Balcony Brasserie, Selfridges

What’s not to love about Selfridges? It’s got everything a girl (or guy for that matter) could want when craving some retail therapy.

There’s even a swanky new restaurant where the champagne bar used to be – perfect for taking the weight off the Louboutins. How very thoughtful. So with the shopping done and a handful of customary yellow bags in tow we headed off to The Balcony on Level Four for a lunchtime treat. We took a seat on the edge of the balcony and had a good look round. The decor is contemporary but comfortable too and the tables aren’t on top of one another, so there’s space to have a good natter without being overheard.

GLASS CEILING

Among the slick interior I spotted at least one ageing rock star, a Premiership footballer, a gaggle of ladies who lunch and a couple of very yummy mummies with their babies. It was a nice mix of people and the vibe was relaxed and happy. The hustle and bustle of the Bullring below added to the atmosphere and the glass ceiling made it feel like we were eating alfresco which was nice. A virgin mojito was just what the doctor ordered for me while my friend enjoyed a cold glass of chardonnay. The mojito was so refreshing and packed full of mint. All of the cocktails and mocktails sounded lovely actually. The selection is great and there’s even a skinny cocktail list if you’re watching the calories. As expected on the fizz front, the list is comprehensive and the wine list is not to be sniffed at either. We were treated to the service of Alice who was extremely good. Warm, friendly, knowledgable and very smiley. And actually we needed her because we found the menu slightly confusing initially. Instead of a starter, main, dessert scenario, the starters doubled as ‘Snacks & Sharers’ of which we wanted neither. We decided to skip those entirely and just have a main, but Alice intervened and recommended a couple of dishes that worked perfectly as starters.

CLUB MARTINI

The first, a Searcys club sandwich ‘martini’ was something I never would have ordered because I’d have dismissed it on the basis that there’d be too much bread for a starter, but all was not what it seemed. She also recommended the accurately described mackerel on toast with pickled fennel, avocado and apple. The club sandwich martini was fabulous. It was deconstructed and layered up in a martini glass, so tomato jelly, chicken mayonnaise, lettuce puree, a soft quail’s egg topped off with crunchy croutons and crispy bacon. Just lovely. I think on balance I preferred the mackerel on toast which tasted super fresh and zingy, but they were both really yummy. I ordered the intriguing squid, feta and chorizo burger with polenta chips. Now, polenta chips are like buses. I’d never had one two months ago and now they’re everywhere I go. These were particularly good and crunchy served with dill mayonnaise. The bun and accompaniments to the burger were great, but I didn’t know what to make of the pattie itself. The texture was a bit off-putting, but it tasted fine. My friend on the other hand had a triumph of fish and chips with an incredible tartare sauce. It was presented beautifully and everything about it was lip-smackingly good.

COOKIE CHEESECAKE

Dessert didn’t seem like a good idea as we were pretty sated already, but Alice’s description of the Oreo cookie cheesecake was too much. We gave in and it was brilliant. Served with a fruity berry ice cream, the cheesecake was sweet and creamy and just enough to share. I think it might be a good idea to make the menu and the description of a couple of the dishes a bit clearer. We’d have missed out on two stunning dishes had Alice not been there to set us on the right track, but overall we had a giggle and enjoyed a delicious and reasonably priced lunch. We’ll be back soon to sample the afternoon tea!

BALCONY BRASSERIE BY SEARCYS 4th Floor, Selfridges, Bullring, Birmingham B5 4BP. Tel: 0121 600 6869 http://searcys.co.uk/venues/balcony-brasserie-selfridges