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

70s and 80s legends Boney M complete Birmingham Pride line-up!

Organisers of Birmingham Pride have announced that 70s amd 80s legends, Boney M, who have notched up millions of record sales and No.1 hits worldwide,  will be performing  at the festival on Sunday 28 May.


Boney M’s hit singles span two decades and include ‘Rivers of Babylon’, ‘Rasputin’, ‘Sunny’‘Ma Baker’, ‘Brown Girl In The Ring‘, and ‘Hooray It’s A Holiday’.
Boney M featuring Maizie Williams will be joining the lineup that features International recording artist Dua Lipa

Dua Lipa’s hit singles in the last 12 months,  including ‘Be The One’, ‘Hotter Than Hell’, and  ‘Blow Ya Mind’, together with collabrations on Sean Paul’s ‘No Lie’, and Martin Garrix’s ‘Scared To Be Lonely’, have collectively notched up over 350 million views on YouTube alone.


The star will be joined by ’90s electronic dance duo Basement Jaxx, ‘Dreams’ star Gabrielle and ‘Superstar’ pop artist Jamelia over the festival weekend, as well as multiple hit-maker Sophie Ellis-Bexter. You can expect the MASSIVE ‘Murder On The Dancefloor’ hit plus ‘Take Me Home’ and of course the 1999 No.1 hit ‘Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love’ (Spiller)).

Other artists appearing at the event, which takes place over the Spring bank holiday weekend on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 May, include Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon tour, girl group M.O, X Factor stars Saara Aalto and Louisa Johnson, plus DJ and producer Jonas Blue.

Pride’s Festival Director, Lawrence Barton, commented: “There’s such a buzz around already for this year’s Birmingham Pride! Every year we bring some of the biggest and best new and retro artists to the festival, and 2017 is no different. We’re delighted that Dua Lipa will headline the festival, in what is one of our biggest line-ups to date, that also include Basement Jaxx, Gabrielle, Jamelia, Jonas Blue, and M.O. And there’s still more acts to announce.”

He added: “We’re delighted to be adopting the theme ‘Love & Pride’, recognising and commemorating the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality – a monumental occasion for the LGBT community.”

The Birmingham Pride festival, which is the UK’s largest two-day gay festival, last year attracted more than 50,000 party revellers. The event features a Main Stage Arena, Dance Arena, Cabaret Marquee, Women’s Arena, together with funfair rides and all the city’s gay bars and clubs.

The festival launches with the ‘Love & Pride’ Carnival Parade, which  sets off from Victoria Square in the city centre at midday on Saturday 27 May.

 

Advance Discounted Tickets for the festival, which takes place in Birmingham’s Gay Village, are available online from www.birminghampride.com.
Posted in Area: Arcadian, Area: City Centre, Area: Hurst Street / The Gay Village / South Side, Article, Special Event | Tagged | 1 Comment

No More Lounging at The Loft

Out In Brum - The Loft - BarAs some of you may have spotted, the long established Loft Lounge in Bromsgrove Street has had a bit of a makeover. And by “bit of” we mean very extensive.

They’ve dropped “Lounge” from the name and are now advertising themselves as an all day venue for food, drink, and socialising, and the changes to the interior and menu have brought it bang up to date.

Gone are the velour seats and sparkling lamp shades, having been replaced with stripped wood, random pieces of what look like agricultural machinery, and for the keen eyed, the odd turn-style (let’s see how many find that one). We liked the new style and feel, reminding us as it did of some of our favourite bars around the world like Flaming Saddles in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen – I’m sure The Loft could introduce Coyote Ugly style cowboy line dancers on the bar, right?

 

The menu, which had perhaps turned stale, is refreshed and stripped back, focused on a smaller range of styles of food, done well.

Out In Brum - The Loft - Wrapped BurgerWe have now eaten at The Loft four times over the past few weeks, both as a couple, with friends, and as a large group of friends with all of our mothers before the ballet.  All times have been a great success.

My personal favourite so far has to be the buttermilk fried chicken burger (£8.50) served with bacon jam, ranch mayo, and lettuce, in a seeded bun. A friend at our last meal there commented “It may just be the best buttermilk, or in fact any fried chicken, that I’ve ever had”. Match this with the beef dripping cooked chips (£2.75) and I doubt you’ll be finding much to complain about. Plus with the wonderful Independent Birmingham card you get 25% off all food (we’re not affiliated, but we think it’s great compared to the other cards).

Out In Brum - The Loft - Interior 1We’ve also tried out the beer battered haddock with a green peppercorn sauce (served on the side before you worry about your crispy batter), the tikka spiced seabass fillet with coriander, heritage tomato and onion salad, and the braised pork, celeriac and roasted apple sauce which despite looking very pretty, is the only dish so far that we weren’t keen on.

The Loft also offers a pretty varied breakfast and brunch menu in addition at weekends but we have not tried this yet. That’ll be another return visit with @brumbrekkieclub  http://www.birminghambreakfastclub.co.uk

You can find The Loft website here.

Out In Brum - The Loft - Pork

 

Posted in Area: Hurst Street / The Gay Village / South Side, Birmingham Restaurant, birmingham restaurant review, birmingham review, Cuisine: Modern Mixed, Price: Average, Venue type: Bar, Venue type: Cafe, Venue type: Restaurant | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Edgbaston – Toby Takes Home Ysabel Regina Trophy

Out In Brum - The Edgbaston - SignThe Edgbaston Boutique Hotel & Cocktail Lounge have added yet another award to their ever straining awards cabinet.  Toby Heap, their youngest Bartender competed in The Ysabel Regina Fusion Competition held at Ysabel Regina Bodega in Jerez Spain. There were twelve finalists, three from each of the four countries taking part: the U.K, Portugal, Italy, and Spain. Whilst representing the brand, the competition focused on the fusion of drinks and music. Bartenders were requested to design a drink which came under the following three categories: Jazz Pop, Jazz Rock, and Jazz Blues.

Out In Brum - The Edgbaston - Toby at Ysabel ReginaToby was the winner of the Jazz Pop category creating a long drink, called ‘Love in Vain’ for which he was inspired by the song ‘Layla, Unplugged’ by Eric Clapton.

His winning drink recipe:
45 ml Ysabel Regina
30 ml Sauternes Wine
10 ml of Homemade Apricot Shrub
Rinsed with an infusion of Pedro Ximenez with oak and finished with 1724 Tonic Water.

Out In Brum - The Edgbaston - Rotary Distillation MachineToby is now looking forward to his prize of a trip to New Orleans in July to attend Tales of The Cocktail, a much coveted industry cocktail festival, designed to indulge those who enjoy the culture and history of liqueur and spirits, whilst enjoying a well mixed drink.  Toby said:

“I am truly amazed and proud to have achieved victory at the Ysabel Regina Fusion competition held in Jerez. It could not have been done without the amazing support from family, friends and everyone from The Edgbaston Boutique Hotel & Cocktail Lounge”.

 

The team at The Edgbaston have also recently launched their latest menu with  the aid of Out In Brum - The Edgbaston - Cocktail with Cloche SmokeCindy and Roxanne (their lab quality centrifuge and distillation machines) , which aims to shed some light on the varied and often overlooked history that Birmingham has to offer. Just ask any of the team for a Trifle Bazaar for example and you’ll be amazed what facts you learn as it’s lovingly crafted and presented to you.

 

 

Out In Brum - The Edgbaston - Trifle Bizarre

Out In Brum - The Edgbaston - Cocktail with Hat

Out In Brum - The Edgbaston - Centrifuge

Posted in Area: Edgbaston, Article, Price: Average, Special Event, Venue type: Cocktail Bar | Tagged | Leave a comment

Indian Brewery Company – Breakfast and Dinner

Out In Brum - Indian Brewery Company - Amritsari KulchaBirmingham has for decades had a love of Indian food, from the humble balti you can eat in Sparkbrook for £4, to the extravagant banquets available at our high-end Indian restaurants like Lasan’s and Itihaas. The Indian Brewery Company now compliment these offerings by adding their street food and beer venue, serving food made by mum, and the family’s own brewery’s beers and lager.

We’ve been a few times now. When we’ve been about town and wanted a nibble but not the faff of a full restaurant meal, it has served as a stop off before heading home. The food is inexpensive and tasty, and the lager refreshing. They also offer breakfast, so we’ve had to try that too of course.

Out In Brum - Indian Brewery Company - Breakfast Naan Bacon EggFor a hungover Saturday breakfast we tried their bacon and egg naan – plenty of bacon and egg wrapped in a fresh fluffy naan bread with some light spice to make your tongue tingle. We also had their Bombay Breakfast, their piquant take on a full English – sausage, bacon, eggs, spicy beans, and masala fried bread, with masala fries. Plus, for the vegetarian with us we had an Amritsari Kulcha – a chickpea curry, with a vegetable kulcha (veg stuffed flatbread cooked in the tandoor oven like a naan), with sides of yoghurt and lime and chilli pickles. All washed down with coffee and a full fat coke (I told you, I was proper hungover) it was a great start to a Saturday, I’ll take kulcha over Kellogg’s any day.

The evening food we ate was also spot on, and I think we’ve eaten 95% of the menu over two or three visits.  The spiced paneer roti roll (£4.50) was punchy and filling, I didn’t need the Pakora Pops (£4) I ordered to go with it – crunchy pakora veg – but never known to be someone to let good food go to waste I scoffed the lot.  We’ve also tried the Chaat Out In Brum - Indian Brewery Company - Chicken RunBomb (£4.50), chopped veggie samosas with spiced chickpeas, yoghurt, chutney, topped with crunchy sev (gram flour noodles deep fried and spiced).  The Chicken Run Fat Naan (£7.50) was full of succulent tandoor cooked chicken with accompaniments and was easily enough for dinner.

I need to go back after work on a Friday and try their Indian Fish and Chips – marinated cod in spicy batter with masala fries.  We’ve not braved the £45 eat-the-menu food challenge, because, you know, we’re not red-necks, and it’s a gimmick that this place could do without given the quality of the food and overall experience.  It’s very often packed so go being prepared to share a bench table or to have a beer while you wait.  My only criticism? The benches are an inch or two too tall for me, but I’m taking a saw next time to sort that out.

The beer is worth a mention, it’s called “The Indian Brewery Company” for a reason.  The Out In Brum - Indian Brewery Company - Chaat Bombfamily behind the venue run a successful craft brewery and their beers and lager are showcased well in the venue and match wonderfully with the food on offer.  I enjoy their refreshing Birmingham Lager, and the beer drinkers we’ve taken have loved the Bombay Honey particularly.

The eatery has been opened in the unit previously occupied by Brewsmith’s Coffee shop, in the arches by the rear Snow Hill entrance on Livery Street, just two minutes from St. Paul’s Square in the Jewellery Quarter. They also offer takeaway.

Great food, lovely atmosphere.  Give it a go soon.

Posted in Area: Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham Restaurant, birmingham restaurant review, birmingham review, Cuisine: Indian, Cuisine: Street Food, My Favourite Places, Price: Average, Price: Cheap as Chips - Inexpensive, restaurant review, Venue type: Bar, Venue type: Cafe, Venue type: Pub, Venue type: Restaurant | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments