There’s an Italian feel to Selfridges’ top floor, where Fumo offers delicious small sharing plates and seriously good cocktails, as Amy Norbury discovered
Nestled away on the top floor of Selfridges in the iconic Bullring, Fumo oozes style. And it’s no wonder; after all, with Stella McCartney handbags and Jimmy Choo shoes as far as the eye can see, this destination is all about the glamour.
The £1m eatery, which opened in October, is the third San Carlo group collaboration with Selfridges, following San Carlo Bottega and Gran Cafe, both in the Manchester store. Birmingham’s very own San Carlo Gran Cafe – a more relaxed patisserie, ice cream parlour and cafe – also opened up on Selfridges’ first floor just before Christmas, becoming the group’s fourth venue in its home city.
After enjoying a whistle-stop tour of the Fumo menu at the restaurant’s launch, we were delighted to be invited back to sample the latest offerings.
The restaurant is beautifully designed, making the most of its location which offers views into the heart of the Bullring. From the marble-topped tables to the stunning statement lighting, it all screams luxury.
At the heart of the restaurant is an impressive bar, a striking design feature in itself, which specialises in cocktails and Champagne. From classics with a twist to in-house creations, there’s plenty here to tickle the taste buds of any discerning drinker.
We were shown to our table and offered the menus to peruse; the drinks menu is designed to look like a high fashion magazine, perfectly playing on the restaurant’s stylish location.
I opted for a Pret a Porter, £9.95, a combination of lychee liqueur, strawberry puree and rose Champagne which was just heavenly, while my dining companion a classic Rossini, £8.90, with prosecco and strawberry puree, which was also rather delicious.
The menu is based around chiccetti – Italian small plates designed for sharing, rather like tapas. It’s a concept we were immediately on board with – after all, small dishes means more to try. The menu advises that you should opt for five to six plates between two, but it was still a job narrowing down the delicious-sounding options so we asked our charming waiter Ignacio for his advice.
To get a feel for Fumo’s culinary credentials we wanted a good balance of dishes, and could have easily been tempted into ordering considerably more than we eventually decided on. There’s so much choice, with everything from pizza, pasta and risotto to Italian street food and beautiful seafood, and a specials menu adds a whole host more seasonal treats.
The tuna tartare, £8.15, was our first pick, along with the gamberoni, or fried Sicilian prawns, £8.15. The tuna, which was mixed with olive oil, French mustard, lemon juice and rocket, was a beautifully fresh mouthful, really bursting with flavour, and definitely something I’d order again. The prawns, which were breadcrumbed and deep-fried, were huge, wonderfully sweet and juicy.
We were trying to decide on a pasta or risotto dish when Ignacio pointed out one of the specials, a king prawn and saffron risotto which sounded delicious. He also suggested the beef tagliata, £10.95, grilled fillet steak marinated in chilli and garlic, topped with parmesan and rocket, plus the zucchini fritte, £3.20.
The risotto was perfectly cooked and jam-packed with sizeable prawns, which were sweet and succulent. The saffron gave a delicate sweet note and a vibrant colour, and the portion was also ample to give both of us a decent plateful.
By contrast, the beautifully rare steak had a lovely chargrilled flavour – exactly what you look for in a good steak, while the chillies were piquant rather than overwhelmingly hot, adding just a nice touch of warmth. The courgette fries were perfectly seasoned and a fantastic complement to the steak.
With the savoury dishes done, it was time to go back to the cocktail menu before dessert. My Italian Punch, £9.95 – again recommended by Ignacio – combined two types of gin with yuzu juice, blackberries and elderflower tonic to mouth-watering effect. The sour citrus notes of the yuzu juice and the sweet blackberries created a well-balanced and refreshing long drink.
But it was the Gin Twist, £9.95, which was the standout of the meal. This concoction of Martin Miller’s gin, Lillet Blanc, fresh celery and ginger served in a stylish cocktail coupe was a glorious sip, quite unlike anything I’ve ever had before but something I can’t wait to try again.
When it came to dessert, we took advantage of the sharing plate option, £10.95, which promised a selection of tasty treats perfect for two. Picture perfect cubes of tiramisu, cheesecake, chocolate and hazelnut torte, pistachio mousse and millefoglie – an Italian version of a vanilla custard slice – plus a helping of gelato were as tasty as they were pretty.
We finished the meal the Italian way, with a suitably strong espresso, and with minor regrets that we’d restrained ourselves with the number of dishes we’d sampled. There was the lobster ravioli, and the ragu-filled arancini, and what about the pizzas we didn’t get to try?
Which only means one thing – a return visit is surely on the cards. After all, those Gin Twists are calling.