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Restaurant Review: Fumo, Birmingham

July 1, 2013

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June went out in a blaze of sun-drenched glory yesterday and it was thus a perfect day to head out of London and up the M40 to visit my daughter in Birmingham. Birmingham may be the UK’s 2nd city and famed for its ugly ‘Spaghetti junction’ motorway interchange but in the five years Nicola has lived there I’ve learnt to like the place a lot and find there’s a lot more to it than us prejudiced Londoners sometimes allow. For a start, it’s much smaller than London and one can soon leave the metropolis and head into leafy, relaxed suburbs such as King’s Heath and Moseley, where Nicola lives.

Lunch in her pretty Victorian walled garden was a freshly baked loaf of sourdough bread I’d picked up en route at Ruben’s Bakehouse and the Neufchatel cheese I bought in the French market in Twickenham on Saturday – nicely warmed and softened after a night in the fridge from a two-hour journey north in my car. As we often do when I visit, Nicola and I headed off to gardens for a walk – this time the National Trust’s Coughton Court, where Nicola said the rose garden should be at its best.

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It was particularly crowded with a car rally going on, but we bypassed that – and also this time the Tudor house – and headed for the gardens. The gorgeous rose garden was full not just of the most lovely perfumed roses in bloom, but a riot of herbaceous borders exploding in a blaze of colour.

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We walked round this, the orchard and formal garden, and followed the path round the lake. And Nicola even captured a photo of me enjoying my day.

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Come evening we headed into the centre of Birmingham with Nicola’s friend, Rachael. Nicola had told me she had something special planned for Sunday evening and I might well want to blog about it, so my camera was tucked into my handbag. Only at the last minute did I learn we were going to a restaurant specialising in cicchetti – those delicious Venetian versions of tapas, of which I’ve written many times. Fumo is part of the San Carlo group of restaurants who have celebrity chef Aldo Zilli as their Chef Consilere.

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I was pleased I’d changed into my new ‘little black dress’ when I entered the stylish restaurant. We were warmly welcomed by the Italian staff who explained that the small dishes of cicchetti were cooked to order and brought to the table in no particular order, which was fine with us. That’s what we expected. We decided to go the whole Venetian way and drink prosecco and soon we heard that pleasing popping sound as the top came off a bottle and the bubbling nectar was poured in the flutes.

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One of the issues when eating cicchetti or tapas as a main meal is, how many does one order. However, you can order some to start and always order more. The menu was so extensive and tempting though we ordered more than enough at first try! There was ‘traditional fried street food’ from which we chose fried courgette sticks …

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… and small-sized pizzas – we had Ortolana with roasted vegetables, spinach and mozzarella …

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… baked and pasta dishes like Melanzane Parmigiana, which is one of my favourite Italian dishes and this one was superb …

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… a fabulous dish of gnocchi Gorgonzola in a baked Parmesan basket, and these were wonderful too …

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… some lovely Sicilian prawns with garlic, lemon and chilli …

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… and Beef Tagliata – perfectly cooked to our medium-rare order …

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… and finally, Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with Sicilian pachino tomatoes.

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Everything was excellent; no disappointments with any of the dishes. It’s not so long ago I was in Venice and eating cicchetti by the Grand Canal and here in Birmingham, Fumo have recreated an authentic taste of Italy with beautifully cooked dishes full of flavour that honour the integrity of the ingredients. We had no room for dessert but Rachael and I enjoyed some coffee before we left. ‘Sharing plates’ have become so fashionable but it really is a delightful and relaxed way to enjoy good food as everyone is having a taste and the enjoyment of the food becomes a shared experience. The meal was a treat from my lovely daughter, it was great to meet Rachael, and we had a brilliant evening.
San Carlo Fumo on Urbanspoon

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2 Comments
  1. What a fantastic time…the beautiful gardens and a delicious meal. Wish I had been part of your day as it sounds wonderful.

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