumer. I would more than happily return to this wonderful restaurant and bask in the utter wonderfulness of the cuisine delivered. Absolutely fantastic!

Pizzeria Rustica, Richmond – What happened to hospitality?

An Italian restaurant located at the Quadrant in Richmond; was an interesting evening to say the least. Having booked a table a couple of weeks before going to this restaurant we were prepared for a night of excellent service- especially as it has received the certificate of excellence for 2014. Upon arrival there were only two other couples present and indulging in their meals. The waitress situated us at a table which was disgustingly close to the entrance door; as a result of this we requested another table (seeing as the restaurant was not particularly busy and it is winter – warm would be great!). Anyway, she went on to ask her manager who offered us another table; we kindly accepted. I was taken aback however when the manager said that we had the table until 8:30. Our reservation was made for 7, we arrived a bit earlier than 7. Correct me if I’m wrong but surely if you have a customer in your restaurant you would take the liberty of making them feel welcome you wouldn’t be telling them what time they need to be out of the door? Would you?

As the manager made himself scarce we were then approached by a waitress even though she wore blue jeans and a black t-shirt (yes, I thought it was a customer) who asked what we would like to drink. By this point I had not sat down in my seat and was still removing my coat and scarf- What on earth? We said we would need some time and she then disappeared. Just as we sat another waitress approached the table and asked what we would like to drink –  again, we had only just sat down and did not have the chance to look at the menu just yet so the waitress was sent away once again…

Yes, in the restaurant sector the industry is becoming more and more customer friendly. Organisations seek to find the needs of the consumers and are meant or seek to find ways to satisfy their demands. However, there are some places which perhaps have values in place but do not know how to put these values into action.

In terms of cuisine we ordered the pollo (chicken) which was accompanied by mash potato, olives, capers and a chilli and tomato sauce. We also ordered a dish off the specials menu scialatielli (type of long spaghetti) with mussels and prawns.The pollo was rather bland considering the ingredients that were used for the dish and needed further seasoning of salt and pepper. The chicken itself was very tender and quite juicy. The scialatielli was ‘nice’ but did not have the wow factor that I’ve had from other seafood dishes. If I were to return I would order something different. In the future I would like to give this restaurant another try; considering my visit was during the Christmas/ New Year period restaurants are always a lot busier.