Sky By the Water Shines

Sky By the Water Shines

Resort world. Billed as a stand-alone location destination…even by flight. I never bought it myself and dreamt up a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory World would attract more of a global following, with a crazy glass elevator ride and all.

With its good connections to the city centre and airport it is a shiny lakeside hub of chains but a new independent diamond amongst the monotony has been born, Sky by the Water.

The first-time solo venture for Brummie Head Chef Aaron Darnley. I had the joy of working with Aaron back when Le Petit Blanc sat on the blossomed fringes of Brindley Place and even as a fresh-faced commis chef, he had a drive that surpassed some of the other hardworking chefs behind the hot plate. His food now sings from the crockery and I could recognise the culinary journey he has been on since then with Andy Waters, refining classic French dishes with a British twist.

The Monday night found us celebrating, and Resort world was a good geographical location for all off our party, which included a birthday boy, the birthday boy mama, teenager and a pregnant lady plus foodie fanatic me and my beau!

Staff were slick and attentive, and the large shiny restaurant was surprisingly busy with guests for a a start of week dreary February evening. The NEC’s Caravan and Camping show was bringing many an international diner to the venue. The sparkling interior left a reflection on the windows that gave the impression that the 7th floor restaurant had a twinkling city view; I would not go that far, but it was a view. Interior although glamorous did seem slightly confused, reminded me of a swanky casino.

We all opted for starters. Teen Josh ordering mushroom risotto despite not liking mushrooms; now this was a test! I splashed out and had the scallops, apple and black pudding. Other dishes included ham hock, goats’ cheese and a chicken liver parfait. We broke our fast with some warm, in house baked mini baguettes, that were soon devoured.

My scallops were cooked to perfection and plump, the acidity of the apple cut through the richness of the black pudding and I now had an additional side of mushrooms to delight in too. Josh gobbled up the rich risotto despite not enjoying the texture of the fungi (que my plate) and he did delight in the flavour. Would we be able to entice the same enthusiasm for his ravioli which was to come with Mediterranean vegetables (not a vegetable fan).

Mains saw the fillet steak well cooked and came with a disproportionate mound of triple cooked chips (they were eaten). My succulent chicken breast and gnocchi was shared with Josh in exchange for aubergine, courgette and more mushrooms. A trio of pork saw the family banter cease and be replaced with pleasurable sounds of flavour enjoyment.

Plates were well and truly cleaned, and beautiful mama-to-be was certainly keen to try a dessert. Plates are balanced in portion so you can enjoy 3 courses. The dessert offerings are led by Daryll Collins of Bake of final fame. The renouncing top pick was the caramel shortbread which in comparison to other courses was hefty. The malted milk glace got prize for best ever ice-cream tasted by Josh, and I had to agree it was rather special. Cheesecake was deconstructed which did not meet the birthday boys delight but his celebration plate of chocolates made up for that.

The food was well executed and punching high in comparison to the cost. The quality way surpassed what many high end gastro pubs offer for the same price tag. We all left satisfied and in cheery mood that the fine offerings were fit for celebration. You can indulge in plenty of cocktails and fine wine, afternoon tea and more! Check out their website.

 

A dog, a boy, and a baby walk into an Italian...

A dog, a boy, and a baby walk into an Italian...

I’ve had the joy of dog sitting this last week, an absolute gem of a Labrador. Not wanting my new 4 legged side kick Juno to get in the way of my dining I had to rethink some of my moves.

A sunny Wednesday found me caring for a friends son, hosting a pooch and meeting a pal with a baby! All hungry and eager for some lunch we were quite the awkward table. Not if you are visiting Laghi’s deli though.

This independent deli and restaurant found at the top of Five Ways is a true Italian gem. From quality food, to friendly service and accommodating prices- these folks are doing all the right things.

The presence of a dog and a 6 month old didn’t baffle the host of waiters. Lunchtime trade saw them busy but service was still attentive. They were happy to talk us through the generous lunchtime menu where one course and drink sets you back £8.99 and you can have 2 courses for £12.99. The place mats also include Italian facts and some of the language to practice with the native waiting staff.

Nine year old Noah, had 2 courses starting with a garlic bread and following with a vegetable pizza. We roared with laughter as the garlic bread arrived, pizza size. A kind fellow he shared a few slices and his hollow legs teamed with the light and fluffy dough meant there was little evidence left. My bruschetta was piles high with ripe tomatoes and well seasoned and topped with parmesan.

Mains included a chicken Milanese served with salad and crunchy fries, a deep-fried calzone (panzerotti), an Italian street food was oozing with ricotta. Noah’s pizza was thin crust and gooey with cheese and an assortment of Mediterranean vegetables. Even he was beaten by the size and took a few slices home for dinner.

We took a sneaky peak at the dessert menu but we had, had our fill. It turned out we were chatting with the pastry chef who was keen to talk and had been helping on the floor over a busy lunch. She keenly recommended the donuts (bombolini) she makes, so we grabbed a couple to take away. Light and fluffy and filled with Nutella, custard or homemade jam. Bouissimo!

The deli has coffee and sandwiches to take away (check out their in-house focaccia), Italian produce to buy and runs a more extensive menu in the evening with a host of specials depending upon what is seasonal.

A recent acquaintance was talking business to me and said that there are 3 pillars to consider: price, convenience and quality and often the three do not align- I have been thinking about this lately, often in relation to food (naturally). Here at Laghi’s they have it al! I look forward to returning!

 

A Yummy Brummy Institution

A Yummy Brummy Institution

A cold January night made all the more bright with a colourful trip to Bodega.

Bodega has stood the test of time and still delights. Its fine foods are reasonably priced with a fun and friendly vibe that can’t fail but please.

A warm greeting from the staff found us perusing the menu soon with a cocktail in hand. I opted for a pomegranate cooler that was refreshing and not too sweet- I like to taste my liquor. While my partner in crime, (@BeckyBeaucoup) opted for a porn star martini, which was gorgeously decorated with passion fruit cup filled with prosecco.

Keeping it veggie and vegan, as my date is a herbivore we began our Mexican fiesta with Bodegas famous nachos- they truly are the best in the city. Crunchy fried tortillas piled high with molten cheese, creamy homemade guacamole, punchy salsa, sour cream and crunchy jalapenos. A queso filled mini quesadilla was creamy and delicious. The portions are generous, so after having practically licked the plates of our starters we were feeling rather full.

We did our best to gobble up the vegan main of fluffy quinoa loaded with butternut squash, pinto beans and spinach. A mountain amount of healthy goodness, juxtaposed to our halloumi burger order! A tasty fried slab of squeezy cheese tucked inside a tortilla coat with rocket and gooey caramelised onions. I wished to eat more of the super crunchy sweet potato fries that accompanied it but my top trouser button was saying otherwise. Thankfully they do doggie bags so I had quinoa to take away.

My sweet date has a love of all things dulce, so we ordered a couple of desserts! A refreshing selection of sorbets and a banana caramel cheesecake. The latter was not too sweet and came with some amazing moreish warm caramel on the side. The sorbets were a fine pallet cleanser, refreshing and flavoursome.

A swift couple of margeritas later and we were ready for home! Delighting in snapping some of the cool and vibrant interior as we left.

Bodega is a like a Brummie institution now. I have friends who have lived in the city and left and always make a point of visiting here when they return. It is warm and friendly in vibe, food and drinks! Like a big Birmingham cuddle with a Mexican twist…my only desire, that they bring local condiment queen, Pips hot sauce back to the table.

 

Independent and Vegan in Brum

Independent and Vegan in Brum

A movement that can’t be ignored.

Christmas over indulgence true to you? Vegetarian but considering vegan? Embarking on Veganuary for a challenge? As the fastest growing food movement in the world, restaurants are really having to listen to this climate of change . Feast on these delicious dining spots and don’t feel like your missing out, Veganuary or not.

Natural healthy Food

With a fresh new look, table service as well as their kilo bar style food and a purely vegan menu you cannot go wrong and will quite simply marvel at the creations- vegan snicker cheesecake anyone!

Indian Streatery

Culturally steering clear of meat was a weekly occurrence for this family, who now run their popular street food business from their temple row home. Vegetarian dishes can easily be adapted to vegan or simply already are. My favourite is the smoked aubergine curry with plenty of rice and chapati.

Fressh

Looking for some munch on the run and don’t want to chow down on a chia seed bowl…if you are after a fast food hit with a plant base this is your gem. Think meatball subs, stuffed tacos and creamy mac and cheese. Nom Nom!

Damascena

Sink into this exotic delight with three locations across the city, the ample platters delight even the hardiest of carnivore and are so plentiful and fragrant. With crunchy falafel, creamy babaganoush, moreish hummus and more. Wash this down with mint tea or fruit shakes.

The Plough

Hankering for a pub lunch or a spot for all the family, look no further. Vegan pizzas, amazing midweek offers keep this pub rammed- save some pennies and go for 241 pizzas on Monday or burgers on Tuesday.

Nocturnal animals

Being vegan and seeking refined food can be a little tricky as fine dining menus are so time consuming to have an entirely separate menu can challenge kitchen staff beyond the time they have. For 2 nights only Nocturnal Animals will offer a purely vegan showcase (15th & 31st Jan). Enjoy the cool vibes and exquisite drinks list and delectable dining. Doing dry January too (you brave beast!) these folks do AMAZING mocktails.

Not Dogs

Nestled in the connecting shops between Grand Central and the Bull Ring, these purveyors of vegan food offer the junk food fix you may search for but all under the umbrella of plant based and you would be surprised just how good a loaded soya dog can be! These kind hearted folks also donate their leftover food to Lets Feed Brum a homeless service in the city centre.

Change kitchen

Change kitchen are based in Stirchley Baths Monday-Saturday, providing filling vegan nosh for the community but keep an eye on their website as they frequently team up with projects close to their heart and host pop up dinners, such as Social enterprise Evolve in Digbeth. Dishes are often inspired by Asian recipes and are 100% wholesome.

The Real Junk Food Project

TRJFP operate across the UK, having started in Leeds. They work with various suppliers to save food from waste- be it Lidl or the markets or events at the NEC. They then pass this on to customers at their cafes as meals, in freegan boxes and in drop ins. They operate a pay as you as you feel basis and are run entirely by volunteers. So dig deep if you can and your money goes to a selected charity at the end of the year. Menu is always vegetarian and has vegan options. Find them on a Monday at Kings Heath community centre 12-2pm and at lots of vegan fairs.

Soft Buns, Hard Shakes, that's how Byron operate.

Soft Buns, Hard Shakes, that's how Byron operate.

A City Centre Burger Sanctuary

Byron Burger has come a long way since its humble start up in Kensington by founder Tom Byng in 2007. He was inspired by burger joints in New York and despite expanding dramatically they still ring true to their origin.

If you are looking for some respite, a filling feed and good service away from the hustle and bustle and ques of the German market this is your spot.

A busy Thursday night found the sizeable Brum branch busy with groups, families, couples and individual diners; for who doesn’t like a burger. The interior is industrial with homely features and wallpaper plus a fine selection of Birmingham art.

With an expansive staple menu that caters for eager carnivores, discerning vegetarians and virtuous vegans plus all dietary requirements are considered. A reasonably priced mini Byron menu will keep the kids gleeful too.

Prompt service had us enjoying one of their many craft beers. The company’s growth in popularity means they can pull in the big boys for collaborations, so they have some exclusive beers with Camden brewery; a seasonal peach IPA goes down easily as we browse the menu.

Staff and service is speedy but relaxed. We order some chicken wings from the small bites menu while we await the main event. Tender wings deep fried and generously coated in a vibrant buffalo sauce, not blow you top but spicy but had a kick. The accompanying dip had big creamy chunks of blue cheese, the sauces were kept for our meaty buns. I do enjoy a condiment.

As well as their core burger menu, they have seasonal specials and Christmas is no exception. Bring on the Cheesemas menu. These can be part of a set menu for groups or stand-alone burgers. We opt for the full shebang with the Holy Cheesemas; a chargrilled beef patty served pink and juicy with 3 cheeses-melted and crisped, chipotle mayo and a garnish of bacon macaroni. A big feed, that left me mighty full but was a good combination with the cheese textures, quality produce and flavours complimenting each other.

Our other choice was the Rueben, which also packed a punch with a smoky BBQ brisket topped beef patty, a zingy pickle relish and crunchy onion and bacon. A cheese sauce on the side made a good dunking companion to our fries. I upgraded my side to courgette chips, in attempt to fool myself into believing it was a healthier choice; they were bountiful and crispy all be they still deep-fried vegetables.

No room left for dessert but there are plenty of rich options available as well as a wide range of milkshake choices that contain 4 scoops of ice-cream no less.

This burger chain provides quality food with speedy service so is great for a quick bite or a more leisurely meal, perfect tonic to Christmas shopping or turkey leftovers!

 

New Kids on the Culinary Streets of Brum

New Kids on the Culinary Streets of Brum

Our city is paired in Michelin goodness with Edinburgh to have the most accoladed dining spots outside of the big smoke. Our homegrown talent continues to grow and I have been doing some rather delectable eating out. Drink this up!

Daring to different and fun.

Alex Claridge has come from pop ups in coffee shops to have his own venue in the city centre, then reincarnated this in the atmospheric Jewellery Quarter with Wilderness. His newest take is stylish, delicious and exciting, Nocturnal Animals.

Spot the neon sign on Temple Row guiding you in to swanky dining. An 80’s interior invites Instagram poses a go go. A bar with cocktails based on moods and equally tantalising mocktail options (I do occasionally not drink, gulp!) plus a beer collaboration with Dig Brew.

Downstairs 4 or 6 course menus offer a modern balance of flare, skill and Asian flavours. Plates balanced in size and offering; no dish left my taste buds glum. The little surprises I don’t want to give away as that is half the fun. I am now just eager to sample the Barbie themed afternoon tea and bring all my friends. A super edition to the Brum food scene.

Evolving

A city famed for the Balti and going for a curry, Aktar Islam put the well-executed Indian on the map with his F word and Great British Menu offerings. He has now parted that family and set up to create his own empire on Colmore Row.

His largest and premier spot, Opheem sits where Mechu use to be and sticky floored, dance club scenes are long lost with lavish surroundings and delightful interiors. This is a big space and a bold move for your first solo endeavour.

Aktar has taken his winning dishes with him and they feature on the menu and you have an offer of a la carte or a tasting line up. Little treats arrive and although executed well, they do sit comfortably together-sourdough bread and an in descript curry sauce.

Main dishes are presented delightfully but they lack pizazz. Is it the firm memory of what your local curry house offers being dampened by a more fine dining rhetoric or a restaurant still finding its feet in where it wants to be. I will revisit once my purse has recovered.

Skill

Ladies whom lunch, me and the girls enjoyed some fine time at Folium. The small restaurant tucked away on Caroline Street has a very reasonable lunchtime menu, 3 courses for £30.

Wagyu fat whip with artisan in house baked bread wows from the very beginning. The kitchens skills shine in every plate and savoured bite. Couple duo Ben Tesh and Lucy Halon have created a solid platform to go forth and experiment and look forward to tasting their journey with them.

It would have been rude not to swing by Britain’s best Gin bar at 40 St. Pauls. The gin list will bowl you over but do tap into the amazing staff’s knowledge as they can guide you through the pages to ensure your tastes are satisfied but also stretched by trying something new.

Wow how lucky we are in Brum to have such exciting places on the map. Now what will 2019 bring!

 

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We Have Brum Brunch Covered

We Have Brum Brunch Covered

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.

Saints Kitchen

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.

Lewis’s

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.

Damascena

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.

Otto

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.

Natural Healthy Foods

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.

Bar Opus

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.

Lord Clifton & Red Lion

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

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.

Scott’s of Harborne

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.

 

Sun and the city-Brum's tip top rooftop terraces

Sun and the city-Brum's tip top rooftop terraces

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

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.

The Bureau

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.

The Wellington

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!).

The Church

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.

The Birmingham Library

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.

Canal House

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.

 

Beer Hot Spots in Brum

Beer Hot Spots in Brum

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.

Sour: A beer with an acidic and tart taste. Sometimes the result of a bacterial influence intended by the brewer, from either wild or inoculated bacteria such as lactobacillus and pediococcus.

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.

Tilt

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.

The Wolf

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!

1000 Trades

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!

The Plough

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.

Dig Brew

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!

Davenports

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017, what a foodie year for Brum

2017, what a foodie year for Brum

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 lets take a look at what has tickled our taste buds in 2017. 

Indian Streatery 

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! 

 Medicine Bakery 

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.    

 Bulgarian Village Kitchen 

 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 nations 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!  

 Meat shack 

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! 

Natural Healthy Foods 

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! 

 

 

THE TOP FOOD SHOP STOPS IN BRUM.

THE TOP FOOD SHOP STOPS IN BRUM.

Best places in Birmingham to buy foodie treats. 

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! 

Andersons Deli 

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 arcades neighbours , Loki Wine, where you could pop in for wine lovers gifts too. Best for cheese, meat, condiments and chutneys. 

Hard to find Whisky 

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. 

York's Cafe  

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. 

Naturally Healthy Foods 

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. 

Miss Macaroon 

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. 

The Chocolate Quarter 

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