Q&A with Adam Stokes of Adam’s Restaurant, Birmingham

Who are you?
I’m Adam Stokes, head chef and owner of Adam’s Restaurant in Birmingham. I started as a commis chef in 2001 at Hambleton Hall. After spending seven years under Aaron Patterson’s careful tutelage, I made my way to Glenapp Castle in Ayrshire. After five years we had received a Michelin Star and 4 AA Rosettes. We then decided it was time to do it for ourselves in Birmingham. We have be in Birmingham now for over four years and have never looked back, starting with our 25 seat pop-up to 18 months ago moving to our permanent home on Waterloo Street.

You’re ranked No 1 in Birmingham on TripAdvisor and have a Michelin Star. What is there left to achieve?
There is stacks left to achieve. We have our goals firmly set on the future of the restaurant; we want to push the boundaries and create a dining experience that is unique to us. We have a great team surrounding us and together we hope to achieve great things. As for accolades, there are many more we wish to achieve.

What motivates you?
I find motivation everywhere and sometimes at the strangest of times and places! I think the biggest motivation for me is the thirst for being able to create something unique. We always want to feel like we are developing and moving forward and to be able to do that as a team. Everyone has the restaurant’s best interests at heart, inputting new ideas and suggestions in our search for perfection.

Adams Restaurant, Birmingham. Copyright Richard Southall

What do you eat when you’re relaxing at home?
Varies hugely, from a 50-day-aged rib eye of beef to a takeaway pizza. I love cooking with our two boys and giving them new experiences every day. I always eat quite simply at home. I eat the seasons all the time, nipping to farm shops to get the best that there is on offer at the time of the year.

How tricky is it to make the jump from chef to restaurant owner?
It is not easy at all. For me it was a natural progression because that was always what I wanted to do. You immediately have a different perspective on things, in a good way, too. You see the bigger picture and sometimes better routes to achieve what you want to achieve. It certainly is a learning curve but one that has different challenges and hurdles to overcome.


What’s the best thing about running your own restaurant?
I have huge pride in what we have achieved. We have laid down a platform and it seems to be being received well. It certainly is a turbulent journey and as we progress and develop, the pressure does intensify as people’s expectations progress and develop, too. That keeps us on our toes and the desire to try to be successful everyday.

Adam’s kitchen. Copyright Richard Southall

What do you put your success down to?
I certainly don’t think it is down to just one thing. It is several things that come together to create what we have. We surround ourselves with the right likeminded people, from our team who are dedicated, loyal and positive, to our friends and family who are aspirational and supportive. We have created a restaurant that is our idea of what we would like in a restaurant: one that is approachable, friendly and good quality. It is a careful balance that we have to manage every day, every service, every table, and every guest.

If a mate came to see you from abroad, which local food and drink places would you recommend they visit?
There are lots of great places in the Midlands to go. Restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham for a gastronomic journey. Original Patty Men in Birmingham for a superb burger. Purecraft Bar & Kitchen for the best pork pie and scotch egg.

Matt Wright
The author:

Matt founded Great Food Club in 2010 and is editor-in-chief. He loves to brew his own beer and unearth food and drink gems, and lives in Leicestershire with his wife, two kids and jack russell terrier.