Skip to content


by Ross Bruniges on August 28th, 2011

At a glance


Chef: Glyn Purnell

Reservations: 0121 212 9799

Rating: 9 out of 10

Cost : £75-£100


55 Cornwall Street


B3 2DH


Location map

Don't just take my word for it

Purnell's on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

In photos

Purnell's Restaurant

Burnt custard egg surprise

More pictures

I’ve been making slow progress on my list of restaurants I would like to eat at, largely because a number of them are outside of London and being a non-driver I’m not the most nationally mobile. For my 30th birthday I managed to not just scratch one off the list but two as my amazing girlfriend took me ‘up north’ to Birmingham and Nottingham. Staring off we had a table at Purnell’s Restaurant, home of a potential horror pineapple dish but also what I felt looked like a bunch of creative dishes mixing great cooking with local influence (being lots of curry spice).

On arrival I was greeted by a warm welcome from Glyn and to be honest taken a bit a-back; so much so the trusty camera didn’t come out to take a picture of us both. It was good to know that he was in attendance with too many chef named restaurants in London being without the name who people come to see/eat the food of. It’s in a fairly large space and split about 30/70 bar/restaurant, the bar is well stocked but felt a little bit sparse compared to the full restaurant (fully booked on a Tuesday) and the music being played in it carried over a little to the dining room which I did find a little bit weird with it being slightly techno and not as peaceful/relaxing as I would normally expect.

Food wise the only choice for me was the 8 course Purnell’s Tour with matched wines – a menu containing a number of classic dishes from past Great British Menu (GBM) campaigns – including his representation of cheese and pineapple on sticks. Thankfully I didn’t get to endure this first as first up we had what tasted like a modern twist on kedgeree; a rich poached egg yolk surrounded by a smoked haddock milk foam, topped with cornflakes, curry oil with a little fried haddock fishcake on the side.

Poached egg yoke

I loved the combination of the rich egg, strongly favoured fishy foam and spiced oil and the cornflakes while not adding much in terms of taste provided a delightful little crunch of texture. Next up we had the pineapple. And it was actually pretty good with the pineapple tasting more like an old school tropical sweet than the sickly, sticky mush I have ‘foodmares’ over. Saying that I don’t think the dish as a whole was one of the better courses but the fact that I found it at least palatable was to Glyn’s credit. Thankfully the next 4 where big winners.

Not normally a huge fan of crab but the ‘crab salad’ up next was meaty enough to win me over – generous amounts of white and brown meat were garnished with cucumber and coriander and served alongside a couple of foams (one apple, one celeriac) that brought out even more of the meats fresh flavour. Carpaccio of beef served with octopus, corned beef, salt beef onions and sour cream was seared perfectly so the accompanying knife was barley required other than to pile up a stack of ingredients into each meaty mouthful – I would have liked to have had a bit more of the homemade corned beef as that which I did have was delicious and I do like a good bit of corned beef.

Monkfish masala

Next was yet another GBM classic of Monkfish masala, red lentils, pickled carrots, coconut and coriander. While only a small chunk of fish was provided it packed a nice spiced punch and was cooked to perfection. The lentils were rich and offset with a little raita which itself was offset with fresh coconut. All combined into one this tasted of the finest fish curry I’ve had – could have done with a bigger portion of this (but I am greedy).

Duck rolled in liquorice charcoal

I thought the main course might have been a bit of a stinker as I couldn’t think how duck would combine with liquorice, indeed previous savoury liquorice dishes I’ve had generally haven’t worked too well. This time around though we we had a classic – the charcolled liquorice provided a sweet and deeply smokey crust to the nice chunk of duck, smooth gravy and a number of pea based sides – my favourite being some minted mushy peas.

Having had the main we moved onto the puddings and before we got to the final GBM classic of burnt egg custard and fruit compote (something I had long been looking forward to) we had a chocolate and mango dish; a very triumphant combination. A dark chocolate mouse covered in delicate chocolate crumble was accented with a deep orange mango sorbet. Looked great and tasted great.

Burnt English custard egg surprise

So good that it made me forget that I had the burnt egg custard up next; and it was a nice surprise when it was brought out. I loved the look of the dish and I can’t imagine the effort needed to cut open and hollow out an egg let along cook a beautiful egg custard, put it back into the shell and then top it off with a crackable layer of caramel. I’m happy they did it though and when eaten on the same spoon with the chilled fruit compote is was a great finish to a great meal.

I loved the menu at Purnell’s. It was a unique experience and certainly worth the short drive up M40 to taste. The staff are all pretty young but definitely talented and knowledgeable and ran the room excellently. Well done Glyn, you’re doing your name proud.

From → Reviews