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The Studio

    Drinks, Guest Posts, Pop-up and Event reviews

    The Midlands Whisky Festival 2018

    Greetings, it’s been a while hasn’t it? And it’s not even me responsible for 99% of this blog post, but I’ll save you the sob story of where I’ve been and why I’ve not been blogging.

    Anyway, I couldn’t make The Midlands Whisky Festival 2018, despite being in one of my favourite conference venues, The Studio. This saddens me because whisky, whiskey and bourbon are all great, and festivals are a great place to try lots of ones you’ll probably never get a chance to.  But far be it for me to deny my loyal readers (if there are any of you left), so I put an ask out to friends and unsurprisingly lots of people came forward, but one of the suggestions what the talented Joe Beardsmore.

    Joe is a bartender and photographer, so frankly more qualified to be doing this sort of thing than I am.  You should definitely check out his website, – I’d highly recommend looking at his outdoor photography because it’s just beautiful.  Also his Instagram account is pun-tastic which instantly endears me to it @Joemans_Land.

    Over, to Joe…

    The Midlands Whisky Festival 2018 brought a collection of Scottish, Indian, Australian, American, Scandinavian, Japanese and many more whiskies into perfect harmony, providing an incredible tasting and learning experience, whether it was learning new world whisky with the likes of Starward, or cigars and malt with Dalmore.

    A few signature moments for me where trying the Glen Dronach 24 year old which was a rare surprise to find such a bold full bodied Scotch that imparted the flavours of the sherry casks that it had been aged in for all of its “life”. Furthermore the Cambus 31 Year Old 1964 exceeded expectations as a smooth, easy going dram considering the 31 year old age statement.

    But really, you’re here for the pictures and I don’t blame you because they’re great and this is just a selection of them. They all belong to Joe, he’s just kindly letting me put them on here so if you want to use them for something or hire Joe to take some photos then get in contact with him.

    The Midlands Whisky Festival has been running since 2010, and as well as a Birmingham event, there was a Stourbridge version back in March.  I’m not entirely sure when the next one is, but feel free to keep an eye on their website

    Pop-up and Event reviews

    Summer menu tasting at Studio Venues, Birmingham

    It’s no secret that I think the Studio on Cannon Street in the city centre is a pretty ace place.  I’ve written about them a bunch of times (see here), and the time has rolled round for another seasonal menu tasting.

    If you’re not aware, and I have rescued many confused looking people on Cherry St to suggest that not everyone knows about the place, The Studio is part of a group of venues around the country which offer conferencing spaces.  They also do small meeting rooms too.  I arrange a fair amount of events for work and The Studio is one of my favoured places, not least because of the seasonal menu changes, but also because the staff are really helpful, and having staff who have your back when you’re running an event is invaluable.  Also, the afternoon cookies are a friggin delight.

    Anyway, as per usual they invite down a bunch of people who have used their venue to check out and comment on the upcoming menu, to make sure it’s appealing to customers.  Because some people get a bit uppity about these things, let me be clear, they’re not fussed that I’m Full the Brum, they always email my work account and I ask politely if I can bring my camera and take some photos, and that’s why this post is here.  I was amongst 50-ish other guests and there is enough food to feed an army.  Those of us who have been to more than one of these are now sharing our tactical knowledge of trying as many dishes as possible (small portions, pick up the desserts and save them on your table).

    There were a lot of good options this time round, and The Studio emailed us all after to tell us the dishes which stood out for everyone; I was pleased to see that the dark chocolate torte with salted caramel & fresh raspberry, and kofta meatballs scored highly, because both were delicious.  I’m not normally a fan of chocolate things, but even I was singing the praises of the chocolate torte. I’m trying to think of good reasons to book the Studio just so I can have another one.  Anyone fancy an important meeting?

    They’re also bringing in salads to be more of a thing.  Salad is not my thing, I get bored before I’ve eaten enough and I rarely bother.  But if anyone could convince me that salad is actually worth caring about, then the guys at the Studio are in strong running, and they seem to have done it by combining two things that on their own I’m a bit meh about.  So, despite having two things I don’t like much (raw tomatoes and feta are two things which my digestive tract is not on board with), the watermelon, cherry tomato, rocket, basil and feta salad was a well deserved winner, and the veggie winner (that was actually vegan) of vegan harissa spiced lentils ratatouille with falafel cobbler was a good choice too.

    So, back to that very important meeting we need to book…

    You’ll find the Studio in Birmingham on Cannon Street in Birmingham city centre. Whilst they rudely do not have a restaurant that you can just visit, they do have nineteen different spaces available for meetings and conferences. For more info, visit the Studio’s website.

    Pop-up and Event reviews, Reviews

    The Studio’s autumn menu tasting

    studio_curryIf you’ve been following the blog for a while, you’ll know how much I like the seasonal menu tasting at The Studio.  We use a lot of conference facilities at work at the food at the Studio makes them one of my favourite venues in Birmingham – and I have a lot of feedback comments to prove I’m not the only one!


    One of the things that makes the food so good is that it’s not a platter of sad sandwiches, but a proper hearty meal – and pudding.  If you’re in an all day event, having a proper meal at lunchtime is a good way to perk everyone up.  I know we’re well into the colder months now, but I went along to the menu tasting a couple of months ago and wanted to share a few photos of the autumnal menu tasting because the food was delicious.

    bacon-potato-chickenThere were some lovely dishes, with everything from hearty Italian chicken wrapped in bacon through to sweet potato curry, lasagne and a vegan shepardess pie.  Each day there are meat and vegetarian menus as standard, with other dietary requirements covered as and when.

    bakewell_trifleAnd then there is pudding.  My favourite was the churro popover dipped in cinnamon sugar and chocolate dipping sauce, because sugar doughnuts are a total weakness of mine, but the Bakewell sundae was a lovely light pudding too, as was the dark chocolate and mint mousse with mini marshmallows.

    churros_studio_autumn The Studio is a conference facility and training room hire venue, and sadly not a restaurant.  But if you want to book a meeting so you can have lunch, then I totally wouldn’t blame you.

    The Studio, 7 Cannon St, Birmingham B2 5EP

    Pop-up and Event reviews, Reviews

    The Studio Spring 2016 menu tasting


    Due to the day job, I end up at quite a few conference venues in the city centre and so if I were ever to do a Buzzfeed style listicle it would likely be on conference lunches in Brum. Most of them are fairly uninteresting to be honest, but one that is less bland sandwiches and more restaurant quality food is The Studio on Cannon St.

    Rather than just roll out trays of beige, The Studio offer delegates a proper meal at lunch time; and they switch up their menu seasonally; and they invite regulars along to give them feedback on the menu. And so being as I’m there so often the staff seem to know me, and clearly liking my food, I went along to their spring menu tasting.

    salad_selectionMoving into spring this is transitional menu which balances the heavier winter food with something a bit lighter for those few sunny days we get in Birmingham. As well as the meat and vegetarian options, there are puddings and a range of salads. Now personally I struggle a bit with salad because I usually get bored before I’ve eaten enough but these salads have been thought through enough that they keep you interested as well as sated, and can be added as a side dish to your main.  I’ve since been back to The Studio for a conference and had the vegan Caesar salad alongside the Philly cheese ciabatta sandwich and worked really well as a tasty, nourishing meal in between a series of talks!


    A lot of the dishes are proper main meals which are part of what makes The Studio an ace venue (the staff are also great and they have a colouring in wall, no seriously).  Given that it’s spring, there’s a nice mix of fresh flavours and they’ve gone for a good range of cuisines from Chinese through to Cajun, Thai and something a bit more on the classic British.  I really liked the Chinese belly pork with spinach and pak choi, a brave option for a conference venue when you need to serve thirty odd people at once. Belly pork can sometimes be hard to cook well, but this was delicious, a perfect balance of crisp and chewy.  Another great dish was the pan-seared chicken on a bed of new potatoes, black olives and oven-roasted tomatoes, which sounds like a pretty simple dish but was executed well – one of the other testers on my table went back for seconds of that one!


    But what really impresses me about The Studio menu tastings is that they’re genuinely looking for people’s opinions on what works and what doesn’t.  I really liked the Thai green vegetable curry with basmati rice, but it was a little on the spicy side for me – it would certainly blast away any winter cobwebs! It’ll be interesting to see if it makes it onto the final menu…though I suspect not.

    And just a note about the desserts, oh yeah every lunch has a dessert.  The French apple tart with caramel sauce (the first photo on this post) was delicious, sweet, fresh and with the sauce was sweet without being too sickly.  There were also delicious Victoria sponge sundaes, trifles, cheesecakes and a zingy lemon & lime eton mess with passionfruit.  Frankly I think every meal should have a pudding, and if they’re as good as this then even better.


    Sadly, The Studio isn’t a restaurant that you can book into, but it is an excellent event space for meetings and conferences and worth a look if you’re booking  something – just invite me for lunch, yeah?

    Disclosure: Oh god, this again? It was a menu tasting for a conference venue, of course it was complimentary. But given how often I seem to be there between work and conferences I think they just assume I live there and feed me anyway.

    Pop-up and Event reviews, Reviews

    The Studio winter 2016 menu


    I love an excuse to visit The Studio on Cannon St for events, and the quarterly tasting for their new seasonal menu has to be the best reason yet.  A couple of weeks ago it was time for their winter menu to get put before the hungry eyes and tummies of a select group of people…actually I have no idea who most of the other people who attend this are, I’m too busy ooh-ing at six days worth of hearty lunches and puddings.

    As you’d expect with a winter themed menu, the dishes are warming and comforting.  Pastry is a big thing, which is something I wholeheartedly agree with.  That said the sausage wellington, or “posh sausage roll” as I called it was lovely, but I just couldn’t quite understand how it fit as a main meal.  Which is a shame because it was really nice! It’s going to be interesting to see if it makes the final cut, as not everything does, or whether it ends up appearing somewhere else.  I’m guessing The Studio probably do snack menus if you ask, but their standard day delegate rate package includes a proper hot dinner and pudding (and little snacks with morning and afternoon refreshments).

    One of the days had paired Chicken Marengo with roast potatoes and a Bubble & Squeak with leek and cheddar for the vegetarian option.  The bright colours were a welcomed sight when winter food tends to be focused on heavy, hearty foods. and the lack of sunshine means seasonal food isn’t always the most colourful.  The chicken marengo full of flavour, almost fruity and the chicken was nice and moist.  Sadly I didn’t manage to try any of the Bubble & Squeak as it had gone before I managed to get back…so I took that as a good sign!


    We’ve used The Studio at work a bunch of times and once, after a great first day, I looked at the feedback to discover it was all about the food.  Seriously, it felt like there was more about the food than anything else on the day – and the puddings in particular seemed to be a real hit.  This time round, dessert continued the usual mousses and cheesecakes in little glass dishes.  These are a great size, just enough to boost you up, but not enough to lull you into a sugar-coma for the rest of the afternoon.  One of my favourites was the Star Bar Chocolate Cheesecake, which is odd because I’m not normally one for chocolate desserts.  But it was just the right portion size with a sweetness that felt like a treat but wasn’t overkill.

    Sticky Toffee Pudding is one of my favourite puddings and it’s become a tradition amongst my family that I make one a boozy version for Christmas pudding.  So when I spotted the sticky date pudding with burnt caramel I was pretty excited.  These aren’t sticky toffee, but they’re not far off and with a nice crunchy crust they’d be nicely accompanied with a cup of tea, ready to set you up for another afternoon of events!

    Disclosure:The Studio invited me down to the menu tasting as we book the venue in my day-job for events. They didn’t require me to write anything about it, but given that all our feedback is about the food, I figured I might as well.

    Pop-up and Event reviews, Reviews

    The Studio Birmingham, Autumn menu tasting


    Last time I went to The Studio Birmingham’s menu tasting I wanted to lie on the floor of my office quietly weeping about how full I felt.  As with the last one, this was a chance for the chefs to try out a whole new menu and with the colder months on their way (who are we kidding autumn has been here since June and I for one am a’okay with that), the Studio’s autumn menu has gone in a similar direction.  For any northern readers, The Studio have just opened a new venue in Leeds and so it was a bit of a head to head for the chefs as they’d come up with different items to find out which dishes were favoured best.


    The Studio Birmingham works on a six day rotation, where each day delegates of offered a choice of a meat or vegetarian option plus a pudding as part of the standard delegate day rate – no dull sandwich buffets here!  For the autumnal menu, the chefs had taken inspiration from the transitional period and created dishes which straddled the seasons.  Mains being tested including curries, cassoulets, mushroom stroganoff and slow cooked meats, all perfect for when it’s a bit cold outside.  I didn’t get round everything but of the things I did the tandoori roasted chicken skewers had a nice mild but flavoursome spice and the slow cooked pulled harissa spiced lamb had a delicate sweetness to it.

    Having used The Studio for a number of work events, where our participants always comment on the excellent quality of the food, I know that the venue takes their food very seriously.  The good thing about the seasonal menu tasting is that they can iron out anything they’re not happy with before the menu is launched, which I saw from the spring tasting as we were back there not long after for some work events and I tasted the improved dishes too.  This time round, I thought the beef madras option was a brave choice; it was not nearly as spicy as I’d feared, which itself was a bit confusing.

    snickers_eaton_mess_studioThe puddings always impress me at the Studio Birmingham, possibly because most places don’t bother or because there’s always some creative ones at the Studio.  This was fairly evident in the snickers eton mess which had piped cream, thick caramel sauce, chopped nuts and chocolate chips…fun, flavoursome but light enough that you didn’t feel like you were going to need to nap on one of their beanbags later.  The rich chocolate pot and praline crumble came in a shot glass and was a chocoholic’s idea of heaven, but I think it could’ve benefited from a raspberry coulis or something to cut through the richness.

    Anyone attending the tasting sessions is handed a form to jot down any notes and having been to a tasting and then there as a delegate when the menu has launched, it’s reassuring to know that they really listen and value the feedback.

    rich_chocolate_pot_studioAnd after sampling more food than I should it was time to plod off back to the office, pleasantly full.  The food at the Studio always impresses me as I don’t know of any other conference / meeting room venues in Birmingham which offer a proper cooked lunch, prepared on-site as a standard food option.

    The incoming autumnal menu, from what I’d tasted, is another corker and I’m trying to figure out if I can get myself invited along to any meetings there to test it out when it goes live!


    Disclosure: I was invited along to the menu tasting where all food was complementary…although given how much we’re there for work I think they assume I’m part of the furniture and just feed me anyway.

    Round ups

    April round up

    First things first; May the Fourth Be With You!  I know this isn’t a movie blog, but I hope my fellow cinephile foodie fans are having a fun on this auspicious day.  Anyway, enough about Star Wars, this is a quick round up of April which will be quick because I had a pretty horrid case of insomnia over most of April, which made it a bit difficult to find the focus and time to write.  On a plus side it means that I’ve now got a really nice backlog of posts that, if I can get written up, should provide for a fun May (possibly less references to Star Wars though).

    NJAFB award logoNews

    Well, it felt like there were two big news stories this month.  The first being that the people at Hungry House awarded me one of their Not Just Another Food Blogger Awards, which I’m really quite chuffed about.  As I mentioned, it’s been a bit of a rough month and it always makes me smile when people interact with the blog, whether it’s tweeting for recommendations, sharing news or giving me an award.

    The other news is that I ran a competition for the Foodies Festival which takes place this month.  It’s my first big competition and there were a lot more entries than I expected, which was really lovely to see.  The competition ended today and I’ve just emailed the winners, so congrats Anthony, Denise and Claire!

    Talking of winning tickets, I also blogged about a chance to win tickets to Glynn Purnell’s Friday Night Kitchen.  And there’s also the news that the Gin Festival is back at the Bond in Digbeth…but you’ll have to buy your own tickets to that!

    Food Glorious Food5 pork belly

    Whilst I spent a lot of the month struggling with sleep, I did get a couple of reviews written up.  The first was from my trip to Big Papas Beautiful South street food who’ve taken over the kitchen at the newly refurbished Sunflower Lounge.  The second was a return to one of my favourite pop-ups, Two Cats Roaming Kitchen…but they won’t be roaming for long, which I’m so very pleased to hear.

    My day job involves lots of events stuff and having used The Studio on Cannon St for a few events I was chuffed to be invited to their Spring/Summer menu tasting…only to return a couple of weeks later to see it in action.

    Give Me the Hard Stuff…or don’t

    Pancakes bacon and poached eggs on rosti copyBut it wasn’t food this month.  I also blogged about some non-alcoholic wine which I took along to a family BBQ…the review was really more my mum’s doing because she drank the bottle (but in all fairness I had a glass and it meant I also got a lift home). 

    Talking of drinks and food, I wandered along to The Victoria’s inaugural Sunday Brunch which for Easter had a whisky-infused element to it.

    What’s coming up in May

    Frankly there’s a massive back log of posts that I need to write and if I start listing them here I’m going to cry.  But some of the ones I need to tell you about involve unleashing my inner tea fiend, drinking whisky in the top of the Rotunda, hip hop and burgers, eating ants and a few afternoon teas too.