When your boss says he’s taking you all out for lunch, you’d probably be happy with a pie and a pint. But when he takes you into a swanky restaurant, you start to become convinced that you’re having a rather nice dream. And the Wine House in Lichfield certainly doesn’t let down the dreamy part of the experience, well not for this food lover anyway.
The Wine House’s listed building exterior tempts you inside, where you find a sophisticated restaurant, with an open fire and exposed beam adding just the right level of cosiness combined with contemporary decor that makes you feel you’re somewhere slightly special. The glass-walled wine room is impressive in its own right, and adds more to that special occasion feeling. Overall, it’s intimate and friendly, combined with just the right amount of formality. And exactly the same balance has been achieved with the staff, who are never too familiar, but not stuffy either.
With around 20 of us eating, we were treated to the “grazing menu”. Just my kind of food, mainly because I suffer from such severe food envy that it’s a great way of trying everything without feeling like you’re missing out. Plate after plate of food seemed to arrive, pleasing to the eye and going on to tantalise everyone’s taste buds with a selection of flavours. From first sight or the title on the menu, some might have appeared a bit simple, but there was definitely nothing ordinary about their execution, each exuding that “special” feeling.
Where to start with the food. There was Cheeky Fish and Chips – tempura battered cod cheeks, with chips cooked in beef dripping. No ordinary fish and chips, as you can imagine. Pork Pops – neat circles of slow cooked pork shoulder, speared with a crunchy stick of crackling. There were salt and pepper chicken wings, and yummy yummy sous vide sliders – mini burgers made of pork from nearby Packington farm, as well as Hereford beef. I particularly enjoyed the Blue Cheese Arancini, risotto balls made with Alex James blue cheese. They were creamy and cheesy inside, deep fried to produce a crispy outer shell. And let’s not forget the Beef Fillet Carpaccio with parmesan and rocket, or the Wild Turkey Ribs – pork ribs with wild turkey glaze, as well as curry-spiced tempura vegetable pakoras served with dhal cream.
After such an array of tastes, and perfect presentation, it seemed rude to avoid dessert. From hazelnut cake to creme brûlée, all were tempting. I opted for affogato, ice cream doused in a shot of espresso coffee. The ice cream was due to be salted caramel, which I struggled to pick up, but overall the contrast of the creamy ice-cream and bitter coffee shot was a nice ending to the meal. Other colleagues enjoy a very nice looking cheeseboard which seemed to trump the other desserts on the table – yes that’s my food envy kicking in again!
Overall, lunch at The Wine House is a definite treat. Lovely surroundings, great food, imaginative menus, top-notch staff, and a good quality dining experience. I know I’ll be going back soon to try their other menus.
And yes, way better than a pie and a pint!