Turners to axe “stifling” fine dining and tasting menus

Award-winning chef Richard Turner is to axe high-end Michelin star dining to escape the “straitjacket” of tasting menus and “stifling” formality.

Turner is planning a radical revamp of his three AA Rosette Birmingham restaurant because he thinks elaborate £80-£90 dégustation menus are alienating customers.

His small 26-cover restaurant in Harborne, just outside the city centre, has held a star since 2009 and the 46-year-old chef has attracted a loyal clientele for his French-informed modern cookery.

However, Turner said he had grown tired of the industry obsession with tasting menus and the expectations it creates for an endless parade of amuse-bouches, snacks, pre-desserts and petits fours.

Turner said: “The tasting menu-style of cooking can be a straitjacket and I think it will be liberating to offer a more casual style of food.”

Turners, one of five Michelin star restaurants in Birmingham, currently has a 10-course tasting menu for £90. The city’s other Michelin restaurants – Simpsons, Purnell’s, Carters and Adams – all have tasting menus priced from £75 to £88.

Turner plans a radical menu overhaul during the restaurant’s annual closure from August 8. He intends to focus on classic dishes and plans to extend opening hours. The chef has informed Michelin of his change of direction.

Turner, who opened his restaurant in 2007, said: “My customers increasingly tell me they want to dine with us more frequently and in a more relaxed atmosphere. The trend towards tasting menus and formal service is a big turn off for many people. So I have decided to create a more relaxed experience with a simplified à la carte menu.

“I will never sacrifice my commitment to quality but I believe quality can be delivered on a more accessible basis.

“Birmingham is very well served with top-end Michelin star restaurants but there is a huge gap in the middle market for great quality food. The city has been a victim of its own success in attracting chain restaurants, many of them churning out food of dubious quality. I think my home city deserves better than that.

“I admire the dedication of Birmingham’s star chefs and wish them well. But after almost a decade of unrelenting, high-pressure cooking, I think the time is right for a change of direction – and, most importantly, I think the public is hungry for a change too. Not everyone wants a tasting menu. Frankly, I think tasting menus put a lot of people off.

“Is it the end of the road for me as far as Michelin is concerned? I have no idea. I have hugely valued the guide’s support over the years and will continue to abide by my food philosophy. It’s just that I will be delivering my food in a simplified way.

“Our new-look restaurant will be opening for more hours, serving the best produce available, at competitive prices. At the end of the day, customers just want great food, value and a friendly, welcoming service. It’s as simple as that.

“I love cooking and the new project is hugely exciting. I would like to thank all our customers, many of whom travel from across the UK. Over the remaining weeks, we will continue to serve our existing menus and we look forward to welcoming old friends and new customers as we embark on an exciting new phase.”

 

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