You’d think given my life is basically punctuated by what I’m having for dinner I’d be better at keeping a track of when I last ate somewhere, but apparently not. I still can’t believe it’s been eight months since I last visited a Two Cats Roaming pop up, but that was when I last blogged about it and their food is so pretty I wouldn’t pass up an excuse not to share the photos. However, I finally got round to revisiting them at their latest pop up at the newly opened Six Eight Kafe at Millennium Point, last month.
Best described as New Baltic (at least according to their Facebook page), their five day residency at 6/8 was a fine example of the inventive yet tasty cuisine that chef Nick Astley and his partner Diana have come to be known for.
First off we were treated to a linseed crisp with smoked eel and bacon pate, topped with celeriac noodles, and a cheese and cep cookies with cheese custard. Both excellent to nibble at before the larger courses arrived.
Delivered next to the tabled were chunks of bread nestled in brown paper bags to keep them nice and warm. Soft, doughy but with a nice crust, this bread is always delicious and this was no exception.
The Tartare ‘Olivier’ of beef, smoked duck, lumpfish, roe, coal, tarragon, pickled swede and chicken liver pate was delicated decorated with edible flowers and a quail’s egg with the shell still on. There was some debate about whether this was the best way to enjoy the egg – I enjoyed the almost savoury mini-egg concept with the lightly crunchy shell, but one was enough for me (unlike actual mini-eggs which I’m convinced have addictive properties).
The soft shell crab with elderflower vodka and sourdough batter was just fantastic. Wonderfully light batter, thanks to the vodka, alongside squid ink, flowers and kale was quickly re-named the best dish of the night by my friend Katie – a battle which raged for most of the night.
For me though, my favourite dish of the night was definitely the pork belly with clear onion broth wild garlic oil, crackle and potato. The onion and garlic broth was fantastically packed with flavours and the delicious pork topped with crackle was spot on.
There were a couple of mysterious additions on the menu, one of which was just entitled ‘sorrel’ and this is exactly what arrived; stone-cold and fresh from the freezer this was dusted with icing sugar and needed to be eaten straight away. Fresh, sweet but with a lemony zing this was an unusual palate cleanser but at least I could report back to my mum I’d definitely had my greens that day.
Our first pudding was sliced apple with hazelnut praline, ice cream and dill. This was my favourite of the puddings because I’m a sucker for anything with hazelnut in it.
And then the final mysterious dish ‘potato’ had gained ridiculous suggestions from our end of the table all night but what arrived, much to Lauren’s delight, was choux pastry filled with sweet cream and covered in biscuit soil. A fantastic end.
I’m aware of how pretentious this might sound but I love that we’re now at the stage where Birmingham has a fine-dining pop-up scene. It’s pretty awesome that people, chefs and diners alike, are willing to take a chance on something a bit different in the city and it feels like Two Cats Roaming have been a real catalyst for this. Although I’m equally excited that they’ve just announced that they’ll be opening their own permanent restaurant in the Jewellery Quarter, it doesn’t take away from the fact they’ve really helped push the food scene in the city into something new and exciting. This evening was brilliant and I won’t leave it so long to return.
Disclosure: Nothing to see here, I paid for this all out of my own money and I’d totally do it again.