Edgbaston, just outside Birmingham city centre, is a little haven of great restaurants and bars. A couple of weeks ago, two such restaurants got together for a one-off charity event, and myself and a couple of other local food bloggers were lucky enough to be invited along. For one day the tapas bar El Borracho de Oro hosted the Michelin star restaurant Simpsons, namely their sous chef Leo Kattou, who served guests a Greek-style six course meal, all in aid of the International Rescue Committee (which supports the huge influx of refugees arriving in Greece daily). Having already been to review El Borracho de Oro, and of course, having heard great things about Simpsons, I knew we could expect a truly fantastic experience – and I wasn’t wrong!
The atmosphere during the lunchtime session was relaxed and welcoming. There was an acoustic live band playing throughout and the service was fautless. After our complimentary fizz we ordered a jug of El Borracho’s sangria for the table, and it was the perfect summery drink to accompany our mediterranean meal. We also got chance to read a little about the charity, as well as enter the raffle. The raffle and auction had some fab prizes, including vouchers for some of Birmingham’s best restaurants.
First off we started with light finger-food, including pitta bread with taramasalata and hummus, stuffed vine leaves, halloumi and, for the meat eaters, smoked pork loin. This was a perfect way to start the meal, and we devoured it all pretty quickly, even having been brought extra pitta. Though a simple appetizer, it certainly got us looking forward to things to come.
The next course was a small starter of tomatoes with fennel, beans and ouzo. I’m not a big fan of raw tomatoes, but even I could appreciate how this stripped back dish really showed off the incredibly fresh taste of them, whilst the fennel and ouzo offered subtle supporting roles. The presentation was also a highlight, as this dish was simply a burst of summery colours on your plate.
We then moved on to the octopus, served with peppers, cracked wheat, corriander and olives. The octopus was divine, with the perfect texture and an actually rather sublte flavour that went beautifully with the other components.
For the main course meat-eaters were served klefitko, a leg of lamb served with potatoes and salad, which I am assured was heavenly. My vegetarian option replaced the lamb with a stuffed buffalo tomato. I did feel like I was missing out slightly with this course – but that is probably because I am a bad vegetarian who still looks at meat longingly – my option was still very nice, just without any wow-factor.
As a palate cleanser we were then served watermelon with feta. I’d never had, or even heard, of this combination before – but it really worked. The mix of the sweet watermelon and sour feta cheese was perfect, and something that I would now pair at home – simple yet really effective!
Dessert was deconstructed baklava, which for me was the highlight of the meal. The dish consisted of yohurt, fig, honey, pistachios, cinnamon and filo pastry, which all worked together beautifully. It certainly contained all the sticky sweetness that you look for in baklava, but the yoghurt and fresh figs added a really interesting layer. I so often find that dessert is where the side is let down, even in some great restaurants, so it made a nice change for it to stand out on this occassion.
Finally, over a chat with Leo, who was behind all this fabulous food, we were served ‘Brummie Delight’, his take on the traditional turkish delight. These sweets were a perfectly indulgent way to finish the meal, as the jelly really burst in your mouth and the white chocolate coating was gorgeous.
Overall, Simpsons Goes Greek pulled out all of the stops, and it was all the more tastier knowing it was supporting a really great cause. Clearly a lot of hard work had been put in to making the event happen, and I can only hope the team put on something similar again in the future! Thank you to Emma, Leo and the team for having us, we had an absolutely fantastic time!