We used to love Edmund’s and we were sad to see it go. We used to love Turner’s and we were equally sad to see that go too. So, when Edmund’s became Maribel with Richard Turner in the kitchen, it had ‘match made in heaven’ written all over it.
Richard’s food always seemed wasted in Harborne because frankly whenever we visited it was so bafflingly quiet it left us wondering how the heck it survived. Now, in the centre of town and firmly on the beaten track, Richard’s food is more accessible.
The interior isn’t much different to the previous room, more refreshed than overhauled. The menu is simple, three courses £35, four courses £45, six courses £65, etc. You can see where this is going. We plumped for four courses, but whichever option you choose there’s a generous procession of amuse bouche first. There isn’t space here to trot through the menu dish by dish, so we’ll pick out some highlights.
To kick off, the first of the ‘nibbles’ forcefully grabbed our attention. Gougere – basically a souped up cheesey choux bun – was lavishly filled with warm, gooey, liquid Gruyere, topped with more grated Gruyere and truffle. Sounds simple, tasted anything but. Totally delicious.
Another amuse bouche, runny quail’s egg with cos lettuce, anchovy and crisp chicken skin was fantastic and we kind of lost ourselves a bit. We thought we were over the chicken skin thing, but it turns out we really weren’t. This was great.
A venison dish with girolles, swiss chard and cobnuts along with a perfect amount of stilton that managed to give the whole thing a gorgeous tang without obliterating the beautifully cooked meat was just dreamy. A rich jus brought the whole dish together and made it sing. This is the dish we cooed about most.
Richard sneaked in an extra dish for us to try of salt baked John Dory. It was unbelievably pretty with pastel coloured emulsions and gels framing the delicate fish. We’re not that into fancy pants emulsions for the sake of it but these beauties were packed with flavour. A bergamot gel was fragrant and tangy and a shrimp emulsion was just stunning. Wasabi gave the dish a gentle heat while fennel added a fresh aniseed hit. The balance was extraordinary.
You get a bit used to doing food reviews and sometimes feels like going through the motions, but Richard’s food grabbed our attention from the get-go and made us realise there’d be nothing samey about this one. We also made fewer notes than usual which sounds terrible, but actually means we thoroughly loved it. A nod to the staff too who were warm, knowledgeable and willing to answer our many daft questions happily.