Relaxed and intimate Italian cuisine, without the fuss. We visited Cielo in Brindleyplace
Set in the prestigious Oozells square in Brindleyplace, Cielo has for many years been the go-to Italian restaurant for a discerning clientele in search of simple, delicious food with superb service. I went along on a cold winter’s night to see if that’s still Cielo’s promise.
Arriving at Cielo is much like entering a boutique hotel. Stone tiles cover the floor of the intimate dining space created by brothers Chris and Cos Papachristoforou, with suede walls and a carved ceiling. The airy, open-plan space is lit in deep amber making it easy to forget you’re in the middle of the bustling business district of Birmingham.
Busy at primetime Saturday evening you might expect there to be just a hint of disorder but the restaurant ran smoothly. Welcomed as if we are family by the head waiter, we were swiftly shown to our window seats near the interior waterfall that spans the back of the room. Our host for the evening attentively served us some freshly-baked salted bread rolls and marinated olives. The menu isn’t large, but precise. A set menu is available before 7pm at a very reasonable £18.95 for three courses but my dining partner and I opted for more variety choosing from the a la carte menu.
To start, alongside a well-balanced espresso martini and caipirinha cocktail, we decide on the capesante al limone: four seared black pearl scallops topped with a delicate Avruga caviar on a bed of creamy celeriac and carrot purée garnished with a hint of lemon and finished with a white wine jus. I am assured the caviar is an ideal accompaniment to the scallops’ gentle flavour. My generous serving of the calamari fritti startled me at first – a copious amount of lightly dusted, deep-fried squid rings served with a wedge of lemon and garlic and lime mayonnaise – but it was deceptively light and left plenty of room to move onto the main course.
With so many Mediterranean dishes on the gold leather-clad menu, I was spoilt for choice. I was at first tempted to opt for the more traditional Italian pasta dishes on offer: for example, the seafood risotto and spaghetti carbonara. But my dining partner and I are both committed carnivores so he went for the filetto di manzo al pepe: cooked medium rare, the lean fillet of farm assured beef came complete with chunky chips and a mild green pepper corn sauce. The beef was cooked well with slightly charred edges ensuring a pocket of rich flavour toward the end of the dish. My vitello al limone served on an elongated geometric plate was pleasant: two large pan fried escalopes of veal with sautéed potatoes and wilted garlic spinach served with lemon butter and garnished sage. As an accompaniment I was recommended the full bodied, Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon by our server, a steal at only £6.95 for a 125ml glass.
The service throughout the evening was friendly and attentive, the waitress keenly sweeping in to mop up the glass of water my friend accidentally knocked over the table and me (I hope this was a cleverly planned test by my dining partner, not an over-excited reflex when he spotted the main course nearing the table). Our host paid us regular visits to ensure everything was running smoothly for us.
The final leg of our visit, dessert. The homemade crema bruciata, an orange-infused crème brûlée was subtly sweet with glazed orange segments and physalis on the side. Paired with a citrus, syrupy dessert wine it made for a gratifying conclusion to the evening. The home-churned chocolate ice-cream and a caffè latte prepared us perfectly for setting out into the wintry night.
Cielo has a slightly higher price tag than some of the other restaurants around Brindleyplace but your money will be well spent. For an evening of first-class service and delicious food Cielo is an assured choice.
Visit Cielo at 6 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace, Birmingham: 0121 632 6882, cielobirmingham.com