Did you know there are 411 vineyards in the UK? Four Hundred. And Eleven! Claire Love knows; now here’s a woman with a firm grip on her grapes. And she needs it, to front-of-house the restaurant she owns and runs with her husband Steve. And once talking about wine, she frankly can’t put a cork in it.
Not only does Claire choose all the wine at Loves, she talks to every customer about the best one for their meal. And she studies wine academically. And she runs wine tastings. And… Well she really, really, really likes wine. But Loves is not simply Maison Plonk. It is, what one calls, a Destination Restaurant. You’ll never pop in for a pre-film snack. It’s a pop-free zone. You don’t spend time here; you savour it.
Loves moved to Birmingham in May 2009, after a goodly stint in Leamington Spa collecting stars, awards and loyal fans. They found their premises through Maguire Jackson, choosing the Convention Quarter because “Brindley Place and Colmore Circus were way more expensive, and we didn’t have a private investor.” So it was cheap, but what about today?
“It’s much more personable and residential than I was expecting, and now feels very settled and bedded in. I see a lot of the same faces.”
So who comes in? Is it all suits and corporate business chat? “No. It’s mainly couples or dining foursomes enjoying food and each other’s company. It’s not really where you bring a client.” And how is married life at work? “Well… Steve’s environment is very pressured with people shouting at each other, so I don’t go into the kitchen during service. Anyway, a good maître d’ shouldn’t need to leave the floor and the guests need to be managed, although they can never know that.”
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