Fumo, Waterloo Street

It’s about time I wrote about Fumo. Lady C and I have visited the Venetian tapas, or Cicchetti bar, three times this year, usually for lunch, and we always enjoy ourselves.

It sits on the corner of Waterloo Street, overlooking the cathedral and on a Friday afternoon is bustling with life. Its big brother restaurant, San Carlo on Temple Street, has been a fixture in the city for years and the two eateries are connected by an underground “tunnel”. You don’t have to book, there’s usually space and if not there’s always the bar, where you can also eat. It’s an accommodating sort of place, a little chaotic, but always friendly. When I arrived Lady C was propped up against the bar slurping a cocktail, so we decided to eat there.

BUZZ

Fumo’s bar is a splendid affair with granite bar surfaces above which are metal racks holding fat wine glasses. It swirls 360 degrees around the room making it perfect for people watching. Couples, corporate parties and burly men with gold watches looking expectantly at mobiles, are perched on the leather stools around us. The joy of a good bar in the centre of the city is that anyone can be there and this gives it a buzz.

There are about a hundred different types of spirit and wine bottles on display. I opt for a glass of red and service is speedy, very speedy. How do you serve so many people without employing scores of staff? The answer here is hand speed and nimble footwork.

LOBSTER

On our previous visit we had a half lobster on a bed of spaghetti, which was fantastic. Sadly it wasn’t on the specials menu this time but there was a lobster salad. The salad was a man’s salad, not much lettuce but half a lobster with some oranges, cherry tomatoes and basil leaves. Lady C had some scallops, which she liked a lot. But we were still peckish so ordered some pizzas.

Our first pizza was the house special – a Fumo. This came with a smoky Italian cheese and prosciutto. It was crunchy, tasty and didn’t last long. We also ate a seafood pizza with mussels in shells and squid on a tomato base with no cheese. The seafood was juicy and the dough light and crispy, another great bar snack.

In truth this wasn’t the best lunch I’ve had, not even the best I’ve had at Fumo, but it was a fun one. Fumo’s menu contains some real treats. I’d recommend the gnocchi to any cheese lover and if there’s a lobster on the menu then go for that. Otherwise just hit the bar.

Fumo, 1 Waterloo Street, Birmingham B2 5PG Tel: 0121 643 8979 sancarlofumo.co.uk