Experience: The Meeting Place with Jack Daniels

Regular readers will be aware I’m a whisk(e)y aficionado. What you might not know is Jack Daniel’s is a whiskey, not a bourbon; it could be a bourbon if it wanted to be but it’s not. It’s a regular bourbon until it enters their charcoal filtering method and then, it’s described as a ‘Tennessee Sipping Whiskey’or a Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey, if you look closely on the label.

Another thing you may not be aware of is that the month of September is Jack Daniel’s Birthday, as his exact birthday is not known.  Instead of picking an arbitrary date, the month of September does just fine apparently; even the man himself comes back to celebrate according to the sign!

 

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In celebration of this, a couple of friends and I had the chance to visit The Meeting Place at The Rainbow Venues in Digbeth to raise a glass.

To celebrate in style, they had the entire three floors transformed into an old style Western Saloon with panelled walls neon signs and barrel tables to give the whole venue a real American feel. I was really impressed with the effort put into it especially with the food stalls upstairs (more on that shortly).

First stop, of course, was the bar.  I mean, you can’t celebrate Jack Daniel’s without some in your hand, can you? With master cocktail maker Rob Wood (creator of Smultronstalle) behind the bar too, there is really no excuse either!

The cocktail list was extensive and covered a few the other Jack Daniels offerings rather than the usual Old No. 7:

  • Double Jack & Cola Does what it says on the tin and a classic. Jack Daniel’s & Cola
  • Frozen Jack & Cola For those wanting an icy take on the above (also now an aspirational item for me to have, an alcohol slush machine)
  • Apple Jack Jack Daniel’s and Apple Juice – something I’ve never tried before but really nice as a sipping cocktail.
  • Lynchburg Lemonade Jack Daniel’s, Triple Sec and Lemonade, a nice fresh, citrus bursting alternative to a Jack & Cola.
  • Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Cider A new drink from the minds behind Jack Daniel’s. This is a crisp Apple Cider blended with Jack Daniels Old No. 7. The general consensus was we were not big fans.
  • Tennesee Cooler Jack Daniel’s Honey, Apple Juice and Ginger Ale. Now, this is going on the cocktail rotation at BG Towers; sweet, sharp and spicy all in one go. A winning combination in our group.
  • Red Dog Smash Jack Daniel’s Ltd Edition Red Dog Saloon Whiskey, Herbal Liqueur, Lemon Juice and Apricot Jam. This wasn’t one I tried but one of my friends tried it, and he much preferred the Cooler as this was a touch too herbal for him.
  • Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire Shot Jack Daniel’s Red Hot Cinnamon Liqueur – described as smooth Jack with a fiery finish, and I’d agree wholeheartedly with that.

We needed something to soak up all this alcohol so it was time to hit the rooftop garden for some of Brum’s best street food.

For food, they’d laid on The Flying Cows and Low ‘N’ Slow stalwarts of the local food scene. I’ve written about Andy a few times now and then. The food choices sounded mouthwatering, both with a Jack Daniel’s twist:

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The Flying Cows

  • Steak Burger, Jack Daniel’s Glazed Smoked Bacon, Monterey Jack Cheese, Lettuce & Red Onion
  • Steak Burger, Jack Daniel’s Pulled Pork, Swiss Cheese, Red Onions & Lettuce
  • Veggie Burger, Halloumi Cheese, Jack Daniel’s Red Onion Chutney

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Low ‘n’ Slow

  • 18 Hour Smoked Pork Shoulder Bun, Sweet Heat BBQ Sauce & Lemon Herb Slaw
  • Wild Cherry Smoked Baby Back Ribs with Sweet Heat Glaze (1/2 Rack).

I was sorely tempted by the Baby Back Ribs but I wasn’t appropriately dressed for a rib feast!  Instead, I went for the Pork Shoulder Bun and I wasn’t disappointed.  The meat was what I’ve come to expect from Low ‘n’ Slow with Andy and Donna pulling off a master work in slow cooked meat. Sweet with just enough tang from the lemon herb slaw to balance the sweetness from the BBQ sauce.

After devouring the burger, it was time for a trip to Lynchburg for a wander around the distillery through the magic of VR. It was very impressive and a great way to see the process without having to fly to the States.

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Back to the bar and time for some music. We were treated to two of Birmingham’s best local bands, The Americas and Broken Witt Rebels who gave barnstorming sets to end the night.

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When: 12/09/2017

Where: Jack Daniel’s The Meeting Place Pop-Up, The Rainbow Venues29 Lower Trinity Street, Digbeth, Birmingham, B9 4AG

Who: Jack DanielsThe Rainbow Venues, SmultronstalleLow ‘n’ Slow, The Flying Cows, The Americas, Broken Witt Rebels.

Disclaimer: For this visit, I was a guest of Jack Daniels UK and Euology PR, who provided all food, most of the drinks and some natty merch in the shape of a bandana and a few lanyards; this provides no bias to the post. This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.

Experience: Adil’s – Balti Triangle with Travelodge

Curry is a funny thing for us Brummies. We like to think we know a thing or two about one of the world’s most favourite dishes, and even have our own style to differentiate from other curry hot spots with the Balti.

I mean, we love a “Birmingham Balti” so much the Birmingham Balti Association (BBA) tried to protect the term back in 2015.

Travelodge, asked me to find out more about this culinary classic on their behalf, so Wifey and I left the city centre and travelled the short distance to the heart of the Balti Triangle.

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And where else could we go but the place which claims to have invented the dish. Adil’s say they brought the dish to the UK, opening on Stoney Lane in 1977 and, after a brief spell on Ladypool Road, is back at home in the epicentre of the Balti Triangle fully refurbished and sticking with their blend of fresh Kashmiri cuisine and Balti’s abound.

The interior is light (much lighter than the pictures show above!). We popped in just after opening on Sunday and they were already busy with takeaway drivers flying in and out.

Prior to having a thorough read of the menu, we were supplied with poppadoms and a rainbow of sauces, Mint Yoghurt (white sauce, sweet, cooling), Chilli Chutney (orange sauce, mild, tomato tang, sweet), Coriander & Green Chilli Sauce (the verdant green one, our favourite, sweet and tangy with a spicy after-kick) and their Hot Sauce (well balanced on spice and delicious).

To balance out those hot sauces, we had some Mango Lassi. One of the most popular drinks on the sub continent of India and a blend of yoghurt and milk with fruit, if requested. The other choices were Strawberry, Sweet and Salty. Ours was icy cold, thick and not overly sweet; the perfect partner for spicy food.

The menu (available here) is comprehensive with a wide variety of starters, rice and naans, and even the choice to make your own Balti from a selection of 10 meats or vegetables, 10 sauces and 14 extras giving a mind-boggling 1400 combinations!

For starters, we couldn’t choose so we plumped for the Meat Platter with pretty much all of them on. Lamb Seikh Kebab, Chicken Seikh, Chicken Tikka, Lamb Tikka & Chicken Wings were all served on a sizzling platter with onions.

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The platter was much bigger than expected and would be enough for three persons rather than just the two of us!

  • Lamb Sheikh – A good and chunky lamb mince laced through with coriander and gave a solid umami taste
  • Chicken Sheikh – Something a little different for Wifey and I, who stick to the traditional lamb version, this was a nice suprise. It had little flecks of chilli running through, adding a nice spice without overwhelming the mouth.
  • Chicken Wings – These slid right off the bone whilst being crispy on the outside, seemingly by using wizardry.
  • Lamb Tikka  – These were thickly coated in a Tikka coating, a good and chunky size.
  • Chicken Tikka – My favourite starter, soft, beautiful, sweet and smoky and an aroma to intoxicate the nose.

It was a hearty portion, plenty enough to share and available for 2 or 4 depending on hunger levels.

After a short rest, it was onto our mains. We decided to go with Chef Specials rather than picking our own, to see what the creative minds in the kitchen get up to.

I chose Balti Tikka E Khaas (combination of Chicken Tikka, Lamb Tikka, Chicken Kebab, mince & peppers cooked in a Balti sauce) mainly as it had more of that wondrous Chicken Tikka in it.  Wifey chose the Balti Makhan Chicken (diced pieces of Chicken breast cooked with butter, methi & almond powder) as she’s not a fan of anything spicier than a paprika crisp!

For sides we chose Pilau Rice and a Medium Naan, listed on the menu as suitable for 2-3 persons.

Before we get onto the mains, that MEDIUM Naan, which took up the length of the table. They have an even bigger Table Naan option, which I can only imagine is dragged in on a heard of oxen or can be used as a makeshift sled! The naan itself was delicious and made with a stronger flour than I usually experience, giving it a slightly salty edge. The pilau rice was neon yellow in colour and well cooked, not a sticky grain in sight.

My Balti Tikka E Khaas was in a thicker Balti sauce than normal, having been laced with a rich spicy meat. The chunky bell peppers added depth and colour, and the big pieces of meat each added their own character to the dish. Wifey’s Balti Makhan Chicken, was reported back as rich and tender to the point of melting in her mouth with a rich, but light, creamy sauce.

There was so much food we couldn’t actually finish it, and the remainders came home with us nicely packaged in takeaway boxes. Dessert menus were offered but politely declined to ensure buttons didn’t fly across the room.

It won’t be our last visit to the new look Adil’s and we’re already planning who to take along next time.

 

If you’re planning a trip the Balti Triangle and Adil’s there’s at least three Travelodge options nearby.

Birmingham Central Bullring (2.3 mi)

Birmingham Yardley (3.5 mi)

Birmingham Maypole (4.1 mi)

It’s well served by public transport with the 3 bus and  34 bus  stopping right outside, and the inner circle (8 bus) a few minutes walk away. There’s also handy off street parking nearby if you’re driving too!

When: 10/09/2017

Where:  Adil’s148-150 Stoney Lane, Birmingham B12 8AJ

Who:  Adil’s, Travelodge

Disclaimer: For this visit, Travelodge paid for my meal but all views remain my own or Wifey’s. The restaurant manager didn’t know why Wifey and I had cameras in hand and asked us on the way out if we were there for a certain review website.

This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.

Talk: Squaring Up with Gizzi Erskine

Something rather Square and American has come to Great Western Arcade in the shape of Square UK’s  first ever pop-up shop,  and follows in the footsteps of Square’s first physical store in New York, which opened last month.

To celebrate opening in Birmingham they have also had a few speakers over the last few days including Ree Ree Rockette (lifestyle blogger) and Paul Hardwood (Birmingham Brewery Company), who’s talking on Thursday 14th September.

 

I had chance to hear the amazing Gizzi Erskine talk about her life and career with Birmingham’s own amazing Full to the Brum (Laura)

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It was a fantastic talk, covering her bohemian upbringing, and her mothers introduction of world food to her diet at a different age. Her difficulties with completing her normal education and then moving in to being a trained body piercer.

We then moved on her enrolment at Leith’s Cookery school being the most intense and fulfilling experience of her life and balancing cooking in professional cooking with completing her course.  She was also lucky to work at St John with Fergus Henderson  provocateur of ‘Nose to Tail Eating’ and her first day at work boning a goat.

This led to her becoming a pioneer of Pop-Up cookery with her friend and fellow St John employee Abby at an art gallery in Brick Lane in 2001. With three course dining and a pay what you want ethos.

Gizzi also won the intern prize at Leiths to work at Good Food magazine and was lucky to go to the Good Food show in Birmingham as a warm up act for Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay, and from then on was being chased to become a TV Chef, starting behind the scenes on Full on Food with Heston Blumenthal and Richard Corrigan, and then on to Ready, Steady, Cook. She found her feet on the second series of Cook Yourself Thin and the battles between being an authentic chef and meeting TV’s demands.

She’s now taken her early inspiration of Eastern cuisine into her latest show (Gizzi Erskine Seoul Food airing now on the Good Food Channel), and her love of Bao buns via way of Dave Chang (Momofuko), and the amazing boiling pot of fusion cuisine in New York.

We also learnt about her experience in setting up K-Town,  a pop-up eatery inspired by New York’s Korean quarter in Shoreditch in 2012, the story of how Korean Fried chicken came to be, and how she’s now looking to Malaysian and Thai food and how that wave will soon hit the UK.

 

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An hour wasn’t long enough to hear her talk and was great to see the warmth, wit and genuine passion for food coming through and I’ll be attempting to make food from her books at some point in the near future, where she gives lots of technical advice.

A big thank you to Square for giving me a heads up about the talk (free and open to the public).

IF YOU POP DOWN BEFORE SATURDAY 16TH SEPTEMBER AT 6PM

Local business owners will also be able to pick up a free Square Reader if they visit the pop up shop and sign up for Square in September.

OPENING HOURS:

Square’s pop-up shop will be open from 4th – 16th September from 09:00 – 18:00 Monday to Saturday and 11:00 – 17:00 on Sundays.

There’s one more free masterclass being held (tomorrow at the time of writing) and I urge you to get down if you have chance.

FREE EVENT

  • Thursday 14 September at 18.30: Birmingham Brewery Company’s Paul Hardwood will talk about the challenges and joys of giving up your job to follow your dream – in his case to launch a ‘Brummie Beer’ range – a tasting of which will be held after his talk

WHERE: The Great Western Arcade, Unit 6, Colmore Row, Birmingham, B2 5HU

With the Square card reader, businesses can take card payments with no monthly contracts or hidden fees, and get their money the next business day. It takes minutes to get started, and sellers can quickly and securely begin accepting chip & PIN and contactless payments from Visa, Mastercard and American Express.

Square’s card reader costs £39 +VAT, but to celebrate Square’s first UK pop up shop, local business owners can get a free Square Reader if they visit the pop up shop and sign up for Square in September.

For more information visit www.square.com/westmidlands

 

When: 11/09/2017

Where: Square UK Pop Up Shop, Great Western Arcade, Unit 6, Colmore Row, Birmingham, B2 5HU

Who: Square UK, Gizzi Erskine,

Review: Food Attack at The Meat Shack

It’s National Burger Day today, so what better way to celebrate then telling you about my visit to one of Birmingham’s hottest new venues, The Meat Shack at Thorp 17.

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The Meat Shack are not new to the Birmingham food scene, in fact they’ve been established for 5 years as a streetfood vendor, and have served their faithful followers at Birmingham streetfood Mecca, Digbeth Dining Club for a long time. It’s great to see that they’ve put down roots in the heart of Southside so how could we not go down for a visit.

The interior is light and airy with a nice few touches of street  art and corrugated steel to liven things up. We arrived early evening and we were glad we did, between arriving and finishing the place went from reasonably quiet to queuing out of the door. I think the burger smell had got to the Birmingham masses it certainly had got to us, it was also great to see cocktail extraordinaire Gary Anderson settling in to his new role as General Manager, his affable nature shining through whilst taking our drinks order.

I was dining with Wifey and “Award Winning #BrumHour” who joined us to see what all the foodie buzz had been about. The tap ale had ran out so I settled for a Sadler’s Dakota American IPA (yeasty, malty with citrus bite), Wifey on the Fentimans Elderflower (refreshing) and #BrumHour on the Hoxton Cidersmiths Craft Cider (green apple, tangy).

After drinks it was time to choose from the menu

It’s short, but some of the best are, and all the usual bases are covered, including a veggie option.

Between us we covered off:

  • Mr C – beef patty, american cheese, iceberg lettuce, red onion, pickle,  ketchup, shack sauce (Wifey)
  • Bella Emberg marinaded deep fried halloumi, mushroom duxelle, dutch cheese, ketchup, chipayo, crunchy onion flakes, iceberg lettuce, red onion (#BrumHour)
  • Dutch Piggy beef patty, dutch cheese, american cheese, streaky bacon, iceberg lettuce, red onion, pickle, ketchup, chipayo  with an extra Sloppy Kiss shack beef and pork meat sauce on top (me).

I actually was enjoying the burger that much i forgot to take notes, but it was just amazing, it lived up to the stair case with dripping filthy goodness. The bacon was crisp, the ‘hand smashed’ beef patty flavourful, cheese drippy and the sloppy kiss lifted it to a different level with a sweet meaty extra tang, I was half expecting a golden shaft of light to peek out from the clouds and hit the tray, whilst a chorus of angels hummed in the back ground, the contents were THAT good.

My only, very minor, criticism was the bun. Which was very nice and oft with a touch of crisp from a light toasting. It was a touch to tall for my preference, with a slab of ingredients that size it makes a large mouthful  and a slightly less voluminous bun would’ve been appreciated.

Noises from around the table confirmed the others were enjoying their burgers as much as I. Wifey even finished hers which is an unusual occurrence to say the least.

 

For sides we chose both Frickles and Onion Rings and 2 portions of Chipayo Fries, with #BrumHour opting for his Sloppy Kiss to be planted there.

The fries we nice, well seasoned and the Chipotle Mayonnaise added a nice zing to the proceedings. Onion Rings are always a good guide to quality and are Wifey’s default order whenever we go somewhere new and they’re on the menu. These were solid, crispy, golden batter which wasnt oily with a beautiful sweet onion inside which pretty much just melted away on contact. Don’t take my word for it Paul Fulford praises them mightily too here.

And the Frickles, what can I say about the Frickles. British peoples first instinct when pickling is the humble onion, or if you’re feeling racy an egg from the mysterious giant jar at the chippy. My favourite has always been a nice pickled cucumber. It’s sweet, it’s tangy it’s crunchy and it’s heaven with a beef and ham sandwich.

With the light battering supplied on these bad boys they’ve been lifted to an art-form. The batter adding extra crunch and that extra savoury edge. I’d have been happy as a pig in muck with a bucket of these and a cup of that delicious blue cheese dip.

The one thing I’d like to see, and agreed with the next table along, added to the menu would be a nice side salad, or coleslaw or something to just take the edge off the mostly fried nature of the menu and pretend we were at least being somewhat healthy.

Wifey and I had just enough space to get in a dessert. We both plumped for the take on Eton Mess with fresh peaches and mango amongst whipped cream, decadent and delicious. Next door had the Chocolate Torte and reports between mouthfuls were very positive nods. The dessert menu is under development at present so expect to see more options soon.

One of the things going around the foodie scene is if there’s enough Birmingham foodies to support two amazing burger restaurants in the city (these guys and the Digbeth chaps, OPM). In a city with over a million people, and a food scene which has exploded over the past few years, it’s daft to think that both wont thrive and co-exist happily.

For me and my cohort it was a very happy, fulfilling and positive first visit. It certainly wont be our last if we can beat the queues. I’m a man who needs his dripping filthy goodness after all, I mean how else do I maintain my figure.

If you’ve not been yet, GO NOW, today’s as good as any…

 

When: 18/08/2017

Where: The Meat Shack, Upstairs @Thorp17, 17 Thorp Street, Southside, Birmingham, B5 4AT

Who: The Meat Shack

 

News: Birmingham Gin from Langleys hits Selfridges & Bar Opus

It’s no secret I’m a gin fan, and it’s nice to see the local chaps at the Langley Distillery have partnered with Selfridges and Bar Opus to make a Birmingham exclusive gin, named Birmingham Gin.

This London Dry Gin is carefully brewed with coriander, angelica root, liquorice and orange peel at the Langley Distillery in Birmingham. The chic bottle is decorated with copper foils dots, which are inspired by the iconic Selfridges discs and the 150-year old copper still in which the spirit is distilled, and is avilable exclusively at Selfridges Bullring for £44.99.

Bar Opus at One Snow Hill is now the first bar in town to be serving the Birmingham Gin. The expert booze technicians have created three bespoke Birmingham inspired cocktails to match this new flavour.

Brummie Mary 
Birmingham Gin, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, volcano salt, ground black pepper, sriracha sauce, fresh lemon
£6.50
Brumtini 
Birmingham Gin, dry vermouth, grapefruit bitters, grapefruit garnish
£6.50
Midlands Mojitio 
Birmingham Gin, fresh lime, sugar, mint, ginger ale
£6.50
Both Gin and Cocktails are available now.

NOTE: This is not a sponsored post or endorsement, just news of something happening in the food scene in and around Birmingham you might want to know about. Pictures supplied by Clive Reeves PR.

Wifey Writes – Sakerol Spritz at Rofuto with #BrumHour

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to accompany Dave Massey aka #Brumhour to try a new summer cocktail at Rofuto in the Park Regis.

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If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll already be aware Ryan has visited a few times to sample food and whisky. As I’m not a big fan of whisky so it was interesting to see how I would fare with this sake based cocktail.

Rofuto is based on the 16th floor of the Park Regis Hotel, at the Five Ways end of Broad Street.  It offers lovely views of the Birmingham’s skyline, which is best seen at glittering night rather than the many cranes and scaffolding during the day.

They have created a Japanese inspired twist on the classic summer drink Aperol Spritz with Sake, peach liqueur and yuzu juice.

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Whilst catching up with Dave, our mixologist got to work on the cocktail.  Sadly no pictures of the creative process but you can happily enjoy the video shot by Rofuto:

 

For someone who doesn’t like Sake, this was actually perfect for me because the peach liqueur and yuzu juice added a lovely sweetness.  I also liked the Vog prosecco that was used to make our drink.

The drink is on their current cocktail menu and available now.

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Disclaimer: For this event, I was a guest of BrumHour and Rofuto who provided the drink; this provides no bias to the post. This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.

When: 05/08/2017

Where: RofutoPark Regis Hotel, Five Ways, Birmingham

Who:  RofutoPark Regis Hotel

Preview: Rosies Birmingham

If you’ve been down the clubbing centre of Birmingham recently, you may have noticed 6 on Broad Street has disappeared and has instead been replaced by Rosies, Broad Streets newest Super Club. Wifey and I were invited to pop down and have a preview prior to opening tomorrow (with their launch party hosted by DJs Scott Mills  & Chris Stark off of that Radio 1).

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Owners Stonegate Pub Company have sunk £1 million into the refit to split the venue into five themed rooms over two floors.

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Downstairs is the Montana bar with a large cocktail menu of Martinis and Mojitos with exposed lighting and bare woods giving it a rustic, relaxed feel, and streetfood style stuffed crust pizza on sale throughout the afternoon and into the evening.

Perhaps the biggest room upstairs is DAO (A Chinese proverb for  the way). It takes it’s inspiration from a combination of Las Vegas and Pan Asian influence with an Asian inspired cocktail menu and LED “chopstick lighting”.

 

For those who like their clubbing a little more nostalgic there’s Retro with neon paint a light up dance-floor and a cheese filled party playlist.

 

Playing R&B will be The Vault which we sneaked into as it’s getting ready for its big showing tomorrow night and there’ll be hidden ‘VIP Bourbon booth’s overlooking the DJ and dancefloor.

 

And the final room is the Laundrette, a speakeasy bar with the illusion of being a laundry with a touch of quirky character and even a roof terrace to look out over the city skyline.

 

With one of the biggest investments in Stonegate Pub Co’s history they’re hoping to show their dedication to Birmingham’s clubbing scene and look out for more happenings over the weekend.

 

Disclaimer: For this preview evening, I was a guest of Stonegate Pub Co. & Lucre PR, wifey and I enjoyed a couple of complimentary cocktails and got a goody bag to take home. This provides no bias to the post.

This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.

When: 17/08/2017

Where: Rosies Birmingham, 259-262 Broad St, Birmingham, B1 2HF

Who: Rosies Birmingham, Stonegate Pub Company

News: There’s a new garden area ‘Hopping Up’ in Sutton Coldfield at Brewhouse & Kitchen

Regular visitors and residents to Sutton Coldfield will no doubt already know about the Brewhouse and Kitchen, which has been open for the past few years. They’ve now extended this into their new Hop House Garden with a pizza shack amongst the new features.

There’s also a Facebook competition too!

More info below:

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With a fire pit, pizza oven shack, 15 litre serve yourself keg table, outdoor games and cosy covered areas with Wi-Fi and individual power sockets, the Hop House Garden has something for everyone to enjoy this summer season.

The arrival of the all new pizza oven shack offers a mouth-watering new menu, bringing everything from classic margherita and pepperoni choices, to spicy slices for the more adventurous types, including Thai Me Up, a creation covered in Siracha Thai chicken, red onion, red chilli and crispy beansprouts.

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In line with the new garden and pizza menu, Brewhouse & Kitchen will also be tapping its first Hop House Garden beer, a welcome addition to an already impressive selection of on-site brews.

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To celebrate the launch, Brewhouse & Kitchen will be running an exclusive competition on their Facebook page from this week, giving lucky diners the chance to win a seat at the Keg Table and pizzas for up to 10 people each week for four weeks. Customers can check Facebook for details on how to enter.

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Melvin Symmons, General Manager at Brewhouse & Kitchen Sutton Coldfield, comments: “We’re so excited to be opening our Hop House Garden and launching our new menu!

“There’s nothing quite like this in Sutton, and we can’t wait for customers to come and enjoy the delights of the new pizza shack, cosy up next to the outdoor fire pit, and pour themselves a pint of our brand new beer from the Keg Table!”

The launch of the Hop House Garden will be taking place on Friday 18 August from 5pm, giving customers a first glance at the garden with free pizza, live music from Electric Pollen, beer tasters and much more to enjoy.

For more information visit: http://bit.ly/2vXUsy5

 

NOTE: This is not a sponsored post or endorsement, just news of something happening in the food scene in and around Birmingham you might want to know about.

Siamais-ing

Now, Chinese food is a bit of a problem for me. As Wifey’s parents owned their own restaurant for many years, I’m a little bit spoilt when I go over for dinner.

However, Thai food, that’s a treat that I don’t often get to do, which is rubbish as there’s plenty of restaurants in Birmingham offering amazing Thai food.

The newest restaurant on the block is Siamais at Oozells Square Brindleyplace.

The new owner is Nishil Nathwani, creator of the Aluna cocktail bar at The Mailbox.  His parents previously ran Thai Edge, who occupied the space prior to Siamais.

The cocktails pedigree from Aluna has carried over as part of the dual concept of Siamais, accompanied by a range of South East Asian dishes.

The decor is a mix of traditional items like baskets and lanterns but in a modern setting. The reason for tonight’s visit was part of a ‘blog date’ arranged by Birmingham Bloggers. I’d decided to catch up with a good friend in the shape of Mr David “BrumHour” Massey.

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After getting settled down, we started off the evening with a bit of a show. The Bang Pai Falls  is from their Book of Siam, their specially themed cocktails. The description was “Overproof Rum with Cherry & Vanilla notes and cranberry juice. Names after the clear blue waterfall, you’ll see why!” It was a bit of a showstopper and there were a lot of onlookers in the restaurant (for the first time) when it arrived:

We decided to call him Steve as I thought it looked a little like the monkey from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’!

Onto our starters, I chose Soft Shelled Crab, a deep fried soft shelled crab smothered in chilli and salt.  Dave went for Chicken Tom Yum Soup, a Thai classic with chicken, kaffir lime, lemongrass, mushroom, galangal, chilli and coriander.

My Soft Shell Crab had a crisp batter with the nicely balanced flavour of crab coming through.  A touch of black pepper would have possibly lifted if further. The crunchy legs were my favourite part, with a flavour akin to a crab version of pork crunch, if you get what I mean.

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Dave was certainly enjoying his Tom Yum Soup. I snagged a piece of chicken and some broth. The chicken was delicate, with the lemongrass coming through as a strong note, and the heat of the galangal and chilli following in quick succession. One thing I would’ve loved on the side was a prawn cracker or two to steal some of the broth from Dave when he wasn’t looking.

Our second set of cocktails, which turned out to be our first (more on that later) arrived:

Mine was the Dark Side of the Moon, Glenmorangie, blood orange and cherry. It was sweet and silky with a citrus finish and a whiff of whisky to the nose, but it didn’t linger on the palate as some whisky cocktails can.

Dave plumped for an Apple & Kiwi Mojito, white rum, mint, kiwi and apple syrup. I snagged a sip and it was a nice take on a classic mojito, with the kiwi adding an extra dimension and green apple keeping the bite.

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For main I chose Lamb Massaman Curry.

I’m actually reminded of another visit to a Thai restaurant a few years back, when four of us ordered rice and three mains to share as we’d stopped for lunch. I was insistent on ordering Lamb Massaman, much to the grumbling of my fellow diners who wanted one each of red, yellow and green curries. I’d nipped to the loo just after the food arrived and upon my return to the table, one solitary piece of lamb was sitting in a small puddle of the middle of the dish. I was most upset!

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If you’ve always stuck to green or red curry, I’d really suggest giving this a try. It’s a completely different dish to the others. Made, in this case, with coconut milk, potato, peanuts and onion along with star anise. It’s one of Thailand’s most popular dishes and I can see why, it’s certainly one of mine. I was happy to devour the lot and the accompanying sticky coconut rice quickly to avoid a repeat of my previous experience.

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The erstwhile #Brumhour chose a Chicken Red Curry, chicken, coconut milk, bamboo shoots, aubergine, basil and red chilli. I once again did the blogger thing of darting my fork in to relinquish a piece from his plate. The chicken was again tender with a velvety spicy sauce.

Returning to the subject of #Steve, he had been bubbling away quietly in the corner of our table whilst we tried our others and got on with munching our starters and mains. We ordered dessert and I was moving Steve into position (he’s a sharing cocktail after all) and I dropped him…

… right on top of another glass, and contents pouring freely…

…and the whole restuarant paused for a breath.

Luckily the staff, probably warned that two of the most clumsiest and cloddish bloggers in Birmingham were due to visit, were marvelous. Within mere seconds, we’d been ushered to a new table and the disaster recovery team had swept the glass, mopped up the moisture and cleaned the table and chairs, whilst Dave and I were still rigid with adrenaline and embarrassment. I turned redder than Dave’s curry!

Thankfully nerves were returned back to normal with the arrival of #SonOfSteve and dessert:

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For dessert, I selected the Coconut Cup, a half coconut shell filled with coconut ice cream

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It was a really nice palate cleanser after a couple of heavy dishes, a light fragrant ice cream with nice chunks of coconut flesh throughout.

Dave went for something, in his words ‘photogenic’, so he had the Chocolate Ghirlanda, a coronet of dark chocolate with crunchy meringue, rich chocolate ice cream, white chocolate sauce and dusted with cocoa. Now if that doesn’t sound decadent, I don’t know what is!

It was rich, sweet, unguent and gooey, chocolate and all in all, deliciousness.

And that was it for our #mandate.  We survived and so did #Steve (less his innards). I’ll be back again, with Wifey in tow, when I next get a craving for Massaman… mmmmm… Massaman…

When: 27/07/2017

Where: Siamais, Six Brindley Place, 7 Oozells St, Birmingham, B1 2HS.

Who: Siamais

Disclaimer: For this visit, I was a guest of Spray Marketing and Siamais, arranged by Brum Bloggers, this provides no bias to the post. This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.

 

 

 

 

Haig Club Skybar – Lowland Whisky with a Sky High view

I do love The Cube  Architecturally, the building is stunning and it has a great mix of living, dining, drinking, spa treatments and even a bowling alley on the way apparently…

Its newest resident is Haig Club‘s new Bar, next to Marco Pierre White Steakhouse on level 25 of The Cube. I was invited to see the new bar, try the cocktails being whipped up by head bartender, Jack Spencer and sample some of their small plates!

 

If you haven’t heard of the brand, you’ll recognise their partners in the shape of David Beckham, who is even present at the bar in the shape of an autographed poster, and Simon Fuller of Spice Girls & Pop Idol fame.

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The whole ethos of Haig Club is to bring it up to date and give whisky a modern, easy drinking feel. Their main product is the single grain Haig Club (obvs), in its distinctive squat cobalt blue and copper bottle, echoed in the bar design. Their more recent addition is Haig Clubman made in ex bourbon casks to be a much sweeter whisky.

The 25th floor gives some stunning views and there are some great landmarks to spot out of the corner of the building like the Peace Gardens and Beetham Tower. It looks even prettier at night (as Birmingham does!).

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Whilst we did the usual blogger mingle and catching up with friends old and new, we tried a whisky and Coke, always refreshing combination, before taking our seats ready for a quick talk from Jack

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Jack went over the difference between the Club and the Clubman giving us neat samples of both. I prefer the slightly more ‘robust’ of the two Club whilst the majority of the rest of the group went for the Clubman.

Both had been designed as easy ‘blending’ whiskys for cocktail making and pairing. They are what I’d call a neutral whisky so if you’re not a big whisky drinker, this may be worth you trying to start out.

All the cocktails for the evening were showcasing the Haig Clubman and Jack has created over 20 cocktails, using both Haig Club and Clubman to tempt your taste-buds if you want to vary away from the menu.

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Our second cocktail (or first if you don’t count whisky and Coke as a cocktail) was Pears in Paradise, a combination of Haig Clubman, Pear Liqueur, Cloudy Apple Juice, Cinnamon and Lime with a slice of pear too! These reminded me of the pear drop sweets every grandparent seemed to carry in their pocket when I was growing up. It was a shade too sweet for my liking but still nice and refreshing.

Time for food!

Our first round of dishes was Smoked Duck & Sesame Skewers, rolled in HoneyChicken Satay SkewersBlack Pudding Bon Bons with homemade brown sauce and Patatas Bravas. All quite rich and powerful savoury and sweet flavours to punch with the Pears in Paradise.

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The next beverage on the list was Clubman Apple Mule, Haig Clubman, Apple Juice, Ginger Beer and a slice of dried apple for those who worry about my fruit and veg intake. One of my faves of the night, a really nice refreshing summer cocktail with a spicy lilt to the end from the ginger beer.

The next round of food was Moules Mariniere (the first time I’ve seen it as a small plate) in a nice rich white wine & cream sauce. There was also some Aromatic King Prawns which lived up to their name, being huge and a nice spicy aroma. The Iberico Ham & Dijon Crocquettes were also huge with a reach, creamy, chive sauce wrapped around chunks of ham, topped off with a panko breadcrumb outer. The final dish of this round was their Chorizo & Black Pudding Sausage Rolls in puff pastry.  The sweetness and spice of the chorizo and black pudding combined well, though the puff pastry was a bit too ‘shrapnel heavy’ for me.

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The next cocktail was a Ginger Julep, Haig Clubman, Ginger Liqueur, Mint and Lime. The sharpest out of the three and yet the sweetest at the same time, with the lime juice having fisticuffs against the spicy and sugary ginger liqueur, which made for an interesting sip.

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Our final trio of dishes was their Scotch Eggs, soft boiled eggs rolled in Cumberland sausage meat and panko breadcrumbs, Chorizo Frito al Vino, chorizo glazed with sweet red wine, and more Patatas Bravas.

The Chorizo was my favourite dish of the evening and was also nosily appreciated by the whole table; the scotch egg was lovely too.

The final cocktail and treat was to watch Jack show off his skills with a Berry Beauty, Haig Clubman, Chambord, Grand Marinier, Sugar Syrup, Raspberries and Burnt Rosemary.  All poured in a glass pyramid.

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I finished my fruity cocktail whilst looking at that beautiful view. If you fancy something a little bit different in a cocktail bar and those stunning views, you should check it out.

When: 06/07/2017

Where: Haig Club Bar,  Level 25, The Cube, Birmingham

Who: Haig Club Bar, The Cube

Disclaimer: For this visit, I was a guest of the wonderful team at Rewired PR and Haig Club Bar. This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.