I read a review on TripAdvisor today and whilst the feedback was entirely honest in regards to the negatives, it also highlighted the things that were just excellent too but yet this was not the thing that stuck in my memory. Instead I will no doubt forget the pointers on dishes I want to try and be left recalling an anecdote about bad service. This got me thinking about why sometimes, it’s easy to focus on all that is challenging or controversial and not the simple things that make you happy.
I wrote a post not too long ago about the things in the food world that were grating on me at the time but I think it’s about time I did the opposite, so instead, here are some of my moments of joy, the standout dishes, the experiences I will never forget and will treasure forever.
I’ve been a bit quiet of late, it feels like ages since I’ve been out in Birmingham but in reality I suppose I’ve just been visiting my favourite places instead of going somewhere new. And that’s what this is about, you don’t need to hear my opinions on the best burger in town each week, if it changes then maybe its worth comment but for the most part, I write things down so I remember them and that’s always been the number one priority. This was one I knew I’d want to reflect on again.
There was a lot of buzz about the opening of Opheem so we waited a little before we went to try it out, wanting to get past any early snagging points or busy dining rooms so last month we booked a midweek table for a birthday meal. Having read a tonne of reviews by this point I was itching to go and its fair to say we were not disappointed.
So, the fact that it’s midway through August before I am getting to posting the July roundup gives you a bit of an indication as to how busy things are at the moment. Without wanting to delve into #firstworldproblems , we have been out a lot, are in the middle of buying a house and generally have been spending our time just getting stuff done. So here it is, a rundown of July- full posts to come.
We have been here several times but it’s a really easy option for a family friendly dinner and at the moment you can get 20% off if you order through the app. I tried the Surf and Turf pizza a while ago and really enjoyed it (I just love prawns *so* much) so when I saw on Twitter that it was due to come off the menu, I had to make sure i had it one last time. I’m not a huge fan of pizza normally but if it’s crisp and the tomato sauce tastes fresh I can be swayed.
After seeing several Birmingham Bloggers posting about this place we went to visit on a quiet Friday night. It’s probably the closest independent to where we live so I was amazed that we hadn’t heard of it before. I came away with a warm glowing feeling (nothing to do with wine) because the two owners were incredibly lovely and we really enjoyed dinner. We followed the advice of other bloggers and let our wine be selected by our server and ordered the soon-to-be-famous Octopus. We had a really good chat with the two brothers behind the operation and have committed to going there more often
I’ve read the ‘I was there when they first started’ reviews and that’s fine, but I confess I’d never been that interested in Baked in Brick before but went for lunch on their opening weekend. I opted for the lighter dishes rather than a pizza and was pleasantly surprised. I’ve been following their social media channels more closely and it’s the specials that keep drawing me in.
The Trip Advisor reviews for this place are a bit hit and miss so I had some apprehension about eating there. Whilst I still don’t like their ‘discount for cash payments’ policy I did enjoy dinner albeit I did play it safe when it came to ordering
Another local find we stopped in here for a quick dinner before going to the cinema one night. We were impressed with the Gin selection and the charcuterie offering which is a real bargain. We stopped by their stall at the Independent Birmingham Festival to try out their pasta which is delicious.
Another ‘never really fancied it’ kind of place but I spent a leisurely lunch there with a big cup of mint tea and finally tried the food. It’s a pretty nice venue to work from so next time I am in town I will certainly give it another go. I’m not overly keen on Tahini so it’s something I need to bear in mind when I order again.
A real shame, after weeks of glorious sunshine I was really looking forward to this event at Cannon Hill Park but then the heavens opened and (excuse the pun) it put a dampener on events. The shows were good as was the Thai boxing and there were plenty of interesting stalls. The food options were mainly Thai but some did lean towards Chinese too, for some reason there was also a burger van! I probably would have stayed to shop for ingredients had the weather been better and had I not accidentally dressed as a banana…. I really hope the event comes back again next year as it could be a real success.
This is becoming a highlight of the year for me and I was pleased to see that the number of food stalls had increased again this year. Whilst there were some familiar faces there, I tried to concentrate on visiting the stalls that I either don’t see very often (or am too lazy to queue for) and those that wouldn’t normally appear at an event such as Peel’s at Hampton Manor. The weather was excellent so I spent most of the day lounging on the grass sampling different plates and some pretty good wine too.
A bit of an unknown to me but I heard about this via the Birmingham Bloggers community and it turned out to be a great set-up. After finishing up at Independent Birmingham we headed here for the evening session and spent a good few hours wandering around before finishing off with a burger from the Original Patty Men which is always a treat. It’s like most beer festivals in that you get a glass on arrival and pay using tokens but the stalls favoured local producers and it had more of a community atmosphere, as a Cider drinker there were still plenty of choices for me and a couple of interesting fruit or sour beers too. Jordan however had the full range of options to choose from so we spent time tasting different beers and talking to the various stall holders. I thought we might have been a bit fatigued from the earlier festival but both had a very different feel to them which meant it felt like an all day party instead. We are hoping it comes back again next year.
We had a trip to London planned so it seemed only natural that we try to fit in a good lunch whilst we were there.We have been fans of Marcus for quite some time now so I was quite shocked when I realised it had been 10 years since he first appeared on Great British Menu and I’d still not eaten his food. Full review to follow because this was inevitably amazing.
Continuing last month’s theme of ’empty the freezer before we move’ we have had a couple of weird meals but have managed to get rid of some of the more problematic items we had left over so some normality has returned. On Instagram we ran a ‘What we ate’ series for a week in response to some of the comments we get from people who assume we a)eat out every day and b) only do fine dining. It was quite interesting to do and to look back on so I think its something we will do again once things have settled down. In the kitchen we have been eating a lot of beetroot which seems to be in abundance at present, I’ve made a couple of dishes but variations of beetroot and cheese are always popular in our house. We cooked kingfish at home for the first time which was easier that possible and easy to source from the Bull Ring Market. Braised Ox cheek and chicory have made an appearance on our plates and the slow cooker provided a useful way to use up some leftover ingredients.
We have done well on the shopping front too after stopping at Hilliers farm shop and a bumper shop at the monthly Farmer’s Market in Moseley.
August looks set to be an exciting month, we have reservations at Opheem and 40 St. Pauls to celebrate my birthday but also have a mystery weekend away to look forward to. Bank holiday sees us fly to Copenhagen where we have booked a table at Relae (currently ranked number 71 in the world)
The rest of the month looks uncertain but I’ve got an evening planned at The Electric Cinema for one of the Conjourer’s Kitchen Movie Taste-along events.
Hopefully next month will also mean I can catch up on the long list of blog posts that need to be written too!