Restaurant review: Mezze at So Mezze and lounge, Birmingham.


  

So Mezze is a reassuring place.  When you look at the menu you are greeted with a long list of Vegetarian dishes that cover All mezze bases and are salavatingly bursting with happiness. 

You cannot underestimate the comfort this brings and though the proof is in the eating its a positive start. The menu offers a mixture of cold and hot mezze, like tapas small dishes to share and ideal for grazing on with a cocktail from the long cocktail list. 

So Mezze serves Lebanese Mezze and is located in Birmingham City Centre in Holloway Head between Broad Street (near the ICC) and the Arcadian provides a lounging experience thats has a calm relaxed Arabesque feel about it and a comfortable cosy arrangement of seating and tables that asks you to linger long into the evening.

 

  
The beautiful thing about Mezze like tapas is its informality. Sharing food is one of my favourite things to do so the long  and varied vegetarian menu was perfect for Ruth and I to share, with plenty to satisfy all tastes.

We began with a couple of cocktail. Ruth the Dry Gin Martini and myself the Old Cuban. Both excellent with the perfect hit of ingredients. The rum and bourbon in mine, deep and velvety, reassuringly complimenting the informality of the dishes. Ruths with the perfect balance of gin and perfectly made. So good we had two more. Superb cocktails. 

  Gin Martini
  Old Cuban 

  

The dishes we ate were: 

Cold Mezze: Humous, Baba Ganoush, Tabouleh, Fatoush, Warak Enab,

Hot Mezze: Batata Harra, Grilled Halloumi, Sambousek cheese, and Falafal, served with flat bread. 

All the dishes were excellent, lovely examples of authenticity and fully enjoyable. 

Take the cold Mezze dish Baba Ganoush, smoky rich, creamy, the distinct aubergine flavour meltingly good on an excellent flatbread.

The Warak Enab, vine leaves stuffed full of rice and spices, morsels of delight and perfect alongside a superbly creamy and silky smooth Humous and light and refreshing Tabouleh with its summery flavours and minty, Parsley soothing hit and the light and breezy Fatoush with its lettuce, tomato, cucumber, mint and onion on flatbread and olive oil dressing. The salads tempered with Middle East herbs are delicious. 

The hot Mezze were equally indulgent and summery. 

The star dish Batata Harra, spiced Lebanese fried potatoes cooked with peppers, chillies, garlic and Corriander. Small morsels if punchy flavours taken alongside the savoury Grilled Halloumi, with its golden brown savoury touch a delight. 

Another dish, the falafel had the perfect weight and flavour. Small balls of chickpeas and onion ( I’m a big fan of chickpeas) deep fried with a tahini sauce. Delicious. 

The only dish that was not such a winner to me was the Sambousek Cheese, which was a light savoury cheese pastry with feta cheese and parsley which was disappointingly bland compared with the deep savoury flavours of the other hot dishes. Shame.

The dishes also came with rice.
  Falafel.  

Batata Harra.

  Fatoush

  Tabouleh.

  Sambousek Cheese

  Humous

  Baba Ganoush  Warak Enab

    
  

Grilled Halloumi  Flatbread

    Rice 

    Veggie menu £20 per person.

Been quite full we decided to share a beautifully sticky and filling Syrup Drizzled Baklava: soaked layers of pastry and chopped nuts, sticky, syrupy. It’s all in the name, delicious especially with the fresh and refreshing mint tea that we enjoyed with it.

    Baklava

  

 Fresh mint tea.

  
  
Our meal at So Mezze was a generous meal. For Vegetarians it’s an excellent choice. With plenty of choice, to fill a number of repeated visits. The set menu allows a full journey and the delight in eating food in a shared informal way is perfect for summer or a group party. It has a confidence in itself, unfussy, and enjoyable in its simple charms. They also cater for vegans and Gluten Free diets with notice when booking and reassuringly  having so much choice is its key to its enjoyment. All the dishes we tried were excellent and we’d have no hesitation to visit again. A hidden, cool and fun gem in the city centre and perfect for us veggies.

Thanks for reading, 

Andy 😊

So Mezze,  89 Holloway Head, Birmingham, B1 1QP.

http://www.so-mezze.co.uk/

https://m.facebook.com/somezze/

You can receive a discount of 25% with The Gastro Card at So Mezze from Sunday-Thursday.
http://www.gastrocard.co.uk/restaurants/so-mezze-lounge/

Our meal and drinks were complimentary at So Mezze because of my work for The Gastro Card. All my opinions are honest and my own as always. 

  

Restaurant review: Purnells Bistro, Birmingham.


  
If the way to get to a good restaurant is to go through a good bar, then Purnells Bistro is quite probably top of the hit parade. 

Ginger’s Bar embraces the relaxed vibes of Manhattan, inspired by Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, the decor and ambience is cool and collected with smart re-mastered classic cocktails. Ruth and I have visited numerous times, The Negroni is superb, the Old fashioned glitters. The Gin Martini possibly the best in Birmingham. 

Purnells Bistro offers a menu inspired by rustic British fare. It is very much ‘rustic home cooking with an eclectic twist’ where dainty traditional food meets more exotic ingredients. Founded by Michelin Starred chef Glynn Purnell (his wonderful restaurant Purnells restaurant is around the corner) it shows his passion to good food in slick and chilled surroundings. 

The Bistro decor has a relaxed and pleasant feel with soft moody lighting which felt quite chilled and modern on a quiet Monday lunchtime. It’s semi fine dining, nice pared down tables, smart cutlery, it felt like a place to celebrate in, which was a good thing as it was Ruth’s Birthday in the lovely company of her Mum. 

On this occasion we went straight to the table rather than have a drink in the bar.    

    Old fashioned.

  Cocktails at Gingers.

  
  Purnells Bistro

  Ginger’s Bar

 

We ate off the Extended Weekend menu. Which is on offer only on a Monday where all items on the menu (including bar food menu) have discounts up to 50% off, which I think is a great deal.    Having settled in the Bistro, which wasn’t surprisingly quiet for a Monday lunch time, we were given some pleasant rather than spectacular bread to have as we looked at the menu. 

 
The starter I ordered Potato and Gruyere terrine, poached egg, Autumn Purée, potato crisp, bursting with flavour of the assertive Gruyere cheese, into an earthy noted and Moreish terrine, with a runny egg to give the depth of luxury into what mounted to a lovely brunch like dish. The purée adding a seasonal harmony or just simply shouting I am lunch. A real starter of note. 

    Potato and Gruyere terrine, poached egg, Autumn Green purée, potato crisp.  £3.00

Pumpkin Risotto, Goats Cheese, Watercress. £7.25.  

So onto the main course. Risotto’s fall into three camps for me. The not good at all, bland, grainy, why? The ok, (so many Italian restaurants in Birmingham do it this way) and the wow risotto, I’ve had two in my life. One in Florence (of course) deep earthy mushrooms, in season, outside in the evening sun. Then the best of all at Raymond Blanc’s gastranomic temple that is Le Manoir Aux Saison another Wild mushroom and Alba Truffle concoction (again in season) that blew me away and remains to this day the best I’ll probably ever eat. I vowed to not eat another risotto again, this lasted for only six months until the Asparagus season began, but still I feel Risotto desire when I think about it.

So began the journey to another temptress the (Pumpkin, goats cheese and watercress Risotto.)

The discovery pleased me, as it proved to be the second most enjoyable Risotto I’ve ever had in the UK. 

The best Risottos  are the simple ones, less is more. Pumpkins slap bang in the Autumn/Winter season, with harmonious gentle goats cheese. Soothing, comforting, satisfying, with plenty of deep seasonal flavour . A well executed risotto that surprised me. A triumph of simple things done simply well and with the confidence to lavish love on a plate. A stylish plate of food.

We also ordered some excellent seasonal vegetables that were a welcome addition. 

  Pumpkin Risotto, goats cheese, watercress. A bargain.

  Seasonal vegetables. £1.37.

By this time I was glowing like a glow worm on a sunny day, and felt impassioned to dive into a gooey pudding. So I ordered the most gooey and chocolatey pudding on the menu, the Dark Chocolate cheesecake, ‘Cafe Liegeois’, Amaretti crumble. An elegant and refined desert without been fussy. Deep, dark chocolate, with a swish of coffee flavour from the cafe Liegeois, beautifully presented on a black slate, the amaretti crumble deconstructed and adding the desired crunch against the soft cheesecake. 

A lovely elegant desert, again like my starter, rustic refined. 

Suffice to say Ruth had a good Birthday lunch. She had the meaty type of food. Enough said. 

    Dark Chocolate Cheesecake ‘Cafe Liegeois’ amaretti crumble. £4.86 Warm Ginger Sponge-rum and raisin ice cream. £4.76, went down well also, with plenty of ginger flavour. 

We also enjoyed a bottle of Chardonnay, Blue Ridge wine from Bulgaria. 

   

Purnells Bistro serve the bistro classics well. In fact on this occasion with excellence. The food is simpler more rustic than Purnells Restaurant, less experimental, but it’s joy to eat such flavoursome and hearty Vegetarian dishes where ingredients are seasonal and treated the right way and presented beautifully. Made by a kitchen that takes pride in their dishes.

Maybe it’s the pedantic and greedy veggie nature in me, but it would be nice to have more options across the menu, (maybe specials) as vegetarian cooking this good shouldn’t be hid under a bushell, but should be delivered with aplomb, ambition, enthusiasm, and dare I say a bit more added variation to the standard (but well made) vegetarian  pasta and risotto model. 

Though this is only an opinion, I add that Purnells Bistro is a lovely restaurant, where service is excellent and a classy bar meets a clever bistro that shows talent and a sure touch, excellent for celebrations or an informal meal, but i can’t help thinking it could do much more with those seasonal simple (vegetable) ingredients. 

Now that would be a Bistro that’s not feeding only the darkness of the  Vegetarian past, but the authentic magic of new bistro vegetarian dining. But, that risotto…Mmm, was a joy to behold.

Thanks for reading, 

Andy😊

We paid for our meal and drinks in full. All thoughts and opinions are my honest opinion as always. 

Purnells Bistro and Gingers Bar, 11 Newhall Street, Birmingham B3 3NY.

0121-200-1588.

http://purnellsbistro-gingers.com/

https://m.facebook.com/PurnellsBistroAndGingersBar/

https://twitter.com/purnellsbistro?lang=en-gb

New Purnell’s Bistro Spring Menu.   

New Spring menu at Purnells Bistro With a lovely sounding Aubergine Rotolo and an interesting cream of onion Risotto. Two solid and nice looking options.