Birmingham Hippodrome. It doesn’t get the love it deserves if we’re being completely honest or maybe that’s amongst my peers in this city. It’s often overlooked in favour of other venues and events and it’s sad really, because it’s a great venue with even greater productions.
From the creators of Les Misérables, Cameron Mackintosh’s multi award-winning production of Miss Saigon, which opened in July is an excellent example. Based on Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly, Miss Saigon tells the tragic tale of a doomed romance involving a Vietnamese woman who falls in love with an American GI, only to be torn apart from him due to the fall of Saigon. It’s an emotional and informative experience, with some fantastic acting, singing and set design.To celebrate the run of Miss Saigon, The Hippodrome’s AA Rosette Awarded, Circle Restaurant has launched a Summer menu to match the production and it turns out, creates a new menu themed around each major show that has a run at the Hippodrome. Who even knew? Certainly beats a random bite to eat beforehand, elsewhere. We were given a taster of the wider menu available- usually £24.50 for two courses and £29.50 for three courses- which is always a good idea.
We started the evening with canapés and cocktails in the Atrium before being seated in the Circle Restaurant which was bright, modern and comfortable, without being stuffy. The restaurant even allows you to reserve your table during the interval so you can enjoy your desserts and drinks seated, which we did and it really added something to the experience.
Appetisers included Beef Croquettes served with a salad of mooli, shallots and capers and Vietnamese Prawn Summer Rolls with a sweet chilli sauce. The summer rolls were undoubtably my favourite of the appetisers, fresh, light and really authentic, stuffed with flavour and texture of crunchy veg, prawns and noodles. Delicious. The croquettes, although not inspired by Vietnam (!) were seasoned well, tasty and utterly moreish. We also tried Goats Cheese Mousse with marinated tomatoes and walnut toast and White Bean Soup with basil pesto served in a shot glass, which reminded me of The Wilderness. Tasters of the main courses included Yellow Curry Lentil Scotch Egg with asparagus and new potato salad; Honey-Brushed Confit of Duck Leg with celeriac purée, bok choy and star anise jus; Pan-Seared Fillet of Coley with rice noodles, samphire, ginger and spring onion broth and Pork Tenderloin with soy and sesame braised savoy cabbage. The standout for me was the delicately curried lentils encasing a delicious quails egg which went well with the fresh asparagus and new potatoes. Followed by the Pork Tenderloin which was particularly tasty with the use of coriander prevalent and the intensity of the soy running through the cabbage which just so happens to be my favourite combination.
During the interval, we were seated again to enjoy dessert and drinks. Dessert was an impressive showcase of flavours, textures and colours in the form of Matcha Green Tea Panna Cotta with kalamansi and sesame tuille which was very unique and is definitely an acquired taste (green tea is something I just can’t get on board with but everyone else enjoyed this one), Bitter Chocolate Tart with lychee, strawberry and mint compote which was decadent and divine and Poached Peach & Pistachio Cake with vanilla set custard. I was really impressed with the food at the Circle Restaurant, it didn’t feel like you were eating at a theatre at all. It was really delicious, imaginative and complemented Miss Saigon perfectly. The staff that looked after us were lovely; friendly, knew the menu inside out and really took the time to talk to us about the food, the production and upcoming shows at The Hippodrome.
I’d highly reccomend going to see Miss Saigon if you get the chance, it’s an emotional love story, yet incredibly entertaining. Don’t forget to book your table at the Circle Restaurant too for an unforgettable dining and theatre experience. You can catch Miss Saigon until 23rd September, so book your ticket, you know you want to.
One word of warning, don’t even think about leaving your seat during the show, I did just before Saigon fell and was totally confused, the production is that fast-paced and brilliant.
*I was kindly invited to watch Miss Saigon and dine in the Circle Restaurant by Brum Bloggers and Birmingham Hippodrome, but as always, all opinions are my own*