Opus leads the way in showcasing Birmingham’s independents.


Opus one of the top fine-dining restaurants in Birmingham is leading the charge for independents, joining forces with some of the best talent in the city.

Billed as a celebration of the bespoke, Opus in Cornwall Street is keen to support local businesses that offer something different from the norm and has so far linked up with artists and an award-winning wine merchant.

Pawel Skrzypinski, general manager at Opus, said: “Birmingham is an exciting, diverse city in which to live and work and if you are willing to meander off the beaten track through our lovely city centre, you will be rewarded with shops and artists showcasing an individuality and tailored approach that makes you feel special and appreciated.

“We think it’s really important for independents – especially those who have a natural synergy – to support one another because we have a unique offering. The beauty of being an independent business is that you have the opportunity to team up with whomever you like and over the past few months alone we have found some real stunners with whom to work.”

Over the summer, it is collaborating with Loki Wine, the award-winning wine merchant and wine bar based in Great Western Arcade, enabling customers at both venues to take advantage of some fantastic offers.

Loki is offering 15% off the Loki Wine Tasting Card for Opus Loyalty Card holders, while Opus is offering all holders of a Loki Wine Tasting Card 25% off all bottles of wine purchased (see T&Cs online)  and £10 off the flight of five wines that accompany their weekend five-course tasting menu.

Phil Innes, of Loki Wines, said: “There’s already a natural crossover between Loki and Opus customers but the opportunity to work with the restaurant, which will benefit all our customers could not be passed up. We’re thrilled to collaborate with Opus.”

Sculptor Viv Astling, OBE, has two pieces of art being displayed at the restaurant over the next few months.

An elected member of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists (RBSA) and a former student of the renowned sculptor John Tonks, he uses English limestones particularly from quarries in Portland, Dorset, and Ancaster, Lincolnshire. His piece Turning Point is being displayed at Opus’s reception desk, while Ariel is on display in the bar area.

Bar Opus at One Snowhill has joined forces with Jewellery Quarter-based Argentea Gallery to feature a selection of photographs by Birmingham multi-media artist Sophie Hedderwick from her critically acclaimed series Swift As A Shadow.

Argentea is a new gallery in the Jewellery Quarter launched by Jennie Anderson and is dedicated to showing the very best contemporary photography from both British and international artists.

Jennie said “We were thrilled to have Sophie exhibiting her work at the gallery and to collaborate with Bar Opus is another great way to take her work to a wider audience and engage with people who wouldn’t necessarily think of visiting an art gallery.”

Also at Bar Opus are five works by Birmingham-born innovators Key & Tam, known as LOWLFE. The pair take everyday objects, such as phones, plants, coins and dead insects, and introduces them to the world of miniature people in whimsical settings.

The new collaborations follow Opus’s inaugural art exhibition with Mark Howard of independent fashion store Disorder Boutique earlier this year, when the walls become a canvas for his creations.

Pawel added: “The past few months have been exciting as we have expanded our support network of leading independent talents and we’re looking forward to continuing our efforts to introduce other great Birmingham names to our customers. So make sure to watch this space".

Great to see such a fantastic collaboration between two of the cities best independents.

Also note that Opus are offering 50% off select wine in August. It includes a range that covers most tastes. From lighter summery whites to fruity cherry-like reds and rose wines a bargain is to be enjoyed with the new set price menu or tasting menu.

In Bar Opus news become all Italian and try a Rose Aperol Spritz with complimentary nibbles for £5 from 2-5pm. Aperol Spritz is one of the finest drinks and with added nibbles and hopefully sunshine on the Bar Opus terrace one of the must things to do this Summer in Birmingham. Go on try it!

Thanks for reading,

Andy 😊

All photos and information courtesy of Opus, Bar Opus and Clive Reeves PR with thanks.

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New Haig Club Scotch Bar launched at The Cube, Birmingham.


Oh whisky how much do I love thee, let me count the ways!  

Birmingham has welcomed a stunning new skyline destination with the launch of the Haig Club Bar on Level 25 at The Cube last month. 

The bar, which sits alongside the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill with views across the city, features a dedicated entrance on Level 25. It seats 36 guests, showcasing Haig Club and Haig Club Clubman through a specially crafted drinks menu and cocktail list, alongside small plates and sharing dishes. 

For Vegetarians try Halloumi and Courgette flowers and Patatas Bravas thus far. 


The interior design has taken reference from the copper and distinctive blue of the Haig Club brand, to create a stylish and contemporary space for guests to relax and enjoy the company of friends or colleagues.

With a separate entrance and exclusive feel, the Haig Club Bar on Level 25 will be open from Tuesday – Saturday, 6.00pm until 1am and will also be available for private hire.

Max Bennett, Operations Manager at Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill Birmingham said: “We’re hugely excited to have unveiled the new Haig Club Bar here on Level 25. The bar has been designed to create an exclusive experience for our guests, with a dedicated and knowledgeable team to welcome them. We know that it will soon become a must-visit destination for whisky lovers and cocktail connoisseurs, in addition to offering a unique venue for business meetings and private celebrations.”

Commenting on the new Haig Club Bar, Nick Temperley, UK Head of Reserve Brands at Diageo said: “We are really excited to be working with The Cube Birmingham, creating this unique Haig Clubman experience in a city where cocktail culture continues to grow and excite.”

Only Haig Club and Haig Clubman whisky will be sold and the bar is table service only. 

Jack Spencer who was previously at Bourne and Co. in the city will be head bar man. 

For whisky lovers and cocktail connaseurs it become a must visit bar with a smart view to match. 

Thanks for reading, 

Andy 😊

https://www.haigclub.com/

All photos and information courtesy of Rewired PR and The Haig Club, with thanks. 


 

BrewDog beers to now carry Vegan Society Trademark. 


  

BrewDog is set to name 23 of its beers, including flagship beers Punk IPA and Five AM Red, Vegan Friendly and will carry The Vegan Society’s Trademark from This month (March).

BrewDog who brew their Beer in Scotland has rejected the use of isinglass, (or fish guts) a product derived from dried fish bladders and traditionally used as part of the fining of beer. (That amazingly Brewers still use) 

So dictating that dietary requirements won’t keep people out of its bars and allows Vegans and Vegetarians that space to relax and not have to ask the bartender that awkward question that they can never answer with conviction. ‘Is this beer suitable for vegetarians  or vegans?’ 

In place of isinglass, Brewdog use a “rock and roll centrifuge” (look it up, I had too) to clarify their beer, thereby making it suitable for Vegans and heavy metal fans who will be hoping this is not another rock and roll suicide to BrewDog. 

(End of Puns) 

Also, all tap handles will be clearly labelled ‘vegan friendly’ too. 

Also available will be a wider range of gluten free and alcohol free Beers.

The Vegan Trademark is the internationally renowned standard for products that are free of all animal use, seen on products since 1990.

BrewDog opened its first bar in 2010 and now has 30 bars across the UK. 

Hopefully this will be a trend that others may follow. 

One of my veggie foodie wishes would be for clearer labelling on bottles and for beers sold on tap in bars and pubs. It’s time to progress in this area. 

Birmingham’s BrewDog is located at 81-87 John Bright Street, near New Street Station next to Turtle Bay restaurant and almost opposite the fab and top bottled beer bods Cherry Reds. 

https://www.brewdog.com/bars/uk/birmingham

https://twitter.com/BrewDogBirm?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

https://www.facebook.com/BrewDogOfficial

Read about BrewDog vegan friendly labelling here:

https://www.brewdog.com/lowdown/blog/brewed-for-vegans

  
   

Thanks for reading, and happy drinking.

Andy 😊

For more details on the vegan society trademark see here: 

https://www.vegansociety.com/your-business/vegan-trademark-standards

All photos courtesy of BrewDog and The Vegan Society. 

A tale of three drinks: Wine, Detox cocktails and Smoothies at Opus restaurants. 


   
 

Some of us at this time of year are thinking of either our health or our wallets or both. Birmingham Is generally very good at promoting its non alcoholic cocktails, and smoothies, but this month The Opus Restaurants are offering some good deals.

Opus of Cornwall Street have introduced their  January Wine Sale – Monday 4th January to Saturday 30th January.
From these dates you can Enjoy 50% off selected bottles of wine at Opus at Cornwall Street’s annual January wine sale. With 18 bottles to choose from including red, white, rose and dessert, wine enthusiasts can enjoy a range of fruity, spicy and velvety drinks. From the powerful but elegant ‘Valpolicella Ripaso’, a deep ruby red that is usually £35 but will cost just £17.50, to the soft ‘Auxey-Duresses Blanc’, a rich but relatively soft drink with orange blossom and lime notes that usually costs £75 but will be just £37.50, this is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy an old favourite at half price or to try something new.

To see the full wine sale menu, take a look here: http://www.opusrestaurant.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/JANUARY-WINE-SALE.pdf

http://www.opusrestaurant.co.uk/

Cafe Opus at Ikon Gallery: 
The cafe have introduced a number of  Detox Smoothies, packed full of healthy ingredients and sold All day, every day.

   
 
  
Cafe Opus will be serving three delicious smoothies – ‘Ginger Spice’, ‘Green and Clean’ and ‘All About The Berries’. All smoothies contain healthy ingredients, which are full of antioxidants and fibre to help purge those festive toxins. 

Each smoothie costs £3.50 and can be enjoyed to drink in or takeaway. 

To find out more about events happening at Cafe Opus at Ikon, visit: 

http://www.cafeopus.co.uk/

  

Bar Opus from the outside, AH

   
 Bar Opus at One SnowHill have introduced a number of Detox cocktails if you are Bidding the booze goodbye this month with Dry January or just want to cut down on alcohol or you are the designated driver. 
Luckily for you, Bar Manager Sam has whipped up some delicious alcohol-free cocktails for your January health kick. 

With six flavours to choose from including beetroot, pear, banana, carrot and ginger, apple, and kale and cucumber, these detox drinks are the perfect solution to not drinking but still going out. 
Cocktails are £3 each or £15 per case of 6. 

   
 Plus , Bar Opus have introduced  Wow Weekend – Every Friday and Saturday.

If you’ve got an Opus loyalty card then enjoy 50% off Prosecco from 5pm on Friday and all day Saturday. 
Opus loyalty cards can be picked up from Opus at Cornwall Street, Cafe Opus at Ikon and Bar Opus at One Snowhill and can be used in connection with other fabulous offers, including gaining 10p points for every £1 spent.

http://baropus.co.uk/

Whatever you do this year have a healthy one. 

Thanks for reading, 

Andy 😊
All photos apart from one are courtesy of Opus Restaurants. 

Review: Mockingbird, Custard Factory, Birmingham.


   
 

Anyone who went to Big Papas at The Sunflower lounge will know the work that Anthony and Craig put into their businesses. What’s always impressed me is their flexibility and nuance in understanding veggie diners and dishes, and what’s put out onto the table. They are open to experiment, your ideas and opinions. 

The vegetarian menu at their new venture The Mockingbird, Bar, Bistro and Theatre is evolving. It’s early days, it’s short at present, a bit too short, needs a couple of additions, maybe the Big Papas Mac and cheese, (please) veggie burger, sweet potato fries? why not? Plus think seasonal specials, be imaginative. 

We had the three dishes on the nights menu: Starters: Nachos with cherry tomatoes, salsa lemon and chive cheese, chunky guacamole, garlic and cheese ciabatta, and Main: Cauliflower and Brocolli fritters. 

   

 The Nachos, which we shared. A good Tex-Mex dish. The tortilla chips were crisp, though maybe on reflection the dish could have done with a few more to get the balance right with a delicious salsa lemon and chive cheese sauce and nice guacamole, which slightly overpowered the tortillas for that reason. The flavours were there though and the size was ok for a starter. Could do a larger plate to share as a larger starter. Enjoyed. 

   

 Garlic bread and cheese  

Well made garlic bread, with a nice balance in flavours. Thin, crusty. Very nice. Not too cheesy or greasy which I liked. Presented on a black slate which I liked. (shared) 

  
 Cauliflower and Broccoli fritters. 

My fritters had a good and plentiful filling of cauliflower and broccoli and a nice crisp fried outer breading.  

I enjoyed the fritters, the filling was different but had good flavours and filled the batter to leave a satisfying main dish. Again, the sauce that accompanied could have been reduced in quantity in order to get the balance right. I liked the tomato garnish though.

 Maybe introduce seasonal fillings, courgettes, mushrooms in autumn. 

I also ate a few of Ruths chips which were ok. 

Ruth also enjoyed the Buttermilk fried chicken with fries. She said it was fantastic. Perfectly cooked chicken. She knows, trust me!

The Brunch menu has a decent range of dishes, all of which can be adapted for the vegan diner. 
  

Brunch menu. 

  
   
   
   
    
   

Both Ruth and I loved the music played in The Mockingbird. A mixture, of soul, funk and a bit in between. It made for a good atmosphere and on a Wednesday night a steady flow of people were coming in, eating and having a drink before the film that was showing that night at the cinema that The Mockingbird has (Jaws in that case). The menu we had was the cinema/film menu and enabled you to take a desert with you into the film. 

   
   

The industrial feel of the decor and seating make The Mockingbird a chilled and relaxing place to visit for food or just drinks. The bar includes craft beers, including vegan beers (marked clearly) wine, and cocktails. 

I enjoyed two craft beers, the Goose Island IPA: 5.5% ABV, from Chicago, which has a fruity aroma with a dry malt middle and long hop finish. A very nice beer that went well with the informal food. A hop lovers dream. 

   
 
Plus, Meantime London Lager (suitable for vegans) from the award winning brewery based in Greenwich, London. It has the perfect balance of bitterness and hopiness, and is 4.5% ABV. If you like hoppy, malty beers this is for you. A really nice modern English lager, a quality beer. 

On a weekend they have DJ’s which we both agreed would be a great time to visit as well as comedy nights, a theatre and of course the cinema. 

The food at The Mockingbird is well executed, and though the options for vegetarians are limited at the moment, they are happy and excited to develop the menu further and ease the vegetarian and vegan diner. I liked The Mockingbird, in fact loved it. The vibe, the music, the concept. The hard work ethos pays off. I’m excited to see how those veggie dishes evolve and though not perfect at the moment you can see the potential and possibilities. It’s a place to visit at any time of day and livens up the Custard Factory somewhat in the day and for that it is achieving its aims well. 

The owners Anthony and Craig have the heart and soul for The Mockingbird, and yes this bird can sing. 

http://mockingbirdtheatre.com

        

Every Monday is Meat Free Monday at The Mockingbird with The Vegan Grindhouse taking over the kitchen. From Brunch/lunch to dinner keep an eye on social media for menus and guest chefs/Streetfood traders. 

See Mex it Up on Monday August 31st. Vegan Mexican street food. Guest kitchen. 

See below: re Vegan Grindhouse Meat Free Monday’s. 

http://t.co/dNpqBJ6b5Y

Thanks for reading 

Andy 😊

Disclosure: Ruth and I were invited to visit The Mockingbird. Our food was complimentary but we paid for all drinks drank in full. In no way did this make my views biased which are honest as always. 

Thanks for the invite. 👍

The Mockingbird, the Custard Factory, Gibb Street, Digbeth, B 9 4AA. 

021-224-7456. 

  

  

Bar Opus: Snow Hill, Birmingham.


    Bar Opus is the youngest sister in the Opus family that includes Opus on Cornwall Street and Cafe Opus at the Ikon Gallery. 

The other week Ruth and I were invited by Anne Tonks of Opus along to try out some of their vegetarian options. 

Bar Opus is at No’ 1 Snowhill in Birmingham City Centre, a new complex behind Snow Hill Station that is next to the new Midland Metro team line which should be complete shortly. It has a nice terrace that is primed for Summer and its reincarnation into something more uber cool in the forthcoming months, imagine those long cocktails, bar snacks and lazy afternoons. It’s a sun trap in the day and a lunch time favourite. 

In fact Bar Opus is very continental with its open kitchen and smart decor. Inside its modern, stylish, and has slick lines, in its simple design. It has cosmopolitan floor to ceiling windows, and is filled with thoughtful touches like its internal Parisian like clock face, and it’s well lit interior. With a mix of bar stool seating and low bearing tables it lends itself equally to drinking and eating. 

The menu a mixture of bar snacks/plates  to eat with those delicious handcrafted cocktails or quality wines or as a starter. 

Bar Opus has an extensive Breakfast and all day menu and more substantial dishes for lunch time indulgence. The sharing bar plates are varied and with good vegetarian options is one of the best places for informal veggie dining in the city. 

   

     
The Opus family of restaurants have a real skill in making simple ingredients and dishes taste well above the average, and it’s in their ingredient led principles where the flavours begin. The produce though is only half the story, it still has to be cooked and created into an irresistible dish which Bar Opus do well, simplicity in itself. 

For example our Asparagus, and Hollandaise from their specials menu was cooked perfectly, the dish sang and I feel may not be beaten this Asparagus season, it had a beauty of flavour, creamy, every element cooked perfectly, a real delight. Simple but hard to do in the wrong hands.

   
 

To follow I tried the homemade flatbread with daily vegetarian special. The flatbread, again perfectly indulgent, not over cooked, light, fluffy, with a delicious red onion jam which gave a punch to the dish and combined with feta worked perfectly. Plus, in its generous size makes a good starter alone or generous sharing plate to tear between friends.

To finish our meal I ate the Shashouka Hash, a very popular dish on their all day menu, and one that makes a lovely brunch or lunch dish too. Wilted Greens, rich vine tomato compote, potato cake, and fried egg. The fresh ingredients again shine through, the egg perfectly runny, the tomatoes full of flavour, lifted the dish from heaven to the space that surely must be above that in the veggie foodie world. Warming potatoes and the wilted buttery greens, completed the dish, which I think is a vegetarian must when visiting Bar Opus to eat. Again a simple dish brought to ex halted heights due to the quality of ingredients and the quality of the cooking. 

   
   

The Shashouka Hash

  
 

The vegetarian Flatbread. 

Yet, Bar Opus isn’t just about the food, but also the cocktails and a fantastic wine list. 

I tried on the night a beautiful Smoked Negroni. Now a negroni always reminds me of Italy. Lazy evenings in Florence, Rome or Venice. Though I’d never had a smoked variety which came to the table theatrically smoking and yes winking at me. It was delicious, part gin, part vermouth, and then Campari. I think Bar Opus make the best Negroni in the city and if like me you love this drink, then try it here. It’s an aperitif, and a classic. 

Ruth and I also loved the glasses of Pinot Gris we had with our food. From New Zealand, Dr Renwick, it was light, and complimented the informality of the food perfectly. Lovely. 

Bar Opus also have a good selection of beers, craft ales and real ale. 

The service throughout was excellent, and was warm, attentive and consistent throughout. 

   
     

Bar Opus is a smartly appointed bar with trendy background music and at times an office like clientele, but don’t let that put you off. 

It’s sophistication is in doing the simple things well. A mixologist that knows a cocktail from, well, a cocktail. A chef that knows how to get the best out of well sourced seasonal ingredients and creates delicious simple dishes that  make you feel hungry even though you may not be. So be tempted. 

Though the cocktails are the pull, the ace on top the pack of cards is the food, a thoughtful concept, and a gentle buzz, a European bar after work, but please don’t tell David Cameron because he may close it down, European Moir…for vegetarians its up their with the best Birmingham can offer, good dishes made well, decent choice, well made, sound drinks. 

And with the Summer approaching a place to chill outside and take in the sun, hopefully. 

Bar Opus is an all day venue that you may not leave, I like it, so do others, it’s the city bar redefined. 

Now where are my Euros. 

Bar Opus, One SnowHill, Birmingham, B4 6GH. 

0121-289-3939

http://baropus.co.uk/

http://baropus.co.uk/eating/

My previous review of Bar Opus. 

https://vegiefoodie.com/2014/11/07/bar-opus-launch-for-breakfast-lunch-and-after-5pm-fun/

@baropus: Twitter

We were invited to Bar Opus to review some of their vegetarian dishes. Our food was complimentary, but we paid for our own drinks. My review is independent of the invite and is honest and carries my own opinions as always. 

Thanks to Ann for the invite and Sam and Gail for their service and passion for their menus. 

Thanks for reading. 

Andy 😊

Twitter: @andydhare

   
 

An introduction to The Botanist Birmingham 


  

        

When is a review not a review when it’s an introduction to, as in this case to The Botanist recently opened on Temple Street Birmingham. 

I was kindly invited to the media lunch before it opened officially to try some of the cocktails and Vegetarian dishes. 

   

 

The Botanist is very impressive to look at, it has a cool chic feel about it, almost cosy pub, but offering more depth and discoveries the further you go in. When you walk through the wrought iron gates you discover an inner conservatory area that I like a lot, a kind of posh parlour. Then through a door into the bar area. 

Introducing The Botanist, think Gardeners world studying plant life and indulging in cocktails and food, and  no carrots and rhubarb in sight. (Well maybe on the menu).

The decor untreated wood floors, a mix of vintage looking furniture, quirky chandeliers, watering cans, lamps that are constructed from rope pulleys, and a glorious sky light in the bar area that lets the natural light into an already light bar.  

     

On entering I was offered the cocktail menu, which is long (and that’s not just the style of cocktail) which was like reading the what’s what of cocktails and who’s who’s who at the same time. I liked that though. It allowed me to follow my test of asking for a recommendation based on the Martini part of the menu. Ed behind the bar suggested I tried The  Botanist Pornstar, ( black cow vodka, and Passoa shaken with fresh passion fruit, strawberry purée, rose syrup, pineapple juice, and lemon, served with a shot of prosecco. 

  

   

     

It was excellent, fruity, herby, with a powerful kick and with a good amount of vodka. An interesting combination of fresh fruit, and purées, a lovely introduction. Thanks Ed😊🍸

The bar area is quite large, but feel intimate and has a really light airy feel about it. From there you can just about see the restaurant peeking out beyond, which I feel gives a feeling of temptation to move over to that part of The  Botanist to try the food, and to explore.  The Botanist has an open kitchen which is also fun. 

It was good to see fellow food bloggers there and after been seated in the restaurant, which is a mixture of table types with some benches, and very nice and light, we were able to choose the food from the menu. 

   

   

I mentioned the menu in my last post. See here http://t.co/xN8TYij74M and mentioned the Vegetarian options. 

The dishes I ate were: 

From the starters and nibbles section Pan Fried garlic Mushrooms. With crusty bread and truffle butter. A nice dish beautifully presented in a small wheelbarrow. The mushrooms were fresh, well flavoured, and with a good strong garlic flavour running through made for a lovely starter. 

   

     

Salt and Pepper onion petals: A good nibbling sharing dish, salty, with a nice sour cream to dip into. 

Flatbread: very good bread, fresh and good for breaking. 

  

For my main course I ordered the Hanging Kebab with Halloumi and couscous. With a sweet chilli, ginger and garlic butter.

   

   

A spectacular looking dish, very theatrical. The waiter poured the sauce over the kebab from above so the sauce filtered over the veg and Halloumi onto the cous cous. The sauce added a nice tasty bite to the dish (there was an option to have the kebab with chips instead of cous cous but I felt that wouldn’t work so well as the chips may become soggy and wet fom the dripping sauce). We were given a small plate that the veg and Halloumi can be eaten off with the cous cous. 

The Hanging Kebab with the cous cous worked well as the sauce gave it a coating that made for a fuller rounder flavour. The Halloumi was well cooked, but could have done with a couple more pieces in my opinion. The veg was cooked perfectly and the dish looked fun and smart. 

I also ordered The Botanist cocktail green mark vodka, Havana 3 Rum, elderflower liqueur, red amarinth, mint, jasmine syrup, and lime juice topped with lemonade. I really enjoyed this cocktail, the combinations of vodka and rum worked well and with the mint and juices added a fruity touch that was delicious. 

   

   

I didn’t order a desert on this occasion but hope to on my next visit. 

I ordered an Americano coffee that was very prettily presented in nice flowery mugs.

It was a lovely introduction to The Botanist the service was good, friendly and very informed of the menu and cocktails offering recommendations and having a good knowledge of the dishes on the menu. I would on reflection like to see maybe at least one more vegetarian dish on the main menu, maybe two as not everyone takes to the smaller plate trend and may not like the kebab. As a chain, that I’m often suspect of, The Botanist seems to have that quirky botanical difference that makes it feel special and unique in the city, fresh like the herbs. Here’s hoping it stays that way, but as a cocktail venue  its possibly the best in Birmingham, and offered the most thoughtful and eclectic menu of passionate botanist indulgences and this along with the solidly good Vegetarian food is to be applauded. 

  

   

           

I was invited as a guest to the preview media lunch at The Botanist and hence the food and drink was complimentary. Thanks to the Botanist and to WPRAgency for the invite. 

Thanks for reading 

Andy 😊

For menus see below link: 

http://thebotanist.uk.com/menus/birmingham

http://thebotanist.uk.com/location/birmingham

The Botanist, 14-16 Temple Street, Birmingham, B2 5BG

0121 6007430

Hotel La Tour and La Tour Grill. A modern twist on the classic


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Late last year Ruth and I booked a staycation in Birmingham at Hotel La Tour via the Secret Escapes website. Worth checking on for good deals.

Hotel La Tour is in Birmingham City Centre, on the Digbeth side and is an excellent spot to stay if in the city to shop or take in Brums sights.

Hotel La Tour is a modern designed hotel that has a chic and quite sophisticated bar called Alvar which is brilliant for cocktails and a brasserie style restaurant called La Tour Grill which leans towards seasonal produce and is a steak specialist and serves a menu of classic British dishes. Presented with a modern twist.

La Tour Grill is also excellent for vegetarians as I surprisingly found out.

The Hotel has 174 stylish bedrooms which are modern in style and facilities, and on the whole are all you would require for a night away in the city or short break. Though our rooms was more basic than some it was comfortable and had all we required.

We had ordered dinner at Grill La Tour. I didn’t expect much to be honest, as a veggie, but I’m a bit cynical sometimes.

We began our evening as we do in a bar. The spacious and sophisticated area know as Alvar is a very relaxing and cool space. We ordered Gin Martinis. A check of quality, perfectly made, classy. It hit the spot.

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The bar area is comfortable with sofas and though quiet for a Friday evening still had a lovely atmosphere and is a must when staying at the hotel. In fact it’s lovely when in Birmingham full stop, with a huge cocktail, wine and drinks list including many many Whiskies 😊

We had booked dinner at La Tour Grill. A lovely space, with perfect lighting, and though large it felt more intimate than on first impressions. A real grower.

La Tour Grill uses seasonal ingredients. Sourced locally with some produce grown on their roof top garden allotment, Jardin La Tour, supported by
Edible Eastside in nearby Digbeth that I’ve championed before on this blog.

The Brasserie caters well for vegetarians with some options on the menu but on discussion with the waitress they had many more unseen and un menued veggie jewels that can be made upon request.

The waitress brought some excellent assorted breads to the table to eat whilst looking at the menu. These were varied, crisp and presented well. Always a good sign if the bread is of high standard.

I decided to order off the main menu.

I began with The Heritage Tomato and Burrata cheese salad. A lovely starter.

The tomatoes were fresh, grown on the roof, had a beautiful flavour and were both yellow an red in colour. Against the Burrata cheese you could imagine you were in Italy it tasted so fresh. The dish was also impressively presented. A simple dish, done well. Sounds easy, but rest assured i’ve had some rotters in my time.

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For my main course I ordered the delicious sounding
Asparagus, Pea, Courgette and Ricotta Risotto
.

This dish surprised me with its gentle flavours and perfectly creamy texture. Throughout the dish the flavours of the fresh peas against the slightly charred courgette felt warming and surprisingly indulgent. A lovely risotto, one of the best I’ve had for years anywhere. I was pleasantly surprised. I also ordered some lovely hand cut chips because I have to Im afraid. I love chips. Beatutiful.

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So far so good.

For pudding I chose a dish that I had heard rave reviews about, the pudding to have, the signature dish.

The Jaffa Cake Pudding, candied orange.

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It wasn’t a cake at all, but was the elements that make up one.

The pudding was a joy. The orange served as a little mound of sponge with a candied orange on top and a pot of melted hot chocolate to pour over the top (as much or as little as you like) that was served with pistachio ice cream.

A winning pud. At a winning restaurant, which if I’m honest surprised me. Grills are usually not great for veggies.
La Tour Grill bucked the trend for simple well made dishes using well sourced ingredients, some home produced in their edible garden and a smart, relaxed dining room.

The quality of the ingredients did show through. I think this element made the real difference to the vegetarian dishes which at face value seemed simple but on taste much more complex.

I expected La Tour Grill to be a bit pretentious, but found the service friendly, professional and relaxed. All served as I’ve said in a lovely dining room.

The eating was the pleasure, and though the Brasserie wasn’t anywhere near full, it felt intimate and romantic.

The hotel and restaurant are ideal for dates, a night away, or a romantic drink in an excellent hotel bar. A sophisticated treat. Try it.

We headed back to the bar to sample the Whisky’s and brandy’s. A long list but someone had to do it. We sat next to the piano, no one was playing, but we could hear the gentle music swish through our minds like soothing harmonies.

I’ve also heard rave reviews from fellow bloggers about the afternoon tea. Bring it on.

La Tour Grill has also a chefs table near the kitchen. We had a view of the kitchen without the chefs table service. The table there seemed to be enjoying their experience.

Next morning we took breakfast in the Brasserie- a hot and cold buffet, of numerous breakfast items. The veggie breakfast items were good, though no veggie sausage. Very pleasant, without been overwhelming.

We enjoyed once again lovely service and it was a good way to end our short but very sweet stay.

Hotel La Tour
Albert Street
Birmingham
B5 5JE

A short walk from new street and Moor Street Stations.

0121 718 8000

http://www.hotel-latour.co.uk

Facebook: Hotel/la-tour

Twitter: @hotel_latour

We paid for our stay and meal in full all opinions are my own and honest.

We thank the hotel staff and restaurant staff for helping us to have a lovely one night stay.

@andydhare

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#TASTYMORSELS: NEW BAR AND RESTAURANT OPENINGS NOVEMBER 2014


There are two new bars/restaurants opening in November 2014. Both of which will be superb for vegetarians and be a classy addition to Birmingham and to Worcester.

The first is Bar Opus from the Opus Team who will be opening their third venue after their Opus Restaurant on Cornwall Street and Cafe Opus in Brindley Place in Birmingham City Centre. Bar Opus will be based in a new Snow Hill complex near the railway station in the Colmore Business District and adjacent to the new Midland Metro line due to open in 2015.

Bar Opus will be open for breakfasts, and lunch, but it is the after 5pm hours where the bar will come into its own. Its inspiration will be Barcelona and Copenhagen, offering shared plates of food created from an open kitchen. There will be good vegetarian options. The ethos will be the same as the other restaurants, well sourced local produce, creatively delivered with a twist. Bar Opus will also have a terrace on the piazza of the new One Snowhill building which should enhance the continental idea, ableit in the Summer months. 🙂 a full wine, cocktail and drinks menu will be available.

It’s a city bar redefined.

Bar Opus is due to open its doors on the 6th November 2014.

http://www.opusrestaurant.co.uk
@baropus

http://www.baropus.co.uk

The second #TastyMorsel is in nearby Worcester where the fantastic Bodega Cantina will be opening in November. Bodega owned by the Bitter N’ Twisted group already have a very successful and veggie friendly bar/restaurant in Birmingham City Centre which is superb.

Bodega are known for their hand crafted cocktails and delicious food in equal measure, will be offering their authentic South American food-Burritos, nachos, and tacos with a large vegetarian selection. It will be right next door to Foregate Street train Station. They are not taking bookings as yet, but keep an eye on their website, facebook page and twitter page for details, or you can sign up for their mailing list on their website.

Bodega will also be offering their Go Go Burrito take away service.

All being well Bodega will be opening in Worcester at the end of November.

I will keep you posted.

Two great openings:)

@bodegaWorc
@bodegaBirm

http://www.bodegacantina.co.uk/locations/worcester

14 Foregate Street Worcester WR1 1DB (near the train station)
01905 22200

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THE BUREAU: MUCH MORE THAN A BAR


Information and plaudits for The Bureau have crept up on me. In fact, it was with the news of the introduction of The Langley’s No’ 8 Rooftop Terrace that my ears pricked up and I got excited. (See my previous article)

You see, I’m a sucker for being outside, either eating or drinking-alfresco-with a view, even better.
How very European-how very Birmingham 🙂

The Bureau is on Colmore Row within the Colmore Business District area of the Birmingham City Centre, near to Victoria Square and the Cathedral. In an area of some of the best independent bars, restaurants, and coffee shops.

The Bureau aims to create a friendly and social environment where guests can indulge in locally produced and thoughtfully sourced deli and bar food. Along with a seductive drinks menu, creative cocktails, cask beers and fine wines and of course gin.

When my wife Ruth and I visited we found the bar to be a great mix of elegant styles, from vintage to modern. A very comfortable bar, well designed and with plenty of space.

The Bureau is housed in an old picturesque building, No’ 110 Colmore Row. It has a main elegant bar, with booths and tables, some circular, some rectangle. It also has bar stools and tables and a basement bar for parties and private functions.

Now The Bureau has a roof top terrace (recently opened) which you can reach either by lift or if you are fit by a long spiral staircase which is very evocative and lovely. The terrace we found to be a superb place to sit on, very relaxed with plants and booths, and outdoor tables, a real mix of styles which was well designed and had a touch of class about it. It is sponsored by local gin company Langley’s and is cleverly called Langley’s No8 gin terrace after the house gin of The Bureau. It is the place to sip a gin and tonic or a sparkling Gin Martini.
Ruth and I did both, well it would be rude not to 🙂 They were both superb. The Gin Martini, crisp, elegant, a touch of class, well mixed and the Langley’s No’8 local gin is delicious. Well recomended.

As your doctor says a gin a day…no that’s not right…but hey when in Rome…or in Birmingham 🙂

We had also heard very good things about the food at The Bureau. Hence another reason for being there midweek.

There are plenty of interesting and dverse options for vegetarians on the menu. From canapes to deli plates to a veggie burger (see menu on website).
I chose deliberately the deliciously sounding and indulgent
Leek and Double Worcester Cheese Tart.

It was delicious, creamy cheese with as superb flavour, offset by a subtle taste of leeks which really made it moreish. As someone nearby in the bar said recomending it to a friend it’s ‘to die for’. Maybe not neccessary to go that far, as then you wouldn’t be able to sample the long and decadent drinks menu 🙂 It was lovely though, and excellent choice especially with an excellent side order of of Sweet Potato wedges, which were crisp, golden and a perfect alternative to chips (made with Beef dripping according to website). A well recomended combo.

As and aside Ruth sampled the meat Hot Dog, which has received rave reviews from reviewers. She said it was superb and to be well recomended. Maybe a veggie hot dog option. That would be lovely…please? 🙂

The Bureau is a superb contemporary bar and deli. It is to be commended for its dedication to locally sourced and innovative veggie food options. It’s much more than a bar that serves superb drinks, much more that a roof top terrace. It’s an intoxicating mix of quirkyness and vintage chic with a modern air of elegance. The service at the bar and at the table (table service for food and drinks options, but can also order at the bar) is charming, relaxed, friendly and dedicated to knowing about their drinks and craft. I requested a Negroni. They made me one so perfect that I thought I was in Italy, it’s not on the cocktail menu, but that was no problem. It was punchy and superb.

The Bureau is stylish without being snooty and alienating.

So for some of the most interesting veggie options in Birmingham try The Bureau (must try those deli slates next!). It’s great with friends, great for couples, great in the sunshine, or rain, come for the bar, come for the roof terrace, but try the food.

So do visit The Bureau.

A small masterpiece in Birmingham City Centre.

The Bureau
110 Colmore Row
Birmingham City Centre
B3 3AG

0121 236 1110

info@thebureaubar.co.uk
@thebureau
http://www.facebook.com/TheBureauBar

http://www.thebureaubar.co.uk

http://www.langleysgin.com
@langleysNo8

wwww.independent-birmingham.co.uk
@independentB’ham

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Disclaimer: We paid for our own food and drink. The opinions shared are my own and honest.