Little Blackwood – Moseley

‘Little Blackwood’… sounds a bit like a very niche category of pornography doesn’t it? It’s not, it’s a restaurant in Moseley.

I actually went about a month or so ago on the day it opened but I never got round to writing a review. Sometimes these things just happen, often for reasons outside of your control, like your brain isn’t working or your fingers drop off.

Little Blackwood is the new restaurant run by Richard Blackwood’s little brother – Chef Ben Taylor. I presume he’s Richard Blackwood’s little bother, but must admit I’ve neither asked or researched this – if you’re so concerned, do it yourself.

To begin I had an old fashioned and some wine. Don’t believe me? Fine, proof of this below.

For my starter I had the squid, pork crackling and chimichurri – I always order things accompanied with chimichurri because it’s fun to say and also sounds like something an A-list celebrity like Richard Blackwood might call his children.

The squid was beautifully cooked and the dish worked really well, the crackling could have been a little smaller so you could get it on your fork – but that’s a minor complaint, and meant I got to pick it up and eat it like a man.

For my main I chose the duck with carrot purée and boulangere potatoes.

The duck was very nicely cooked and the potato was delicious. I must give a mention to the guinea fowl Thai green curry that the woman in my life had – it was bloody good.

For dessert we shared three deep fried bao with various sweet fillings – mango sorbet, a mint chocolate chip ice cream and white chocolate. The white chocolate was our favourite – I’m lead to believe ‘white chocolate’ might be the mischievous nickname Richard Blackwood has for Ben.

Summary: Really enjoyable dinner, excellent food and very reasonably priced wine. I will definitely be returning.

Purnell’s bistro – Birmingham

I’m about to blow your mind, seriously, sit down before you read this next bit.

I just realised that ‘Glynn’ is ‘Lynn’ with a G at the front. Had you ever considered that? I hadn’t. Now think of all the other potential baby names just sat there waiting for use:

  • Glaura
  • Glouise
  • Glily
  • Glisa
  • Glinda
  • Glorraine

I know?! Frankly I could finish this blog right here and it’d have been worth you clicking on it – a great return on investment.

I like Glynn Purnell, almost entirely based on the fact he is also being a Birmingham City fan, but also because he is good at presenting Saturday Kitchen Live. I’m yet to visit his restaurant because I’m a bit scared I won’t like it and will be sad.

Last weekend was my father’s birthday so I thought I’d treat him to lunch. He said he’d like Indian or Italian so I decided to ignore him entirely and take him to Purnell’s Bistro.

I walk past the Bistro pretty much every day, so have always been intrigued what it’d be like. Upon finding out he does a 3 course set menu lunch for £20 it seemed like a winner.

There are only two choices for main, starter and dessert but fortunately there was something we all liked the sound of for each.

The goats cheese tart with black olive tapenade to start was really good, although it did leave me wondering, ‘when does a piece of puff pastry become a tart?’

The blade of beef with confit tomatoes and onion purée for main was pretty good, although it did leave me wondering, ‘are these really confit tomatoes?’

The Earl Grey panna cotta with pistachio biscotti was excellent, although it did leave me wondering, ‘why don’t I have a tongue like a fucking giraffe so I can lick this stupid pot clean.’

It was a really good lunch, especially because it wasn’t hurried (possibly because they weren’t overly busy) but it meant we got to have a few beers, a bottle of wine and a couple of cocktails after – plenty of time to discuss what a fantastic son, and human being, I am.

On the basis of this I’ll definitely be giving Glynn’s restaurant a go once I’ve got some money.

Peel’s – Hampton-in-Arden

Lots of dashes in that title, not very easy on the eye. I wouldn’t blame you if you stopped reading there. Although, if you just read that sentence – you did keep reading, and if you stop at this point I will blame you… anyway, shall we get on with it?

“So, for your 28th birthday I thought I’d take you to John Peel’s favourite restaurant.”

“Who’s John Peel?” my younger fiancée shot back at me.

“Just a little joke, it doesn’t matter. I’m taking you to Hampton-in-Arden.”

“Is that a real place, or another little joke?”

“Not unless you think a village and civil parish in the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull is a joke?!”

“No.”

I booked us a room at Hampton Manor and dinner at Peel’s. To be honest, such a grand gesture on her 28th was a foolish move, what the fuck is she going to expect for her 30th?

As I’m originally from Solihull (please forgive me) I know of Hampton-in-Arden. A kid I went to school with had a gigantic house there that I went to a couple of times, his dad told me off once and it still haunts my dreams.

I’d heard about the Michelin starred restaurant in the village and occasionally contemplated suggesting meeting my mother there for lunch, but I’ve always considered it a bit too much of a cheek to do the whole:

*Bill is placed on the table*

“THANK YOU DEAREST MOTHER FOR THIS KIND GESTURE,” said while bowing.

Before she’s even looked at it or discussed who’s paying.

So, there’s your backstory and here we are.

Picture this: I’m sat in the lounge drinking a blood orange Collins, think a Tom Collins but with blood orange in it, when suddenly some rather delectable amuse bouche are bought out for us to enjoy.

Next thing you know I’m on the floor, on my back, smashing the amuse bouche against the rocks they’ve been served on – before devouring them like the hungry otter I am deep inside.

“How were they for you?” Lovely Luke the restaurant manager asked. Not even flinching at the fact I was on all fours and squeaking.

“Very nice, thanks.” The lady friend replied.

“Ross, our sommelier will be with you shortly to discuss your wine options.”

Quick as a flash I was back up and human again, otters famously hate wine.

After a brief chat with ravishing Ross, we ordered some white to go with the first few courses and a nice bottle of red for the remainder.

To the food. As with most tasting menus there were some courses that stood out more than others.

For me, the langoustine with leek and ginger and the wagyu beef with spiced cauliflower and black garlic were the highlights.

The two desserts also really need special mention, the first: blood orange, star anise and caramel, washed down with an expert pairing suggested by Ross was an absolute treat. Followed by the chocolate, sherry and vanilla which was equally good – and I’d hit that point of being so satisfied with life that I’d have quite happily sat there drinking until they put me to bed.

Fortunately, the staff didn’t have to face putting me to bed, although I’m sure they would have as they were bloody lovely.

Absurd Bird – Exeter

I’ve seen some absurd birds in my time – no, not that type you vile, sexist pig. Actual birds.

Here’s the most absurd bird I’ve seen during the course of my life so far:

A few weeks ago I found myself in Exeter, I’d tell you why I was there if it was any of your fucking business – but it’s not, so keep your beak out of it.

After a few gins at Crocketts bar – I quite like it there, and a couple of ciders at The Old Firehouse – I like it there. I decided I needed food, I’d walked past ‘Absurd Bird’ earlier in the day and was pretty intrigued to find out which of our weird, feathered friends they were serving up.

“Perhaps it’s Pelican?” My woman friend suggested.

“We can only hope.” I answered.

After being seated it became pretty obvious that the only birds for consumption were chickens…

Chickens are not absurd, the only thing absurd about a chicken is that humans eat the eggs they shit out with alarming regularity.

We ordered wings: 6 x buffalo & 6 x smoked garlic parmesan and lemon and some chicken tenders.

The tenders were OK in that way chicken tenders you buy from Sainsbury’s when you’re hungover are OK.

The wings were shite. The buffalo were the better of the two because FRANKly you can put that sauce on anything and it’ll taste better. Honestly, try it. Anything. Yes, even that.

The smoked garlic Parmesan and lemon were an insult to chickens, garlic, Parmesan, smoking and lemon.

It tasted like tepid PVA glue.

After informing the waiter that I don’t really like the taste of PVA glue he offered to get us another type in exchange, we went for the crispy buttermilk wings in the hope of avoiding another sauce disaster.

They were shite too.

Sorry chickens.

Harborne Kitchen

1) Harborne Kitchen, I’ve got one one of those. It’s a kitchen in a house in Harborne that I borrow from a man I pay loads of money to every month.

2) Weather! Remember the ‘Beast from the East’ a couple of weeks ago? Well, I do.

In the house mentioned in 1. there is a boiler and a central heating system. The beastly snow resulted in the boiler packing in for a few days. (Yes, I poured warm water on the fucking condensate pipe.)

The delightful man I generously donate cash to refused to send anyone to look at his broken boiler, or to give us any money for a heater, so with the house utterly pissing freezing we decided staying in on the Friday night and cooking in our Harborne Kitchen was totally untenable, so instead we booked a table at Harborne Kitchen.

3) This was my fourth visit to Harborne Kitchen and it was also the best. “Why was it the best?” Thanks for the question. It was the best because it had heating, booze and fantastic food.

Now, if you want to read someone talk about the food properly read this – as he had the same menu I enjoyed.

baked celeriac, blue cheese mousse, pickled quince and celeriac broth

baked celeriac, blue cheese mousse, pickled quince and celeriac broth

We had intended to do the three course menu for £30, but then I looked at the six course tasting menu and the chicken liver parfait, cod curry and wagyu brisket dishes sounded too good to miss out on.

“Why have you posted a photo of celeriac above then?” Again, thanks for the question, it’s nice to see you’re engaged. The reason I posted that was because frankly it was the one course I wasn’t that bothered about, but it was delicious and the celeriac broth aroused me so much that my penis peaked out from within myself where it’d been hiding for warmth for the past two days.

“Can you please tell us a little more about your penis, please?” Not right now, I’m going to post a couple of pictures of my other two favourite courses then sign-off .

Welsh wagyu brisket, Longhorn fillet, mushroom and chive

Passion fruit and chocolate cremeux, popcorn ice cream, caramel

I may have ordered that dessert above twice, because I am a fat shit and it was tremendeux – that’s probably French for tremendous and is also a play on words with cremeux!!

“Haha! That’s amazing, there really is no doubt that you’re a massively welcome addition to the Birmingham food blogging scene. London’s loss is certainly Birmingham’s gain!” Thank you.

The food at Harborne Kitchen really is exceptional and what makes it an even better experience is the atmosphere and service. The service here was easily better than two of my Michelin experiences in Birmingham, it’s not pretentious, but it’s thoughtful, attentive and the staff seem to like working there – and it shows.

I did have a chat with Head Chef Jamie Desogus but frankly don’t remember what I was banging on about, probably because I was drunk on warmth, great food and three pints, two bottles of wine and two espresso martinis.

Bloody marveleux.

 

 

The Butchers Social – Henley in Arden

Mothers! You’ve all got one, they might be lovely, they might be horrid, they might be dead, but whatever the circumstance – you’ve got one, get over it.

I myself have one, and she has one too. The one belonging to her is my GRANDmother – she acquired this label because she is over 14 feet tall.

As you can imagine, getting a table to celebrate Mother’s Day can be somewhat difficult when you’ve got a four metre, 93-year-old with you.

Not being the type to give up easily, and also wanting a free lunch (baby boomers have more money than me) I sourced a lunch venue – the Butcher’s Social in quaint, old Henley in Arden. “The ice cream here comes from Poland now, Rob,” grandmother informed me.

I’ve been to the Butcher’s Social before, just before Christmas, but never wrote it up – mainly because I couldn’t be arsed, but also because the service was rubbish, and I hate moaning about places on this stupid blog as I think the restaurants in question will have me killed. In short, they forgot two of the sides we’d ordered and it ended in a ridiculous back and forth about whether or not we’d ordered them in the first place. Little do they know, I know for a FACT we ordered them, as when my step-dad asked for the Aubergine, I went, “oooh, fancy,” one of many attempts to break an awkward silence that evening. Anyway, as that lad in the Lion King says, “it doesn’t matter, it in de past.”

Going totally against the last sentence, cast your mind back to Mother’s Day…

The table was booked for 12:30, two of us got there BANG on time as the last thing I need is the Foodie Boys becoming known as the Tardy Boys. However, my mother and other ensemble didn’t get there until 12:40. They sat down and we had a bit of a chat, as you do.

At 12:45 we were asked if we knew what we wanted, we requested another couple of minutes. Fine, as far as we could tell, the waitress left – but then returned a minute later to tell us we need to order soon as they, “need the table back.” Alright, ya charmer.

Now, I’m fat enough to have eaten in enough establishments to know that often tables will have a set amount of time before they have another sitting, it can be a bit annoying, but it’s fine – provided they have told you in advance. Here though, nothing when I booked, nothing when they rang to confirm the booking, nothing when we first sat down.

FOOD

I had the fillet of beef carpaccio to start, and it was a really tasty plate of food. Served with crispy kale and fried shallot rings it went down a treat.

Fillet of beef carpaccio

For main I had the cod, everyone else had roast beef, which all looked pretty good – compliments were aimed at the Yorkshire puddings. The cod came with a bone marrow sauce on top, which intrigued me, and it worked pretty well.

Cod with bone marrow

Cod with bone marrow

Dessert was a treacle tart with a hazelnut ice cream (which was supposed to be vanilla). It was what I can only describe as MEH.

Treacle tart

Back to the service

We were given the menus for dessert and ordered another bottle of wine. The wine was bought over, poured and desserts were ordered.

Five minutes later the waiter came back to inform us that when we get the desserts we’ll have 20 minutes to leave the table, but you’re welcome to go and sit in the bar then.

“Is there anywhere to sit in the bar?” I asked.

“I’m not sure.”

I think the looks on our faces prompted him to go and have a look, and he did find us a table – as much as I’d liked the idea of a massive, old woman out on the street swigging wine.

NOW…

you may think all this sounds like I’m being unreasonable, and maybe I am, but what really did my nut in was we sat in the bar, ordered another drink and before we left (an hour after being moved) I went back towards the dining room to pick up our coats. Around half of the dining room was still empty, so the desperate need for us to move on seemed totally unnecessary.

At the end of the day, it’s a communication issue, but frankly I think it’s quite an important one. Your food could be absolutely world class, but making diners feel like they’re an inconvenience will always leave a sour taste.

Please don’t hurt me.

Two good, two bad – January 2018

I’ve done a fair bit of eating and drinking over the past few months but frankly, haven’t been bothered to blog about it – I can only apologise. Please, for the love of Christ, forgive me.

It’s not really fair to compare the four places I’m about to write about, but then when did I ever say this blog was going to be fair?

Let’s start with the bad, that’s what you’re here for.

The Botanist – Temple St, Birmingham

I went here after work as I wanted a beer, after the beer I realised it was fast approaching the hours of dinner (that’s the evening meal to any Northern simpletons reading), I looked at the menu and thought, “do you know what? Despite this being a chain, I’ll go against my better judgement and stop being such a snob,” good move dickhead.

I opted for one of their ‘Famous Hanging Kebabs™’ that’s right, they’ve trademarked hanging kebab – must be pretty special!

Well, blow me down! Look at it!

Botanist Hanging Kebab™

Botanist Hanging Kebab™

For just £13 I enjoyed a Lamb Kofta Hanging Kebab™. It was basically some of those lamb kofta things you buy to eat on train journeys from M&S, on a stick, with a handful of chips. Rubbish.

Scott’s of Harborne – High street, Harborne

This was one of those new independents that pop-up in Birmingham, and then all the curated ‘you must go here’ channels start telling you how you must go there.

It was my birthday and I’d taken the day off work so headed to Scott’s for breakfast.

My flat white was a ghastly affair, but there’s no time to go into that.

Avocado, salmon and scrambled egg on toast, think it was in the region of £8.

For £8 I’d hope the smoked salmon wouldn’t have been a bit rescued from the back of the fridge, where it’s sat since Christmas day three weeks previous.

Supposedly, the tapas in the evenings is good, but frankly, I won’t be taking the risk.

Anyway, bored of that.

Good things!

Adam’s – Waterloo St, Birmingham

Yes, that’s right, the Michelin starred restaurant was good! Very good in fact.

We took on the tasting menu like the absolute bloody troopers we are.

The highlights:

Veal sweetbread with mushroom ketchup and shiitake tea – one of those courses that before you’ve had your last bite you’re already thinking about how you want it again.

Veal sweetbread Adam's Birmingham

Dreadful picture (and I’d already started eating it)

Scallop, bacon dashi, pata negra and salsa verde. I mean, just look at it.

Scallop, bacon dashi and salsa verde Adam's Birmingham

Delicious

I’d been waiting to go to Adam’s for a very long time and the food certainly didn’t disappoint.

Salt – Church St, Stratford-upon-Avon

“Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
Had left the flushing of her gallèd eyes,
She married. O, most wicked speed, to post
With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!”

Not my words, the words of William Shakespeare. I think what he’s getting at is: on Sunday it’s nice to go to Stratford for a bit of a walk and some food, and do you know what? The old fucker is absolutely spot on.

Roasts were on the menu at Salt, but I’m so often left underwhelmed by roasts that I opted for cod, lentil dhal and spiced butternut squash puree, and it was a very good decision. It was a cracking plate of food. Luck would have it that two of the people I went with eat so little that I got to try some roast beef anyway – and it was also excellent.

The dessert of chocolate, spiced orange cake and barley crisp went down a treat too.

Roast cod and dhal Salt Stratford

Roast cod and dhal

Chocolate, spiced orange cake and barley crisp Salt Stratford

Chocolate, spiced orange cake and barley crisp

Why do I take photos of food so close up? What is wrong with me? Will I learn?

Join me next time and find out.

How to become a food blogger

“I received this mediocre food for free, but all views expressed are mine. 5 stars, visit at once!”

I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking, “I want free mediocre food too!”

Well, follow these five simple tips to become a food blogger and this dream could become a reasonable tasting reality.

Decide on a name for your food blog

Here you want something that’s going to stand out from the crowd. We cleverly went for ‘FoodieBoys’ because we like food and we have penises.

Perhaps you like smoothies and you have a vagina? Not a problem, go for something like NutriVag, SlushFanny, ThickBeverageLass – you get the gist.

What’s your flava? Tell me what’s your flava?

Do you absolutely LOVE burgers? Well, why not start a blog about burgers? Mainly because so has every other man and his dog.

That’s an idea – dogs! Make your niche the fact that you really like hot dogs or dog meat depending on how controversial you’re feeling.

Network, network, network

Any blogger worth their Himalayan salt will tell you an important part of food blogging is to pretend to like as many other food bloggers as possible.

Instagram and Twitter are your tools here.

Instagram strategy for food bloggers: Log in to your DogMeatLova account, type #FoodBlogger in and start following everyone that has ever used it. Comment on their photos saying things like, “Great snap, friend!” and watch the followers flow in.

Twitter strategy for food bloggers: Log in to your DogMeatLova123 account, type #FoodBlogger in and start following everyone that has ever used it. Reply to their tweets saying things like, “Please follow me back!” and watch the followers flow in.

Remember to include #WillEatForFree in your bio so lazy PR people can find you easily.

Snap away!

You’ll need content to fill your social media platforms and to really make your food blogs POP!

Take photos of everything you eat, everything. If you find half a Hob Nob down the back of the sofa, don’t greedily stuff it down your throat until you’ve taken a picture, added a Mayfair filter and written a killer caption to post on Instagram.

That’s four points, I wrote there’d be five because four sounds better than five. Erm, let’s think.

Dedication

One of the reasons I’m one of the most successful food bloggers playing the circuit is my dedication to the trade.

I could have quite easily stopped writing this after the fourth heading, gone back to the top and changed five to four, but I didn’t.

Your fans need to know that you respect them and their time. These poor fuckers have clicked to read this shit, the least you can do is try.

 

 

Review – Subway (Harborne)

I was on fun time website Twitter.com the other day when I saw a furore about a Times food columnist being paid to write a review of the food at Wetherspoons. Always one to jump on a bandwagon I thought I’d go and eat at a place not renowned for serving good food and then slag it off.

With sod all in the fridge other than bloody soup – tomato and basil (not blood), I decided I’d venture out into the big, bad world of Harborne High Street.

A brief jaunt up the road and there it was, the popular sandwich company Subway. Remember when they used a fat paedophile who became a thin paedophile to promote their business? What larks!

History of Subway

In 1965, Fred DeLuca started “Pete’s Super Submarines” in Bridgeport, Connecticut. In 1968, the sandwich shop was renamed “Subway”. Named after “submarine” sandwiches,  or “sub” (after the resemblance of the roll to the shape of a submarine).

There, that’s something to tell your mates down the pub this weekend. It’ll help reinforce their opinion that you’re a bit dull.

There are around 45,000 Subway stores located in 112 countries, with 2,300 of them in the UK.

I know! Quite a few eh? Time for some maths. 365 days of lunch x 45,000 Subway stores = 16,425,000. Let’s say the average store serves 30 people a day. 16,425,000 x 30 = 492,750,000. Let’s say half of them make a joke about 6 inches / penises – we’re talking nearly 250 million. Unbelievable really.

Subway Harborne

The first thing I noticed as I walked towards the sandwich creation area was the crisps were held behind the counter. The last time I was in one of these places I was free to pick up my own crisps.

Immediately with my guard up, due to feeling that I couldn’t be trusted, I approached the Sandwich Artist. Yes, they are called Sandwich Artists.

IMG_1783

Protected crisps

“What would you like?” The artist asked.

“I’ll ask the questions. What would you recommend?” I responded.

“Big beef melt.”

“You cheeky, fucker. Oh, there’s a sandwich called that. No. I’ll have a 6 inch, OOH PARDON, Italian BMT. What does the BMT stand for?” I enquired.

“What bread do you want?”

“Herbs and cheese. What does BMT stand for?”

“I don’t know. Cheese and toasted?”

“Brilliantly… meaty… treat, perhaps?”

“Cheese and toasted?”

“YES, CHEESE AND TOASTED!”

IMG_1784

The menu

Looking at the ingredients for the sandwiches really does get the mouth watering and the tummy rumbling. Mmm delicious, weird coloured meat.

IMG_1785

Selection of fine meats

Next thing you know the artist formerly known as ‘sandwich’, opens the flap and removes your warm six inches and is demanding to know what you want to do with it next.

Stick some bloody lettuce and some cucumber on it, please, and a bit of that honey mustard sauce.

Here it is, in all its beauty.

It’s shite isn’t it? We all know it’s shite. It repeated on me throughout the day though, which was nice – value for money.

I contemplated whether I could be a sandwich artist and yes, it turns out I could be.

Untitled-1

Review: White Swan Harborne

I walked past here yesterday and noticed they’re closed for refurbishment, perhaps they knew this review was coming in and decided to buck up their ideas.

DISCLAIMER: Before I go off on one (and then feel bad for being mean), I believe upwards of 70% of roasts served up in pubs and restaurants across this land are total shit. How can so many ‘chefs’ not be capable of making decent gravy?

It was the 1st October when we visited, and I’d just decided to sign up to not drink alcohol for a month like the attention seeking twat I am. For this reason I ordered a blackcurrant and soda rather than a delicious pint of booze.

Whoever made it must have filled the pint glass half full of cordial, it was diabetes diabetes in a glass (type two diabetes). I had a sip and sent it back, asking for more soda, it came back just as strong. They took it off the bill in the end.

IMG_1127

I can’t remember if that menu above is actually mucky as fuck or if it was a style decision by a drunk designer. I’m fairly certain it’s the former, but let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.

I ordered the rib of beef with mustard seasoning and roasted onion and garlic. It was to be served with roast potatoes, braised red cabbage, honey roasted parsnips, buttered kale, yorkshire pudding and gravy.

Here it is.

IMG_1128

First things first – the beef was OK, the Yorkshire pudding was also OK. The potatoes were probably OK when they were hot.

The braised cabbage and, definitely not buttered, kale were very sad, but not as sad as the single, definitely not honey roasted, parSNIP (no SNIPS here).

As for the ‘coarse-grain mustard seasoning and roasted red onion and garlic’, well, to be honest I’m not sure. Was the beef supposed to be seasoned with mustard? Should there be some red onion and garlic on the plate? The only thing I knew was that there was a blob of horseradish. I contemplated asking someone to explain the mustard/onion/garlic situation to me but then I realised that life is short and we will all inevitably die.

Don’t even get me started on the gravy – flavourless, watery, brown piss.

And this is where I get pissed off with roasts, that cost £16. Imagine.

1 boy out of five

And yep, there we have it, I feel horribly guilty now.