You have to admire the way Pasture have gone about things. Taking a prime spot on Colmore Row, they kitted it out to the highest spec possible and swung the doors open to the public. No opening party, little fan fare, no local PR’s giving out free meals. Just here we are, come eat (and pay for) our food. And it’s worked. On both the times I’ve visited the place has been heaving. Sure it helps that steak is the universal go-to of the Everyman, and that the universal go-to of the Everyman is woefully underrepresented in this city, but it confirms that diners in Birmingham are smart. Right now the two busiest restaurants are here and Cuubo, neither of which are throwing free meals about. It’s refreshing to not see them lean on the same tired resources.

Equally refreshing is the bullshit free cookery coming out of the kitchen. The most gimmicky Pasture gets is the vast ageing fridge that occupies a solid proportion of one wall. It’s a showcase for the huge cuts of cow: the tomahawks, fillet tails, and porterhouses, all ivory fat and ruby protein. I much prefer this dry ageing process to the leave-it-in-a-bag-in-it’s-own-juices wet ageing that any trip to Gaucho confirms adds little to the flavour.

We get beef croquettes that taste of Sunday roast with gouchojang aioli that adds a brightness I never knew it needed, and little fennel crackers topped with both roasted and pickled beetroot. Sure, they’re taking liberties calling it beetroot tartare, but it’s well managed and the elderberry gel an inspired top note to counteract the earthiness. There’s padron peppers with cashew yogurt and citric salt, the only time the little flourishes don’t work. Put simply, it’s overcomplicated an ingredient that needs only high heat and salt to shine.

But the crab toast. My, that crab toast. Brioche with crab dressed in mayonnaise with apple, chives, and yuzu, slowly sponging up a crab bisque given attitude with lemongrass, lime leaf, galangal, and lots of chilli. There are Michelin starred restaurants with worse dishes than this and it would be their centrepiece if it weren’t for the beef in that massive fridge. And it’s only ten-pound-bloody-fifty-pence. If they’ll allow me to eat this in the bar with a glass of wine, I’ll be here at lunch a lot.

For a steak restaurant I’ve taken a long time to get to it. There is nowhere close in quality right now in Birmingham cooking chunks of cow, not since Pulperia closed. And I’d go so far as saying it’s as good as Goodmans. They get the process of time on the high heat and time off the heat to rest. They understand that fat needs to be rendered and as such suggest that more fatty cuts should be more cooked, and they nail the cooking of the meat exactly as requested. Fillet rare, rump medium-rare. High quality meat. Dense flavour. Good times. Punchy garlic butter, slightly thin Sichuan peppercorn sauce. Excellent beef fat chips.

Using the trim from the beef they make a burger. It’s arguably the best burger in Birmingham right now. Intensely beefy with the funk of aged fat, backed-up by a bacon jam, and with the usual shit cheese and a burger sauce that leans heavily on acid, it’s a messy but rewarding eat. They serve the pickles on the side. It needs those pickles. Smuggle them inside quickly. A chicken the other side of the table is well received, particularly for the tarragon sauce.

Given they do a small selection of dessert cocktails, only one dessert is had. It’s a basque cheesecake like we want them to be here, which is a lot more set than you’ll find in the Basque Country. The smoked salt is a lovely touch, the undercooked rhubarb less so. Fear not, for my salted caramel espresso martini was glorious. The bill for four with two bottles of wine, plenty of cocktails and the above food is £281, making Pasture quite a bit cheaper than I expected it to be. They’re going to need to be full to maintain a restaurant this big and ambitious; if they maintain this standard of cooking it won’t be an issue.


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