Restaurant VMF, Villa Park

I’ve booked a table at a football club for Sunday lunch! Eleven little words sure to dampen my mood. As the children licked their lips imagining pies and hot chocolate, I suppressed my disappointment.

Fun dad had struck again. Football stadia aren’t renowned for their warmth and character, so as we approached Villa Park my expectations were low – wrongly as it turned out. Restaurant VMF looked like a class act. The restaurant is in a corner of the ground with a great view of the pitch. Classic furniture, crisp white table cloths and an impressive bar set the tone as did the happy staff all proudly flying the Restaurant VMF flag.

AMAZING ABDUL

The ethos here is pretty cool. The vegetables used are grown in an allotment the size of a football pitch behind Villa Park and tended by a group of local youngsters, while the restaurant employs apprentices from the area. They don’t all make the grade, but many do. Our waiter Abdul is a brilliant example of what’s happening here. He had no hope before he was taken on, but now has a rounded CV. But while such stories are heart-warming, that alone won’t keep punters coming back. The menu is not too big, but varied. A basket of warm bread with sweet sticky roasted garlic went down a treat, as did a warming raspberry Martini. Allotment soup wasn’t the most appealing colour, but tasted fantastic. Fun Dad’s duck egg with bacon in a clear broth was seriously good and the children’s melon with a handful of berries was fresh and pretty.

MAIN EVENT

Onto the mains and FD was always going for the roast beef with the youngest having a half portion of the same. The meat was perfectly pink and tasted incredible with a proud Yorkie and delicious gravy. I opted for soft juicy pork belly with a nice bit of crackling and a jug of tasty jus. The eldest plumped for chicken nuggets and chips from the kids menu which was polished off pretty swiftly. The stand-out dishes though were the accompanying vegetables. Apparently the carrots were cooked with orange juice which must explain their sticky sweetness -– the kids devoured them like Haribos. The roasties were gorgeously crisp and the cabbage was great too. My only gripe was that the only white wine available by the glass was Sauvignon Blanc. A bit more choice would’ve been good. Other than that I’m happy to say I’m a convert. As a foodie experience Restaurant VMF is up there with the best in Brum.

Restaurant VMF, Witton Lane, Birmingham B6 6RP. Tel: 0121 326 1570 www.avhe.co.uk/vmf-restaurant-birmingham