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Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

    Cafe reviews, Pop-up and Event reviews, Reviews

    Turkey Dinosaurs at Edwardian Tea Rooms, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

    I was talking yesterday with fellow blogger friends about what would be your most ‘off brand’ thing you love.  And I was stumped, because I don’t really have off-brand; I’ve blogged about fast food chains and frankly lying means having to remember what fibs you’ve told and I can’t be doing with that mental gymnastics.  Essentially I have one rule: it has to be food and/or drink related and be in Birmingham…ish.  I’ll accept Sandwell, Coventry and the West Midlands at a push, but it’s also why I’ve not blogged about my Melbourne burger adventures.

    So it’s entirely on ‘brand on’ me to tell you that not only did I have turkey dinosaurs for lunch today. Actually, let me be entirely honest with you: turkey dinosaurs are my comfort food.  I have them when I’m feeling a bit sad and I just need a bit of child-like joy in my life; I had them once for Christmas dinner when my mum was flying out to see my sister and my housemate was a vegetarian.  They’re not fancy, they’re probably not very nutritious and they’re never going to end up on a Michelin-starred meal [the fools], but I like them.  Because sometimes what is good and what you like don’t have to be the same thing, and for me turkey dinosaurs are the latter.  So hunting down and ordering turkey dinosaurs from the kids menu was something I did without one ounce of embarrassment. In fact, I had them as part of a two course ‘Dippy children’s menu’.

    Turkey dinosaurs are not normally on the menu at the Edwardian Tea Rooms, as part of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, which is bitterly disappointing to me because I would go there for lunch more often if they were.  But they’re on a Dippy the dinosaur themed menu whilst the old lad is on an adventure having escaped the Natural History Museum.  I love a good menu tie-in, and I wasn’t going to let it being a kids menu stand in my way.  Turns out that the staff at the Edwardian Tea Rooms were completely unfazed by my ordering this for myself, which makes me think that maybe I’m not the first person over the age of eight to have done this.

    So, two turkey dinosaurs (they tasted very much like the Bernard Matthew’s variety, of which I have consumed a fair number), chips and peas.  And the turkey dinosaurs were as turkey dinosaurs always are, exactly the right amount of comfort food and two-fingers at a certain ‘Naked Chef’ (who I have not forgiven for the whole turkey twizzlers thing).  But lets talk about the chips. My god they were good.  Like proper classic chips with jagged edges that were crisp and golden in grease, without creating some sort of oily swimming pool for the dinos.  They were proper chips and there are not nearly enough of their kind in the city.

    The hot chocolate volcano with ice cream did not look particularly pretty, but it was gooey and chocolatey without being overly sickly. I was happy, my mum (who had appeared at this point) also helped me eat it.

    And whilst it was a kids portion it was surprisingly filling, especially as it was two courses – you could request the second one at your leisure, and it all came to about the same price of an overly fancy salad from one of those places that sell overly fancy salads.  And it was entirely more enjoyable that an overly fancy salad. To the point that my mother had wished she joined me for lunch than eating said salad.

    The Natural History Museum’s famous Dippy the Diplodocus is in Birmingham from 26th May – 9th September.  He’s going on tour to eight locations outside of his normal home, with the aim of 1.5 million people across the UK seeing Dippy in person.  Tickets are free, but you’re encouraged to book.  The Dippy children’s menu is available in the Edwardian Tea Room and they don’t care if you order it and are no longer considered a child.  If you fancy something a bit more grown up, they’re doing Dine with Dippy venue hire (you’ve missed the shared dinners), but I possess neither the attire nor desire to dress up fancy.

    And I leave you with the skeleton of a velociraptor, because they’ve been my favourite ever since I saw the first Jurassic Park (and yes I know they’re the wrong size in those films). And a request – go eat something you enjoy, not because someone told you it was technically ‘good’…

    Afternoon tea, Reviews

    Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery tour and afternoon tea

    tea_scones_BMAGWe’ll get to the food bit of this blog post post in a minute, but can we just stop to talk about how awesome the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is please?

    130 years old this month, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is free entry and has a great big statue of Lucifer who greets you as you enter – I’m not sure if it’s a nod to Birmingham’s rich history of non-conformists and free thinkers, but I like to think so.  ‘Built by the people of Birmingham for the people of Birmingham’ its been a place I’ve been going to since I was a child, and even helped me win an argument about Star Wars with my school art teacher.

    17_century_art_BMAG

    Baroque and Birmingham People exhibitions

    So despite being a semi-regular guest, when an invite landed in my inbox to be shown around some of the recently opened exhibitions, along with afternoon tea, I jumped at the chance.  I’ve already been to the Edwardian Tearooms since they had their major facelift, for bacon sandwiches and horror films (as you do), so a Saturday morning of culture and cake sounded pretty good to me.

    We were first shown around the new 17th century Baroque exhibition, showcasing some of Birmingham Museums Trust’s highlights and rarely seen pieces.  They’d sort of split the display into Italian and Spanish, and northern European pieces.  Despite watching a lot of historical dramas recently, I’m not nearly as up on my history as I’d like, but the backdrop of religious and social change in the era was reflected well in the collection – plus there were some pretty fun hands-on pieces to bring the exhibition to life.

    hall_of_memory_birmingham_BMAG

    The second collection we saw was the Birmingham People exhibition, which I adored – social history was kind of a favourite of mine at school and this array of 20th and 21st century art had a real people focus.  There was everything from video footage of people walking down the Pallasades ramp and photographs at the market, to paintings of the Birmingham Superprix motor race and sculpture.  It was a lovely celebration of Birmingham and next time a national journalist complains about the city, I say we lock them in there for 24 hours.

    Afternoon Tea

    So anyway, after walking around several exhibitions and getting a bit lost (which is customary when visiting BMAG), we sat down to afternoon tea.  I’ve been a big fan of the refurb of the Edwardian Tearooms; it sort of somehow manages to be a fresh modern take on a classic tea room – and the circular green seating in the middle of the room just calls out to be included in a spy drama.  I love a good coffee shop, but the lack of tea rooms in the city centre sort of disappoints me – more places for tea and cake please, Birmingham city centre.

    tray_of_sandwiches_BMAGFirst out came a tray of sandwiches, with plenty of different fillings.  I think it’s pretty hard to get excited over afternoon tea sandwiches generally but these were perfectly pleasant, and the variety of fillings meant there was something to suit everyone – they’d even managed to do a vegan version for one of the girls.

    The scones were up next and these were great – I’m pretty sure I had two and managed to take one home too.  I’m amazed at the number of places who seem not to be able to do scones well; so crumbly they disintegrate or so dense they’re like bricks.  These had just the right density and are enough to lure me back in for a cream tea very soon.  The Edwardian Tearooms afternoon tea is pretty traditional, so the final round of cakes were mini-sponges.  Personally I’d have like to have seen something a little different, as I think four varieties of sponge cake is a little dense after sandwiches and scones.
    tray_of_cake_BMAGSo in summary, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is great, and the Edwardian Tearooms are definitely worth a visit, whilst you’re there.  BMAG has a new exhibition, Enchanted Dreams, the first exhibition ever dedicated exhibition of the works of pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Robert Hughes, which is drawing together artworks from public and private collections and sounds like it’ll be worth the small admission charge.

    http://www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/

    Disclosure: I was invited down to a blogger event at BMAG and given complimentary afternoon tea. I’ve been plenty of times before and paid for my own cake. Go check out the green spy seats too.

    Events, News, Pub and Drinks News

    Birmingham Cocktail Weekend announces line up

    Image 1. Main

    Need an excuse to spend a weekend drinking cocktails? Of course you don’t, but here’s one anyway!  The inaugural Birmingham Cocktail Weekend is taking place from 10 – 12th July, with over 20 venues in the city taking place and a raft of events on the schedule too.

    The idea is you buy a wristband, which then allows you to buy signature cocktails at a number of venues for £4 each.  There are also a number of events taking place during the weekend which wristband holders will get access to – including a number of drinks tastings, discounted masterclasses and free tastings.

    Venues taking part include: The Lost and Found, Gas Street Social, The Jekyll and Hyde,The Rose Villa Tavern, Malmaison, Pentahotel, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Bodega, Chung Ying Central, Marmalade, The Vaults, Cosy Club, The Eight Foot Grocer, The Victoria, The New Inn Harborne, Quarter Horse Coffee, The Bureau, Aluna, Bar Epernay, Pennyblacks, The Gentleman and Scholar, Island Bar and The Chameleon Bar & Restaurant.

    There are also a number of events; Hendricks gin tasting at The Jekyll and Hyde, Jim Beam bourbon masterclass at The Bureau, Burleigh’ s gin Afternoon Tea Experience at The Edgbaston, discounted whisky masterclasses at Hard to Find Whisky, Secret BLOOM GIN Garden behind the bookcase at The Lost and Found, Build your own “Brummy” Mary at Bar Opus, Grey Goose Sunday Lunch at The New Inn, Sunday Cocktail KitchInn at the Staying Cool Penthouse and free tastings from Tia Maria, Grey Goose, Bacardi and Disaronno.

    Alex Nicholson-Evans, founder of Birmingham Cocktail Weekend, explains “This is the perfect excuse to explore some of the new venues in the city, visit old favourites and adventure to places you haven’ t been before. The free sampling sessions and the masterclasses are a great chance to get to know the spirits behind some of your favourite cocktails too. For cocktail lovers – this weekend is an absolute must.”

    Birmingham Cocktail Weekend wristbands are £6 and available from; www.birminghamcocktailweekend.co.uk