Named after the year the Vegetarian Society was founded, 1847 is a little vegetarian restaurant in the beautiful Great Western Arcade in Birmingham City Centre. Having previously been a poor excuse for a Brummie veggie for not having visited yet, I was delighted to be invited down to try the food. Owner Damien Davenport is on a mission to prove that vegetarian dishes do not have to be bland or boring, and though perhaps preaching to the converted, 1847 certainly lived up to this when we visited last week.
I have to admit the interior of 1847 was not what we were expecting. Having heard all about the style of food on the menu, we were slightly surprised to walk into what felt like a little cafe (though a very nice cafe at that). Once we had adjusted to the idea of the set-up and the slightly cramped seating, we came round to the minimal, laid-back atmosphere and once it had gotten busy it became a really great place to be. The two front-of-house staff (Jade and Candice? – I hope I’ve remembered that right!) were really friendly and provided brilliant service throughout the evening; with just the right level of attentiveness, and no condescending look when I couldn’t pronounce Mille feuille (which is just too many vowels for my liking)!
Though we were looking forward to going to a restaurant where we could have anything on the menu, we did feel the choice was quite limited (4 starters, 5 mains and 4 desserts). The menus themselves took minimalist a tad too far for us too, being only paper printouts on a clipboard. For starters Jack opted for falafel, while I had the aforementioned (savoury) Mille Feuille. The falafel was lovely and soft, and my dish was a winning combination of whipped ricotta in pastry sheets on black olive tapenade. They were both just the right size for a starter too, and left us excited about what was yet to come.
For his main Jack had the veggie spin on classic fish and chips; battered haloumi on a pea emulsion served with lemon curd and chips. The pea emulsion was bursting with flavour, and the haloumi was a healthy dose of battery salty goodness, trumping fish any day! I went for the spicy potato cakes, which weren’t as filling as the haloumi, but melted gorgeously in the mouth and were enhanced by the walnut pesto. The cakes were also served with wilted spinach, which was fairly uninspiring and quite oily. This main could have been taken from really good to really bloody good with a different accompaniment.
For dessert Jack ordered the strawberries, which were served with almond cream, apricot and thyme soup and sea salt streusel. These flavours were really well balanced, and were an interesting combination without being too radical to enjoy. My dessert on the other hand, Earl Grey cake with beetroot jam, fresh raspberries and passion fruit just didn’t do it for me. The beetroot was far too overpowering, and was really the only flavour I got with every mouthful. I had really wanted to be impressed by something unusual, but I wish I’d just opted for the triple chocolate brownie!
Even if not every aspect was spot on (which it very rarely is!), 1847 was still a wonderful dining experience, and I would highly recommend it to vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Vegan options are also on offer for every course and there are both veggie or vegan tasting menus. When so many restaurants are serving up the same kinds of things, 1847 is a really refreshing alternative, and not just because of the lack of meat! The menu is creative, the presentation beautiful and the service fantastic. Thank you to everyone at 1847 for having us, we were already planning our next visit before we had left!
*We were invited to dine complimentary at 1847 for review purposes. This does not affect my honest opinion.