We wandered around Rofuto wearing hard hat and boots at the topping out ceremony for Park Regis when the restaurant was a mere dusty concrete shell. The space was epic and the views were as spectacular as the mucky windows would allow.
Eager to experience the finished article we trotted back quick smart leaving the hard hat at home. Turns out the ugly duckling had morphed into a thing of beauty. The décor was all grown-up with a central bar where we imagined Bill Murray’s character from Lost in Translation sipping whiskey – that’s good. The open kitchen added a bit of theatre and the flattering lighting made everyone look gorgeous. Great start. The interior had obviously been given a massive amount of thought, but I had a gripe early on. The chairs were too low for the table. I’m 5ft 6in, so no hobbit, but sipping a tall cocktail was a bit clumsy. The diner behind me asked for a different chair, so I wasn’t the only one.
That said, the gripe quickly vanished once we tasted the food. A series of small plates incorporating sushi, tempura, the Robata grill followed by mains were presented at a steady, relaxed pace. Dishes like black cod nigiri and crispy chicken with kimchi sauce and lime which kicked things off were impeccably presented and tasted brilliant. Tempura tiger prawns were succulent and fresh with a punchy dipping sauce while beef Kushiyaki with caramel soy was tender and tasty, yet our least favourite dish. Then came lamb chops, not what we expected to see on a Japanese menu, but these were no ordinary lamb chops and this was no ordinary Japanese restaurant. With mint, watermelon and an accompanying super fresh Asian slaw it was dreamy.
Then came the star turn, halibut with champagne yuzu miso and pak choi. Cooked beautifully, the meaty fish was served with a sauce so moreish we could have slurped a cupful. We both agreed that this was like nowhere else in Birmingham in terms of glamour, service, atmosphere and food. On the pricey side – we reckon our dinner of six dishes, cocktails and a bottle of Californian chardonnay came to roughly £150 – yet we didn’t feel remotely ripped off. Sometimes, well often actually, you get what you pay for and that’s definitely the deal here. It’s a keeper.