Cielo, Brindleyplace

Despite relishing the heat wave during July there was one area of my life that was sadly lacking – food! I couldn’t have felt less inspired to cook anything at all and although my husband is a man of many talents cooking isn’t one of them.

I managed to feed my daughters a nutritional diet of sorts, but gave up when it came to the grown-ups of the house. The other half and I survived on cooling suppers of cider lollies served with Hendricks over ice and the odd half-hearted attempt at an omelette. Two weeks later and with a balanced meal definitely in order we headed to Cielo for a bit of civilisation. On the evening we chose to venture out there was a breeze so welcome I felt like cartwheeling. I refrained from the acrobatics and chose to strut into the restaurant with a renewed spring in my step feeling, well breezy. The restaurant was lively filled with chatter and the warmth of good friends catching up and the floor to ceiling windows were flung open giving the whole scenario a holiday vibe. The lovely Ali showed us to a nice table by the window and as you’d expect the menu was packed with Mediterranean flavours which suited the vibe and the heat.

COLD AND CRISP

My other half was salivating by this point at the prospect of real food. A selection of warm bread arrived which was really tasty, but served with butter instead of oil which felt a bit out of place. The sun dried tomato ciabatta was delicious and a punchy bowl of olives was devoured too. We wanted something cold and crisp to drink, so went for the wine of the month – an organic Catarrato chardonnay which hit the spot. To start J ordered perfect antipasti with a great choice of top notch cured meat, chargrilled artichokes, more of the delicious olives and crusty bread. I opted for the warm goat’s cheese with beetroot carpaccio which was my favourite dish of the whole meal. It was sweet and peppery with a fantastic dressing that made the whole thing sing. I could have happily eaten this again as a main. The well thought out menu meant that so many of the main courses appealed. Some of the fish dishes sounded fantastic, but I think our depleted bodies must have been craving iron because we both went down a carnivorous route. I chose fegato alla veneziana – calves liver with cream of mashed potato, julienne of balsamic white onion and a red wine jus. It was just great. The liver was perfectly cooked and the jus was punchy. I could have lived without the mash, but I’m being picky. J ordered filetto de maiale – medallions of pork loin, glazed sliced apple, crispy pancetta, creamed savoy cabbage and Madeira jus. This was probably the least pleasing dish although elements of it were brilliant. There was too much pork and it was a bit on the dry side, however the apple was delicious and the creamed cabbage, crisp pancetta and sauce were seriously lovely. A side of tempura battered courgette recommended by charming restaurant manager Giorgio was great.

TASTY TRIO

I felt completely sated and couldn’t contemplate a dessert, so I left it to J. He went for the trio of raspberry panna cotta with toasted almonds, strawberry cheesecake and blackcurrant sorbet. I did that very annoying thing of not ordering ‘ooh I couldn’t possibly’ and then tucked in to the sorbet anyway. It was absolutely gorgeous and really refreshing. J polished off the cheesecake and panna cotta with lots of ‘mmm’ sounds. By this point the restaurant was full and for a Tuesday evening I think that’s pretty telling. A table of eight glamorous Italian women were having a blast among a collection of amorous couples, post-work colleagues and groups of friends celebrating. The lively atmosphere made for a really enjoyable evening that left us feeling relaxed. I’m convinced this is how to survive a heatwave. Don’t cook just book a regular table at Cielo and imagine you’re in Puglia. Then again it might just be the perfect antidote to winter too…

CIELO 6 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace, Birmingham B1 2JB. Tel: 0121 632 6882 www.cielobirmingham.com