Sutton Coldfield has never struck me as an area to get excited about. I know it exists, like third world poverty and Mrs Brown’s Boys, but I have little desire to seek it out and experience it for myself. On the rare occasion I do venture north of the wall it nearly always disappoints; there is good stuff happening beyond here, like the excellent The Boat in Lichfield, but Sutton feels timid in comparasion. It’s too genteel, too middle class to have anything edgy going on. It is the land of the company car and fillet steak, which seems perfectly fine for its inhabitants.
My mate Jacob gets excited about Sutton, mostly as he was born there. A car journey with Jacob around the area is a rapid verbal account of very colourful teenage years. It is great fun; kissed a girl here; ran away from the police in that place; had a scrap with a man thirty years my senior in there. I never realised Sutton could be so fun. Anyway, he’s a drinks rep now and he told me about a pub near his parents home that has had a refurbishment that looks great. So we do what thirty-somethings do and arrange to go on a double dinner date which stays civilised until we pick him and his fiancé up and see that they have a small bottle of whisky with them for the car journey.
The pub is smart; tables are spaced far enough apart for the young team to buzz around and handle every table in a warm and professional manner. It is a big menu, one that takes up both sides of an A4 sheet of paper. From the starters the lamb koftas go down well in a kind of DIY flatbread, as does a doorstop wedge of brie crumbed and then deepfried to a gooey consistency. Chicken karage is good when dunked into a katsu sauce that tastes remarkably like the curry sauce from my local chippy. The Asian inspired salad it comes with needs work; nothing tastes of anything.
Out of the four mains we have there is one dud: a dried-out chicken breast stuffed with a little chorizo, in an alleged buttermilk batter that has caught and burnt in parts. That aside, the rest is pretty good gastro-grub. Battered halloumi is precisely cooked with decent chips, mushy peas, and a very good tartare sauce, whilst a rib-eye is correctly cooked, if a little under-rested. Best is the fillet steak, with a little shallot tatin topped with cheese. Again the meat is cooked well, but it’s the accompaniment that makes it shine; adding umami and depth to the lump of cow.
Dessert is a melting chocolate bomb that is super sweet but also super good. Okay, I’ve been eating melting bombs for over a decade, but it’s great to see it somewhere more accessible than starred restaurants. And it works; the salted caramel sauce melts the chocolate and leaves a puddle of happiness around the revealed sticky toffee pudding.
We drink two bottles of decent Rioja and leave replete for the journey back to southern Brum. Is The Greenhouse good enough for me to make a frequent trek back to Sutton? Probably not. Though I do have a sister who lives nearby and I could certainly see myself having a bite to eat with her here. There is a lot to like about The Greenhouse, which delivers good quality food at a fair price.
Transport provided by A2B Radio Cars