Pankhurst Keynote @ The Custard Factory (Free event 6th March)

Great-granddaughter of suffrage leader Emmeline Pankhurst, Dr Helen Pankhurst CBE, will deliver the keynote speech at a free to attend West Midlands Women’s Voice event that will take place on Wednesday 6 March from 10am to 4pm at The Custard Factory.

West Midlands Women's Voice Event Poster - PankhurstThe ‘In Conversation…’ event is being hosted by West Midlands Women’s Voice – an organisation made up of influential women working together to support the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) in setting an agenda for economic growth and better social welfare – and will put the spotlight on the role of women in arts, culture, sport and business within the region at a time when the region will be in the headlines ahead of the upcoming Commonwealth Games and Coventry being named as the UK City of Culture.

During the day, attendees will hear from high profile speakers from the world of sport, the armed forces and emergency services, music and the arts – followed by the keynote from Dr Pankhurst at 12.30pm and a panel debate hosted by West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street featuring Sam Smethers from the Fawcett Society and a number of local politicians.

The event will feature four panel debates: Challenging role for women in uniform services – delivering better outcomes featuring speakers from the Army, Royal Navy, RAF and West Midlands Police; Sport – Shifting the Culture including Wasps CEO Nick Eastwood, young elite sportswomen and representatives from University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton WanderersFoundation, CWG and British Athletics; Music & Arts – Changing Communities with participants from Coventry City of Culture, Little Bird, University of Wolverhampton and Women in Jazz; before the closing panel chaired by Andy Street.

During the event, there will also be live performances from Women in Jazz and the University of Wolverhampton’s UN programme, #hearhersong. After lunch, there will be the opportunity to contribute to a number of workshops including Exploring Your Political Pathway – a session hosted by The Parliament Project, which will encourage participants with an interest in politics but who are unsure where to start through discussion and information sharing.

The ‘In Conversation With Dr Helen Pankhurst’ event will take place on 6 March from 10am to 4pm at The Custard Factory and is open to all and free to attend. Visitors are welcome to attend all day or drop in throughout. To find out more and to register for your place, please visit .


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

2019 Independent Birmingham Card Released & It’s On Offer

Every year Independent Birmingham commissions an incredible local artist to design their new Independent Birmingham Membership Card – with the vision being that the design must not only be a beautiful piece of artwork for your pocket, but also a unique piece that champions and celebrates the city. This year they teamed up with Lil & Brun (who design and illustrate wonderful prints for children’s rooms and nurseries) to create a design that emulates the vintage posters of yesteryear – and celebrates Birmingham for the truly incredible and iconic city it is.

More than just a discount card, Independent Birmingham is a movement, a revolution of local – and a way of giving back to the city in which we work and live. Not only is it a fantastic piece of artwork for your pocket (which just so happens to entitle you to amazing discounts and deals at over 110 of Birmingham’s very best independent cafes, bars, restaurants, theatres, pubs, cinemas and shops), the IBcard is your wallet’s best friend and your key to the city – allowing you to rediscover your city, one hidden gem at a time, and making you remember why you fell in love with Birmingham in the first place.

The new Independent Birmingham Membership Card is now available to purchase at a special (limited time only) price of just £12 (instead of £15) or at 2 for £18 (instead of £20) – meaning you can enjoy a whole year of incredible discounts at the very best independents in the city, for less than £1 a month!

With it in your pocket you can enjoy fantastic year-long discounts and deals at over 110 of the very best independent cafes, bars, restaurants, pubs, theatres, cinemas and shops in Birmingham – including: Digbeth Dining Club, The Electric cinema, Simpsons, The Wilderness, Carters, Lasan, Birmingham Hippodrome, Adam’s, 18/81, Zindiya, The Meat Shack, Nocturnal Animals, Baked In Brick, Harborne Kitchen, BoneHead, Purnell’s Restaurant, Bodega Bar Y Cantina, Wayland’s Yard, Purnell’s Bistro, Buffalo and Rye, Midlands Arts Centre, Gaijin Sushi, Fiesta del Asado, 40 St Paul’s, The Plough, Hare and Hounds, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, The Lord Clifden, The Jekyll And Hyde, Bourne and Co., The Rose Villa Tavern, Cherry Reds, The Prince of Wales, The Loft, Laghi’s Deli, Medicine Bakery, The Paper Duck, Town Hall Symphony Hall, The Clean Kilo, The Early Bird Bakery and many more.

The new IBcard is now available to purchase at: 

For a full list of all 110+ independents on the IBcard and their deals, categorised by area, visit:

For bulk purchase enquiries (the IBcard would make the perfect gift or reward for your team/employees), please email:

Background On Independent Birmingham

Independent Birmingham began life in August 2013, acting as a guide that enabled those living and working in Birmingham to explore the city’s lesser-known aspects and unearth its best kept secrets.

In 2014, the Independent Birmingham Membership Card was released and is now owned by over 18,000 people eager to support and champion local, independent businesses. Since then Independent Birmingham has gone on to host massive food and drink festivals, held at iconic locations and attended by thousands of people – with many more great events to follow.

With a readership of 80,000-90,000 unique visitors a month and a highly-engaged social media platform of over 90,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – with mentions in national newspapers (The Guardian, The Independent), named by Twitter UK as one to follow to discover Birmingham, named by The Birmingham Post as one of the 250 most influential people in the region, and named as one of Birmingham Live’s 30 Under 30 – Independent Birmingham has helped pave the way for new independent businesses to blossom in the city and championed a revolution of local.

In the process of writing this love letter to Birmingham, Independent Birmingham created a whole platform for celebrating independent culture. Reigniting the fire for Birmingham independence and helping people to rediscover their city, one hidden gem at a time.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Tiger Bites Pig

out in brum - tiger bites pig - beef shinI’ve not met a food type that isn’t better between two slices of bread.  Chicken: obviously. Beef and mustard: without question.  Roast potatoes?  Yep, preferably with leftover gravy.  I’ve been known to sandwich peas when there’s only too few fishfingers for a reasonable hangover cure (always salad cream with fishfingers, of course).  While our eighteenth century eponymous Earl of Sandwich may have sent his name around the world so everyone can enjoy wrapping stuff in leavened bread, the Chinese have been similarly filling bao – steamed buns – for a couple of thousand years prior so I feel they somewhat beat him to it.

Which brings me to Tiger Bites Pig, a small unassuming bao restaurant that opened a couple of months ago on Stephenson Street in a unit previously housing ’40 23 Mediterranean’.  In this bar stools venue they’re steaming their buns six days a week andout in brum - tiger bites pig - exterior filling them with flavours delicious and fresh.  Carnivore, veggie, or vegan there’s something for each of you, and despite its high craftmanship it’s a relatively cheap dinner – a drink and a couple of Bao (£4.50 – £5.50) will cost you less than £15, or a delicious looking rice bowl will cost you just £8.

Are you familiar with bao?  They’re kinda fluffy cloud-like steamed round flat dumplings which are every-so-slightly sweet.  At Tiger Bites Pig you’ll find them folded and stuffed with a range of fillings.  We ate two bao each and a side of spicy kimchi which amounted to a generous lunch.  My personal favourite was out in brum - tiger bites pig - chicken - tofu - beefthe braised beef shin with cured gelatinous egg yolk which offered heady umami punch with the rich beef shin.

We also loved the white cut chicken bao, with ginger and spring onion, sichuan chilli oil, and the most amazing crispy sesame chicken skin crisp.  On our return trip our veggie friend enjoyed the Salt & Pepper Tofu bao, and we tried the delicious smoky duck breast bao.  All delicious!

Give this super independent a go for lunch or dinner soon.

out in brum - tiger bites pig - duck

Posted in Area: Central Shopping, Cuisine: Chinese, Price: Cheap as Chips - Inexpensive, Venue type: Cafe, Venue type: Restaurant | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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

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 , , , , , | 1 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.


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:

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:

There’s useful info on use of the vaporettos here:

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):

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

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.

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

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!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Article | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment