LivingTravelSimpsons of Edgbaston: Award-Winning Cooking and Cooking Lessons Too

Simpsons of Edgbaston: Award-Winning Cooking and Cooking Lessons Too

The Simpsons restaurant in Edgbaston near Birmingham offers dining for special occasions worth a trip from anywhere in the Midlands.

And once you’re there, studying the tantalizing menu, you can start planning the dishes you’ll cook at home after attending one of Simpson’s popular weekend cooking classes.

Gastronomic surprises

If this is your first time visiting the UK and you still believe in the graying clichés about British food, you will be in for a lot of surprises as you travel the country.

Simpsons is one of them. The restaurant, just a few miles from Birmingham city center, has held its Michelin star for at least 16 years. It spans several rooms in a major Victorian villa in the leafy suburb of Edgbaston. Restaurateur Andreas Antona, Chef Director Luke Tipping and Head Chef Nathan Eades are a team at the top of their game. Antona and Tipping have worked together for years. Before opening in Edgbaston, they established Simpsons in the Warilshire town of Kenilworth and earned a Michelin star there in 1994.

It only took them a year after moving to Birmingham to win another.

Relaxed and Romantic

The restaurant rooms are elegant but relaxed. Diners can choose a cozy and intimate setting, a light and airy room to see and be seen (with windows to the light and efficient kitchen), or a conservatory overlooking the garden.

There is a terrace for dining in warm climates and two gazebos for private romantic dinners that overlook a well-kept garden. A massive wall of seasonal blooming rhododendrons is salty with the tiniest scatter of twinkling fairy lights at night.

The staff manages to get the hang of creating an atmosphere formal enough for serious and ambitious cooking without being stuffy. The dining rooms have a soft yet festive buzz and the service is impeccable – attentive, efficient, and friendly.

A Champagne Opening

Before entering the dining room, diners are offered a glass of chilled champagne while studying the menu in a coffee and cream room furnished with leather armchairs.

The restaurant tastes different champagnes and different vintages each week, with that week’s bottles chilled in an ice-filled bowl surrounded by champagne tulip glasses.

The waiter takes your order in the living room and shows you a table when dinner is ready to be served.

Courses and invitations between courses

Once we entered the cool white dining room, bathed in subtle creamy lighting, we were offered a variety of small bites or appetizers and a selection of interesting brown, white, flavored and seedless breads.

Our starter of handcrafted scallops was sweetly marinated and garnished with a tracery of sauces and a taste of pureed parsnip. Before the second plate of Gressingham duck reached the table, small cups of delicate pumpkin soup appeared.

The duck itself was surrounded by small roasted carrots, carrot and ginger puree, a small square of gingerbread, and a slightly liquorice-flavored foam. An unusual touch were the two triangle-shaped lozenges : filo cakes filled with duck leg meat.

Leave room for dessert

We ordered the souffle dessert in advance. It takes about 20 minutes to prepare and is worth the wait. Mine, a walnut souffle served with banana ice cream, was as light as a meringue, like a whisper on the tongue. My only complaint was that my overly helpful server suggested that I bury the banana ice cream inside the souffle to melt it. As a result, I didn’t really test it and I think I would have preferred the contrast of the cold ice cream with the hot cloud of the souffle rather than the melted mud that resulted.

Fortunately, some of the souffle escaped from this treatment, so I was able to enjoy its separate qualities. I don’t mind a knowledgeable server offering advice, but I really don’t like being advised like it was.

After dessert, a selection of English and continental cheeses was presented. A tray of small handmade cupcakes and a plate of handmade chocolate truffles accompanied by coffee.

He had read that the portions at Simpson were too small (one hobbyist reviewer reported that his wife had to fill up on the delicious breads). Could not be farther from the truth. Although each dish is served in a modest portion, this is a food that is savored slowly. Plus, the goodies and inter-course extras more than justify the price and would satisfy all but the greediest trencherman.

And then

The restaurant has four rooms with private bathrooms for diners who want to enjoy their wine and spend the night. The rooms, which are priced luxury ($$$), are themed: oriental , Venetian , colonial and the sweetly romantic French. Read more about overnight stays at Simpsons.

Learn to cook like a Michelin chef

If you’ve ever aspired to try your luck as a Masterchef contestant, Saturday or Sunday cooking classes at Simpsons might get you started. These are great courses to take with a small group of friends, and if you’re traveling alone, the classes are a great, non-intimidating way to get a taste of Michelin-starred cuisine on your own.

The one-day courses, from approximately 9:30 am to 4 pm, are taught by the restaurant’s chefs and are designed to set you up for a dinner for 12 or 15. They interpret Simpson’s approach to flavors and ingredients, simplified to the home cook. . Classes are limited to 10 or 12 participants, so reservation is essential.

The day includes:

  • Morning coffee
  • a cooking demonstration that includes the preparation of a three-course menu
  • a behind-the-scenes tour of the restaurant kitchen
  • hands-on cooking experiences
  • Lunch with wine from the restaurant’s full menu.
  • An afternoon tour of the cellars with the restaurant’s sommelier.

Specific course details and reservations are handled only by phone, at least one month in advance, through the restaurant reception. Gift vouchers are available for the courses.

Essentials

  • Where: Simpsons, 20 Highfield Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 3DU
  • Contact: for reservations and details of the cooking school +44 (0) 121 454 3434. Reservations are taken between 9 am and 6 pm and no more than three months in advance.
  • Website

As is common in the travel industry, the writer received ancillary services for review purposes. While you have not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.

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