Tarragon Bistro (Mediterranean) – Hall Green, Birmingham
Try thinking of a Halal Mediterranean restaurant in Birmingham. Struggling? How about one that also serves Halal 9+ Australian Wagyu. Have we got your attention?
Tarragon Bistro is quite unlike any eatery you’ll typically find in areas such as Sparkbrook and Balsall Heath, or Small Heath.
This 60-cover venue on the long stretch of Stratford Road isn’t just one that opened only last year in June, but also one that’s evidently had plenty of thought put into it.
Its owner and chef, Sadek Ahmed, has created quite the environment to compliment his “new style of Halal gastronomy”, with a colour scheme of pastal shades revolving around a smart, modern setting.
As a “Halal Mediterranean and Steakhouse”, Tarragon Bistro doesn’t just offer a “contemporary” menu that’s “fresh, vibrant and seasonal”, but Sadek has also established a dry bar (although a BYOB policy is permitted).
Kudos to a business which, despite situated in a predominantly non-Muslim locale, is attempting to provide a non-alcoholic drinks menu.
In this case, the best of the trio of mocktails we tried was the mature passion fruit, whose layering of flavours oscillated between the tangy sweetness of the passion fruit and the zesty sourness of the lime.
As for the other two, then while the Blueberry had a zinginess to it, albeit subtle, it lacked the aroma, with the sugar rim not bringing much other than the obvious. The Classic Mojito was wholly a lemonade affair, with the much-needed freshness of the mint being absent.
You won’t be served scallops better executed than these dreamily tender beauties.
Pan seared in a buttery residue, this attractive duo was served in a seashell and paired with a lightly spiced purée of butternut squash, whose heat was satisfyingly countered by the sweet sourness of the raspberry salsa (complete with the seeds too). A perfect way to prime the taste buds.
Nevertheless, these french-trimmed chops, marinated as they were in a light spice rub, were relatively tender and juicy, with the charring offering a mellow smoky edge.
The bed of hummus on which these were presented, however, didn’t quite provide that additional flavour profile to help offset the heat of the harissa spice.
As difficult as it is to find a Halal Mediterranean restaurant in Birmingham, try finding one in the UK that serves a Halal version of a beef bourguignon.
As such, a dish as rich and as decadent as this slow cooked Beef Bourguignon is a rare treat indeed. At the centre of it all was a pulled beef that was deeply infused with a sauce that thoroughly enveloped chunky bits of meat surrounded by chewy segments of subtly smoky rashers (probably turkey), sauteed shallots, a variety of baby carrots, and mushrooms.
As for the mound of dauphinoise potato, then this was perfectly executed, with a grilled cheesy top, which brought everything together into a coherent whole.
Another beautifully conceived plate of food was this Braised Spanish Octopus, with simple ingredients allowed to speak for themselves, but made to sing in unison thanks to an aromatic tomato-based sauce, with a touch of heat to it.
But what ultimately drove this, were those divine segments of tentacles which, while being utterly tender, had that soft chewiness of expertly adjudged baby octopus. Add to that the various colourful condiments of vegetables, and this was a good, all-round experience.
Do we even need to express how collectively excited we got when served this glisteningly mouthwatering 9oz piece of Wagyu (9+ grade) sourced from Australia?
After liberally smearing the top of this pan fried steak with the accompanying knob of herbaceous garlic and tarragon butter, our knife didn’t so much cut as glide through.
Being “aged for 28 days”, this was an addictively satisfying eat, with the meat retaining just enough firmness to enjoy its juicy goodness.
All of Tarragon Bistro’s steaks are accompanied with grilled tomato, Portobello mushroom, roasted shallots and said butter. If there was a minor quibble, then it was the wetness left on the plate from, we suspect, the mushroom and the tomatoes, which we found distracting. Otherwise, another very pleasurable experience.
When Tarragon Bistro says ‘Special’, they certainly mean it, because this Sunday Roast was exactly that.
While noting that the above image comprises two servings, the cooking of what was undoubtedly a quality piece of poultry was precision personified, with a ridicuously moist interior, and a skin that was superbly crisped to a tee.
Add to that the roast potatoes, carrots, cabbage, as well as a pair of light and airy Yorkshire puddings – all exquisitely executed – and we just couldn’t get enough. Nevertheless, while plenty of gravy was provided, perhaps a strong chicken-based one would have helped take this to unchartered territories. Having said that though, this was one of the best we’ve had in a while.
Humongous specimens, with an incredibly delicate and perfectly seasoned exterior, which gave way to a soft almost whispy textured potato interior. Easily the best and most satisfying triple-cooked chips we’ve ever had!
Well, there’s bread and butter puddings, and then there’s Tarragon Bistro’s popular Bread & Butter Pudding.
Even before the tasting, it was obvious from simply slicing through this thing of beauty that we were in for a treat.
Just the balance of sweetness was so well judged that we could have easily had two portions of this best seller.
Light and caramelised bread which was decadently saturated in a rich buttery infusion, with the Chantilly cream, custard and raspberries playing their part in elevating this to unknown heights.
Be sure to enjoy this with Tarragon’s assortment of freshly made coffees.
This homemade Passion Fruit Cheesecake was, again, an example of the work ethic invested by the dedicated lot behind this restaurant.
The tartness of the fruit was skilfully tempered to deliver a cheese bottom that was velvety smooth, before being topped with a thin layer of jelly that readily melted on the palate.
- YES/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
- FEED ME ONLINE
We haven't encountered many Muslim chefs who have plied their trade to reach the level he has, and fewer still who have opened their own restaurant. He may not be a household name, but by golly can he cook!
Despite setting up shop in a mainly non-Muslim part of Birmingham, he's committed himself to serving non-alcoholic beverages (though financial circumstances have conspired to force him to operate a BYOB policy). It is hardworking and ambitious chefs like these that deserve our support.
The place itself is unique in Birmingham as a restaurant that offers a fully Halal food and drinks menu where the former is of a casual fine dining standard. If you're in the area, heck if you're in the city, this is the first and last place to visit, period!
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