Tuesday 31 October 2017

Food Review: Blake's at The Westmead Hotel

It's not very often that I try out a restaurant outside of Birmingham City Centre, but that's exactly what I did on a recent trip to Blake's at Westmead Hotel. Located near to Longbridge, Westmead Hotel has been around for around 25 years and has recently been acquired by an independent new owner.

Entering the restaurant via a separate side entrance to the hotel, the space was exceptionally new, having just been renovated and relaunched the previous week. In soft greys and creams, with a mix of soft velvet chairs and smooth leather sofas, the interior has been well designed to appeal to most.

Moving away from the reception/bar area, we made our way to the main restaurant. Offered a wide selection of drinks, I went straight in for a Gin and Tonic whilst my dining companion opted for a Becks. What arrived was one of the most beautiful G&T's I've ever seen.

With a whole section dedicated to the Gin and Tonic selection, I specified slimline tonic but not the gin. The waitress picked the Brooklyn Gin, a citrusy gin that I thoroughly enjoyed (although it is rare that I meet a gin that I don't approve of!)

Onto starters, there was plenty to choose from including a couple of sharing platters that nearly won us over, however in the end I picked the poached duck egg, grilled asparagus, toasted pine nuts, avocado puree (£6.95) whilst my companion picked the potted ham hock terrine, cider and apple chutney, sour dough (£6.50). I happened to pick the vegetarian option, but there are a few others such as mushrooms on toast and I imagine the soup.

What struck me about our starters was the presentation. Artfully arranged on large plates, my dish was as pretty as a picture. Carefully arranged so that the asparagus spears all pointed upwards and fanned out, with a poached egg nestled on top and a smear of avocado puree to the side, I was impressed to say the least. As for the flavour? Who knew avocado puree was so tasty! With an acidic edge to it, this completely changed the flavours of this dish and lifted it from bland to wow. The pine nuts (toasted not raw), also added a much needed texture and nutty flavour. My only gripe? Sadly the egg was very slightly overcooked for my liking so I missed out on the gooey egg yolk.

The terrine meanwhile was meaty and well packed, studded with green gem peas. The cider and apple chutney was good enough for any county show and I'd happily take them home to enjoy with cheese. It also came with it's very own mini loaf; cute!

Next up, for mains I chose the roasted striploin of lamb, sauteed green beans, potato dauphinoise, watercress puree and mint jus (£16) whilst my companion went for the 8oz Sirloin steak (£20.95). The steak, as well as being perfectly cooked, was also served with a delicious mushroom sauce that really raised the dish.

My lamb was delectable; a little pink with a dense portion of potatoes on the side to add much needed carbs.

For dessert, I chose the tropical Eton mess (£6) and I'd highly recommend it to anyone visiting. A mountain of a dessert, it incorporates peaches, meringue, peach puree and lashings of whipped cream, topped with jewelled pomegranate seeds, strawberries and raspberries. As rich as this sounds, it was in fact a perfect summer dessert and reminded me of a beautiful fruity peach melba.

By now, we really couldn't move but we did fancy a nightcap in the form of a Remy Martin, which went down very smoothly, and an artfully served espresso.

Blake's offers a modern British menu. Artfully put together, there are also more casual dining options available such as the extensive pizza menu.

The service was absolutely spot on and it was evident that everyone we spoke to took real pride and pleasure in their work. The staff went above and beyond to ensure our every need was looked after, whether it was food, drink or information about the menu and venue itself.

My top tip? This is a great spot to bring mums and dads in particular who need a spot of spoiling.

* My meal at Blake's was complimentary.

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