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The Edgbaston

    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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    Afternoon tea, Reviews

    Review: The Edgbaston Afternoon Tea

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    There’s nothing quite like the promise of a great afternoon tea to get me up from my sick bed.  Despite being off work for nearly a week and not being able to move more than two meters away from my kettle, I bundled myself up, packed a couple of bottles of water and headed off to meet some friends for a spot of afternoon tea at The Edgbaston boutique hotel and bar, on Highfield Rd…in well, the suburb of Edgbaston.

    I’ve been to The Edgbaston for a couple of cocktails before, so I knew what to expect from the wonderfully 1920s inspired art deco lounge, but was surprised to find it as full as it was on a Saturday afternoon, considering it’s just out of the city centre.  There were several people having afternoon tea and plenty more enjoying cocktails, but despite being busy the service was top notch – particularly as I was still ill and needed to keep constantly hydrated, so required plenty of top ups of hot water for the tea and cold water. Frankly I think it would’ve been easier to sit me next to the tap, but bless ’em the staff made sure I always had some sort of water.

    edgbaston_afternoon_tea_teapotsThe table was set out for us on arrival with lovely crockery that we were told was all vintage and had been specially sourced.  We were given a choice of teas (there was probably also the option of coffee but come on this is afternoon tea, after all) and I shared a pot of jasmine tea with Alex…which was actually a trophy.  Yep, an actual trophy (I kind of hoped it might be the missing Jules Rimet Trophy, but sadly not).  The jasmine tea was lovely, fresh and light with just the right hint of perfume notes from the jasmine. Also, points to the waiting staff who managed to play afternoon tea Tetris and find space for everything on the table.
    teapots_smoke_edgbaston_afternoon_teaThe Edgbaston afternoon tea isn’t just any old afternoon tea and if the trophy-teapots weren’t enough to convince us of that, then the palate cleanser to start surely would.  The lemon curd with gin and tonic granita was accompanied by a dramatic display of swirling smoke which engulfed the table and gave a real sense of occasion.  I’m a bit wary of dry ice because it’s a bit overplayed in the whole “molecular mixology” fields and can be dangerous in the wrong hands, but the staff were careful to make sure it was poured into the serving trays of the granita…and bring more to make sure we all got some photos.  It’s probably worth mentioning that they didn’t know we were bloggers, and I expect they get quite used to people taking lots of photos of the smoke.

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    After the smoke dissipated it was time for the main show.  I’ve seen various incarnations of cake stands and the clean black tiles with oval trim had a lovely shape to it, showing off its wares but also in keeping with the decor of The Edgbaston.

    I think it’s pretty difficult to be overly excited about the sandwich portion of the afternoon tea, but the ones The Edgbaston served to us were nice, with a good mix of fillings and enough for everyone to have a nibble without being overly full – because where’s the fun in being that full before you get to the scones and sweets?

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    The scones arrived on a separate plate with jam and cream (obviously) in little kilner jars.  Of all the component parts of the afternoon tea experience, this was probably the only minor stumbling, as I found the scones a little too crumbly for me.  That said, they were a good size and I think there worked out at being a fruit and plain scone each, but most of us ended up taking a second one home.

    The final course of the afternoon tea was more petit four than stodgy cakes.  For me, this is what makes a good afternoon tea great, as the dainty finger sandwiches and scones should be followed up by something imaginative and delicate rather than heavy carbohydrates.  And this is where The Edgbaston really excelled – macarons, swan shaped choux pastry, chocolate and hazelnut lollipop and mini lemon and blackberry tart.  All superb and as good as they looked – the chocolate and hazelnut lollipop even more so.

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    I’ve had a lot of afternoon tea in Birmingham now and I think The Edgbaston afternoon tea ranks as one of the best, if not the best, in the city.  The level of detail from the crockery and teapots to the dramatic palate cleanser and petit four was just superb.  Whilst we went for the regular afternoon tea, they offer a number of different serves, including The Moseley Serve, which involves cocktail in teacups and would definitely be more Great Gatsby than Austin.  Alternatively add a couple of cocktails from their extensive menu.  Either way, I doubt you’ll be disappointed – it really was a superb experience.

    https://www.theedgbaston.co.uk/

    Disclosure: We didn’t tell The Edgbaston we were bloggers and paid for our afternoon teas ourselves. Also, don’t trust anyone that calls themselves a molecular mixologist.

    Round ups

    October round up

    Autumn is one of my favourite seasons; the clocks go back and there’s a glut of festivities from Halloween and Bonfire Night to Diwali and even Christmas begins to creep in (I’ve been spotting the Christmas trees going up in Brum all week).  This month has been particularly special as I got to witness the marriage of two wonderful people and I’m looking forward to trying out the wedding favours.

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    It has also been a busy one for Birmingham, with Bodega on Bennets Hill announcing a new little sister in Worcester, Bearwood’s very first food festival courtesy of the Bearwood Pantry and a talk by the Vegan Society for the Birmingham Humanists.

    I’ve also been out on lots of food adventures with write ups from my experience of DIP, a Lebanese stall in the Bullring, to cocktails at The Edgbaston and dinner at Tiger Bills, located just off Broad St.  I even managed to give New Covent Garden’s soup of the month another try with it being aptly named Pumpkin Ghoulash.

    Starbucks_056And with the festive season upon us, Area Guide kindly published an article I wrote about drinks relating to Halloween, Bonfire Night and Dia de los Muertos and I followed it up with a post about some spooktacular cocktails at Cherry Reds.  And just as the month was coming to an end I managed to fit in a taste of Christmas, with Starbucks in Selfridges bringing their red cups in early.

    There’s more Christmas things in November, including a sneak peak at Coast to Coast‘s Christmas offerings, plus my experience at Norjske thanks to Yelp Birmingham and new Mediterranean cafe 4023.

    I’m always keen to hear from people about places I should check out, products to try and exciting food and drink related adventures.  So if you fancy emailing me, please do.
    My email address is hello @ fulltothebrum . co . uk.

    Bar reviews, Drinks, Reviews

    Cocktails at The Edgbaston

    With the Edgbaston cocktail bar and boutique hotel opening back in May, it’s a stark reminder of how quickly this year has flown by – I’ve been saying I’m going to go “soon” for a while.  And when I visited The Highfield a few weeks ago, it seemed rude not to visit The Edgbaston too.

    A boutique hotel with six bedrooms and three cocktail bars, The Edgbaston joins The Deli at Edgbaston, Simpsons fine dining and the newly opening gastropub The Highfield in Edgbaston’s gastronomic village hub.  It’s also owned by Stuart & Darren Insall, who also own The Kenilworth which has an excellent reputation and so I expected great things.

    Lets get the negatives out of the way first.  The Edgbaston’s signage outside is understated and doesn’t make it the easiest to find.  Which seems to be a theme carried inside, as I walked through the front door to a small unmanned, un-signposted reception.  To the right I could see a doorway into a beautiful bar ladened with whiskies galore and peeking my head to the left into a larger bar set in a beautiful art deco cocktail lounge, complete with gold banquette seating and a fantastic chandelier.  What I couldn’t find was someone to tell me what was going on.  After beginning to feel like a gatecrasher, I finally found a member of staff who greeted my warmly, invited me to sit where I liked and brought my a glass of cucumber water.  Negatives over.

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    Although I was offered some assistance with what to choose, I’d already made my mind up to try the Clover Club 3000.  I’m a big fan of the classic drink; the tart and zesty gin and lemon, smoothed out with raspberry makes it, in my mind, a great drink.  A friend jokes its a drink you see grannies drinking, probably owing to its pre-Prohibition era origins, but if the classic Clover Club is a grannies drink, then the Clover Club 3000 is the drink reborn.  Arriving looking like something you’d give a child with baby-pink foam, sprinkles and a side of candy floss, it was clear this wasn’t going to be any run-of-the-mill cocktail.  Eminently drinkable, the Clover Club 3000 had a playful lightness to it, both in colour and consistency I wasn’t expecting but being perfectly balanced it made it the sort of drink you’d easily want a second of.

    Having just enough time for a second drink it seemed only right to give another spirit a try.  The Silver Screen with its blend of Glenmorangie whisky, butterscotch and lemon is served in dramatic fashion – dry ice pouring smoke all over the table, which sadly I failed to get a decent picture of.  The drink itself is layered in flavour; the whisky first, followed by a teasing tickle of lemon fizz, replaced by butterscotch.  It’s very drinkable and the garnish of toffee popcorn in a retro container balance the dramatic with the whimsy – a real feature film of a drink.

    Totalling in £21 (without service) for two drinks, a trip to The Edgbaston is not going to be cheap.  But then again it’s not so much about just going for drinks as much as it is a drinking experience, pretentious as that might sound.  It’s well worth the visit and an excellent addition to the cocktail scene in Birmingham.  I’ll be going back to try and get a photo of the Silver Screen.

    http://www.theedgbaston.co.uk/

    Restaurant reviews

    The Highfield, Edgbaston

    Edgbaston has started morphing into a real food destination.  With Michelin-starred Simpson’s, The Deli at Edgbaston and the arrival earlier in the year of boutique hotel and cocktail lounge, The Edgbaston, it was already beginning to take shape.  But with Peach Pub’s first foray into Birmingham in the shape of gastropub The Highfield, it’s knitted the place together.  With a soft launch a week before the official launch party, I took the opportunity to head down and check it out.

    Sunday nights at 7pm aren’t traditionally busy times for pubs, but word of The Highfield’s doors opening had clearly spread and the pub was as full of people and had a great vibrancy to it.  The pub is open plan; the first half of the venue’s interior containing the well-stocked bar; the back half of the pub which is presided over by the kitchen has more of a dining area feel to it.  Decor is subtle but effective and the inclusion of booths, tables and barstools means the transition between the two spaces is seamless.

    DSC_2476Choosing a booth beside the kitchen meant we were able to peak in.  My friend Andrew, a food technologist who can spot a pre-prepared meal a mile off, enjoyed noting that everything that came out of the kitchen was made on site.  Given it was a Sunday we each ordered a Sunday roast.  I went for the organic roast pork, which was served with an enormous Yorkshire pudding, which kept two very salty pieces of crackling nice and crunchy and away from the gravy.  The pork and pudding sat on a bed of carrot puree and roast potatoes with cabbages and broccoli being served in a side dish.  Each component part was expertly cooked and whilst it doesn’t look like a mountain of food it was a decent portion – plus extra potatoes were on offer.

    DSC_2489For pudding Andrew and I shared a Sunday Sundae and an Apple & Blackcurrant Tart with Coconut Crumble.  The sundae was made with Chantilly cream which made it much more interesting than usual sundaes, although I’d have liked a little more brownie.  The apple and blackcurrant tart was more of a bakewell tart which despite having a very tough base was delicious and not too heavy after a large roast.  And where there is cake there ought to be tea, which is Yorkshire tea and served by the pot and arrives with proper mugs, which can be actually quite rare!

    With 16 other suburban pubs, Peach should certainly know what they’re doing and with The Highfield, even in its infancy, they seem to be on to a good thing.  Service was efficient and friendly, food was fresh and homemade and though I didn’t try any of the drinks (pre-dinner drinks at The Edgbaston had sorted that side) the bar was well stocked with a good variety of spirits and wines.

    Whether it’s post-drinks after Simpson’s, a spot of lunch after shopping at the Deli, or heading there for the whole experience, The Highfield is well worth checking out – but book, it’s already proving to be a popular destination!

    http://www.highfieldedgbaston.co.uk/

    Disclosure: Like many others, we received free main meals during The Highfield’s soft opening phase.  We paid for our drinks and desserts and were not obliged to give a positive review.