Happy New Year at the Birmingham Marriott Hotel
My colleague Louise and I have just made it back from the Birmingham Marriott Hotel - if this sounds dramatic that's because it was. You see blog reader, we have just returned from a New Year’s Eve spectacular. New Year's wha? I hear you proclaim…well yes, we have just been to sample the Marriott’s New Year’s Eve party menu ahead of time. And by sampled I mean the lot. And by sample I do not mean sample portion, I mean a full course…of each and every item on the menu!
I arrived at midday to meet Louise; she had been at the hotel most of the morning checking out the spa facilities - you can read about that here. She was a bit out of sorts - in a kind of relaxation zen state – but this was no time for zoning out we had a job to do.
This was my first time in the Marriott and I liked it immediately, as I span through the revolving door I was met by an inviting cosy ambience, it had a sophistication which continued through the foyer and into the restaurant – the setting for our food extravaganza.
We were led to our table and much to our delight, but to the puzzlement of the conference delegates seated behind us, our table had been decked out in full New Year's Eve regalia. Crackers, diamante pieces on the table and a large feather display which would be indicative of the actual date.
Once seated we are told by our excellent host Antony (the Food & Beverage Manager), that the theme of the New Year’s evening is going to be James Bond – complete with a casino. They had not set this up for us (sheesh!)
Anyway enough preamble and to the task at hand - to report back on our 13 course meal.
To start, unsurprisingly…starters – we were bought a full portion of each dish which we shared – a bit like Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood on Bake-Off; but with less grey.
The dilemma was what to try first and how much of each; the kind of problems that Gregg Wallace faces on a daily basis.
I began with a smoked duck and orange salad – it was delicious and I was glad that Antony had placed this in front of me – however there was plenty more to try and I sheepishly passed it over to Louise swapping for a Salmon and Crab tartar. My distress was short lived as this dish too was executed beautifully.
The vegetable consommé was a revelation – there’s no way I would usually look at this twice on a menu and more fool me because it was delicious. I am always surprised by how nice the vegetarian options are – maybe one day I will see past the meat and order one.
The only starter I couldn’t try was the goat’s cheese –I think it tastes like goats smell – Luckily Louise is a fan and she reports that it has a great flavour (I don’t believe her) with a light crispy pastry and sweet onion filling.
Starter highlights for myself were the duck - the combination of beetroot and orange was delicious and one which I had not tried before. The crab and salmon was also well…delicious, then there was that consommé – actually what am I saying! They were all highlights! And, if I had to pick out one on the evening with the knowledge I now possess, I would be deliberating for some time - perhaps till 2016!
And then a refreshing champagne sorbet to freshen our palates.
In retrospect I would have eased up on this if I knew what was about to come through the kitchen doors.
Antony had warned us that we were about to get the motherload – but these starters were so luscious that we consumed most of what lay before us - and then they arrived. Wave after wave after wave – well that’s a mild exaggeration - 5 full courses, complete with all the trimmings – on each! It was a sight to behold – in fact here it is…
There’s a good balance of meat and vegetarian options.
I started with a lamb shank – the meat fell away from the bone and the rich jus was perfect. I was reticent to give it up, but 4 other sublime courses awaited.
The salmon was Louise’s favourite – she described it as 'delicate'. The beef wellington was exquisite and tender and wrapped in a lovely buttery pasty - rich Madeira jus sealed the deal.
And the breast of pheasant, wrapped in bacon - again highly recommended – I even made room to sample the vegetarian option (you’re welcome) – Roasted Sweet Potato and Spinach torte – its parmesan and wild mushroom cream was extremely flavoursome.
The vegetables on each dish were naturally cooked to perfection, and the roast potatoes caused me and Louise to look at each other and do that squinty ‘Oooh that’s nice’ face.
If I had to single out any one dish – I couldn’t. OK maybe the lamb shank, but I am always a sucker for a shank.
Louise told me afterwards that I had hogged the lamb shank. I was unaware of this at the time. Besides, I was more than fair with the salmon.
Gluttons is written all over his face.
And then the final wave – desserts. This was going to be good – they included some of my all time favourites.
Tiramisu – a late entry into my top puddings, this one was amongst one of the best I’ve tasted, not overtly boozy but no skimper either. As with all the food today it was presented superbly.
Crème Brulee is next – another winner in my book. My only disappointment here was that Louise beat me into cracking the perfectly crisp caramel lid – something I take great pleasure in.
Underneath we discover that this was one of a chocolate variety – magnifique!
This baked apple was my favourite for presentation, it was almost a shame to cut into it – it also tasted pretty darn good too.
And then a cheeseboard (I am a big advocate of these) 4 cheeses were on offer, Brie, Blue, a smoky one and a cheddar. They were actually served on a board, which is a bit of a rarity these days. The homemade chutney was nice and tangy and there were a good variety of biscuits on offer.
When Antony came back I realised I was clutching a grape from the cheeseboard – I think I had been holding it for some time. My brain must have subconsciously forbidden my arm from feeding my mouth anymore food.
As we were leaving our excellent host insisted we took the cheese we had left; the service from the staff throughout the hotel was fantastic.
We not so much walked back the short distance to MB headquarters in Centenary Square but crawled. We would have taken a bus, but for the fact that Louise could not find her bus pass – this simple task was probably beyond her capabilities due to the delirium that had set in from consuming so much food!
I went to the gym that night and had boundless energy – I ran like the wind in an effort to burn of some of the 8,000 calories I had consumed. I probably failed.
Details of the Birmingham Marriott Hotel's New Year’s packages can be found here.
If you want to end the year on a high note then the Marriott’s package comes highly recommended and with the 007 theme it certainly promises to be a stylish evening. The food is excellent, so if you want your last supper of 2015 to be memorable then this is the place to be - and as it says at the end of James Bond movies ‘we will return’.
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