#COFFEETIME: URBAN COFFEE COMPANY BIRMINGHAM CITY CENTRE


Drinking Coffee is a past time that I love. Birmingham as you know as a number of very good Independent coffee shops that offer many differing experiences and provide a solace for many different people. One of my favorites, and one that I have been frequenting since it opened is Urban Coffee on Church Street, Birmingham city Centre. Sitting a little away from Birmingham Cathedral and Snow Hill Station Urban Coffee is one of the original coffee pioneeers of independent coffee in the city.

Urban Coffee Company are dedicated to bringing and creating a unique coffee experience. Started by a couple who were tired of the chains and wanted to start an independent coffee shop in Birmingham, they now have three emporiums, one in Church street in the city centre, one in The Jewellery Quarter and one in Harborne.

It was the Church Street emporium I visited on a friday afternoon. When I entered surprisingly it wasn’t very busy, with plenty of tables free. You see Urban Coffee can be very popular, and finding space can be difficult at certain times of the day.

The Church Street Emporium is light and airy and has two levels. The ground is busier usually and more fitting for a quicker visit, with a traditional cafe layout, with stout tables, mixed seating and one long communal table. Upstairs has a more loungy feel, with bean bags and couches, a more leasurely and relaxed space.
I chose on this occasion to sit downstarirs for a change.

I chose to drink a flat white and sample a cappuccino slice. Though it was cup cake friday, the slice tempted me more. The Flat White was good, artistically presented, but certainly not the best i’ve had in Birmingham. It did have a good coffee flavour though and went well with a lovely cake, that I enjoyed. The cakes have always been consistent, and the filter coffee and the cappucino is excellent too:)

Unfortuantely every time I visit they seem to have sold out of handmade Yipsy Macarons, but never mind.

Urban coffee offers a good selection of cakes, pastries, bagels, teas, sandwiches, and has a licence which allows it to serve alcohol such as craft beer, spirits, cocktails and wine. It has a number of events such as live music, poetry readings, cocktail nights and book clubs that happen from time to time. See their website for full diary and food and drinks menu.

They serve bottled beer from 5-7pm when the emporium closes.

Urban Coffee is a great Independent coffee shop, it has a strong free wi fi, and the urbanisters (staff) are friendly, passionate and know their coffee and are happy to assist if you are unable to decide from a long coffee menu.

I like the Church Street emporium, it’s away from the hustle and bustle of the main part of the city and on a street that is a nice one to wander down. (off Colmore Row opposite the Cathedral). Urban Coffee is a coffee shop that is full of people who love coffee and and know of a good product and service.

I would recommend Urban Coffee, and though have not tried their other two emporiums feel that The Church Street venue as the original offers a good mix of airy space that caters for a mixed crowd of people. Though it can be busy.

In many ways, Urban Coffee Company are what makes Birmingham’s Independent coffee scene exciting and something to be proud of. It offers another unique expereince and thus is well recommended for coffee and cake enthusiasts. All veggies welcome :)

Urban Coffee Company
30 Church Street,
Off Colmore Row
Colmore Business District
Birmingham
B3 2NP.

http://www.urbancoffee.co.uk
@urbancoffee

For Independent Birmingham card holders Urban offer a free refil on any single estate filter coffee or tea.

Disclaimer: I paid for my own coffee and cake. My review is my own experience and is honest.

Have you been to Urban Coffee? What did you think?

what are you favourite independent coffee shops? Let me know using the comment box below.

Thanks for reading :)

20140901-111431.jpg

20140901-111446.jpg

20140901-111505.jpg

20140901-111523.jpg

20140901-111540.jpg

20140901-111602.jpg

20140901-111618.jpg

20140901-111637.jpg

20140901-111656.jpg

THE JEKYL AND HYDE: GIN FOOD FUSION MENU IN THE GIN PARLOUR


As I often say, a Gin a day…well maybe not so true, but one or two occasionlly is ok:) Well at The Jekyl and Hyde pub on Steel House Lane in Birmingham City Centre, you can choose from over 90 gins, how decadent, how difficult:)

At the Jekyl and Hyde a drink is not your usual type of drink. It’s a sophisticated spot, one of those places you visit for a quick half and end up staying all night. If you like Gin then it’s the place for you.

As a pub it offers cocktails, real ale and good food in a vibrant atmosphere of decadence with a little Victorian sophistication thrown in.

It is named after author Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic Victorian novel ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde’-double personalities run wild, split into two-the Gin parlour (Dr Jekyl) upstairs and the cosy bar (Mr Hyde) on the ground floor.

The mood of the pub/bar is quite unique in Birmingham, a contrasting space to wile away time. The gin parlour is all dark wood, with blue table cloths laid out for dinner. An atmosphere of decadence and moral ill repute is the norm here :) The downstairs bar is more quirky and cosy with a long bar and an even longer cocktail list.

They have a cute beer garden designed in a themed Alice in Wonderland style that has to be seen to be believed. A really nice courtyard for that summery weather :)

Upstairs, in the Gin Parlour on a Thursday night through to Saturday The Jekyl and Hyde serve a gin Food fusion menu (Eat Me, Drink Me).

You can order two courses or more from a changing seasonal menu for £12.50 with vegetarian options that offers good quality food at reasonable prices.

This is why Ruth and I visited (and for the gin) to see whether the infusion is good or evil.

On walking into the parlour you notice that its a relaxed space in contrast to the bar downstairs. The taste of gin requires that, and with its huge menu one needs to be relaxed enough to work you way through it :) Here cocktails and a gin tasting menu are available. As it was a week night I stuck to drinking the Langley’s gin (a local tipple that The Bureau Bar also serve). Langley’s N0 8 is very good indeed, and goes well paired with the food.

I’m looking forward to returning to try the gin tasters one non work night.

For our starter we both ordered the Smoked Mushroom and Tarragon Soup:

The soup had a good smoky mushroom flavour and colour, with the tarragon complimenting the slight gin infusion. It was a good soup, a nice size, but was perhaps not so piping warm as it should have been, that let it down slightly.

For my main course I chose a Asparagus and Savoury Frangipane Tart, which I enjoyed. The tart was well made, nice pastry, with a good flavour of the charred baby gem lettuce and asparagus that accompanied it. It was served with an extra side of boiled potatoes and had a delicate gin infusion that made it a succcesful and enjoyable tart.

Ruth enjoyed her non veggie main course, and we both decided that we would like to sample their deserts. After all a naughty pudding in the Gin Parlour..well why not.

I decided upon the wonderfully named Mr Hydes Raspberry Mess with a Ophir Gin Coulis. As messes go it was a very good one. The Raspberries blended with the cream and the gin hit the right spot and is well recommended.

Ruth chose the Sticky Toffee pudding, which she said was ok, but she’d had better.

For a different bite to eat, then The Jekyl and Hyde is the place to be. The gin parlour is a lovely space to relax after work, the menu is good, the food above average and with friendly, hospitable staff who are happy to advise and recommend gins, and cocktails it can’t be beat for quirky independent charm. In fact it is what makes independent pubs like this so charming in Birmingham.

For vegetarians, though limited in menu choice on the gin infusion menu it is good value and tailored with the gin menu is a fun night out. The pub menu has veggie burgers (which are very good) and need revisiting, veggie pies and such like.
See website for details.

So try the Jekyl and Hyde and be seduced by the gin, the hospitality, the parlour, the cocktails, and then be transported to a bygone era-The Jekyl and Hyde era of good and evil potions.

The Jekyl and Hyde
28 Steelhouse Lane
Birmingham
B4 6BT

wwww.thejekylandhyde.co.uk
@jekyl_n_hyde

Facebook The-Jekyl-Hyde

http://www.independent-birmingham.co.uk

For more Independent bars, pubs and restaurants see The Independent Birmingham website above.

Disclaimer: We paid for our own meal and all of my opinions are usual are honest and true.

20140828-112523.jpg

20140828-112541.jpg

20140828-112611.jpg

20140828-112631.jpg

20140828-112556.jpg

20140828-112645.jpg

20140828-112722.jpg

20140828-112801.jpg

20140828-112819.jpg

20140828-112907.jpg

20140828-112934.jpg

20140828-112833.jpg

20140828-113041.jpg

20140828-113010.jpg

20140828-112738.jpg

20140828-112700.jpg

20140828-162815.jpg

20140828-162839.jpg

#VEGGIE/VEGAN FOOD HEROES: 100% VEGAN SHOP AND THE WAREHOUSE CAFE


The second and third veggie/vegan Food Heroes are the
100% Vegan Shop and The Warehouse Cafe in Digbeth Birmingham.

They are both housed in the same building, on Alison Street, Digbeth near the Bull Ring, Selfridges and Moor Street Station.

The 100% Vegan Shop is an independent one stop shop which aims to promote the vegan cause by being a good honest business.

They are passionate about all things vegan, from good honest whole food staples to the little treats that are hard to find. It was started by a couple of vegans who wanted Birmingham to have a good honest business with exciting products, promoting the vegan cause. They are based in The Friends of The Earth Warehouse building in Digbeth.

They stock, vegan alternatives to traditional products, such as cheese, meats, ice cream, dried fruits, flour, nuts, seeds, tofu hand made pasties, pies and gluten free products such as breakfast cereals, and biscuits and cakes. They also sell household products.

For full range see their website:

http://www.100percentvegan.co.uk/our-range

Whether you are a vegan, vegetarian or neither The 100% vegan shop is a lovely independent shop in Birmingham and well worth taking a look at for new and interesting stock.

Open 10-7pm Tuesday-Saturday.

100% Vegan Shop
The Warehouse
54-57 Allison Street
Digbeth
Birmingham
B5 5TH

0121 633 5539
Twitter @100pcvegan

http://www.100percentvegan.co.uk

The Warehouse Cafe is Birmingham’s original Vegetarian restaurant. It’s independent and a must visit for any veggie or vegan or anyone who likes good healthy food.

It is based in the same building as the 100% Vegan Shop in Digbeth Birmingham and has been serving unpretentious food and a good dose of a healthy sense of humour for a many a long year.

Their healthy food is very well regarded in Birmingham, and the environment is cute and has a nice atmosphere.

The Warehouse Cafe is committed to sustainability and its core values. They recycle and use a bicycle courrier (or foot) for the majority of fresh produce that is delivered.

They are piloting a scheme to use local allotment produce gifted by friends and supporters in their resturant.

The menus caters for both vegetarian and vegan, and there are a healthy selection of vegan dishes available:)

For menus see http://www.thewarehousecafe.com

They are open:

Tuesday-Friday 12-3.30pm and 5.30-10pm
Saturday 12-3.30pm and 5.30-10pm
Closed Sunday, Monday and Bank Holidays.

facebook/thewarehousecafe
Twitter: warehousecafeUK

0121 633 0261

The Warehouse Cafe
The Warehouse
54-57 Allison Street
Digbeth
Birmingham
B5 5TH

I plan to visit The Warehouse Cafe soon to eat and do a review.

Do you have a particular favourite? It could be in Birmingham, The Midlands, or beyond. Anyone that should be mentioned, that flies the flag for vegetarians and vegans:) Let me know either in the comment box or via twitter @andydhare.

20140826-124805.jpg

20140826-124743.jpg

20140826-124833.jpg

20140826-124819.jpg

20140826-124907.jpg

20140826-124850.jpg

20140826-124926.jpg

PURNELLS RESTAURANT BIRMINGHAM: ‘NOW’ VEGETARIAN TASTING MENU


20140825-091244.jpg

20140825-091305.jpg&

Any visit to Purnells Restaurant in Birmingham City Centre is a real treat, when visiting with a couple of friends even more so.

Purnells Restaurant on Cornwall Street in the Colmore Business District is one of the go to restaurants in Birmingham. Chef Glynn Purnell has stamped his food footprint on this glorious city like a bright shining Michelin star that he has above his door.

Glynn Purnell has represented Birmingham well. He won The Great British Menu in 2008 and then again in 2009, one with a desert, one with fish.

Since it opened in 2007 Purnells Restaurant has always been a chic place to visit, a celebratory place. Well that is how it has been to Ruth and I. We have celebtrated special birthday’s and getting engaged there.

Purnells won a Michelin Star in 2009, its a contemporary space, fine dining without the stuffiness, way more modern and knowing than that.

20140825-092404.jpg

Being a vegetarian at Purnells Isn’t difficult. As long as they know in advance you will then be treated to some of the best vegetarian dishes that you’ve ever tasted. There is no menu to be found on their website or on their window. That is because the food served is of the ‘now’ seasonal, fresh and adapted from the main menu with what’s available. It’s a fine skill to be able to do this, some chefs are daunted by vegetarians, Glynn Purnell and his team aren’t. Hence the lack of menu. We are a challenge:)

It is always best to mention your dietary needs when booking, and whether vegetarian or I’m sure vegan you will be well catered for.

Purnells is a spacious restaurant, with a large bar area. This is where we began our night with a glass of champagne and some aperitifs with the menu.

The bar area is a comfortable space, designed to help you relax and before being taken into the main event.

The large dining room has seating for couples, small parties and one for a large group.

The menus represent the ‘old’, and ‘new’ or ‘now’ as its called.
This is the menu the four of us dined from. The adverb of which is titled

‘Summer, Sunshine, fun times and sand castles’.

Over the years I’ve eaten some stunning dishes at Purnells. The ‘now’ vegetarian tasting menu is 12 courses long. Each dish is a visual treat that is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.

The imagination and skill across the menu was only bettered by the textures, flavours and playfulness of the menu.

The dishes are listed in the photograph of the menu. I’m not going to go through each dish individually but mention my favourite dishes on the night. Your menu may be different, dependent on the season and your personal tastes.

The vegetarian ‘Now’ menu is adapted from the non veggie ‘Now’ menu. The last two desert courses were the same on both menus.

20140825-094004.jpg

20140825-094022.jpg

1.Lime potatoes in oats and spices duck egg maionaise. Photograph courtesy of the restaurant.

20140825-094226.jpg

2. Poached egg yolk leek purée, lemon balm Brummie cake.

Refined, delightful wonderfully presented it sets the scene with its eggy notes of flavour.

20140825-094448.jpg

3. Thus the third course of Beetroot mouse with horseradish, salted beetroot was a fine dish, an ensemble of harmonious flavours and fresh beetroot which floated gentle notes of flavour over the horse radish. A lovely balanced and fresh dish.

4. Provencal morsel. A delicious interlude. Well executed.

20140825-095059.jpg

20140825-095141.jpg

5. Next came The pea salad with its fresh flavour of peas, broad beans, that exalted the seasonality of the produce to create a wonderfully hypnotic dish. Fantastic.

6. Remoulade 2012: A palate cleanser, three morsels designed to be eaten in succession in order to increase the flavours of the first. Breathtaking cooking.

20140825-095933.jpg

20140825-100011.jpg

7. My favourite dish:) served along with the divine spicy lentils, which have an advanced spicy note that compliments the pickled carrots a harmony of stunning complicated flavours, with superb depth.

20140825-100453.jpg

8. Main course: tomatoes bursting with flavour, Mediterranean like textures, with the gentle borlotti beans, contrasting with the scorched lettuce and courgette, lovely.

20140825-100815.jpg

9. Waffle: morsel. Underwhelming dish because of the quality of before.

20140825-101007.jpg

10. Deserts: Strawberries and violet ice cream.
A delectable simple dish, summery and pretty. Lovely, a take on strawberries and cream.

20140825-101323.jpg

20140825-101402.jpg

11. Mint choc chip, a playful take on summer ice cream and chocolate. Pure theatre, with minty notes wafting off from the steam stimulated at the table. Rich chocolate, pure heaven for chocolate lovers, teasing the palate. A lovely desert.

20140825-102033.jpg

20140825-102056.jpg

12. Lemon meringue pie: demonstrating Glynn Purnells, nostalgic playfulness. The best lemon meringue I’ve ever had. A truthful report of his culinary vision. Evocative of childhood, a refreshing desert.

Purnells Deserts are playful, all fabulous, always original.

The service throughout the meal was excellent, formal/informal with the right balance between interaction and restraint. The staff at Purnells represent the restaurant well with enthusiasm and knowledge.

A vegetarian meal at Purnells is a cosseting experience. Glynn Purnells technical competence is evident. My food was incentive, seasonal, with superbly executed dishes that struck the right balance of flavour and texture. Delivering on all levels, of indulgence and nostalgic fun.

Purnells shows a keen focus on sourcing on the ‘now’ menu, quality ingredients, evident in the freshness of the menu and the work put into the dishes to make them delightful to the palate.

This star still shines brightly delivering stunning refined vegetarian cuisine. Every course delivers something new, always innovative and thoughtful.

A playful vegetarian treat.

Simply stunning.

20140825-103542.jpg

Please note, your dishes may not be the same as the ones I enjoyed. Due to seasonality and dietary preferences.
Let then know your desires and enjoy.

The cost of the vegetarian tasting menu is £85 per person.

Ruth and our two friends had the ‘Now’ tasting menu (non Veggie) and said it was superb.

Has anyone else being to Purnells and had athe vegetarian tasting menu? What did you think?

Disclaimer: we paid for our own meal at Purnells. The opinions expressed are my own and are honest and true.

For booking see website:
http://www.purnellsrestaurant.com

Info@purnellsrestaurant.com

Purnells
55 Cornwall Street
Birmingham
B3 2DH

0121 212 9799 option 1

Reservations taken up to 90 days in advance.

OPUS RESTAURANT: WORCESTER PRODUCE VEGETARIAN DINNER


Every source has a story.

That statement forms part of the ethos of Opus Restaurant on Cornwall Street, Birmingham City Centre.

The source dinner series of events that Opus run is a chance for customers to meet their suppliers and hear their compelling stories. Opus have a mission to promote their farmers, fisherman and wine makers, hence the vegetarian Source dinner with Worcester produce.

The source series introduces a food hero over four courses with wine.

As I’ve already explained in my previous blog post on Opus’ market menu and the Meat Free Monday menu at Cafe Opus, I’m a big fan of their vegetarian food and ethos which always means good seasonal veggie dishes.

Opus celebrates the freshest of ingredients, independent and market fresh produce allows the ingredients to dictate the menu and allows Opus to buy each day from their suppliers.

Fruit, salad and vegetables are grown in nurseries of Worcester Produce across the Vale of Evesham (Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Warwickshire) and were picked on day one and were with Opus on day two. The produce is nurtured by local farmers for nearly a year.

20140822-090009.jpg

20140822-090029.jpg

Ruth and I were pleased to be invited as guests of Opus Restaurant for this their first vegetarian dinner.

As a vegetarian this felt like pure Indulgence, not only to eat delicious vegetarian food, but to hear about the process from ground to kitchen, to fork. Something I’ve always been fascinated by as a keen grower of vegetables.

20140822-091655.jpg

20140822-091713.jpg

We arrived at Opus and were warmly greeted and shown to the bar area. Here we met other guests for the evening and were indulged with an aperitif and some home made nibbles.

20140822-091958.jpg

Eventually, We were shown into the dining room and were seated on a large round table we shared with six other guests.

Bread was brought round and wine before the main meal. Wine was topped up throughout the dinner.

The Vegetarian Source dinner was a four course dinner with wine, structured that before each course the producer of the ingredients used would give a short introductory talk into the mechanisms of growing the ingredients, the nurturing, and indulge us with stories of their motivations and history. This was a lovely intimate way to feel closer to the produce and producer, and it set up the meal well.

20140822-092736.jpg

The first course was the Sautéed King Oyster and maitake mushrooms, creamed tarragon, crispy rocket and crouton.

I’d not heard of maitake mushrooms before, but the Japanese name means ‘dancing mushroom’ and grows in clusters at the base of trees, particularly oaks. Can be known as hen-of-the-woods.

It was a gutsy and meaty dish, with a really deep flavour and colour of mushrooms. The two mushrooms complimented each other well and when set with the creamy tarragon made an almost soupy texture, which worked really well. A lovely dish and testament to the grower Tim Livesey who is so passionate about his produce.

20140822-093637.jpg

The second course was a warm Pablo Cabrita goats cheese custard on whole grain granary biscuit, Pixley Court black berries, salted and caramelised walnuts.

20140822-094050.jpg

The Pablo Cabrita goats cheese is made by Sarah Hampton in Bridgenorth.

The dish was delicious, the goats cheese was creamy, set like a custard, and packed with flavour. The best goats cheese I’ve ever had. Set with the summery sweet berries and crunch of the walnut it made my favourite dish. The goats cheese worked well on the granary biscuit which gave it an almost desert like texture. Lovely. A high quality dish and produce.

20140822-094716.jpg

The third course was a Roasted celeriac tortellini, baby beets, kale, heritage carrots, beurre blanc, pumpkin seeds, and pumpernickel granola.

I loved this dish, the handmade tortellini, had a smooth celeriac flavour, quite different, but then with the fresh crunch of some amazing vegetables made for a pretty and beautifully executed veggie main course. The freshness of the veg was apparent and the flavours were complimentary to the silky pasta. It worked well.

20140822-095247.jpg

20140822-095325.jpg

The final course, the desert, was delicious. It was called the ‘Celebration of the Victoria plum’ trio served with almond Tuille, sorbet mousse, poached. A summery dish, a ode to the plum. Packed full of flavour, simple in construction but as it says a celebration of Victoria plums in all their glory. A dish to end the meal on a high.

20140822-095844.jpg

20140822-095859.jpg

Note that all vegetables and plums are grown within a ten mile radius of Pershore.

The Opus Source Vegetarian felt like a triumph. It was very well attended by both vegetarians and meat eaters, and it felt a privilege to be invited and to experience such passion and enthusiasm for vegetables and fruit produce.

The dishes served made the best of the great produce and Opus once again showed that they understand vegetarian food, that the freshest ingredients are central to good vegetarian cooking. One can only hope that next year Opus Restaurant do it all over again. Ruth and I will certainly be there.

Produce grown with pride, and eaten with pride.

An evening to savour.

20140822-100742.jpg

20140822-100831.jpg

For details of the remaining source series dinners see Opus’ website
http://www.opusrestaurant.co.uk

For all menus including the daily market menu see also the website.

Disclaimer: We dined as guests of Opus Restaurant. We didn’t pay for the evening. All views and opinions are my own and honest. I was not required to write a positive review.

Opus Restaurant
54 Cornwall Street
Birmingham
B3 2DE

0121 200-2323

@opusrestsurant

20140825-172930.jpg

#VEGGIE/VEGAN FOOD HEROES: #STREET FOOD: THE VEGAN GRINDHOUSE AND VEGAN VOX


The Vegan Grindhouse are the only completely vegan/veggie #streetfood business in and around the Midlands. They provide the best in vegan streetfood and snacks brought to the public by Vegan Vox.

A real Vegan/Veggie food hero.

The Vegan Grindhouse are a small indipendent business run by husband and wife team Andy and Lisa. They are bringing great quality vegan food options within the street food scene.

Inspired by the premise that their are very few vegan options available on the street food circuit the idea was formed to open up a completely vegan 1950’s American style mobile diner on the road.

Their menu is mouthwatering. Their food is amazing, full of flavour and very tempting. (To meat eaters and vegans/veggies)

They offer:

Gourmet Hot Dogs
Chilli dogs
Chilli cheese (vegan) dog
Gourmet burgers
Chilli and Nachos
Shakes
Toasties
Ice Cream
Cookies, muffins, a selection of cakes including cupcakes.

Plus their are gluton free options available.

Lisa runs the Vegan Vox blog, she is a food writer, and passionate vegan. See the Vegan Grindhouse website for details.

The Vegan Grindhouse are lovely people, make sure you seek them out on the street food circuit. You can find them regularly at Brum Yum Yum in Kings Heath and at the Square in Birmingham City Centre, at Digbeth Dining club and at The Victoria Square Sketts Birmingham Food fair. See their website for full details.

Forthcoming dates are:

20th August: Sketts Birmingham Fine Food fair
22nd August: Digbeth Dining club 2nd Birthday party
27th August: Bridgenorth Food fair
29th August: Lunch Market: Brum Yum Yum The Square Birmingham City Centre
30th August: Kings Heath KingshEATh by Brum Yum Yum
31st August; MAC Food fair Midlands Arts Centre

Part of The Vegan Grindhouse experience is the Mega Burger challenge, eat a triple burger which is a 3 beef style quarter pounder, 3 slices of vegan cheese, 3 bacon style rashers, served with a triple layer bun, gherkins, and jalapenos.

If you can eat it, then you win a Vegan Grindhouse T’shirt:) plus have your picture taken to prove it.

They also do a superb mushroom burger.

I love The Vegan Grindhouse, so make sure you make them a part of your veggie and vegan foodie crawl.

If anyone knows of any body else that is a veggie/vegan food hero, then let me know either on the comments section below or via twitter @andydhare. Can be in Birmingham, Midlands, or beyond.

http://www.vegangrindhouse.co.uk

@VeganGrindHouse Twitter
Facebook/VeganGrindHouse

@veganvoxblog
Facebook/veganvoxblog

Instagram @VeganGrindHouse

07971 399 440

20140820-113753.jpg

20140820-113808.jpg

20140820-113829.jpg

20140820-113847.jpg

20140820-113906.jpg

20140820-113930.jpg

20140820-113949.jpg

20140820-114003.jpg

20140820-114020.jpg

20140820-114040.jpg

20140820-114053.jpg

20140820-114107.jpg

REVIEW: HEALTH COUNTY: STAR CITY, FRESH, HEALTHY, TASTY, CRAZY


20140819-093800.jpg20140819-093814.jpg20140819-093847.jpg

I have to confess that I hadn’t been to Star City for a number of years. Partly due to where I live and partly because it didn’t appeal to me.

Star City is in the Aston area of Birmingham, a few miles out of the centre near the Spaghetti junction and M6.

Health County is a fairly new independent addition to Star City and is superb for vegetarians, vegans and anyone who is looking for the healthy option. It caters for the lunch time takeaway crowd mostly, but is also a good spot for a sit down lunch or coffee or juice break when in the area.

Health County is the healthier option serving, juices, smoothies, wraps, salads and Panini. It’s a life style cafe/kiosk that offers simple, fresh and tasty food. It has a good choice and good accesibility. It focuses on the individual which I like.

The smoothies and juices idea isn’t a new one but at Health County, they aim to make it central to their philosophy, that eating fresh and healthy ingredients that are locally sourced where possible can reap benefits in the long run.

They provide breakfasts, lunch and snacks and their smoothies are superbly fresh and fruity.

Health County in Star City is a sweet place :) it’s a kiosk, that is small but, bright and cheerful , a lovely space with equally lovely service. It is quite small inside, but it has seating outside with a weatherproof canopy that is private and away from the traffic.

I met second in command Radu their and he spoke enthusiastically about the Health County concept, future expansion into Redditch and new ideas for the cafe including a suggestions voting system for new smoothie and juice flavours, and ideas from the public regarding food.

I decided to sit outside and drink a smoothie and eat a veggie wrap.

I chose a Berry Blast Smoothie.

20140819-095600.jpg20140819-095619.jpg20140819-095637.jpg

My smoothie was delicious, cold, fruity, and felt beautifully healthy, a blend of strawberry, banana, blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries. The banana wasn’t overwhelming but added creaminess to the smoothie. I enjoyed it.

My wrap, was a mixed salad and veg wrap stuffed with my own choice from the salad deli bar. It had carrot, lettuce, sweet corn and other veg fillings (see picture) and was lovely. The bread of the wrap was fresh, soft, firm and didn’t fall apart when bitten into. I added cheese to my wrap, but you could also add salsa or any extra.

The fillings gave a lovely crunch and flavour and made for a filling and excellent lunch. The wrap complimented the smoothie well and was a filling lunch which felt fresh and healthy.

20140819-100428.jpg

20140819-100447.jpg

20140819-100513.jpg

20140819-100537.jpg

Health County is an excellent independent cafe for vegetarians and vegans or anyone looking for that healthy option.
I Like its ethos on health and freshness. It provides plenty of choice from wraps through to jacket potatoes, to pasta, to couscous, to noodles. It radically focuses on the needs of the customer, providing a choice of ingredients and menu options. It’s good for snacks, to stay, to go, for lunch or a thirst quenching juice stop.

I will certainly return to Health County and Star City. Health County is a place to return to try something healthy and different in a sweet and tasteful bar.

Good for veggies, good for everyone.

@healthcountymag

http://www.healthcounty.net

For menus see website.

20140819-101252.jpg

20140819-101311.jpg

20140819-101329.jpg

20140819-101344.jpg

Disclaimer: I was invited to Health County as a guest to try out their food menu and drinks. It didn’t require a positive review. My opinions and thoughts are my own.

REVIEW: BLUE RABBIT & CO POP UP IN KINGS HEATH AND FLETCHERS BAR


20140817-102207.jpg

20140817-102228.jpg

There are a number of fantastic foodie places in Kings Heath in the South Birmingham area, from cafe’s, delis, coffee shops, restaurants and pubs.
Blue Rabbit & Co is one of the most recent to pop up, in fact it is a pop up for the remainder of the year at least.

Blue Rabbit based in the Kitchen Garden Cafe, a lovely oasis of calm on York Road near the Hare and Hounds pub.

In the daytime it has a garden centre, food deli, and cafe in a garden type terrace with outdoor tables. The Kitchen Garden Cafe always have good vegetarian options.

At night time three evenings (thursday, Friday and Saturday 6-9.30pm) a week it becomes the Blue Rabbit & Co pop up restaurant, a bistro, an independent serving home cooked food at reasonable prices.

Blue Rabbit offer a small, but regularly changing menu which includes a vegetarian option for a starter and main course.

For the price 2 courses are £15 and 3 courses are £18 it is exceedingly good value for fresh and seasonal ingredients well served, flavoured and presented.

20140817-104456.jpg

20140817-104515.jpg

20140817-104542.jpg

Chef Dominic Simmonds has worked at a number of Birmingham’s top restaurants and is now cooking his own food.

Ruth and I visited on a Saturday night. The Kitchen Garden Cafe is a lovely venue. Wandering up a narrow path off busy York Road through plants, flowers and into the courtyard, it had a certain mystique about it. On entering we were greeted warmly, but found an almost empty restaurant apart from one other couple. We were advised that as Brum Yum Yum street food market KingshEATh was on earlier in the day they had decided to not go out in the evening as well. Shame.

The Kitchen Garden Cafe looked lovely, flickering candles and with its wooden tables, wide windows, and quirky air the pop up felt right there. Looking out on the courtyard was lovely and felt romantic.

Not deterred as we had come for the food we ordered two glasses of wine and ordered our food.

We were brought some delicious homemade bread to eat before our starter.

20140817-105544.jpg

For a starter we both ordered the Grilled peach, ricotta, balsamic vinegar. We felt that the flavours were fresh, the peaches and the ricotta working well together, to make a lovely summery salad, that felt light and full of flavour. It was a lovely vegetarian starter.

20140817-110151.jpg

20140817-110222.jpg

For a main course I ordered the
Goats cheese ravioli, broad beans, courgettes. The dish was lovely. The quality of the ingredients shone through, the goats cheese ravioli, hand made, with a delicate flavour that with the summery broad beans and courgettes made a stunning fine dining like dish. A real delight.

We also ordered a side dish of roasted Butternut Squash which was full of flavour and bite and went well with the pasta or eaten on its own.

20140817-110839.jpg

20140817-110857.jpg

For desert Ruth ordered the selection of sorbets, she felt that they were delicious, with the cherry flavoured one to be recommended especially. She felt that the flavours were original and summery.

I ordered the divine sounding chocolate tort with vanilla cream. It was full of deep chocolate flavour, the pastry was well made, the right thickness and as a desert it was fabulous, a lovely tort.

20140817-111309.jpg

20140817-111328.jpg

20140817-111355.jpg

The Blue Rabbit & Co is a welcome addition to the Kings Heath dining scene. It offers something different to the tapas, curry and pubs/bars already thriving. The ingredients used in the dishes are well sourced and are seasonal. The vegetarian dishes well made, thoughtful and full of seasonal flavour.

The Blue Rabbit edge more towards fine dining or a good quality bistro than cafe and that is shown with the changing weekly menu. Keeping it fresh and challenging.

As a restaurant I loved it. It is good value, and the quality on offer is worthy of paying more. The veggie options are fresh and keenly observed. Fully recommended.

See the website for menus.

Hopefully the Blue Rabbit & Co will go on to achieve great things when its pop up stint ends and is well worth visiting whilst it remains in Kings Heath.

20140817-112159.jpg

20140817-112217.jpg

20140817-112244.jpg

Before and after our meal at Blue Rabbit & co we visited Fletchers Bar next door to the Kitchen Garden Cafe.

We enjoyed two cocktails at Fletchers before our meal a Dry Manhattan, and a Margarita, both well made and good value, plus two glasses of Malbec after our meal.

The bar is quirky, friendly, informal and the cocktails and real ale are excellent.

I have eaten at Fletchers and can recommend the food which is more sophisticated than the traditional pub food offerings with some good vegetarian options and changing specials.

Fletchers is owned by the Kitchen Garden Cafe.

Fletchers is part of the Independent Birmingham card with a discount on food.

20140817-112906.jpg

20140817-112929.jpg

20140817-112943.jpg

Blue Rabbit & co
Kitchen Garden
17 York Road
Kings Heath
Birmingham
B14 7SA

0121 443 4725

@DominicSimmonds
http://www.bluerabbitandco.com
Facebook: Blue Rabbit & co
07580551218
Info@bluerabbitandco.com

http://www.kitchengardencafe.co.uk

wwwfletchersbarandeatery.co.uk

Disclaimer: We paid for our own dinner. My review is a true and honest assessment.

Thanks for reading.

If anyone has any thoughts or comments on places to eat in Kings Heath and Moseley that are good for veggies and vegans let me know?

Has anyone else been to Blue Rabbit, what did you think?

20140817-114229.jpg

20140817-114256.jpg

20140821-114959.jpg

#TASTYMORSELS: RICO LIBRE @BARN STREET DIGBETH BREAKFAST AND TAPAS


Another new addition to Birmingham’s Dining scene is Rico Libre @Barn Street Breakfast and Tapas. Stationed in the Digbeth part of the city 5 minutes from the Custard Factory and 4 minutes from Digbeth Coach station on Digbeth High street they sit in what was a diner, but is now a hot new tapas bar that masquerades as a cafe in the early daytime.

Rico Libre serve Breakfast Monday-Friday 8am-2pm which includes a delicious vegetarian Breakfast comprising of veggie sausage, Herby Mushrooms, grilled Tomato, Sauteed Potatoes and toast with tea or coffee for a bargain £4.20.

They also serve the enticing Huevos Rancheros a Mexican Breakfast of Tortillas x2 Fried eggs x2, tomato salsa, cheese, refried beans, and sour cream for a bargain £5.00.

They also serve sandwiches and salad boxes at lunch time and are popular with businesses in the local area.

Also, at lunchtime they serve Tapas-Monday-friday from 12-2.30pm but not evenings in the week as yet.

This has been rolled out to now include Friday and Saturday evenings 5pm-10pm.

The cost is 3 dishes for £10.00 with bring your own alcohol.

On the menu for vegetarians are a number of options:

-Champinones Al Ajillo-Mushrooms sauteed in garlic and parsley
-Grilled Haloumi with Rustic Tomatoes, and Basil.
-Patatas Bravas-Fried Potatoes, with rustic tomato.
-Patatas Alioli-Fried Potatoes with garlic Mayo.
-Grilled aubergine, with red mojo sauce and salsa.

They also serve bread, toasted garlic bread and olives.

Also, desert Creme Catalan is veggie.

Rico Libre has had some good reviews so far on Tripadvisor. Search Rico Libre @Barn street.

Seems a real independent find especially for a good value tapas lunch whilst in the Custard factory or a breakfast before a visit. Looking forward to visiting soon.

Their are some terrific Vegetarian options on the menu.

The Custard Factory and Digbeth has so much to offer and is a thriving community of exciting foodie and vintage shopping places. :)

The area maybe unfamiliar and tucked away. They have painted their building bright green so that it can be noticed :) It is on the Corner of Milk Street and Barn Street in Digbeth.

Directions are on their website.

Their is parking near by on the road and around the area.

http://www.rico-libre.co.uk

@rico-libre Twitter

0121 687 8730

Rico Libre @Barn Street
1 Barn Street
Digbeth
Birmingham
B5 5QD

20140814-160428.jpg

20140814-160357.jpg

20140814-160414.jpg

#TASTYMORSELS: NEW MENU LAUNCH @ VEGETARIAN BISTRO 1847 in BIRMINGHAM


20140813-100349.jpg

20140813-100416.jpg

Any news about one of my favourite restaurants is worthy of a #Tastymorsel post.

Vegetarian and vegan innovative and modern food heroesBistro 1847 in the Great Western Arcade in Birmingham city centre near Snow Hill station is due to launch its new menu.

Already launched to rave reviews in Manchester in July the new menu promises to expand the modern sophisticated textures and tastes of vegetarian food even further.

My review a few months ago found me salivating and raving about Bistro 1847’s food, which is even to non veggies a top dining experience and well worth exploring.

Now the new menu aims to compliment and stretch the palate further, and provide a more varied modern foodie experience to Birmingham’s vegetarians and vegans. (As well as non veggie and vegans:))

The menu Is split into a few parts:

- A grazing menu-sharing, exploring, mezze style dishes from £6-£12.75.

Using local produce. Menu is served as dishes are ready to offer a modern tapas like experience.

- A 5 course Taste of Bistro 1847 menu for £27 from Monday-Friday lunch and evening.

- A 8 course Taste of Bistro 1847 menu for £40 per person Available Friday and Saturday evening.

There are also full vegan and gluten free tasting menus and dishes.

Plus there will 2-1 cocktails and in the near future matched wines by the glass that can be offered with the tasting menus.

The menu is due to be launched in ; Birmingham on the 9th September.

A sample menu is available on their website under the Birmingham section.

It sounds an exciting development for veggie food in Birmingham. Give it a try:) you won’t be disappointed.

Sounds great for a celebration too:) or that special date:)

http://www.bistro1847.com

26 Great Western Arcade
Birmingham
B2 5HU
0121 236 2313

@Bistro1847

Have you been to Bistro 1847?
What did you think?
Put any thoughts in the comments section or let me know on twitter.

20140813-102231.jpg

20140813-102249.jpg

20140813-102315.jpg

20140813-102358.jpg

20140829-165502.jpg

20140829-165525.jpg