I was once trolled online by a chef for joking that I could be a Michelin inspector. He said things like “Next Michelin inspector hahaha my arse” and “#keepdreaming LOL”. He trolled me for daring to suggest that there are two, maybe three restaurants in Brum that are cooking at one star level which haven’t received the accolade from Michelin yet, and that maybe, just maybe, that it could be them that year. And I stand by it. Michelin is notoriously slow at both promoting and demoting, meaning that there is one or two probably not quite at the level they should be and two or three ready to take their spot. For clarification I am still not a Michelin inspector and he is no longer employed. Swings and roundabouts and all that. LOL.

As a result, I’m staying clear of the controversial topic of who might win a star. What idiot would want the backlash from that conversation? Not me. Instead, I now talk about who is going to be Birmingham’s first two-star restaurant, because there is nothing that Michelin starred chefs enjoy more than some bloke with no training saying that another restaurant is better than theirs. The answer to that question is a two-sided coin; one side is Opheem, the other is Carters. Like it or lump it, both are in and around the two-star level. They are the ones that Michelin will be looking at intensely over the next couple of years. I think. As we have already established, I don’t work for them.

The more I think about the meal at Carters the more I’m convinced it is the best meal I have ever eaten in this city. One that started with bumps of caviar off my fist and shots of caviar vodka down my throat, before moving onto goose ham tartlets with truffle that tasted like the poshest smoky bacon crisps in history. One that saw a refined take on the colonel’s secret recipe chicken (that’s KFC, you fuckwits), dusted in vinegar powder and served with a pot of chicken jelly in aged soy sauce. That chicken, oh Lordy that chicken. I don’t even care that I got the soy all down my top, it’s worth it. Stop the meal there and you’d go home happy – really fucking happy – if perhaps a little hungry. I had another eight courses and left stuffed with some duck in a bag. I know because I’ve just counted the pictures on my phone like the good little worker I am.

A hollowed out green tomato is filled with white crab meat and a cucumber ‘caviar’ which is nothing like the one I was just licking off my hand, but happens to be a great way of showcasing the sweet crab meat whilst still letting the tomato shine most. I think there is a trace of vinegar somewhere in there, but possibly it is the tomato that is sweet and acidic. Either way, it is a great dish. A really great dish. It is followed by a procession of dishes I know; Brads take on cacio e pepe first, with razor clams for pasta, a sauce of Old Winchester and seasoned with pepper dulse. I’ve said it before, it is a future classic, one of the most interesting dishes in the UK right now. Then bread, better than it ever has been, before the Birmingham soup, clad in the ornate tuille of the library. The soup, loosely based on a 17thcentury recipe for the poor, is a beef and vegetable broth seasoned with charcoal oil, poured onto a tartare of dairy cow heart and turnips. The broth is smokier than I recall it being before, and that works well at making the tartare taste like it has had heat applied.

I’ve had halibut here before, though this is my favourite version yet. The fish as accurately cooked as ever to a lustrous sheen, under a rummage of cabbage, roe, and Shisito peppers, lightly dressed in some funky emulsion. Almost rustic but with a lovely clean heat, it is mega, though maybe not as mega as the duck. I don’t know many processes are involved to get the duck like this, but they are worth it. Slender strips of baby pink meat, skin rendered to a glass-like crisp. A carcass that I take home and turn into fried rice lunch the following day. On the plate is a binge of sweetcorn; puree, kernels dusted in truffle, some of the husk. What threatens on paper to be too sweet a combination is just beautiful; in particular the husk has a lovely bitter quality. I love duck at the best of times, but this is something else. Two stars all day long.

The important thing to know about dessert is that there are two of them and I have four dessert wines. It’s that kind of night. First is a woodruff ice cream whippy, nice enough and as much as I’d love to give you the detail on it, I’m pretty hammered by now. Last course is new on that day. It is a tribute the red bricks of the Q Club, which if you are not familiar with rave culture, was Brums Hacienda. There is chocolate and chicory root and other stuff. I loudly proclaim it to taste like chocolate Wheetos, but it is so much better than that. Like everything else on the menu it is has impeccable balance.

Barney had launched that day and I’d turned forty a few days prior so you could say I was celebrating a bit. In there I wrote “Brad Carter is the unofficial spokesman of Birmingham and Carters is his love letter to the city”. It’s that for sure, with the nods to the library, nightclubs past, and the coloured tiles of an underpass, as demonstrated on the chocolates that come as petit fours. But it’s also so much more than that, and it feels like Carters is only starting to realise it’s full potential as Brad’s cooking becomes increasingly individual. The tasting menu is £125 per head which feels absolutely fair given to quality of cookery. It is an outstanding restaurant.