Restaurant Focus: OPUS Restaurant
Anthony and Lucy have been working with Ann, Irene, and Ben at OPUS Restaurant, Birmingham since 2007. Each year there is an amazing potato dinner that they together they host together! Ann, Irene, and Ben mange a wonderful restaurant in the heart of Birmingham.
At OPUS Restaurant the menus celebrate the beautiful flavours of the produce that they buy each morning from the family of suppliers around the British Isles.
Questions & Answers
1 Can you introduce our readers to Opus restaurant and give us an insight into the idea behind the Restaurant?
Ann: We opened Opus at Cornwall Street in 2005 right in the heart of the financial district of Birmingham to provide a market fresh, daily changing menu to the business community. Sustainability and British produce have always been the key focus of our restaurant.
Irene: 10 years later, we are a thriving, destination restaurant serving not only the business community but a wide clientele from around the region and the rest of the country.
2 How would you describe the signature style of Dish you cook in Opus Restaurant Kitchen?
Ben: our approach is very much about letting the ingredients speak for themselves. Our cooking is technically sophisticated, but there is a simplicity in the way the flavours of the produce are allowed to dominate the dish.
3 There are many awards you have earned over the years, what has been your proudest achievement at Opus Restaurant and why?
Ann: I think my proudest moments are when our staff themselves win industry accolades, such as the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Awards of Excellence or British Culinary Federation Young Chef of the Year. The real joy is that they are competing with the most talented chefs or waiters in the country, and we certainly hold our own.
Irene: I think I am most proud of what we put back into our community. Opus and our staff are heavily engaged in supporting the arts, local charities with raising funding and supporting our city profile.
4 You currently run a Source Series where customers can meet suppliers, which we are honoured to be invited to. How did you come up with the idea, and have you anymore great things happening at Opus?
We love our suppliers, and we want our customers to love them too! Every source has a story, and we want our customers to hear our farmers’ stories. As a restaurant, we are passionate about produce and the British farming/fishing industry; we promote only sustainable farming and fishing methods. We are fiercely committed to our core values of quality and an ethical approach to food where we buy the best seasonal, home grown ingredients.
But the philosophy of sustainability needs to be developed. It is not just one approach that ticks a box; it has to evolve. And if sustainability is synonymous with thriving, as it is for Opus, we know that our philosophy cannot thrive in isolation. It has to be shared.
That is why we decided to find a way of connecting our customers direct to our suppliers. And so, we developed our SOURCE dinner series, where our farmers meet our customers.
We have another selection of dinners this year, including, for the first time, a British cheese dinner.
5 Since you opened, have eating habits and food trends affected the Menu at Opus Restaurant?
The biggest change in the 10 years I have been cooking at Opus has been the rise in demand for vegetarian dishes. This has perhaps been the most significant change and has been ideal for us. It allows us to enjoy showcasing some of the most delicious produce from just 30 miles down the roadfrom us: Wye Valley asparagus, summer chard from Worcestershire, plums from Pershore, and apples from Herefordshire.
6 Ann, we are excited to meet you on your visit later this year to Carroll’s Heritage Potatoes. What are you looking forward to the most about your visit?
Ann: I can’t wait to show my family, who live in America, one of the most beautiful farms in England! Both of my nephews (10 and 14) are mad about potatoes, and they won’t have ever seen such a fabulous variety as they’ll experience at Carroll’s. And Northumberland has got to be one of the best counties for castles; I think Dunstanburgh, Warkworth and Bamburgh will thrill them.
7 What is your favourite dish on the Menu at Opus with Carroll’s Heritage Potatoes as an ingredient?
Ben: Roasted Cornish monkfish, sweet pepper and chickpea ragout, pink fir apple potato gnocchi, sauce vierge
Ann: spring lamb with crushed Sharpe’s Express potatoes with caper black olive is delicious. In fact, just the potato dish alone would be enough for me!
Irene: Yukon gold potato veloute. It is silky and delicious. Who says soup is boring!!!!
8 What do you see if the Future of Opus restaurant, we know you have been busy expanding into new Ventures with Café Opus at Ikon, Bar Opus at One Snowhill . Where will you go next with Opus?
Irene: What a great question. For the moment I think we certainly want to consolidate what we’ve created before we move to the next step. But after a breather, who knows!
Ann: Yes, I agree with Irene. Expansion for us has always come from seeing an opportunity to do something different. It is usually an interesting site that presents itself as an opportunity (like the art gallery, for example) and then a concept that seems perfect for the location starts to form from that. So as long as there are quirky or really compelling sites, there’s always the opportunity for a new step. But it has to be different from what has gone before.
9 Ben, what would be a perfect meal for you?
Ben: To be honest, a barbecue of seasonal British ingredients, good wine and good company is all I need for the perfect meal….and perhaps a bit of sunshine.