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Bitters n Twisted

    Pub grub, Reviews

    Rose Villa Tavern new(ish) menu

    chicken_wings_rose_villa_tavernIf I was the sort of person that felt ashamed about the food they liked, then fried chicken wings would be a total guilty pleasure.  But life is too short to feel embarrassed about the food that makes you happy.  And chicken wings, with their crispy batter encasing juicy meat, with no airs and graces but to get in and use your hands, are a simple, but delicious pleasure.  The Rose Villa Tavern in the Jewellery Quarter has been gaining a bit of a reputation for their chicken wings for a while now, so when they mentioned a new menu was brewing and specifically mentioned those chicken wings, I knew it was about time to revisit the place.

    Their new food menu has built on the Americana vibe that they’ve been rocking for a while.  Sure it’s a bit weird that this glorious Victorian Grade II listed building has a menu which would be more at home in a town in Texas, but somehow sat in the sunlight streaming in from those glorious glass windows it sort of works.  There are some dishes that you’d expect on such a menu; burgers, hot dogs, classic American sandwiches, nachos and fries, as well as a few dishes that you don’t see quite so much.

    chilli_cheese_fries

    Anyway, those wings.  The Rose Villa Tavern’s crunchy fried chicken wings are definitely what they promised.  They can be ordered in batches of six, twelve or eighteen with a number of sauces.  Personally though, I like my fried wings to have enough flavour to cope without the need for sauce and these lived up to that.  If you’re feeling generous, the wings (which feature as part of the small plates), would make a good accompaniment to some of the sharer options, like the chilli cheese fries which come loaded with chilli (meat or three bean), melted cheese, onion and American mustard.  Personally though, I’d just order some all to myself.

    bacon_cheeseburger_rose_villa_tavernOf course burgers feature heavily on the Rose Villa Tavern’s new menu, with eight different varieties and the option to add bacon, friend onion and/or cheese and to switch regular to sweet potato fries.  There is a classic House burger, a chicken burger, and a vegetarian burger which comes with friend minted halloumi.  But the menu also includes a Bacon Cheese which includes American cheese, candied bacon and love…take of that what you will.  The Codfather burger is a beer-battered fried cod fillet which makes a nice alternative to a fish finger sandwich (although I bloody love fish finger sandwiches).  The American Meat burger comes with a beef patty and beef brisket, which always struck me as a lot of food but I guess that’s sort of the point.

    blackened_chicken_cobb_salad

    If burgers, hot dogs and the like aren’t your thing then the new menu has expanded out the lunch offerings with sandwiches and salads too.  Salad wise it’s mainly the Cobb salad which can have blackened chicken, cod or halloumi added to it to make a more substantial meal.  Frankly ordering salad whilst dining out always felt to me like a strange thing to do but the blue cheese, crispy bacon and avocado make it more indulgent – and the blackened chicken was nicely cooked on the one I tried.  There’s also a grilled avocado, chorizo and warm cherry tomato salad which sounds nice, if you like that sort of thing.

    hipster_vegan_pasta

    Whilst the menu is chockfull of meat, there are some surprises on the menu too – namely the Hipster Pasta Option, which is a vegan twist on a carbonara.  It uses pureed cauliflower and almond milk which isn’t quite rich enough to recreate cream and felt a bit powdery to me, but it is a decent effort at creating a vegan option on a pub menu.  It’s interesting to see that catering for vegans is becoming something of a thing on pub menus these days, which is never a bad thing.

    It’s also worth mentioning the house specials which include pulled brisket cannelloni, ribs, gammon and crab cakes, as well at meatloaf.  Maybe it’s just me, but years of watching American TV shows has made me wary of meatloaf, but the one we tried wasn’t nearly as dense and impenetrable as I’d been led to believe and had a nice flavour alongside the white gravy, mashed potatoes and green beans.

    I wasn’t really sure what to expect beforehand, given American diner menus have been popping up all over the city, which seems like a bit of an excuse to make a menu full of burgers, fries and hot dogs.  Sure the Rose Villa Tavern’s menu includes these, but there are also some nods to other traditional American dishes which give it a much more rounded menu.  And those wings…it’s worth going back for them alone.

    http://www.therosevillatavern.co.uk/

    Disclosure: I was invited along to a complimentary menu tasting, although admittedly this was a while ago.  There was no obligation to blog about it and certainly none to say nice things, but when I’ve dragged myself to the JQ and brought my camera, it would seem a shame not to post something.

    Breakfast and brunch, Pop-up and Event reviews, Reviews

    Sunday Brunch at The Victoria

    Whilst the rest of you were tucking into chocolate for breakfast on Easter Sunday, I headed off to The Victoria on John Bright Street for their inaugural Sunday Brunch.

    Not the most obvious place for brunch, I’ll give you that, but the team at The Victoria decided to try something a little different for the Bank Holiday.  And being a whisky bar and a long weekend, it seemed only fitting to go for something which married the two.  Now whilst I’m not unfamiliar with the concept of ‘breakfast whisky’ I did wonder how this might work as, even for me, whisky is a bit much first thing.  But work it did, and surprisingly well.

    Pancakes bacon and poached eggs on rosti copy

    Initially, the offering looked like a pretty standard range of breakfast / brunch dishes, including American-style pancakes, eggs Benedict and a breakfast sandwich.  But The Victoria’s chef had put his own whisky-infused twist on them with Jack Daniels syrup for the pancakes, a whiskey hollandaise for the eggs and spicy BBQ beans for the sides.

    The overall experience was a nice bourbon flavour without being too overpowering.  The Eggs Tennessee were a nice twist on Eggs Benedict, with two poached eggs on a potato rosti.  The eggs were well cooked and the whiskey hollandaise had a lovely balance of richness from the egg and butter with the whiskey flavour cutting through.

    A special mention needs to go to the pancakes which were probably some of the best I’ve tried in the city; light and fluffy with a slightly crisp outside, they were delicious and it’s a wonder the Vic doesn’t do them more often.  The JD syrup was a nice alternative to maple or golden syrup but they would have been great with either of these too.

    eggs tennessee copy

    Of course for those who wanted something a little more celebratory, they were also doing a beef jerky infused Jack Daniels Bloody Mary.  Though I’m not enough of a fan of tomato juice to try more than a sip, the spice mix and bourbon would’ve been enough to clear the cobwebs of any hangover, I’m sure.  More to my taste was the Citrus Cooler, which was made of muddled citrus fruit and sugar syrup topped with soda, for a lovely refreshing drink with just the right amount of tartness to it.

    Whilst I was initially a little sceptical of brunch at The Victoria, each of the dishes I tried exceeded my expectations.  The whiskey theme was interesting and did bring something new, but what struck me most was that for a venue I don’t necessarily associate with daytime they really pulled off a relaxed but tasty brunch.

    After the success of the first brunch at The Victoria, they will be bringing it back as a regular (standard non-whiskey) Sunday Brunch on the last Sunday of the month – which means your next chance to give the pancakes a try is on Sunday 26 April.  There are also rumours they might do them for the Bank Holiday weekend, but probably worth keeping an eye out for more info on this.

    http://www.thevictoriabirmingham.co.uk/

    pancakes row of breakfast copy

    Disclosure: I was invited as a guest of The Victoria to try their Sunday Brunch, which meant I had to get up early on a Sunday which is one of my least favourite things so that tells you how good those pancakes were.  Whilst the food was complimentary it didn’t mean I was required to be and as usual all reviews remain honest and my own.

    Guest Posts, Restaurant reviews, Reviews

    Bodega Birmingham

    At work this week we’ve had Isla in doing work experience.  She’s been a real help and has managed to cope with a pretty busy week.  To celebrate the end of what I thought was a great week (hopefully she did too), Isla and I went to Bodega Birmingham for lunch.  As Isla likes writing I thought it might be nice to let her guest post on the blog as an additional tick on the ‘IT skills’ box.  Over to Isla…IMG_2005.JPG

    As someone whose knowledge of Birmingham is even patchier than my knowledge of the working world, I was fairly surprised to find Bodega’s orange sign tucked away on a side street. For those (like me) who don’t know, Bodega is a South American style cantina, with big prints on the wall and a cocktail bar complete with a merry cluster of bottles. It was pretty quiet at 12:30, but as the meal went on the places filled up, giving Bodega a friendly, albeit slightly cramped, Friday lunch buzz.

    We started with the non-alcoholic cocktails; Laura had the Elderflower Fizz which she described as nice, but sweeter than she’d been expecting while I tried out Bodega’s Lemongrass and Ginger Tang, which was reminiscent of still ginger beer with a refreshing lemony twist. Perhaps the bottom was a little over syrupy, but I raced through my glass before the mains had hit the table, which I reckon is a great success.

    Laura and I both went for dishes off the ‘Street Food’ section of the menu. My Roasted Sweetcorn, Pepper and Tomato Quesadilla was small but mighty. The tortilla crunch offset the gooey cheese centre well, and the vegetables gave it a lovely lift. Delicious, although there’s a reason it didn’t make it on to the light bite section of the menu, as the cheese filling is the main component and is as heavy and comforting as they come. Laura said her burrito was nice and had lots of flavour, the meat in particular, but the second half was a little soggy by the time she went to eat it.

    When in Rome, do as the Romans do. As Bodega is a South American cantina, it seemed criminal not to try out their Churros for desert. Cinnamonny, chewy and again, immeasurably comforting, my Churros disappeared at an alarming rate of knots (along with my entire pot of toffee sauce – much to my amazement).

    As Friday afternoons go, stopping for lunch at Bodega Birmingham is a great way to have a break, whether or not you’re lucky enough to be under the wing of a lovely food blogger. The service was fast and friendly, the atmosphere upbeat and the food sunny and satisfying.

    by Isla Chaplin

    http://bodegacantina.co.uk/

    Round ups

    February round up

    Whoa is February really over already? I know it’s the shortest month and all, but still, it seemed to speed by.  That probably had a lot to do with February being my Birthday month, where I was lucky enough to make it to a Michelin star restaurant, as well as pancakes, dinner, drinks and dancing with my friends.

    valentine_bokeh_heart_shaped_light_background_267057For anyone unlucky enough not to be born in the best month ever, there was of course Valentine’s Day.  I spent the actual day eating Chinese food and going to the cinema with friends, but I did indulge in writing a few posts about the big day.  As a new blogger for Grand Central Birmingham (aka new New St) I wrote a round up of some of the fantastic places to celebrate the Day of Love (link is dead), but it was posted before I could mention about the Valentine’s preview meal at Bun & Bowl I tried.  And for something a little more low-key I also wrote a quick post about a deliciously indulgent breakfast.

    IMG_1455.JPGTalking of celebrations, did you know there’s an Australia Day?  I didn’t until I got invited to go eat kangaroo burgers to celebrate the occasion.  And whilst we’re on the topic of learning new things, I managed to tie utilitarianism into all-you-can-eat buffets too.

    Following on from all the new openings I mentioned in January, February saw some teasers from Bitters n Twisted’s latest offering, Marmalade, before it opened properly towards the end of the month.  There was also a feel-good story from one of the city’s best steakhouses and a top ten list which caused some controversy.  And whilst it might be firmly winter now, the news a new food festival is coming to the city was enough to put a spring in anyone’s step.

    March is already looking like a busy one too.  I’ve already been to one of Carole, aka No Ping No Bling‘s supper clubs which I’ll be writing up, and about her 50 Food Heroes.  There’s also post about trips to Lasan, Chung Ying Central and Epi, some more product reviews and whatever other food adventures I can get involved with!

    Food and Restaurant News, News

    A taste of Marmalade Birmingham

    Marmalade, Bitters ‘n Twisted newest venue, has released some photos of what diners can expect when they open later today in the Birmingham Rep Theatre.

    The photos, taken by Jack Spicer Adams, include: Baharat Chicken Thighs, Lentil Dahl, Garlic Leaves, Saffron Aioli; Bosworth Ash Goat’s Cheese & Watercress Pancakes, Apple Chutney; Carpaccio of Venison, Parsnip & Walnut Salad with a Bloody Mary Dressing; Chocolate Brownie Sundae, Chocolate Sauce, Whipped Marshmallow and Orange; and Roast Aubergine, Lentil, Feta, Basil leaves, Chick Peas, Croutons, Curry Oil, Raisins, Shiitake Mushroom Salad.  Check out the menu here.

    For those early birds looking for a bargain, Marmalade are offering on a first come, first served basis 50% off food and drink prices for people who book online to dine between Friday 6th to Wednesday 11th February 2015 – and I hear there are still a few spaces left.

    http://marmaladebirmingham.co.uk/

    Food and Restaurant News, News

    Marmalade Birmingham – first look (kinda)

    In my previous Coming Soon to Birmingham post I mentioned Marmalade, but that was back when it was nothing more than a holding page on a website.  Now there’s a press release and some artist’s impressions and I have to say they look pretty good!

    Overlooking Centenary Square, Marmalade is a joint venture between the Birmingham Rep and Bitters ‘n Twisted.  With eclectic furnishings and handpicked quality wines, local ales, craft bottled beers and a range of cocktails it’s certainly keeping some of the elements we’ve come to know and love from BnT venues in a slightly different environment to what we’re used to seeing them do.  Food offerings include two and three course pre-theatre menus (£15.95 and £19.95 respectively) as well as light lunches and bar snacks.

    I’m looking forward to seeing what will come of this new venture, but Trina Jones, general manager at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, sums it up pretty well: “Our partnership with Bitters ‘n’ Twisted heralds an exciting time for us.  We’ve worked closely with Matt Scriven and his team to create a catering offer that will appeal to all of our customers, whether it’s a couple wanting to sit down for a meal pre-show or professionals who want a coffee over a meeting or those simply wanting to enjoy a drink after work.

    “Many of our customers want for a more relaxed catering offer at the theatre that offers the choice of either a set-course menu or a light snack so this sees us taking another step in significantly enhancing our customer experience.  It was essential for us that Marmalade is seen as a place for everyone interested in good food and not only a restaurant for theatre goers.”

    Scheduled to open in February 2015, Marmalade have teased us with some artist impressions of how the venue will look…

    They’re on most of the major social media platforms if you want to get following: marmaladebirmingham.co.uk, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

    Food and Restaurant News, News, Pub and Drinks News

    5 new openings for the city centre?

    comingtobrum

    2015, it’s the beginning of a new year and already I’ve been hearing some pretty substantial rumours about a raft of openings in the city.  It seems a shame to keep them to myself, so here are some of the stronger rumours I’ve heard – and where possible, links to more info!

    Bitters n Twisted’s 7th Birmingham venue

    Birmingham bar and restaurant group Bitters n Twisted are set to open their seventh Birmingham based venue next month with Marmalade, a bistro bar in the Birmingham Rep Theatre on Broad St. Their website is more of a holding page at the moment, but there is an example pre-theatre menu on their website which looks pretty tasty – seems seasonal, homemade dishes will be the order of the day. I’m looking forward to hearing more!

    Gas Street Social

    From the ashes of Bar Room Bar in the Mailbox?  From the team behind Shaker Group, Gas Street Social restaurant and bar is set to launch mid-March on Wharfside Street in the Mailbox. With 250 covers, this venue is set to serve simple, seasonal and modern European food, described as an urban neighbourhood kitchen. Given the Birmingham-based Shaker Group also run Shaker & Co bar and BarSchool in London, and run a consultancy for bars and restaurants internationally, Gas Street Social’s drinks list, containing cocktails, regional and international beers and fine wines should be something well worth checking out too.

    Mailbox Tavern

    John Bright St has rediscovered it’s roots as an entertainment hub; with The Victoria, Cherry Reds and Brewdog joined by Turtle Bay last year, it’s rapidly becoming a dining and drinking hotspot once again. But rumour has it the old Rosie O’Brien’s (the building in between Turtle Bay and Brook, with the red railings outside) has been snapped up by a Staffordshire based pub group and if all goes through, will be known as the Mailbox Tavern.

    The Botanist

    New World Trading Company’s first foray into Birmingham was announced last year, but I’m patiently awaiting it’s first offering to the city; The Botanist, due to open on Temple St – in March, if rumours are to be believed. Already proving popular in Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle, their deli and BBQ inspired food menu and selection of botanical cocktails, craft beers and ales, sounds pretty tempting!

    Spanish restaurant for Bennetts Hill

    And hot on the heels as another contender for food paradise is Bennetts Hill, with everything from fine dining to real ale, curry and South American cuisine. But rumour has it there’s a Spanish and Mediterranean restaurant that might be joining them.  Details are very scarce but there seems to be something cooking up at 9 – 10 Bennetts Hill in the shape of Amantia.

    Any that I’ve missed? Feel free to email me, send me a tweet or drop me a Facebook message!