Atrium at University College Birmingham

When I heard there was a restaurant run by UCB students studying chef, food service and hospitality courses I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to inspire the next generation of the food world.

On arrival, we sat in the lounge area and an adorable young man told us about the cocktails of the day.

Patronising? Me? No. The reason I found him adorable was because I’m completely deluded and still think I’m 24/26, so when I see 16/18 year olds I think they’re about 10. I settled on a Manhattan that was not bad at all. It left me wondering if I’d be allowed to start propping up the bar here dispensing wisdom at these youngsters on a daily basis. They’d love that.

We went through to the very nicely done dining room and took our seats. The waitress who poured our water was so nervous she was shaking. A young lady clearly clued up on the food blogging sphere and knew she was serving a FoodieBoy!

The menus came out, they’re in a leather case and when you open them they light up Which delighted me because I’m a simpleton.

There was an amuse bouche described as pork banh mi – it was a small piece of pork belly, a blob of mash and some sultanas. It was tasty, but I’m not sure where the ‘banh mi’ bit really came in.

My guinea fowl starter was really good, the scotch egg that came with it was exceptional, better than some of the ones that get wanked on about in the city centre that’s for sure.

An interesting aspect of the menu was the fact it had the carbon footprint of each dish next to it. It’s nice to know the guinea fowl put some effort into making it possible to be eaten by me (16.9KG Co2) compared to the lazy potato dish (1.1KG).

My cod main came in at 5.6kg.

“Excuse me, young man. Could you tell me how 5.6kg of Co2 converts into miles, I’d like to know how far it swam to get here.”

“I’m… not sure, I’ll go and ask.”

With that, the French lady who was overseeing the evening’s operation came over.

“Hi, I hear you have a question.”

“It was a test, and I’m delighted to say your student passed with flying colours.”

A hefty chunk of cod came with a horseradish gremolata, potato purée and asparagus and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

However, the dish of the night was the chocolate dessert. I ordered it despite the description having the word liquorice in it, that’s how dedicated I am to chocolate.

A set mousse had a liquorice insert, that rather than overpower, actually enhanced the chocolate flavour. If I’d been served that at one of the city’s Michelin starred restaurants I wouldn’t have batted an eye lid.

Not bat an eye lid, what the hell is that all about. Why did I just write it? If it’d been shit would I have batted an eye lid? No, I wouldn’t.

For three courses it was £30, exceptional value. It gets slightly more expensive if you have a cocktail first, two bottles of wine and a dessert wine to finish – but it’s good to show the kids how it’s done properly.

You will find the The Atrium and Brasserie Restaurant at University College Birmingham, Summer Row, Birmingham B3 1JB.

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