The Birmingham Rep has reopened this month after its refurbishment. With a fresh new look to the theatre, it’s no surprise that the Rep’s bar and restaurant have had a thorough make over too. It’s a fresh, white and bright look with clean lines and plenty of light. I was invited along to try out a selection from the new menu at the Centenary Brasserie and see what I thought.
The Centenary Brasserie is a 90-cover restaurant, with a café and bar, plus a large external terrace opening out onto Centenary Square. Paul Welburn is the executive chef. Paul , who previously ran celebrity chef Rhodes’ flagship restaurant in London (with a Michelin star), has provided the guidance and the lead for the culinary direction of Centenary Brasserie. There’s a clear focus on high quality ingredients with many local suppliers. A strong team backs up Paul’s commitment to quality and head chef Steve was truly passionate about the food being served.
We were treated to a wide range of dishes from across the range of the menu. The Marinated beetroot and Gorgonzola salad, walnut crumble, rocket and red chard (pictured above) was a flavoursome dish. Our table didn’t include anyone who liked blue cheese, but we could still appreciate the efforts that went into producing such a visually pleasing dish with so many complex flavours.
The Crispy prawn and vegetables, served with harissa and guacamole steered away from a tempura batter with a more substantial coating well suited to the ‘meatiness’ of these big, juicy prawns. The heat of the harissa gave these an added twist and a punchy bite.
The restaurant is aimed at filling the gap that exists in Birmingham between the top end restaurants, with their Michelin stars, and the ubiquitous chains. There are certainly less restaurants in the middle ground in Birmingham seeking to provide good quality, innovative food without high price tags. Indeed with main courses priced at around £16 or less, the Centenary Brasserie isn’t expensive given the quality of the ingredients and the expertise of the staff.
The Centenary Bar and Brasserie will be open from 9am to 11pm on Mondays to Saturdays, and 11am to 9pm on a Sunday. As such they will be catering for those that just want a drink; those that want a snack or light meal; obviously the pre-theatre diners; and those who want a full restaurant dinner. It’s great to see such a relaxed and friendly venue with high standards right in the heart of Birmingham.