Salt

Out In Brum - Salt Stratford-upon-Avon - ExteriorLanguorously sipping a pre-noon aperitif I remembered how pleasurable devoting a Saturday to friends and a fancy lunch is.  The open fire of The Woodman in Stratford-upon-Avon provided a comforting smokey aroma as we drank our Chase Pomelo and Grapefruit G&Ts, washing away the sadness of England losing to South Africa in the rugby world cup that morning.  Their dining room and menu looks elegant and welcoming so we’ll be sure to go back and eat there, but we had plans for this particular Saturday, just down the road at Michelin starred Salt.

Out In Brum - Salt Stratford-upon-Avon - InteriorI had expected from the name that Salt restaurant would be modern and crisp, but it instead delivers a homely feel.  Chunky wooden furniture in the dining room is overlooked by the pass, outlined in bare brick, with pensive chefs checking that plated dishes are soigné.  The front of house team were friendly and knowledgeable of the menu.Out In Brum - Salt Stratford-upon-Avon - Beetroot

Their six course tasting menu, which we luxuriated over for about 3 hours, costs £50 per person, and we also had a cheese course (£8 supplement).  The wine list is reasonably priced and we had a delicious Chatteau Garreau Bordeaux for £45; I note while we ordered it before we started it wasn’t opened until near an hour later when we needed it which was disappointing.  A wine pairing is available at £40 which seems reasonable, but I’d almost always prefer to buy by the bottle now.  Wine flights have seemed to become more cynical over recent years, and I’ve witnessed glasses with just a thimble full of wine. and flights with cheap substitues not even Out In Brum - Salt Stratford-upon-Avon - Carrot
available by the bottle on a restaurant’s main wine list.  Don’t take that as commentary on Salt’s wine flight, we didn’t take it.

We started with champagne cocktails and a Contratto spritz (a well-chosen Aperol alternative), and then chose a bottle of Gocker Gewurztraminer for the first three courses.

Our first course was poached beetroot, pistachio, and beef fat.  Pistachios provided texture against the softer golden and purple beets, and the promised beef fat featured as a tasty powder.  Second course was cured halibut, pear, kohlrabi, salty fingers, buttermilk, and dill.  The buttermilk didn’t do it for me, it wasn’t pungent enough, but I liked the succulent salty fingers with the halibut.  And I like saying salty fingers.  Salty fingers.Out In Brum - Salt Stratford-upon-Avon - Halibut

Next up came carrot cooked in chicken fat, with crispy chicken skin, and pickled carrot.  I love pickle, luckily, because the pickled carrot was very sharp.  I would’ve liked more of the chicken skin crumb it was lacking in quantity rather than flavour.  The chicken broth was very tasty and its fatty salty flavours worked brilliantly with the carrot.

We loved the lamb saddle and belly on smoked roe.  The lamb was very tasty, with soft rendered fat on the belly, and the salty smoky roe was an unusual but inspired Out In Brum - Salt Stratford-upon-Avon - Lambaccompaniment.  The parsnips the dish came with were undercooked, but the rest of the dish was a triumph.

Having a day of going all out we decided that french-style we’d take a cheese course before dessert, which was great, and served with snapping lavoche crackers encrusted with seeds.

Our first dessert of apple sorbet, toffee apple, and orange custard was nice, though I could’ve done without the icy sorbet alongside the creamy custard.  The second dessert and final course however was loved by the three of us.  Close to Halloween a bright orange Out In Brum - Salt Stratford-upon-Avon - Pumpkin and Chocolatepumpkin mousse was timely and more importantly interesting and delicious, having a slightly earthy note.  With a lightness of touch, this had been sweetened perfectly, and complimented the rich and complex Alunga chocolate.  With dessert we had a glass of Maury dessert wine (£7 for 50ml) which always works perfectly with chocolate desserts.

While there were a couple of mis-steps when we dined here for lunch, it wouldn’t stop me going back.  All round it seemed to come together to provide a welcoming and fun lunch for friends, for a really reasonable price point.

Posted in Area: Out of Birmingham, Birmingham Restaurant, birmingham restaurant review, birmingham review, Cuisine: Fine Dining, Cuisine: Modern Mixed, Price: Get your dad to pay - above average, Venue type: Restaurant | Tagged | Leave a comment

Christmas Fun in Brum – fab places for friends and colleagues

The big day will soon be upon us, and bookings for Christmas lunches, dinners, drinks, and other activities are already open at many of the city’s hotspots, so here’s the low down of great things to organise for partying with your friends and colleagues.

Activity Afternoons
The number of venues offering an activity other than boozing in the city centre has risen dramatically over the past couple of years.  Why not use your Christmas party as an opportunity for some team building and socialising that doesn’t need to be white wine fuelled?  OK, you can have the wine after you’ve had some imposed jollities…

  • Axe Throwing @ Whistle Punks – Unleash your inner lumberjack and compete with your colleagues or even in the national league. https://whistlepunks.com/, Holloway Head, B1 1QP.
  • Escape Rooms @ Escape Live – Get locked up with your team and work through puzzles to make your escape. https://www.escapelive.co.uk/, Henrietta Street, B19 3PS
  • Table Tennis @ Serve – Food, drink, disco, and…… table tennis.   https://www.servebirmingham.co.uk/, Temple Row, B2 5LS
  • Crazy Golf @ Ghetto Golf – Grab some street food with a cocktail or two and play a round on this funky (and slightly rude) Digbeth hangout. https://www.ghettogolf.co.uk/, Gibb Street, B9 4AA
  • Bowling & more @ Lane 7 – Eats, drinks, and bowling, plus shuffleboard, retro arcade games, mini golf, and beer pong. https://lane7.co.uk/birmingham/, B1 1RN
  • Darts @ 180 Club – What’s more fun than throwing little pointed sticks while having a beer and realising that the FD’s mental arithmetic isn’t what it could be? http://www.180club.co.uk/, St Paul’s Square, B3 1QS

Independent Food and Drinks
There is definitely a place for restaurant chains, and we have many good ones in the city (who doesn’t love a Nandos, cheeky or otherwise) but we love the energy and enthusiasm that comes from owner operated independents and these are some of our favourites which are perfect for festive fun!

  • Whisky Tasting @ Birmingham Whisky Club – Try tots of the of the world’s finest whiskies with great instruction from the very knowledgeable staff.  https://thebirminghamwhiskyclub.co.uk/, Vyse Street, B18 6HA
  • Wine Tasting @ Loki Wine – Not sure how to drink wine?  The team here will see you right, and once you’ve learned about it they’ll let you loose on the wine tasting machines.  https://www.lokiwine.co.uk/, Great Western Arcade, B2 5HU
  • Street Food @ Digbeth Dining Club – Can’t all decide what you want to eat?  Why not spend an evening at Digbeth dining club trying one of the dozens of vendors offering everything from Thai to Toasties. http://www.digbethdiningclub.co.uk/, Digbeth, B9 4AG

If you’re after more traditional options (though I have no truck with turkey and tinsel being a necessity) then maybe lunch or dinner at one of these:

  • Pint Shop – Christmas lunch with wine plus twenty draft beers and dozens of bottles. http://pintshop.co.uk/, Bennetts Hill, B2 5SN
  • Fazenda – Perfect for larger groups this new Brazilian offers traditional rodizio style dining in an elegant dining room, and has delicious pescatarian and vegetarian options too. https://fazenda.co.uk/, Barwick Street, B3 2AA
  • Opus Restaurant – Stalwart of the Birmingham dining scene they’re sure to offer you a swanky dinner.  https://www.opusrestaurant.co.uk/, Cornwall Street, B3 2DE
  • Pure Craft – Modern bar with good food. https://www.purecraftbars.com/, Waterloo Street, B2 5TJ
  • JuJu’s Cafe – Dining here comes complete with a hug from wonderful and charismatic owner Julia. https://www.jujuscafe.co.uk/, Canal Square, B16 8EH

Merry Christmas!

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Brewer’s Social: Harborne

Out In Brum - Brewer's Social Harborne - Food - Chicken and WafflesSadler’s have been part of my drinking repertoire since 2006 when the brewing dynasty of 150 years opened The Windsor Castle on Lye Cross, close to where I use to drink at The Shovel.  They were, to my knowledge, the first micro brewery in the area, well before micro breweries were trendy.  Since then they’ve moved operations over the road to Sadler’s Brewhouse and Bar with very significant expansion of operations.  It’s still very much run from its Black Country site by fifth generation brewer Chris Sadler, who produces beers for venues across the country including three of their own; the brewhouse in Lye, a tap room in Quinton, and happily for us a new venue very close to us, Brewer’s Social Harborne.

Just after opening night we were popping in to the new Brewer’s Social Harborne for Out In Brum - Brewer's Social Harborne - Food - Truffle Mac n Cheesedinner and drinks and ended up with free food courtesy of us being major fanboys of the brand.  The odd freebie doesn’t change our opinion on somewhere, and you can see our reciprocity promise here.

Prior to the September opening of the venue in the middle of my local High Street, Sadler’s had been operating a pop-up bar on the site serving their ales and lagers and it became our go-to meeting place with friends for Friday night beers.  It was rough and ready, but extremely friendly and inviting, so we were nervous of them overhauling it in case it lost its charm.  Safe to say it has not.  The staff are just as warm, and just as proud of the venue as previously.

Out In Brum - Brewer's Social Harborne - Food - RibsThe refurbishment has seen the first floor turned in to seating for dining.  Windows have been covered with geometric detailing matching the modern wooden panelling, giving the space a cosy feel without it being overcrowded.  Downstairs feels high end brasserie, with leather booths, dark woods, and bright metals, softened by an interior floral installation that spans half the ground floor ceiling.  Geometric designs on floors and walls echo in the Chesterfield buttoning of the booths, bringing a real modern feel to the space.

Open all-day every day for food and drinks (last food at 9.30pm, with dishes from around £10) the venue offers menus for all-day for single course dining.  We shared four dishes on our table, all substantial, but for me the star was the fried crispy Out In Brum - Brewer's Social Harborne - Food - Chicken Wingschicken with waffles (£13.95).  The crumb on the chicken was spicy and the meat succulent, drizzled with spicy sweet sriracha maple chili syrup, and dressed with soft waffles and candied smoked bacon.  This came together as a great dish with layers of sweet and spicy flavours, and interesting textures.

The half kilo of chicken wings (£8.95) were golden and the soy ginger dressing punchy and bright.  We also tried the full rack of ribs (£19.95) with sides of beans, coleslaw, and corn on the cob, with great spice throughout.  The ribs were smokey and served with crisp seasoned cajun fries.  Finally we shared the small truffle mac ’n’ cheese (£7.95) which is a real success; the earthy truffle notes complimenting the mushrooms and the light but very flavourful cheese sauce which showed great restraint.  The aromatic garlic toasts served with this provided crunch against the al dente pasta.

We were drinking Estrella, Sadler’s IPA, and Sadler’s Rhubarb Cider, but there is a nice looking wine list (Picpoul de Pinet, anyone?) and an extensive spirits collection.

Well done to the Sadler’s team, it’s an excellent makeover and a venue we’ll be sure to use often.

https://www.sadlersbars.co.uk/harborne/

 

Posted in Area: Harborne, Birmingham Restaurant, birmingham restaurant review, Cuisine: Modern Mixed, Price: Average, Price: Cheap as Chips - Inexpensive, restaurant review, Venue type: Bar, Venue type: Cafe, Venue type: Pub, Venue type: Restaurant, Venue type: Wine Bar | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sadler’s Become All Social in Harborne

Sadler’s Brewing Co. has announced the launch of Brewer’s Social Harborne, the third venue in its expanding roster which includes Sadler’s Brewhouse & Bar in Lye and Sadler’s Taproom Quinton.

A place to be social no matter what time of day, Brewer’s Social will be a permanent fixture and will create over 20 jobs when it opens on Friday 27th September from midday, in what became a favourite of ours, the former home of the Sadler’s Pop-Up, on Harborne High Street.

Alongside Sadler’s award-winning ales and spirits, the all-day venue will offer collaborative and special edition brews; craft spirits and cocktails – and great food.

From brunch and morning coffee and cake, through lunch to an exciting evening menu featuring unique slow-cooked and BBQ dishes, sourcing and provenance of ingredients will be at the heart of everything.

Brewer’s Social’s wide-ranging menu will feature all-day brunch and light bites; home-smoked meat and fish; bar snacks; butties; cakes and pastries, and soft serve ice cream. The evening menu will offer the likes of Mud City Baby Back Ribs, Smoked Brisket in Sadler’s Ale Sauce and Truffle Mac and Cheese.

Sadler’s Brewing Co. managing director, Chris Sadler, said: “We want the ‘social’ part of the name to really mean something and for Brewer’s Social to appeal to everyone, with special community events, brewing collaborations and fundraising for local charities.

“Following the success of the Harborne Pop-Up, the logical next step was to install a kitchen and expand the offering; we’re really excited about this new chapter – with lots more in the pipeline.”

For more information on Sadler’s venues:  https://www.sadlersbars.co.uk/

Posted in Area: Harborne, Article, Price: Average, Venue type: Bar, Venue type: Pub | 2 Comments

The Bracebridge – Luxury lunch in Sutton Park

Out In Brum - The Bracebridge - Interior“Are you sure it’s down this way?” asked the driver of our taxi after we’d been driving for 5 minutes away from the main road into the middle of the woods.  While there has been a restaurant tucked away in Sutton Park park for many years, it still seems somewhat of a secret of Sutton residents. Recently this hideaway which is named after the large pool it sits beside, The Bracebridge, has been taken over by a family team, with chef brothers Scott and Steven Lewis in the kitchen.  They’ve found it difficult to staff the place, partly because it’s not somewhere you can get public transport to, but after a few months of churn they’re happy now with the team.

Out In Brum - The Bracebridge - Terrace Bar and ViewWe visited for a sunny August birthday lunch, and started out with a well-chilled prosecco.  I’m picky about prosecco finding them often too tart and cheap tasting, and I would ordinarily choose a cava or a French sparkling.  Occasionally though I try a prosecco like this one, which is balanced and fruity, and perfect for a warm day.

For my starter I chose the Crispy Duck Salad with Watermelon.  Julienne vegetables crunched against the cooling watermelon and duck richly dressed with hoisin. We also had the Waldorf salad with seared mackerel.  This was a generous starter with celeriac, Out In Brum - The Bracebridge - Waldorf Salad with Mackerelapples, sultanas, delicate tasting warm mackerel, and a dill crème fraiche dressing.  Our friends took the smart looking Tarka Dhal Scallops, and tell us it packed a spicy punch.

While the dishes may be smart, so is the restaurant.  The fit out is luxurious with leather, velvets and rose golds.  The comfort stretches beyond the à la carte dining room to the restaurant’s outside dining area, and then out again to the less formal terrace where you can order something simple like a pizza or salad, or something fairly fancy like lobster and steak.  This large terrace is perfect for those who want to sit around The Bracebridge pool and have a drink, and maybe some food, with friends.  Small covered huts and larger bench Out In Brum - The Bracebridge - Lamb Souvlaki Skewerstyle seating is well served by an outdoor bar.

For my main, I had the chicken tagine.  Served in the dramatic looking tagine cooking vessel the chicken was juicy, and spiced with a delicateness of touch often missed with this dish which is a favourite of mine.  I would happily eat it right now.  We also had well-cooked fillet steak, and hand cut chips on the side were indulgent.  The souvlaki lamb skewer with tzatziki went down well, and came with gluten free bread for our wheat intolerant birthday boy. We washed the whole lot down with a very nice bottle (or two or three) of Picpoul de Pinet.

Out In Brum - The Bracebridge - Lemon Meringue TartDesserts aren’t my bag but if I’m going to have one it’ll be chocolate.  Happily there was a chocolate torte with orange on the menu, and it did not disappoint.  The torte was rich, and had a hidden pocket of orange syrup, and was topped with blackened orange segments.  The passion fruit pavlova was vibrant and fun, and our friend enjoyed the lemon meringue tart with raspberry coulis, which looked great on the plate.

With three courses, wine, and gratuity, our very extravagant lunch came to around £75 Out In Brum - The Bracebridge - Terrace Hutsper person which I thought was good value for a top notch celebration meal in a beautiful location.  We’ll be back.

https://thebracebridge.com

 

 

Posted in Area: Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham Restaurant, birmingham restaurant review, birmingham review, Cuisine: Modern Mixed, Price: Get your dad to pay - above average, restaurant review, Uncategorized, Venue type: Restaurant | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Good Intent – Every good deed deserves a beer…

With the right support on Crowdfunder, Craddock’s brewery will open Brum’s first charity supporting not-for-profit bar In the Victorian splendour of The Great Western Arcade in the city centre.  Every three months the bar will nominate a charity to support.  You’ll be able to taste the world becoming a better place with every gulp, with all profits – expected to be about 10% of each sale – going to the nominated charities.  They’re hoping that coud be as much as £150,000 donated annually.

The team is headed by David Craddock, a publican since the age of 21 who heads a company with four award-winning pubs and two breweries in the Black Country, Worcestershire and Shropshire. David is set to expand in a more altruistic direction through the Good Intent, and he has brought together a team of like-minded friends to help bring his vision to life.  Craddock’s intends to generate additional funds for the selected charity by showcasing events focusing upon music, food, drinks and the arts.

There are private pledges of over £150,000 already in place for the venue, and now they need your help. They need to raise a further £80,000 in order to complete the refurbishments of the venue to an excellent standard, and to ensure the bar is ready to serve the city and community as quickly as possible when the doors first open.

Fancy getting involved by supporting this philanthropic venure?  Take a look at their Crowdfunder page and you’ll see you can simply offer a donation, or you can “buy” a reward from £25 (which would buy you a £40 bar tab!).  See their page for full details and Terms and Conditions.

Follow them here:

Twitter: Intent_Good

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheGoodIntent/

Website: https://www.thegoodintent.net

Crowdfunder link: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/the-good-intent—uk-s-first-not-for-profit-bar#start

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Birmingham Pride 2019 has No Outsiders

Out In Brum - Birmingham Pride 2019 - 1What a brilliant weekend!  The Birmingham Pride 2019 Parade was kicked off by Festival Director Lawrence Barton, who this year was joined by the deputy head teacher at the centre of anti-LGBT attacks at a Birmingham primary school, and two Muslim LGBT allies.  Andrew Moffat MBE, an assistant headteacher at Parkfield Community School has been the focal point of sustained and continuing homophobic protests by people who say that Andrew’s work on the “No Outsiders” programme is contrary to the Islamic faith (details on the BBC here).Out In Brum - Birmingham Pride 2019 - 55

The programme’s lofty aim is to teach primary age children that difference is to be neither feared nor threatened, focusing on the protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010.  Such characteristics include sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion, but the programme teaches more widely about prejudice, freedom of speech, speaking up, bystanders, and immigration.  At the head of the parade Andrew was joined by prominent Brummy Muslim figures, Saima Razzaq from Supporting Education of Equality and Diversity in Schools (SEEDS), and Khakan Qureshi, founder of Birmingham South Asians LGBT.

There’s been much discussion ahead of this year’s Pride about the inclusion of the Black, Asian, Chinese and other ethnic groups, and it was great to see so many communities Out In Brum - Birmingham Pride 2019 - 13 - Naz & Matt Foundationrepresented in the parade. Poignantly given the recent discussion around our Muslim community, The Naz & Matt Foundation were also represented at the front of the parade – this foundation’s mission “is to never let religion, any religion, come in the way of the unconditional love between parents and their children”, and was set up when Muslim Nazim Mahmood tragically took his own life after confronting his parents about his sexuality.  He had been with his partner, Matt, for thirteen years.

I’ve been writing up Birmingham Prides since 2013, and this is my sixth write up Out In Brum - Birmingham Pride 2019 - 110 - NASUWT Balloons, I think
(somehow I missed 2014?!).  At those Prides we have commiserated and mourned with our global community around the terrible tragedies of Pulse Nightclub, the Manchester Arena suicide bombing, gay persecution across many countries, and the degradation of LGBT rights in the US under Trump.  We must though also remember we’ve celebrated the successes of the UK Same Sex Marriage act, and the Irish Equal Marriage referendum, and a world where LGBT people are becoming more visible in all walks of life.

I’ve seen complaints that this event is no longer free and that this excludes part of the community – the event is now an enormous festival with hundreds of wonderful acts Out In Brum - National Express 2019 Pride Busincluding those with international notoriety, and the attendant costs and security concerns around that are obvious.  If you think the on-the-day tickets are too pricey I’d suggest getting in early – early bird tickets are available about 8 months in advance and are much cheaper.

I’ve also seen complaints about corporations getting in on the act, and have seen this disparagingly referred to as “pink washing” and even “woke washing”.  While I’m sure there are companies out there who think they can manipulate their audiences to enhance sales there are also plenty of companies out there with staff that simply want toOut In Brum - M&S Pride Rainbow Cake and LGBT Sandwiches do the right thing – I should know, I’ve been one of those staff members in several of those companies! Some companies also give at least some profits from sales of Pride promotional items to charity, like M&S and their rainbow cake (disclosure: we were gifted the cake for the photos #itsnotjustanyfreebieitsanm&sfreebie). Birmingham Pride also donates its profits to charity.

This Pride has been another where I’ve partied with many friends old and new, laughed at brilliant drag artists, listened to awesome global acts, and generally had a brilliant time celebrating diversity.  Thank you to all the exhausted Pride staff and organisers for again delivering an entertaining, happy, and safe Birmingham Pride.

And now for the photos……

 

Posted in Area: Hurst Street / The Gay Village / South Side, Special Event | Tagged , , | Leave a comment