Nocturnal Animals (thanks to Patrick Bateman)

Out In Brum - Nocturnal Animals - Press Photo Interior Main

(Thanks to Nocturnal Animals for this image)

We sent our friend Patrick Bateman to review new 80s sensation Nocturnal Animals from The Wilderness’ Alex Claridge and James Bowker.

I take off my Walkman at the front door of new bar and restaurant Nocturnal Animals in the pinkish neon glow of the window sign as the maître d’ walks to the front desk to greet me, his Cerruti 1881 purple suit perfectly tailored.  “Good evening Mr. Halberstram, you’ve a reservation?” He’s mistaken me for that moron Marcus Halberstram. It seems logical because Marcus also works at P&P and does the exact same thing I do. “Bateman, actually. I’m joining Luis Carruthers.” “Sorry, Mr. Bateman, of course, right this way”.

Out In Brum - Nocturnal Animals - BarCarruthers is sipping a clear cocktail from a stylish coupe as I seat myself on the blue leather and velvet benching and I am suddenly seized by a wave of anxiety over what drink to choose which lessens only when the bar manager James Bowker in a possibly Marc Jacobs printed shirt explains that I only have to pick a fruit and a style from the menu and he’ll make a perfect concoction. I opt for a Sharp Pink Grapefruit, enjoying this new concept, and my drink arrives balanced perfectly with flavours of peach and rose.  Carruthers orders a Short Mango cocktail which I try before he does and while the flavours are also fantastic I am relieved that I have ordered the better drink.

The bar is festooned with neon printed geometric floor to ceiling pendants and weOut In Brum - Nocturnal Animals - Iberico Pork observe the other tipsy clientele enjoying Huey Lewis and the News, Genesis (I’ve been a big fan ever since the release of their 1980 album, Duke), Whitney, Erasure, and a song from Dirty Dancing which I can’t remember the name of, overlooked by staff standing on an industrial looking walkway above the bar containing shelves of exotic liquors all of which I will drink.

We finish our second round of cocktails and I’m buzzing as the three-martini lunch has Out In Brum - Nocturnal Animals - Gyozanot worn off before these aperitifs kick in.  Later I will put the ice face pack in the freezer to deal with the inevitable hangover. Walking through the corridor to the restaurant glorifies us in searing white light and I wish I had my polaroid camera which is still on its bedroom tripod. I see at a table in the corner that Tim Price is eating dinner with Courtney and that her Bottega Veneta scarf is an accidental match to the red blue white triangular flooring. He will be mortified when I tell him this and I am totally thrilled.

Out In Brum - Nocturnal Animals - Tuna TartareOur table has a good view of the restaurant and the orderly open kitchen.  The chairs are comfortable and the cutlery is fine. Carruthers chooses an orange pinot grigio which is all honey and cream and will match the tasting menu perfectly and I am outraged that he has picked so well.  I note various scene luminaries at tables including Tara, Jess, and Sherwin; everyone wants to see what this hubbub is about.

After my rigorous exercise routine I am hungry and the first dish of chicken liver parfait looks delicious served on a dish like a hollowed-out ancient stone.  Its linseed crisp provides textural change and the hoisin and plum add sweetness and a light perfume.  As predicted the wine works beautifully.

Next up Monk Fish tempura with extremely punchy garlic aioli.  The flesh is white and Out In Brum - Nocturnal Animals - Scallopsucculent.  Last week the nouveau cuisine I ate at Dorsia consisted of a big white plate with nothing on it, I am happy to see that the interpretation here is tasty and filling.

Next is pink Iberico Pork served in cloudlike slightly sweet Bao with a crisp lettuce leaf and mayonnaise.  On from there another elegant looking Asian fusion dish of duck and fois gras gyoza served in an impractical boat which that animal Carruthers picks up and pours in to his mouth.  Understandable given the tasty sauce that is otherwise inaccessible. More Asian fusion comes next in the form of a Tuna Tartare with Wasabi, the heat enough to tingle at the back of my nose, and the soft tuna is set off by the cracking black sesame crisps.

Softly spiced with red Thai flavours a sweet scallop is served next with deep fried rice Out In Brum - Nocturnal Animals - - Quail Katsunoodles on a psychedelic plate.  Our final and meatiest savoury dish is a quail katsu which reminds me to drop two Quaalude with my wine which is now bottle two and I am starting to slur.  The breaded fried ballotine is excellent as is the aromatic spring role, vibrant green pak choi, and fruity katsu sauce.

I need the bathroom but I take a wrong turn: this is not an exit.  I find the men’s room and I am freaked out by the hand shaped coat hooks and the French country wallpaper which is interrupted by vagrants and violent teenagers.  That’s the lude kicking in.

Back at the table dessert is already served and that isn’t helping as its decorative chocolate shards are coloured and shaped like Courtney’s scarf and therefore the Out In Brum - Nocturnal Animals - Dessert and Floorflooring.  The chocolate mousse is glossy and rich and I could eat another as it is delicious. Finally we have a super sharp yuzu petit four.

I pay the bill with my American Express Black card which I know will depress Carruthers as he has not yet been invited to have one and he leaves the cash tip because the waiter is great putting up with our rudeness and my slurring.  We walk upstairs to the bar and take an interesting bourbon as digestif amidst the humming crowd who are jigging to the music and drinking cocktails, the smart staff keeping the whole place in order.  I leave him talking to some Vassar chick and hail a cab before my nightly blood lust returns and they realise I simply am not there.

So, erm, thanks Patrick, for that review. Nocturnal Animals is bought to us from The Wilderness team. The ground floor bar offers cocktails and other beverages and a riff on afternoon tea. The subterranean restaurant offers fixed menus for lunch from £28 and for dinner from £45. Nocturnal Animals takes part in the Independent Birmingham discount card scheme and you can find details of available discounts on that here. You can book on their website here https://www.nocturnal-animals.co.uk

Posted in Area: Central Shopping, Area: City Centre, Area: Colmore Business District, Cuisine: Fine Dining, Cuisine: Modern Mixed, Price: Get your dad to pay - above average, restaurant review, Venue type: Bar, Venue type: Cocktail Bar, Venue type: Restaurant, Venue type: Wine Bar | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Wilderness

Out In Brum - The Wilderness JQ - InteriorMoving from the rough and ready location on Dudley Street opposite a rather seedy sex shop, to a hideaway in the Jewellery Quarter, has had a refining effect not only on The Wilderness’s interior but also on the menu. Chef proprietor Alex Claridge’s food, which we’ve eaten at half a dozen venues over the past six years, matches that of the city’s other best restaurants, and still retains his rather quirky style.  Teaming up now with cocktail savant James Bowker, an evening at The Wilderness is full of surprising food and drink, served by competent and friendly waiting staff.

After finding the restaurant, a Diagon alley style hideout in our historic Jewellery Quarter, we took aperitifs in the intimate lounge before dinner, having a Marketplace Negroni (less bitter and suitable for Negroni newcomers), and a Lunch Box Old Fashioned. The Old Fashioned brought to mind Willy Wonka’s three course dinner chewing gum; bourbon smokiness turned in to caramel stickiness which gave way to sea salt, and then just when you thought it had revealed all its secrets the lightest pleasant tang of malt vinegar arrives. Such a clever drink, and one that James took to Diageo World Class GB Finals 2018.

In terms of menu options, there’s a short and a long taster menu with matching short Out In Brum - The Wilderness JQ - Big Macand long drinks pairings.  Note the emphasis on “drinks pairing” rather than “wine”, because the interesting pairings including a couple of cocktails.  We opted for the long dinner menu (£80) with the full drinks pairing (£40).

The eating marathon started with three amuse bouche (which the world has decided are now called chef’s snacks).  Number one being a very clever steak tartare “Big Mac”; though unrecognisable from the golden arch’s version, the tasty tang of my favourite hangover food was definitely there, with gherkin gel, onion, and a sesame crisp base.  I could’ve had a dozen of those for dinner, and as it opened the meal I had a feeling It was going to go well.  Next snack was a silky smokey parmesan custard tart in a fine crispy crust.  Then a final snack of quail yuk sung on crispy brioche before we were on to the main events, another ten small plates.

The first of those plates was tomato, ricotta, and elderflower.  Chef Alex is a whizz with a vegetable, having run vegetarian kitchens in a couple of places before he had his own restaurant.  Consequently his veggie dishes are always delicious and considered, never an afterthought.  Fresh tomato was served with shards of dried tomato, ricotta,
Out In Brum - The Wilderness JQ - Oysterperfumed elderflower granita, and Thai basil.  Alpngside, a “Herb Garden Spritz” cocktail with Absentroux, a French ingredient new to me, a wine with absinthe flavours, great with the fresh flavours of the dish.

Then on to the duck.  The plate was dramatic, covered with beetroot powder, with a glassy pool of sauce of black fruits, and tender duck with a hit of smoke.  This combination was finished with the drink pairing of plum sake with the lightest touch of green chilli.  The next dish was equally as pretty, a luscious deep fried oyster with tobasco, smoked sweet paprika, aioli, and crunchy puffed pork crackling, served with a viognier-traminer.

Out In Brum - The Wilderness JQ - Venison Beetroot Black FruitWith another seven courses to go, you can see that this was quite an evening, and it’s worth noting at this point, before we go on to the final push, that we really like the restaurant interior.  It’s modern but cosy, with low lighting and music that is more than just background but that adds to the experience.  It certainly wasn’t loud (unlike an unruly table the waiting staff did a great job of managing) but it was enough so that intimate conversations could be had over the strains of The Cure, Guns N’ Roses, and The Cranberries.

Out In Brum - The Wilderness JQ - NAF BaltiSo.  Onwards, the next plate was NAFB, the B stands for Balti and I’ll leave you to guess the rest of the initialism.  The quail samosa was crisp and the inside succulent. The tamarind, crunchy puffed rice, and cucumber foam and powder was a great combination and perfect with the liquorice tinted Carmenère.  Next came the BBQ plaice with Manteca pig fat.  Then on to the rose veal with mushroom ketchup, basil puree, and tempura courgette, while I liked the components this was the only dish that didn’t float my boat, with the presence of anchovy at odds with the overall effect.

Then on to the sweet courses, starting with a peanut butter ice cream sandwich which was adored by the other half but which I avoided as peanut butter is bleugh.  Then a zero-waste blueberry dish (which I failed to take ingredient details of – the previous half dozen drinks had clearly kicked in at this point) served with the most delicious peach and honeysuckle bellini (“peach-leaf washed vermouth” is as delicious as it sounds).  A penultimate chocolate course with caramel, cream, and crunch, was my kind of dinner ending.  And finally……. the overproof rum gummy bear which could send a lesser man to his drunkenness.  Hic.

A veritable tour de force of clever food and clever booze, and an evolution of Alex’s food Out In Brum - The Wilderness JQ - Rum Gummy Bearand style, and one you should not miss.

Soon you’ll have more of an opportunity to see what Alex and James have to offer as they open a more affordable dining room at their new 80s style bar, Nocturnal Animals, on Bennetts Hill.  They’re so passionate about their crafts, and both have such energy and excitement for their new venue it’s infectious, for me, it’s one of the most exciting venue openings in Birmingham in years.

So I guess that means my Alex fanboi status continues, get to The Wilderness ASAP, try James’ brilliant cocktails, and don’t fail to visit Nocturnal Animals when it opens.

Posted in Area: Jewellery Quarter, 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

Venice – some quick notes for Scot and other travellers

We’ve just spent a lovely few days in Venice and had a lovely time. Here are some tips from me written quickly while overlooking Barcelona from their Olympic swimming pool which now has a tourist cafe.

VENICE TIPS

We stayed in this super little hotel, a former monastery, away from the hustle and bustle of the tourists, with a private courtyard providing an oasis in the chaos that is Venice:

http://mobile.abbaziahotel.com

Get a pass for the water buses – the vaporetto run by ACTV – unless you don’t mind walking miles and miles. We had a three day pass with airport bus transfer. Note the airport bus included is a local bus so can be a squeeze if you have big cases. In fact big cases are a pain anyway unless you’re staying very close to a vaporetto stop. Cobbled streets are no fun on suitcase wheels. Transfer to airport from the bus station took 30 minutes. There are quicker transfer coaches but those are not included in the ACTV tickets.

We purchased vaporetto passes from here: https://www.veneziaunica.it

There’s useful info on use of the vaporettos here: https://europeforvisitors.com/venice/mobile/articles/venice-vaporetto-fares.htm

Single vaporetto tickets are expensive compared to the passes.

Here’s a PDF of the vaporetto routes by the operator ACTV (read the key at the bottom to understand how you know if lines stop at each stop):

http://actv.avmspa.it/sites/default/files/WEB_mappa_linee_di_navigazione_marzo_2018_A4_venezia_official_APP.pdf

The bus station is at “P.le Roma” vaporetto stop.

Private water taxis are expensive €18 to flag one down then €1.80 per minute!

We took a trip to Murano and had some lunch and a beer and a wander round the shops.

We enjoyed pizza and ham and melon (retro!) at Ostaria al Vecio Pozzo, (recommended by Emma from El Borracho), round the corner from there you can get an Aperol spritz before dinner at a bar (it’s one minute from the restaurant) Pizzeria Calle Sechera https://goo.gl/maps/F3q99NTnjwy

Pizza at Al Vecio Pozzo:

Google directions do not seem to work in Venice but you can use it as a map at least.

We loved having beers and cicchetti (Venetian tapas) outside Al Parlamento. Many bars will have cicchetti at a euro or two a piece.

View from Al Paramento:

Go up the campanile tower in St Mark’s square but purchase queue jump (skip the line) tickets from here, making sure you get to the side door and knock precisely at the time on the ticket. https://www.venetoinside.com/attraction-tickets-in-veneto/tickets/st-marks-bell-tower-skip-the-line-entry/

Many places on and near St Mark’s square are hysterically expensive (think €24+ for two espressos). Behind St Mark’s square we had coffee and beer reasonably priced at Osteria Calle 21 https://goo.gl/maps/GrqM5Npq55M2

St Mark’s:

Behind St Mark’s, go past left of it and hug the side of it to get to the cafe:

The view from Osteria Calle 21:

Gondolas are terrifying and they’ll cost €80 for thirty minutes. I suggest getting one from Santa Sofia gondola station between the Rialto bridge and “Ca’ d’Oro” vaporetto stop. It was suggested to us by our concierge who was lovely. It’s not too busy and takes you past Marco Polo’s house and also the Rialto bridge for a great selfie. If you go for a gondola by St Mark’s the water can be very choppy.

If you want to tip at bars and restaurants just round up a couple of euros. Service is typically Italian so try not to be in a rush anywhere!

Enjoy!

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I like graffiti… but is it art? Let’s tour Brum’s Street Art!

Street art in Harborne on instagrammer Yipski's house by Cheba of BristolGraffiti – is it art?  Of course it is!  Our friend, and Birmingham grande dame of street art @yipski, has come in for some outrageous criticism for commissioning Bristol artist @cheba to paint a wonderful mural on the otherwise-dull side of her Harborne home.  We love it, and I’ve been entirely bemused by the mean-spirited responses it’s received on our community facebook page.  You can see for yourself here how beautiful it is, from this photo I’ve taken of it this week on its completion.  Also catch up with @yipski’s instagram to see her street art snaps from around the world.

Timely then it was to find out about a new Birmingham Graffiti self-guided walking tour route on “Run Walk Cycle Birmingham“, a free app available on Apple and Google Play Screenshot from Walk Run Cycle Birmingham showing graffitistores and developed by Brummie entrepreneur Ian Bush at Innovation Birmingham at Aston University Science Park.  It’s also available on their website here.

Ian’s plan is to release Walk Run Cycle city based apps around the world. Each city app will be free to download and feature the best curated selection of local walks, runs and cycles in each city.  Perfect for tourists wanting to see all the main sights, business visitors wanting to know a safe running route to take at night, or locals wanting to take the family out on the bikes.  Walk Run Cycle Birmingham has already achieved thousands of downloads only a few weeks after being launched.

The Birmingham Graffiti route is about 3 miles long, and will show you art from Birmingham based graffiti artists like Justin Sola, as well as international artists that created work for festivals in the city in years gone by.  Ian says it was one of the most fascinating tour routes he has worked on and was stunned by some of the artwork.  But don’t delay, graffiti art has a bad habit of disappearing when Screenshot from Walk Run Cycle Birmingham showing graffitinew developments are built, so get out to view these now!  Ian went on to say “it’s such a shame so much of the graffiti art gets destroyed, but fortunately new works come along to replace them so I’ll be keeping my eyes open to alter and update the tour where necessary!”

As we head in to the autumn it seems like a great way to get out for an hour to take some air and some sunshine, and to stop by the many pubs and bars near the graffiti hotspots for a beer and a bite to eat.

(Photos of graffiti in screenshots courtesy of WalkRunCycle.com)

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Twins to revitalise The Boathouse restaurant in Sutton Coldfield

Twin brothers from Sutton Coldfield who trained under Michelin star chefs are to breathe new life into a landmark local restaurant.

Scott and Steven Lewis, having worked for many years in some of London’s top restaurants including Quaglinos, La Tante Claire and the The Halkin Hotel, are revitalising The Boathouse restaurant in Sutton Park.

The pair, who trained under Michel Roux Jr at infamous Le Gavroche after studying at the Birmingham College of Food (now UCB), say it’s a dream come true to take the helm of the restaurant, which will be renamed The Bracebridge when it opens its doors in November.

Having spent 15 years heading up a company that supplied ingredients to the restaurant and catering sector, the brothers never lost their ambition to open their own restaurant.

“We’re very excited to be handed the keys to the restaurant,” said Scott, who lives in Sutton Coldfield.

“It’s a much-loved local institution that has been successfully run by Laurence and Fran O’Meara for almost 30 years, so we feel a huge responsibility in taking it on. It’s long been a dream of ours to open our own restaurant and we feel so proud that we’ve acquired this restaurant in such breathtaking surroundings.”

When it opens, The Bracebridge will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner, with finer dining a key element of the evening service. There will also be a separate, more casual menu for the terrace.

“We’ll offer a varied menu, with dishes influenced by our travels, and aim to create a relaxed and chic restaurant that focuses on quality food, using first-class ingredients, for an accessible price,” said Scott.

“The next few months will be exceptionally busy as we create the menus, look for the right staff and prepare for the opening of the restaurant. We’re looking forward to welcoming diners who enjoyed The Boathouse and to attracting new customers who have a love of exceptional food in a perfect and unique location.”

Scott and Steven hope to create up to 30 new jobs – including eight full-time chefs.

Posted in Area: Sutton Coldfield, Article | 1 Comment

Pint Shop coming to Bennett’s Hill

Pint Shop will open it’s doors this October next door to The Wellington on Bennett’s Hill, bringing it’s brand of fresh, seasonal British produce and  selection of local and national ales to the Midlands.

The listed building will be transformed into a bar area on the Ground Floor and 50 + cover First Floor dining room. Pint Shop’s menu’s will provide a new and exciting addition to Birmingham’s already burgeoning eating-out scene. There will also be an, outdoor terrace to accommodate a further 20 guests.

This will be their 3rd site after Cambridge & Oxford. Co-owner Rich Holmes explained, “We’re really excited to be bringing Pint Shop to Birmingham and are thrilled to have secured two of the city’s most experienced hospitality professionals to take charge of our new site.”

General Manager Lee Coliandris joins from the award-winning Plough in Harborne along with Head Chef Mark Walsh from Opus Restaurant heading up the food operation.

Pint Shop takes the spirit of original beer houses – namely craft beer, intimacy and fun – and throws in some killer food cooked on the coals, just as it was in 1830 and has it all delivered in the heart of the city by an amazing people.

“We’re moving into a beautiful building in 38 Bennett’s Hill and intend to keep as many of the original features as possible. We can’t wait to get the work completed and show Birmingham what Pint Shop is all about!”

Pint Shop Birmingham is set to open in October.

Example menu 

‘Dry hopped’ fish pakoras, onion & cucumber salad, coriander & peanut chutney

Bermondsey frier chips, rosemary salt, spiced yoghurt

Salt cod fritters, taramasalata

Steak tartar, black garlic, cured egg

Charcoal spit roast

Beer Brined half chicken & chips

Overnight pork belly, crackling, sweetcorn purée, chilli & coriander

 Coal-baked flatbread kebabs

Devilled lamb shoulder kebab, crispy red onions

Tandoori fish kebab, cucumber raita, tomato salsa, chili, dill

Charcoal Grill

 Lamb Chops, Mint Yoghurt, Summer Vegetables

irty Burger: Rum Pineapple, Cheese, Crispy Bacon, Avocado, Chorizo Mayo

ABOUT PINT SHOP 

Cambridge

In early 2013 we found an empty Grade 2 listed office building in the centre of Cambridge and fell in love with it. The building dates from 1830 and was once a house (E. M. Forster once lived there). It felt like the perfect place to open our very first Pint Shop. 10 months later in November 2013, we poured our very first beer…..

Oxford

Previously a 1970’s building society with Chinese restaurant underneath, we knocked the two businesses together and opened Pint Shop Oxford in September 2016. The first time we viewed it, it had no lights, a burst sewage drain and some furry friends running round- we knew straight away this was the place for us!

Birmingham

Situated in an old office building dating from 1860, Pint Shop’s newest addition will open it’s doors in October 2018.

 

No stranger to accolades, Pint Shop has been recognised for its focus on quality & provenance, with it’s ingredients sourced locally where possible to minimise the environmental tread of the business.

Awards and reviews include;

The Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants 2017

Observer Food Monthly Awards – Best Bar & Best Sunday Lunch  runner-up 2016 & 2017

The Independent – “A great drinks menu and outstanding food”

The Guardian – “Get ready to indulge….”

Michelin Pub Guide – 2018

The Good Food Guide – 2016, 2017, 2018

The Great British Pub Awards – Best Beer Pub & Best Food Pub

Pint Shop, 38, Bennett’s Hill, Birmingham, B2 5SN

Follow The Pint Shop story here: 

Web : www.pintshop.co.uk

Instagram : pintshopbrum

Twitter : @PintShopBrum

Facebook :  Pint Shop Brum

Posted in Area: Central Shopping, Area: Colmore Business District, Cuisine: English, Venue type: Bar, Venue type: Pub, Venue type: Restaurant | Leave a comment

Things are ‘Bloom’ing in Kings Heath

Bloom opened last summer, to much excitement amongst the local foodie scene. Reviews were excellent, and it seemed to be a hit with everyone who ventured through the doors. For some reason, though, we never got around to trying it ourselves. Now, 12 months later, our occasional guest writer Andrew finally got around to trying it and, based on his opinion, it won’t be long before we head over there ourselves!

What do you get if you cross a top chef, a skilled barista and a delightful space in suburban Birmingham? Magic, that’s what!

From the moment you walk in to Bloom, a short walk from the bustling Kings Heath High Street, it’s clear that you’re somewhere a little bit more special than your normal coffee shop. The cool white and grey walls, warmed nicely with light wood tables and flooring, give the place a relaxed vibe. Shelves of plants hint at the name Bloom adding a touch of class.

Ambience is always important, and Bloom excels here, but a place is only as good as its offerings and service. Approaching the counter, I’m greeted warmly by co-owner Alasdair Houston, whose magnificent beard is as much a feature of the establishment as the plants. I ordered a flat white – the best single test of a place’s coffee credentials – while my friend opted for an iced latte.

We took a place on one of the stools at the end of the bar and perused the food menu whilst watching chef Tim Paine working away in the kitchen. One glance at the menu is enough to tell you that this is not your average brunching establishment. Crafted, rather than thrown together, there are options to suit a wide range of tastes. There was nothing on the menu that I felt I wouldn’t have enjoyed, and ordering one of each wasn’t an option, sadly, so between us we opted for the Duck Hash – Bloom’s signature dish – and the Vodka-cured Salmon.

Our coffees arrived quickly – expertly crafted by the barista – with requisite art on top. Taking a sip of my flat white, it was clear that Bloom knows coffee. Hardly surprising as Alasdair has worked in some of the finest coffee shops in the city. In Bloom he may just have created one to surpass the rest. The flat white was punchy, with superb flavours complemented by velvety milk.

A few minutes later our food arrived. Instantly I knew that this was about to become my favourite place to eat. The vodka cured salmon is served on top of a lemon and black pepper scone and topped with a poached egg and a generous serving of spice hollandaise. It’s Eggs Royale, but better in almost every way! The tastes were incredible – mixing together in the mouth in a way I’ve rarely experienced before.

The duck hash, meanwhile, forms the basis of an awesome tower, with spring greens, a layer of creamy sweet potato mash, a huge fried duck egg topped with crispy shallots, all surrounded by a generous helping of delicious duck gravy. Again, the tastes blend together to create a dish that is so confidently crafted that it would be worthy of the menu in any of the city’s fine dining venues.

After the food I felt nicely full, though I did still feel I could manage one of their incredible looking cakes. The Almond and Cherry Bakewell Tiffin was sublime and the slice was huge – but I managed! My friend’s Salt Caramel Brownie, on the other hand, was perhaps a little too rich for an after-brunch dessert. Incredibly delicious but the slice was a little too large to finish – no problem though as it meant he could take some home for later! I washed my tiffin down with a Piccolo which, again, didn’t disappoint.

Having learnt his trade in the capital, Tim has returned to his home city of Birmingham to give us something truly special. Combining very good food with very good coffee Tim and Alasdair have created a relaxed café that stands as a beacon for the rest. In the days when it seems as though blindly following trends is the only innovation – have you noticed that most places are throwing avocado at everything on the menu?!? – it’s great to see somewhere that’s trying to lead rather than follow.

Bloom is open 9am-5pm Wednesday to Saturday and 10am-4pm on Sunday. The kitchen closes at 2:30pm daily. The food menu changes frequently and whilst the food is not cheap, the quality of ingredients and size of the portions represent excellent value for money. The incredible drinks are priced on a par with those in the rest of the city.

In the interests of full disclosure, I went to school with Tim and Alasdair. My review, however, is honest and not tinted by any collegiate loyalty. We paid full price for our food and drinks and, judging by my observations when I was there, were treated no differently from the rest of the clientele.

Bloom – 32 Poplar Road, Kings Heath, B14 7AA

https://www.bloomkingsheath.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BloomKingsHeath

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