Zen Metro launches its Thai Food menu in Birmingham.


Colmore Business District has always been the hub for great bars and restaurants in Birmingham and now it’s going to get even better with the launch of Zen Metro in Birmingham.

Based on the site of the old Metro Bar and Grill – the restaurant and bar will be launching a new menu serving great Thai food from the 6th July.

Having been taken over by Paul Bassi and Pawan Kenth’s Brandasia Group in 2015, the iconic venue has been refurbished and will be taking a new direction offering a quality offering for its regular business clientele.

After a £250,000 investment, the 100-seater venue has now been transformed into a sophisticated Thai restaurant complete with a huge blossom tree statement piece, emulating a luxurious south-eastern vibe. Guests can enjoy Metro by Day and Zen by Night.

There is a glass private dining room too that seats up to 20 people, where you can enjoy dinner and a quality wine list or liven up the night with some divine Thai inspired cocktails.

This iconic bar is the sister restaurant to award winning Asha’s on Newhall Street, with Jaimon George at the helm. As you would expect from his team, they will be offering exemplary service with an eclectic range of traditional and modern Thai dishes created by Head Chef Shailender Kothiyal, who has spent several years in Thailand learning the cuisine. 

Pawan Kenth of Brandasia said : “Metro has always been immensely popular with property, banking and legal professionals. Great deals have been done here over the past 20 years and we want to continue to make the place great. 

Birmingham’s hospitality landscape is always changing but Zen Metro will always be part of that and I know our regulars will be proud of how Zen Metro looks today.”
The ethos is based on the Zen Buddism Enso-a circle drawn with one continuous brush stroke to express a particular moment in time that is as individual as the person that created it. 

For Vegetarians try Tom yum noodle soup flavoured with lemon grass, galangal and kafir leaves, Thai Spring rolls, Veg Massaman Curry: Potatoes, onions, carrots, pineapple, Zucchini and peanuts in coconut milk or stir fry mixed vegetables with tofu garlic and soya. Or Pad Thai stir fried rice noodles and pad egg noodles. 

Zen Metro will surely be a good and different addition to the Colmore Business District and for Vegetarians out for the night either with meat eaters or with other veggies an interesting choice which I’m looking forward to trying.

Thanks for reading, 



Zen Metro, 73 Cornwall Street, Birmingham City centre. 

0121-200 1911.




Also, good news for Gastro Card holders is that you can save 10% off your bill with the card.  See the link below for details: 


Buy The Gastro Card


Photos courtesy of Zen Metro.


Restaurant Review: Vanilla Black London revisited. 


I still can remember the first time is saw Michaelangelo’s Ceiling in The Sistine Chapel in Rome, the wonder that something so beautiful had been created and that Art has now evolved over centuries, but still the perfection of a ceiling could rewrite my vision and seduce the poet in me to gasp and be silent. 

Then the other week in London I had the luxury of seeing Claude Monet’s lily pond paintings at The Royal Academy. The simplistic but oh so sure images of a scene that was so precious to him that he recreated it so many times in order to demonstrate its beauty. 

So what’s this got to do with food, or with London’s Vegetarian restaurant Vanilla Black? 

Well it’s with the élan of the cooking and the presentation of the dishes. An artists eye for colour. Art you see can be precise, intricate, and flamboyant, Or it can be dark and light, shades of grime amongst the surface, with Vanilla Black the beauty on the plate of so much of the food presented to us was nuanced with compelling flavours and spoke to me of my morning gallery visit. The design to get it right, the light, the lush, the technicolor of shouting through the spectrum of brightness. 

That is to me Vanilla Black. To be the best, to be thoughtful with every bite the customer takes. The wow factor, the surprise (by meat eating punters) that vegetarian food can be so good. 

So I guess that sounds like a conclusion before I begin. Well in truth it is. Vanilla Black makes you want to mix up the rules, you won’t find burgers, risotto, curry or pasta bake here. Though I guess if you did it would be the best you’d had.

When I first visited Vanilla Black a couple of years ago I was enthralled by it’s heartbeat. Feeling that Nothing could prepare you for the pleasure of eating there. Set in an elegant townhouse in Tooks Court, the legal area of East London, the dining room is a mellow sophisticated hush of understatement. Muted colours, a calming air of relaxation. It feels right before you even begin the food. 

Ruth and I visited on a Saturday evening. Its popularity was visible and it was noticeable that their was a fair bit of smiling when people’s food arrived. That wow factor I mentioned. 

An amuse bouche, sorbet like. A cleansing begining. Followed by some stunning homemade bread, always a good sign of things to come.    Amuse Bouche. Fresh homemade bread.

So to the food. My starter Dried Yeast Pumpkin Terrine with Orange Purée -Seeded Cinder toffee, mulled pumpkin and oil. A beautifully constructed dish of subtle but cooling flavours. The terrine with hints of toffee running through against the bright fruity orange that dances upon the tongue. Layers of unorthodox flavous, sharper with every mouthful. Lovely. 



Ruth’s Yorkshire Blue Cheese Toastie, Crisp Rye, Grapes, Puffed Wheat: Light, cheesy, no bread, constructed and flavoured beautifully. She loved it. 


It’s when the creative imagination of the chef (Andrew Dargue) consumes a dish that you know that you are in elegant surroundings. Take my main course: Salted and Ash baked Celeriac & Kale-Whey poached celeriac, Broccoli, Yoghurt Curd: A dish with layers and layers of differing textures and flavours. 

The earthy, crisp, bright coloured  kale, the subtle but soft whey poached celeriac of oozy decadence. Then the ash baked celeriac, the charred crust of the charcoal baked with a riveting harmonious result that’s lifts the root vegetable to another level entirely. Clever enlightened cooking, every ingredient put together perfectly. A supreme dish. 

 Salted and Ash Baked celeriac and Kale-Whey poached celeriac, Broccoli, yoghurt curd.


 Ruth’s main course 


Desserts follow a similar creative line as the first two courses. Mine, Poached Rhubarb with Salted Orange Yoghurt and Rhubarb Toffee: Crispy Porridge and Moscatel Syrup: The shocking pink of rhubarb beautifully poached, a depth of tart flavour set off by the dash of explosively crispy porridge as a contrast. Plated like a painting of subtle brush strokes that is playfully mastered and cleverly executed. I loved the complete flavours of this dessert. 

Ruth’s Chocolate Brownie crumble with Marmalade parfait and crispy milk: Dark Chocolate, contreau, candied kumquat which she enjoyed especially the harmonious flavours of the chocolate and the orange. 

All of this is done with effortless and charming service from front of house Donna and her team, who are passionate about their dishes and the experience you may discover. 


The dark cooking clouds have lifted. Visiting Vanilla Black will certainly banish those over cooked risottos and death by pasta bake. Food consumed with big brash bold flavours

Vanilla Black is an upmarket treat that offers thoughtful indulgences of veggie decadance. It’s a remarkable experience of creative, beautifully presented and exciting food that is art on the plate and a brushstroke on the palette. Even non veggies would love the sophistication, the cleverness, the fun and the delight of this bright canvas of  vegetables. Food executed perfectly, the fact that it’s all Vegetarian is a bonus. 

And then there’s Michaelangelo’s ceiling, well that’s one of the wonders of the world. An idea from a seed of inspiration, much like vegetables, and then it’s what you do with them that matters, that is what makes art. For the food you are unlikely to have tried anything like it before. 


Thanks for reading, 

Andy 😊

Disclaimer: Our food and drinks were complimentary. This doesn’t affect my honest opinion of our meal. 

With thanks to Andrew and Donna for their hospitality and conversation. 

Vanilla Black, 17-18 Tooks Court, CT London EC4A 1LB. 

Subway: Chancery Lane

020-7242 2622.