Located in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham is modern British restaurant The Wilderness, where innovative cooking designed to excite and provoke is spearheaded by chef-patron Alex Claridge. Alex, who appeared on series 13 of Great British Menu, has had a fairly unorthodox journey as a chef, initially wanting to be a musician before making the switch to food, taking up jobs at various bistros, cafes and pubs around Birmingham before opening his own restaurant.
The food is inventive, surprising and exciting, and so it makes sense that the restaurant itself has been designed in a bold and dramatic style. Almost every surface is black, from leather banquet seating and tables to painted brick walls and a tiled open kitchen at the far end of the room. With huge steel beams and a sloping wooden ceiling above, the resulting space is dark, mysterious and full of intrigue.
The Wilderness is open for dinner Wednesday to Saturday and lunch on Friday and Saturday, serving tasting menus that only use the best local and seasonal produce. The descriptions of each dish are fairly vague so as to leave the diner guessing until presented with the plate, but examples of things you might find include a shrimp doughnut, celeriac tart with hazelnut, A5 wagyu with nori and comte, and barbary duck with endive and blood orange. To finish, there’s forced rhubarb with mascarpone and buckwheat, as well as a dish called ‘hot lips’ - and that’s all the information you’re allowed!
Sonal Clare, the restaurant’s general manager and head sommelier, has put together a comprehensive wine list that covers every sort of wine you could possibly need or want. From unusual ‘hacked’ and orange wines to European varieties, by-the-glass options as well as styles from the ‘rest of the world’, there’s bound to be a wine to suit your preferences.