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: Tapas Revolution, Grand Central, Birmingham. 


 Birmingham’s ramp that leads from New Street into the new shiny Grand Central is a ramp of legend. How many Brummie kids have met friends, dates or family on or at the foot of the ramp. The ramp as I’ll call it leads into a world of food and shopping, oh and yes something to do with trains. (New Street Station)

The first restaurant you see when you enter from New Street is Tapas Revolution the shiny small group of Spanish Tapas cafe, bars and restaurants owned by Omar Allibhoy. Inspired by the tapas bars of his native Madrid Tapas Revolution is open from breakfast until bedtime, for food or drinks, at the bar or at a table, the choice is yours. 

With four restaurants in London, Grand Central is the first outside of London to open and much is expected of the restaurant in the revamped shiny new Birmingham shopping paradise. 

 
   

The Restaurant as you enter is open plan with half walls seperating  it from the shopping centre.  You can sit as we did overlooking the station below or around the busier kitchen. The station view seats are more private for couples or smaller groups or families. 

We visited on a Monday evening so the station and the restaurant were quite quiet but still had a nice atmosphere. I was impressed though that you didn’t notice the station noise below. It felt private. 

   

 The menu at Tapas Revolution is split equally into Meat, Fish and Veg tapas with a section also for nibbles (Picoteo). 

As Ruth and I were here to sample the tapas that’s what we did. You can enjoy Spanish burgers of which one is vegetarian (Tortilla burger) and of course breakfast (again there is a vegetarian option).

Having eaten some of the best veggie tapas In San Sebastián, in North Spain I’ve ever eaten (called Pinxtos) at bars with such an array of food that it looks quite daunting but isn’t at all, I have a little idea of authenticity which Omar is trying to replicate in the UK. 

 Sweet cutlery holder. 

  

We began with drinks. I ordered the Spanish gin based “Pomada” Xoriguer Gin and Fever Tree Lemonade. A refreshing gin tonic from Menorca with grapefruit and lime. Very nice, though quite sweet. Ruth ordered a glass of white wine (Vino Blanco). 

We decided to order a couple of nibbles (Picoteo) to share.

So ordered Almendras de Mallorca: (slow roasted almonds) and the beautiful Pan Con Tomate (toasted bread, garlic, tomato and olive oil) which was deliciously tomatoey and with a good but balanced garlic flavour. Lovely. 

  

Almendras de Mallorca. 

  Pan Con Tomate

I advise if ordering for two to order six tapas to share or 3 for one. 

The Vegetarian Dishes from the Tapas menu I ordered were: 

Piquillos Rellenos de setas: piquillo peppers stuffed with mushrooms.

An ok dish. piquillo are hand picked and slightly sweet and worked well with the mushrooms. Not bad. Needed more seasoning maybe. 

Tortilla de Patatas: Spanish omelette made with potato and onion. 

The star dish of the evening for me. Reminiscent of San Sebastián with delucious comfort food par excellence, transforming a couple of humble ingredients with a soufflé like effect. A well made tortilla. 

Pisto: Aubergine, courgette, pepper, and herb stew. 

A lovely ratatouille type dish typically from the region of Murcia and La Mancha. Served warm  it was comforting and Warming with the flavours of finely chopped aubergine and courgette providing a healthy backdrop to the pepper and tomato base. Really enjoyable. 

Patatas Bravos: Deep fried potatoes with spicy tomato sauce and alioli. (To share with Ruth) 

What’s not to like about potatoes and tomato sauce. Nothing in this case. As  Tapas Revolution’s Potatas Bravas was the best I’d had outside of San Sebastián. Utterly beautiful. 

  

Piquillos Rellenos de setas: 
  

  Tortilla de Patatas

  

Croquetas de bacalao: Cod croquettes which Ruth Ordered and enjoyed. 

  
  

Patatas Bravas. 

  
    

Torreznos con mojo dulce: Ruths pork belly dish. She lapped it up. 
    Pisto: 

We were initially disappointed that the Churros weren’t on the menu tonight, but vowed to return to enjoy them. 

We decided to order the crema Catalana (Traditional Spanish  custard made with vanilla, Cinnamon and lemon. Also known as burnt cream and the Torrija: (caramelised brioche bun soaked in custard) 

The Crema Catalana: 

A lovely Catalan cream desert. Delicious flavoured custard with the flavours of  vanilla and lemon coming through. A lovely caramelised top. 

  Crema Catalana.

  

Torrija: A very tasty soaked brioche bun with a fried and batter consistency. Sticky, yummy, a crispy outside and smoother inside. A Recommended desert. 

Tapas Revolution is a fun Tapas restaurant that is an excellent addition to Birmingham’s food scene. It’s ideal for an informal sharing meal either at lunch time, breakfast time or during a shopping trip. It also works well in the evening. The service was friendly, quite swift but always polite, though it did move swiftly into a ‘chainy’ style a few times which was a bit grating. It’s maybe not an intimate romantic venue but is Ideal for people watching. 

The tapas we tried was good, some wonderful and among the best we had tried outside of Spain. I really liked it’s informality, it’s pop in at any time concept, which in Birmingham is welcome. 

The emphasis is on quality and freshness of ingredients and dishes to the plate. It’s in a Good location and accessible for commuters. 

Tapas Revolution is much better than many new openings recently in Birmingham and for this reason is welcome. I wouldn’t hesitate to return any time of day for its good value tapas.

The Revolution has arrived. 



 Estella Galicia lager.   

Zuma de Naranja: freshly squeezed orange juice. Refreshing and thirst quenching.    

Bar at Tapas Revolution. 

  

  View of Grand Central from Tapas Revolution. 

    View of Tapas Revolution from below. 

   

Thanks for reading.

Andy 😊

Disclaimer: we were invited by Tapas Revolutions PR company to eat free and sample their dishes for a fair review. My opinions and thoughts are honest of my experience as always. 
https://www.tapasrevolution.com/files/tapas-revolution-grand-central.pdf

   
 Grand Central and John Lewis. 

You can find Tapas Revolution at Grand Central Birmingham. 

  
Tapas Revolution cookbook. 

Review: Bodega Cantina and Bar-Birmingham Latin American cuisine with cocktails. 


  

  

Bodega is a South and Latin American bar/Cantina on Bennetts Hill in Birmingham City Centre just off New Street, and owned by Bitters N’ Twisted. 

It offers a wide selection of tapas style dishes, street food, Burritos, Tacos and a number of larger traditional plates. It also has a completely Vegan menu and excellent vegetarian options. 

Bodega is a fun-time and colourful place, the cocktails flow, the food comes out fast and service is pacy. It’s a brilliant place to indulge with friends,  for parties and for sharing a work or shopping lunch. It’s also open on Sunday for that downtime and Sunday smooch with the city. 

   

 

For Ruth and I it was a Friday night dinner, not the Channel 4 comedy kind, but the cocktail/tapas/Streetfood kind. 

On the Friday we visited Bodega was busy, bustling, and vibrant as I would think it is most Friday evenings, and with a cocktail list that speaks of fun and good times and a wallet full of money Bodga is an education on excellence and high standards with its drinks list. From Tequilas to Rum based drinks the list will cater for everyone. 

Bodega has a small bar area near the entrance by the window, so if you feel the need you don’t even have to eat. The decor is fun too. Iron cast furniture, quirky cactus murals, vibrant colours. Cafe style seating is mingled with funny stools, and with its exposed light bulbs and brightly coloured murals Bodega sells spicy and flavour, with an atmosphere that’s a real contrast from the glum rainy English weather in March outside. 

The food, from Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Cuba, is freshly made and easy going and full of variety for vegetarians and vegans. 

   

   Find Pips Hot Sauce at Bodega

Ruth and I ordered cocktails to begin. Two Margarita’s. They were excellent, and always a good choice at Bodega. A classic, well made with a good strong tequila flavour, with salt on the rim.  

   I also ordered a Caipirinha, which is Brazil’s national cocktail made with cachaca, sugar and lime. It was very refreshing and had a sweetness that was complimentary to the spicy food. Another top cocktail. Ruth ordered another margarita.

Bodega also offer bottled beers, non alcoholic cocktails and a good wine list. 

Plus a happy hour from. 5-7pm on cocktails. 

  

For the food we chose to stick with the smaller sharing plates, the streetfood as we’ve found them to be the best from previous visits. And sharing is fun and social. 

Ruth ordered for herself a pulled Pork Burrito which she enjoyed. 

I ordered a vegetarian burrito- from the streetfood section of the menu, roasted vegetables, black beans, and cilantro lime rice. The Burrito had a good spicy flavour ( I ordered hot) with the tortilla holding the filling well, and the depth of the veg with the spicy salsa packing a zing which was lovely. 

   

   

The rest of the food we shared. 

We shared small house nachos (vegetarian variety) crisp well seasoned flour tortillas, topped with some lovely mozzarella chedder and sour cream and punchy salsa and guacamole. Very impressive nachos crisp, with good flavours. Recommended.

   

 

To accompany the Burrito We chose from the light bites part of the menu: 

Batatas fritas: delicious sweet potato fries with chipotle mayo, crisp and with a good flavour. 

Frijoles: Black beans cooked until velvety, with a good garlic flavour with roasted cumin seeds and s subtle hint of chilli and sour cream. Though not pretty to look at it was a good complimentary dish to the Burrito. 

Spicy Slaw: a nice fresh homemade slaw with a South American Twist. 

I also recommend the jalopos peppers from previous visits. 

   

     

One of the dishes Ruth and I enjoy the most at Bodega is the Churros desert. We had to order two, we loved the rich caramel sauce  against the warm doughnuts. A Mexican favourite,  and also ours. Perfect for dipping or with coffee. We orders two espressos. 

  

The food we are was plentiful, it had a good spicy flavour and did what it says on the tin. It’s fun, vibrant and good for sharing. 

Where we found Bodega to suffer is with the service which we felt was inconsistent, hurried and though attentive it felt underwhelming and it had a care free nature about it. Some of the servers were friendly others we felt were  not bothered. We felt that they could have explained the menu to us checking we understood the quite complex but good layout. Advising how many sharing dishes you should choose between two. Our waiter who asked for our order was a bit gruff to be honest and unhelpful. 

In saying that the food and the cocktails are the real deal and as a pop in kind of place Bodega can’t be beaten for fun and very decent South American dishes. 

For Vegetarians and Vegans it’s one of the best places to visit in Birmingham and well recommended. 

Bodega Birmingham, 12 Bennett’s Hill, B2 5RS

0121 448 4267

http://bodegacantina.co.uk/

http://bodegacantina.co.uk/food/menus/

@BodegaBirm

You can also get 20% off with the Independent Birmingham card. Offer is on Monday-Thursday 3-6pm and all day on Sunday.

Thanks for reading. 

Andy 😊

We paid for our own meal and all opinions are honest as always. 

It’s advisable to reserve a table at Bodega at busy times to avoid disappointment.