Peel & Stone Bakery, Bar, and Kitchen – Harborne

Out In Brum - Peel and Stone Harborne - ExteriorAs Harborne locals we are still mourning the loss of The Butchers Social (their decision on the missing apostrophe, not mine). In the middle of the week, when work was grinding and the weekend stubbornly refused to make an appearance, it was a great stop for a pint and a quick dinner with friends. Thank goodness then that about 500 metres from my front door, the wonderful Peel & Stone bakery, including basement bar and kitchen, has quietly opened. The bakery is open Tuesday to Saturday all day until 11, and the bar and kitchen is open 5 till 11 with food till 9.  That’s subject to change of course and you can check out the details on their website here. It’s located on the roundabout by the leisure centre, just three minutes walk from the High Street, so no excuses for buying substandard goods from supermarkets.

Out In Brum - Peel and Stone Harborne - Breakfast and CakeFirst, let’s talk about the bakery. This is not your average high street bakery knocking out cupcakes and sausage rolls. It’s baked goods qua artisan craft. Everything is baked either on site, or at their larger kitchen in the arches on Water Street in the Jewellery Quarter. The selection of breads and other produce varies from day to day. With the warm smell of baked rye and wheat in the air, and racks of breads, pastries, and viennoiserie, on entry I had to mentally remind myself of a quote from Mrs. Gloop: “Augustus, please don’t eat your fingers!”. The croissants were a triumph of butter and folding, with fine crisp layers; the ‘slice of the week’ – their sweet pie special was a fudgy nutty indulgent delight; and their crunchy crusted sourdough perfect for a Sunday brunch. There are of course a load of other variations of breads should you rather have a rye, partial rye, white tin etc. I think we’ve established there that I like a carb more than your average man.

Now to the food and bar. It feels like it’s a secret at the moment. Of an evening you canOut In Brum - Peel and Stone Harborne - Basement Bar take the stairs towards the back of the shop down to the smallish seating area and bar in the basement. I’m told that when it gets crazy popular, and I have no doubt that once it’s properly discovered it will get very busy, they will take reservations for food. The menu is perfect for grabbing a quick cheap dinner after work, or for sharing something with friends. The lamb meatballs (an £8 bargain) are filling and tasty, and are served with a tangy tomato and mint sauce. The garlic bread, a whole 400g loaf hedghogged, is perfect beer food with friends. The kimchi grilled cheese sandwich packed a spicy cheese punch (£6.50). We also tried the strawberry, goats cheese, and avocado side salad (£3) and the burnt cauliflower side salad (£3).Out In Brum - Peel and Stone Harborne - Meatballs

The drinks selection is good. I’m not a big ale fan, especially as there’s a trend at the moment for everything to be made like Brewdog beers, far too hoppy. I was convinced to try the Cloudwater – though hoppy, there’s a wonderfully balancing sweetness (9%! £4 for 1/2pt – you don’t need many, hic!). There’s lots of other interesting beers too, plus wine, fizz, spirits, and soft drinks of course.

Peel & Stone are a small independent bakers, and if you haven’t used them before I’d urge you to seek them out. Their team are excited about this new venture, and that comes across in their attentive service and the product.

Time for another croissant I think… #carbatosed

Out In Brum - Peel and Stone Harborne - Salad

Posted in Area: Edgbaston, Area: Harborne, Birmingham Restaurant, birmingham review, Price: Cheap as Chips - Inexpensive, Venue type: Bar, Venue type: Cafe, Venue type: Gourmet Shop | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pride 2016

Out In Brum - Birmingham Pride 2016 Logo

Pride 2016 went off seemingly without a hitch, as it has done over the previous few years.

Happy people danced and made merry in the streets to a background of artists that any music festival, let alone gay pride event, would be proud of!  We heard from Lucy Spraggan, Venga Boys, Fleur East, and headliners Andy Bell of Erasure, and Lisa Stanfield – plus many many more.  It’s one of the UK’s largest Pride events and saw a record 75,000 spectators at the parade and tens of thousands more revellers attending the festival in the gay village.

We enjoyed cabaret from Willam Belli, Lola Lasagne, Miss Penny, Lady Imelda, Tanya Hyde, Son of a Tutu, Baga Chipz and all the other drag and cabaret artists that you’ve heard of.  As usual Sandra had us in non-politically-correct stitches, and stole the show.

Post the tragedy and terror of the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shootings, I’ve worried about the timing of publishing these happy and love-filled pictures.  I’ve decided though that it’s exactly because those awful things can still happen, that society built that murderer and the people who have vocally supported him after the shooting, that we need to continue celebrating our diversity and warmth publicly.  As I find it hard to be eloquent on such a difficult topic I refer you to a wonderful article in The Guardian by Alexis Petridis, here.

Many people had gone all out on the costume front, as you’ll see from the photos.  One or two are NSFW – you can’t say I didn’t warn you!

We had a great time, and hope you enjoy the photos, see you there next year?


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JQ Drinking

Out In Brum - Downstairs in the JQ - Interior (3)For many years the Jewellery Quarter, or JQ to the initiated, has been described as “up and coming”. With the recent additions to the drinking and dining scene I think it’s more “up and come”, and is now a real hotspot for a classy night out for drinks and dinner. Last Saturday, purely in the interests of research of course, we spent the day bar hopping in the JQ’s newest venues.

It’s nice to see some new bars opening away from St. Paul’s Square. The first of our stops was on Water Street at the very well hidden “Downstairs”, accessed from the single seat coffee shop called “Upstairs”. The bar is dimly lit with candles and is an ideal spot for a romantic tête-à-tête, or discrete liaison. Walls are wood panelled and the cocktail menu comes as a bookmark in an antique book. I had a spot-on aromatic and bitter Downstairs Out In Brum - Downstairs in the JQ - Interior (2)Negroni, made with Aperol, Bulldog London Dry Gin, and L’Antica Formula (£8). We also tried the Budapest G&T, with G’Vine Floraison Gin, Pisco ABA, tonic, and dressed with red grapes and basil – also very tasty (£10). The bar is surprisingly capacious and could easily fit large groups of friends. Book a table on facebook here.

Onwards, we stopped off for a pint at Thousand Trades, which is still in the throes Out In Brum - Thousand Tradesof being finished, but very welcoming. Furniture is eclectic and perfect for an afternoon with mates and a few beers. The name comes from the Victorian era when Birmingham was called the “city of a thousand trades” and “the workshop of the world” – still now around town you can take a look round museums of various crafts such as pencil making, glass-eye making (honestly!), and of course jewellery and metalwork. I had a cool pint of Austrian Pilsner and we sat upstairs and caught some of the football. There will be food available at this place very soon, but details are yet to be announced, keep an eye on it.

We then went to The Pig & Tail on Dayus Square, a new venue from husband and wife team Mark and Chrissy Rafferty who’ve already set up the very successful Pickled Piglet restaurant on Gas Street. They’ve converted the beautiful old George & Dragon pub by the old fire station in to a smart gastro pub. We’llOut In Brum - Pig and Tail - Exterior review this separately but in short they’ve done a wonderful job rennovating a completely dilapidated building in to a warm and comfortable space with a great walled beer garden. Food here is small tapas style plates at around £4-£8 each.

From here, we wended our way to our final stop – Ana Rocha bar and gallery. It’s a spanish tapas bar, in an art gallery. Around your table you’ll find fine art, antique furniture, and vintage Rolex watches. You’ll be met at the velvet rope and walked through to the restaurant. On the Saturday evening we were in, there was a DJ playing chilled Out In Brum - Ana Rocha - Interiormusic. It’s unusual but not unwelcoming. We’ll go back to try the tapas, and I’m hoping as people get to understand it’s a nice place for a drink that the clientele will normalise – it was a bit of a random crowd when we were in.

One final new place to mention – The Button Factory is in the process of being refurbished and will be open soon.

If you’re not a JQ regular, you should also check out these great venues: Peel & Stone Bakery, The Lord Clifden pub and its cool beer garden, The Church and its roof garden, The Red Lion and its chalk murder victim outline, Rajdoot Indian, Vittoria Chinese, and Rose Villa Tavern.  To name but a few…

Posted in Area: Jewellery Quarter, Article, Venue type: Bar, Venue type: Cocktail Bar, Venue type: Pub, Venue type: Restaurant | Leave a comment

“Mirror Mirror on the Wall…The World’s Biggest Pantomime is the fairest of them all!”

Snow White

Hot on the heels of the phenomenal success of 2015’s ‘Cinderella’, The World’s Biggest Pantomime is back at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham, with the wickedly enchanting tale of Snow White with a twist!

Headlining the star cast is Spice Girl MEL B as the Scary Queen. Hot from Hollywood, the pop diva crashes into the Arena and plots against Snow White to become the ‘fairest of them all’.

Let the juggler see the balls! Audiences will be laughing their festive socks off with Muddles the lovable court jester, played by ‘Take Me Out’ host and comedian PADDY McGUINNESS, who is joined by the Queen’s hilarious Henchman, Big Brother and This Morning’ star, RYLAN CLARK-NEAL.

And that’s not all! Strictly Ballroom dance stars, VINCENT and FLAVIA, will also be step-tapping their way to the stage as the mysterious spirits of the mirror.

FINAL Snow White image

Be captivated by the magic of Snow White like never before, as The World’s Biggest Pantomime takes you on a dazzling and spellbinding adventure into the Forest of Illumination where fun, laughter and trickery all await in equal measure. Complete with amazing special effects, a giant castle, aerial acrobatics, a cast of over 100 plus many more festive surprises, this spellbinding show will run for the limited time of seven performances from 19-22 December.

Returning in true World’s Biggest Pantomime style, this year will also see the thrills and spills relayed on a mega 10 metre wide TV screen, so whether you are front row or back, you won’t miss a minute!

Join Snow White as she meets some lovable fury friends and a dwarf or seven along the way, and experience the magic of the most spectacular pantomime you and the family will see this Christmas!

The World’s Biggest Pantomime presents Snow White

19-22 December 2016, Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham


Performance times:

Monday 19 December- 7.30pm

Tuesday 20 December- 3pm & 7.30pm

Wednesday 21 December- 3pm & 7.30pm

Thursday 22 December- 11am

Tickets on sale now via the Barclaycard Arena website or 0844 581 3000 *Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.

Tickets priced at £49.40 / £39.68 / £27.80 (including admin fee & 80p facility fee) + £2.55 fulfilment fee per order.

Group tickets also available, please call 0800 358 0058 (All calls are free of charge from a landline or mobile).

Posted in Area: Brindley Place, Article, Special Event, Uncategorized, Venue type: Entertainment, Venue type: Theatre | Leave a comment

Beer Brewsters – or Women in Beer

Beer Brewsters - Lady BrewersOrganisers of the Midlands’ biggest keg beer festival have collaborated with the women and beer group, Dea Latis (named after the Celtic goddess of beer and water), to run a special Brewsters’ Brunch, taking place at this year’s Birmingham Beer Bash.

The fringe event is dedicated to celebrating women in the brewing industry with tastings from three of Britain’s top female brewers or ‘brewsters’.

Michelle Kelsall from Offbeat Brewery in Cheshire, Gwen Sanchirico a native New Yorker now brewing at Sacre Brew in Wolverhampton and Sarah John from Swansea’s Boss Brewing will be providing beers and sharing their experiences as women in the male dominated brewing industry.

Hosted by one of the UK’s first female beer sommeliers and one of the Dea Latis founding members, Annabel Smith, the Brewsters’ Brunch is not a women-only event but the aim is to encourage women to go along from 10am to midday to enjoy the tasting of six beers brewed by women whilst enjoying brunch.  Ticket details at the bottom of this article, note they’re not just the general admission tickets.

Annabel said: “We’re extremely excited to be a part of this year’s Birmingham Beer Bash. We set up Dea Latis in 2010 as a group of women united by our love for beer and the belief that it is too good to be enjoyed only by men and run events like this around the UK. Having worked in the beer industry for over 20 years and have seen a huge shift in women’s attitudes to beer. Thanks to the recent craft beer revolution there is much more information out there about styles of beer and great choice of ales. I think women feel more confident to ask about beers at the bar.”

Dea Latis recently conducted a survey of 600 beer drinkers which confirmed that more women are now regularly incorporating beer in to their repertoire.

David Shipman, founder and organiser of Birmingham Beer Bash said: “It’s always been part of our stated aims that we want to help bring more of the best beer experiences to Birmingham. Working with Dea Latis to celebrate women in brewing does exactly that.

Beer Bash is a great opportunity for men and women alike to try different styles, talk to brewers and enjoy some of the great beers from around the country. We hope that this fringe event will show what brilliant female brewing talent we have in the industry.’

Food for the brunch will be provided by Peel & Stone, one of Birmingham’s top independent bakeries based in the Jewellery Quarter.

Tickets, available from Eventbrite and the main event website, cost £22.50 and include a flight of six beers and brunch as well as admission to the popular Saturday daytime of the Birmingham Beer Bash.

You can find out more about Dea Latis here:

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Friday Night Dinner at Opus Restaurant Cornwall Street

Out In Brum - Opus Restaurant Friday Night Deal - ExteriorOpus Restaurant opened on Cornwall Street in the business district over a decade ago.  It’s seen times of boom and bust, and continued serving the local business community despite the ever smaller appetite for extravagant client lunches.  Of course it doesn’t only serve the local offices, those in the know about Birmingham food have been long-term supporters.  Their approach to sourcing food gives them wonderful produce to showcase, and indeed they often run specialist dinners themed on their suppliers, from humble potatoes to decadent champagne.

It’s been made-over in recent years and now sports a warmer pallet of greens, blues, and Out In Brum - Opus Restaurant Friday Night Deal - Interior 2
wood.  It is still fine dining, with white table cloths, delicate stemware, and gleaming silver cutlery, and polite staff escorting you to the bar for a pre-dinner cocktail and then to your table.  I don’t think there are any other Birmingham fine dining restaurants though where you can dine on a Friday evening with two courses and half a bottle of wine for £25.  We were invited to try this extension of their daily market menu offering (which is two courses for £20).

Out In Brum - Opus Restaurant Friday Night Deal - Goats CheeseOn the Friday night we dined, there were two starters and two mains to choose from.  I’m not a big soup fan, but for those interested it was carrot, carraway and corriander.  The other option was whipped Rosary goat’s cheese, heritage tomato and english radish salad, watercress and grape dressing.  The goat’s cheese was creamy and smooth and set off by the slightly sharp heritage tomato and cool peppery radishes.  The serving of goat’s cheese was very generous, and I enjoyed some herby focaccia with it.  I noticed that the couple next to us were also taking the Friday night menu and had opted to share a starter and a dessert, thus both taking two courses but having the benefit of trying the three.

Out In Brum - Opus Restaurant Friday Night Deal - PlaiceFor my main I took the plaice.  It was again a generous portion, cooked to burnished gold.  The day-boat fillet of plaice was served on a bed of pearl barley, with florets of mild cauliflowers and tangy capers, and dressed with pea shoots.  The flesh was white, firm, and sweet and cooked to just done, which for me is spot on, no one wants over-cooked fish.  While fish dishes tend to be on the lighter side, this was filling and hearty.  There are few restaurants in Birmingham that do fish well but Opus is one of them (for good fish you should also check out e.g. JuJu’s, Pickled Piglet, I’m told Le Monde, obviously Adam’s).

We also had the roasted rump of Dexter beef with creamed potatoes, asparagus, and red Out In Brum - Opus Restaurant Friday Night Deal - Dexter Beefwine and shallot jus.  Dexter beef usually has wonderful flavour and this did not disappoint, packing a bovine punch.  The large portion of creamed potato (we couldn’t eat it all!) was very buttery.  The asparagus was tender, and the dish was finished with a rich and tasty glossy red wine jus.  A lovely traditional and tasty dish that I’d eat any day of the week.

We had the wine included on the menu, taking half a bottle of the red and half a bottle of the white, but as we were chatting and having a generally nice time I neglected to see what it was we were drinking.  I’ll just say they were both nice and leave it there.

All in we thought this was a really good value Friday nght meal in a very nice fine dining restaurant, with great quality ingredients.  You could bring your parents here, or have a romantic date, or come for a business dinner.  Top job as always.

As regular drinkers and diners at the Opus bar, restaurant, and cafe, we were asked to try out their new Friday night menu on them – if we didn’t genuinely like it we wouldn’t go there all the time.  We don’t do many freebies but when we do we always point you to our reciprocity promise that says we’ll give you an honest review, and be clear about when we don’t pay – we think that’s important.



Posted in Area: City Centre, Area: Colmore Business District, birmingham restaurant review, birmingham review, Cuisine: English, Cuisine: Fine Dining, Cuisine: Modern Mixed, Price: Average, restaurant review, Venue type: Restaurant | Leave a comment

El Borracho De Oro

Out In Brum - El Borracho De Oro - Fideuà de Marisco, Sea food Catalan Noodle dishWhen El Borracho De Oro opened as a Spanish tapas restaurant just off Five Ways at the end of Broad Street, we were initially unimpressed, mainly due to the interior decor.  However Emma, the owner and hostess, has made big changes over the last few months to the lighting, decoration, and furniture, which have really made the place feel warm and comfortable.  This area of town is becoming a new centre for good food.  Rofuto, Fiesta Del Asado, JuJu’s Cafe, and Blue Piano are all now just a short walk from Five Ways.

Out In Brum - El Borracho De Oro - Meat BoardWe’ve been a couple of times to El Borracho De Oro since its makeover, for quick bites to eat, and for a full on group dinner.  A quick dinner for three on a Thursday evening with a couple of beers each was around £25 per head.  We loved the jamón croquetas (crispy croquets of cured ham & bechamel), the sticky glazed chorizo in red wine, the earthy beef cheeks, and the meatballs.  My personal favourite is the chicken livers, cooked till tender and smooth with heady flavours of the brandy it’s cooked in.

Tapas style dining appeals to us for its informality and friendliness, a great inducement to Out In Brum - El Borracho De Oro - Pork Ribsconversation and gossip.  In fact the Spanish have a word for the time chatting post-meal over a table – it’s la sobremesa.  We’re spoiled for Tapas in Birmingham now.  If you’re on the run in town then you can stop by Tapas Revolution in Grand Central, if you want cheap eat there’s Rico Libre in Digbeth, the town centre can also offer you Amantia for a more formal setting, Comida in Harborne can offer you a quirky intimate and tasty dinner for you and friends, and El Borracho De Oro can now offer an entertaining evening for the largest of groups.

We dined as a group of around eighteen people on a Friday evening.  We started at the bar Out In Brum - El Borracho De Oro - Chicken Liverswith canapés of meat, truffled crisps (you may not know it, but you need these in your life), olives, focaccia, and manchego, with coupes of chilled Cava.  For mains we had pork ribs, beef cheek, Spanish tortilla, croquettes, salads, and the pièce de résistance (or rather the Spanish equivalent), a massive Fideuà de Marisco – a Catalan speciality of sea food with pasta noodles.  I’d not had that dish before, it’s an alternative to seafood paella with pasta noodles replacing the rice.  It was full of sweet prawns, mussels, fish, and veg, and was very tasty – and it looked great as a big sharer dish for the whole group to tuck in to.

Dessert wise, we’ve tried a few now.  The Tarta de Santiago was good, as was a Creme Out In Brum - El Borracho De Oro - InteriorCaramel with exotic tonka beans.  I wasn’t so big a fan of the almond Creme Caramel.

This is an ideal spot to bring your work colleagues for dinner or even lunch, or for an evening get together.  There’s even some outdoor space should it be a sunny day requiring outdoor beer, or if you’d prefer sit in the lounge area with a beer or cocktail and just a couple of plates of tapas.  The terrace and the lounge area welcome well behaved dogs.  The restaurant is well suited to larger groups and the front of house staff made us feel very welcome.  We’ll be back for more of the lovely tapas, and the warm welcome.

Out In Brum - El Borracho De Oro - Tarta de Santiago

We paid in full for our meals here. We do occasionally have a freebie and we’ll always make it clear if we’ve done that, though I’d add we’ll always give you our real feelings regardless – see our Reciprocity Promise for details.

Posted in Area: Broad Street, Area: Edgbaston, Cuisine: Spanish, Cuisine: Tapas, Venue type: Bar | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment