“It’s a weird space, but I think weird is a superpower right now”: Alex Claridge is opening a restaurant called Albatross Death Cult

By Stefan Chomka

- Last updated on GMT

 Alex Claridge to opening Albatross Death Cult restaurant in Birmingham

Related tags Alex Claridge The Wilderness Restaurant Birmingham

Birmingham-based chef Alex Claridge is opening an omakase style restaurant in the city’s Jewellery Quarter this summer.

Called Albatross Death Cult, the intimate 14-cover restaurant is described as being a ‘raw, unedited, and decidedly stripped-back sibling’ to Claridge’s Birmingham restaurant The Wilderness.

It will serve a menu of around 12 courses to 14 guests sat around a monolithic kitchen counter for one sitting per service, with dishes served by the chefs.

The menu will feature mostly seafood and coastal ingredients ‘that smack you in the face like ocean spray’.

The restaurant will be located in a Grade II canalside warehouse at 1 Newhall Square that Claridge had previously run as a bar and takes its name from the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

“It’s called Albatross Death Cult but we’ll allow people to just call it Albatross,” he says. “The name comes from a really challenging time for me, albatross because the space it is going into has pretty much been an albatross round my neck for 12 months. For a long time I struggled with the space, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it until recently.”
“For a year I felt marooned. The restaurant is a creative response after a significant pause.”

Passion project

Claridge, who is also West Midlands' night time economy advisor​, says the restaurant was created “out of a profound sense of loneliness” and that it is a passion project.

“My goal is straightforward – to open a restaurant that I love,” he says. “If The Wilderness was the restaurant that I needed to exist when I was 25, Albatross is the restaurant that I need to exist at 35.

“And so it goes – I am my own muse. In my wildest dreams, other people fall in love with it too, but I’m a romantic. I’ll also settle for being a casual fling.”

The menu will be priced to be accessible as possible, with the launch menu priced at £88 rather than the £210 price Claridge says he should be charging.

“I feel, now more than ever given the current climate, a tension between a desire to deliver alternative luxury to those who desire it, and the cost of said delivery. [£88] is still a significant sum, but one which I hope will open the doors for just a few more people.

“Anyone can do something for money, I’m doing something just because I want it to exist. I don’t think it will make any money, plausibly it will cost us a lot of money, but I’m kind of at a point where creatively I don’t give a shit.

“The cost of visiting Albatross is the cost of its continued existence, not the pursuit of anything as commonplace as profit. The world has too many accountants and not enough romantics – let’s roll the dice.”

The style of the restaurant is still being finalised but Claridge describes it as an “ntimate space that will be chef led with very few front of house staff.

“You’ll be eating inside the kitchen. It’s a space that is weird but I think weird is a superpower right now.”

Albatross Death Cult is due to open in June.

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