#WifeyWrites: Orientee Artisan Bakery & Cafe

Dale End probably isn’t the first place you would think of to open an Artisan Bakery, is it?  But Orientee is hoping to change opinions on that!

Bakery

After following them for a few months on Instagram, ooh-ing & aah-ing at their oh so lovely pics of  bread & pastries, I was pleased to see they finally had an official opening date of 17 September.

Last week, I popped along to their soft launch for foodbloggers / foodies. It’s just a few doors down from the Peaky Blinders bar, under the ramp part of Priory Square.

My lunch date was Geeky Brummie crew member and freelance writer @philipellis.

The moment you walk into Orientee, you are welcomed by friendly staff and the irresistible smell of freshly baked bread, both signs that this is a place where you can relax and feel at home.

And with the promise of authentic Chinese pastries (they sadly weren’t ready in time for the opening), I’ll be adding Orientee to my list of Birmingham cafes that are perfect to sit with a book, a cuppa and a treat.

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Having decided where to sit, menus were popped down and we had the chance to admire the simple chic interiors: hand painted wall scrolls, not too dis-similar to ones that hang in my parents’ home, placed against faux brickwork wallpaper.  I felt the need to go and touch it, after Phil asked it was actual open brickwork; got me fooled!

Food & Drink

Anyway onto the food and drink, which is probably why you’re reading this. They have a good selection of brunch dishes and hot drinks.  I ordered a flat white (my usual) and Sweetcorn Fritters, one of Orientee’s vegetarian options.

 

Whilst waiting for the food, we caught up on what we’d been up to during the week.

The food arrived and we tucked in.  My Sweetcorn Fritters were sweetcorn, courgette, red pepper and spring onion, chilli jam, crushed beetroot, served with a minted yoghurt and a poached egg.  The fritters themselves were soft, light and piping hot, the hit of the chilli jam just perfect for my palate; the yolk of the egg oozing out beautifully.

Phil’s choice was very pretty looking too. His thoughts?

I went for The Rejuvenator, a colourful, light and tasty mix of edamame, beetroot, avocado, feta and hummus, complete with a poached egg and freshly baked focaccia. Virtuous and extremely satisfying, washed down with a rich and earthy Matcha and Sea Salt Hot Chocolate.

There are options to add bacon, salmon and extra halloumi or make it vegan, by replacing the feta and egg with crushed beets and extra corn. 

Brunch

Phil thought it was the “perfect Sunday brunch spot, with options on the menu that will sort out any hangover, from the usual big breakfasts and Eggs Benedict to vitamin-rich vegetarian dishes. Or if you’re feeling in need of comfort, honey-glazed pork chops and fried rice.”

Orientee’s breakfast and brunch choices cater for all palates. Given the traffic running past on a regular basis, the calm interiors is enough to escape the High Street for awhile if you’re out shopping or even wanting somewhere quiet to work.

Upon leaving, one of the bakers popped out to say hello and told us about the different breads they make ranging from Russian Rye to Italian Foccacia. We were invited to take away samples of the breads to try at home, which I can confirm were delicious. A couple of colleagues at my office tried them, and Ryan and I had them for dinner later that evening with soup.

Return

The pastries weren’t quite ready during my first visit but I stopped by during my lunch break when they officially opened with #BrumHour.

I thought I’d try the latte this time while Dave had the peach oolong tea.  Their proper menu includes soft drinks, and there are separate breakfast and lunch menus. We also chose some sweet treats: me a Lemon & Poppy seed slice with cream cheese icing, and Dave a Lemon Cheesecake doughnut. He also went for the avocado on sourdough toast, which was very crunchy and he devoured it…..after his doughnut! My cake was light, not too sweet and moist.

You know I will be returning to try the rest of the menu…and the cakes.

 

 

 

 

Colmore Food Festival 2018

Full Disclosure: On Wednesday 20th June I attended the launch event for colmore food festival at purecraft bar & Kitchen – Food & Drink was complimentary (I Bought a round anyway). However, this doesn’t affect the below…

 

It seemed fitting to return properly with this post. The Colmore Food Festival is one of the highlights of viv and I’s year on the birmingham food scene.

Bringing the cream of the Colmore BID‘s bars, restaurants and cafes in a showcase over a Friday (For workers) and Saturday (For relaxers).

— (If you want to skip my ramblings and get on with the food bit, skip past this and head to Day 1) —

Colmore Row & Colmore BID

As usual, Viv and I attended both days. We both work in the Colmore BID (same company no less). It’s a short walk from one end of Colmore Row to the other. It’s a shame that the Row has lost some of its previous grandeur over the decades. The ugly lump of Snow Hill Station always saddens me a little. It’s a hump of brown bricks with little to no character, the opposite to its sister station Moor Street. Happily, a little further along, the restoration of The Grand Hotel to its former glory is in the final stages. A few more steps along, passing the pit which was Madin’s NatWest tower, we reach Victoria Square.

I doubt there is any place in Birmingham that goes through so many re-inventions over the year as Victoria Square. Sandwiched between the Town Hall and the Council House, it’s an intrinsic part of Birmingham with The Floozie (potted into her former jacuzzi), the statue of Queen Victoria and those odd lions.  I dearly miss Iron Man, currently replaced for ogling by a hereto undiscovered cobbled road revealed as part of the Metro works. Ever changing Victoria Square was the centrepiece of the Commonwealth Games handover and there’s always something going on albeit a protest, a stage, a graduation or even a food festival (yes, I’ll finally get onto it now!).

Colmore Food Festival

So onto Colmore Food Festival; I’ve already written about it in the previous 4 years as well as attending prior to starting the blog but I’ll cover the history a little if you’ve not read those.

Colmore BID, who run the food festival, is one of the city’s numerous BID’s (11 and counting). Their purpose (via a small levy on businesses in their area) is to run projects, services and initiatives in their defined area to improve and promote their district. Working in the BID has given me a chance to see the numerous improvements they have conducted over their last 10 years. They include Church Street Square, a shared space housing a bee hotel, and numerous street team members caring for and keeping the district safe.

Colmore BID’s flagship event is The Colmore Food Festival,  a 2 day event celebrating the diverse range of cuisine available from simple pub grub to Michelin starred dishes. All dishes are capped at £4 (drinks vary) and it’s held on Fridays and Saturday.

Day 1

For Viv and I, Day 1 was a lunchtime only visit as we had a busy evening. We still did our best to fit in as much as possible and started off with a couple of Festival newbies, Adams and Wayland’s Yard.

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We opted for both dishes from Adam’s (we usually share). The dishes were a Crab Satay with coriander and ginger, and a Mango, Thai Green Curry & Coconut concoction. The Crab Satay, was a small, but well formed dish. It was fragrant with crab catching the breeze and was a delight, although I’d have been happy with twice the amount. Alas a £4 price point does have its restrictions.

The Mango, Thai Green Curry & Coconut was a suprise; with those ingredients I was expecting more of a savoury dish. This was more of a rice pudding style dessert. The mango was refreshing, the coconut gave an added depth to the flavour, however, the Thai Green Curry was a tad on the mild side. I was expecting a punch of lemongrass, a slice of lime and the spice of chilli and ginger. This seemed lost in the sweetness of the coconut and mango. A shame as all other elements had come together with a finesse expected of Adams.

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Our next stop was Wayland’s Yard, a new favourite of mine on the Birmingham food scene, taking over an old printing shop on Bull Street. It’s the second shop to open with the first store open in Worcester. Hopefully more on the way soon! We had an Eggy Crumpet (their house special) and an Iced Tea to salve ourselves in the heat.

The Eggy Crumpet was delicious when I found it! A small hedge had appeared in the box burying the crumpet but that was soon dispatched with. The only other negative for presentation was that it had been served in a box with knife and fork to slice. The box was quite deep and hard to hold and cut whilst walking around. Happily, the plastic knife supplied was on the sharp side so I made swift work using careful angles to maintain cutting power. Under the hedgerow, an abundance of Chilli Jam was present adding heat to the dish. Eggy crumpets are a favourite treat of Viv and I and it’s a dish I make often. This one was a solid dish too and I look forward to having it again.

The Iced Tea came sealed with a wedge of lime. It was much appreciated in the heat and disappeared quickly between us.

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The final stop for Day 1 was to grab some treats for the afternoon back in the office from Hindleys Bakery. We picked up four small treats split between the two of us. I chose the Chocolate BrownieApple & Almond Cake, whereas Viv selected a Viennese Whirl Pineapple Cream.

My Chocolate Brownie was rich but crumbly rather than soft; to be expected in the heat. The Apple & Almond Cake had retained its wetness and was a delicious little morsel. I didn’t get many more notes other than that both were finished off with gusto.

Viv reported that the Viennese Whirl and Pineapple Cream were yummy, although she had forgotten how sugary sweet the pineapple cream was!

It was also great to have a quick catch up with some of the other bloggers in attendance (Bite Your Brum, Hey it’s Fay, and City Fever) also enjoying the food on offer.

Day 2

We arrived for Day 2 a little later into the Saturday. The World Cup Semi-Final between England and Croatia was on in the afternoon and as neither of us are great sport fans, we’d assumed the crowds would lessen a little as those more enamoured with the game filtered off to various venues around the city.

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First stop was to the other Michelin Starred attendee, Purnell’s. Their main was a Daube of Pork served in a rich jus, with caramelised apple puree, crispy shallots and watercress. The daube of pork fell apart at the touch of the fork and was well seasoned. The crispy shallots reminded me a little of Rice Krispies but added texture to the dish. For dessert it was Mr Purnell’s Soft Scoop Cone. A waffle cone filled with both strawberry cream and violet ice cream, sprinkled with hundreds and thousands. On first lick, I was taken back to the Parma Violets of my youth. The rich violet ice cream was the perfect anecdote to the stifling heat of the mid afternoon sun.

Drinkwise, Viv went for a Thyme for Pimms Cocktail from Gingers Bar at Purnell’s Bistro whilst I popped over to Purecraft Bar for a half of one of my all time favourite beers, Longhorn IPA. We then caught up with a few of our blogger friends (Caramel Latte Kiss and Brumderland) whilst watching some of the cooking demos and live music, including a colourful rendition of Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Killing In The Name Of’.

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We were lucky enough to bag a table under the covered seating area, a rare treat at the Food Festival. We were joined by Warwick & Jo, and the aforementioned Caramel Latte Kiss and Brumderland.

Whilst Viv settled down, I went to grab our next dish from Jailbird which has taken over from Nosh & Quaff . We had the Wings with Leeks and Spinach Risotto. The wings were a very generous portion, with three wings on a bed of grilled leeks. The chicken was well cooked, juicy and tender and well worth the £4 spend. Viv tackled the majority of the Spinach Risotto, but what I ate was delicious, with salty crumbly feta cutting through the richness of the spinach.

I grabbed another half of beer, this time a Blue Moon from the Square Peg. Viv went for a Chase Grapefruit Gin & Tonic from Primitivo, which was sharp yet refreshing.

Our final dish of the day was really saving the best until last, from OpusPan Fried Fillet of Hake with Fennel Pasta Salad. The Hake was cooked beautifully and flaked with a brush from the fork. The sweet, perfumy flavour to the fennel pasta made a great combination on a summer’s day. Hats off to Ben Ternent and the team; it was a triumphant flourish to the weekend’s fun.

We learnt afterwards that Opus has donated 50p for every dish sold at the Colmore Food Festival to SIFA Fireside. If you’ve not heard of SIFA, they provide food, clothing and shower facilities for Birmingham’s vulnerably housed and homeless adults. It’s a fantastic charity and they need all the donations and help they can get (especially, currently, underpants). If you are interested in helping or donating, find their link below:

https://www.sifafireside.co.uk/

It’s great to see movement towards sustainability also, with recycling on point and a significant lack of plastic straws all around. The only thing I’d like to see in 2019  would be wooden rather than plastic cutlery. As a popular supermarket used to say ‘Every Little Helps!’

All in all, it was another fantastic year, and I hope Colmore BID heads into chapter 3 of it’s life in March, and I cant wait until the 2019 Colmore Food Festival.

All dishes and drink were paid for by myself and Viv.

You can read previous years’ posts hereherehere and here.

When:  Friday 6 and Saturday 7 July 2018

Where: Victoria Square, Birmingham City Centre

Feliz Segundo Aniversario! Brummie Gourmand is 2!

It’s hard to believe it’s been TWO YEARS since my first post. I gave an update on what the first year had held so I thought I’d give you an update on Year 2!

This year has been an interesting one so far, having been shortlisted for the Midlands Food Drink and Hospitality Awards Blogger of the Year, the first anniversary of Geeky Brummie on Brum Radio, the launch of the Geeky Brummie Podcast, and lots and lots of blogging.

Some personal highlights have been:

and

  • Enjoying Beef & Malbec at Gaucho

Choosing just a dozen of the things I’ve been up to was difficult so head on through the archives to read more!

To finish, a quick thank you, again, to long suffering Wifey and thank you to all those who’ve taken time to read my little corner of the internet. Here’s looking forward to year 3!

Megashake-it-off at Cafe Opus

Wifey and I are not strangers to Cafe Opus housed in the Ikon Gallery, located conveniently off Broad Street in Oozells Square, Brindleyplace. It’s a favourite for a spot of breakfast or a light bite when visiting the Ikon.

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But tonight’s visit was for something different. Cafe Opus have recently brought Megashakes to the menu. These oversized milkshakes are gaining popularity and are designed to kill the craving for serious sweet-tooths.

For tonight, I and fellow bloggers had been given chance to add to their current menu with our own creation, and it was a challenge I couldn’t say no to.

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An array of additions had been laid out for us including 3 base milkshakes, ice cream and a row of toppings.

Sitting down with my selection, I went to work with a caffeine theme in mind.

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My creation was the Cafe Gourmand:

  • Vanilla milkshake
  • A shot of Espresso
  • Chocolate ice cream
  • Caramac Buttons
  • A cookie
  • Chocolate sauce

The inspiration for this was the French rapid dessert and Espresso combination. Unfortunately, I didn’t win but there was some tough competition – I did get ‘Most Creative’, though.

 

The other ‘runner up’ was Sarah + Laura‘s ‘Finding Love in a Sweet Treat’ shake! It won the ‘Most Attractive’ category: vanilla milkshake, strawberry and vanilla ice cream, Haribo, popping candy, fizzy laces, and a cookie hidden somewhere…

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The eventual winner was George Elsmere (Caramellattekiss) on behalf of Brumhour, a very worthy winner:

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It was great fun having a go at creating our own and I’ll definitely be back soon to try the winning drink.

Disclaimer: For this event, I was a guest of Bar Opus and Clive Reeves PR who provided all food and drinks; 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: 06/11/2016

Where: Cafe Opus, 1 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace Birmingham B1 2HS

Who:  Cafe Opus, Opus Group

Sunday Best at The Almanack Kenilworth

A few weekends ago, Wifey and I swapped out Birmingham for somewhere a little different. Kenilworth is just over 20 miles drive or a train ride away from Birmingham. It’s a great destination for a day out with the renowned Kenilworth Castle and Stoneleigh Abbey nearby.

Wifey and I had another reason for visiting too. It’s also a location for one of the Peach Pubs collection, The Almanack

The Almanack is one of the more modern looking Peach Pubs, nestled in under a new apartment building. It had an impressive decor with lots of nice little touches, including a selection of Sunday newspapers to read if you were there to relax.

We were here to try their Sunday Best Menu, which has a regular selection of roasts and some of the highlights from the main menu.

Not feeling up to a full roast, Wifey and I decided to pick a few from the highlights of the main menu,but first, a bit of bread and butter to get our bellies in the mood.

The bread was a warm wholemeal seeded mini loaf accompanied by garlic butter.

It was served a little like a hassle-back potato, sliced part the way through. It was devoured with relish with the bread hitting the trifecta of soft, airy and sweet. The tangy peppery garlic butter could have done with being a touch less on the garlic flavour.

We skipped starters, to keep room for dessert, and went onto the mains.

For my main, I went for a Chicken Caesar Salad. This came with a free range chicken breast, crispy bacon, anchovies and a classic Caesar salad.

The chicken was moist and tender with a crispy seasoned and blackened skin. The bacon was as expected, crispy and sweet and salty at the same time. The anchovies gave an additional salty blast to the rich dressing. The lettuce was nice, crisp and fresh.

Wifey went for something a little more fishy. Cod (substituted from Monkfish on the menu) and Scallops with Bombay Potatoes, Indian Salad and Mint Yoghurt.

This came to the table with a wonderful smell of the Indian spiced potatoes and the fresh clean smell of great fish. The cod was light and separated on touch. The scallops came to the table with the roe (always a nice touch) and had the clean sweet taste you’d expect. The Bombay potatoes were light, buttery and with just enough spice as not to overwhelm the fish. The Indian salad was made up of Rocket, Tomato, Red Onion and seeds added a touch of colour to the dish and disappeared quickly!

As it was Sunday,we couldn’t miss out on a bit of Apple & Rhubarb Crumble.

This was served at the table from a great big enamel dish full of the stuff.  It came with a decent jug of custard from which you could pour as little or as much as you want to personal preference. The crumble topping was sweet, chunky and packed with oats. The fruit filling was rich and not too sweet and combined perfectly with the delicious sweet custard.

And to wash it all down, we had a coffee with a latte for me and an Americano for Wifey with some Smarties to finish.

And with that bellies full and happy smiles off back to Brum.

 

When:24/07/2016

Where: The Almanack, Abbey End North, Kenilworth, CV8 1QJ

Who: The Almanack, Peach Pubs

You can read about other visits to Peach Pubs below:

Choc-A-Block at Colmore Food Festival

Has it really been a year since the last food festival? Time flies fast in the second city!

The Colmore Food Festival is one of the highlights of Wifey and I’s year. Bringing the cream of the Colmore BID‘s bars, restaurants and cafes in a showcase over two days.

You can read last years posts here and here.

This year the stage had moved to the side of the Town Hall, giving wider avenues to progress down and choose your particular solid or liquid treat, a very sensible move. In the centre, there was a garden with seating hosted by The Opus Family (more on them later).

Wifey and I visited 3 times over the weekend, Friday lunch, Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, but still didn’t get around to trying half of it!

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First stop was the marvellous Gary of Gingers Bar (located in Purnell’s Bistro). With a whisk of his magic fingers, 2 non-alcoholic cocktails were presented to us of G2O, a blend of Orange, Passion-fruit and Lime. This was a perfect refresher and helped with the brisk walk we both had from the other end of Colmore Row in the summer sun.

After slaking our thirst, we popped into the Opus Garden for a spot of lunch via Opus at Cornwall Street. Wifey and I both had an Opus classic: this was a Lincolnshire Leek and Haddock Fishcake, topped with a Poached Egg and butter sauce.

I’m not normally a leek fan but this was great with the haddock. The poached egg was perfect with a rich golden yolk.

Then, it was back to the office for a few more hours until the freedom of the weekend.

For our return, it was straight to Purnell’s Restaurant, always a firm favourite at the Food Festival. We were glad we got in when we did as they sold out pretty sharpish afterwards.

We went for the Pork Belly, accompanied by Pickled Pineapple, Black Pepper and Pork Crumble. We were impressed by crispy, crumbly, spicy pork belly accompanied  with the sweet sharp tang of pickled pineapple. I’m now sad to be waiting another year before seeing what they cook up next year!

Next stop was to an old favourite, The Jekyll & Hyde, serving a wide selection of gin based beverages. We went for a portion of Dr Jekyll’s Fruit Punch, it definitely packed one and was very moreish.

A few stalls away was Asha’s for a Lamb Saffron Biryani, this Lamb Biryani is cooked with three year mature basmati rice, green cardamom, saffron and cloves, served  with poppadoms, raita and gravy. As expected from one of Birmingham’s most renowned restaurants, very moreish and didn’t last long between Wifey and I.

Next, a break from the food, Seekasaurus was in attendance at the food festival with lots of coloured Dino’s lurking about the stalls and one midway up a lamppost. Wifey and Laura from Full to the Brum went for an explore whilst I popped back to Gingers Bar for another quick beverage.

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This was a Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri Slushie, deliciously sweet and boozy.

That about wraps it up for Friday evening.

After compèring the hour of radio that is The Geeky Brummie Show on BrumRadio.com,it was time for visit number 3 for lunch and maybe some more alcohol!

First stop of the day was Jake’s Coffee Box, it’s  great to see an independent as good as Jake’s get to showcase themselves like this, and it’s at the heart of what the Festival is designed to be.

We chose one of Jake’s Picnic boxes, the first being the Savoury Box, with 2 Mini Gourmet Sausage Rolls (Pork, Shropshire Blue & Caramelised Onion, Pork Leek & Sage), accompanied by a homemade Scotch Egg, Rocket Salad, Cherry tomatoes and Black Pudding Crumb. The sausage rolls were delicious especially the caramelised onion one, which Wifey was particularly fond of. The Scotch Egg was also  great with a smooth creamy yolk and a hard albumen.

We also saw the Sweet Box, this contained a Triple Chocolate Brownie, Strawberries, Raspberries and Clotted Cream.

Next stop was booze! And a return to the Opus Garden. We were on the flip-side this time and visiting Bar Opus.

I chose a Marmalade Frozen Kalippo, which was Chase Marmalade Vodka, Lemon Juice, Orange Juice and a touch of Rosemary. Wifey chose The Great Chase, which was Chase Vodka, Chase Elder-flower Liqueur, Lemon Juice and Soda.

After that bit of booze, we made ourselves comfy in the deckchairs and watched a cooking demo by Jojolapa and hosted by Phil Oldershaw.

After that, Wifey couldn’t resist getting a portion of Momo’s, which nice and doughy and packed full of delicate chicken. They were accompanied by spicy rich tomato sauce.

Finishing off with another pair of cocktails from Gingers Bar (of course), it was time to bid a fond farewell to The Food Festival for another year!

When:08/07/2016 – 09/07/2016

Where: Victoria Square, Birmingham City Centre

Who: Colmore Business DistrictPurnell’s Bistro / Ginger’s BarOpus @ Cornwall StreetJojolapaPurnell’sThe Jekyll & Hyde,  Jake’s Coffee Box & Bar Opus at One Snowhill

 

Bonjour to Le Bistrot Pierre!

Le Bistrot Pierre has been in place over a month. Nestling into the canalside between The Cube and Brindleyplace, it seems to have settled in nicely.

 

Wifey and I went to the launch at the backend of June (yes, I’m that far behind!). We arrived after a stroll through the Mailbox and entered via the side entrance, which opened onto a walled terrace area.

 

After some complimentary drinks and canapes, we had an explore around the building which boasts a good sized bar, comfy seating and separate lounge area. There are cosy little alcoves and two good sized terraces, for those braving a British summer, for al fresco dining or little snugs inside with exposed brickwork and dark wood, making it a more intimate experience.

After our wander around, we joined them for their inaugural service (happily, next door to the lovely Adam and Rich from OutInBrum).

Our meal (discounted by 25% as it was opening night), consisted of bread, appetizer, mains and dessert.

The bread (a mini pain) was soft, doughy and warm, with a rich creamy butter. It disappeared fast with Wifey nearby!

Our appetizer was a Tartes Flambée. Described to us as a ‘French Pizza’, it’s from the Alsace region of France and consists of rolled bread dough with fromage blanc or creme fraiche on top. We chose the Traditionnelle which came topped with caramelised onions and smoked bacon lardons. Served on a a wooden platter atop a wire cooling rack, it was extremely moreish. Tasty, light and crispy, the base held up and there was no noticeable sagging. The yin and yang of sweet caramelised onions and salty bacon lardons really went well together and we’d definitely have it again the next time we go.

Wifey’s main was Poulet Printanier: pan-fried chicken breast, asparagus, fricassée of wild mushrooms, tarragon and peas. It came with plenty of sauce, the chicken breast cooked well but remained moist. The tarragon sauce was perhaps a touch heavy but still always a good flavour to enhance chicken.

I chose the Épaule d’agneau à la Marocaine. This was a Moroccan spiced slow cooked shoulder of lamb with pearl couscous, harissa, toasted pine nuts, dried apricots, and a mint and yoghurt dressing. The lamb was well cooked and flaked easily; the pearl couscous was chunky and went well. My only slight disappointment was the thinness of the sauce as it was a tagine style rich sauce rather than a broth.

Accompanying sides were seasonal vegetables of broccoli, carrots and red cabbage which were well cooked and perfectly serviceable. Perhaps a touch of butter may have livened them up. The dauphinoise potatoes on the other hand were worthy of mention, creamy rich and buttery and served in a small frying pan.

Dessert for Wifey was a Crème brûlée (not pictured). A thickly glazed caramelised sugar top, which needed a strong tap to crack into.  The interior was as you expect, a thick yellow custard which slipped down well.

I chose to try their selection of mini desserts which accompanied by an espresso (extra £1 for this option) called the Cafe Gourmand (well, I had to try that!). The desserts were enough to keep me happy and cut through the rich strong coffee, with the sorbet being my fave.

It was a good first experience, bar a few hiccups with service to be expected on opening night. We’ll be definitely be returning again and it’s a good step up from the regular high street French food providers.

 

When: 30/06/2016

Where: Le Bistrot Pierre, 46 Gas Street, Birmingham, B1 2JT

Who:  Le Bistrot Pierre

Truffle Hunting in The Chocolate Quarter

The Jewellery Quarter is having a bit of a renaissance recently, attracting new and creative independent stores.  One of the most recent editions is a new chocolaterie in the form of The Chocolate Quarter.

On #StarWarsDay (aka May the 4th for non-geeks), I had the hardest job in blogging to go and attend a chocolate making class and investigate this little (chocolate) gem courtesy of The Chocolate Quarter team, Kembes, Maninder and Jay, and Susie of Susie81Speaks.

The shop is artfully simple in its decoration to show their wares and gift packs. They’ve made use of the previous occupiers map of Birmingham to great effect showing off happy local customers.

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I could even find BG towers on the map!

To start off, we had a cup of Aztec drinking chocolate, made traditionally with just chocolate and a touch of water. It was rich, smooth and unctuous and there was a range of spices, including chilli, cinnamon, nutmeg and inger, to spice up your drink.  I picked the ginger, which worked really well.

Following our drink, we had a quick talk about the history of chocolate and how to taste chocolate correctly with samples of three different dark chocolate from Madagascar, Tanzania and Ecuador. All were high values of cocoa mass and all different in taste and texture. The Madagascan is grown in a humid and acidic soil but with a very strong citrusy taste.  The Ecuadorian variety  came from close to the Equator having a longer day, giving it a much smoother taste.  The Tanzanian climate was probably the most closest to what you’d expect a dark chocolate to taste like. We also learnt white chocolate was not a true chocolates (gasp!) due to its lack of any cocoa mass.

Jay took us through making our own chocolate truffles and how to fill our truffles with caramel, then tempering the chocolate from 45 to 33 degrees for sealing and coating our filled truffles. The tempering was the hard part, requiring constant stirring and the addition of beta crystals to give the chocolate that firmness and shine.  The bloom most people see in chocolate is where the beta prime crystal melts away, allowing the fat to come to the surface and discolour the chocolate.

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Then it was our turn. We had 4 little hollow spheres to fill and coat…

I tried my best but still managed to get messy! After filling, we dipped them in the molten tempered chocolate and then rolled them in our choice of coverings. I went for icing sugar, cocoa powder, coconut and one just chocolate.

 

We went through a few flavours created especially for Father’s Day gifts, which we tasted and reviewed.

The three flavours were Stout, made with Jewellery Quarter’s own Jewellery Porter from Two Towers Brewery; Smoked Bacon made with real salty bacon and a dash of Laphroaig to give it a smoky kick; the final was Whisky made with Hard to Find Whisky of choice Glen Garioch. My favourite was the Stout which was rich and creamy. Whisky was very whisky and the Smoked Bacon was a touch too smoky for me. There was enough variety for everyone and I’m sure there’ll be some very happy dads come Father’s Day!

To finish off proceedings, we had a very tasty chocolate fondue with a selection of things to dip in, my favourite being  honeycomb. After that, I waddled home very slowly and let the choco-coma seep in!

Chocolate Quarter also offer private events and parties, including those after a delicious stag or hen do twist, and can even create bespoke chocolates! You can also buy delicious Chocolate Quarter delights online here!

Disclaimer: For this event, I was a guest of the Chocolate Quarter who provided all food and drinks; 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: 04/05/2016

Where:  The Chocolate Quarter, 1A Spencer Street,Birmingham, Jewellery Quarter, B18 6DD

Who: The Chocolate QuarterSusie81Speaks

 

Rofuto @ Park Regis – New Venue at Five Ways

I’m always on the lookout for something a little different in Birmingham, and have watched with interest as the Park Regis Hotel has transformed the former Auchinleck House, the most stunning change being the glass ‘sky bar’ taking over the sixteenth floor.

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The main occupant of this will be Rofuto a Japanese izakaya-style restaurant, serving a range of dishes and partnered with a cocktail lounge and sake bar, Kurabu.

Des McDonald will be running things on the food side. He honed his culinary skills and built up his knowledge cooking in 5-star hotels including The Ritz in London. In 1992 he got his big break with Caprice Holdings working as head chef at the legendary Ivy Restaurant, and had a very successful 20 years with the Caprice Group. In May 2013 Des opened his first solo venture, the critically acclaimed Fish & Chip Shop on Upper Street, N1. Following its success, in February 2014 he launched Holborn Dining Room, a classic British brasserie at London‘s five star hotel, Rosewood London. A new barbeque restaurant concept: Q Grill Chalk Farm followed and Des also had the opportunity to launch many successful pop ups in combination with Selfridges.

Des McDonald says: “I am delighted to be opening my first modern Japanese restaurant Rofuto, with my partners at Park Regis Birmingham. I love rooftop spaces, having opened four successful restaurants on the roof of Selfridges in London.  I fell in love with the unparalleled dramatic views from the 16th floor, Birmingham is a great, vibrant city and I’m excited to become part of it’s dynamic and diverse dining scene.”

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Park Regis Birmingham will be open from on Tuesday 29th March 2016 and boasts 253 deluxe bedrooms, two junior suites, the largest presidential suite in the city, an executive level complete with conference and meeting space, and a business lounge with executive check-in facilities. The £50 million hotel is the brand’s first Park Regis in Europe and has created over 200 jobs for the region.

Rofuto will be open for lunch and dinner on Tuesday to Saturday and Sunday for lunch.  The restaurant will serve modern Japanese cuisine, made using world-class fresh ingredients, from traditional sushi to yakitori from the grill.  The menu is divided into six sections: Sushi and Sashimi, Tempura, Robata Grill, Mains, Sides and Desserts.

Signature dishes include Foie gras nashi pear gunkan Chinese truffle; Confit duck and raspberry sunomono; Saffron gindara with razor clams, Chinese sausage, kohlrabi puree and sea herbs; Sesame tuna tataki and soft shell crab with wasabi puree and black garlic crumble and Miyazaki Wagyu beef served with gobo crisps, avocado puree, garlic ponzu and truffle salt.  Desserts feature twists on European classics such as Matcha tiramisu and wasabi macaroon and Cardamom and coconut panna cotta with passion fruit.

The restaurant’s interior, designed by Tibbatts Abel (Interior Designer for Jinjuu Soho and Buddah Bar) is a fusion of urban, industrial and warehouse design inspiration alongside a fun and vibrant cocktail lounge style.  Warm rustic timber is used throughout, with industrial tones and a palette of neutrals, warm taupe’s, greys and blacks.

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Kurabu Cocktail Lounge will offer an array of wines, beers and soft drinks, along with a bespoke cocktail list and unique sake offering to perfectly compliment the Japanese cuisine. Fresh Sake from Takashimizu Brewery in Northern Japan will be on offer, alongside Koshua aged Sake from Shiraki Brewery in central Japan. The cocktail list includes highlights such as the Red Lotus which combines Shochu, Tequila, Cranberry and Lychee Sorbet and Kietsu which is an exotic combination of infused Raspberry Sake, Passionfruit liqueur, Apple and Pineapple. Rofuto’s wine showcases some more unusual varieties such as Pecorino, Gewurtztraminer and Pinot Blanc in the whites and a particular focus on low alcohol, low tannin reds.

Bookings are now open and you can call on 0121 369 8888 or via e-mail at reservations@rofuto.co.uk, more information on their website at Rofuto.co.uk

   

 

Blooming Marvellous Art & Grub – BMAG & Edwardian Tea Room

Not your typical invite for a foodie event but the team at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (BMAG for us locals) wanted to show off their Edwardian Tea Room and a few new galleries as part of their update.

Wifey & I had visited the tea rooms prior as part of Birmingham Cocktail Weekend and we’re big fans of the ‘Birmingham: its people, its history’ exhibit.

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