Aluna pulls out the punches for their new menu launch.
Aluna pulls out the punches for their new menu launch.
I had always been lead to believe that brunch, that delightful meal that is sandwiched between breakfast and a late lunch was hailed from the USA, however recent investigations proved me wrong. It was in fact an English custom from the 18th century and if we turn to our local history we find one of the Daddy’s of the industrial revolution, Mathew Boulton was a big fan. He also enjoyed a tipple. Head to Soho house to see his cellar and annual plonk consumption, it was hefty. If you enjoy a drink late into the moon rise then you probably like a lengthy snooze to recover and a good meal to start your mid morning. I introduce brunch! Below are some tip top recommendations for all sorts of scrumptious brunch dates around our marvellous city.
Nestled on the cities only Georgian square we find a quality neighbourhood eatery. Where weekend brunch is their speciality and sourcing foods locally is their game. Strong barista coffee, Peel and Stone bread and slow cooked briskets and perfect poached eggs. The menu is full of tempting dishes with influences from around the world and plenty of additions available making it great for all tastes. Try the huevos rancheros or the coconut milk pancakes. Menu served all day if you are particularly lazy at rising.
The King of all day brunch in Moseley, Lewis is a purveyor of excellence and this sings from his tempting counter treats, to his Lebanese inspired big plates and his timeless classics, for example ‘the spinach one’ eggs Florentine. He keeps up with times with snazzy additions like slow cooked jack fruit and breakfast trifles, all washed down with fuelling coffee and a village vibe. Fabulous spot for people watching, especially on farmers market days.
The pandoras boxes that are Damascena in Moseley, Harborne and the city centre invite a calmness and zen like feeling to your brunch needs. Punchy peppermint tea soothes, spiced eggs delight and baklava that can be nibbled with friends. Breakfast, brunch and lunch melt into each other at this successful expanding concept.
Sourdough pizza masters are now opening earlier at weekends and catering to all our brunch needs in a fusion fashion. Think sour dough pizza bases made by highly skilled chefs, cooked crisply and quickly in their500 degree woodfired oven and topped with all sorts of deliciousness; crispy bacon, home made hollandaise, and luscious eggs. Nom Nom.
A healthier hit and keeping vegans delighted you shall find lots to rejoice about at the newly refurbed Natural Healthy Kitchen. Plant based alchemy occurs in the form of whipped tofu-egg style and secret recipe beans. They have heaps of exotic drinks to work your way through and can whip up a fine coffee with all kinds of non dairy alternatives. Grab some mean sweet treats to take home too.
Perhaps you are not starting the day after the night before, maybe you are starting the afternoon of the night now! Opus offer a cracking Bottomless Brunch. For 1 hour you can sup to your hearts content from a selection of their masterfully created cocktails, larger or cider while dining on their quality feeds. Hearty steak and eggs or a healthier smashed avocado on an English muffin. Eat out on the terrace if the sun is shining.
These sibling pubs offer brunch from 10am in the Jewellery Quarter and serve award winning mean feeds from lighter sandwiches to full plates of local butcher breakfast treats. Or keep it more American with fluffy stacks of pancakes with maple syrups. Both sizeable locations so great for big groups and the odd game of table tennis.
The Plough in Harborne is a community hub for the ever-evolving leafy suburb. Brunch takes on a traditional format done superiorly with a few surprises including the delicious potato and okra hash with Chickpea, Poached Egg and Chilli. A big space so great for families and larger groups, in fact why not spend the day here in their delightful beer garden.
A cosy addition to the Harborne scene that offers top quality homemade food all through the day and start your morning properly with one of their tasty brunch menu items- a breakfast burrito or locally made Peel and Stone toast topped your way with a host of enticing ingredients. It does get busy and is limited in space so prepare to wait or arrive early.
I am like a stuck record currently, a Victor Meldrew, ‘I just can’t believe how hot it is!’ I am certainly not grumbling but after a hard days work you want to ensure you to can enjoy those lengthy summer evenings and here is a break down of some summertime roof top terraces to delight!
The Button factory in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter has a fine variety of drinks from cocktails and mocktails to local brews and fine wines and these can all be enjoyed on their bustling sun trap roof top. Food available all day and includes breakfast and Sunday lunch. They have screens for the World Cup and inventive, if dangerous bottomless brunch bingo.
Housed in a 19th century insurance company building, original features remain with tasteful modern updates creating a friendly and social space. It is hard not to indulge in the locally produced and thoughtfully sourced deli and bar food, along side a creative and intriguing drinks menu. Inspired by the last one hundred years of bar culture and tastes – a real mix of elegant, regal vintage and modern design. With a sunset roof top match, in the heart of the city.
A beer lovers mecca with over 27 different beers, ales and craft brews on tap, cask and keg but it doesn’t have to be the heady mix of grains, hops and pork scratchings inside- they have a roof top deck on the first floor with a bar just a few metres away. Perfect. You can bring your own food so why not grab a treat from Indian Streatery or Andersons deli and work your way through the beer board (I mean drink responsibly kids!).
Another top JQ venue housed in a Victorian building with all the traditional boozer charm and glazed tiles to boot, and upstairs sits a cosy garden. Plenty to excite the pallet with inventive cocktails, local tipples and amazing wood fired pizzas from Peel and Stone and with 241 offers on during the week who could resist chowing down on this doughy goodness.
I am not all about the big consume and in a capitalist world it is sometimes tough to find a space to savour for free but here in Brum we should be shouting and delighting in having Europe’s largest public cultural space and here you will find not one but 2 roof top gardens offering a vista across the city and birds eye view of the evolution of the urban sprawl. Edible delights in herbs and scented flowers can be admired and you could pack your own picnic.
The sister venue to the Botanist, this reinvention of the James Brindley pub has brought the canal side party to a buzzing beginning. Plenty of sundown space on the terrace and by the water. Live music in the evenings and a lengthy list of beers and gins to keep everyone happy. Food is light and summery with skewers, sharing platters and fruity puds.
Birmingham Craft Beer: The Growing World of the Traditional, Original and Small Batch in the City.
Is the haze craze getting you in a daze? Can’t decode the blackboard of beers at your local bar? What is the craic with untapped? Want to know what beers to try now? All your answers to the varied and expanding beer scene in Brum is unravelled by Mystic Malt herself, so you can test that palate and find the beer of your dreams.
Birmingham has had an explosion of new microbreweries and a host of bars and restaurants that wish to explore and celebrate the city’s new found pleasures in fermentation.
The beer dictionary
Craft beer is huge globally. As the market becomes even more varied, so come the hard core crew of craft beer fans and the club even comes with its own slang - words that appear to make technical sense, but contextually you may be drowning in vocab …until now of course. Help is at hand with with some regular definitions and even some super geek beer breakdowns!
Ale: Ales are beers fermented with top-fermenting yeast. Ales typically are fermented at warmer temperatures than lagers, and are often served warmer.
Lager: Lagers are any beer that is fermented with bottom-fermenting yeast at colder temperatures. Lagers are most often associated with crisp, clean flavours and are traditionally fermented and served at colder temperatures than ales.
Bitterness: In beer, the bitterness is caused by the tannins and iso-humulones of hops. Bitterness of hops is perceived in the taste. The amount of bitterness in a beer is one of the defining characteristics of a beer style.
Chill Haze (it’s a craze right now): Hazy or cloudy appearance caused when the proteins and tannins naturally found in finished beer combine upon chilling into particles large enough to reflect light or become visible.
Gose: A top-fermented beer that originated in Goslar, Germany. It is brewed with at least 50% of the grain bill being malted wheat. Dominant flavours in gose include a lemon tartness, a herbal characteristic, and a strong saltiness.
DH(Dry Hopping): The addition of hops late in the brewing process to increase the hop aroma of a finished beer without significantly affecting its bitterness.
Saison: Saison (French, "season,") is a pale ale that is highly carbonated, fruity, spicy, and often bottle conditioned. It was historically brewed with low alcohol levels, but modern productions of the style have moderate to high levels of alcohol.
Crushable: An easy-going, super drinkable beer. These are well-balanced beers with low-to-medium alcohol by volume (ABV) but tons of flavour that make you want to go back for more.
Dank: A descriptive term used for hoppy beers, especially IPAs, meaning it has sticky, resiny and marijuana-like characteristics.
Hophead: Someone who appreciates highly-hopped beer like IPAs.
Ticking: Checking off beers you want to try, usually just by having a sip or two of them. Ticking is often the sport of looking for new beers just for the sake of “ticking (them) off” or saying you’ve tried them. A “ticker” is someone who participates in such activities on “Untappd”.
Untappd: An app for the beer lover. Like an adult version of Pokémon meets trump cards but on your phone and it involves beer and rating it, plus you get kudos the more you try.
Prop up the bar: now where can you put this lingo into action, or more importantly test that palate.
With well stocked pumps n’ fridges and pinball machines, it is hard not to adore this city centre spot. They host various tap take-overs, local and international…Omnipollo gods took over last weekend and this week see’s the unveiling of a new upstairs with new cans to match (Cloudwater anyone!). Even more, they are caffeine connoisseurs with amazing bakes for the day after the night before.
Brother and sister duo learnt their trade running pubs for other people and now are doing it for themselves and rather well. A changing rotation of stock, meet the brewer events and top bar nibbles from Peel and Stone who are super archway bakers a few doors down. Keep up the ace work!
Curiously many a tradesman from the 1800’s would turn their hand to pub landlording and beer brewing as markets and skills changed so rapidly, making the name of this bar very apt. They have an exclusive beer by Rock and Roll Brew House as well as changing taps and local bottles and cans in the fridge (try Twisted Barrel’s new mango explosion, it is like naughty Rubicon). Kitchen take overs include Ba-Ha this month and upstairs it is cocktails and mead from The Vangaurd. So many ticks in my box!
This sunny spot in Harborne, packs some punches in lots of ways- that village pub vibe with quality at its core, and this extends to their award winning beer list. All that ale got your tummy rumbling then fear not as they have their reliably tasty menu of pizzas, chicken and more and now a newly launched Boca Grande tacos- so reasonably priced you can try them all. Dietary needs they have you covered too.
Well stocked fridge’s as well as onsite brewers and a massive venue complete with pizza oven, this impressive joint is helping to connect the dots in Digbeth. An easy beer crawl is developing with the Ruin bar just minutes away and craft beer heaven at Clink in the Custard Factory…well if you insist!
Getting all historical on you now. Birmingham’s rich history in brewing still shines strong as the Davenports brewery reignite their passions for pubs and craft beer. Dating back to 1867 the family began their beer journey in Hockley, they then went onto conquer Bath row and beyond and even introduced the nation to bottle deliveries at home (Uber eats, have we gone full circle!)! They are now evolving again with a proper boozer just of Broad Street- find sanctuary from the nonsense and indulge in their award winning beers. Plus a soon to be opened bar in leafy Moseley.
Meet the Brummie Brewers ……
Birmingham Brewing Company: An expanding array from this team that are hosting tap openings at their Stirchley site, with street food and a charity festival in the pipeline. Find their canned concoctions on the shelves of discerning grog shops and restaurants like Indian Streatery.
Rock and Roll Brew House: Formerly brewing in the back streets of Digbeth in an ace little pub called The Lamp, they now have a cave-like set up in the Jewellery Quarter. Fronted by a female brewer with vegan ethos they are open Friday night and all day Saturday. It is snug and easy to miss but worth the hunt with a seasonal rotation of their beers on tap plus they host Vegan Grindhouse monthly for feeds too.
Burning Soul: Also in the Jewellery Quarter these lads went straight in with serious kit and have brewed big from the off. Having had tap takeovers at The Dark Horse and Tilt, they can be found in cask and keg around the city plus are open at the weekends on-site. They have 9 taps on and bottles. Their most recent exciting addition was the Meadowsweet Saison, which included Highbury honey and recipe collaboration with Michelin chef Brad from Carters of Moseley.
OPW: New to the scene and found in the Old Print Works, this best bud duo are hoping to take the dream hobby and make it a career. It is early days in the making but they have had their brews in The Wolf, Cherry Reds and The Dark Horse and also supply The Ort for all their fun and festivities, plus have exciting collaborations in the diary.
Two Towers Brewery- A busy brewery in the Jewellery Quarter, they have beers across the city but mostly in their eclectic pub the Gun Makers Arms. Here they host changing art exhibitions, film nights, history talks, science meet ups…their diary is quite literally jam packed and you can be well watered with their own seasonal beers (the latest beer they released was called ‘Paranoid’, a 5% Chilli Porter), 10 pull pumps and a finely stocked fridge. They host a Vegan beer festival in September too.
Ones to watch…
Kilda: Original Patty Men go sophisticated with charcutier, cheese and beer!
Arch 13 by Connolly’s: More space, more wine, more beer, more cheese…everyone is happy!
Lock and Key: The inaugural Lock & Key Midlands Beer Convention will be held at The Bond Company in Digbeth, Birmingham from Friday 20th July to Sunday 22nd July and tickets are available now.
Top 5 Foodie Openings in Birmingham 2017
The foodscape of Birmingham is constantly changing and heritage buildings that have lain empty are being brought back to life with pizzazz and finesse. Here at BFT we like to celebrate independent Birmingham born business so let’s take a look at what has tickled our taste buds in 2017.
It is the story from which movies are made ... if there were a street food genre! This family business was born from discussion around the dinner table and then took the street food scene with such success that they now have their own site. So in demand, they are open 7 days a week offering grab and go lunches Mon-Fri and sit down fayre with cocktails in the evening. Laid back setting, punchy flavours with personal names and warm, friendly service. This successful set up is all about family!
I have hailed these baking buttery gods as fantastical in my previous blog but I cannot get away from the freshness of their flavours and the journey keeps evolving. The ample space is now open all week for you to sit and enjoy your goodies along with a fine roasted coffee. A beautiful back room for craft collective themes (linking snuggly to the heritage of the building) means there is a fun Christmas market and yoga on a Sunday and more to be announced in 2018.
Tucked behind John Bright Street this spacious venue transports you to a Bulgarian getaway. The interior is simple but effective, the menu translates curiously but this family-run business means that staff are friendly and keen to explain their nation’s most favourite dishes. As the plates of cured meats, grilled skewers and deep fired cheese begin to arrive you appreciate the home cooked recipes and much loved foods. The restaurant on my visit was energetically busy with a host of Bulgarian customers which has to be a sure sign of an authentic taste of home!
The street food evolution is in full cycle. Meat Shack daddy, Paul Collis had a religious following from Digbeth Dining Club and beyond, even dabbling in Michelin alchemy with Brad Carter. He has now got his own venue serving up some of his 'filthy, dripping' magic in the form of burgers, loaded fries and deliciously fine deep fried gherkins. Vegetarians are catered for and Thorp 17 can quench your thirst in craft beer. Menu changes frequently with the seasons, so you have to keep going back!
Time to refuel with a little bit of healthy, vegan fare. Prepare to be delighted as a vegan, tickled as a vegetarian and curiously amazed as a carnivore. This fresh in food and in innovation kilo bar, allows you to help yourself to a range of dishes that are then weighed to be paid for! Lots of daily changing choices that are delicious and nutritious can be eaten in or taken away. Lots of wholesome shopping products to pick up too. Sister to the Natural Healthy store in Digbeth and Purely Vegan in Kings Heath, where you can indulge in a vegan afternoon tea!
This Christmas I am keen to avoid buying nonsense that people don't need - it only ends up cluttering houses and even more commonly lying in land fill spaces. Instead, I would rather support local businesses and share a little luxury in the form of food and drink treats that you can indulge with loved ones during the festive feasts that end December. These treat stops are not just for Christmas...they are all year loveliness!
I love this small deli space crammed with offerings that make it a slice of foodie heaven in the Great Western Arcade. The welcoming staff are connoisseurs in cheese and beyond. They are keen to offer advice and samples (oh go on!) to ensure you get just what you were looking for – even if you didn't know what it was. It is not unusual to see huge platters of cured meats and cheese being sent across to the arcade’s neighbours , Loki Wine, where you could pop in for wine lovers gifts too. Best for cheese, meat, condiments and chutneys.
There aren't many shops you need to get buzzed into...this is one! Half museum, half shop, there are some magnificently rare find whiskies in these four walls and it is staffed by walking whisky encyclopedias. It is an afternoon out for spirit lovers without indulging on all that is on offer. Their tasting events and workshops would make delightful gifts too. They also stock a wide range of other spirits. Best for boozy gifts and experiences.
This Birmingham born coffee shop brand not only sells delicious drinks and nibbles, they also have the gadgets you need to make brews at home. From ergonomic tea pots to snazzy coffee presses they have lots to offer for the coffee fanatic and tea guzzler in your life. Sitting back with a cuppa and a cake while shopping, who said gift buying was tiring! If you are at the Ikon branch, pop into the gallery gift shop for all your cards, books and jewellery needs. Best for coffee and tea fanatics.
Tucked away in a back street in Digbeth next to the Warehouse café, this little gem of a shop has lots of treats for those who are following specialist diets or need to consider allergies. Looking for stocking fillers for vegans or gluten free delights? This is a one stop shop. There are international products and local produce. They frequently run tasting days, so you can sample products to see if they suit your tastes. Best for vegans, vegetarians and diet specific gifts.
Changing the world one macaroon at a time. Conscious clear consumption, this community interest company means profits from the sales of their artisan macaroons are ploughed back into the business to assist in offering training opportunities for young adults to gain patisserie qualifications and work experience. The macaroons sing for themselves - a host of exotic, tantalising flavours and colours scientifically created using skills and technology that means they are moreish on the eye and even more on the mouth. You can even design your own and have them delivered. Best for shared indulgence.
John Cadbury and the Bournville factory means Birmingham is famed for its chocolate and it is a pleasure to find cocoa creations still made in the city. A husband and wife duo who make all their own chocolates on site, you can see the marble tops in use as they experiment with new truffles and products. A hot urn of pure hot chocolate churns in store and the smell engages the taste buds. Lots of gifts to choose from for all desires and ages plus a host of chocolate experiences that can be bought as v
FROM CRUFFINS TO SOUR DOUGH TO VEGAN TREATS, SUPPORT INDEPENDEENT HOME GROWN BAKING TALENT IN BIRMINGHAM.
Spring weather truly had landed with our city centre walk on March 4th. Sunny start, raining interval and then the pleasure of a huge rainbow, that really did stretch the metropolises skyline. You could actually see one end, seems the pot of gold must have been at the other colourful end. Spring is a time of news beginnings and celebrated in many ways with the lighter, longer days, the bloom of nature awakening and the Vernal equinox fast approaching. A host of festivals recognise this in bright and colourful ways from, carnival Madis Gras Holi to Easter plus St. Patricks day on the way-there is lots to keep us busy and excited!
The same rings true for the city of Birmingham. There is a buzz of intrigue with new ventures opening up, some big brands that now want to give the 2nd city a chance (T2 tea in the Bullring for instance, Tom's Kitchen in the Mailbox), independent's that have blossomed on the cities outskirts have now gone big and glamorous (Damascena Coffee House Moseley). Plus new, fresh ventures opened (Lone Wolf) and a tasty deli in Moseley (Sapori DI Sole) plus plans in the making still to be born - a host of brewery's and a new Atkar Islam's new Italian in Selfridges.
I too am on my own journey, one of discovery and intrigue, fun with a little bit of fear. The food tour has had lots of interest and all I know, learn and want to share is exciting. Look forward to hosting you on this adventure through the city's past, present and future through food and merriment.
After an amazing New York adventure over the festive season we are fully immersed back in the land of work and relaity. The jean buttons are feeling a little tighter and the purse strings a tad knotted but that is no reason to be sitting at home, when there is so much going on in Birmingham.
Very excited to be putting the final touches to the food tour. It has been a hard slog taste testing all the food and menu reading! But rest assured only the finest treats make it through the door of our walking journey.
My Mr has secured a rentable spot with his fab pal Dan for their brewing adventure in a secret location Moseley way. So we toasted the news with a friends and food- a Spanish burger and a home brew beer flight, all went down rather well .The year so far is off to a an exciting start.
The food scape of Birmingham changes on a weekly basis and there is always new places to try out. This week I am most intrigued by the Indian Brewery company who have recently opened a new craft beer, artisan coffee and Indian street food venture...with no menu to read but whispers of a breakfast options that features a bacon butty in naan bread I hold high hopes. Off to try it on Tuesday so watch this space!
Perhaps I should invest in some new looser jeans in the January sale!