If you’ve ever had the pleasure/misfortune* (*delete as you see fit) of working away from home for a large event such as a Conference, you’ll probably understand my next point a little too well. Essentially you see the inside of the conference venue and your hotel room before you peel yourself out of your shoes and into bed, and that’s pretty much it. I’ve spent many a long day running between the ICC and the Hyatt Regency in Birmingham for this very reason, but have never been able to really enjoy the hotel. So when I was invited for lunch to try out the new menu in the Aria restaurant, I jumped at the chance. I love the lobby and atrium area of the hotel where Aria is situated, and couldn’t believe my luck that I would be one of the first to sample the new delights from their kitchen team.
We visited on a rather drizzly day, but once we walked into the bright and airy hotel lobby, our spirits lifted as it is such as lovely space. The new décor is warm and inviting, based on a Secret Garden theme, so think greenery, greenery and more greenery. We were treated to a glass of fizz from their new (very chic) island bar, which was a glass of sparkling English wine from producer Hattingley Valley in Hampshire. I opted for the Rosé, and I was pleasantly surprised. I am normally a bit sniffy about English wine, but this was fresh and delicate, without the bitterness which I tend to associate English wine with.
We settled into our seats in the restaurant amongst the foliage, and spent some time looking through the menu. It was a really hard choice as I would have tried everything if I could, it all sounded delicious and right up my street; creative with attention to detail, but not overly fussy or pretentious (I’m sure I sound rather hard to please with this statement!). The revamped menu has used influences from the book, The Secret Garden (which as I mentioned earlier is reflected in the décor) so relies on fresh and seasonal ingredients, and offers interesting and appealing flavour combinations.
I finally decided on scallops for starter and duck for main course, which are two of my absolute favourites. The scallops arrived beautifully presented on a bed of cauliflower puree, and sprinkled with chorizo crumb. I rapidly took a photo so I could get stuck in! They were succulent and meaty, and the robust flavours of cauliflower and chorizo really complemented the delicate taste of the scallops. It was also served with crispy greens which were delicious – overall it was an amazing starter and left me very excited about my main course.
The duck was served with kumquats and cherries, which were plump and gently cooked, so they still had a nice bit of bite. They worked amazingly well with the richness of the duck. I was also super impressed by the amount of duck that was served; three thick and hearty slices, which were cooked slightly pink, so very tender and juicy. Served with celeriac puree, it truly was a delight.
It would have been rude not to have a dessert, even though I was fit to bursting (this is a good sign for me – sometimes I feel upscale food can actually be a bit stingy with the portions. I know this is the way it can be intended, but if I’m paying for a meal, I expect to at least go home feeling full and not having to scour the fridge for something to fill the noticeable hole in my tum. Anyway, I digress…). I plumped for the blueberry cheesecake which was not only a bit of beauty on a plate, but tasted damn fine too. It was light and creamy, and the blueberry flavour had just the right balance to not be too overpowering or sickly.
I’m sure from this review readers will be able to tell that I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at the Aria restaurant at the Hyatt Regency, and was very impressed by the quality of the ingredients, as well as the interesting and unique flavours in each dish. I particularly loved the duck as the kumquats and cherries tasted absolutely divine with the meat and I would have that dish again and again on future visits. My husband and I are already planning when we can go for a meal there as I talked so much about the food he wants in on the action!
I would suggest budgeting around £80-£100 for two people, for three courses each and drinks. I think this is comparable and perhaps lower than many of the fine dining experiences in Birmingham, and I can attest to the quality and deliciousness of the food, and say that without a doubt a visit to Aria is worth the money. When you’re next heading into Birmingham for a meal and want something that little bit special, I would highly recommend trying Aria as I’m confident it will delight.
I was invited to the Aria restaurant by the marketing team at the Hyatt Regency where food and drink were provided free of charge for the purposes of this review. As always my reviews are honest and are not influenced by the provision of free products. I absolutely loved the food and cannot wait to go back.