Looking for somewhere to eat on a Saturday using the Tastecard is always a difficult task, but you can usually rely on the big hotel chains to save the (satur)day. We have often found them to be hidden gems, usually very well appointed and surprisingly good in their food offer.
Finding myself in Birmingham City Centre this particular Saturday, I pulled up the Tastecard app on my phone and found that Monty's Brasserie at the Thistle Hotel was just 500m away. I hastily called the restaurant to make my obligatory tastecard booking.
Unfortunately, as is often the case with hotel restaurants, you can't call them directly and the listed telephone number directs you to the hotel switchboard. After waiting on the line for 3 minutes and after going through the usual "press 1 for room bookings" nonsense, I finally got through to reception who directed my call through to the reception who upon picking up the line, promptly put the phone down on me. And so to recommence the rigmarole...
Anyway, we managed to make our booking for 1 hour hence at 7.30 pm which allowed us time to finish our city centre drinks and make our way to Monty's.
The hotel is perhaps best described as city centre 'adjacent' in an area which I suspect doesn't see much regular footfall - albeit a very short walk away from the city's popular bars and eateries.
We were directed by reception to the restaurant. The hotel, while externally reflecting post-war Birmingham concrete at it's finest was very well appointed internally. The walk to the restaurant was a reasonable slog from the reception area, but were rewarded with a visually extemely attractive dining area. Vaulted ceilings and tasteful lighting beckoned us within - if the welcome did not. There were three front of house staff on duty this evening for the three tables being occupied within the room. However, the staff seemed to trip over themselves to deal with the simple transation of welcoming us, taking us to our table and taking our order. We dealt with all three within the space of 3 minutes. We were received at the door by one member of staff, the manager insisted on taking my tastecard on arrival, and we were taken to our table by the third.
This confused service would perhaps explain why our drinks failed to arrive before our starter did - in a restaurant now with only two tables occupied (I can see why bookings are required(!))
On the plus side, my grilled mackerel starter was a delight. My wife was dissapointed that her toasted foccacia was cold on arrival, although I appreciate that this may be by design. She nontheless devoured the lot.
We both ordered the 'Steak and Chips' main - an 8oz sirloin served with chips, onion rings, portabello mushroom and grilled tomato with a peppercorn sauce; one served medium and mine medium rare. The mains arrived with little fanfare - dropped on the table and the waitress promptly turned her back and walked away. No "can I get you anything else?" - we would have liked some vinegar. And also no replacement cutlery which had been whipped away with our empty starter plates. Thankfully, the lack of ambience created by the dearth of diners had the positive of my being able to secure replacements from nearby tables.
We needn't have expressed a preference for how we would have liked our steaks cooked, as both arrived nearer medium-well, albeit generous in proportion. The chips were attractively served in a small 'bucket', and the tomato sat in the well of the mushroom. All, in all it looked the part (save for the chip in the pot the peppercorn sauce was served in). It tasted very good too and was suitably polished off.
In fairness, service seemed to pick up near the end, and the waitress seemed more engaged with us. We ploughed head-on into dessert. Originally, we decided we coulnd't have a pudding each, but we were persuaded out of such defeatism by the waitress and, obliging, we went for a 'trio of chocolate' and a 'sticky toffee sundae'. Both were very good, although I would have preferred my wedge of toffee pudding to have been served warm.
I guess the best was saved for last when we were given a reduction in bill of 50% rather than the 2-4-1 stated on the tastecard website.
In summary, 'wonderful venue, okay food, poor service'.
Posted 2 years, 5 months, 25 days ago...
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