Review: Leon, Natural Fast Food in New Street Station, Birmingham. 


  

Now just imagine this..healthy fast food..now that’s a discovery..imagine all fast food was healthy. How many Marmite crisps would you eat? Now that’s probably just me, I think I’m the only sane person in the world that likes them, hey what do you mean, insane? No seriously healthy fast food, that’s the domain of Leon, yes even their chips which are baked. 

I love much of vegetarian style fast food, a veggie pie, a good veggie burger, a slice of pizza, sweet potato fries, and eating chips on Aldeburgh beach in Suffolk, yum..no surprise to anyone who follows my blog. Yet, healthy fast food, is a new one on me. In fact it’s a new one for Birmingham to, if the rise of Five Guys burger chain is anything to go by..big anti vegetarian Yuk! (Oh dear sorry) (must remember to not get so cross!) 

Leon has recently opened its first store in Birmingham temptingly close to the main atrium of the New Street Station / Grand Central complex. With branches famously in London for 11 years and an expansion plan in place, Leon will become more familiar outside of the capital in due course. Serving food from breakfast until evening. The menu includes burgers, wraps and superfood salads as well as breakfast baps, breakfast muffins, smoothies, and coffee. Fast Naturally Food with an excellent vegetarian and vegan choice. 

Wow, The Leon menu covers every moment. 

As its in New Street Station just below the shiny new Grand Central it will naturally be a top choice for the commuter and those on the move. It’s also a very good choice for families with lots of choice for children, with the smaller pots ideal for the younger foodie. (See children’s menu at foot of my review) 

Though quite small inside the turnover of tables appears quite quick which is helpful. The decor is industrial feeling, but is light and feels bigger with tables not on top of each other. Plenty of space for cases, bags and buggies. It has a friendly feel and staff are happy to advise on dietary needs and ingredients in the dishes. Service is also prompt and the restaurant tables are kept tidy and clean. 

All food and drink on the menu is made fresh daily. Their coffee is fair trade and organic, as are their eggs, milk and porridge oats. Leon are also a founding member of the Sustainable restaurant association. 

   
   
Leon was founded in 2004 and only employ people who are “full of sun”, (not full of chips). The award-winning, London-based company is as I’ve said the healthy side of fast food with a notable leaning towards Vegetarian and Vegan dishes. 

Take the Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Chinichurri: In my case onion, courgettes, pomegranate, roasted with turmeric and cumin with alioli and baked fries. (Side extra). £5.10 plus £2.50 for the fries. 

Packaged in a nice box, the inner cauliflower Salad packed plenty of flavour, cauliflower has always been a personal favourite and though I asked for a recommendation I knew I wanted to try this dish. The dish full of fresh flavours, crunchy textures with a good turmeric and cumin finish, was delicious. It felt healthy and nutritious,  it felt warming and filling and good value for the price. 

The Baked fries on this occasion I hasten to add were not so good, though packing plenty of potato flavour they were not to hot and felt disappointing in the end. I like the sprinkled seasoning and the curly look though and would order them again, as i’m sure they could be done better. Nice alioli though. 

With my food I ordered a Flat White. Though their were delicious juices and smoothies and coconut water on the menu an opportunity to try a coffee never escapes me, and it was a very good flat white, great for a take away. 

(My Recommendation was the Halloumi wrap by the way,which I’m looking forward to trying along with the supper food salads.)

  
   
  Baked Fries 

 
  
  
Roasted Cauliflower salad 

Leon is a chain, and though I’m not usually a massive fan of chains I’m a big fan of what I’ve seen and experienced thus far. It’s because they do care about Vegetarians and Vegans, about the food we eat and about the ethics of it all. Yes, Birmingham has another chain, and yes I wish somebody independent could offer this kind of food, this kind of experience, but until that happens Leon will be a place I’ll call back to any time of day. It’s ethos should be applauded and the food on offer with its high nutritious leaning eaten. Food should taste good, and if it can do you good as well even better and for this Leon is a vegetarian friend. 

  

  

Leon cookbooks available at all good booksellers.   

  
http://leonrestaurants.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/16.PAPER_MENU_2015_AUTUMN.pdf

http://leonrestaurants.co.uk/restaurants/birmingham/

http://leonrestaurants.co.uk/menu/children/

http://leonrestaurants.co.uk/vision/sourcingsustainability/

You can find Leon in Birmingham at Unit 25, New Street Station B2 4QA. 

0121-643-5925. 

Open from 6.30am-10pm every day apart from Sunday which is 8am-10pm. 

I paid for my meal in full at Leon. My views are my own, honest as always. 

Thanks for reading, 

Andy 😊

Review: Treat Greek Deli in The Great Western Arcade, Birmingham. 


   
 

The Great Western Arcade in Birmingham City Centre is one of the loveliest arcades to browse and pick up independent shop treats. 

Greek Food in the city has been up to recently been in my opinion not the go to food for vegetarians, with many Greek restaurants been generally uninspiring and meat heavy. The most recent opening in the Great Western Arcade is a small Greek Deli called Treat. 

Treat Deli sits at the Snow Hill Station Side of the arcade and offers high quality and home made pies, pasties, salads, healthy smoothies jams, preserves, olives and Greek Coffee-Hot and cold. 

As well as this cakes, olive oils, and herbs, coffee, and tea are on display to take away or eat in its small (with a small seating section) cosy inside. 

It brings together food from different regions of Greece all in one place. 

Run by a Father-Daughter team (George and Angeliki Xiarchou) I was invited by them to sample their vegetarian offerings. 

  

Tables outside Treat Deli.

  
  

What struck me about Treat Deli is how proud and how enthusiastic Angeliki is, and that passion runs through the family and is reflected in the baked goods on offer. The food is beautifully displayed with clear labelling and looks incredibly tempting and inviting. I’m a sucker for pies, pasties and anything baked. It’s a comfort thing I think. 

For vegetarians there are numerous cheesy pie options, plus a fennel pie, pumpkin pie, a tiropita, (cheese pie), a leek roll and a mixed vegetable pie (Skopolos) which is divine. Also the pre packed salads including a delicious Greek salad are available if pastry is not your thing. 

    
    
    

I tried their feta cheese skopelos which was lovely. Creamy feta with delecate herbs stuffed into a golden and well made pastry. Filling, tasty and would make a lovely lunch to take away or eat inside. 

Traditional food is what Treat deli specialise in, bringing the sunny tastes of holidays to the grey pavements of Birmingham. 

I also sampled the mixed Vegetable Skopolos which I enjoyed so much that I went in again the following week to buy some for dinner and share with Ruth. We both loved it, full of vegetables in a water crust pastry, beautifully flavoured. A divine accompaniment to potatoes at home or to take away. 

What also struck me was the size of the pies which are generously big. Which is good by me. 

I also tried a Baklava, which was delicious too. The Baklava which is also claimed by Greece as well as Turkey was a rich, sweet filo pastry with chop nuts and a honey filled flavour. Syrupy sweet, very nice, recommended.

Other sweet treats are available. 

   
  Pies and baklava 

  Baklava from Treat Deli

 

Skopolos mixed vegetable pie. 

  

At Treat Deli I also tried the Freddo (cold) cappuccino. If was beautifully refreshing and went superbly with the pastry. 

  Inside stool seating at Treat Deli. 

    Better than over the arcade. 

  Olive oils 

  Salads at Treat Deli. 

 Herbs at Treat Deli. 

   
    
 

Treat Deli is a relaxed place. Ideal for those working or passing through the Business district around Colmore Row. It’s a lovely place to take a break in, and amongst a few standout shops in the Great Western Arcade its another Gem on the independent foodie trail in Birmingham City Centre. 
It feels authentic. It’s a taster of the delights of their homeland and is made, presented and sold with passion and great care. 

For Vegetarians, who fancy a savoury munch or who want to remember sunnier days on holiday its an ideal stop off its ideal and proves that you can get a good vegetarian pie in Birmingham. 

Thanks for reading 

Andy 😊

Thanks to Angeliqi and Demos for their time, hospitality and enthusiasm. You have a fan. 

I was invited down to Treat Deli to sample and give feedback on some of their vegetarian food complimentary. My opinions are honest as always. I was not required to write a review. 

Keep an eye out for their traditional Christmas goodies. 

Treat Deli, Great Western Arcade, Birmingham. 

Open Monday-Friday 7am-6pm

Saturday 9am-6pm.

  

Review: Amantia Spanish and Mediterranean 


  
Amantia is a new family run (and family friendly!) independent, Spanish and Mediterranean restaurant right off New Street in Birmingham City centre, taking the ground floor and basement of the iconic Sun House.
This building on Bennetts Hill was the house of the Sun Insurance offices, which were founded in 1710. The name Amantia is the name of some ruins near chef and owner Andrea’s birthplace and also includes the initial of him and Marta’s (owner and front of house’s) children. 

Amantia is a smart place. Inside the space is large, bordering on vast, with a sweet bar area to the right of the entrance as you walk in. Serving pinxos  or Pincho (Basque country small snacks from Northen Spain). Oh the memories of San Sebastián are returning. It is in itself a good spot for after work downtime. 

I digress though. The decor of Amantia, contemporary- purple, grey with black and white prints on the wall, smart, and cooling. 

   
   
Though it could feel impersonal it doesn’t. The atmosphere is good,  quite busy too on a Friday evening and the warmth of the service from Marta and her team is a joy. Marta twinkles with charm and enthusiasm for the food and the adventure she and her husband are on with Amantia. 

Ruth and I were invited by Marta and her sister Silvia (also from Amantia) to taste and review some of the Vegetarian dishes on the menu and some new ones not yet on the menu. For that reason the food came out of the kitchen like tapas (discussed on arrival with Marta) and thus this review will reflect that. I like small plates though, tapas is one of life’s pleasures whether italian in nature, or Spanish (tapas) or pintxos for that matter. 

It is fun to have an element of surprise and not order from a menu. It’s very informal and thus more interesting. 

Ruth and I ordered some Olives and two glasses of Manzanilla Sherry whilst waiting for the tapas. The sherry a refreshing fino from Andalusia, served chilled it’s a perfect aperitif and goes well with tapas like dishes. 

   
 
The dishes we shared ( Ruth was a Vegetarian for the evening) were a selection of  croquetas Amantia, (blue cheese and creamy mushroom)  a Rustica mushroom Crepe, a Greek Salad, Roasted Vegetables and Vegetable Moussaka. 

   

 
Having tried the Blue Cheese Croquetas before I was looking forward to eating them again. They held a lovely creamy blue cheese flavour, a recommended vegetarian tapas. A star dish. 

On the other hand, the Mushroom croquetas were disappointing. Quite bland in flavour, with not a lot of mushroom filling,  the croquetas lacked an intensity of flavour that maybe a porcini mushroom filling could have brought. A shame. 

Oh the contrast The Rustica Crepe with its mushroom centre had a deep intensity of flavour. It wasn’t too cheesy which was a relief and the quantity and quality of the mushroom filling made for a very satisfying and enjoyable crepe and served with a side salad would make a excellent and filling main course offering. Maybe use the intense filling for the mushroom croquetas.  Recommended. 

   
 
The Greek Salad, was also very good and looked very appetising.

  
Lettuce, tomatoes, sliced cucumber, onion, Kalamata Olives, Feta cheese, in Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It was well seasoned, with salt and oregano and the splash of olive oil made for a nice ripe and fresh salad. The feta creamy and the flavours bold. A very refreshing contrast to the hot dishes. Lovely. 

Our Roasted Vegetables were also well presented and looked stunningly appetising. I think roast vegetables get a bad press sometimes from vegetarians and vegans, cited as a bit boring, but when the veg are fresh and carrying a good in season flavour there arn’t  many better summertime dishes. It always makes me think of sunshine and hot sun and alfresco dining. (Appologies I was lost in memories of Italy there). 

   
 
The peppers and courgettes were delicious and looked stunning. I also didn’t mind the presentation on a board. It worked with this dish. 

   
 
The final hot dish we tried was the Vegetable Moussaka. I think of all the dishes We tried on the night this was our favourite, we felt we could have eaten more of it, it was that creamy, hearty and warming. The combination of aubergine, and potatoes, and tomatoes worked well and made for a classic Greek dish with a veggie twist. 

It also went well with the Greek Salad. A complete summer main course. 

We washed down our mains with a delicious Spanish White Wine: a Marques de Luna macebo. Amantia has a good wine list and also serves cocktails and Sangria. 

As Ruth and I border on hungryly greedy (or just nosey or easily tempted)  types when it comes to food and the fact that Tiramisu was on the menu we felt we had to try a desert. 

Ruth chose one of her favourites the Churos Con Chocolate  

 
Which she exclaimed was beautiful and one of the best she’d had. I tried a mouthful and it indeed was decadently a top pudding. 

Of course onto my Tiramisu test. 

One of my test dishes Is the above pudding. I’ve had it all over Italy and one in particular in Verona on our honeymoon I remember with salivating affection ( the restaurant had won the world tiramisu award, yes there is such a thing! ). 

Yes, it true I wasn’t disappointed. 

   
 
It looked stunning for a start and had the right quantity of coffee flavour and certainly ‘picked me up’. It was very cool, dreamy and light. It had a classic image and was nicely layered. Delicious, it passed the test and was one of the best I’d tried in Birmingham. 

We also enjoyed an after dinner Liquor    and two double espressos. 

   
 
The Vegetarian dishes at Amantia are excellent. I highly recommend it for veggies in Birmingham.

 I would like to see more in particular in the tapas section of the menu for Vegetarians (tapas and summer go well together) how about a veggie paella? On talking to Marta I know they are rolling out a Vegan menu at some point and are working on new veggie dishes which will be introduced dependent on seasonality of the ingredients. 

Amantia though has many strengths, it’s in a good location just off New Street and has a warming and cooling (at the same time) kind of atmosphere. 

The service is charming and aims to please. It’s friendly and demonstrates that it cares. 

Amantia is a good Authentic place for a lunch whilst shopping in Brum or for a delicious evening meal With a group or  with a partner. It ticks all the foodie boxes. 

Maybe some live music would be nice, some Spanish guitar or flamenco or a pianist would help fill the space. That’s Always good for atmosphere (Maybe live music nights). 

I liked Amantia, it’s a gem in the city and the type of authentic mid price restaurant that Birmingham needs more of. Good Solid cooking without the gimmicks, independent and with a good heart. 

And as Feargal Sharkey sang in 1985 that’s hard to find. 

Thanks for reading. 

Andy 😊

Thanks to Amantia (Marta and Silvia) for the invite to the restaurant. Our food was complimentary, though we paid for our drinks in full. My review is honest and has my own opinions as always. 

http://www.amantiarestaurant.co.uk/

Amantia, 9 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham, B2 5RS. 

0121 643 3647. 

  

Amantia do an after work social from 4-7pm with a free Pintxo with your drink and £2 for all cocktails weekdays. 

It also has a children’s menu for £6.25. For a main, desert and a drink. 

  
Facebook: Amantia restaurant

Twitter: @RestAmantia

  


Vegetarian Dish of the Day: Squash velouté, gnocchi, Burnt Leek, Feta Terrine. Bistro 1847. 


Many years ago when I first became a Vegetarian, I was often greeted when I ate out with the words ‘vegetarian dish of the day’. 

This generally meant a mushroom stroganoff, a pasta bake, a veggie curry, or a badly made risotto or pasta dish. Though it sometimes still happens and restaurants sometimes dress it up in another guise, things are much better now. This was often very disheartening. 

This occasional inspired post is a play on that and reflects that bygone era with fondness and celebrates a current dish that is worthy of highlighting. 

   
 

Catch it whilst you can. As restaurants change over from their Spring menu to Summer offerings, it leaves you with only one week to try out this sumptuous dish from Vegetarian restaurant Bistro 1847 in Birmingham. 

Humour, seasonality and an inventive ambition belies the ethos of Bistro 1847. Never has this been more true than in the case of the Squash velouté, gnocchi, Burnt Leek, Feta Terrine. Poached not boiled, ballotined and rolled, the texture of the gnocchi has a lightness akin to soufflé, with a super soothing, velvety,  deep orange sunset flavour of the squash sauce, providing colour, flavour and a gold winning touch. Throw in a burnt leek, adeptly charred with soft decadent feta terrine and you have a beautifully balanced and stunning plate of food. 

Best not to hang around, it’s going, going, gone, try it out this week. 

Find it at Bistro 1847, 26 Great Western Arcade, Colmore Row, Birmingham, B2 5HU. 

   
         The same dish, a different look. From a second visit. I didn’t eat that one, my Dad did and he’s eaten it twice now,  so it must be good!

Bistro 1847 do a lunch time £10 offer for one course and a drink (wine, beer or soft drink) 

A variation of the dish review originally appeared in May during National Vegetarian Week, in the I Choose Birmingham online weekly magazine. I payed for my own food (lunch time) at Bistro 1847 and didn’t receive any payment for the review. I chose the restaurant and dish myself and my opinions are honest and my own as always. 

Thanks to I Choose Birmingham for asking me to contribute to their ‘You choose’ section of their magazine. 

http://ichoosebirmingham.com/ 

to sign up for their weekly email magazine. 

Thanks for reading. 
Andy 😊

Bistro 1847 are launching their Intro to Summer menu on Monday June 22nd with a five course menu in Birmingham with matched wines for £25. 

 Details here http://www.By1847.com