atpizza

Commuter Chow: @Pizza, Grand Central

Sooo…

…It’s been awhile. Sorry about that.

For me, life kinda got in the way including an ongoing house move and a change of job, but hopefully that will all be resolved shortly. Anyway onto business!

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AtPizza (or @Pizza) might be seen as a curious blog post to return on. Especially as the rest of foodie Twitter in Birmingham is going on about either Rudy’s or Franco Manca, both located on Bennetts Hill. Probably staring at each other with steely gazes, waving their pizza peels from respective windows. But I thought I’d turn my gaze to the other new pizzeria in Birmingham which opened in 2019.

@Pizza has taken a different methodology to either of the above. It’s what I’d like to call “brisk food”. Not fast food per se but neither meant to be a dining experience that lasts above an hour. It’s in commuter and shopper land for a start. Designed for a reasonably fast paced meal without having your food thrown in a paper bag by a surly teen, thrust upon you with the grace of your passport in a post Brexit EU.

It’s also rectangular, which brought horrible flashbacks of working make table, crafting Pizza Hut’s The Quad very many moons ago (old enough that it was advertised during Pop Idol!).

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The food offerings in Grand Central have had a swap-around over the past 12 months, with Slim Chickens trying to make chicken strips seem novel, Herman ze German displaying his Phallic glory for all to see, and Pig and Apple happy to serve a Yorkie to those travellers from the North flying through New St below. Even Tapas Revolution seems a venerable eatery amongst the group. @Pizza is nestled against “cheeky” chain chicken slingers Nando’s one side, purveyors of all things yellow and carb loaded Holy Moly Macaroni the other.

Founded in Edinburgh in 2017, this is @pizza’s second location. The concept is simple: you grab yourself a menu and a table at either one of the side booths, a table or along the bench running parallel to the prep area. You pick your choice of pizza (7 options or you can Create Your Own (they boast over 64,000 combinations). You head up to the prep counter, pick your meal and it’s made in front of you, and then side shuffle the few paces further down to the till to choose beverages and pay. For those not of a rectangular dough fixation, there’s salad as an option too.

Beverages come in choices of either hard (craft beer, cider or wine) or soft with water, juice or their own craft soda’s being the options. Desserts are 3 ‘dessert pizzas’ or ice cream sundaes.

Grazing through the menu, I picked the ‘Eat Meat Repeat’ (Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Cheddar, Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Wiltshire Ham, Spicy Beef, Gran Moravia Cheese, Oregano) but swapped the tomato base for BBQ because who wouldn’t?

Wifey selected the ‘Mean Greens’ (Pesto, Mixed Leaves, Baby Spinach, Rocket, Basil, Tomberry®Tomatoes, Red Onion, Red Bell Pepper, Mozzarella Pearls, Caesar Dressing). This one confused me for a second as they basted the dough with the pesto sauce, then slapped it in the oven. I enquired, slightly panicked, about the toppings. Apparently they’re added post cooking (which takes about 90 seconds) to keep them nice and fresh.

Beverages were sorted with two of their craft sodas which are serve yourself and in six flavours. I selected Mango & Blood Orange, whilst Wifey had Sicilian Lemonade.

I was surprised by how well cooked it was after such a short trip on their conveyor oven. The custom BBQ base added a nice tang to the meaty feast in front of me. A mass of umami with a touch of spicy heat from the beef to complement.

Wifey’s bread was more akin to a good garlic bread than a traditional pizza, a more than generous collection of vegetation under Caesar dressing had been assembled on top. All was fresh and crisp, and the Tomberry® tomatoes and mozzarella pearls added little pops of flavour throughout.

However, one thing spoilt my enjoyment of pinching Wifey’s food. That is the lurking presence of rocket. It’s a nasty leaf, more spiteful and bitter than Rupert Murdoch’s entire press portfolio. It’s related to broccoli and kale, I’d happily chuck all three in the bin for their crimes against my palate. The ubiquitous use of said ‘dandelion leaf equivalent’ in salads across the UK has reached peak annoyance and to be honest. I wish it would go back to lurking unloved in a yellow stickered bag on a supermarket shelf. It adds nothing to a salad and actually takes flavour away from other veg in a salad like the horrible vegetable urchin it is.

After a forensic extraction from my stolen slice, it was a very nice and refreshing salad with an oomph of flavour from the pesto. Like a refined Philadelphia cheese advert.

Tidying away and getting ready to leave, the duty manager offered us some takeout cups (recyclable and made from plants BTW) to avail ourselves of the soda dispenser for our journey to the train. I had a mix of flavours, whilst Wifey had herself an iced tea. We both left content and happy with our selections. We won’t hesitate to return soon next time we’re in Grand Central.

If you’re in the mood for pizza after a shopping session at Bullring or Grand Central, or just fancy a quick bite with comfy seating, you’d not put a foot wrong crossing their threshold.

For those who want a quick lunch or dinner on the way home, they do takeout and app ordering too! Lovely.

NB. Dinner was paid for via means of a LivingSocial voucher bought by Wifey and a tip from me. They were not informed I was writing about the venue for my blog.

When: 10/08/2019

Where: @Pizza, Unit 33, Grand Central, Stephenson Place, B2 4BF, 

Socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

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