Carters of Moseley, 2c Wake Green Road, Moseley, Birmingham. T: 0121 449 8885
An assessment of value for money is bedevilled with caveats and restaurant dining is no exception.
One man’s nine-course menu degustation is another man’s weekly supply of KFC bargain buckets.
Would you rather have a single dish of perfectly cooked pasta with freshly shaved truffle and not eat out for a month, or use the equivalent sum of cash to buy 29 “meal deal” take-outs from Boots?
I know which way I’d rather go but it’s down to personal choice.
(Hell, I’m lying again. As you well know, I’d have the spag truffle, a couple of glasses of Barolo and go out for a jolly good lunch the next day, too. Sandwiches made by a contraceptive retailer? Who am I kidding?)
I’m not blinkered enough to think a £60 three-course a la carte is going to better than a £40 a la carte.
On a level playing field, the food on the more expensive menu should be better because the chef has got an extra £20 to play with on sourcing the best, tastiest produce. All things being equal in terms of technique, the £60 meal should trump its little sister.
But that is not the way with the hospitality sector, just as it isn’t with the selling of fast cars or designer clobber. The dinner with the price premium might conceivably be the same as the £40 offer but the £60-a-head joint might be able to get away with marking up the food, and of course drinks, merely because of its reputation – the “being seen there” factor.
The reverse is also true: the £40 could be a stinker and may not be worth a tenner. You think you are getting a deal by turning your nose up at the £60-a-head experience and heading to Forty Towers. In fact, you are being done up like a kipper.
The point I am labouring to make is that everything is relative, including judgment and appreciation. Being driven by price alone, as diners often are, can be a false economy.
Fortunately, regular readers of this column need not worry about such matters. I do the tricky bit for you and, annoyingly for lippy restaurateurs, independent research has conclusively proved I am always right.
So when I say Carters of Moseley offers, quite possibly, the best value Sunday lunch in the city then there’s a fair chance that is what you will find. I have some reservations, because it would be boring if I didn’t, but this is a hugely likeable place with a young, ambitious team.
We don’t do places like this terribly well in Birmingham – small, neighbourhood restaurants with a friendly buzz and culinary verve – so Carters gives hope for the future while working as a refreshing antidote to corporate blandness.
The restaurant is on Wake Green Road, just off Moseley’s famous ear candles, healing crystals and muesli trail. Carters has been tastefully decked out.
I’m told co-proprietor Holly Jackson has an eye for interiors and the simple, clean lines add to the relaxed ambiance without any taint of clinical coldness. Large port-hole mirrors and a glassed, open kitchen giving a feeling of space.
Holly and co-owner Brad Carter have gone for the Glynn Purnell style of table decoration – unclothed, exposed black surfaces. They’ve also gone for Purnell’s idea of using local photography for the walls. It’s far from tired. I like the snaps, but I am a sucker for linen.