We were extremely fortunate to enjoy an 8-course meal at the top of Staying Cool as part of its Creative Heights programme of 10 unique arts and culture events to celebrate a decade of the apartment hotel opening at the iconic Rotunda.

Staying Cool pulled out all the stops to arrange for the incredible Wilderness team lead by head chef and founder Alex Claridge to come into one of the glamorous top floor penthouse apartments and deliver one of his groundbreakingly creative menus.

Alex and his talented team push themselves to come up with new dishes that explode with flavour on your taste buds and aim to thrill you with their originality. It’s a busy year for the team, having opened their new restaurant in the Jewellery Quarter in the Spring and now currently working hard to get the unique cocktail bar Nocturnal Animals ready on Bennett’s Hill.

wilderness menu and James Bowker

As well as jaw-droppingly unique food, the menu was accompanied by a full tasting menu, a range of eclectic drinks created by recent World Class GB Top Ten finalist bartender James Bowker. James (pictured above) talked us through some of the complex processes behind the drinks menu and you can’t help but be amazed at the enthusiasm and search for perfection that pushes him to invent new flavour combinations.

It was interesting to hear that the concept at Nocturnal Animals involves drinks that will bring food and cocktails together like never before. You will select a centrepiece cocktail and then all the other courses are built around that flavour.

James posted an example on his Instagram after competing at Gleneagles in June.

Astonishing flavours!

Jasmine and Pineapple Weed Tea / Oshibori
Passionfruit Pate de Fruit /Chamomile Sugar
White Choc and Miso Ganache /Passionfruit and Soy Fluid Gel / Burnt White Choc Crumble
Nearly Truffled Copper Dog Whisky / White Chocolate Dessert Wine /Pineapple Weed Cordial
Blue Label ‘Danger Bear’ at 20% ABV

Our first course of the night was incredibly a Big Mac! Alex likes to have some fun with some of the dishes so a Big Mac aims to give you the same flavours as that classic twist with premium ingredients such as Wagyu beef and a delicious gherkin ketchup.

Big Mac Wilderness

Big Mac

Next up it was two light seafood dishes with a granita twist to keep your taste buds tingling.  The crab was served with elderflower and wasabi and was one of my favourite dishes of the night whilst the mackerel was complemented with tomato and almonds in an intriguing combination.

mackerel, tomato almond plus crab, elderflower , wasabi wilderness

Onto the mains and the Welsh Wagyu beef was lifted to new heights with an 18-month shiitake mushroom and caviar.

welsh wagyu beef, shitake, truffle at the wilderness

A taste fusion followed next with this lamb, cucumber, anchovy dish served with squid ink.

Two incredible desserts stole my heart at the end. Miso with pineapple and ice cream was lush and then the ‘Rummy Bear’ made with rum with a 60% alcohol content was a sweet triumph and so moreish you wish they came by the bagful. They are the equivalent of half a shot each though. Alex recounted how he discovered this after nibbling on some of the bears during a service when his vision started to blur.

miso, pineapple ice cream and a rummy bear at the wilderness

An unforgettable evening, meal, team and venue. What a beautiful view of the ever-changing Birmingham skyline too. Look out for more Creative Heights events on Staying Cool’s website. You are guaranteed a treat! Massive thanks to the Wilderness and Staying Cool for combining to create a truly special experience.

Birmingham skyline