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MeatShack

    As seen in

    Featured in Sainsbury’s Magazine

    Guess who was asked to write something for Sainsbury’s Magazine?  Yep, little old me!  You know me, any excuse to talk about the food (and drink) scene in the city and especially when it’s in a national publication – and one I actually read, usually on the bus home when I’m trying to balance all my shopping.

    I could only pick four places, so I picked the ones that I think are pretty cool – and might appeal to fellow Sainsbury’s Magazine readers.  If you’d like to read the column, the nice people at Sainsbury’s Magazine have handily added it online.  If you’d like to read more about the places I mentioned, I’ve popped some links to my blog posts below;

    • Rofuto I haven’t written up my food experience, I think the photos got lost in the great tech fail of 2016, but I’m heading back soon so will link then – though here are my first look photos.
    • Gas Street Social I’ve been to a few times – here’s one on their brunch and some festive cocktails.
    • Original Patty Men, obviously they’re my favourite place in Birmingham for burgers.  But I also managed to get a mention of The Meat Shack who I also think are ace, I’m just sad they don’t have their own bricks and mortar place I can head to for burgers!
    • The Edgbaston’s afternoon tea, which is lush, whether it’s Christmas or the standard variety.

    Another fun surprise from the article was when my friend spotted a mention of it on TripAdvisor, as the reason someone went to Gas St Social.  Probably time to stop thinking the only person that reads the blog is my mum.

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    Musings

    Where independents lead, chains will follow…

    img_5712Brummies, we’ve got to stop being so harsh about our city.

    This morning I awoke to a headline in the Birmingham Post’s daily bulletin “Restaurants being ‘pushed out’ of Birmingham city centre by big chains” and of course it was the first thing I read (before coffee, rarely a good idea).  And I wondered if I was living in another Birmingham.

    Whenever I head to Manchester, I jump off the train, swing a right and make a bee line for the Northern Quarter and all its fab little indie hot spots; I’ve been to Bristol several times and yet to find any shops, but I know several streets with some great eateries; but Birmingham, we’re a bit messier than that.

    We don’t have a maze of streets, a Northern Quarter or such ilk.  In fact, I saw a similar discussion unfold about the city’s creative sector and where our ‘Northern Quarter’ was, because good lord to we like to compare ourselves to Manchester.  But even then I pointed out that we don’t have a quarter, we have Digbeth and the Jewellery Quarter and Moseley and Kings Heath.  We don’t have a quarter, because our independent scene is a lot more scattered than that.

    As I see it, independent venues are usually risk takers, leaders if you will, doing something a little bit different in the city.  And without the purse of a large chain behind them, they opt to go on the outskirts where rent is cheap.  Take John Bright St for example.  For nearly five years there was nothing worth visiting there except The Victoria.  It took years before Brewdog (its indie qualities debatable), followed by Cherry Reds and now the chains – Turtle Bay, The Stable (51% shares of the company belong to Fuller’s brewery), easyhotel is looking to build, rumours of a pub chain too.  And Moseley seems to be going the same way.

    Independents lead the way, more often than not the chains follow.

    And that must be incredibly frustrating for some; just as an area is beginning to get a reputation for being worth going to, those chains with buying power can use their reputation and wallets to beat the places that made it worth going to in the first place.

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    Another post I wrote recently on a similar topic

    So are Birmingham’s independents being pushed out of the city centre?  I’d argue it was never really their playground to start with.  I’ve never considered Birmingham city centre to be a haven for independents, but then again neither have I Bristol nor Manchester.

    And I’m not belittling the need for more centrally located independent venues, because I don’t want Birmingham to become a homogeneous version of every other city centre.  But I also don’t expect to see Grand Central Birmingham awash with them either (that said the excellent Yaki Nori, a Birmingham independent, is in there).  Rents in the city centre are high, of course they are, they’re prime locations and as city on the up it’s hard to see this stopping.  And landlords want the safe bet of a national chain they know will pay.  It’s massively frustrating as someone that wants to sit in an Andy Low ‘n’ Slow or The Meatshack venue, but can’t because they can’t find space.

    And it’s not all doom and gloom: Original Patty Men have managed to find a great location tucked around the corner from the Bullring; Nomad are right by New Street Station; the Jewellery Quarter is awash with places; suburbs like Moseley, Kings Heath and Harborne have got some great indie eateries; and of course we can’t forget the likes of Sparkhill and Sparkbrook where the majority of the Balti Belt in indie.  Hell, get an Independent Birmingham card, show there is an appetite for independent venues in the city.

    Don’t be fatalistic; demand better, support what we’ve got, and don’t give up.

    Round ups

    January round up

    Eesh, is January over already? It’s one of those months that nearly everyone seems to hate and for a chunk of the month I certainly wasn’t its biggest fan.  But I was certainly cheered up by hearing all about a raft of new openings in the city, in fact there were so many I had to write two posts – and then another with a sneak peak of one of those.olivemag_jan15

    For those whose New Year’s Resolution was all about making a change, one of those new venues was advertising a selection of job opportunities.  Or maybe your resolution was more about learning to cook; if so then I headed off to a monthly Thai cooking class and got over my fear of deep-frying things!

    I also managed to finally get round to blogging some of my December antics – including the inaugural UK Burger Battle which was a hell of a lot of fun.  There was also more burger antics with the Meatshack’s Christmas pop up at Carter’s and another Moseley hot spot.

    But I also managed to talk about some events that were happening this year, both whisky related; January’s Burn’s Night and the fantastic return of the Whisky Birmingham Festival.  I also finally made it to Bar Opus thanks to Yelp Birmingham.  And there were also a few surprises too, including a childhood favourite making an appearance at Cherry Reds and the most wonderful was a mention on Olive Magazine’s website.

    And so it’s on to February! I’ve got a bunch of exciting blogposts – a trip to Lasan, Australia Day kangaroo burgers, a Valentine’s Day menu and much more.  But before I sign off, I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who shared, liked and commented on here, it really does mean a lot.

    Pop-up and Event reviews, Reviews

    Meatshack pop up

    IMG_1190.JPGTalking about Christmas things feels massively belated and I was going to give blogging about this a miss. After all, everyone knows how awesome MeatShack burgers are. But given I hijacked my annual friends’ Christmas / New Year get together and tried duck hearts for the first time, it was worth writing down for prosperity.

    Having seen The MeatShack were going a pop up at Carters of Moseley on one of two days my friends and I had pencilled in for our catch up I figured I’d risk it and book us in. Three of us are already confirmed MeatShack fans and I figured the best Christmas present I could give the rest of them was opportunity to experience the dripping filthy goodness.

    In the end there were seven of us and we arrived at Carters to witness almost military precision in getting tables turned round.  I’d sent round the menu when I found it so most of us knew what we were ordering, but I’d failed to notice the duck hearts in spicy sauce and was eager to try. Thankfully Will was equally curious and between us we managed to convince a few others to give them a whirl.  In my mind I’ve never really been a fan of animal organs as food; it’s not a gross-factor to me, it’s just I’ve found the texture and taste a bit odd. However these were delicious. The duck hearts had a nice chewiness to them, like meaty mushrooms, and the sauce was spicy but less on the heat side of things and more Thai influenced, which allowed the flavour of the hearts to come through. Big fan.

    And of course the MeatShack burgers were as good as always – delicious meat, seasoned well and a bun which held things together. The shoestring fries, which usually disappoint me if I see them on the menu, were actually a nice accompaniment – salty and crispy which complemented the big slab of burger perfectly.IMG_1197.JPG

    With bacon ice cream for pudding you can bet I was going to give this a try. I’ve had bacon cupcakes before so I know the salty bacon and sweetness works well, as did it this time. The shard of nutty caramel I was less keen on, only because it was pretty tricky to eat. I suspect small pieces or as a topping would’ve allowed me to enjoy it more.

    All in all a rousing success. We finished just about in our allotted time, with everyone full of praises for MeatShack.  And with that it was off to the pub.

    Disclosure: Christmas is the month of giving and receiving so we gave the nice people at Carters/Meatshack money and they gave us burgers. We each paid for our own meals; wasn’t obliged to say anything nice and all opinions are my own blah blah. Although I did swap presents with one of my friends and got some awesome dinosaur earrings, but that was nothing to do with dinner.

    Events, Pop Ups and Streetfood

    Seaonal Markets – Winter Market

    finally made it down to one of the fantastic Seasonal Markets that I’d been meaning to go to all year.

    Held last Saturday in The Bond in Digbeth, the Winter Market had a fantastic line up of street food vendors and craft sellers, plus a lovely chilled out atmosphere.  Despite not being able to feel my feet for most of the visit, I braved the poor choice of footwear and had a great time.  Awaiting a friend, who was running late, I bumped into the lovely Vicky from Yelp and Joe from Independent Birmingham and chatted with them about some of the great stalls at the event.  Which basically meant we all talked about food.  After that it was late friend be damned and I went for a Meatshack burger before the crowds got too much.  That said, although it was pretty busy, whilst I was there, the queues for all the street food vendors were never too bad.  I had the standard Meatshack burger and my first bite reminded me that it had been too long since I’d indulged in their filthy goodness.

    After my friend arrived she too went for a Meatshack burger and then it was time to look round the craft stalls.  I’d seen the newsletter from I Choose Birmingham the day before which showcased some of the stuff on sale, including some lovely notepads from Sparrow & Wolf, and the giant stationery nerd that I am had to have them – better yet, an offer through Droplet meant that I essentially got one for free!

    Lenny from Lenny Loves had recommended the mince pie toastie from Jabberwocky so I claimed this as pudding and was lucky enough to get the last one.  Such a simple yet ingenious idea of a toastie filled with mincemeat, this was deliciously rich which really complemented the brandy butter (my, that had a kick to it).  I couldn’t eat a whole one, so lucky my friend was on hand to take some off my hands.  A gingerbread cupcake for later, some dinosaur chocolates for my friend and it was time for us to head off.

    Thankfully the Winter Market wasn’t the last of it and the Seasonal Markets will be back at The Bond next year, so it’s a case of watch their Facebook page for the dates.

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