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“Don’t waste your money on the paired drinks!”
Review of The Wilderness

The Wilderness
Ranked #24 of 2,438 Restaurants in Birmingham
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: US$66 - US$132
Description: Currently closed for refurbishment to a new site to re-open April. Multi-course menus of whatever is available to us from the British Isles. Modern British dining driven by nature, memory & place.
Restaurant details
Description: Currently closed for refurbishment to a new site to re-open April. Multi-course menus of whatever is available to us from the British Isles. Modern British dining driven by nature, memory & place.
Reviewed 15 January 2018

This was the first time we had been to this restaurant and booked on the basis of one of their chefs getting to the Masterchef finals. There is nothing available saying she is no longer working for them, but it didn’t appear she was working on Saturday.
My partner wanted to take me for a special meal so I was not prepared to moan in front of him but we were both disappointed. The original Wilderness restaurant has closed temporarily as they are moving to new premises but they are operating for the next couple of weeks from a disused restaurant.
The first thing was that the restaurant was far too cold. A woman opposite me put her coat back on to eat and I saw 2 people cupping their hands over candles to get warm!! Hardly what you expect at the prices that were being charged! The restaurant hopes to charge £80 with paired drinks but you can opt out and just have food for £50. We went for what they bill as ‘The Whole Story’, which included drinks, but obviously this was at a cost of £60 additional pounds for the 2 of us. Now I don’t know about you after I have explained, but we certainly felt this was a huge rip off. There were 5 drinks each included. 3 were served in liqueur glasses, one was a small glass of wine (Sangiovese) and the remaining one part of a can of beer! The restaurant is trying to be different which we would applaud but the sour gooseberry beer wasn’t nice, nor the strange cloudy granola concoction served with dessert. Seriously - £30 per person for these! In most restaurants we could have had a decent bottle of wine for just 1/2 of this total cost. I don’t know whether the restaurant normally operates like this, with no food choices, or whether their circumstances have restricted them, but I think it’s unlikely we’ll try them again. By the time we’d paid our transport the evening cost £200 and it certainly didn’t warrant this. (With the amount we had to drink we’d have been fit to drive anyway!) Being freezing cold is a big turn off to start with. They knew they had problems with heating so why not get some portable heaters in? When ice for drinks was required a door going outside was opened and an icy blast made things even worse!
To the food, this was much better, but again, some stingy portioning! We’ve eaten in most of the regions Michelin/fine dining restaurants but this is the only one where there were no pre starters or pre desserts, although I am not sure whether 2 of the items on the menu were these? We thought we had been brought one to start with but it appeared as a listed course when the menu arrived. Perhaps it was? This and the 1inch square cheese ‘sandwich’ before dessert were just one bite. There were 3 other good dishes though - pig’s cheek, turbot and lamb before this cheese (which was served with pear - or so the menu said, I didn’t taste it - and fig chutney. Something tasted very soapy to me, not sure if it was the latter?) This was followed by a disappointing dessert. Rhubarb (nice) with Tonka bean and a very dense and fairly tasteless ginger cake topped by a yoghurt foam. We ordered additional coffee but, again, in this type of restaurant, it is the only time we have not been offered any petit fours type accompaniment.
We were also served bread to start with, but a rustic slice we were told was home made. I’m sure it was but it was also quite dense and flavourless and I have to say I’ve made better myself. As I stated earlier I didn’t want to make a fuss when I wasn’t paying so I didn’t complain to the restaurant staff but there was another issue for me. The turbot had 2 fried clams on top but one of mine had either grit or shell in it as I crunched it! I had wondered whether it was a filling of mine to start with, but no! Surely these should have been cleaned better?
So... I hope the new incarnation of Wilderness can aspire to what the management would like it to be but the restaurant certainly was not value for money on our visit. Taking away the drinks element and being in a warmer venue we would probably have been much happier though.
I do wish establishments would realise that being greedy is not the way to endear themselves to customers. Proper sized glasses, or even liqueur glasses filled to the top (!) would not make people leave feeling they’d been ripped off and, really, how much more would it actually cost them?!

6  Thank WendyA7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
wildernessb5, Owner at The Wilderness, responded to this reviewResponded 16 January 2018

Hi Wendy,

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and feedback. I've dropped you an email and would welcome the chance to chat directly and arrange for you to come see us at our actual restaurant. I really wish you had mentioned on the night your reservations, when it would have been far easier to discuss openly and see what we could do. Shy babies get no sweets!

With the greatest respect, whether Louisa is or isn't working, should not be a factor in a visit to my restaurant and I would actively discourage anyone who is just looking to meet her from booking a table. I can arrange for guests to meet her for a very reasonable £500 per autograph. Our food and standards will be the same irrespective of which staff I have working.

I agreed to use this venue for a pop-up for two weeks and I'll be honest it's being a bit of a challenge. It can be a little chilly it turns out - the day of your visit we had engineers out who believed they had fixed the heating. I can't bring any temporary heaters in as, unfortunately, there are no power points in the main dining room and - as it is a temporary venue - I am not able to redo the electrics.

Similarly, the lack of additional snacks and petit fours is entirely dictated by this venue, which has a very basic and small kitchen from approximately the year 1842. 4 courses plus a cheese, a snack and bread for £50 is not greedy in my eyes - and again, given the use of turbot and truffle through the menu, represents a very low margin for me. Our normal restaurant would be a longer menu, and start at £75 per head upwards. I will discuss with the kitchen the feedback raised - in particular with regards to the clams - but I know on any menu not everything will be to all tastes. I am a massive fan of the bread that was served for example!

Our drinks flight costs what the drinks themselves cost so the mark-up is not coming from some uber-capitalist agenda on my behalf. Unfortunately, drink costs are rocketing in respect to Brexit worries and I do not think £6 per drink extortionate given the flight showcases our most unusual and costly products. I am sorry that some of the drinks were not to your tastes but this is, of course, subjective. In serving more unusual drinks - including the generally very popular gooseberry sour - I understand this won't meet all tastes. We offer a more accessible a la carte choice including bottles of wine at just the price point you mentioned.

I am sorry that you left with such an inaccurate impression of both how I run my business and, I think, of what we do. I hope my response provides a little more context and, as I said, I do hope we get the chance to welcome you to our actual restaurant in coming months.

Warm wishes
Alex





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113 - 117 of 688 reviews

Reviewed 12 January 2018

Temporary venue in Jewellery Quarter. Nice venue but cold, staff very attentive and add to the atmosphere. Tasting menu with or without complimenting alcohol. Chose without.
Beer served way to cold, spoiling taste. Great food need a little more work to improve the tempura batter and taco probably slightly too thick.Rhubarb served tart just the way I like it, very unusual to find it served this way. Otherwise excellent food, will definitely visit their new permanent venue.

    • Value
    • Service
    • Food
2  Thank mitac71jgr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 January 2018 via mobile

The food is highly rated but why o why can’t they give their customers a hint as to where they are!

This affectation is pointless and amateurish.
The environment of this restaurant does nothing to promote their otherwise excellent culinary skills
It’s at best cheap, the lighting is poor and mars the experience

3  Thank geoffchord
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
wildernessb5, Owner at The Wilderness, responded to this reviewResponded 5 January 2018

Hello Geoff

Thanks for your feedback. Our address was 1 Dudley Street B5 4EG - listed on our Facebook, website, confirmation and booking emails and freely given by our staff. I am so sorry if there was any confusion here, but I've never been coquettish as to where we are. As you say, that would be pointless as a business.

Our interior has always had a mixed reception, but I am very glad you enjoyed my food. As you may or may not be aware we are moving; I look forward to welcoming you to new flagship opening in April.

Warm wishes
Alex

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Reviewed 3 January 2018 via mobile

Came here to celebrate a 40th, we booked a long while ahead and really looked forwards to a great experience. Staff were friendly but the Resturant lacked some real tlc (staff informed they were due to move to new premises but this should not have stopped them maintaining the current place to ensure a great customer experience). Had taster menu and drinks flight, for the price of the drinks we felt compared to other comparative places the measures were very small and over 1/2 did not match the courses. The food was nice however my duck had tendon through it and my beef was very chewy which you wouldn’t expect for the price or the place, one of the deserts we didn’t enjoy at all. At end the of the meal the card machine stopped working so we were asked to be escorted to walk and get cash which when your paying £300 is not acceptable so we refused and they agreed to call and take payment over the phone a few days later which they did however this final issue added to the whole thing not living up to expectations for food, drinks or service, unfortunately I couldn’t recommend and wouldn’t return, shame.

1  Thank Rubyroored
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
wildernessb5, Owner at The Wilderness, responded to this reviewResponded 5 January 2018

Hi Ruby

Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback. I am sorry we didn't meet your expectations. I briefly wanted to respond to a few points raised - hopefully for both your interest and that of other guests.

As you note, we have now closed at this site and are moving to a new much larger and improved premises on Bennett's Hill. We didn't neglect our old venue mind, and I spent significant sums on maintenance right up to the end - I'm afraid what you note are just the limits of this original venue. I did it myself on a limited budget when we first started and I am very proud of all we achieved there but I can recognise it's limits.

We are very lucky to receive overwhelmingly positive reception to our food - but I understand that certain elements of the meal weren't to your taste. On your visit, we offered a round of drinks on me which, I hope, helped show my concern for your enjoyment. I am grateful now and always for any feedback that helps us continue to improve our cuisine.

It's so unfortunate that we lost the internet connectivity and I completely understand the inconvenience it caused - whilst outside our control I am sorry again. At our new venue we have learnt the lesson and have back-up technology and internet connectivity so this shall not be repeated. Thank you for your help and co-operation on the night and afterwards.

Regards
Alex

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Reviewed 3 January 2018

We had the taster menu for my mum's 60th birthday meal and although this was £60 per head, it was worth every penny. The menu changes depending on what's in season as ingredients are foraged and they try to source British ingredients where possible. Each dish was made up of a wonderful combination of unique and high quality ingredients, packed full of flavours. The staff were wonderful and full of knowledge, showing passion for the food. I highly recommend this restaurant if you're looking to treat yourself, the food is phenomenal.

    • Value
    • Service
    • Food
Thank MushroomBoom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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