If those in the know (or think they are) are anything to go by then Two Cats Kitchen is the hottest dining ticket in town. For Vegetarians that might be greeted with, ‘for meat eaters maybe’ or yes really? But why should vegetarians be excused from the shouting or feel disinterested. After all we have the right to eat outside of vegetarian restaurants surely?
So many restaurants that come by generally can be described by vegetarians as beern like a big black hole of an abattoir sent from outer space, a place to keep away from.
For the unnanitiated Two Cats may appear a restaurant too far. For meat rules still, and Birmingham is generally living and breathing it in a massive way, if the Twitterati are to believed.
This though is not all together a fair description of my city. I’ve spoken before of the good work Nomad are doing in Brum, as Marmalade at The Birmingham Rep with its Meat free Monday’s and the three Opus Restaurants. Two Cats is also treading the innovative line on veggie dishes, ingredient led and blossoming under the dim lights of its permanent home.
Two Cats is the brainchild of Chef Nicki Astley. The food is described as ‘New Baltic Cuisine’. This is in fact Baltic-Russian cuisine, re composed traditional dishes and some newer innovative ones. It’s very much stripped back fine dining, the plates of food tell a story, and in its story is the ideals in the cooking. It certainly stands out on the Birmingham dining scene.
The vegetarian night was organised with Kam and Cat.
Kamila is a raw food chef and is the owner and founder of Kam and Cat. They have completed numerous pop ups in Birmingham over the last year.
Together with Nicki she provided the quirky dishes on the night.
Two Cats Kitchen is on Warstone Lane near St Paul’s square and in the historical Jewellery Quarter area of the city. Itself becoming a fine food and drink location.
After showcasing their food in various pop ups in the City Centre they’ve now settled in the cosy Jewellery Quarter and opened up in an even more cosy restaurant.
The dining room is entered via a small delightful passageway that is reminiscent of some Trattoria’s you find in Italy, inside exposed brickwork, original tiles on the floor and some monastic stained glass is quite a surprise if you weren’t expecting it. It’s a fine discovery, simple, with a charming atmosphere that only such an old narrow space can provide. Maybe it’s the history, maybe it’s just me.! I feel at home.
The menu itself is a bargain at £40 for seven courses. We had in order:
“Aukstazupa” Beetroot and Buttermilk Gazpacho.
Oyster Leaves and Garlic Buttermilk, Plum, charred almonds.
Chickpea terrine, pickles, cheese custard, coal oil.
Goats cheese Pelneni, lovage oil, sweet onion broth.
Golubtsy, slow cooked egg, cep mushroom stock.
Kam’s Blueberry Vegan ‘Cheesecake’.
Aukstazupa, (Beetroot and Buttermilk Gazpacho).
A Latvian Beet cold soup, slightly peppery, a bracing shout out I’m here kind of dish. Impressive veggie fare.
Oyster leaves and garlic, buttermilk, plum, charred almonds.
Paired down, simple ingredients, put together well, so easy? Is it?
Chickpea terrine, pickles, cheese custard, coal oil.
A third course of contrast, to the previous two. The chickpeas, complimenting well the cheesy heart of the dish: lovely.
Goat Cheese Pelneni, lovage oil, sweet onion broth.
An enchanting dish, all the elements came together. The tender Pelneni (chewy dumplings) of soft goats cheese stuffing, with an onion broth so crystal clear I could see my tired mid week night eyes peering jaded back at me from its depths, plus homemade lovage oil. Sweet, sticky, chewy, subtle-delicious.
Golubtsy, slow cooked egg, cep, mushroom stock.
Russian/Ukraine Stuffed cabbage leaves (Golubtsy) wrapped round the cep filling, the stock and egg providing the added contrasting bite. A classic of Ukrainian food, here in Birmingham, a dish originally devised to use up left over food, now central stage. A Moma of a dish. A special dish.
Simple sorrel leaf (pre desert)
bunch of sorrel leaves tied together by twine with lovely textures and a sweetness that is surprising. To be taken in the hand and eaten like a bone ( sorry for the meaty term) sweet, and simple, served and presented artistically.
Kam’s Blueberry vegan cheesecake.
A vegan style cheese cake, finishing off the meal well. Good flavours and light touch. Lovely. Presented well.
Two Cats Kitchen is terrific, gastronomic even, it is attempting to break barriers, but it’s feeding its customers well. I think you could keep returning here and finding new joys on the menu, or at least in some favourite tried before dishes and though this was a different Two Cats Kitchen night it whet the appetite for more in the near future.
It does all the right things and for that they’ve succeeded in giving veggies another powerfully seductive experience whence once it thought not to tread and that’s all in the hands of the chef who knows how to please, and understands the beauty of food for everyone and that’s quite simply a relief for vegetarians in Birmingham.
Photo courtesy of Two Cats Kitchen.
27 Warstone Lane, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, B18 6JQ.
Thanks for reading,
Disclosure: We paid for our meal in full. My opinions are my own and honest as always.