Last time I went to The Studio Birmingham’s menu tasting I wanted to lie on the floor of my office quietly weeping about how full I felt. As with the last one, this was a chance for the chefs to try out a whole new menu and with the colder months on their way (who are we kidding autumn has been here since June and I for one am a’okay with that), the Studio’s autumn menu has gone in a similar direction. For any northern readers, The Studio have just opened a new venue in Leeds and so it was a bit of a head to head for the chefs as they’d come up with different items to find out which dishes were favoured best.
The Studio Birmingham works on a six day rotation, where each day delegates of offered a choice of a meat or vegetarian option plus a pudding as part of the standard delegate day rate – no dull sandwich buffets here! For the autumnal menu, the chefs had taken inspiration from the transitional period and created dishes which straddled the seasons. Mains being tested including curries, cassoulets, mushroom stroganoff and slow cooked meats, all perfect for when it’s a bit cold outside. I didn’t get round everything but of the things I did the tandoori roasted chicken skewers had a nice mild but flavoursome spice and the slow cooked pulled harissa spiced lamb had a delicate sweetness to it.
Having used The Studio for a number of work events, where our participants always comment on the excellent quality of the food, I know that the venue takes their food very seriously. The good thing about the seasonal menu tasting is that they can iron out anything they’re not happy with before the menu is launched, which I saw from the spring tasting as we were back there not long after for some work events and I tasted the improved dishes too. This time round, I thought the beef madras option was a brave choice; it was not nearly as spicy as I’d feared, which itself was a bit confusing.
The puddings always impress me at the Studio Birmingham, possibly because most places don’t bother or because there’s always some creative ones at the Studio. This was fairly evident in the snickers eton mess which had piped cream, thick caramel sauce, chopped nuts and chocolate chips…fun, flavoursome but light enough that you didn’t feel like you were going to need to nap on one of their beanbags later. The rich chocolate pot and praline crumble came in a shot glass and was a chocoholic’s idea of heaven, but I think it could’ve benefited from a raspberry coulis or something to cut through the richness.
Anyone attending the tasting sessions is handed a form to jot down any notes and having been to a tasting and then there as a delegate when the menu has launched, it’s reassuring to know that they really listen and value the feedback.
And after sampling more food than I should it was time to plod off back to the office, pleasantly full. The food at the Studio always impresses me as I don’t know of any other conference / meeting room venues in Birmingham which offer a proper cooked lunch, prepared on-site as a standard food option.
The incoming autumnal menu, from what I’d tasted, is another corker and I’m trying to figure out if I can get myself invited along to any meetings there to test it out when it goes live!
Disclosure: I was invited along to the menu tasting where all food was complementary…although given how much we’re there for work I think they assume I’m part of the furniture and just feed me anyway.