Orelle at Colmore Tower Review August 2023

I have followed the development of 103 Colmore Tower from its very beginnings. With a clear view from the office, it seemed slightly sad when local architect Madin’s 1970s Natwest Tower slowly sank into the dust.

The void that remained seemed impossible to fill, but sure enough this new 100 metre+ skyscraper with Italian made glass, complete with skybars rose to full height and now sits proudly in the heart of Birmingham’s business district.

An invite to sample the new Sunday lunch menu at Orelle, was greeted with intrigue. I had two guided tours before the restaurant opened, and heard various things about the restaurant both on social media and from friends so was unsure what to expect.

I had a quick drink in the independent Tilt Bar before hand, tucked away, so well in fact, down City Arcade that my guest couldn’t find it. What a great little place though and good to see the craft ales, coffee and pinball drawing in punters on a Sunday afternoon!

We rearranged to meet out the back of Rackhams, ha, remember those days? And enjoyed a drink in The Colmore Tap, which is super nice, again great ales and a relaxed atmosphere.

You’re instantly greeted with grandiose panoramas of the city below.

Arriving on time, the downstairs bar of Colmore Tower was, closed.  It is open Monday – Saturday though from 11am and closing times differ. It has been quiet whenever I have walked past. It is worth pointing out what a shame this is. A stunning little bar, which just needs some kind of focus or direction to draw people in, a DJ would be perfect in the evenings and perhaps more realistic drinks prices to match this part of town and get people in off the street.

The lift to the skybar was impressively swift. We walked out into a cool air conditioned Orelle, with friendly staff, not rushed, just perfect! You can drink at the bar as well its worth noting, without having to dine on a Sunday.

You’re instantly greeted with grandiose panoramas of the city below.

A seat in the bar with view of skyline, was accompanied by a bottle of Maison Les Alexandrins Le Cabanon Rouge – this matched the smooth soulful playlist (I also noted what a great view of the Blues ground, ha!).

Before I continue, I think it’s worth mentioning that my other experiences of Skybar dining and drinking in the second city have been a bit underwhelming over the years. Without going into details, so this place really did need to impress.

Environment is essential in a place such as this. Orelle seems to get it right from the off. The clientele seem chilled and family orientated, ideal for a business lunch, a birthday party or a romantic meal for two.

Little touches like hearing a waiter at the next table ask a young lad with his family, “is this a special occasion today?” He seemed sincere, genuine and keen to make their experience a pleasant one. Professional but no airs and graces.

Christina, my guest noted that the flowers were pretty, and how well spaced all the tables were without losing any atmosphere.

So, onto the food. We were there for the Sunday Lunch, one of my favourite meals out.

We shared starters. Tomate – Isle of Wight tomatoes, burrata, sourdough, English strawberry, gazpacho was delicate and rich.

Alos, Ballotine de Saumon – cured salmon, nori, sea fennel, green grape, almond.. offered a citrus, tangy contrast to the salmon – an assault of subtle lasting tastes.

..the Pork was just perfect for me. It had an immensely rich taste, but what I would expect in such a beautiful setting.

For the main I opted for Porc – 65-day aged pork belly, caramelised apple with family style roast potato, buttered cabbage, cauliflower cheese, confit carrot, broccoli.

If I could point out one small negative, it is definitely the plate being cold for the pork. This really needs to be addressed as an air cooled environment, and long walk from kitchen to table could cause some complaints. Whilst the veg looked the part, again, in small pots, it loses its heat very quickly. It is such a simple thing to remedy so I hope this is rectified.

To be fair, the Pork was just perfect for me. It had an immensely rich taste, but what I would expect in such a beautiful setting. Roast potatoes delicious. Crunchy n’ light.

More filling than you think. Good portion sizes. Taste seriously on point.

Delicious gravy and roasties too! Cauliflower slightly crunchy, and you can tell the chefs use quality fresh ingredients.

Whilst portions may look small on the plate, I can assure you they are generous. So, overall, 10/10 for flavour, less for presentation. Maybe add a hot plate for the veg and mains and I reckon I’d score it a 10 overall.

Now, consider most people are probably here more for the view and environment, Orelle scores highly and with just a few small tweaks could be unbeatable in this oppulant location.

Noisette arrived as dessert. Chocolate madeleine, hazelnut, whipped pannacotta, salted caramel ice cream and again an explosion of sweetness to finish off the wine with.

It surprised us, that the manager didn’t know we were there for review, so kudos to him and the other staff members, Suzie, Rijan and team, for making this such a memorable occasion.

Would definitely recommend and be back. The dress code seemed relaxed with trainers, shorts etc for some guests and I hope this continues as Orelle feels like a place that should be enjoyed by all.

Words by Nick Byng for Grapevine Birmingham.