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    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.

    16  02

    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.

    27  29

    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:

    IMG_3818.JPG

    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.

    IMG_3991.JPG

    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/

    Product reviews, Reviews

    Review: Hotel Chocolat Mojito chocolates*

    I imagine the planning session for these chocolates went something like this: “everyone likes after dinner mint chocolates right?  And rum truffles go down a blinder.  What if…what if we combined them?!  But we can’t just call them minty rum truffles, how about adding some citrus and calling them Mojito chocolates?!”

    Sorry if that sounded glib, but it’s the only way I can think the idea of Hotel Chocolat Mojito chocolates would come into existence.  Because Mojtos are a quintessential summer drink; cooling mint, refreshing lime, soda and white rum clear as the summer skies, with a hint of sugar for celebration.  But chocolate, chocolate to me is more a comforting indulgence good with hot coffee and cold winter nights.

    To give Hotel Chocolat their credit, these chocolates do look lovely, I’ll give them that.  But taste wise, this is where things go a bit off course.  The initial flavour is that of a sort of lime cordial taste which is quickly overpowered by rum.  There’s a lot of rum in these chocolates, 9% is a good glug by anyone’s standards, and if you like really boozy chocolate then you’ll like these.  If not, once the heat from the rum burns away there’s a rather pleasant taste to them, you just have to really stick with it.

    Hotel Chocolat’s Mojito chocolates are for sale at their website, but from the looks of the reviews over there, others found the overpowering rum an issue too.  To me, these are more of a novelty item than anything else, which is a little disappointing.  I’ve had some lovely Hotel Chocolat chocolates before, but sadly these just aren’t for me.

    mojitochocolate

    Disclosure: These were given to me at a bloggers event, although they’re probably wishing they hadn’t now, sorry.

    Cafe reviews, Restaurant reviews, Reviews

    Shirley High St

    It feels a bit lazy writing this all as one blogpost, but having only really dipped my toes into the delights Shirley has to offer it feels right.  For years Shirley High St has been a bit, well, rubbish.  I remember trips to the Bank of Ireland as a child as my mum once inexplicably held an account there, waiting in the car because there was simply nothing else to do.  Fast-forward a few years and other than venturing to the rather delightful Crust, a pizzeria which is really worth a trip, I hadn’t bothered with the high st for years.  But the Parkgate development seems to have brought a new lease of life to Shirley, and in the last month or so, I’ve visited twice for lunch.

    photo 3On my first visit it was lunch at Desco Lounge, part of the Loungers group, which also has venues in Kings Heath and Harborne.  Despite having one on my doorstep, I don’t really visit a lot, but my mum wanted to go for lunch and as she was paying I wasn’t arguing.  The Loungers venues in Brum have this whole faux-shabby-chic thing going for them, but the high ceilings at Desco give it more grandeur.  I went for their Jambalaya, which was a little disappointing.  The chorizo was, at points, tougher than I’d like and the inclusion of the chicken on top of the rice mixture meant it lacked flavour.  The jamba itself was very spicy, a little too spicy for me, but still pretty tasty.  My mum went for a Goat’s Cheese salad, which she said was one of the best she’d had in a long time.

    photo 5After some errands we stopped for coffee.  Shirley has an assortment of chain coffee shops and my health conscious mother had vetoed the idea of trying Shake, Waffle & Roll, but did point out her new favourite place to stop for coffee – a furniture charity shop.  No, seriously.  Betel has a restored furniture shop on the high st which has some lovely pieces…and also a charming little coffee shop.  I asked for a soya milk latte, which given the size of the shop I wasn’t convinced they’d have, and they couldn’t be more accommodating.  Also, a Christmas mug…these people know their customers well (I LOVE Christmas).  The foam on the latte was luxurious and the coffee delicious. Top marks.  I’m looking forward to going back and trying some of their cakes, many of which cater for food intolerances.

    photo 4

    Our second visit saw us at Pizza Express.  We both went for the Warm Vegetable and Goats Cheese Salad, only I had mine minus the goat’s cheese and with chicken.  With aubergine, red & yellow peppers, roasted tomatoes, artichoke, cucumber, Italian lentils, mint and basil this was another of those salads-I-don’t-hate; full of flavour and texture, with plenty of veg and just a little bit of lettuce – very enjoyable.

    Just like my mum and her banking, Shirley high st has moved with the times.  There are some interesting places to eat and it’s developing a nice buzz.

    Well done Shirley, I’ll be back soon.