Sunday, February 19, 2017

Spirit of Place: the Koh-I-Noor Restaurant

The end of an era has come, for the Koh-I-Noor Restaurant on Birmingham's Horse Fayre has been undergoing refurbishment for some time and as I passed the other day I noticed that it has reached a tipping point beyond which there is no return.
This may seem a rather pedestrian subject for a post about the spirit of place, but my witchcraft takes place in my hedge, and so on one level I'm the only arbiter of what constitutes my hedge. That said, apart from the reference to the famous jewel discovered in the fourteenth century, it may seem strange that Birmingham maintains such an obvious old survival as a place named after the sales of horses.
That aside, the Koh-I-Noor has always been a legend, and I really hope that after refurbishment it continues as a restaurant and is run in the same way. I'll grant you that the before pictures show it up as distinctly run down and not much to look at from the outside. In latter years the sellotape placed over the cracks in the windows didn't look good, and there was a tendency to replace broken glass with glass that looked different.
The interior was a large part of the legend. In fact it was the whole of the legend, and is illustrated in the third picture. Why would you ever decorate with a fake tree, at least one which in a low-ceilinged room became the sole focus of attention? I can't tell you, but they did, and that was the thing which stuck in people's memories.
It can't even have been to detract from the taste of the food, and I think the restaurant's run-down appearance did it a disservice because you wouldn't expect the delicious food you would get there. Subtle flavours, prepared with personal care. And if you ordered for delivery, you would find the waiter on your doorstep, having walked round with your food. These are the reasons I hope the place continues as a restaurant. I actually haven't had an Indian since it has closed.
Meanwhile the refurbishment has reached an important point. Obviously the tree was the object of much affection because it is only now, when the refurb is at quite an advanced stage, that the tree has found its way into the skip outside. Tempting as it was, I didn't steal it as a souvenir.


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