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    Reviews

    Le Monde Birmingham

    With a new seafood restaurant opening in Brindley Place fairly recently and a request by my mum to go somewhere interesting for dinner, Le Monde seemed like the perfect place.

    My mum and I arrived on a Saturday night at 7.30pm and we were a bit worried as it was a little quiet, although it was a little hard to tell as the room was really rather dark.  We were greeted and, after declining to have a drink at the bar, we were quickly sat and given menus, although our waiter rapidly pointed out the iced bar full of fish and urged us to go and have a look.  Two members of staff behind the fish bar explained the variety of fish on show, explaining which ones were specials and answering any questions that we had.

    IMG_4021.PNGWe were told that we could order at the counter, but given we hadn’t really been given the chance to look at Le Monde’s menu we declined.  Initially I found the idea of being corralled to the fish bar a little awkward, but it did give a good visual idea of the dishes on offer.  My mum tends not to eat very big meals, so being able to see the size of the scallop and prawn starter convinced her to share mine.  With two skewers, each with a good sized scallop and prawn, I would happily have eaten the two myself as they were delightful; the scallop in particular which was lovely and light with just a touch of sweetness.  Sadly though, I don’t remember much about the red pepper pesto accompaniment.

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    For mains I opted for a dish on the menu, swordfish, which I adore but don’t often see on menus.  Again, this was lovely.  Being a more meaty fish, this still retained its flavour and was well finished with a simple “knob of lime, chilli and coriander infused butter to bring out the flavour”.  My mum opted for a special, after having been enticed by the fish bar, which I believe was Halibut (I could be wrong) and she was very impressed with.  Both of us also chose chips to accompany our meals and these were utterly fantastic – rather than be an afterthought, they were just like the chips you get at the seaside; marvelous.  We also shared a side of broccoli with almonds, which were crunchy and were perfectly fine.

    If there was anything to be disappointed about, it came next – we waited what felt like a very long time for my order of Chocolate Brownie which was supposed to have a second flavour, but neither I nor my mother could taste it, so it hardly seems worth mentioning.  The Brownie itself, when it arrive, was nice enough but nothing worth shouting about.

    Despite the lengthy wait for dessert I was impressed with Le Monde and would willingly go back.  Expect to pay about £35 for three courses, minus drinks, which means it’s not an everyday dining experience, but would definitely be the kind of place I’d happily go for a bit of a treat.

    http://www.le-mondebirmingham.co.uk/

    Events, News

    Conjurer’s Kitchen Halloween Cake Class

    Screen shot 2014-09-01 at 23.30.12If there was any kind of cake class you should be biting someone’s hand off to get to, it’s surely got to be one of Conjurer’s Kitchen‘s.  In fact I didn’t even realise they did them, but after stumbling across Annabel’s bloody anatomical heart cupcake a few years back I’ve been a fan of her work…and now you can make them yourselves!

    Conjurer’s Kitchen is running a Halloween themed cake class on, well, Halloween afternoon, of course.  For the devilish price of £66.60 (it had to be really) you’ll learn to make the bloody anatomical heart cake, all kept neatly in a blood stained box.  In fact you’ll go home with 4 to 6 of them – and a ‘Bloodbath’ cocktail in a test tube to take home too.

    The class is taking place at La Banca on the Pershore Rd.  For more details and I’m guessing to book a place, contact 07890 480 952, info@conjurerskitchen.com or visit the website for more details – http://www.conjurerskitchen.com/blog/halloween-cake-class

    Restaurant reviews, Reviews

    EastzEast Birmingham

    Birmingham is synonymous with curry, so opening an Indian restaurant in the heart of the city was always going to be a brave thing to do.  But with successful restaurants in Manchester and Liverpool and plenty of awards under their belt, EastZEast opened on Broad St early last month.

    With around 200 covers, it’s a large restaurant but the contemporary interior is nicely balanced so it feels welcoming yet still has a sense of occasion.  The menu is also impressive; billed as ‘the home of punjabi cooking’ there are a lot of familiar dishes on the menu but there is also a section of traditional Punjabi Desi dishes which are perhaps less familiar.

    We started with an array of appetisers.  The EastzEast Mixed Starter for two includes lamb chops, fish tikka, seekh kebabs, chicken wings, and samosas.  It’s a lot of food, but each item feels like it’s been carefully thought through and the spices and flavours for each item give it a lovely, individual taste.  The fish, cod, was light and still retained moisture, but the spices gave it a lovely taste and whilst lamb chops might seem like an strange addition, it oddly worked.  I also tried the Vegetable Mixed Starter with aloo tikka, mushroom pakora, paneer pakora, mixed vegetable pakora and aloo pakora.  It sounds like a lot of pakora (aka fried food), but again it felt like each was give careful attention to detail.  I had a lovely slice of aubergine, which had been fried but retained its flavour without being greasy.  The paneer was chunky, yet utterly delicious.

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    I love bread, so the arrival of a table/family naan was welcomed.  As table naan should be it was an impressive sight and though they can sometimes be a bit disappointingly dry, this wasn’t.  We also tried some of the smaller flavoured naan, which are well worth getting if you don’t want to share your bread.

    As I mentioned before, there are a number of main courses, some familiar and some not.  We tried a lovely Biryani, which had a lovely lightness to it, rather than a heavy stodgy which some can befall.  A particular favourite dish was the Keema Aloo Mutter, a minced rice, potato and peas; medium spiced which gave it a good flavour without overpowering the individual ingredients, this was one I’d be happy to eat again.  Our table was too full so I didn’t write down the names but we also tried some seafood dishes that usually I’d steer clear of in curry-houses, but these were delightful.

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    Sadly I had to leave at this point so I didn’t get to try and of the desserts, but if the starters and mains were anything to go by they’d be well worth trying.  EastzEast has an impressive menu, which offers a great variety that is all well executed.  It also caters well for vegetarians and points out the dishes that contain cream as well as more healthy options.  Whilst the Balti Belt might be the go-to for a casual curry in Brum, EastZEast is well worth checking out in you’re in the city centre and looking for something authentic, that suits a variety of tastes.

    http://eastzeast.com/

    Disclosure: I was invited down by Delicious PR to help eat the props after a promotional photo-shoot.  I wasn’t obliged to write a positive review, all views are my own.  Photos by Jas Sansi – https://www.facebook.com/jassansi.

    Musings

    August round up

    August was a busy month.  Not only have I gotten into a habit of blogging more, I’ve managed a trip to Plymouth and London and had a week off.  Since restarting the blog back in June, I’ve really been enjoying exploring and writing about the exciting food and drink experiences I’ve found in the city and I’ve had some really lovely feedback – so thanks to everyone who is reading these posts!

     

    Recipesblondies

    Just the one recipe last month, but it was a good ‘un!  I’ve made these white chocolate brownies, or blondes as they’re sometimes know, for years and they’re always popular…so I thought it was about time I shared the recipe.

    News

    Initially when I started Full to the Brum I posted an incredible amount of news items, but it was exhausting and made me realise I didn’t want to be one of those sites that just blindly posted news.  However this month there were a couple of things that caught my eye; an article by Jon Hickman on coffee tax and Birmingham (in which I’m quoted) and also two new bars coming to the city which I’m genuinely quite excited about.

    Reviews

    IMG_3991.JPGWowser, there’s been a pile of these.  With three product reviews on: Propercorn popcorn, which I found in the supermarket’s lunchtime meal deal option; a local artisan marshmallow producer, So Mallow; and Hotel Chocolat’s Mojito chocolates, its accidentally been a month of snacks!

    The most reviews, however, have been on food pop-ups and restaurants…it feels like this month I’ve managed to eat out a lot!  They range from pop-ups and streetfood from the likes of Two Cats Roaming Kitchen’s August pop up to the Film Food’s Harold & Maude (as part of Shock & Gore), Brum Yum Yum’s monthly street food fair in Kings Heath, and a vegan raw food night at the Warehouse Cafe.  I also managed to get in a review of Sushi Passion in the Great Western Arcade and a post about some of the delights Shirley High St has to offer.

    Coming Up

    I’ve got a few posts in the pipeline, including a couple of food places on Broad St – punjabi dining at EastzEast and also Revolution, as well as home delivery service Moms Home Cooking, the Lebanese stall (Dip) in the Bullring, a recipe for a tasty vegan dish… and plenty more!

    Restaurant reviews, Reviews

    Review: Sushi Passion Birmingham

    The countdown to the opening of Sushi Passion in Birmingham was like an advent calendar with most of my friends.  Either through rumour, recommendation or just sheer excitement, we’ve all been a bit excited about this place opening..with constant updates since the sign when on the door.

    Mere days after it opened (I’m delayed in blogging, sorry) some friends and I went to see what the Great Western Arcade’s newest resident had to offer.  Unlike its bustling, but tiny, sister venue in the Indoor Market, there’s something delightfully serene about this place.  With enough to sit around 35 people there’s a mix of traditional Japanese-style lower seating, standard table-and-chairs and also seats at the bar.  We were sat at the bar which was a good view of the restaurant, the chefs and the slightly ominous mannequin in full samurai get-up…and the train; love a good train in a restaurant, which also proved to be useful in delivering miso soup.

    There’s a nice range of sushi, both in variety and prices, and enough description that if you’re not a connoisseur you’ll still be able to order – thankfully!  Two of us went for a couple of the meal deals, priced at about £14 and £20 approximately, which I foolishly forgot to write down what they were…so here’s a photo of it instead:

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    The presentation was simple but effective and we’d managed to order enough food between the two of us for about three people.  But it can’t just be us who are never really sure how much sushi you can manage in one sitting.  And it was very enjoyable.  I’d like to pretend that I know more about sushi other than it’s tasty, but really I’m still learning.  And with Sushi Passion round the corner from work, I can see this being a thorough lesson indeed.

    Sushi Passion’s Facebook page

    Pop-up and Event reviews, Reviews

    A vegan raw food experience

    It’s good to get out of your comfort zone right?  I’ve inadvertently eaten vegan dishes a few times, what with the whole not getting on so well with dairy, but raw food is a new experience.  So when an evening of vegan raw food in conjunction with Jay Halford of J’s Organic was listed on Warehouse Cafe’s facebook, I thought it was worth a try.  And somehow I convinced a group of friends decided to accompany me.

    In one of those ways Alanis Morrisette would sing about, I’d managed to eat a full English breakfast and some pork scratchings earlier in the day (which isn’t exactly the norm for me) – something was telling me my stomach was not as curious about this vegan raw food thing as my brain!  But after a cocktail for courage at Le Truc, we moseyed on to the Warehouse Cafe to try something new.

    On arrival it was nice to see a sort of group dynamic with the tables being in a giant horseshoe formation and a good mix of people.  There’s always that stereotype of vegan raw foodists being a bit “right on”, so it was nice to see this wasn’t the case.

    Once everyone was seated we were presented with a drink – a raspberry lemonade, of sorts, the lemon giving a natural fizz and some sort of superfood that I didn’t quite catch the name of (and probably best, I’m deeply suspicious of things called ‘superfoods’).  Tart but tasty, this was an excellent aperitif.

    The first course was a beetroot gazpacho with a sort of hazelnut cracker– a lovely summery soup with a cracker that had a nice zing to it.  The sort of thing you’d eat somewhere and not really think about it being vegan.

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    Main course was the pun-entitled chia non carne, a chia seed mixture, with parsnip rice.  I’ve heard a lot about chia seeds, but mainly adding them into smoothies rather than the star of a dish, and I found the texture of the chilli to jelly-like, which was a bit off-putting.  The parsnip rice however was delicious – somehow buttery and something that I’d happily eat again, ditto the parsnip crisps as garnish.  But this was the course which divided opinion the most – there were meals barely touched and others mopping up seconds.

    The final course, the dessert, was a show stopper.  A sort of millionaire shortbread/cheesecake with a chocolate mousse this was the kind of thing that could convince any carnivore of the merits of raw-food veganism. I wasn’t a massive fan of the banana chocolate mousse, which was a little too bitter for my liking and felt like it could’t done with some sugar, but the cheesecake was delightful.

    This was certainly a more unusual food experience than in usually found in Birmingham. It opened up the possibilities of what vegan raw food can be; a familiar dish you wouldn’t know was such, a no nonsense vegan raw food main and a dessert that showed that the movement can mimic well-loved food surprisingly well.  I’m not sure I’d be in a rush to indulge in vegan raw food all the time, but the night certainly opened my eyes to the possibility of some tasty food minus the meat and heat.

    http://www.thewarehousecafe.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/JsOrganic11

    Pub and Drinks News

    Two new bars for Birmingham – Bar Opus and Botanist

    Bars are like buses, it seems.  You don’t have a new one open for a while and then two come at once – or at least before the year’s end.

    The Opus family will be welcoming their third venue at the foot of One Snowhill.  Opening in November, Bar Opus will be open for breakfast and lunch, but it’s the after-work concept which is where the bar will really come into its own.  Drawing inspiration from Barcelona and Copenhagen, the team have created a concept which sees their chefs creating a selection of sharing plates in an open kitchen.

    Centred in the heart of the Business District and with a pedigree which is already well respected in the city, Bar Opus is likely to be an excellent addition to the city.

    http://www.twitter.com/BarOpus

    The Botanist has also slowly been making some noise, albeit very quietly.  Eagle-eyed Brummies will have noticed the licensing application that went up on Cheltenham House, Temple St a couple of months ago.  The application belongs to Northern-based New World Trading Company, who are said to be bringing their popular brand to the city; with the Botanist concept already proving popular in Leeds and similar venues in Manchester.  Julian Rose-Gibbs, previous general manager of The Victoria, is set to be involved…a pairing which is sure to see it succeed in the city.

    http://thebotanist.uk.com/