Latest opening: Albatross Death Cult

By Stefan Chomka

- Last updated on GMT

Images: Tom Bird
Images: Tom Bird

Related tags Alex Claridge The Wilderness Restaurant Fine dining Birmingham Albatross Death Cult

The Wilderness chef Alex Claridge's new project is a stripped-back, brutalist space that has a focus on simplicity.

What:​ Described as an ‘experimental’ restaurant, Albatross Death Cult (ADC) is housed in a Grade II listed warehouse in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. The diminutive restaurant seats just 14 guests around a monolithic kitchen counter and offers one sitting per service.

Who:​ ADC has come from the mind of Birmingham chef Alex Claridge, the man behind ‘rock and roll fine dining’ restaurant The Wilderness. The kitchen is led by Piotr Szpak, who has served as part of The Wilderness team intermittently for over six years, interspersed with time at Aktar Islam’s Birmingham restaurant Opheem, with help from Oliver Grieve, who joined The Wilderness as a student from University College Birmingham following a stint at L’Enclume. The restaurant’s drinks programme is overseen by wine and sake sommelier Camilla Bonnannini, formerly of Upstairs by Chef Tom Shepherd, who is supported front of house by Kelly Barra.


The food:​ Claridge describes the food at ADC as ‘brutalist in style’, with the restaurant serving an ever-changing menu of fish, seafood, and coastal ingredients. Ingredients often appear more than once throughout the 13 or so course omakase-style meal, with early dishes that include scarlet prawn with nam jim; chalkstream trout belly and roe; Cornish mackerel sashimi and caviar; soft-shell crab and crab hot sauce; chalkstream trout and tom yum; and Hokkaido melon. Claridge’s cooking style is to keep dishes simple where possible, ‘with embellishment and manipulation intended only to amplify or clarify the inherent flavours and qualities of the lead ingredient’, although some he says have greater complexity and bigger flavours. The food is served on a range of crockery - mostly black, as is Claridge’s taste​ - and the tasting menu is priced at £88.

To drink:​ Bonnannini has put together an ‘eclectic and adventurous’ drinks list of wines and sakes available by the glass and bottle as well as a mixed drinks pairing. There is also a short cocktail menu, created in collaboration with drinks consultant Rueben Clark, who has previously worked with The Wilderness, of classics with ‘playful coastal twists’.


The vibe:​ ADC is ‘a raw, unedited, and decidedly stripped-back sibling to The Wilderness,’ in Claridge’s words. The restored warehouse space was previously run by Claridge as a more ‘zen like’ bar in a muted colour palette but has now been renovated to reveal the bones of the building. An exposed brickwork arch leads from a small bar area to the kitchen counter, featuring raw steel and concrete fittings, with the overall feel of the intimate space being utilitarian and inviting.

And another thing:​ The restaurant’s name references the space in which it sits, which Claridge has said​ had been an albatross round his neck for 12 months. “For a long time I struggled with the space,” he says. “For a year I felt marooned. The restaurant is a creative response after a significant pause.”

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