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. 

  

  

From street food beginnings to the Mockingbird. Bar, Bistro and Theatre at The Custard Factory. 


   

 Anthony Duffy and Craig Essex have just launched their new bar and bistro The Mockingbird at The Custard Factory. 

Previously seen as Big Papas at the Sunflower Lounge, that residency has now finished and a new exciting venture is open. 

At The ‘Mockingbird bar and bistro’ you can expect an exciting fresh seasonal evolving bistro menu with a keen focus on using locally sourced produce. 

Their new head chef has worked in some fantastic kitchens including Purnell’s. 

You may also expect a unique and carefully designed craft beer and cocktail menu, taking influence from small cocktail bars in Harlem, independent spirits, lesser known quality wines and fizz. 

The key objective and focus for the Mockingbird is to push the smaller, independently crafted drinks, championing the local breweries. 

As well as the exciting food and drink (including good vegetarian options) they will be offering a truly unique and eye catching industrial interior married with a relaxing atmosphere. 

As well as the Bar and Bistro, The Mockingbird also offers a 101 seated  cinema and theatre space which offers an intimate, atmospheric experience in live events and unconventional cinema that is unique to the Birmingham region. Plus DJ’s playing some light soul and funk and some very alternative music, live music acts, and comedy.

The Mockingbird provides a unique and diverse programme of events, embracing the city’s cultural diversity and young rising talent. 

The Vegetarian dishes at Big Papas demonstrated to me in their simplicity and eagerness to please an understanding that Vegetarians care too for what’s on their plate, fulfilling the adage that  when their’s a meat eater in a group there is often a veggie too. 

I was impressed then through conversation with the boys their thoughtfulness to please and get their veggie dishes right for the customer, and a keenness to evolve their menu. Thus I’m looking forward to seeing how their new venue develops. 

With the announcement that The Vegan Grindhouse are doing am all day/evening kitchen takeover every Monday until the end of the year, for Meat Free Monday’s there’s going to be a lot for veggies and vegans too like about The Mockingbird. 

I’m going to be at the launch party on the 6th August so look out for further reports and updates soon. 

Andy 😊

   
   

Big Papas: Deep South Soul Food in Birmingham UK review




If like me you’ve been watching the fantastic Reginald D Hunter ‘Songs of the American Deep South’ on BBC2 over the last few weeks then you will know just how intrinsically linked Soul Food and music is in the Deep South of America. It is on this premise that the ‘partnership’ between Big Papas Beautiful South and The Sunflower Lounge bar seems a match made in heaven, one specialising in soul food and one in music. 

The dishes created by chef Anthony Duffy echoing the history and authentic feel of Americas history and way of life. The fact that it serves food in Birmingham UK and not Birmingham Alabama even more in tune with the rhythm of soul and blues that encompasses its historic connection. 

Soul food originated in the Deep South by slaves and has become one of Ammericas richest regional cuisines. 

Myself along with Ruth were invited by Anthony along with other esteemed local food bloggers to try the food at Big Papas. It was a super night and lovely to see and meet everyone in attendance. 

Big Papas is approximately 5 minutes from The Bullring and a short walk down Smallbrook Queensway near TK Max. It’s based in The Sunflower Lounge a Birmingham favourite for many years as known for its live indie music and bustling and lively bar. 

So for good pints it is well stocked. 

Big Papas have a residency at The Sunflower Lounge and from their kitchen their Soul Food is created. 

The food on the menu is good value for money and includes a main course, 2 sides and 2 dipping sauces and then a choice of deserts as extra. 

For Vegetarians the options are limited but includes Big Papas famous Mac ‘n’ Cheese. They are Planning to add more vegetarian dishes in the next few weeks, (keep an eye on Veggie Foodie as I’m due to try them). 

The Mac ‘n’ Cheese came with Butternut Squash, and Poached egg and I chose two sides of Sweet Potato Fries and Greens. The 2 sauces were BBQ and Homemade Spicy Sauce. 



The dishes were served on a cute tray and the 2 sauces in their individual pots. 

The Mac ‘n’ Cheese was delicious, well made with a good cheesy flavour. Though I felt it could have been lifted more so by some mustard within it. I really enjoyed the dish, and with some of the best Sweet potato Fries I’ve had anywhere, in fact little slices of Cajun heaven, made a hearty and filling vegetarian dish that is so worth revisiting. The greens (cabbage in butter) were a nice contrasting accompaniment (always good to have veg, though they didn’t have my favourite okra)  the dipping sauces were well flavoured, quite spicy, but I like that and lovely with the fries. 

The Mac ‘n’ Cheese can also be ordered as a side. 



The brand new menu at Big Papas. 

Big Papas is a brilliant place to visit at any time of the day, but for a place for a lunch whilst shopping or an after shop  meal and drink its to be well recommended. The food is excellent, authentic and filled with their pride to provide good meals at reasonable prices fulfilling the Soul Food history and ethos. 

Thanks to Big Papas (Anthony and Craig) for dining us and for their hospitality, and enthusiasm. 

For soulfully cooked food, which is good for your soul’ veggie or non veggie Big Papas provide an abundance of flavour and a bit of Deep South history in Birmingham UK. Hallelujah! 

#feedyoursoul

#streetfood

Big Papas Beautiful South, The Sunflower Lounge, 76 Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham B5 4EG.

Food is served from 12-9pm 7 days a week. 

Big Papas are also street food traders and can be seen around the area serving their fine food at Brum Yum Yum KingshEATh on the 2nd Saturday of the month. Kerp an eye on their Twitter and Facebook pages for other dates and events. 







Facebook: bigpapassouth

Twitter: @bigpapasUk

I was invited by Big Papas to attend the food blogger evening to try their vegetarian food with an honest feedback and review required. All food was complimentary but all drinks consumed paid for by myself and Ruth. All opinions expressed are honest as always. 

Thanks for reading. 

Andy 😊

The Sunflower Lounge and Big Papas Beautiful South are supported by Independent Birmingham . They are featured on their website under bars. 

For discounts and to purchase the IB card see their website below. 

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