Food and Drink September 14, 2010
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Location: 6 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace, Birmingham, B1 2JB [map]
Phone: 0845 202 4659
Open: Mon-Thurs noon-3pm, 5.30pm-11pm; Fri & Sat noon-11pm; Sun noon-10pm

The word ‘cielo’ is Italian for heaven or sky, and we were blessed with a clear blue one for our visit to Birmingham’s leading Italian restaurant. Situated in the prestigious, award-winning development Brindleyplace, cielo too has its fair share of accolades; the Best of Broad Street and Brindleyplace Awards named it ‘Best Overall Venue 2007’ as well as ‘Best Chef’ and ‘Best Restaurant’ in 2008. The Channel-4-sponsored Taste of Birmingham Awards also awarded cielo ‘Best Family Restaurant in Birmingham’, and deservedly so. The restaurant offers diners the chance to enjoy the view of picturesque Oozells Square, whether you take advantage of the comfortable dining room or choose to go alfresco for a truly Mediterranean experience. Stylish and contemporary with a soothing neutral colour scheme throughout, the eye is instantly drawn to the stunning design focal point – a huge water cascade dominating one end of the restaurant, adding to the calming effect with the subtle sound of running water. While considering the menu, you are invited to lounge on comfortable sofas, enjoy a drink and really take your time to make the all important decisions.

Head chef Andy Waters (see chef profile, page 40) is a Birmingham lad with a coveted Michelin star and a mission to bring a little bit of Italy to the Midlands, and he certainly knows how to impress even the most discerning tastebuds. First courses were the wonderfully garlicky, thick and smooth borlotti bean soup with generous slices of Italian bread to dip, and a vegetable tagliatelle. This colourful and tasty dish saw a cacophony of tomato, courgette, squash and other vegetables set amidst fresh pasta shells. Thus truly relaxed, and with whetted appetites, we eased into our main courses – fillet steak on the bone for me, fish for him. My steak was as steak should be: seared on the outside, pink on the inside, tender and juicy. The chunky chips were huge, with fluffy potato centres and a satisfying crispy crust. Chef keeps the method for producing these chips very close to his chest and I don’t blame him. The elegant fish dish was a beautiful mound of delicate mullet, king prawn and a scallop resting on green samphire, surrounded by a moat of saffron-hued sauce. An accompanying side dish of courgette strips fried in batter was absolutely delicious – crisp with a soft vegetable centre. A glass of pinot grigio Porta Italica went down very well, clearing the palate with its clean freshness. We just had to try one of the Italian desserts: a concoction of fruit jelly layered with panna cotta, meringue and ice cream, served in a long tall glass. Bellissimo.

Throughout the meal the service was attentive, and our numerous questions about the dishes were patiently answered in detail, without revealing any secrets. The restaurant was wonderfully busy, packed with diners both outside and in, fully enjoying cielo’s many charms. Giorgio is an excellent host and looks after all of his diners with an effortless professionalism – with this in mind, it is no surprise to learn that cielo is a popular haunt for celebrities. Luckily for us all, they stay open late for post-show drinks and meals so you can enjoy their hospitality for even longer. Ita

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