We were invited to the relaunch of Marmalade last night – with a new look and a new menu. It is a great space, nestled in the arms of the Repertory Theatre and overlooking Centenary Square. The restaurant itself is very comfortable, with many nooks and booths to give you privacy without feeling away from the bustling ambience. Although it feels like we shall soon be overwhelmed by the now jejune Edison lightbulbs and oversized lampshades, I did enjoy the various quotes on the walls. A little bit of a break from the usual fare, even if Shakespeare has suffered the grave injustice of a typo in the only one I thought to photograph!!
On one of the hottest evenings of the year, we gathered outside Marmalade on their new street terrace, enjoying a cool glass of fizz and a very enjoyable guitar and vocal combo. The terrace is a perfect people watching spot, and that day the children of Birmingham had come out en masse to run amongst the newly opened fountain installation. What would we give for something similar on Jubilee Square in Leicester to enjoy on hot days?
Inside we were welcomed by a cool wave of air and the friendliest management/marketing team I’ve come across in some time. They had set up stations around the venue where we could be introduced to all of the new things that Marmalade Birmingham has to offer.
Most interesting for me, of course, was the collaboration of Marmalade Birmingham with Purity Ales. They have created a Marmalade Pale which is light and refreshing, although quite punchy at 4.8%. The orange flavour is relatively subtle although marmalade is used in the brew. The finished beer is dry hopped with Bavarian Mandarina hops. It’s a good quality ale though, and served at a refreshing temperature as it is on keg.
It’s always a pleasure to bump into Bartender HQ David Sangwell out and about. On this occasion he was mixing up a delicious drink of passionfruit cut with a hint of vanilla. This was livened up with a tot of gin for those who preferred. I really liked the passionfruit syrup by ODK. It’s a professional product really. Even though it is highly concentrated it still balances the natural tartness of the passionfruit with all that sweetness. Plus a little goes a long way!
Something to eat?
Of course the crowning glory is the new menu. I enjoyed experiencing a few unexpected dishes that are less common to see. The canapes being handed round were all reflective of the small plate menu. The real winners for me were the earthy and rich shitaki pate bites served on a small toast. Also the deep fried sole balls with a chunky homemade tartare sauce.
A further selection of tasters were laid out for us to try and again I was most captivated by the pates. The mackerel pate served on a radicchio leaf was particularly creamy and flavourful. The chicken liver pate was smooth textured and indulgent. I was very happy to see artichoke on the menu, although they could have done with a little more lemon and seasoning. And for vegans, I would highly recommend the fava bean patties, which were cut through with what I assume was spinach. Very tasty all in all. A big well done to the kitchen team at Marmalade Birmingham.
The Main Event
Yet more food, and samples of some of the main dishes were brought around. My favourite was the deep fried hake served on a bed of crushed peas. Not enough butter to make them mushy peas so crushed it is. But this was absolutely spot on in terms of cooking – a light, crisp batter with very moist flaky fish inside. Also the seabass on a bed of crushed potatoes and vegetables was full of texture and flavour. Both dishes I would order again.
On to dessert, and you can enjoy both the regular menu and afternoon tea. The dainty macaroons and other sweet treats were very well made. The lemon tart was the least successful dish of the day with the pastry sodden and unpalatable. I imagine that charitably one should put this down to the extreme heat of the occasion.
And so much more I haven’t discussed! A tasty mead, which was made with South African honey as apparently British would make it too expensive… A decent wine selection with a very tasty Australian Shiraz being the standout. Duck rilettes which made a decent match for the Marmalade Pale. I could go on and on.
The Boy and I both commented on the easy atmosphere and comfortable surroundings. We enjoyed spending the evening there and would be very happy to return. The team were happy to help with any queries and I hope to see that level of service replicated on a normal day. It’s a great central spot, although likely to be at the heart of building works for some time to come it is clear enough that this shouldn’t impact on your visit. Lunch and pre-theatre menus are available, as well as private hire. I can heartily recommend you give it a visit and try it for yourself. Thank you to the REP for our invitation to this complimentary event.