Opheem – Birmingham

Me and me mum and me dad and me gran fiancée
We’re off to waterloo Summer Row
Me and me mum and me dad and me gran fiancée
with a bucket of vindaloo pickled vindaloo purée

Vindaloo, Vindaloo, Vindaloo, Vindaloo, na na

A little nod there to the World Cup that has just passed, I do hope you enjoyed it. Cleverly, I’ve also given you details about the restaurant review you’re about to read.

It’s a formula any great food blogger knows like the back of their hand:

Nostalgia + Information = Success

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(Suppose I should now magically transition this into a blog about Indian food. Watch and learn.) 

Birmingham is well known for its Indian food and I can often be found eating it. (Clever)

On Saturday we moved house. Moving house is an absolute fucking ball ache, especially when the removal men refuse to go upstairs because they thought you were on the ground floor – despite the job clearly stating 3 bedroom HOUSE.

According to my activity tracker thing on my iPhone, on Saturday I did 58 flights of stairs. FIFTY EIGHT! Which is approximately 50 / FIFTY more than I usually do. (“Weird, he’s gone off Indian food and onto a little personal anecdote, I wonder what’s happening here?”)

Knackered, with a house full of boxes of stuff I haven’t used for years that get carted from one place to the next, I decided we should go for dinner. I’d wanted to try Opheem for ages – WAY BEFORE Aktar Islam was on Saturday Morning Kitchen the other day, seriously, way before that, like two months before that at least – so BACK OFF. (It’s all just adding texture to the blog, a lot like a chef would add texture to a dish. Chew my words.)

To begin we had a cocktail each, I had a negroni, as I always do, and the woman in my life had a champagne cocktail, as she always does – as she wants to bankrupt me.

They were both good, but then the really good stuff happened – AMUSE BOUCHE! I love an amuse bouche, nothing amuses my bouche more than bits of free food. 1) Smoked cod’s roe, black garlic and something else I’ve forgotten, sat on a cracker. 2) A fancy panipuri tasting item on a spoon. 3) A little cone with pea purée and smoked trout in. They were all delightful.

I’d seen various photos of the food at Opheem on social media and thought it all looked very exciting. I’d seen the tandoori octopus more than anything else, and thought about not ordering it because I’m interesting and different.

To start, I had the tandoori octopus. With all the tandoori flavours you’d associate with a piece of tandoori chicken, but on an octopus. It was so good I could quite happily have eaten eight!!!!!!!! (One for Sea Life fans to enjoy. Maybe I should put a link to the Sea Life centre Birmingham in here for SEO purposes.)

There were more amuse bouche, and as I’ve mentioned, I do love amuse bouche – but I can’t be bothered to write about them, despite them being really good. Can we just get to the main course now? Great, thanks.

The pork vindaloo dish was so good I keep thinking about going back and having it again. I can imagine myself being 75, dressing up in my suit every day and going to Opheem to eat it.

“Oh, fucking hell, he’s here again,” they’ll say. “We stopped doing the vindaloo dish 25 years ago.”

“What? Where am I? Vindaloo please.” I then repeat the words “vindaloo purée” over and over until they give in – every day, until I die.

The dish is pork three ways: Pork loin, smoked hock in a thin sort of pastry and trotter. I’ve only had trotter a handful of times before, the last time in a gastro pub in London where the chef had clearly never met a pig before, let alone cooked its feet. I’ve not had it since then – but this was delicious.

The pickled vindaloo purée had a decent amount of heat to it, enough to get my pathetic nose running a bit, but not enough to overpower the pork. It was one of the best plates of food I’ve had in a long time.

For dessert I had a chai parfait / pineapple concoction. It was alright, the chai flavour could definitely be taken up a few notches.

Conclusion: The fact I keep thinking about going back already should tell you all you need to know.

Read about more Indian food and the time I lived in India.

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