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Nocturnal Animals


    Here we go again

    Bureau’s gone
    Fressh has gone
    SmokeHaus and Rub have both gone
    So has Jailbird / Nosh & Quaff, despite the name change

    January is always a hard month for bars and restaurants. The overindulgence of December means some places cling on, buoyed up by the extra footfall, only to realise the game is over come the new calendar year. I’m not going to repeat the blog post I wrote calling on people to use their favourite places, because I think that should be abundantly clear now – if you like it, support it. Nor am I going to write a rant about why things like Dry January and “detoxes” are a bloody stupid idea.

    But it has left me thinking back on 2018, a year I despised for a great many reasons, none of which had much to do with the blog, but everything to do with why it has been pretty quiet around here.

    But 2018 wasn’t all bad. Sure, places trading off the street food craze, like Rub and Smokehaus, might’ve had a bad year, but street food royalty Digbeth Dining Club extended its opening, going to four days; alongside Baked in Brick finding their own permanent home; and of course the Andy Low ’n’ Slow’s kickstarter. Though we might’ve seen repetition of more of the same, the likes of home-grown talent have thrived, with Aktar Islam’s Opheem and Legna, and the provocateurs of the Birmingham hospitality scene opening Nocturnal Animals.

    Maybe more than most cities, Birmingham is changing – you only need to look at the sheer number of cranes in the sky, and building works in the city centre to figure that one out. Whilst it might see some places come and some places go, it’ll always be home. And there will always be new places to find.

    Round ups

    Christmas gift guide

    I know, this is way later than I intended but if you’re running low on Christmas cheer and need some inspiration for Christmas gifts for your foodie friends and loved ones, here are five to get you started…

    This Cookbook Belongs To Us

    Hear me out, recipe books might seem like a naff idea for the foodie in your life but this one is actually good. Not only is it packed with recipes which actual normal humans could feasibly make on a regular basis, it also has fancier ones too. Better yet, the recipes feature personal stories about what the recipes mean to people, and the money raised goes to support refugees in transit. So really you’re buying double the gift, a present for your lovely one and goodwill to men (women and non-binary folk).

    Costs £12.50 from Bearwood and Kings Heath Action for Refugees website

    Independent Birmingham card

    Yeah, I know I recommend this every year, but every year it continues to add good value. I’m pretty sure I’ve recouped the cost of one on trips to The Electric alone, which I then spend on tea and cake to eat before the film. The IB card gets you some great deals at a number of independent venues in the city and you will easily make your money back within the year, even if your memory is as crap as mine. It’s also a handy little reminder about some of the more off the beaten track venues that exist around the city.

    Buy from the Independent Birmingham website

    Cheese and wine from Grace + James

    This is a great gift because the chances are they’ll invite you round to enjoy the cheese and wine you’ve just gifted them, and so it pays to get something good. Kings Heath’s Grace + James have pulled together a number of cheese and wine offerings from a top notch hamper through to an array of wines for the big day itself. Their Christmas Day wine case will see you through your Christmas Meal, with two bottles of red, two bottles of white, a bottle of fizz and a bottle of dessert wine for afters.

    Prices range depending on items ordered, which can be done in store or via email.

    Byng Inc’s Daily Special 2019 calendar gift set

    Local artist Louise Byng has created a calendar which takes views on a culinary voyage to discover the weird and wonderful experience of cuisine and culture. With everything from historic honey through to a special edition Burger King Whopper, this A4 calendar will not only provide you with some interesting fact, but 25% of all profits are donated to Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity.

    Order from Byng Inc:

    Gift Cards

    What do you get the person who has everything? Easy, get them an experience they’ll enjoy and, even better, you won’t have to wrap anything – better yet, they might take you along to share the joy.