Bistro 1847 is a pretty trendy looking place, white painted wall panelling, grey chairs and white tables, and little corked flasks that you might last have seen in your science lesson holding the salt and pepper, which I managed to restrain myself from nicking.
The décor is fresh and understated and with the dangling bits of tree over the table in the front window, it demonstrates pretty well what the food is like. Deceptively simple, well executed and tasty dishes with a real edge of excitement.
Located in the Great Western Arcade, Bistro 1847 is named after the year the Vegetarian society was founded, so unsurprisingly it’s entire menu is vegetarian. Both me and the boyfriend are of the awkward vegan variety, so we were pleased to find that we could have completely different meals to each other, which pleased me greatly as I like to share (ie, steal his food).
We both had a drink from the cocktail menu, dead fancy for a Tuesday evening, he went for the Jam Factory and I chose An Apple a Day. None of your weak alcohol and fruit juice type cocktails here; both were reassuringly strong and not too sweet. I liked the Jam Factory more and the boyfriend preferred my bourbon based drink so we swapped, although I made sure I had a few extra sips before handing mine over.
Starters were baby aubergine, dried tomato and smoked (vegan) yoghurt and the soup of the day, red cabbage and roasted bell pepper. The soup was a beautiful and surprising dark purple colour, and tasted amazing, perfectly seasoned with a lovely light but still creamy texture.
The baby aubergine also looked great, on the customary massive plate of course, and the dish tasted as vibrant as it looked. The aubergine was roasted but cold, and the combination of the tangy tomato, yoghurt and roasted veg was spot on.
The main course didn’t disappoint after the success of our starters; I had curried root vegetable and smoked tofu kedgeree with puy lentils, while my boyfriend opted for the beer-battered tofu, mushy pea emulsion and chips.
The chips were, and this is a direct quote, the best chips he’d ever had. Obviously I had to try one after that announcement and he wasn’t wrong. They were crisp and fluffy and almost melted in the mouth.
The batter on the tofu was similar, and it leant the protein some real flavour, although it was still a bit soft so perhaps could have been improved by a firmer consistency. The kedgeree was tasty, with sweet and crunchy carrots and puy lentils mixed through the rice, giving it a satisfying thick texture.
Desserts were both equally delicious, carrot cake with rum syrup and hazelnut sponge with salted caramel. Both came with apricot puree instead of the Chantilly cream on the menu to make them vegan and I think this is most likely an improvement.
I can only imagine cream would make the desserts too rich and overpower the delicate sponge, while the apricot went really well with both, adding a fruity note to the flavours.
The salted caramel in particular was fantastic and while I would have quite happily hoovered up three times the quantity, it was the perfect artistic smear; just the right amount of caramel that ensured the dish didn’t topple over into the sickly sweet category.
Bistro 1847 is a great find and we’re already planning another visit soon. It has a lovely atmosphere, even on a fairly quiet Tuesday night, and the location would make it a great place to eat on a weekend evening. The food is superb, whether you’re vegetarian or not, I’d recommend this as an exciting eating experience.
26 Great Western Arcade, Colmore Row, by1847.com
Review by: Sally Watson-Jones for Grapevine Birmingham.
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