Wifey Writes – Alcohol Alchemy at The Alchemist

Birmingham is buzzing with new bars and restaurants opening at the moment. The latest addition is The Alchemist, housed underneath The Grand Hotel restoration on Colmore Row, next door to sister venture Italian restaurant Gusto.


Owned by Cheshire-based Living Ventures, which also encompasses The Botanist into its family, they are already well established in the North of England,with branches in Alderley Edge, Manchester, Liverpool & Leeds to name a few.

I was invited to the VIP launch as award winning Brumhour’s plus one.

The place is beautifully furnished with copper-coloured fixings and glass cabinets full of a wonderful and eclectic mix of collectables.


We were given a lovely welcome drink of Peaches & Crème – Briottet Peach and Pink Grapefruit, Lemon and Prossecco Fizz. A sweet refreshing taster of what was in store, it went down a treat.  We’d also ordered some spirits from the bar – Portobello Gin & Tonic (sorry no picture) for myself (sadly no Langleys!).

What caught my eye was a rather futuristic looking stand, looking rather extrinsic to the backdrop, which they had both upstairs and downstairs.  Turns out this is a Mist Bar and you can sup in different flavours of alcoholic mist through a straw.  The upstairs one was mint chocolate flavoured; the one downstairs was rum flavoured.

Heading downstairs to the basement bar, it was spacious with high ceilings yet cosy enough for an intimate gathering.  Being a enthusiast of all things storage, I particularly liked the little drawers against the back wall.  Imagine my disappointment that they didn’t actually open! I half expected to find some hidden gems in there.  I love all types of storage and these made a beautiful backdrop.

The glass cabinets showcased an eclectic mix of eccentricities, two headed bird anyone?

I also sampled several other drinks whilst enjoying the surroundings.

Wow Woo! – Ketel One Vodka, Briottet Peach, cranberry, citrus, gold.  A pretty and glittery concoction.

Caramel Rum Punch – Appleton Signature Rum, Grand Marnier, watermelon, lime, pineapple, fire.  Nice sweet caramel undertones with chunky cinnamon stick.

Bubblebath – Tanqueray Gin, Aperol, Chambord, Lemon, Apple, Fairy Liquid – a favourite of the night if only for the Fairy Liquid non stop frothiness!

Candy Crush – Ketel One Vodka, Rhubarb and Rosehip cordial, Lemon, Egg White, Candy, Pink – sickly sweety as it should be!  This is perfect as a dessert on its own.

Smoky Old Fashioned – Woodford Reserve Whisky, maple syrup, dilution, Jerry Thomas Bitters, smoke.  Self pouring from separate glass flask, it felt like being back at school in the science lab! Although not clear in the photos, it was smokin’! I’m not a huge whisky fan unlike Mr Brummie Gourmand and enjoyed more of the theatrics of it.

During the evening, I also sampled some tasty appetisers which I would happily eat again:

Pork bon bons – delicious Middle Eastern flavours encased in a crunchy coating.

Prawn with jalapeno salsa – crunchy and very moreish

Cheese quesadillas – fluffy with a lovely, scrumptious salty filling

The Alchemist is located in Colmore Business District, attracting a lunch and after work crowd.  It’s somewhere I would happily visit again; my aim, as with most cocktail places we have visited, to work my way through the entire cocktail menu!


Disclaimer: For this evening, Wifey was a guest of #BrumHour and the team at The Alchemist, this provides no bias to the post. This blog is our 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: 06/10/2016

Where: The Alchemist, The Grand, Colmore Row, Birmingham, B3 2DA

Who: The Alchemist


New Book Launch at Tapas Revolution

It seems to be a period of 1st birthdays. Grand Central has been open for a year now, nestled on top of New Street station, with already one swap of ownership. Grand Central has had a busy year! Happily, this also means Tapas Revolution‘s only Midlands location has been with us for a year.


Omar Allibhoy has been err.. creating a revolution…  in Spanish cooking since arriving in the UK in 2008. Opening the first Tapas Revolution in 2010, he also launched Britain’s fastest selling Spanish cookbook in 2013 (no prizes for guessing the name).


For his follow up book, Spanish Made Simple Omar has taken inspiration from simple ingredients easily available to make classic Spanish Tapas. To celebrate the launch, Omar has also revitalised the menu with a few (hopefully) new favourites from the book. There is a gluten free menu available too for those coeliacs amongst you!

Whilst we went through a few nibbles of Jamón Ibérico de bellota Montenevado (hand carved to order 30-month cured, dry-aged and acorn-fed Iberian ham) and Pan con Tomate (toasted bread, garlic, tomato and olive oil), Omar took us through the inspiration behind the new book and menu, using easily attainable ingredients to create simple but delicious dishes.


Before delving into the new menu, we were treated to the best Ham Croquettas in London (and apparently the rest of the country too). These ham and béchamel were little bundles of joy. A crispy exterior, a rich creamy sauce, with little morsels of Iberico ham studded through. I could see why they’re a popular little dish.

Next up some of the treats from the new book:

Piquillos rellenos de setas:  baked piquillo peppers filled with mushroom béchamel and piquillo pepper sauce. Mmmm-mmm-mmm.  Not much else to say: rich, creamy, velvety, unguent, really a nice little pot of heaven!

Cogollos de tudela con vinagreta de panceta: Warm roasted lettuce salad with honey and smoked bacon vinaigrette. Now I was surprised with this dish, warm lettuce just sounded, well, wrong! Happily I was wrong!  Pan fried leaves drizzled with honey and sprinkled with crispy bacon, they were delicious.  I could have happily just tucked into a big bowl of this for the evening. It’s definitely something I’ll be trying at home!

Cordero al chilindrón: Traditional slow-cooked lamb stew with tomato, peppers & herbs. This felt very comfort food with big hearty pieces of lamb floating in a rich broth.  If you need an autumn pick me up, this would be it.

It wouldn’t be tapas without a bit of dessert to finish off, would it?

Tarrito de chocolate: A sweet sherry chocolate pot with fresh raspberries.  This was VERY chocolatey with a hint of the sherry on the aftertaste; the raspberries’ sharpness helping to bite through the dense chocolate flavour.

Torrija: Caramelised brioche bun soaked in custard, served warm. This was  a complete surprise to me. A dessert of brioche in custard with a touch of chocolate and a dash of cinnamon sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Though humble ingredients, this was wondrous. Sticking to the inside of the chest as it descended, I felt like I had a ‘Ready Brek glow’ by the end of it! It really completed the meal for me, one which will be repeated significantly over the winter.

To help us wash down our desserts, a little aperitif helped us round off a great evening with Omar espousing the delights of Bodegas Alvear Pedro Ximenez de Anada. A full-bodied sweet wine, looks and tastes like a sweet sherry, winner of many awards. We also had an Espresso to perk us up and a Ginabelle, plum gin infused with red berry tea and served with Fever Tree Indian tonic and forest fruits.

A great way to round out the meal. Now I just have to try and be as impressive when I cook something from the book for Wifey!


Disclaimer: For this evening, I was a guest of Omar and the team at Tapas Revolution and Neil Reading PR, 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: 04/10/2016

Where: Tapas Revolution, Ground, Grand Central, 68A East Mews, Birmingham, West Midlands B2 4XJ

Who: Tapas Revolution 


New Menu at Nosh and Quaff

A few weeks past, Wifey and I got to attend a special 1st birthday party and new menu launch of Nosh & Quaff.


It’s odd to believe it’s been a year since they opened, Wifey and I’s first experience was a taster back at Colmore Food Festival 2015. Since then, it feels like they have become a stalwart of the area serving easy burgers, lobster and ribs, which I have enjoyed for a lunch break from the office a few times.

On arrival, we were treated to a Pornstar Bellini (Passionfruit, Vodka, Passoa and Bubbles) and a few nibbles including lobster bites. After a natter with a few fellow bloggers, it was time to sit down to perhaps one of the biggest platters of food ever witnessed, demonstrating the variety available on the new menu:

Consisting of:

  • Beef Ribs: Slow cooked double ribs in a hickory smoke and molasses glaze with homemade slaw.
  • Chicken Wings: Free range Cotswold white chicken wings in a smoked butter habanero sauces, served with a stilton mayo.
  • BBQ Pork Ribs: Rack of short ribs of naturally reared Hampshire pig, in a smoked BBQ glaze in a mustard rub.
  • Mini Nosh & Quaff Cheeky Burger: Dry aged, naturally reared beef & slow braised cheek in a buttermilk bun, served with house cheese, crisp onion rings and a truffle mayo.
  • Mini Apple Dog: A gourmet oak smoked frankfurter, buttermilk bun with bacon jam & sticky caramelised onions dressed with mustard & ketchup served with saurkraut.
  • Mac & CheeseMacaroni with a creamy cheese sauce, with kibbled onions.
  • Salted Fries
  • Sweet Potato Wedges: Dusted in seasoned flour
  • Blooming Onion: An onion, sliced into petals, battered in seasoned flour and deep fried (tastes more amazing than the description sounds).

My personal favourite was the Chicken Wings with the smoked butter habanero sauce, giving them a beautifully piquant bite. Wifey’s fave was the Mac & Cheese with a creamy and crispy bite.

To finish we had a delicious Rocky Road Ice Cream Bowl with huge chunks of marshmallow, and a Espresso Shooter made with Kalhua, Vanilla, vodka and Coffee.

There was a good range of food on offer and as stated earlier, it’s always a nice spot to stop off for lunch or an afterwork social. If you’ve not been before and you’re craving some comfort food and you’re in the city, you won1t be wrong in coming here.

Disclaimer: For this event, we were guests of Nosh & Quaff 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: 15/09/2016

Where: Nosh & Quaff130 Colmore Row, Birmingham, B3 3AP

Who: Nosh & Quaff, Lasan Group

New Cocktail Menu at Bar Opus

I’m no stranger to the Opus group (you can read about previous experiences here, here, here, and here). So I was very happy when they invited me down to try out their new cocktail menu at Bar Opus.


Situated just past Colmore Row, nestled next to Snowhill Train Station, the bar has become a firm fave with the CBD crowd with a modern interior.


We were going to be looking at 12 new cocktails over the evening, with a demonstration of the preparation for each drink and a taster so we could capture the flavour.

Our first cocktail of the evening was a Milk Punch. Created with Makers Mark, Kraken Rum, Vanilla Syrup, Half and Half with a dash of nutmeg. The rich creamy drink definitely had a Christmassy feel to it, with the dash of nutmeg.

Next up was the Hereford Scrambler. Consisting of Chase Rhubarb Vodka, Chase Blackcurrant Liqueur, lime, lemon and soda.  As you can expect from the Rhubarb Vodka, this was a very tart little number full of autumnal flavour, the blackberry kick giving it a sweet aftertaste.

Next was a drink named The Clover Club; this had Martin Miller’s Gin, Nolly Prat Vermouth, lemon juice, raspberries and an egg. This was a sweet fruity drink, which had the vermouth come through to warm the insides.

Next up up was a Pear and Cardamom Sidecar, with Xante Pear brandy, Cointreau, lemon and cardamom. This smelled like a big bag of peardrop sweets and the cardamom tingled the back of the throat.

Next was the Ginger Bellini. A simple combination of Ginger Liqueur, Ginger syrup and Prosecco. This worked really well and I’m surprised I’ve not seen it more often! Warm, spicy and sweet, I can see this being a hit on a chilly autumnal evening!

After a few snacks, it was on to the second half of the tasting.


The second half began with Beggars Banquet made with Makers Mark, Agnostura Bitters, Peaky Blinder’s Ale, maple syrup and lemon. The bitters and syrup gave it a nice mulled flavour and reminded me of a nice Christmas Market.

We moved onto a Cowboy Hoof Martini made with London Dry Gin, Orange Bitters, mint and syrup; a very minty cocktail with a rich sweetness.


Continuing our Cocktail Crawl was a Missionary’s Downfall, consisting of White Rum, Peach Liqueur, lime juice, syrup and lemon. This had a citrus punch with the sweetness of the pineapple and peach coming through and was the most ‘summery’ of the cocktails we had that evening.


Next, a Port Cobbler. The cobbler can probably lay a good claim to being one of the oldest cocktails in the world and this was an interesting twist. Combining Monkey Shoulder Whisky, Grand Marnier, Port, lemon and syrup, this reminded me of a boiled sweet with a rich, velvety flavour which slipped down nicely.


Next was a slice of the Caribbean in the shape of the Old Kokonut. Made with Koko Kanu Rum, Prosecco, Agnostura Bitters, mint, lime and syrup. This reminded me a touch of a more elegant version of a Malibu Bellini and would work nicely on a beach with a few palms in the background.

The final cocktail (I got a picture of) was an Opus Manhattan. A signature twist on an Old Faithful, this was made with Nikka Whisky, Sweet Vermouth, Japanese Plum Liqueur, Angostura Bitters and mulled spices.  It was my favourite of the evening, being the whisky fan that I am, with rich deep plummy notes complementing the high notes of the bitters and spices.


The final cocktail for the evening was an English Collins, combining Martin Millers Gin, Elderflower Liqueur,  lemon juice, cucumber and soda water. Very refreshing and a great way to finish off the evening.

If you’re in the CBD and looking for a cocktail, there’s enough variety in flavour on the list to suit anyone’s palate and in great surroundings too!

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: 14/09/2016

Where: Bar Opus at One Snowhill

Who:  Bar Opus, Opus Group