The Oyster Club

We ate our last meal out ahead of the first national lockdown at The Oyster Club, on the night all bars and restaurants were ordered to close as soon as they could (for posterity the link to that speech on 20th March is here).  We were pleased to be able to visit again, albeit because of CV-19 restrictions just the two of us rather than with our group of friends, and we booked in just before the second national lockdown was announced.  We hope that Adam and the team don’t start seeing us as harbingers of doom!

Gold and blue frontage of The Oyster Club Restaurant

The restaurant is chic.  The bar is on the upper level and is bright, perfect for dinner with friends, a working lunch, or after work drinks.  The double height lower level allows for more formal dining, including a large space which has a glass partitioned view to the kitchen, and can be closed off to act as a private dining room. A great place for a romantic meal, or for a celebration.

Three Oysters in their half shells on crushed ice

Given we realised that this would be (almost) our last meal cooked for us for a month at least, we went all out starting the meal with three Oysters.  Birmingham is as land-locked as a place can be in the UK and there are only a few places oysters are frequently found so if you’ve never tried them then this is the place to go – rumour has it there’s an oyster happy-hour early on weekdays just after work.  Plump and cool our three oysters were prepped and served with a Japanese dressing in their pearlescent shells, fresh as an ocean breeze.  

White crab meat in a ring dressed with avocado puree, burned sweetcorn, and grapefruit
Smoked haddock scotch egg cut in half with runny yolk

For my starter I had the dressed white crab, topped with crispy chicken skin, burnished sweetcorn, grapefruit, avocado and sourdough croutons.  A delicious combination of textures, each element adding a pop of flavour.  We also had the smoked haddock “scotch egg”, crispy crumbed with a runny yolk, and smoky fish – Brum went scotch egg crazy a few years ago but this wins top alternative for me.

Fat skate wing burnished gold with creamy chicken sauce, mushrooms, and green chopped spring onion

For mains, while there are meaty options we both had fish given there are few places in Birmingham it’s reliable – my top picks would be the Michelin places, Opus, and Harborne Kitchen.  We had the fattest skate wing I’ve ever seen, sweet white meat with a glossy roast chicken sauce, and shimeji mushrooms adding an umami hit.  We also had the roasted turbot on the bone, again a generous portion with velvety beurre noisette and soft cockles.  On the side we had tenderstem broccoli with hazelnuts and garlic, and “The Perfect 12” chips: golden and crisp, fluffy inside.

Twelve golden chips on side plate stacked like Jenga and a plate with turbot, greens, and clams

We had the “Pink Lady Apple” for dessert; an elevated apple pie.  Fine crisp filo pastry sandwiched smooth crème patisserie and cooked apple, topped with cinnamon ice cream, and raw apple offering a hot of sharp freshness.  To finish, alongside our digestif cocktails we were served petit fours of chocolate, sesame and hazelnut, and cubes of plum jellies which tasted like the plums had just been plucked from the tree.

Tower of filo pastro, vanilla cream, apple, and topped with cinnamon ice cream

Dinner here excluding drinks will cost around £50 a head.  It’s one of the few restaurants in Birmingham that offer à la carte dining of this quality.

4 petit fours, 2 purple cubes of plum jelly, and two round chocolates topped with chopped nuts
Posted in Area: Central Shopping, Area: City Centre, Area: Colmore Business District, Birmingham Restaurant, birmingham restaurant review, birmingham review, Cuisine: English, Cuisine: Fine Dining, Cuisine: Fish, Cuisine: Modern Mixed, Price: Get your dad to pay - above average, restaurant review, Venue type: Restaurant | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fine Dining at Birmingham College of Food

Aperol spritz and negroni cocktails

You’ll be hard-pressed to dine in one of Birmingham’s better restaurants without finding somewhere in the establishment someone who has learned their art in The Birmingham College of Food at University College Birmingham (UCB). Offering courses for students from 17 and up UCB has had full university status since just 2012 (ah, such a simpler time that wonderful Jubilympic year) but it celebrated its 50th anniversary just two years ago, and its history goes back to Victorian times (great article here if you’re a local history geek).

To ensure that their budding chefs, bakers, and front of house staff are ready for the real-world beyond their training, the College of Food run a fine dining restaurant that’s open to the public, and has a menu which is a complete bargain, just £26 for two courses or £30 for three courses. We’ve been meaning to go for a couple of years but as it books up well in advance for its lunch and dinner sittings which operate just Monday to Friday, we’ve not managed to make it but were invited by UCB to give it a go before the second lockdown and jumped at the offer – so this was an unusual freebie, see our Reciprocity Promise here.

Three small bread rolls in a basket with butter pats

The front of house team greeted and seated us, and lecturer Liz who was overseeing front of house explained to us that those staff in black shirts were on their very first evening shift in the restaurant, and that we’d be seeing the lecturer and other staff instructing the juniors as they served us. Similarly the kitchen was staffed with a mix of chefs for whom this was their first service, and some that had been studying at the college for two years. It added a fun element knowing that we were guinea pigs for this new team but in all honesty the food was excellent and the service was, if not flawless, absolutely charming. The students were engaging and helpful, some nervous, some chatty, and managed wonderfully with the COVID-19 secure style of service.

I started with a well-made Negroni cocktail (just £4.50!) and we nibbled the freshly baked bread while we took in the menu. The cheese and onion bread was my favourite, but the wholemeal and semi-brioche were equally artful in their execution; all light as a feather and full of flavour.

We ate here on the evening of 4th November, so literally the last service before lockdown two kicked in, so we went all out with cocktail, three courses, and wine, of course!

Champagne risotto with cubes of butternut squash and edible flowers and parmesan tuile
Cabbage leaf stuffed with guinea fowl in a mushroom jus and topped with a lattice of piped fried potato

For starters we ate the champagne risotto, and the guinea fowl choux farci. The risotto was creamy and well-seasoned with multiple textures of butternut squash, and a snapping parmesan and almond tuile. It was a pretty dish with edible flowers, glossy bright risotto, and earthy mushrooms cutting through the richness. The guinea fowl was minced and seasoned and stuffed into a shining cabbage leaf. It was flavoured with fennel (I think), and served on a heady sauce of shimeji mushrooms and shallot purée. I would have happily been served either of the starters in any restaurant, and there’s no doubt that the kitchen here is confident and knows what it’s doing.

We were recommended a Lebanese Chateau Musar cabernet sauvignon, stuffed full with black fruit flavours, to drink with our food. If you’ve not had it before I thoroughly recommend it, and sold here at £35.95 it’s basically at its retail price rather than restaurant price.

Pink duck breast with blackberry, candied beetroot circles, a duck croquette, pommes anna potatoes and veg, with a red cassis sauce and gravy

For my main I had the blossom honey and lavender glazed Gressingham duck. The duck was spot on medium, and the glaze delivered the promised honey and lavender without being heavy handed (which is a risk when working with lavender – no one wants a mouthful of soapy perfume). The pommes anna tasted appropriately calorific (everything is better with butter), and candied beetroot married well with the duck, and the cassis sauce added some drama to the plate. The duck croquette was golden and crispy. The French trimmed rack of lamb was also cooked perfectly medium, and it was served with unctuous slow-cooked lamb shoulder, all brought together with a glossy sauce.

French trimmed lamb with pressed slow cooked shoulder of lamb with an apricot puree and gravy plus veg

Chocolate desserts for me must scream chocolate, and the Alunga chocolate mousse delivered. Velvety mousse, interestingly presented, was served with passion fruit marsh mallow – I could add spoonfuls of this sweet passion fruit fluff to every dessert I eat. We also had the blackcurrant mousse with autumn spiced pear, and a remarkable apple and tarragon granita that really freshened me up after such a sumptuous meal.

Toblerone box shaped chocolate mousse with a square of fancy chocolate, a scoop of chocolate ice cream, mango pieces, and passion fruit marsh mallow

I’d imagine you’ve got the drift by now that we had a super meal and service, and will rush back there as soon as we’re able to! With a bit of lockdown luck they’ll be operating a Christmas menu between 2nd and 11th December and there are tables available for their festive menu for lunch and dinner and I’m sure it’ll be an absolute treat. You can find more details about that here, and you can find their normal offering here.

Thanks to lovely lecturer Liz for the warm welcome, and to the front of house staff (Emma, Ella, Tawanda, and Kesha) that looked after us. We had a super evening and can’t wait to come back!

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

Vietnamese Street Kitchen

A new city centre site of popular restaurant Vietnamese Street Kitchen is due to open at Birmingham’s iconic Bullring next month.

Independently owned and family run, the new VSK restaurant joins the Resorts World venue and replaces the (now closed) Brindleyplace venue. 

Due to open in November, the new Bullring site will be set over 2 floors and includes an upstairs cocktail bar as well as large dining space below. There’s also a heated outdoor terrace to accommodate the new tier two restrictions. 

Diners will be able to enjoy authentic Vietnamese cuisine as well as light bites, drinks and takeaway options in a vibrant, colourful setting inspired by the family’s heritage.

Work is underway to convert the space previously occupied by the Handmade Burger Co chain that closed at the start of the year. The new venture will create over 30 jobs for Birmingham. 

Vietnamese Street Kitchen’s Operations Manager Oliver Ngo says the move is a dream come true for the family, having been looking to open at the Birmingham landmark for some time.  

He says: “We’re delighted to add to our restaurant portfolio, especially during 2020 – a difficult time for the hospitality industry and our fellow Brummies. The decision to move from Brindleyplace to Bullring makes sense in the current climate, with less people working in offices, but actually I’ve been looking to have a restaurant in Bullring for some time. It’s exciting seeing it all coming together.

“I’m Birmingham born and bred and love our city – I want to contribute something outstanding to it as well as showcase the joy of Vietnamese food. Guests can expect fresh food, innovative drinks and friendly service, whether they’ve popped in for a long lunch or an after-work cocktail. 

“I’m Birmingham born and bred and love our city – I want to contribute something outstanding to it as well as showcase the joy of Vietnamese food. Guests can expect fresh food, innovative drinks and friendly service, whether they’ve popped in for a long lunch or an after-work cocktail. 

“We’re assembling a great team back and front of house and the renovation work with Faber Designs – the same interior design company behind Adam’s, Harborne Kitchen and Folium – is coming along nicely. We’re sure this is going to be really special and nothing like what the Bullring as seen before.”

Vietnamese Street Kitchen will join only a handful of other independently owned venues in and around Bullring Birmingham, including Indian Streatery Express.

Oliver says cooking was always a passion in his family and recipes for popular dishes, such as customer favourite Beef & Lemongrass Curry, have been passed down through the family, with four generations of recipes giving Vietnamese Street Kitchen a totally unique menu.

The focus of the new menu is sharing – street food and small plates will create a Vietnamese tapas-like experience for guests. Loved classic such as Pho and Bun Cha Ha Noi will be available too.

Vietnamese Street Kitchen is due to open to guests early November 2020 and bookings will be live ahead of opening.

Oliver concludes: “In the current climate we hope people will support a local business trying to evolve and bring something innovative to the centre of the city. It’s an exciting time for us and we look forward to welcoming guests old and new.”

Posted in Area: Central Shopping, Area: The Bullring, Cuisine: Vietnamese, Price: Average | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Vanguard is no more….. Long Live The Pineapple Club

Much loved Jewellery Quarter bar and meadery The Vanguard, have confirmed they will not be reopening after lockdown…………. However, they have also announced they will be reemerging from their forced metamorphosis period into a brand new and even more exciting venture – The Pineapple Club Cocktail Bar & Beer Boutique!

It’s not just a new name either, Sam and the team will be relocating to shiny new two floor premises in the City Centre. Located in the ever popular Great Western Arcade, their new home will be taking over what was previously the Victorian Cafe

The Pineapple Club will be a new offering from the company, promising a very different experience. Samuel Boulton, Managing Director has stated “We really love what we have put together at The Vanguard. We’ve won so many awards and reignited a forgotten drink (mead) but for some time we realised our dreams have outgrown our existing space so much that an upgrade was in order”. The focus of The Pineapple Club will be pushing boundaries and challenging norms, using their team of experts to make every aspect as good as it can be. “There are a number of great venues in the city but all too often even the best have not offered everything consumers want under one roof. We have brought these attributes together in our own way, alongside some unique offerings that cannot be found elsewhere in the city” said Samuel. 

OiB Santis Kitchen

Upstairs will be home to a bold, contemporary art deco inspired bar and restaurant, the brainchild of award-winning interior designer Maisie Violet Ree’s. Serving up to 80 guests, the offerings will include an exciting range of carefully crafted cocktails along with a brunch and small plate menu delivered by Santi Plazas (ex sous chef of El Boracho Tapas). Don’t be expecting just your classic tapas dishes though! Santi promises a curated mixture of Colombian dishes from his home country, alongside Spanish tapas, some Italian offerings from Santi’s roots there, and British flavours to ensure they are not limited in their joint creative visions.

The bar will also serve 200 Degree’s Coffee along with locally sourced pastries, perfect for early mornings or work meetings.  

The ground floor will be home to a shop that focuses on an extensive bespoke range of the very best craft beers, real ale, spirits, liqueurs and (of course) mead , which you’ll be able to see some of Sam’s favourite mead ageing in it’s in-house barrel. The shop will be open from 10am Monday – Saturday, staffed by the amazing team who will be on hand to answer all of your questions.

OiB Pineapple Shop

Every six months the drinks menu will be updated, offering unique drink servings based around a specific concept. The current menu promises to transport you straight to Miami Beach, with flavours which will leave you feeling nostalgic for moments you may have never experienced. Keep your eye out for “The Biscayne Blue” a blend of Bombay Sapphire Gin, Original English Mead, Elderflower and botanical cordial in a glass garnished with a beautiful, vibrant blue edible paint.

To celebrate the exciting news, Sam kindly provided us with a kit to have a go at creating our own OutInBrum interpretation of this which we felt needed accessorising with a “beach” and parasol

OiB Attempt at Biscayne Blue

The Pineapple Club is poised to open in the next few months (lockdown permitting) as Birmingham’s newest and most Instagram-able venue to date! It will be open from 10am ‘til late Monday – Saturday.

You can learn more by following The Pineapple Club on

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pineapplebrum or

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/pineapplebrum/

Posted in Area: City Centre, Area: Jewellery Quarter, Article, Uncategorized, Venue type: Bar, Venue type: Cocktail Bar, Venue type: Gourmet Shop | Leave a comment

Opus to You, a heat-at-home weekend treat

In non-lockdown times, given the happy chaos of our jobs and personal lives, we invariably eat out several times a week and lunch is usually on the go and eaten al desko. So lockdown is the first time in a decade that our meals have been almost 100% homemade. As restaurants and other vendors adapt to the new normal it’s great that we can now get restaurant quality food for those special occasions. Like Saturdays.

With several previous restaurant heat-at-home meal successes under our belts, we were excited to have a go at the new offering from city stalwart and one of our favourites, Opus Restaurant. The team at the two AA rosette awarded restaurant have just started ‘Opus to You’, offering weekly heat-at-home meal kits including everything you need for a special night in. As well as complete meals their delivery and collection service is also offering wine by the bottle and case, beers and spirits, and plenty of produce from fruit and bread flour to cured meats.

We got in early and ordered on their inaugural weekend, with a vegetarian three course menu of beetroot textures with goat’s curd, mushroom wellington, and lemon tart. We did wonder whether we’d be able to do justice to the food or whether it would look like someone had thrown it on the plate, however I’m pleased to report that having followed the preparation and plating guide provided I think we did a good job and I’d have been happy to have been served it at any restaurant.

The starter of beetroot textures included golden and pink beets, lightly pickled and spiced noodle style beets, and cubes of bright purple beets. These were complimented with creamy and slightly sharp goat’s curds. To finish the dish, there were sweet and crunchy candied walnuts, and watercress dressed in a vinaigrette with a light onion flavour (maybe chives?). It made for a beautiful looking plate of food, and was plentiful. The textures were interesting and for me the onion of the watercress dressing really brought the dish together.

For mains we’d chosen the vegetarian option of mushroom wellington. Again we had some trepidation about cooking at home a wellington style dish, given the risk of the pastry collapsing, but it couldn’t have been easier and turned out great. The pastry was burnished gold and crispy, and the mushroom centre was earthy and moist. It sat on top of a silky onion puree and was served with blackened hispi cabbage which had been cooked in some delicious stock which had a very subtle note of maybe fennel. Again this dish plated beautifully and was perfectly sized.

We ordered two bottles of wine to drink with dinner. The first was, unusually for us, a rosé. A light Italian Bardolino Chiaretto provided just enough tang for to counter the lightly pickled beetroot and the creamy goat’s curds. With our mains we drank a light Napa Valley Pinot Noir which had the right body for our veggie option.

The pudding was the easiest of the courses to plate. The lemon tarts had crisp pastry, despite a day in the fridge, and had sharp and creamy centres. Raspberries were ripe and fragrant and the Chantilly cream wasn’t too sweet. We found the dregs of a bottle of limoncello in the cupboard and polished that off with dessert.

If you’ve not done any heat-at-home nights yet then do make sure you read the instructions from the restaurant you’re using as they all differ. There are clear instructions on the ordering website for Opus, here: https://www.opusrestaurant.co.uk/opus-to-you/. In short, you need to order by Monday 7pm for delivery or collection the following Friday or Saturday. The meals are currently £35 per head, or £30 for the veggie option.

We loved our Opus to You dinner and will doubtless repeat the experience, perhaps with other friends once the lockdown rules are sufficiently lifted to allow it. Well done and good luck to Opus and all the other entrepreneurial venues that are working out how best to keep us fed over the coming months!

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Bistro @ B31

Brummy restaurateurs have found brilliantly innovative ways to continue to keep cash rolling in during lockdown, with many of them conscious that even after lockdown begins to ease that their normal business models won’t work because of requirements for distance between customers and the physical size of their premises. We applaud their innovation and have tried to use them once or twice a week to continue to support them. Where possible we’ve tried to have produce like bread and cheese delivered from some of our favourite independent sellers rather than resort to only the supermarket.

We’re also sparing a thought for businesses which were in the process of being set up, like Bistro 31, whose owner Clint Smith was on the verge of signing for a unit in Longbridge just before lockdown began. While their plans for a bistro serving in-house and takeaway food have been somewhat waylaid they have been running a delivery service (the Bistro Club) for NHS staff and people who were shielding – they’ve recently extended their offering to everyone in a 6 mile radius which covers much of the city and its suburbs.

They offer delivery of meals and desserts twice a week with the menu changing each week. You can order mid-week family meals like beef and sweet potato lasagne and Thai red curry, and desserts such as milky bar doughnuts and Eaton mess. For the weekend there are fun and tasty themed kits (think Mexican, Greek), plus full roasts and fry-ups.

This weekend we’ve had their Saturday night Mexican feast, and a lazy Sunday morning full fry-up which came to a very reasonable £40 for two people. For those of you that haven’t yet ordered any heat-at-home meals we can recommend Bistro @ B31 and a few more which we’ll list in another article.

Basically, with heat-at-home meals, you’re provided with everything you need to recreate (near) restaurant quality meals at home, including pre-prepped food ready for the oven, and instructions on how to reheat and serve. While we can’t wait to get back to seeing our favourites restaurateurs and sharing dining experience with our friends, this is a good alternative. You could even have a shared Zoom dinner party with everyone ordering the same food and prepping and eating together.

We started our Mexican fiesta dinner with charred corn and cheese polenta croquettes with lime and sour cream dressing. The outsides were crisp and the inside soft and cheesy, great with the fresh-tasting sour cream. The Havana potatoes provided an earthy cumin-punch. I particularly liked the blackened chicken enchilada, and beef brisket chilli tacos. The pork tenderloin burrito was very tasty with an interesting barbecue sauce – maybe a hint of cinnamon? I couldn’t quite put my finger on the spice mix.

We accompanied our dinner with the sounds of “The Mariachis” on Spotify, a mariachi cover band – we love a themed cover band! Thankfully we didn’t have any Tequila in the house otherwise Sunday would’ve been a write-off, and we potentially would have not been able to manage the full fry-up brunch we’d also had delivered from them. Bacon, egg, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms, beans, black pudding hash brown cake, and poached eggs – all prepped and box just requiring an over re-heat. The poached eggs were spot on, albeit requiring an extra 30 seconds reheat in our domestic microwave compared to the instructions.

All in, we thought the delivery a great success, and will definitely use Bistro @ B31 over the coming weeks. You can find details of upcoming menus and instructions (including weekly deadlines) for ordering on their Facebook and Instagram pages and we’ve found them very easy to deal with.

We look forward to dining in Bistro @ B31 over the coming months, as they’re still planning to get the unit refurbished and ready for guests to enjoy it as soon as is possible.

Bistro @ B31 on Facebook

Bistro @ B31 on Instagram

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Birmingham Pride 2020: The Lockdown Digital Edition

The Birmingham Pride 2020 festival would’ve attracted over 100,000 people to the city over this Spring bank-holiday weekend but, of course, it has been Corona-postponed to 2020. Thankfully the organisers didn’t want to let the weekend pass without marking the occasion, which aptly would’ve had a theme of “Stronger Together”. They did a great job of moving some of the festival to a Digital celebration streamed over social media platforms, showcasing some of our old favourites as well as burgeoning talent – you can see some screenshots from the Digital event below.

Pride weekend is usually an opportunity for us to catch up with people we don’t often have chance to see and yesterday during Digital Pride we had a social media frenzy talking to our group of friends about the live acts. It was a great excuse to connect. I feel privileged that over the last couple of months while we’ve all been safe but nonetheless stuck at home I’ve been able to spend lots of time on the telephone and on videoconferences with our friends and family – though one more online quiz may drive me to distraction!

This year’s Birmingham Pride comes at the end of the UK’s Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW), and I think all of us have a renewed understanding of life’s mental health challenges as we’ve been at home during this crisis. You can check out the free support on offer from the Birmingham LGBT service on their website (including confidential support on domestic violence, wellbeing, sexual health, and trans wellbeing), or if you’re not looking specifically for LGBTQ+ related support then check out the sources on the MHAW website.

This year’s Digital Pride saw intros from West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, festival director Lawrence Barton, campaigner Peter Tatchell, and Andrew Moffat the assistant head teacher at the centre of the No Outsider’s anti-LGBT protests last year. It also saw cameo appearances from headliners like Kelly Rowland, Olly Alexander, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, and Jake Shears. Regular local acts were also well-represented with the orangeade-effervescent Miss Marty, Miss Penny, and Baga Chipz amongst others.

We’re already looking forward to next year’s Pride scheduled for Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th May 2021! Keep an eye on their website for details (https://www.birminghampride.com). They’ve also announced that next year’s festival and street party will be free for kids under 12 years of age when accompanied by an adult, as well as for senior citizens over 65 years of age.

And now the screenshots……

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The Big Brummie Camp Out for SIFA Fireside – Kid Friendly Homelessness Charity Event on Friday 8th May

On Friday the 8th May SIFA Fireside are asking friends and families to set up camp in their back gardens, build make-shift dens on balcony’s or cushion castles in their front rooms to raise money for SIFA Fireside.

To sign up as a ‘camper’ SIFA are asking supporters to donate a minimum £5 to the appeal, in return for access to an exclusive Activity pack filled with fun activities including stargazing and leaf printing. The pack will have everything needed for an evening under the stars, including family-friendly recipes and craft activities. The evening will also help bring people together, with a hosted live stream, music performances, and the chance to share camping experiences on social media.

https://www.sifafireside.co.uk/pages/181-big-brummie-camp-out-2020

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COVID-19, a Black Country Ode

A poem written fonetikley (phonetically), in Black Country accent, by my very funny uncle, Chris Cartwright, April 2020.

We Need Ter Stop In – a Black Country Ode to COVID-19

by Chris Cartwright, April 2020.

We need ter stop in
Best not ter goo aht
Iss dodgy aht theer
Theer’s a virus abaht!

At best yo’ll get sick
Yo could wind up jed!
It doe tek much figerrin’
Try usin’ yer yed !

If yoan gorra goo shappin’
Then leave a saefe gap
Between wheer yo’m stondin’
An’ the next nearest chap

If yo’m lookin’ fer bog roll
‘Ond gel or soap
I con saeve yer a journey
Yo got no chuffin’ ‘ope

Iss important ter exercise
Ter stay ‘ealthy an’ strung
Just doe tek the mickey
An’ stop aht tew lung!

An’ if we all use some common
An’ show we bay fules
We con beat this ‘ere virus
If we foller the rules.

Stay saefe folks! Chris.

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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