Monday, 18 April 2011

Birmingham's Best Bits... Where to EAT!

So I've lived here for three years now and I think it's time I shared some pearls of wisdom about this fabulous city- where to eat and drink, what to see, where to shop and all manner or little things like that.

This first post will be on FOOD- I hope you're hungry!

So aside from Selly Sausage's 'what-it-says-on-the-tin' big breakfasts and awesome omelettes (with beans and 2 slices of toast!), Birmingham has some great eateries, and here are a few of my favourites:

I went to a new little cafe/eatery called Arco Lounge in the achingly middle-class suburb of Harborne at the weekend, next door to Cafe Nero up near Waitrose, which was just FABULOUS. It's part of the 'Lounge' chain but the only real give-away is the range of printed menus. Everything else from the home-made cakes and tray bakes to the big jugs of water and help-yourself glasses, magazine and newspaper stacks and huge blackboard with the menu written on feel very 'nice-one-off-little-cafe'. I like.

Apparently, (says the website) this one seats 80, and there's another one in Kings Heath which is huge (130 seats inside 40 outside, if the weather holds!). Better than a gastro-pub and the menu is varied enough to be a crowd-pleaser but also interesting and saliva-inducing.

I ordered tapas, (3 bowls for £7.95) they have a great selection for meat-eaters and veggies alike. I LOVED my cream-cheese stuffed mini peppers, honey-glazed 5 spice shredded pork and goats-cheese topped roasted sweet potato, which came with sliced ciabatta to get dippy with.

My brunch buddy had a scrummy-looking poached eggs with hollandaise sauce and crispy bacon on English muffins, and a good ol' bacon sarnie on doorstop bread. Yes, that's two meals for one person, but it hits the spot for brunch, right?

The previous night I had tapas at Bar Estilo in the Mailbox (this was a very tapas-y weekend), which was also delicious. Potato Bravas, salmon quesadillas, minted lamb kofte and sweet potato mash were spot on, but the stars of the show were the delicious duck and chorizo wraps and the spicy chicken thighs.

Also at the Mailbox is a very nice Cafe Rouge, where I would recommend the Confit de Canard; duck with dauphinoise potatoes, and also the huge bread and dip starters to share, though my boss would say it's all about the Croque Monsieur if you're feeling indulgent. In my opinion the deserts are better than the mains I've tried though- Crème Brûlée, Tarte Tatin and the melting chocolate torte are all rich and divine!

The mailbox is full of similar places to eat; GBK, Nando's, Pizza Express, Strada, Zizzi's, all nice and I wouldn't turn down a meal at any of them but nothing a-mazing in my humble opinion.

Although part of a chain itself, Jamie's Italian is gorgeous, as I've already said earlier in this blog. It's not too pretentious for pretentious-sounding Italian food, and surprisingly good value for money. You can see my review of it here, but long story short: go there!

Now I must turn to my all-time love; sushi. The many times I have been for all-you-can-eat sushi at Woktastic have been phenomenal- and not only for the variety of mini dishes offered (from sushi to noodles, salads, calamari, wontons, spring rolls and even deserts). I also love for the novelty value of getting it off a conveyor belt and the other non-sushi Japanese treats it offers (like the-world's-most-filling-bowl of Ramen, right Dean?). Also, the value for money is great- £10.99 for all-you-can-eat (I always seem to rinse this unlimited amount and leave with a huge rice belly, see fig.3).

Yes those were all my empty bowls. And what?

Also amazing for Japanese food is Mount Fuji, attached to the Bullring so super close for while you are shopping! Their eel and scallop sushi is to die for, as is their chicken teriyaki... NOM! The thing I love the most about this place though are the bento boxes where everything comes in it's little box section within a bigger box; great for those who sometimes seem to have OCD, and it feels kind of like tapas- always a winner!

Next on my agenda is this Vietnamese restaurant which does Pho Bo, or beef noodle soup, which I fell in love with in Vietnam and would like to relive the experience!
Woman making Pho Bo in Saigon

"It's 3am, we need Pho Bo"

Thoroughly addicted to Pho Bo by the time we reached Hanoi!

I also want to try out buffet restaurant Ming Moon (they have a chocolate fountain, and it's all you can eat, why wouldn't I want to go there), and Lasan; the Indian that won "Best Local Restaurant" in one series of The F Word, and is one of the "Healthiest Restaurants" 2009 as judged by Men's Health. I'd also like to eat at the vegan and veggie Warehouse cafe in Digbeth, try the teas at Cha Cha Cha tea lounge near House of Fraser, and (on my good friend's recommendation), Chez Jules. Oh, and Purnell's Michelin starred eatery. One can dream!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Weird and the Wonderful...

Just some things that have amused me while I've procrastinated this week...

Needs no explanation, 'tis fabulous

Been doing some proof reading work recently, things like this = annoying

Those of you familiar with Aestheticism and Wilde's 'Decay of Lying' will chortle...

This article on on awesome uses of Facebook's new photo layout...

Also worth a shout out is this post on the Student Fashion Blog about 'Dickheads'... (scroll to the bottom and watch the YouTube clip- hilarious when you realise you've been seeing them everywhere, especially in Birmingham hanging around COW, Urban Outfitters and the Rainbow...)