So I was on Brum radio earlier, blathering about something vaguely related to Full to the Brum, food blogging and Birmingham. And on the walk back it made me think about something I’ve been mindful of for a while and what I probably should’ve talked about, rather than my weakness for fried chicken outlets.
I’ve jokingly been calling this in my head the State of the Nation address, because I think last year was an interesting and exciting year for Birmingham food and drinks wise but now that we’re firmly into 2016 we’re beginning to see some changes.
It’s hard to remember or record all the great food and drinks things that happened in 2015 in the city, but there are a few that stand out, at least to me; a fifth Michelin star for the city thanks to Carters of Moseley, home grown talent like Original Patty Men, Nomad and 40 St Paul’s opening their own venues, Grand Central Birmingham bringing some national chains to the city for the first time and just generally the explosion of venues that have opened. I don’t know how anyone else feels, but I feel like it might take me another year just to get through all of those.
But after what felt like a bumper year of venues opening in 2015, we’re starting to see some casualties, namely Le Truc and Alfie Birds who have both closed their doors in recent weeks. I think anyone who works, or has an unhealthy interest, in the food and drinks scene in Birmingham isn’t surprised by either place going, but what if it’s the start of things to come? It’s no real secret that a lot of venues seem to be struggling to recruit chefs; that a lot of the very talented bartenders are no longer ‘in the trenches’, so to speak and that they’re not being replaced in the numbers all the new bars need; that all these new seats in restaurants need bums to fill them.
Ever hopeful, I’d like to think that perhaps the casualties, and I’m expecting more, are merely a case of pruning so that the city’s gastronomic scene can continue to flower. And I’m not much of a gardener, but to labour the metaphor a little longer; that means it’s up to us as drinkers and diners in the city to help choose which budding venues stay, which ones to nurture in the hope that the scene continues to thrive.
I spend a lot of time talking about what I think of places and sarcasm and dry humour aside, it’s all because I want this big old beast of a city to have the best food and drink scene it can, and the best way I think I can help is hopefully by telling other people about it. But really, it’s up to us as consumers to put our money where our mouths are and make sure we support the places we love, lest they whither.