Amantia is a brand new restaurant located on Bennett’s Hill in the centre of Birmingham, and we accepted an invitation to attend an opening event on Sunday 22nd March, which had been organised to provide a taste of the restaurant’s offering. Click here to visit the Restaurant's Web Site
The restaurant describes itself as Spanish and Mediterranean. A few pasta and crepe dishes are included on the menu but the focus is very much on Spanish cuisine, with a good selection of starters and tapas. As with the food, the wines are drawn mostly from Spain, and there are also five sherries, three brandies, three beers and one cider on offer, again all Spanish.
We had been invited to the event as part of a group of Birmingham based food bloggers by Alvaro, host of the British Local Food blog (Click here to visit the blog) who had been working with the restaurant to help promote it and raise its profile with local diners. In exchange, the food and drinks at the event were being provided free of charge. We were seated at a bloggers’ table, where greetings and introductions were made. Fellow food bloggers in attendance were Laura (Full to the Brum) and Taylah (Birmingham Student Foodie), who we had met at the recent No Ping No Bling Thai Street Food Lunch, and we were also pleased to meet Helen (Positive Fridays), Roz (The Foodie Couple Blog), Andy (Veggie Foodie) and Andy's wife Ruth for the first time.
The food that we were presented with was drawn mainly from the starter/tapas section of the menu but with a couple of ‘off-menu’ additions.
The appetisers consisted of small plates of Spanish Almonds dressed in olive oil and crunchy, salty and filling habas fritas. Ideal for snacking on as we waited for the drinks to arrive.
We were offered a choice of red wine, a light and refreshing Spanish Alhambra lager and a rather rich and fruity sangria. There were of course non-alcoholic alternatives available for the drivers.
Two versions of Gazpacho were served; one in a shot glass and one on a tasting spoon garnished with a sliver of pimento and finely grated cheese. My preference was for the version in the glass which had a more familiar taste with the vinegar far more in evidence.
Next was a selection of cold tapas including manchego cheese, three different cured meats, green olives and Tortilla de Patata. All familiar favourites.
These Delicias de Morcilla were one of my favourite dishes of the evening. Red onion and goats cheese were added to the morcilla, with the whole mixture then being cooked in thin pastry. They were presented with a dipping sauce made from apples, but I found them to be flavoursome enough on their own.
This plate of mussels sauced and breaded was another ‘off-menu’ dish.
Two different flavoured plates of Croquetas were presented; the first being made from tuna and béchamel sauce, and the second a vegetarian version with blue cheese and truffle. It was the blue cheese ones that were far and away the best, and I would go so far as to say that they were my favourite dish of the evening.
Another popular dish, I think a favourite among several in our group, was this plate of almond-stuffed dates, wrapped in thinly sliced jamon. These don’t appear on the menu, which I think is a shame as I’m sure that they would be popular. They offered a very pleasing mix of soft and crunchy textures and sweet and salty flavours.
These were only small samples of a few of the dishes on offer, so I think in order to provide a full review of the restaurant we will need to return as paying customers, and based on this selection of tasters we will be happy do that.
Reviewed by Dee 24th March 2015