Sunday, 5 June 2016

The Smoke Haus, Birmingham

On Saturday we attended the VIP preview night of 'The Smoke Haus, Birmingham'
The menu is packed with a variety of burgers, hotdogs, steaks and ribs. There is also a selection of amazing looking combos and lots of sides to choose from.
I took some advice from @The_Thing_Ting and ordered myself a bourbon and Laura ordered a Strawberry Daiquiri. For our appetiser we chose to share 6 Sticky BBQ Wings. For main I ordered the 10oz New York strip with a pepper sauce and also had a side of fried pickles. Laura chose the Baby Back Ribs with a side of Mac n Cheese. We both decided to upgrade our fries with Laura choosing the sweet potato fries and I had the cheesy chilli fries. I also ordered myself a draught Blue Moon.
The sticky BBQ wings were brought to our table within 2 minutes of being ordered which I was over the moon about as I was already salivating from reading the menu. I will just say here that if you are planning on visiting the Smoke Haus for a first date then make sure you are a confident eater, and not ashamed of licking your fingers, wiping your face or trying to remove sticky BBQ sauce from your favourite shirt. The wings were sensational, very succulent and coated with a generous amount of rich, thick sticky BBQ sauce. I also couldn't get enough of the blue cheese dip that was served with them. The wet wipes were well used.
 
The main was served shortly after I had managed to remove all evidence of BBQ sauce from my face.
I ordered my steak blue, and am always a little skeptical as restaurants always seem to overcook my steaks. It was perfectly cooked, well seasoned and really did melt in my mouth. The peppercorn sauce was very creamy and had plenty of heat from the peppercorns. The fries were delicious and were seved with a spoonfull of chilli con carne and topped with a good amount of melted cheese. The fried pickles were ok, but were a little greasy and the batter just fell off, the garlic dip they came with was lovely.
 Laura's ribs were meaty and succulent and had a delicious sticky marinade. This was another dish where the wet wipes were well used. The Mac and Cheese had a lovely flavour but unfortunately had become slightly stodgy, this was probably due to the fact it was left for a while before we tried it.
The meal was very well presented, had great flavours and we really enjoyed our evening. The portion sizes are huge and we were unable to finish all of our food despite giving it a good go.
The service was excellent and the staff were very attentive and chatty when serving.
 I think that The Smoke Haus will prove to be a very popular restaurant with the foodies of Birmingham and I am very much looking forward to returning, and armed with my own pack of wet wipes.
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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Amsterdam

As I have the best parents ever, they sent Laura and I to Amsterdam over the May bank holiday weekend. We spent the entire 3 days visiting attractions, dodging trams and bicycles, and of course gorging on stupid amounts of food and drink whilst soaking up the culture of the city.
We made a few great finds which I am going to share with you in this post!

The beer temple is a small bar that boasts a large variety of draught and bottled craft ales. We spent quite a few hours drinking here! 
 
The sign above the front door kind of sums up this ale drinkers heaven 'Good Beer, No Shit'
In addition to the fantastic beer there was also a good selection of bar snacks, various cheeses and crackers and some lovely looking cured meats.

Out of all the ales I drank whilst in the Beer Temple I have picked these out as my favourite 3.
Top Left: Pepperoni Pizza Porter 6.3%
Bottom Left: Arrogant Bastard 7.2%
Right: Pure Hoppiness 8%
Please see my 'Beer Review' page to read what I thought of these.
Beer Temple will be my first point of call next time I visit Amsterdam, I would recommend it to any lover of craft ales.

Amsterdam's Foodhallen is an indoor food market where you can enjoy good quality international street food. It is open Sunday-Thursday from 11:00-23:30 and Friday-Saturday 11:00-1:00.
The vendors are permanent and they have a great set up in a spacious venue that boasts over 20 food stalls and  3 bars,

Top: De Ballen Bar served us a tasting board of 5 Arancini (deep fried risotto balls) 
The 5 we chose were (right to left) Truffle, Goats Cheese, Thai Spiced, Bouilla-baisse and Beef. They were served with a lovely truffle mayonnaise.
Middle Left: Chicks Love Donuts- Laura needed to get her crispy chicken fix so decided to try a Korean crispy chicken. The 'mean sauce' was delicious and the personalised takeaway boxes were a nice touch.
Middle:Jabugo is a stall that specialises in Iberico ham, they gave me a generous amount with some fresh bruchetta.
Middle Right: Bulls and Dogs was an odd choice for me as I would not usually go for a 'hot dog'. i chose this because I liked the look of the food when I saw others eating it. They offered several different homemade sausages served with a brioche bun and various toppings. I went for the 'Bacon and Chips Dog' which was a pork sausage, bacon, cheese and crisps. It was really tasty but the sausage was pretty thin ;)
Bottom: Laura finished off with Chicken Yakitori and Tempura Prawns, they were both delicious. Laura ate most of it!

I mentioned earlier that De Food Hallen had 3 bars aswell as the food stalls. The one bar that really stood out was the Gin and Tonic Bar. They served very large gin and tonics in many different flavours including, Blueberry and Raspberry  (Left)Toasted Rosemary and Black Olive (Middle), Basil and Cranberry (Right) and many more appealing sounding flavours. They were quite expensive at between 9 and 15 euros, but they were definitely worth it!
 De Foodhallen is an excellent place to go if you want to eat at a cheaper price and also get a good selection of food in a busy sociable setting.

 The last place I am going to recommend is The Pancake Bakery
We visited this place at around 11.00 and their was already a 10 minute queue. It serves huge pancakes, sweet and savoury with lots of different and appetising fillings. I went for the Brazilian pancake which can be seen below with a description. I was a little skeptical about how good a pancake could actually be, but to be fair it was amazing! Very sickly and filling, but amazing all the same!

If anyone has been to any other decent places in Amsterdam for food or drink, let me know and I will put it in my 'to go' list!
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Sunday, 24 April 2016

Rofuto


On Saturday Laura and I were lucky enough to be invited to the soft launch event of Rofuto. Rofuto is a new restaurant and bar that serves modern Japanese food, stylish cocktails, unique sake and a wide range of white wines. It boasts fantastic views of the city from the restaurant and the Karabu bar (the views from the toilet are also worth spending a penny for!) We were told that the Karabu bar will soon play host to guest and resident DJs which will surely help it become one of Birmingham's hottest venues.
We traveled up to the restaurant via the restaurants own entrance on the west side of the building. We were met by a smiling waitress who took our coats and led us to the bar in the center of the restaurant. Straight away we were greeted by floor to ceiling windows featuring stunning views of the city. The restaurant has an open kitchen area where you can see sushi being made fresh, a charcoal grill and a large hot plate with chefs preparing food live,
I decided to try the Japanese draught beer Kirin Ichiban which was served in a glass beer mug. Laura chose a Riesling from the impressive selection. The manager came and welcomed us and asked our opinion so far, he also escorted us to a table by the window and presented us with menus.
The waitress was clearly knowledgeable about the menu and confidently explained the difference between the different sushi and other ingredients we had not heard of. The menu features Sushi, Yakitori, Tempura as well and a selection of dishes cooked on the charcoal grill.
Laura and I ordered 3 starters between us, Laura had the Beef Kushiyaki with Caramel Soy, I chose the Grilled Octopus with Rocket and Pine Salad and we also had a Salt and Pepper Squid between us. 
All 3 starters were presented really attractively.  Laura's Beef Kushiyaki was sticky and sweet and had a lovely flavour, however the meat was quite dry which we were slightly disappointed with, nevertheless the soy sauce that was provided added moisture. 
My octopus was fantastic, it was was soft and smokey and was complimented really well with the fresh rocket and crunchy earthy pine nuts. The salt and pepper squid was my favourite, the batter was light and crisp and the soft squid was soft and chewy. There was a subtle taste of coriander and lime running through the batter. The squid was quite difficult to cut with chopsticks so we ended up tearing it apart! We completely cleaned all 3 plates and ordered more drinks. Laura went for another wine and I chose the Hitachino White Ale, which was made with orange peel, coriander and nutmeg.
For our main courses Laura chose the Chicken Katsu Curry and I had the Saffron Miso Black Cod with Razor Clams. The Cod was served to a very high standard and looked beautiful. It was very colourful which really stood out against the black dish. The cod itself was cooked to perfection, slightly sticky on the outside and wonderfully soft and flaky. The rich saffron and miso sauce was delicious and had a wonderful depth. The razor clam was soft and chewy and coated with the miso sauce. It was definitely one of the best seafood dishes I have ever eaten. I would 100% recommend this excellent dish. Laura's Katsu was also very good. Crispy succulent chicken with a rich creamy curry sauce, with scented fluffy rice.
We were given 50% off all of our food, but I would have paid full price for all of the dishes. The food and drink were both excellent. The service was also brilliant, all staff were polite and friendly and were knowledgeable about the the drink and food.
It is well worth the trip to the end of Broad St to sample the high quality food and drink and excellent view.
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Monday, 24 August 2015

A Rule Of Tum

Laura and I visited a friend of mine in Hereford who pointed us in the direction of A Rule Of Tum Burger Shop
Upon entry to the stylishly decorated restaurant we were greeted by very attentive waiting staff who took us to a table on the decking outside and handed us menus. I had my drink order taken and was soon sipping on a refreshing bottled IPA. 
The menu has a choice of 6 burgers and 5 sides and there was a good selection on the specials board including a salmon burger which sounded lovely. 
Laura ordered the Hereford Hop Burger and I went for Farmer Toms Beef Burger cooked rare. (Laura's review of her burger can be seen here). We also ordered a side of rosemary chips between us. The food was served after about 15 minutes. The burger was served on a black tray in a burger wrap with the restaurant stamp. The chips were served in a white polystyrene pot with sprinklings of finely cut rosemary and sea salt .

The chips were very crispy on the outside and still soft in the centre and they were well seasoned with the salt and rosemary. I was slightly disappointed that I had to pay £2.50 for the one portion of chips and felt that chips should have been included with the burger.
Farmer Tom's Burger was a Hereford beef burger served with mature cheddar, dill, pickles, mustard mayo, ketchup and baby gem lettuce served in a brioche bun. There is no doubt that Samuel L Jackson would state that "This is a tasty burger" and I would agree with him. The burger was cooked rare exactly how I ordered it. The mustard mayo was not only rich and creamy but also added a little heat, the pickles added that acidity and the brioche bun was slightly sweet. It was delicious but is still just beaten by The Original Patty Men. It was extremely difficult to eat without losing half of the filling.


I really did enjoy this burger and also thought the restaurant was stylish, well staffed and served great food. The only disappointment for me was the price. I feel that £9.50 is expensive for a burger and a portion of fries, I would have liked the £7 for the burger to have included a side and as this was one of the cheapest burgers I would have been disappointed if I'd have spent more.

Overall I would recommend this restaurant to all that visit Hereford as I felt the quality of the food and service was excellent.

 
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Sunday, 23 August 2015

A Summer of Food

It would take a long time to review in detail all the great food I have eaten over this 7 week summer holiday, therefore I have decided to pick out some of the highlights of my glutinous summer!
Andersons Bar and Grill- Birmingham
I visited this restaurant at the start of summer with some friends from work. I had Chicken liver pâté
 with fig chutney, sage and onion bread, and a garlic aioli to start. The pâté was coarse and creamy and went really well with some of the aioli. They were a bit stingy with the chutney which was also lovely. 
For main I had the rump steak with a peppercorn sauce. The steak was served with buttery seasonal vegetables and chips. I prefer my steak to be blue and I was really surprised that it was cooked exactly how I like it as most restaurants serve my steak overcooked! 
For dessert I had a Key Lime Pie with Chocolate and a Lime Air. This was the stand out dish for me as it not only looked great it tasted excellent. It was sweet and very tart, the lime air and chewy meringue pieces added different textures, it was very refreshing.
 I would definitely visit Andersons again as I felt the quality of food, service and the overall ambiance of the restaurant was excellent.

Croatia
Top left:Cheese and Ham Toastie Top middle: Seafood Platter Top right: Custard Doughnut!
Bottom left: Anchovy pizza Bottom right: Black Cuttlefish Risotto
Laura and I spent 10 days in Croatia this summer. We spent 5 nights in Cavtat and 5 days near the sea port Omis. We found that Croatia did not really have its own cuisine, but instead each region takes ideas from neighboring countries. There was definitely a very strong Italian/Mediterranean influence. The seafood in Croatia was my personal favorite as it was very fresh and simple. The fish was rarely flavoured with much more than salt, pepper and lemon, but nevertheless tasted excellent. The variety of pizzas on offer was also excellent. The Black Cuttlefish Risotto was a specialty in Cavtat and was delicious, cuttlefish is not something I have eaten before but it was very similar to squid although not as rubbery. I would definitely recommend Cavtat as a place both to eat and stay and more pictures from our trip can be seen by following my instagram link. If anyone does visit Cavtat the restaurant I would recommend is Buffet Atlas. We only found this restaurant on our last night which was unfortunate as I would have eaten there every night if I had known. The food was excellent. Big bowls of  pasta coated with a variety of flavorsome sauces. Service was excellent and also very cheap, well worth a visit.

Top left- Banoffe Pie Waffle (Bournville Waffle Company) Top right- Crispy Chicken (Buddha Belly)
Bottom left- Pani Puri (The English Indian) Bottom right- Original Burger (Original Patty Men)
Laura and I have visited DDC several times and the food is always excellent and priced between £5-7 which I think is pretty good for this gorgeous street food. I am going to pick out my personal favorites! Firstly Buddha Belly's crispy chicken is out of this world. You really do get a taste of excellent Thai cooking. The noodles are spicy, aromatic and salty and complimented really well with the fresh coriander and onion chutney. The chicken itself is as advertised and crispy but succulent and juicy inside the batter. This is a favorite with many people that visit DDC. 
My second choice is The English Indian's Pani Puri and at £3.50 for 5 it would be criminal for you not to try it! Small wafer thin crispy cases filled with coriander, chickpea, chilli and an exquisite sauce which really packs a punch! I went for seconds about 10 minutes after eating my first 5.
A worthy mention has to go to the Original Patty Men as I was skeptical about paying £7.50 for a burger after queuing for 50  minutes, but it was probably the best burger I have ever eaten, another stall that must be sampled!
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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Birmingham Foodies Festival

Laura and I were lucky enough to visit the Birmingham Foodies Festival in Cannon Hill Park.
It was a lovely day which is probably why there was such a good turn out! Every midlands based food blogger seemed to be there. Why wouldn't they be? There was some exceptional food on offer for reasonable prices.
On entry there was a band playing an acoustic set with lots of people chilling with a drink sat on the grass. Laura and I had a very quick walk around to check out what was available before we decided on our first snack of the day! 
There was lots of choice including GoneburgerPiggie Smalls and  Exotic Tagine to name a few. There were also several demonstrations and tasting session with the likes of Glyn Purnell and Dhruv Baker. 
Being unable to resist the urge for Asian food I decided to start my glutinous day by ordering the Lamb Teriyaki from Wing Wah. I love watching the Tepenyaki chefs preparing the food on a hot plate. After waiting for roughly 10 minutes I was given a generous portion of delicious spicy noodles with succulent lamb and peppers. It was a great start to the day and the spice on my tongue forced me to get my first drink of the day!
I followed the advice of several other midlands bloggers and hunted down the Two Towers Brewery and ordered a pint of 'Complete Muppetry' which I have reviewed in my Beer Review Page

We then were drawn in by the smoky aromas of the Goneburger stand. Some very appealing sounding burgers on the menu made for a tough choice of what to have. We settled on 'The 5.0'  Organic Pulled Pork with Whiskey Smoked BBQ Sauce and Chilli Coleslaw in a Bun.  The staff were very welcoming and looked like they were enjoying themselves throughout the day.  
 The burger itself was fantastic, it came with a good pile of meat which had a deep smokey flavour. The slightly spiced coleslaw was also delicious

Next for me was an artisan sausage roll from 'Pig In The Middle' just to top me up. I went for the Jack Daniels BBQ Pork. It was a well flavoured and well filled sausage roll with buttery flaky pastry. Laura also bought a sweet chilli scotch egg to keep for later on.


We had a stroll around the stalls and sampled lots of food and drink and were even given free bottles of marinade from Tabasco which we are yet to use. We sat and listened to some of the live music whilst I enjoyed a pint of scrumpy and Laura took out a new mortgage and had a pint of Pimms.

Unsurprisingly I was soon after some more spice! I was drawn to Exotic Tagine due to the rising steam and vibrant colours coming from the food in the large iron pans. I went for a mix of all the food on offer in order to try everything. The mixture included 2 Tagines, one chicken and one lamb, a lentil dish and finally a chickpea dish, finished off nicely with a side of cous cous and a large dollop of chilli sauce.

All of the food was excellent, well spiced and packed with flavour. The Lamb was a bit tough and fatty in places but I still finished off every last morsel.

We had lots of tasters throughout the day, far too many to tell you about. We also were lucky enough to watch demonstrations from Glyn Purnell and also Jackie Kearny of The Hungry Geko. Jackie Kearny specialises in Asian Street Food and mainly cooks vegan dishes. We were lucky enough to be able to try some of the Khmer Style Yellow Cambodian Curry that she demonstrated in the Chef Theatre. It really took me back to my time travelling Cambodia. It was a very authentic dish with a huge smack of lemongrass, chilli and lime, and a dish that I will definitely be recreating at home.

It really was a great day out and an event I will be looking out for in the future. 

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Friday, 15 May 2015

En Place Pop Up Dining Experience

We were lucky enough to be invited to a pop up dining experience at Millennium Point in Birmingham. En Place is a 3 chef pop up restaurant who provided us with a  6 course tasting menu and wine for £35.

This experience was set next to the Thinktank museum in Birmingham in a small cafe called 6/8 Kafe. From the moment Laura and I arrived we were made to feel very welcome and even though the venue was a small cafe it really felt like we were being treated like customers of a fine dining restaurant. We were shown to our seats by one of the chefs and had a little bit of the background explained to us. 

The first course was advertised as 'Snacks' and consisted of a Gruyere Cheese Gougers (Filled Choux Buns) and small slices of crusty sourdough with slow roasted pork and a gremolata. 


The choux pastry was really soft with just enough flake. They had a generous amount of filling which had a delicate cheese flavour. When i have had these in the past they have been quite overpowering but these were very subtle. One of my choux buns did have a slightly raw base.
The pork on the sourdough was delicious. There was an excellent contrast of textures which all complimented each other. The pork was juicy and succulent whereas the bread was thin and crispy. The gremolata added a sourness to it which was balanced well with the salty pork.

The next course that came out was Veal Tongue, Toasted Sourdough and Sauce Gribiche (Like a cold mayonnaise) 

I thought this course was presented particularly well and again gave the feel of a fine dining experience. Veal tongue is not something I have eaten for a long time so I was looking forward to having another taste. The meat was well cooked and quite delicate. The flavors were quite mild and not too overpowering. I did not pick up a lot of flavour from the Gribiche and thought it was quite plain. Again the sourdough added texture and the micro herbs were attractive and fresh.

At this point in the meal we were offered wine which we both agreed would be to hard to turn down!
I was served a Pinot Noir. I am not a huge wine connoisseur but I really enjoyed this particular glass.

Our next course was Mackerel, Pickled Radish, Samphire and a Tomato Water
 
This was one of my favourite dishes of the evening.
There were many different flavours that went well together which made this dish a success. The salty tender mackerel really fell apart when cut. The pickled radish was very delicate and very delicately flavoured so it did not overpower the water. The samphire was salty and cooked al dente. The best thing on the plate for me was the tomato water. A clear, slightly tanned liquid that packed a huge punch of tomato flavour with a bitterness of onion and garlic also on the palette.

The main course that was served was the Roast Chicken Thigh, New Potatoes Glazed with Thyme and Marmite and Peas a'la Francaise

I was looking forward to this dish as it read quite simple with ingredients that go well together. My only concern was the marmite potatoes as I am on the fence still as to whether I actually like marmite and also I thought the marmite would overpower the potatoes. 
Great attention was again paid to the different textures, sticky potatoes, firm vegetables and crispy chicken skin. I though the roast chicken was quite bland and parts were also dry. The rest of the dish I thoroughly enjoyed. I was hesitant about trying the potatoes, but I thought they were incredible. The balance was excellent and the marmite taste was not as strong as I thought it would have been. It gave a stickiness to the potatoes. The marmite flavour was cleansed by the buttery and fresh spring vegetables. The only element that could have been improved for me was the temperature of the dish which was luke warm, however, this is me being very picky!

The dessert was Lemon, Meringue, Iced Tea. I love Lemon meringue so I was really looking forward to this course.
I thought that this presentation was excellent and I found I was looking at all of the different aspects of the dish searching for a starting point. The earl grey iced tea was different but a taste I liked as it was lemony and married well with the lemon curd. The curd was very tart and sweet which I loved. There were small thyme infused meringues on top which were sticky, crunchy and aromatic. The thin wafer of filo pasty added further texture. This dish really entertained the palette as there were so many sweet and sour elements.

The final course was advertised on the menu as Petit Four. I was expecting some small french style pastries. I was wrong.

We were served a trio  of retro sweets! There was Whiskey gummy sweets which had a really strong whiskey flavour. They melted in the mouth and the warmness of the whiskey was delightful. I am not a huge fan of liquorice but I ate it anyway. The star of this plate was the homemade lemon sherbert. The sweet icing sugar and bicarb foamed in your mouth with an intense lemon flavour which I assume was citric acid of some sort. There were stray bits of lemon rid in which added to the perfumed powder.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this experience with En Place and I would definitely recommend it to others. The customer service is excellent and the food was excellent. I will definitely be looking for a future visit! 
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