I am visiting the UK from Massachusetts and have enjoyed some good, English food in a whole range of places, but today's lunch at Carter's in Moseley took it to another level.
The cured salmon starter with crab mayonnaise and pickled cucumber was an almost perfect combination of tastes and textures, the salmon underdone and delicious and the crab mayo nicely spikey. My companion had the mackerel which was also good, but with frozen horseradish and avocado, I thought there was too much going on. I notice that on older menus they have mackerel and rhubarb, which would have done it for me.
My main was a mixture of rack of lamb and lamb belly. Both were superb, but for me the belly took the biscuit. I've never eaten lamb belly in a restaurant before. Indeed, I don't think I have had it since I was a kid. It managed to be crisp, soft, meaty and unctuos all at the same time. Delicious with that taste of lamb that I think you only get in the UK/Ireland. We had a side of Jersey Royal potatoes and they were authentic, nothing like the pale imitations I have bought from supermarkets in the past few years.
We had no time for desert, but I must mention the amuse bouche. Cold almond soup was really interesting, the chocolates offered in lieu of desert were great, but just before my starter I was given a small scotch egg the like of which I have never eaten before. A soft-boiled quail's egg, wrapped in good pork sausage, and then deep fried until crispy. The combination of taste and texture was deliigntul. Only two bites, but I would travel a long way to repeat the experience.
Service was fine, knowledgeable and unobtrusive. Wines by the glass well-priced and a particularly well-chosen rioja.
Looking back over this it reads as though I have shares in the place, but not so. It would be well worth getting a cab out of the centre of Birmingham to eat here. Last time I had food this good was at TW Foods in Cambridge, Ma. And that is praise indeed.
And if you are a tourist, down the road and round the corner is a pub called the Fighting Cocks. Very traditional and currently very well run.