Food and Drink
My friends and I are realising the joy of midweek evenings. Of course we still see the weekend as the unmissable chance to see each other and let the working week slip away with the help of a cocktail and a dance floor, but now that is not enough. Five days is simply too long to trudge home after work, still holding the jumble of deadlines and delegations in your mind, while pondering if that dented tin of soup is still at the back of the cupboard. No, we need a pick-me-up in the middle of our working week to save hump day from being an excuse to dig out the takeaway menus. We need a real catch up to talk through the highs and tolls that life brings with each Monday, and we also need that Friday night of good food and chat before heading off to loud, distracting bars.
This is when we swoop upon the restaurants of Birmingham and have that initial conundrum of choosing our destination. I was offered an evening for two at Browns Brasserie and Bar, nestled warmly in Bullring's Spiceal Street; the central hub surrounded by the vibrant architecture of St. Martin's Church and the Selfridges silver domes. It was a case of knowing exactly where it was but never having had it pop into my mind as a destination to head to.
With a thrilled pal in tow, we were welcomed into the sophisticated space, warmly lit with cosy corners and an open view onto the vast church. Stylish and contemporary, this is a perfect date place. A spacious table plan, flattering lighting and a soft ambience ticks all of my date night boxes!
I was pleasantly surprised by the extensive menu. Alongside a dedicated limited edition tender beef menu that my friend appreciated, the options across the starters and sharers made way for light mains, mains and grills. And many will be happy to note this includes gluten free options such as lobster and fries, and vegan options such as courgette, mint & lemon tagliatelle, to name but a few. I had earlier surrendered to the temptation of looking at the menu online before arriving as my new favourite thing is to choose our dish during the day so you can look forward to it! I was day dreaming of the whole baked Somerset Camembert but the variety of the Fisherman's platter trumped all other dishes. Severn & Wye smoked salmon, salt & pepper squid, Devon crab on toast, British mussels, and warm toasted bread. The bread was indeed warm, the salmon was indeed smoked, and the platter was certainly worthy of any fisherman's prize offering. I think with seafood you either love it or you steer clear, and this starter is for the seafood appreciation society. We accompanied this with the light feta salad, with the variety of tomatoes being a colourful twist.
Onto the mains. Oh what a revelation this lobster was! I'm now a lobster fan and I'm willing to share this with the internet. I had never tried lobster before! I feel the opportunity had never crossed my path and that is rather tragic! Despite the Browns signature cheesy fish pie and the sea bass generously accompanied by a stew of prawns, mussels and squid, I feel lobster is having it's moment right now and I had to get on board, mind the pun. It was a fresh, light, delicious treat and the perfect portion with perfectly crisp on the outside, soft on the inside chips and a mayonnaise with an avocado twist. I'm a lobster convert!
My friend opted for the steak and gave it beyond full marks. Browns have their own British farms to rear their own cattle so you can trust in the source of your steak.
Could we fit in any more food? There's always room for dessert! The menu was a struggle. Sticky toffee pudding, salted caramel profiteroles, caramelised lemon tart, or my current favourite, creme brulee? Decisions, decisions! But something called me to the banoffee pie with caramelised banana and chocolate popping candy. That certainly gave a subtle tingle to the rich caramel sauce and sugary white icing of the pie. It was like the best birthday cake with a gooey banana side and it completely disappeared from this plate! My friend opted for the chocolate brownie with the huge dollop of honeycomb ice cream and toffee sauce and was equally pleased.
Put Browns on your agenda and prepare for a perfectly satisfying evening. It's going to stay on my list for date options and also as a great option for family visits or group outings! Not forgetting to thank our super helpful waiter Domas for looking after us too!
Hi guys! I'm finally back on my blog after a few weeks of turmoil and being locked firmly out, but I'm here again! I felt like I was back in a groove and now I've got so many things to share, starting with a sweet evening I spent at Jamie's Italian. I've been to the Bullring destination before, with it's huge wooden beams, yellow metal chairs and damn tasty dishes. While I'd sampled a summer menu of light bruschetta and elderflower cocktails then, this time I delved into the winter menu.
Now you know you are excited for a dinner when you check out the menu before you even arrive. That day I perused the fresh pasta and loaded pizzas online but actually chose a few antipasti and cortorni dishes. It's a classic vegetarian (or pescatarian in my case) option to choose a few starters and sides as a main, despite eyeing up a rare vegetarian bolognese, wild mushroom ravioli and truffle shuffle pizza. I absolutely love fried gnocchi but have never mastered the knack of creating it myself so these were absolutely addictive with lashings of Parmesan fonduta - a creamy, tangy sauce sprinkled with crispy sage.
I accompanied these with my restaurant favourite, and again another dish I can't just whip up at home, the crispy squid. Unlike a usual chewy calamari, these melt-in-the-mouth bites of curly squid had a feather light texture and taste, perfectly complimented by chilli, garlic and parsley, and a creamy house aioli with a hint of paprika.
I rounded these off with spicy fries, perfectly slim and crisped up with a fiery kick, and treated myself to a wobbly vanilla yoghurt panna cotta, mixing up the texture with spiced crumble and a zingy orange zest. It was almost like an indulgent breakfast that completed a full-flavour meal that was so tasty, I am looking forward to sampling even more of these delicious delights again hopefully soon.
Since visiting in February and subsequent trips for a prosecco dinners with girlfriends or light lunch between shopping, I’ve kept Chi Kitchen as a favourite hidden-gem dining experience. This calm haven is home to the tastiest Eastern-inspired dishes; my favourite to enjoy when I’m heading off to party or getting spendy at Bullring. Asian food can leave you satisfyingly full yet not sluggish or heavy, despite the menu at Chi Kitchen tempting you to order so many intriguing dishes. It’s the delicious flavours that I could never achieve in my own kitchen, plus the beautiful presentation that allows this corner restaurant to be a perfect day time or evening date hotspot. Each time I’ve visited it has been a mix of couples, families or friends, and each table will be heaving with the colourful offerings. Completely satisfying yet interesting, surprising and exciting!
I was invited to try their new Christmas menu, offering a taster of the best of South East Asia, from crispy spring rolls to light gyoza to a fragrant curry. I sampled each dish (well, the pescetarian ones!) and found the best Chilli Prawns I’ve ever had, not only coated in a crispy batter but encased in a sweet and sticking sauce.
The Vegetable Nyonya Curry put any takeaway offering to shame as I loved the opportunity to slather the Egg Fried Rice and Snow Peas in plenty of thick, creamy sauce as generous as this, still keeping the vegetables fresh and crunchy. I always appreciate a range of veggies too rather than a boring selection. The sticky, rich Salmon Teriyaki offered the option of the hearty main I’d want if I was looking to feel extra warmed and full this season. And I'll definitely be sprinkling fries with fresh red chilli from now on for a fiery twist.
Rounding off was one of my typical favourite choices of gyoza with a sweet apple twist, and the perfect walnut chocolate brownie drizzled in a blood orange custard. Not forgetting the perfect Mixed Berry Bellini cocktail to set off any evening at Chi Kitchen a treat.
I can’t wait to work my way through this menu in the new year and continue to try new dishes that I already know are right up my street!