A silver tray topped with oysters

The Oyster Club, Birmingham: restaurant review

Does a regular diner reach the same conclusion about a restaurant as a food pro, who may get special treatment if recognised?* Editor Laura Rowe and olive reader Michele Platman compare notes on chef Adam Stokes’ casual, seafood-focussed opening

About The Oyster Club, Birmingham

A few minutes’ walk from central New Street station, The Oyster Club opened in April and is chef Adam Stokes’ second Birmingham restaurant. The first, Adam’s, is famed for its modern British fine dining, Michelin star, and three AA rosettes; while this new kid on the (busy, city centre) block is pitched as more casual all-day dining with a seafood slant, with MasterChef: The Professionals alumni, Rosanna Moseley, heading up the kitchen.

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Grab a seat at one of the luxe leather barstools at the counter and order a platter of oysters – there’s normally six different varieties on ice, ready to be shucked, with the option of having them as nature intended or with a Japanese or rockerfeller dressing. There are also three different types of caviar, served with crème fraîche and blinis.

Or, of course, you can visit here without trying oysters at all. There’s a comprehensive menu of small and large plates (aka starters and main courses) covering anything from sea bass sashimi and a selection of cured meats, to fish pie with an Old Winchester cheddar mash top and a wagyu beef burger in a brioche bun. And there’s plenty of wines by the glass, too, as well as a cocktail list featuring the likes of The Oyster Club martini with sea vegetable-infused vodka and oyster shell vermouth.

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A woman and man sat next to each other in chef's whites
Chef Adam Stokes’ second Birmingham restaurant is pitched as more casual all-day dining with a seafood slant, with MasterChef: The Professionals alumni, Rosanna Moseley, heading up the kitchen

The pro restaurant reviewer

Our editor Laura Rowe has reviewed restaurants for more than a decade. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @lauraroweeats.


The punter restaurant reviewer

Michele Platman lives in Birmingham and eats out once a week. Her best dining experience was Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons.


Our pro’s The Oyster Club, Birmingham restaurant review…

You might be forgiven for assuming that a restaurant two weeks into opening, on a Monday, might be quiet. It wasn’t – it was packed – but there was still a flurry of servers eager to get us started. (*I wasn’t recognised.)

The Oyster Bar is on the smarter side of smasual, with velvet and leather chairs, marble tables and globe lighting. Even the bathrooms have Pinterest-able gold knobs.

Blue leather stools around the marble bar at The Oyster Club, Birmingham
The Oyster Bar is on the smarter side of smasual, with velvet and leather chairs, marble tables and globe lighting

The menu’s a thing of beauty, too. If this is chef Adam Stokes’ version of relaxed dining, I like his style. Scallops of the day come as fat pucks, golden and tender from a well-judged flirtation each side in the pan, served with a mellow wild garlic oil, crisp bacon fragments, samphire with its brackish bursts, and silky blobs of roasted cauliflower.

Crab on toast is a simple pleasure. The bread had decent crunch, the crab clean, sweet and delicate, lifted with sweet tomato dice and shards of golden chicken skin.

Turbot, a meaty fish, served on the bone, could easily be dry but it’s so soft that it doesn’t need the beurre noisette it comes with, just the sweet little clams that clatter around on the plate. A roasted crab sauce served with cod has depth but doesn’t overwhelm the fish – our only complaint is that we want more of the deliciously charred hispi cabbage it comes with. Even 35-day-aged Hereford sirloin, requested medium- rare, comes out evenly ruddy – proof of a chef who understands how to source, how to cook and how to rest.

You’d think by this point the kitchen team would be low on lustre, but a rhubarb and champagne trifle with a fiery, soft ginger biscuit on the side was a finale to be proud of.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Don’t confuse casual with cheap or low rent. Good ingredients (well portioned), talented chefs and a snazzy décor all cost money – so expect a higher price tag. But if you appreciate all of the former, then it’s worth it.

Total bill for three, excluding service: £249.75

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Vibe: 9/10

TOTAL: 25/30


Our punter’s The Oyster Club, Birmingham restaurant review…

The Oyster Club is a long way from Adam Stokes’ other Birmingham restaurant, Adam’s. The décor is contemporary, with lots of mirrors, marble and linen-less tables. It’s smaller and more casual than his other place but still has an emphasis on great food, a superbly chosen wine list (with loads of options served by the glass), and convivial surroundings.

My husband chose West Mersea oysters to start, while I went for pan-fried scallops. The oysters were sea-fresh, with pronounced iodine character, while on my plate six pan-fried scallops had just the right amount of caramelisation and succulence. With crispy pancetta, crunchy samphire and aromatic wild garlic jus, it was a perfect surf-and-turf combination.

A silver tray topped with oysters
The oysters were sea-fresh, with pronounced iodine character

The stand-outs, though, were the main courses. Roasted whole dover sole on the bone was cooked through but retained all its meaty and juicy flavour, with a rich butteriness. Roast turbot with baby clams had real depth of flavour, and perfectly judged seasoning. We shared sides of Jersey Royals, tartare sauce, broccoli with chilli and a green salad – our one niggle was that the potatoes were a touch too al dente.

To accompany our dishes, we chose a picpoul with the oysters, chablis with buttery undertones for the scallops and sole, and an albariño with hints of lime for the turbot. By the glass, all were a great match.

Dessert menu in hand, we shared the baked apple with frangipane and vanilla ice cream – sweet and fruity, with the ice cream providing a superb foil for the tartness of the apple and the nuttiness of the frangipane.

THE BOTTOM LINE

We would definitely return to this amazing seafood restaurant but only on a special occasion due to the cost. Nevertheless, it’s a very welcome addition to Birmingham’s burgeoning fine-dining scene.

Total bill for two, excluding service: £155.50

Food: 9/10

Service: 10/10

Vibe: 8/10

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TOTAL: 27/30