Wok Chi Oriental Kitchen

Out In Brum - Wok Chi - ExteriorYou may not have noticed last year that the rather bland and tired looking Chinese takeaway on Harborne High Street by the name of Splendour, which was ironically far from splendid, closed its doors.

Luckily for the residents of Harborne, and those willing to hop on a number 22, 23, 24, 29 etc. or take a short Uber from the city to Harbs (yes, that’s right, Harbs, it’s a thing, deal with it), a new eatery has taken its place.  Alfie and Linda Choi with the support of their two young sons, Ollie and Joshie, have opened Wok Chi Oriental Kitchen and takeaway in the middle of the bustling High Street.  They’ve completely gutted the old premises and the very thorough refit has resulted in a comfortable modern restaurant with fresh funky lighting.

We had heard great things about Wok Chi so on a random Tuesday night we decided to Out In Brum - Wok Chi - Squidpop along with two friends and see what the fuss was all about. We had tried before but had not managed to get a table as whenever we passed the venue it seemed to be packed. We got lucky on that Tuesday and with no more than a two minute wait we quickly bagged a seat.

Alfie & Linda stress how passionate and conscientious they are about their food and take a great deal of care and pride in how they source, prepare and present it. The couple strive to use fresh, natural, and wherever possible organic ingredients, to produce delicious, authentic and modern adaptations of all your favourite Chinese and South East Asian dishes.  This confidence in their cooking is born out by the presence of an open kitchen so you can watch your chosen dishes being prepared and cooked behind the counter.

Alfie appeared with a bowl of crunchy Thai prawn crackers with sweet chilli dip as weOut In Brum - Wok Chi - Spring Rolls browsed the menu over some chilled Sapporo lagers.  We devoured the lot whilst chatting about the day’s ridiculous charity shop finds (you’re following @CharityShopWTF on Twitter, right?) and the cake we’d scoffed at Forty-One earlier in the day.

For starters we decided to share a few plates and opted first up for the vegetarian spring rolls which were hot and crisp, accompanied with a sweet salty soy dip. We also chose the salt & chilli squid which arrived with a light and crisp batter surrounding perfectly tender rings of squid on a bed of wok fried veg with Asian spices and fresh chilli, garlic, and dried shallots. One of our diners had gone veggie Out In Brum - Wok Chi - Crispy Beeffor lent, so we also added a portion of the crispy salt & chilli tofu which came in the same light and crisp batter as the squid.  We’d not had tofu served this way before and we were impressed with the zingy flavour the crisp cubes offered.

Onto the main event and a big test for any venue as one of us ordered a firm favourite of crispy shredded beef .  We had this with a crushed yellow bean and hoi sin sauce with fresh chillies. This was my personal stand out dish of the visit with the beef having a perfect crunch, which seems impossible to get from a takeaway (I suspect due to time the dish sits in a container).  Next up came a classic traditional Chinese chicken curry, cooked with garlic, ginger, onions, mushrooms, mixed pepper, carrot and garden peas which hit the spot for me.  The curry was tongue tingling and the sauce thick, clinging to the tender chicken and egg fried rice.

Out In Brum - Wok Chi - Chicken CurryWe also tried the Wok Chi special which comprised stir fried chicken, beef, char sui pork, king prawns and seasonal vegetables in an oyster soy sauce.  Also, we took the vegetarian satay stir fry. Both of these dishes went down well with our fellow diners, although possibly the satay could of done with a few more peanuts (which I am sure would’ve been supplied had we have requested).

With starters ranging from £2.25 to £6.95 and mains from £8.45 to £9.45 which includes your choice of rice or chow mein, this is not an expensive meal out.  Go here expecting fresh food with a friendly neighbourhood vibe, and the hubbub of chatting and noises from the kitchen, and you’ll leave impressed.

http://wokchi.co.uk

Tel: 0121 427 2820

https://twitter.com/WokChiKitchen

Posted in Area: Harborne, Birmingham Restaurant, birmingham restaurant review, Cuisine: Chinese, Price: Cheap as Chips - Inexpensive, Venue type: Restaurant | 1 Comment

JURASSIC KINGDOM BRINGS DINOSAURS TO LIFE IN BIRMINGHAM

Prehistoric experience takes over Botanical Gardens from 20 May until 4 June

Jurassic Kingdom: Where Dinosaurs Come To Life, is an extraordinary, new animatronic experience, which will see life-sized DINOSAURS taking over Birmingham Botanical Gardens from 20 May until 4 June, where visitors will be transported back to a time when they ruled the earth.

In a UK first, over 30 true-to-life dinosaur models and installations will transform the 15 stunning acres of gardens as part of a tour across major UK cities in seven months, ready to roar, spit and snarl at those brave enough to get up close and personal.

Diplodocus heads will poke 16 metres above the ground, amongst the tree canopy as Triceratops escort their young through the bushes beneath. The ear-piercing screeches of the Pterosaurus will alert visitors to the danger in the skies above and guests must be wary of the spitting defence of the Pachycephalousaurus, in case he lurks around the next corner.

But wherever you are in Jurassic Kingdom, remember you’re never far from the ‘King of the Tyrant Lizards’ and the most famous dinosaur of them all – Tyrannosaurus Rex, standing 18 metres from head to tail.

After an exciting trek around the twisting trails of Jurassic Kingdom, younger visitors will be encouraged to pick up their brushes and become budding archeologists in our Excavation Scene, where a T-Rex skeleton lurks just beneath the surface, waiting to be discovered.

Designed by Weli Creative – the team behind the Magical Lantern Festival – Jurassic Kingdom will be visiting several locations in the Uk and additional tour venues and dates can be found on the event website – www.jurassickingdom.uk

David Lee, Director at Weli Creative, said: “Jurassic Kingdom will be an incredible, awe-inspiring dinosaur experience like no other. It’s the first outdoor animatronic display of its kind in the UK and we can’t wait to open our doors to the public in 2017.

“We’ve seen through our work on Magical Lantern Festival that there’s a huge demand for unique, family-friendly events in the UK and we’re certain that adults will enjoy Jurassic Kingdom just as much as their children.”

Tickets are now on sale from http://www.jurassickingdom.uk priced at £11.50 for adults, £9.50 for children as well as family tickets and concessions being available.

You can also add on a VR Experience for £5.

The project launched with a lighthearted event in London

Website: www.jurassickingdom.uk

Birmingham Botanical Gardens: http://www.birminghambotanicalgardens.org.uk/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jurassickndm

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

Posted in Area: Edgbaston, Article, Special Event, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Shucks! What a fizzy deal at Opus…

It’s a magical mollusc, a beautiful bivalve, salty snack that is lauded as an aphrodisiac. Out In Brum - Opus Restaurant Friday Night Deal - ExteriorThere’s no doubt that oysters, once a peasant food, are now among the ultimate delicacies for foodies.

They’ve long been linked to amour – Aphrodite , the Greek goddess of love was born from the sea in an oyster shell. Her son, Eros, was the god of love; and Casanova, the legendary 18th century lothario, was said to eat 50 for breakfast.

If oysters are your passion, Opus in Cornwall Street, one of our favourite restaurants in Brum, is the place to dine – it sells more oysters than any other restaurant in the Out In Brum - Opus - Oysters 2city and serves only Carlingford rock oysters. These outstanding oysters are cultivated in the waters of County Lough in Ireland and are renowned for their sweet, rich and nutty flavours.

Every Friday and Saturday from April 21 and throughout the summer, Opus is tempting diners with a pearl of an offer: a complimentary dozen Carlingford rock oysters with every bottle of Champagne purchased. Order a half bottle of Champagne and you’ll receive a half dozen of Carlingford rock oysters. The offer is available for tables up to 16 diners.

For details, visit www.opusrestaurant.co.uk or telephone 0121 200 2323.

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Paprika Grill House – Bearwood

Out In Brum - Paprika Grill Bearwood - ExteriorTo counter those of you that say we only eat at and review upmarket venues, here’s one just for you- the cheap and cheerful Paprika Grill House in Bearwood.

On a random friday evening we decided there was nothing on TV and we were looking for an excuse to head towards Bearwood to play with a friend’s new rescue dog. They suggested we try out Paprika for “meat on a stick” – how could we refuse?!

The owners have recently renovated the interior, cladding some walls with wood, so it’s now a bit Scandinavian sauna with Tiffany lamps.   It’s very clean and bright, in fact it’s very bright and the the owner was discussing that he needed to have them dimmed – an attention to detail we appreciate seeing.

Out In Brum - Paprika Grill Bearwood - Tomato FetivalWhen it comes to the menu at Paprika you will spot a bit of a theme. You can have anything you want as long as it can be cooked on a skewer, and every main comes with a choice of rice, chips, naan, or if you ask, extra salad.  Spot on for a quick Friday night dinner.

The four of us ordered a selection of starters including tasty hummus served with naan, the Tomato Festival, a mix of sun dried cherry tomatoes & mozzarella marinated with basil, served with naan, and Persian Sausage Bandari pan fried with onions, chilli & tomato, served with, you guessed it, naan.  The sausage dish was a bit too cool, but I enjoyed it.

Out In Brum - Paprika Grill Bearwood - InteriorFor the mains we opted for Koobideh Skewer, two skewers of minced lamb mixed with grated onions, salt, pepper, and saffron which came served with fresh salad and a choice of side dish.  Of course to add some variation for my side I chose……. naan.  But this time with garlic.  Two of our party went for the Masala Fish Skewer which consisted of marinated sea bass cooked on a charcoal grill and this was also served with fresh salad and a choice of side dish (both had the naan) .  Our fourth main dish a charcoal grilled Salmon Skewer but this time with extra salad rather then the obligatory naan (splitter!).

The presentation of the food was never going to remind one of a Michelin establishment but it was attractive enough for such simple food. There is no hiding bad food when it’s this simple, and the flavours of every dish were really good. One of the pieces of fish did have a few bones in it but that can happen Out In Brum - Paprika Grill Bearwood - Chickenanywhere I guess.

If you are a diehard curry fan and are looking forward to the fluffy warm naan you may need to adjust your expectations as I would describe the naan more as a flatbread, and the garlic naan is just the same flatbread with some garlic oil brushed on.

At £3.50 or £4.50 for the starters and £6.99 to £12.99 for the mains including the salad and side dish, this is cheap and tasty filling food.  We will drop in again when we’re in the area.

Paprika Grill House can be found at 85 Three Shires Oak Road, Bearwood B67 5BY and also at 9 Raddlebarn Road, Selly Oak, B29 6HJ

Out In Brum - Paprika Grill Bearwood - Fish

Posted in Area: Bearwood, Birmingham Restaurant, birmingham restaurant review, Cuisine: Modern Mixed, Price: Cheap as Chips - Inexpensive, Venue type: Cafe, Venue type: Restaurant | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Butlers Arms

Out In Brum - Butlers Arms - FrontageThe Gileses have significant experience in hospitality which they brought to the struggling Butlers Arms pub near Four Oaks some years ago.  It’s a proper family affair.  Landlord Chris, with his head chef wife Paula, along with sous chef son Dan and front of house manager daughter Becky, have turned around the fortunes of what was once a struggling suburban pub.  Suburban it may be, pedestrian it is not, and its idiosyncrasies have built the business in to one where hordes of diners turn up on a Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evening for their three course for £14.50 special.  I’d advise you book, whenever you plan to go.

Out In Brum - Butlers Arms - Ram BustWe always try to be transparent with our reviews so note that we’re friends with The Gileses.  However if I thought any word of our praise was untrue I wouldn’t be writing them up, and none of the stuff we’re writing about was a freebie.

The decor is not your typical local boozer.  You may find yourself sat on a 50s leatherette hair drying bench, complete with driers, overlooked by the bust of a smartly dressed ram, and a multi-coloured flamingo.  Don’t think this is ill thought out maximalist guesswork from an unskilled hoarder, it is fanciful and fun design by experienced eyes.  The sharp eyed amongst you will find plenty of other objet d’art that amuses.

While the decor may be a little off the wall, the cookery is classic.  We’ve been on a number of occasions, for celebration dinners, a cheese and wine night with The Guardian’s Fiona Beckett, a charity black tie event, Sunday lunch, and dinner with friends to cheer up a Out In Brum - Butlers Arms - Hair Drier Benchdreary mid-week.  It really does get very busy, unsurprisingly given the quality and price point.  The venue often holds special events and hosts other chefs such as Masterchef’s Stacie Stewart, Nathan Eades from Simpsons, and Romy Gill.  You can sign-up to their mailing list here to keep up to date.

Chris and Paula often have weekends away to the coast, London, and other interesting cities, visiting the best eateries the UK has to offer.  They bring a little of that inspiration back with them.  While Paula is most definitely the boss in the kitchen, Chris does take some hand in the food, including producing their own charcuterie, pickled eggs, and he’s in charge of the million Christmas puddings they make each year.  He keeps a wonderful cellar, and their wine list is full of interesting accessibly priced bottles.  I loved the “Cabaret Frank” Cabernet Franc red we had with our beef Sunday lunch, and I struggle to think of many other venues that could offer this quirky Californian for less than twenty quid.  Their back bar is also varied Out In Brum - Butlers Arms - Ham Hockoffering lots of curios including, sometimes, home infused gins.

The menu here is typical classic European cookery.  On a Sunday you can take the roast lunch as we did, or something from the normal menu.  My beef was medium-rare and plentiful, and the roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding were crisp.  While I thoroughly enjoyed my beef, I had major food envy for my friend’s twice cooked pork belly with black pudding, which was thick and succulent looking, with a crispy crackling top.  Unsurprisingly provenance is important here, they have great relationships with suppliers including Packington Farm who provide that amazing pork.  The pork terrine to start was delicious served with toasted brioche and Out In Brum - Butlers Arms - Pork Belly Lunchpiccalilli, and it makes my mouth water to think of my crispy pork belly salad starter.

It’s not all about the meat, for starters we also had the crisp whitebait, and a plate of their own smoked fish.  I’ve had the hake dish, with baby pan roast potatoes and chorizo, a couple of times and it’s a perfect light dinner with firm white fish coated with spicy chorizo oil.  The smoked haddock dish with a light curry sauce is also delicious.

I’m not big on puddings, but we had an awesome espresso ice cream that kept me awake Out In Brum - Butlers Arms - Bird Statuetill Tuesday, a fudgy chocolate brownie, and comforting sticky toffee pudding with custard.

Their three course Sunday lunch is £15.95, and a normal three course dinner on non offer nights will cost around £20 to £25.  Given how busy it gets I can hardly describe it as undiscovered, but it is a bit of a local’s secret, which you’ve now been let in on.

Thanks to The Gileses for their wonderful hospitality, long may it continue.

http://butlersarms.co.uk

Posted in Area: Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham Restaurant, birmingham restaurant review, birmingham review, Cuisine: English, Cuisine: Modern Mixed, Price: Average, Venue type: Bar, Venue type: Pub, Venue type: Restaurant | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Izza Pizza by Lasan Group – Wood Fired Pizza in Selfridges

Wood-fired artisan pizzas with an unusual sourdough base have arrived in SelfridgesOut In Brum - Izza Pizza - Aktar by the Pizza Oven Birmingham this week with the launch of the Lasan Group’s latest venture, Izza Pizza.

Local chef Aktar Islam, a regular face on BBC’s Saturday Morning Kitchen and Great British Menu, as well as winner of Chanel 4’s Ramsey’s F Word Best Local Restaurant, and his chefs from the successful Lasan Group are bringing what they promise to be, “a quality unseen in the city before”.

Aktar Islam, chief director at Lasan Group, said: “The bases are made with a combination of white and wholemeal flours. The wholemeal adds flavour as well as goodness and creates a lighter and slightly more ready texture than you find in ordinary pizzas.” The Out In Brum - Izza Pizza - Izza Logosourdough itself is fermented using natural yeasts, ensuring a healthy and natural product. Izza’s wood-fired oven should ensure that the pizzas emerge crisp, with slightly smoky notes.

Pizzas are available from the classic and simple Margherita with tomato, mozzarella and basil to the indulgent Truffle in Paradise, with black truffle, taleggio cheese, chives and white onion.  Aktar added: “With a dish as simple as a pizza, there’s no hiding place. Out In Brum - Izza Pizza - Olives 2It’s up to the ingredients to do the talking and to tell the story. Our cured meats would stand up on their own as a meat platter at a high-end restaurant”.  Bring on the morcón chorizo, made in Andalusia with pork from Spain’s famous black Iberian pigs.

At their launch we enjoyed their non-tomato base pizza (great for tomato haters like me), plus one of their veggie pizzas. While Izza Pizza comes from the same stable as upmarket Lasan and Fiesta Del Asado, food here won’t break the bank, with a 12″ pizza coming in at between £9 and £12.

Sam Watts, general manager at Selfridges Birmingham, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Out In Brum - Izza Pizza - Pizzasuch a innovative restaurateur who is responsible for opening some of Birmingham’s finest eateries to our house. Izza Pizza has something that will appeal to all of our shoppers and will soon become a Selfridges Foodhall staple”.

Izza Pizza opened on Thursday 6th April and is exclusively available in the Birmingham Selfridges Foodhall. For further information visit www.selfridges.com

Posted in Area: The Bullring, Cuisine: Italian, Cuisine: Pizza, Price: Average, Venue type: Restaurant | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Cheval Blanc

Out In Brum - Cheval Blanc - FrontageWhen Keith Marsden joined forces with the daughter of one of Birmingham’s other stalwart hospitality families there were high hopes that they would produce a knockout venue, and they have not disappointed.  Keith Marsden, owner of the British Oak in Stirchley, and The Prince of Wales and Dark Horse in Moseley, has teamed up with Abby Connolley, of  Connolleys, a go-to city wine merchant who’ve been selling wine to hotels and restaurants for four decades, and who have had seven generations in the wine slurping and sipping business.  Some months ago the Marsdens Out In Brum - Cheval Blanc - Cellaropened Cheval Blanc, a wine bar with food, next door to the Dark Horse – can you see what they’ve done with the name there?

Like other suburbs of Brum over recent years Moseley has up and come.  It has always been perhaps a bit alternative, and the locals’ fierce opposition to chains and their support of independents means they’ve ended up with many interesting family run venues that are hard to beat.  Keith’s other venues serve up all sorts of fun from smokehouse food, cocktails, and cigar bars, to garden hoedowns (and a drenching in beer sometimes, eh, Mr. L?).  Add to those Carters – a Michelin starred restaurant, a tapas restaurant or two, a Cuban, and now a new Out In Brum - Cheval Blanc - BarIndian street food joint Xindiya which we’re yet to try, and you’re sure to find something to suit your fancy.

Cheval Blanc is an upmarket affair.  Inside you’ll find velvet clad seating and bright walls and woodwork.  Plus, there’s a wonderful Spiral Cellar.  To the uninitiated, that’s a hole around six foot across bored through the floor some fifteen feet in to the earth, and then lined with wine shelving and topped with sexy glass.  There are few material things in this world that I covet, but one of these cellars is on the list.

The bar is fronted and managed by the affable certified sommelier Abby Connolly who’ll help you choose something from the extensive wine list to suit your tastes.  That could be two glasses of prosecco for £7, or an £800 bottle of Chateau Cheval Blanc St. Emillion ’86.  There are plenty of bottles and glasses in the middle of that price range, and the bulk are in the £21 Out In Brum - Cheval Blanc - Tartto £50 range.  For our lunch with a few friends we drank some wonderful Pinot Noir.  Quite a lot of it as it came to pass…  Hic!

It wasn’t only a liquid lunch, thankfully.  The food is all served as either small plates to share or large sharer boards.  Sort of like tapas but broad classic european cookery rather than just Spanish.  Most small dishes are around £6 each and three per person is a good fill.  I loved the girolles & mozzerella arancini (deep fried balls of flavoured risotto rice).  They were crispy on the outside and gooey in the middle, with a heady girolle sauce.  My favourite of the day was the Wild Boar Casserole, very french, and so comforting.  A flat Out In Brum - Cheval Blanc - Salmontart combined sharp cheese with sweet onion on a crispy pastry base.  Mussels were perfectly cooked, smoked salmon home cured, and we also loved the smoked Monkfish with puy lentils.

It would be a wonderful place to come on a romantic night out, for special wine and sharing food, but equally we sat happily as a group of six for two or three hours, eating and drinking, watching the world go by outside.

Tasteful and tasty food and wine with great service.  We will be back.

Out In Brum - Cheval Blanc - Arancini

 

Out In Brum - Cheval Blanc - Salmon

 

Out In Brum - Cheval Blanc - Banquettes

Posted in Area: Moseley, Birmingham Restaurant, birmingham restaurant review, birmingham review, Cuisine: French, Cuisine: Modern Mixed, Cuisine: Tapas, Price: Average, Venue type: Bar, Venue type: Cocktail Bar, Venue type: Restaurant, Venue type: Wine Bar | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment