As the proud owner of arguably the UK’s finest gastronomy scene outside of London, Birmingham isn’t short on places to celebrate that special occasion. From sublime fine dining to colourful street food kitchens, there’s a venue for every celebration in the Second City. Whether it’s a birthday, anniversary or a date night, here are some great restaurants to consider booking.
If you want to turn that special anniversary into something really memorable then The Wilderness could be just the ticket. Dark and provocative, chef Alex Claridge’s restaurant puts a whole new spin on the familiar aesthetics of fine dining. Push the boat out with their epic 10-course tasting menu featuring some of Claridge’s most inspired creations. (You might recognise the man himself from his recent appearance on The Great British Menu.)
The latest venture from local favourite and award-winning chef Aktar Islam, Pulperia serves up some of the city’s finest Argentinian steak. With its stylish interior given a nice touch by the colourful flowers flanking the vast windows, the ambience is perfect for date night and the food is just as well executed. Combining authentic seasonal cooking with the rarest cuts of beef, Pulperia hits every note and the tender Argentinian sirloin is bound to please that special someone.
Continuing the theme of celebrated local chefs, Glynn Purnell’s restaurant on Cornwall Street shows off his love for his home city as well as his serious talent and creativity in the kitchen. With its chic interior and superb service, Purnell’s is a perfect special occasion experience. Make it extra special by ordering the delightful Burnt Egg English Surprise for dessert, made famous for its 10/10/10 score from the judges on The Great British Menu.
There’s certainly something romantic about watching chef Michel Kubiak artfully slice and dice his fresh ingredients at such close proximity. Arguably Birmingham’s finest sushi joint, Gaijin is a unique and intimate dining spot and seats just 10 (often enthralled) customers around a small counter. Perfect for date night, just sit back and enjoy wonderful craftsmanship and magnificent food, especially the sublime eel nigiri.
What could be better for a celebration than a great bottle of wine? Digbeth’s Wine Freedom is a relatively new addition to Birmingham’s gastro scene and its bright and airy warehouse location is a breath of fresh air. The relaxed unstuffy atmosphere makes it ideal for a gathering with a few friends and their impressive list of organic wines is paired perfectly with an indulgent cheese selection.
Deep in the heart of Birmingham’s most vibrant district lies Rico Libre, a colourful addition to Digbeth’s growing dining scene. Though Birmingham has never been blessed with a huge tapas scene, dishes here such as grilled octopus in paprika sauce are out to change that perception. Being located so centrally in this buzzing neighbourhood makes Rico Libre a perfect appetizer before painting the night red.
Noel’s Bar and Restaurant
Not only does Noel’s bring a taste of the Mediterranean to Birmingham, it also boasts a lovely canalside dining area so you can really go al fresco. Whether it’s sipping on a beautifully crafted cocktail, tucking into a steak, or tasting one of their fresh handmade pasta dishes, Noel’s is a scenic spot for an unforgettable occasion.
Arguably the UK’s curry capital, Birmingham has a long tradition of excellent Indian restaurants inspired by its diverse population. And let’s be honest, few meals are more sociable than a curry out with friends. Located on busy Newhall Street in the city centre, Asha’s serves up award-winning Indian cuisine as well as a sparkling selection of signature cocktails that will light up an evening of celebration.
Infuse your special occasion with a South American twist by taking your date to Birmingham’s first Peruvian restaurant. Located in leafy Moseley and helmed by award-winning Peruvian chef Robert Ortiz, Chakana’s laid-back vibe is great for celebrating with friends, and dishes such as ceviches, tiraditos and causas are perfect for sharing. And don’t forget to sample a pisco sour!
Perhaps one of Birmingham’s best-kept secrets, the peaceful courtyard garden at Blue Piano is a leafy romantic spot for an anniversary or a date. With its enticing South-East Asian menu adding an extra touch of spice to the experience, Blue Piano’s a fine addition to the growing Edgbaston Village dining scene. Definitely check out their interpretation of fish amok, Cambodia’s national dish.
Harborne is one of Birmingham’s most exciting neighbourhoods right now and the eponymous Harborne Kitchen is its shining star. With chef Jamie Desogus serving modern British food away from the bright lights of the city centre, Harborne Kitchen’s neighbourhood charm is bound to impress your significant other. And if that doesn’t, their exquisite Scottish girolles and pied-de-mouton mushrooms on soft focaccia surely will.
The Ivy Temple Row
With its rich art deco interior and lively atmosphere, The Ivy Temple Row is an ideal excuse for any celebration. Located in the heart of the city, their famous afternoon tea is one of the biggest crowd-pleasers. If the occasion is particularly special, why not add a glass of Champagne to give it that indulgent extra sparkle?
Aktar Islam’s flagship restaurant, Opheem, is a boundary-pushing modern take on classic Indian cuisine that brings a wow factor few other restaurants in Birmingham can match. If you’re out to impress your significant other, you could do a lot worse. Islam’s seasonally rotating menu features kekda kerala, an updated version of his Great British Menu-winning dish of soft shell crab dish in a light batter with a sweet raw mango puree.
Whether you’re here on a date or gathering with friends for a show at the nearby Hippodrome theatre, Mythos Taverna brings a fresh taste of Greece to Birmingham’s busy Arcadian Centre. While sharing a classic mezze or enjoying the signature marinated souvlaki are musts, make sure to give your night an extra kick with their famous Ouzotini cocktail.
Pasta di Piazza
Housed in an elegant former factory dating back to the 1870s and just a stone’s throw from romantic St Paul’s Square, Pasta di Piazza is a neighbourhood Italian that caters for occasions of any size. The tasteful décor brings a quaint authenticity and dishes such as ravioli in a rich mushroom cream sauce will transport you to Italy itself.
Visit OpenTable to discover more of Birmingham’s best restaurants for special occasions.
This is a guest post from freelance travel writer James March. Based in Birmingham, he’s contributed to publications such as BBC Travel, Nat Geo Traveller, The Washington Post, Lonely Planet and Condé Nast Traveller. Find him on twitter @JMarchTravel.
Photo Credit: Tom Bird for The Wilderness. All other images courtesy of the restaurants.