Review: Vegetarian menu at Opus Restaurant, Birmingham. 


   

It seems quite an obvious thing to have. A Vegetarian menu can demonstrate your commitment to vegetarians, but also to the produce you use and to the producers. You’re giving them a helping hand and saying here you go this is your time to showcase your wares. Little things help, not that I’m particular about restaurants of a certain Ilk not having a menu for me to peruse. Some of the best meals I’ve had have come off the cuff or from a limited menu of veggie goodness. 

For Opus Restaurant on Cornwall Street I  guess it makes sense to have a vegetarian menu, it allows their producers Worcester Produce scope to be given a platform to grow and perform and the chefs an opportunity to create menus that reflect seasonality like it should. 

That’s an excellent philosophy from the field to the plate. Its one they own and do if you’ll allow me the indulgence, oh so well. 

The Vegetarian menu was launced in January, initially to be changed every month, this has now been amended to a change every season. There is a market menu that changes more frequently also available. 

  

Ruth and i visited on a Saturday evening, and from experience Opus tends to be busier on a Friday and Saturday evening and had a nice chatty atmosphere throughout the evening. Opus is an excellent choice for a celebration, but is relaxed enough for a chilled lunch or evening out. 

We began in the large bar area at the rear of the restaurant in order to have a cocktail and look through the menus. We ordered an exemplary Dry Gin Martini, classily made by Thomas the bar manager with Hereford Chase Gin, who deserves a special mention for his hospitality and cocktail. 

Dry and soothingly beautiful it was a mighty fine thing. 

We both chose to eat from the Vegetarian menu which offers two Vegan dishes also. 

  

Both Ruth and I chose to order the Roasted Butternut Squash Tortellini, Squash velouté, Toasted Seeds.  Dish Before the velouté was poured over the tortellini. 

  

We both thought the dish was stunning. A real taste of the winter season, where a gentle natural heat came through and demonstrated the versatility of the squash with Perfectly cooked tortellini, a luxurious dish of real quality and elegance. 
    

We also both tried a second starter off the menu, as a pre-main course dish. The Asiette of Beetroot, textures of goats cheese. 

This was a fine starter, that though wasn’t as stunning as the velouté before was full of the earthyness of the beetroot which woked well against the creamy goats cheese. An impressive starter which used the fantastic thinly sliced and striped sweet candy beet (from Worcester Produce) against the creamy soft goats cheese. 

For her main course Ruth chose the wintry sounding Porcini mushroom risotto, crispy hens egg, sherry vinegar reduction.

  

A twist on the traditional Northern Italian dish was certainly a winner with Ruth. She loved the earthy intense nuttyness of the porcini (piglets).

She said it was perfectly executed, the risotto the right texture and the strong depth of flavour showed off the so called king of mushrooms well. The added hens egg on top gave it a creamy addition when broken into. A delicious rich dish, which on trying i concurred with. The ruling class of risottos.

I chose the beautifully sounding Celeriac, red onion and feta pithivier, baby spinach confit tomato and pearl barley sauce.

  
  

A pithivier is a classic French savoury pastry dish (I love pastry dishes) with a distinctive round shape and sunbeam pattern scored on top.

Beautifully presented, the contrasting ingredients worked well  with the feta holding it all together to make a stunning winter pie that though large in size wasn’t heavy but had a light finish.

A real centrepiece dish which showed off the subtle but slightly nutty celeriac and confit tomatoes well.

A special mention to the Pearl barley sauce which gave the dish an extra wow factor.

We also ate some top notch chips as a side extra. Naturally they went perfectly with the pithivier.

  

We chose not to have a desert (but recommended) as we had enjoyed a pre main course, but chose to have two excellent double espressos and petit fours. These were ok, though not the best we’d had and were slightly underwhelming considering they were on the desert menu as a dish to buy. Could be improved. 
  

After visiting Opus last year for their Vegetarian Source dinner with Worcester Produce i noted how much more the kitchen were becoming in creating interestingly different and creative Vegetarian dishes. How by using the great fresh seasonal produce you are able to get the best extracted from the season.

 The chefs now seem more adept and positive in creating a menu that gives a permanent showcase for this produce and vegetarians a better and richer dining experience. The vegetarian menu at Opus is a natural progression from the Source dinner and one that makes Opus one of the best dining experiences in Birmingham for Vegetarians, and with a couple of Vegan options (though could be more) a restaurant for them to visit too. I’m looking forward to seeing what the Spring will bring to the plate and long may we enjoy the fruits of the producers such as Worcester Produce and Caroll’s Heritage Potatoes in Northumberland. 

Opus is indeed a special restaurant in Birmingham and now for vegetarians maybe just essential dining. 

  
    
   

Thanks for reading,

Andy😊

Disclaimer: our meal at Opus was complimentary. This does not affect my honest opinion. All opinions are my own.

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

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

http://www.opusrestaurant.co.uk/dinner-series/

Opus Restaurant, 54 Cornwall Street, Bitmingham,  B3 2DE.

0121 200 2323

The next Vegetarian Source Dinner is on Friday 19th August 7pm with Worcester Produce. For my previous  review, see the below link:

http://t.co/WkopBcpQ9P

   
 

Previous reviews of Opus from Veggie Foodie: 

http://t.co/WkopBcpQ9P

https://t.co/3tmU7L7Y2V

Opus Restaurant launches new Vegetarian menu. 


   
 
During the last few years I’ve visited Opus Restaurant numerous times and have always been impressed by their passion and belief in the locally sourced produce they obtain from the area surrounding the restaurant. The Source Dinner series held over the course of the year highlights this. In particular for Vegetarians the Vegetarian Source Dinner in July is a real highlight and a must do on my foodie calendar. 

Worcester Produce from Pershore, Worcestershire provide the vegetables, fruit and produce for that dinner and the link is now deepened with the new introduction this month of a seasonally changing Vegetarian menu which uses their produce all year round. 

Opus’ vegetarian dishes have always been stunningly  made, taking seasonal produce and making accessible and tasty dishes that showcase this ethos off to its maximum. 

See below for examples from their last Source vegetarian dinner.

   
 

The new Opus Restaurant vegetarian menu replaces for veggies the A La Carte menu, by offering a dedicated menu that changes monthly to reflect the produce on offer from the farmers. 

There is also a Vegan option on each course.

It is available for lunch and dinner.

The A’La Carte is still available for non vegetarians who can now choose from both menus. 

The winter Vegetarian Menu is listed below. 

 

For the A’La Carte menu and Market Menu which is retained see below:

http://www.opusrestaurant.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/A-LA-CARTE-MARKET.pdf

The Market Menu is also available offering two courses for £20 including a Vegetarian Starter and Main Course (price includes home baked bread and tea or filter- coffee) see above link for details. 

I’m looking forward to trying the new Vegetarian menu soon and for me this cements Opus as one of the best places for vegetarians to visit in Birmingham. 

Review of Vegetarian Source Dinner with Worcester Produce:

http://t.co/WkopBcpQ9P

Opus leads the way on sustainability:

https://t.co/3tmU7L7Y2V

  

   

    
    
 Four photos above courtesy of Opus.

Thanks for reading

Andy 😊

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

Opus Restaurant, 54 Cornwall Street, Birmingham, B3 2DE.

0121-200-2323.

http://www.worcesterproduce.co.uk/

The next vegetarian source dinner with Worcester Produce is on Friday 19th August 7pm costing £65 for five courses. 

   
 

Veggie Dish of the Day: Chinese Green Gai Lan at Henry Wong, Harborne, Birmingham. 


   
For Vegetarians seeking a sophisticated but different kind of meal, with an extensive vegetarian menu Henry Wong in Harborne in South Birmingham is just the ticket. Specialising in Cantonese food Henry Wong presents exquisitely flavoured and classically presented dishes with a golden service. 

Set in a stylish dining room, with a rich woodwork and leather seating lounge bar area (serving cocktails) Henry Wong is a place for all occasions, but is becoming a place for Ruth and I to visit for celebrations as on this occasion to celebrate Ruth’s birthday late last year. 

We had visited Henry Wong before last year and had a fantastic evening. 

See my review:

https://vegiefoodie.com/2015/06/08/review-henry-wong-harborne/ 

    

One of the Vegetarian main courses on the menu is Chinese Green Gai Lan with Ginger and Shaoshing Wine. A dish so simple looking but packing a huge flavour of tongue and senses twisting exoticness that with that taste you begin to believe in the afterlife. 

The thick stemmed tender and crisp Chinese vegetable Gai Lan (also known as Kai Lan) is a bit like broccoli, served simply with the light touch of ginger and Shaoshing wine, it’s a delightfully shiny, and glossy dish, tossed simply with the ginger and Shaoshing wine, the warmth of the ginger balances the pronounced taste of the Gai Lan with an intensified cooling flavour kick lingering long on the palette. 

It’s an aromatic dish of substance and a vegetarian essential not to be missed at luxurious Henry Wong. 

 Chinese Green Gai Lan with Ginger and Shaoshing wine. £9.50.   A beautiful glossy dish eaten best with a couple of shared dishes (or another vegetarian dish) and some sticky rice. 

   Cocktails at Henry Wong.

   

 Last two photos courtesy of Henry Wong.

With thanks to owner Parm Rai, chef Ricky Wu and a special thanks to restaurant manager Marianne Ho and her team for helping us celebrate Ruth’s Birthday with their exemplary service.

We paid for our food and drinks at Henry Wong, but received a 25% discount from Parm as it was a special occasion. My review is honest as always and I was not required to review or write about my experience.

Henry Wong, 283 High Street, Harborne, Birmingham, B17 9QH.

http://henrywongharborne.co.uk/

http://henrywongharborne.co.uk/menus/food-menu/

Review: Byzantium, Kings Heath, Revisited. 


   

Byzantium was colonised by Greek colonists from Megara in 657 BC. Not that anyone in Kings Heath was present, or can remember this. Partly because of heavy nights and days in the nearby Hare and Hounds and partly because well, the residents of Kings Heath have been silenced by their fear of more charity shops and the shock that a new ‘Subway’ sandwich shop has opened on the High Street. 
    

But then if the Greeks were around today then I’m sure they’d be impressed by the quaint and intimate hideaway named after their great empire that sits cosily on York Road (almost opposite The Hare and Hounds and next to Fletchers Bar.) 

For me Byzantium is the kind of tapas restaurant a Vegetarian could frequent often and still not get fed up of the same dishes. In fact there are numerous choices and daily specials that makes one scratch your head and shout out ‘if only I had one choice, life would be simpler.’ Yet, I have my favourite dishes, well why not, life’s too short!

Byzantium takes its inspiration from across the Mediterranean to create a tapas menu that’s reflective of the whole area. So you have, Spanish, Italian, Greek, French influences in the dishes which keeps the menu varied. Inside you’ll find religious art on the walls, church like seating, and ornate lamps which help to create a lovely exotic atmosphere. 

I’ve been going with Ruth to Byzantium fairly regularly over the last few years. It’s our go to place. We had a lovely Valentines night meal there earlier in the year. For its elegance, romantic lighting and soothing gothic shadows lend itself perfectly to the occasion. In fact my very first restaurant review for Veggie Foodie was Byzantium back in April 2014. 

This occasion too was a celebration for it was Ruth’s Birthday and her Mum was with us to celebrate. In fact Ruth’s Mum loves the restaurant.

I began with an aperitif. The Negroni. The classic Italian cocktail. 

  Negroni at Byzantium.

The Negroni was a well made aperitif, one part gin, one part Vermouth, one part Campari. Italy in a drink. Delicious. 

We also shared an excellent bottle of Prosecco with our food. Well we were celebrating. 

  

The vegetarian dishes we chose to share were: 

Homemade Flatbread. 

Zaalouk: pan fried Aubergine dip with cumin, Tomatoes, and Corriander. 

Olives: a selection of marinated green and black olives. 

These were all eaten as a shared starter. 

The flatbread was a beautiful unleavened bread, very large, served with a jalapeños chilli on top. Ideal for sharing it was a joyous thing, and probably due to its flavour and size the best plain flatbread in Birmingham. Taken with the punchy tomato and aubergine based Zaalouk its a perfect sharing starter. The pan fried aubergines perfect in a dip and the ideal accompaniment to the flattened doughy bread. A beautiful zingy flavour with a touch of cumin. 
  

To follow Ruth and her Mum ordered a couple of meat tapas to share and I ordered the Halloumi Souviaki for myself and four veggie tapas to share between the three of us. 

The dishes we shared were: 

Croquetas: Cheese and spinach croquetas served with alioi and red onion jam. 

Patatas Alioli: Crisp potatoes served with Garlic Mayonnaise. 

Tortilla Con Queso: Spanish omelette with potato, spinach, cheese, caramelised onions. 

Championes Rellenos: mushrooms stuffed with tomatoes, roasted red peppers and cheese. 

Halloumi Souviaki: skewers of Halloumi cheese, Mediterranean vegetables, served with Tzatiki (creamy yogurt, cucumber and garlic).

  Tortilla Con Queso. 

A classic Spanish Tortilla, an indulgent blend of potatoes, spinach and cheese, topped off with the golden tinged caramelised onions to make s very satisfying tapas dish. One of the best. A Perfectly made tortilla. 

  

Championes Rellenos. 

A tasty tomato based stuffed mushroom dish which had a delicious lingering flavour and complimented the tortilla well especially. The cheese didn’t overwhelm the rich tomato sauce. I liked the bulky mushrooms as a contrast to the Patatas Alioli too. 

  Croquetas. 

Nice Croquetas with a good creamy filling. Served with the red onion marmalade gave it another dimension in flavour that elevated it. A recommended dish. 

    Halloumi Souviaki. 

The star dish on the night. Who doesn’t like skewers of Halloumi? Served with Mediterranean vegetables, the peppers in particular offer a juicy accompany ment as does the side salad and the garlicky Tzatiki. Halloumi heaven on a plate. 

  Patatas Alioli: 

crisp potatoes served with a garlic mayo. A classic tapas dish though not as fine as the Patatas Bravas which is also on the menu. Any potato dish whether Alioli or Bravas is essential for Vegetarians at Byzantium.

  Tiramisu. 

The most disappointing dish of the night. Both Ruth and I chose the Tiramisu. I’m in love with tiramisu and it’s often my first choice when in any menu. Yet in the UK it can be underwhelming, as this unfortunately was. The cream was over whipped and it didn’t ‘pick me up’ at all. Quite the opposite in fact. A disappointing pud. I can’t find anything positive to say about it at all. 

  

Poached Pears soaked in Red wine.

So to counterbalance the bad, meet the good. The Poached Pears, Just lovely, decadent, the pear fragrant against the deep full bodied reduced wine, a beautiful strikingly simple desert that I’ve eaten before and found an old photo of. 

Along with the Creme Catalan the best pudding on the desert menu. 

Byzantium is a lovely tapas restaurant and one that Kings Heath is rightly proud. Our food on the night was delicious. The dishes were all well made, with the menu demonstrating a varied and sensitivity to vegetarians and meat eaters are well served too. In fact for veggies there’s enough choice for tears of joy and to return with Christmas bells on next week, and have a completely different menu. 

The service was good, attentive, friendly and efficient. In fact everything that a neighbourhood restaurant should be. It has a strong drinks menu, with sherry’s, cocktails and a mixed selection of European wine, plus spirits, vin Santo (which we enjoyed) and a good strong espresso. If only their Tiramisu was up to scratch things would be perfect, but for now it will do, maybe the Greeks didn’t get to Venice or Verona, but thankfully South Birmingham and who can complain at that? 

  
 

We paid for our food in full apart from the complimentary bottle of prosecco, kindly given as it was Ruth’s birthday. My opinions are honest and no review was expected or required. 

She had a good night. 

http://www.byzantiumtapas.co.uk/

http://www.byzantiumtapas.co.uk/menu/

Byzantium,  11 York Road, Kings Heath, Birmingham, B14 7SA. 

Thanks for reading. 

Andy 😊

Byzantium have also recently opened an up stairs function room for parties and large groups to dine and party. 

For details and party menu see their website and my post here: 

http://t.co/9wa86cSkdr

   
 

  

Review: Cafe Opus at Ikon: Birmingham 


   
 
Cafe Opus is located in the Brindley Place part of Birmingham City Centre at the acclaimed modern art Ikon Gallery on Delightful Oozells square. 

It’s a stylish, modern British cafe on the ground floor of the Ikon Gallery building with a tempting outdoor terrace that begs for sunny days and nights and is perfect for their informal menu that’s designed to let you eat what you fancy when you fancy it. Serving cafe classics, afternoon tea, fine beers, wines and coffee, at reasonable cafe prices. 

The true taste of Cafe Opus is that they are independent and source their produce locally and ethically, knowing all of their producers, farmers and fishermen. It’s all about utilising fresh produce and allowing the simplest of ingredients to shine through. 

In fact I think the summer months are the best time to visit Cafe Opus. The terrace itself demands it, and the produce, well speaks for itself. 

   
 
Ruth and I have have always loved visiting Cafe Opus on a Summer evening and thus couldn’t resist the recent good weather. We chose a Friday evening partly because Ruth wanted to try out the steak on ‘steak friday’ and because they were running what’s called ‘Come Vinyl With Me’. 

Now, this is where you can bring your own records and be a DJ by serving up three courses of musical delights in 10 minutes. This is strictly vinyl, but is very eclectic music wise and was good fun. At least our dinner was accompanied by a decent soundtrack. 

We didn’t bring any records ourselves on this occasion, but you never know in the future. This is held on the first Friday of the month. 

So there we had it, good music and maybe good food. 

Having visited Cafe Opus before to eat  on many occasions I knew the Vegetarian Dishes were always diverse and thoughtful. So that’s me satisfied too! 

We did sit on the terrace, and ordered a local Langley’s Gin and tonic (1724) for me and a glass of white wine for Ruth. The gin and tonic was lovely, perfect on a summers alfesco night. 

  
   
 It’s the informality of the menu that makes Cafe Opus the ideal Summer venue. The food feels relaxed, continental and I always feel sitting on the terrace whatever time of the day that Birmingham is some far flung city not just home and familiar. 

For that reason I chose The Vegetarian Plate from the all day menu. Comprising of Welsh rarebit, hummus, and toasted pitta, piquillo pepper stuffed with couscous, marinated grilled vegetables. 

   

   
All of the elements were excellent, nothing was out of place. The Piquillo peppers were the stars though, the contrasting flavour of the pepper with the slightly spicy couscous was summer in itself and reminded me of some lovely tapas meals in Spain. The Rarebit, with a good string cheese flavour was excellent too and the marinated vegetables (courgettes, aubergines) delicious. It was a good plate of food, though simple it was a good example of how informal dishes can be uplifting if the ingredients are fresh and well cooked. I also ordered some fat chips which were delightful and went well with the vegetarian plate. 

   
 
Ruth surfice to say loved her steak aged for 28 days to ensure their succulent flavour it appeared to work. She was happy. 

We ordered another 2 glass of wine and a Chapel Down brewery Curious IPA and Lager (from the winery in Kent that makes some delicious wines and some nifty Sparkling brut too). 

The IPA a powerful but hoppy Indian Pale Ale. Very drinkable, very flavourful. Lovely in the sunshine. 

 
  
We were both happy to order puddings too. Ruth ordered a lemon posset, fresh raspberries which was very nice. Fresh, summery and quite light. No picture I’m afraid as she started before I could take one. 

I ordered the Mixed Summer berry pavlova. The combinations of meringue, cream and strawberries and raspberries worked well. Though it was quite creamy in texture it didn’t feel heavy, but was light was a subtle meringue crunch. A well made and enjoyable pudding. 
 

  
Cafe Opus is a lovely spot for a light summery dinner or lunch or afternoon tea. If the weather is fine, the terrace is a super spot to people watch and to take in those sunny Rays. 

The food, been seasonal is of the highest quality, fresh, well made. 

Cafe Opus do the simple things delightfully well. 

The dishes are well cooked, the Vegetarian dishes are thoughtful, not just an add on ( though could do with a few more, maybe specials?) and with the seasonal aspect feels modern and interesting. 

They are more cafe orientated than fine dining, but that simple nature works well. 

 The menus are affordable and the service was good throughout. 

Cafe Opus is well worth a visit for an ethical slice of artistic Birmingham whether after, before or separate from a gallery visit. There’s a lot to like about Cafe Opus. It’s got so much right. 

Now when’s my next visit? 

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

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

   
   
  
Cafe Opus at Ikon, 1 Oozells Square, Brindley Place, Birmingham, B1 2HS. 

0121-248-3226

Meat Free Monday: every Monday at Cafe Opus, daily vegetarian specials. Day time only. 

   

 Afternoon tea 
  
Come Vinyl with me at Cafe Opus. 

You can also receive 2-1 on all breakfast menu items until 12pm (Monday-Friday) or 10% off the bill (all day all week) with the Independent Birmingham card. See link to purchase the IB card. 

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

Thanks for reading. 

Andy 😊

We received our food at Cafe Opus complimentary, but paid for our drinks. All of my opinions are my own and my review is honest and without bias as always. I was not required to write a positive review. 


Marmalade: Bistro, coffee, cocktails, and great for veggies


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Marmalade is the new bar/bistro that is opening on the 6th February at The Birmingham Rep Theatre in Centenary Square near the Symphony Hall and Broad Street.

It’s a joint venture from Birmingham Rep and independent Bitters ‘n’ Twisted who also run the successful Bodega, Rose Villa Tavern, The Victoria, Island Bar and The New Inn in Harborne.

Promising eclectic furnishings, quality wines, ales, craft beer and cocktails galore as well as an innovative food menu that is open all day for coffee, bar snacks, light lunch or pre theatre dining.

There will be a special food offer of two courses for £15.95 or Three courses for £19.95 from a set menu. A Pre theatre menu.

Bitters ‘n’ Twisted are keen for Marmalade to be known for its food menu as well as for the existing theatre, it’s an ideal place for a post theatre drink or just for dinner.

Having spoken to Bitters ‘n’ Twisted a few months ago I knew the menu would be brilliant for vegetarians, as they have considered their menu carefully with numerous innovative dishes on offer. 😊

Having now seen the menu this holds true with nine dishes on the menu and 5 sides plus of course puddings.

The food menu is split into five sections Appetisers, Small plates, Main courses, sides and puddings.

Try, goats curd, black olive tapenade, croutes, watercress, balsamic, or the lovely sounding beetroot, and feta croustade, samphire, bearnaise sauce, orange on the appetisers.

Or, Bosworth’s Ash Goats Cheese and watercress pancakes, Apple chutney or charred kale, caramelised swede, coconut, cranberries, walnuts. Which I have been told is delicious. Thanks Vicky😊

Or Sesame, Coated Halloumi, Seared Honeydew, Melon, Black olive tapenade.

For main courses you could try Mediterranean Vegetable Crumble, tofu, Roast Tomato sauce, Spinach, figs. Sounds lovely.

Or Quinoa, Broccoli, Sweet Potato, Olives, coriander, toasted butter bean, cannelloni, bean salad.

Or Roast Aubergine, Lentil, feta, Basil leaves, chick peas, croutons, curry oil, raisins, shiitake mushroom salad.

For sides try a number of salads, the roasted sweet potato and fig salad sounds delicious, as does the baby spinach salad, dates and walnuts.

Puddings include a Repertory mess, plum orange and apricot crumble and a gingerbread cheese cake. Yummy!

Vegetarian Appetisers are priced between £3.25 and £6.50 vegetarian small plates between £6.75 and £7.25 and veggie mains priced at £10.95. Puddings at £5.75.

I think the menu shows innovation and real thought for vegetarian diners, and many high end restaurants and bistros could take a leaf out of Marmalade’s book. Credit is therefore given to Bitters ‘n’ Twisted. Thank you.

Of course the proof is in the pudding as they say (or in the small plate) so I look forward to trying some of the above dishes soon and feeding back shortly.

The Marmalade Lounge bar is happily affordable, focussing on the creative and intrigue of its food menu. The veggie options certainly show exciting flavour combinations with an independent twist and style that would be expected. Food that is fresh and local where it can be.

For vegetarians Marmalade has the potential to be one of the most exciting new openings in Birmingham City Centre this year.

Remember Marmalade is open today. They are taking bistro bookings online via their website and serve brunch every Saturday and Sunday from 10-12 noon and Sunday lunches hereafter.

I will check on the menu and update my post. Full menus see below.

http://www.marmaladebirmingham.co.uk

http://marmaladebirmingham.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/marmalade-food web.pdf

Also follow them on Face book/Marmalade and Twitter @marmaladeBham

You may even bump into Paddington.

Marmalade Bistro Bar
Birmingham Rep Theatre
Broad Street
Birmingham
B1 2EP

0121-633 9349

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Some of the veggie dishes at Marmalade.

Photos courtesy of Bitter ‘n’ Twisted and Jack Spicer Adams.

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Raja Monkey: authentic Indian street food in Birmingham


Raja Monkey is in Hall Green in the south part of Birmingham. It’s the small brother in the Lasan Group which includes award winning Lasan and Argentinian Fiesta Del Asada.

It’s based on the true indian road cafe that is found traditionally providing soul food around the old atmospheric streets of India. It’s rustic, colourful, and vibrant filled with a cosy charm of charming service and delicious harmonious cooking aromas.

It has a relaxed feel, like a cafe with a difference, you can feel the quality of the cooking just by being there and knowing the Lasan reputation.

You notice the open kitchen with chefs making dosas, and content in their craft. It makes for a fun atmosphere, making you feel almost part of the kitchen.

The menu includes traditional street food, Dosa’s, Thali’s and snack like starters, ideal for grazing.

For vegetarians it’s paradise, with so many tempting dishes to choose from.

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The restaurant is on the Stratford Road opposite Waitrose in Hall Green nestled amongst a few shops.

On a midweek night Ruth and I braved the snowy air and the freezing temperatures and walked into Raja Monkey to find a cosy and warm hearted place. We had never eaten inside the restaurant before, but had enjoyed numerous take aways since it opened.

In fact we’ve raved about the quality of Raja Monkey’s take aways to anyone that would listen, it’s our go to take away in South Birmingham.

In order to test the quality we both ordered Papads (poppudums) to nibble on.

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They were crisp and fresh. The chutney and pickles that accompanied them were excellent, a good selection including a cool yoghurt dip all presented in tiny silver pots with lids on- very sweet.

After much deliberation on what dishes to choose Ruth decided to have as a way of a starter the
vegetarian Masala Aloo Dosa:

A Dosa is a popular Southern Indian savoury street food fermented crepe created from rice, butter, and lentils stuffed with a filling of choice meat or veg and served with coconut chutney.

The Masala Aloo Dosa was filled with crushed potatoes fragranced with turmeric, mustard seeds with curry leaves and wrapped in a delicious crepe. Ruth loved her Dosa, hot off the griddle, made in front of your eyes, it had a good balance of flavours, crispy, nutty, and was well recommended.

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I chose the Samosa Chaat.

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A pickling savoury snack of a vegetable samosa, chick peas, tomato, onion relish, coated with yoghurt, tamarind and green chutney and finished with chaat masala and Papdi.

The flavours and textures of this dish were lovely. The layers of samosa deconstructed almost and lightly meshed into the chick peas, yoghurt and chutney felt so like Indian street food that the sounds and atmosphere of India filled this tiny corner of Hall Green and warmed the cockles of my heart. I can’t praise the Samosa Chaat enough. So very very good.

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For our next course we both chose to order the house speciality The Thali.

A Thali meaning plate, comprised of a selection of various dishes served on a silver platter compartmentalised so that you can either eat them as you see them in turn or you can tip the small platters into the larger platter and eat them as a normal curry. The choice is yours. We did both.

Ruth chose the Rajosthali mutton thali. She loved it, I can tell as she went quiet-as she was eating.

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Rajosthali

I chose the vegetarian thali called the Shakarkand thali.

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Comprising of sweet potato and cashew nut kofta, in a melon and poppy seed curry served with rice, dhal, bread and a vegetable selection (salad and a veg curry)

In total 6 components.

The centrepiece was the potato and cashew nut kofta. Heavenly succulent balls of sweet, potato, against the spice of the poppy seed and melon curry , lovely, a divine marriage of sweet and hot flavours. A warming curry for a cold night.

Alongside there was a deliciously soothing Dhal, a fenugreek and coriander Paratha (a flatbread) from South Asia which when cooked is layered. Lovely, a stunningly flavoured bread.

Then a veggie curry that was spicy, and an excellent accompaniment.

I loved this way of eating food.

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We both had room for pudding, well who can’t resist a creamy home made Indian pudding.

We both love Rasmalai and we were pleased it was on the menu.

As a definition Ras means ‘juice’ and Malai means ‘cream’

You can almost describe it as a cheese cake without the biscuit layer or cottage cheese or soft paneer cheese balls. It was lovely, cooling, fresh, the kind of pud you can fall in love with. The soft cheese immersed in chilled sweet creamy milk.

A lip smacking pudding.

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Raja Monkey shares with Lasan a commitment to quality ingredients and soulful cooking, less fancy, more street, but for good value, comfort Indian soul food it can’t be beat.

For vegetarians it’s a must.

So many dishes to choose.

From experience of Raja Monkey’s takeaways and from this meal all veggie dishes are recommended.

The service was attentive, informal, but with a keenness to explain the dishes and served with a passion and pride that is genuine.

Raja Monkey provided Ruth and I with a highly enjoyable meal, Central heating on a cold night.

Raja Monkey is one to return to again and again, without hesitation. Bravo.

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We also ordered 2 bottles of Cobra beer and 2 glasses of Sauvignon Blanc and two delicious espressos.

Raja Monkey,
1355 Stratford Road
Birmingham
B28 9HW

0121 777 9090

http://www.rajamonkey.co.uk

Twitter: @rajamonkeycafe

Facebook: rajamonkey

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We dined as guests of Raja Monkey and the Lasan Group. All food and drinks were complimentary, but I was not obliged to write a good review, but a fair one. All my opinions are honest and my own (and Ruth’s of course)

Thanks for reading.

@andydhare

Facebook: Andy Hare
and Veggie Foodie

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