Now I am back, it has become evident how much the food has improved. With over 500 restaurants, Birmingham's restaurant renaissance is in full swing.
At the Metro Bar and Grill, 'doing lunch' is alive and well. Walk through the bustling bar - don't get drawn in for a 'swift one' if you're on a schedule - past the curved mirrored wall and into the airy dining room with its glass roof and contemporary artwork. The interior, chic yet subtle, complements the cuisine.
The modern European menu and daily specials has something to please just about everyone. The crispy duck salad with soy and sesame dressing is succulent, and there's a decent selection of seafood on offer for the main course, including skate wings with capers or roasted cod with pancetta.
The mini baked Alaska is a real treat for dessert.
Metro is a favourite haunt for business people, but it benefits from a generous mix of clientele, with the suits and dealmakers looking perfectly comfortable next to the scattering of couples and lunching ladies.
Staff are friendly and attentive. The food is terrific and, for around £12 for a main course, offers genuine value.
Where: 73 Cornwall St, Birmingham Contact: 0121 200 1911 How much: Around £25 per head