From Pop-Up to Michelin Star: Riverine Rabbit’s Meteoric Rise in Birmingham’s Culinary Scene

In the unassuming Birmingham suburb of Stirchley, a culinary gem has been unearthed, earning a coveted spot in the prestigious Michelin Guide. Riverine Rabbit, an independent restaurant helmed by the husband-and-wife team of Ash and Erin Valenzuela-Heeger, has captivated discerning palates with its unique fusion of South African roots and seasonal British produce.

The Michelin inspector’s review, a testament to the restaurant’s excellence, reads: “After generating a fair amount of buzz with their pop-ups, warm and welcoming couple Ash and Erin have found a permanent home in this Birmingham suburb. Erin leads the friendly service, while Ash proudly delivers her dishes from behind a kitchen counter; if you get the chance, order the honey-cured beef, which epitomizes the flavour-packed cooking.”

The review continues, “Influences from Ash’s native South Africa occasionally make an appearance, as do those from Asia, ranging from Penang curry to furikake. That this all comes at wallet-friendly prices is a welcome bonus.”

Opened in January 2024, Riverine Rabbit’s name pays homage to the elusive riverine rabbit native to the Karoo Desert, a nod to the couple’s commitment to sustainable farming practices. The restaurant’s ethos is deeply rooted in celebrating the bounty of the land while preserving its delicate ecosystems.

Ash Valenzuela-Heeger, the culinary mastermind behind the scenes, draws inspiration from her South African heritage, infusing her dishes with the vibrant flavors and spices of her homeland.

The restaurant’s menu is a harmonious blend of global influences, with dishes like the honey-cured beef, a standout according to the Michelin inspector, showcasing Ash’s skill in coaxing out bold and complex flavors. From the fragrant Penang curry to the umami-rich furikake, each bite is a testament to the chef’s culinary prowess and her ability to seamlessly weave together diverse culinary traditions.

Riverine Rabbit’s inclusion in the Michelin Guide is a remarkable achievement for the independent restaurant, solidifying its place among Birmingham’s culinary elite. As word of this hidden gem spreads, foodies from near and far are flocking to Stirchley to experience the flavors that have captured the hearts and palates of the discerning Michelin inspectors.

Riverine Rabbit is located at 1464 Pershore Road, Stirchley, Birmingham. Reservations can be made at https://www.riverinerabbit.co.uk/reservations.

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