I’ve got involved in the occasional sweepstake, I think I put a bet on the Grand National once and needed help actually placing the bet, and I’ve been in casinos a few times. There are actually two Grosvenor Casinos in Birmingham – one near the station and another at the top of Broad Street in the Five Ways Leisure Complex, the one we tried. So when Mr M and I were invited to try the food at the Grosvenor Casino on Broad Street in Birmingham plus a little ‘Learn 2 Play’ session afterwards, we thought it would be a good chance not only to see what kind of food you can get in a casino (I mean, it’s not your first port of call for a meal out is it?) but to perhaps learn enough that we can hold our own if the opportunity arises. This is usually because I’m trying to be a tiny bit healthy, but also because it’s quite difficult to get fish cooked interestingly yet still properly and I’m always a bit curious to see how it’ll come out. As you might have seen, I opt for fish main courses quite a lot (when I’m not tempted by steaks and ribs and all sorts of yummy meatiness).
From grill classics like burgers and steaks to slightly lighter fish dishes and salads, there’s lots on offer. Since oriental dishes make a relatively frequent appearance on the menu, I decided to try one. The pesto crusted halibut had caught my eye on the menu, and it was mainly because I knew I was having this that I went for a duck starter rather than something veggie or fishy. It was easy to shred and the usual flavour combinations of the duck with the sweetness of the hoisin, tang of spring onions and refreshing cucumber, all wrapped up in my somewhat messily constructed pancakes, made for a light but tasty starter. The lemon butter sauce was delicious – colourful and rich yet with a slightly lemony tang that not only complemented the fish but added a nice tang to the other sweet elements on the plate. A big chunky bit of halibut, topped with pesto crumb and served on sauteed potatoes, roasted peppers, tenderstem broccoli and peas, plus a nice lake of lemon butter sauce around it. The pesto crumb, like Jamie’s breadcrumbs on his starter, added crunch, while the potatoes, peppers, broccoli and peas added more substance but also extra flavours and a rainbow of colours.
James Bond glamour. We caught on to this slightly quicker than we managed to get our heads round blackjack but we’re definitely a long way off any Bond-like nonchalance when it comes to our gambling behaviour – imagine the excitement of small children winning on penny arcades and we were a bit more like that. It’s not really occurred to me before, but since the casino’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it’s actually a bit of an untapped resource when it comes to somewhere to have a late-night drink when you don’t quite fancy a nightclub (which at my age, you rarely do) but you’re not ready to go home. Whether you’re planning an evening that involves the casino, you need somewhere late to eat, or you just want to try somewhere a bit different, it’s pretty good and worth a look. If anyone tries to tell you that fish courses are the ones to have when you’re not hungry, please use this as an example for why this isn’t always true. The fish was well cooked, tender and cooked through yet still easy to separate its firm chunky flakes.
The duck was tender and well-flavoured with hints of five spice. I went for crispy duck with hoisin and pancakes. As you might recall, I went to Las Vegas last year with work and this vista kind of reminded me of some of the views across casino floors there – but on a much, much smaller scale. After signing in (not your usual entry to a restaurant I know, but it kind of added a bit of drama to the occasion) we were led through some doors and down a sweeping staircase with views across the gambling floor. Jamie thought the slightly crispy breadcrumbs added a nice bit of crunch, while the basil dressing didn’t just taste good, but gave a nice bit of colour to the plate. It was nicely presented, piled on top of sweet onion marinated toasted brioche with mixed leaves and a tomato and basil dressing artfully surrounding it on the plate. This was one substantial plate of food. Yes, a massive plate of food! And so, sensible kids that we are, we left after a rather enjoyable evening of unexpectedly nice food and a new experience under our belt. Yeah, so you might not choose the Grosvenor over some of Birmingham’s better-known restaurants for an evening out or a special occasion, but I’d suggest you don’t overlook it.