A former winner of the BMW Square Meal Award for Best UK Restaurant, Birmingham-born Glynn Purnell is that rare thing: a cook whose driving ambition is to make his birthplace an all-round foodie destination. Diners can pick from a six-course seasonal tasting menu or an eight-course ‘tour’ of the chef’s signature dishes, with the additional option of building your own three-course meal. Despite some precious menu descriptions, Purnell’s finest creations taste like distillations of pure flavour: a witty take on kedgeree in poached duck yolk with smoked-haddock foam, cornflakes and curry oil; a charcuterie plate of beef carpaccio, corned beef and bresaola with octopus and sticky candied onion, or even monkfish masala for true-bred Brummies. Well-spaced tables and smart, neutral decor suit the business crowd as well as courting couples, while polished staff are marshalled by maître d’ Jean-Benoit Burloux, who combines matinée idol looks with unflappable charm and inestimable knowledge of the food and wine list.
WINE LIST: The wine list at Purnell’s is a real crowd-pleaser, featuring some top European names, as well as a smattering of New World stars. Traditionalists will be delighted with the strong line-up of Bordeaux and Burgundy, while those seeking more leftfield choices will find happiness in some intriguing selections from Washington and Switzerland. And a big thumbs-up for the digestif list, too, which features a range of saké, eau-de-vie and grappa. BEST BUY WHITE 2010 Dr Loosen, Riesling Kabinett, Bernkasteler Lay, Mosel, Germany, £39.95. BEST BUY RED 2007 Bodega Norton, Privada, Mendoza, Argentina, £36.95.