Tattu – Birmingham

“Any chance I can have a female waiter?”

“I’m afraid you’ve got me,” the male waiter replied.

“You really need to be female.”

“Why?”

“For the purpose of a blog. I’m a very famous food blogger and I want to do a gag about ‘all the things she said’ in my review of this place.”

“I’m not sure I understand.”

“The Russian lesbian pop act…”

“Can I take your order?”

Wow! What a space! It’s got a big, dead tree in it and everything!

Thing is, I’m not here to tell you about the space am I? I’m not a ‘Space Blogger’ am I? And if I was, it’d all be about that weirdo Tim Peak not trees in basements.

“Good point, how was the food then?” Thanks for asking. The food was alright.

There’s a small plates menu and a mains menu, we decided to stick to the small plates until I got greedy and decided to try a main too.

The mixed dim sum basket had a soup dumpling which tasted of satay which was interesting, a pork one with spicy iberico pork that wasn’t spicy and came in a pointless ‘beetroot dough’ and another one that didn’t really taste of much.

The dips accompanying this were soy, sweet chilli and a more interesting coriander and jalapeño concoction.

The chicken truffle shumai tasted of nothing but truffle, which is OK as I like truffle.

The prawn and lobster toast just tasted like prawn toast I get from my local Chinese takeaway where I get about twice the amount for half the price.

The beef and foie gras gyoza were genuinely quite interesting, although I couldn’t taste any teriyaki sauce they were supposed to be in.

The beef short rib was my favourite of the small plates, what’s not to like about ribs covered in sticky soy sauce?

The other standout dish was the XO fried rice which was very pleasing, I suppose it would be as XO sauce is delicious. It had bits of pancetta in it too which worked well.

I settled on the red pepper lamb chops for the main to try. It also said ‘hot and sour pumpkin’ under the title of the dish – I’ve got no idea why. These didn’t really taste of anything other than a slight char. Thank the lord baby Jesus Christ almighty that it was the final days of the soft launch when I visited as these would have cost £24 normally. £24! Fuck! TWENTY FOUR POUNDS.

I’m glad we went to try it out, it was fine – if I’d paid full price I think I’d currently be weeping on the bus (I’m writing this on a bus).

Will I be going back? No, well, not unless I start having an affair with the wife of a lower league footballer and want to impress her with a big pink tree, my ability to piss money away and a trip home on the 23 bus.

You’ll find Tattu Birmingham at 18 Barwick St, Birmingham B3 2NT.

Bistrot Pierre

“Bonjour, est Peter dans la maison?”

“Sorry?”

“Wae’aye! Is Pierre in the house, like?”

That’s just a short snippet of a conversation that dragged on for over 45 minutes. Eventually, it became clear that Peter was not in the house. It was at this point too late to find anywhere else to eat, so we agreed to take a table for two.

As a top #FoodBlogger I’m often first to know about the big news in the food industry, for example, I knew about fennel, salted caramel and razor clams before anyone else. However, very few things have blown me away compared to when I discovered that Peter Beardsley had opened up a chain of French Bistros across the UK.

That’s correct, set up in 1994 originally under the name ‘Bistrot Beardsley,’ it was decided that not enough people would want to eat there, same for ‘Bistrot Peter’, and eventually ‘Bistrot Pierre’ was born.

Pierre’s website

“What would Pete eat?” I said to the waiter who’d asked for my food choice.

“I’m not sure what you mean,” he replied.

“Don’t worry, I’m a food blogger, I know about the whole Peter Beardsley thing,” I whispered.

“Can I take your order?”

That’s just a short snippet of a conversation that dragged on for over 45 minutes. Eventually, it became clear the waiter was unwilling to talk about the former Newcastle winger. Frustrated, I ordered the first two things my eyes set upon: goat’s cheese to start followed by the fishcake for main.

My ladywife was uninterested about the whole Peter Beardsley thing, well, until I told her that the beef bourguignon she’d ordered was actually using a recipe Peter had perfected during his spell at the Vancouver Whitecaps in 1982.

Peter perfecting his beef bourguignon recipe in Canada.

My starter of goat’s cheese, sourdough, pear and chicory was perfectly reasonable. It was great to finally try Pete’s Pears straight from his orchard in Stockton-On-Tees.

My fishcake main was less successful, a stodgy salmon affair with a poached egg and a Dijon sauce.

Disappointed with my main, the next day I drove to the Middlesbrough branch of Pierre’s and was lucky enough to catch Peter on his way out.

“Pierre!” Pierre!” I shouted as he walked towards his car.

“Not me, fella.”

“Peter, I know that you’re Pierre. I want to talk to you about your fishcake.”

“No idea what you’re talking about.”

“It was very stodgy, Peter.”

And with that, he drove away, leaving me feeling like Matt Allwright.

To conclude, if you want average food, reasonably priced, cooked by a former Premier League star – you can’t beat Bistrot Pierre.

Adam’s – Birmingham

A couple of months ago I got married, I know, this player finally packed up his playing boots and said goodbye to the circus. I’d like to take this moment to apologise to all the disappointed women out there. Sorry.

Due to the wedding taking place on a Saturday (no cheapskate mid-week affair for me), I arranged to finish work on Thursday lunchtime. There is no better feeling than leaving work at lunch, you feel like you’re stealing time – a whole afternoon that was meant to be spent staring at a computer in an office is now yours to do with as you want.

Complete with a fairly long list of things to do before my 10am train to Devon on the Friday, I skipped out of the office and into Birmingham’s warm embrace. I quickly decided that most of the things I needed to do could wait until the morning, and that I deserved a nice lunch.

After a bit of Googling I settled on Adam’s lunch menu, three courses for £39.50 at a Michelin starred establishment seemed pretty reasonable.

“If I just have one glass of wine it will still be under £50, and I deserve a treat, just ring up and book it,” I convinced myself.

Fast forward 20 minutes, I’m sat Martini in hand, half bottle of wine and the additional course ordered – feeling pretty damn good about life.

Writing this quite a while after eating it means I’m probably going to get half of the ingredients wrong. I’d like to take this moment to apologise to everyone concerned. Sorry.

So, what we’ll do instead is post pictures and then using what’s left of my memory, I’ll say if it was nice or not. 

First up came some snacks, as anyone with half a brain knows – snacks are why you come to fancy restaurants. Delicious bits of free food, what a concept.

Horseradish ice cream

The first was a horseradish ice cream with a beetroot (or possibly red cabbage) gazpacho and olive oil. I remember this because it was indeed – very nice.

Next up was pork belly, apple and some other bits. This was nice but the least memorable of the courses, and also the worst photo. For this I can only apologise. Sorry.

Then came the additional course – lobster with a cashew satay and pickled ginger. This was very nice indeed, my only complaint was that I’d have liked a touch more of the pickled ginger.

NEXT: masala plaice with brown shrimp and aubergine and tiny, little potatoes. This was delicious nice. I know this, as I remember thinking at the time, “this is delicious nice.”

To finish, a black forest style chocolate dessert that was also nice.

Before we leave it there and conclude that this was indeed a very nice meal, I must mention the bread. I must mention the bread for this was the nicest bit of bread I’ve ever eaten. Brioche style rolled in mushroom and seaweed, my god it was extra delicious nice. Like properly, properly nice.

Nice.

A shout-out to the Paper Duck and Harborne Kitchen were I continued that memorable Thursday. A Thursday which lead to my now-wife texting me to inform me that I am, “ridiculous.”

Ridiculously nice.

Miller and Carter

Steak, can’t beat a bit of steak can you? Unless you are a vegetarian or a vegan or something, then you’re probably not into steak at all.

If you are of that persuasion, you probably think cows should be left well alone, not chopped up and covered in mustard. The thing is though, you’re wrong. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all Piers Morgan on you and pretend to find veganism upsetting for retweets, however, I do have to put an argument forward that might find you fetching a fillet, seeking a sirloin, requesting a rump etc.

Cow 1: “Getting busy in this field isn’t it?”

Cow 2: “Yes, mate. Considerably busier than it used to be.”

Cow 1: “I remember when this was all fields, but now, with the rise in plant-based eating, it’s more cows than fields.”

Cow 2: “Do you…”

Cow 1: “Do I what?”

Cow 2: “Do you… ever… wish someone would eat you?”

Cow 1: “THANK YOU! Yes, yes. I had a dream last night that I got chopped up and put in a delicious beef bourguignon.”

Cow 2: “My nan ended up in one of those.”

Cow 1: “Lucky cow.”

Makes you think doesn’t it? Why should your life have a purpose but a cow’s shouldn’t? Wandering about a field waiting to die of natural causes – no thank you, very much.

Now that we’ve got that sorted, let’s move on to Miller and Carter. I went to their Hockley Heath branch on a Tuesday night, it was surprisingly busy, full of men of a certain age who think they’re sophisticated.

I ordered a sirloin steak, which came with a ‘side salad’ a chunk of onions and a wedge of lettuce.

The steak was fine, cooked how I’d asked and pretty tasty. The block of onions was also quite nice.

Why the fuck I’d want a wedge of lettuce covered in buttermilk dressing and soggy croutons I’ve got no idea. The amount of these things that must end up back in the kitchen untouched must be quite impressive.

Anyway, that’s enough about that. Remember the chat we had with the cows earlier? If that didn’t convince you to continue eating meat, then the side salad here should do the trick.

Zizzi – Harborne

Let’s not beat around the bush here and get straight to the best line in this review:

ZZ Top? Zizzi Plop more like!

Clever right? It also tells you what I thought of the food at the Harborne branch of this Italian food chain.

Sometimes, against your better judgment, you end up at these places. It’s 14:30 on a Thursday, you’re going to Waitrose, haven’t eaten since breakfast and think, “fuck it, let’s pop in here for a pizza rather than end up spending £12,000 on crisps and dip in the supermarket.”


My favourite Waitrose dip? Thanks for asking, it’s the Pecorino & Basil Dip, it’s delightful. Dip a crisp in, dip a finger in, dip a dick in – they’ll all taste better for it.


Bread bother

We ordered a bottle of wine, garlic bread and a beef rustica pizza. The wine was perfectly inoffensive, the garlic bread was offensive.

When we ordered we were asked if we want cheese on the garlic bread, and said yes. What wasn’t explained is that the cheese version is also covered in caramelised red onion, so all you can taste is caramelised red onion – not garlic.

“Excuse me, there’s something wrong with the garlic bread.” I bellowed across the room.

“What’s the problem?” the waitress asked.

“It should be called carmelised red onion bread.”

“I shall pass this on to the manager.”

“Very well.”

Squid situation

Even more offensive than the ‘garlic’ bread was the calamari. Why I thought ordering calamari at Zizzi would be a good idea is totally beyond me, and we can only hope for better decision-making in 2019.

It was, as you’ve probably already predicted – limp, rubbery, not very crispy and an insult to every creature dwelling under the sea.

Pizza problem

The Rustica pizza was OK. The beef meatballs were actually quite tasty, but then they’ve made the mistake most Italians don’t, and continued to chuck more and more ingredients on top of it until it all just becomes a slightly spicy mess. It also had what looked like crispy, red pubes on top which was quite the treat.

I had about two slices and took the rest home, it’s been sitting in the fridge waiting for its inevitable trip to the bin ever since.

So, off I went to Waitrose having spent £40 that could have been invested in cheesy cock dip.

Tiger Bites Pig – Birmingham

Tigers – the largest species of cat in the world, fantastic beasts.

Pigs – the most pig-like species of cat in the world, delicious beasts.

Now: imagine a tiger’s mouth made of dough. STAY WITH ME. Imagine inside that doughy, cat gob is a piece of pork.

Congratulations, you’ve just imagined a tiger biting a pig. It all becomes clear. Don’t blame me, blame the Taiwanese.

There, I’ve explained the name of Birmingham’s new bao joint (Birmingham’s baoby perhaps) for you, you’re welcome.

Bao in Birmingham

A while back another bao place opened and sadly it wasn’t very good, and it made me cry. It made me cry because the bun was yellow, thin and a bit hard. They should be bright white, pillowy and make me hard.

I bloody love bao, so much so I did a bao cooking class, then went to a Chinese supermarket – bought all the stuff to make it, and promptly put all the stuff in a kitchen cupboard where it’s lived ever since.

The good news is that I don’t have to worry about making it now, as finally there is somewhere in Birmingham doing it right.

I ordered one of each bao on offer: pork, beef, duck and chicken – crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

The first out were the: chicken / ginger & spring onion / chilli oil / crispy chicken skin and the pork belly / pickled greens / coriander / peanuts. Both were excellent and gave me the exact kind of bao I like: sweetness of the bun, good meat, something crunchy and a spice or pickle to contrast with the sweetness.

Fat stupid thumb not currently included on the menu

The smoked duck breast / spinach / xo sauce and braised beef shin / shiitake mushrooms / cured egg yolk were also both delicious – but only dropped a point for a lack of crunch (I’m well aware this might just be me). A shoutout for the cured egg yolk which gave the beef one an incredible richness.

Delighted that I’d found somewhere doing great bao, I ordered another pint of Asahi and another pork bao before heading for the absolute fuckery of the trains at nearby New Street.

You’ll find Tiger Bites Pig at 34 Stephenson Street, B2 4BH.

Opus – Birmingham

Wednesday – it rolls around once a week without fail, whether you like it or not. You get through Tuesday, but then BANG Wednesday. You’ve still got three more days at work to complete before you get the two where you’re allowed to do with as you want.

When I say ‘two days to do with as you want’, I obviously don’t mean two whole days. You’ll spend a good chunk of Sunday doing boring work related activity – perhaps preparing lunches or doing ironing, maybe both. Lucky you.

What often happens to me during the week is I’ll reach Wednesday and not really be able to cope with the idea of waiting until Saturday to go out and do something enjoyable, so end up making last minute plans. See below.

I don’t regret the above visit to The Plough because the candied bacon, pine nuts, fig and sun blushed tomato pizza was delicious.

A Wednesday fool

However, I don’t always make such sensible decisions. One fateful Wednesday in August I fancied going out after work for some booze and food. Wanting to try somewhere new, I took to the internet.

Restaurant Opus had popped up a couple of times and they had an offer of 50% off some of their wine, the reviews of their food also seemed to be largely positive.

Picture the scene, myself and the lady woman friend in my life enter a huge restaurant with two other people in. We sit, order some drinks, drink the drinks and then order wine and food. Classic restaurant behaviour.

To start I had a roasted breast of quail with chorizo, red pepper and peal barley ‘paella’. I’ve got no idea why the word ‘paella’ was listed and I suspect I will never know. The quail was reasonably well cooked, the chorizo could have done with a bit more time in the pan to give it a bit of colour.

My main of hake with creamed potatoes, white wine sauce, summer vegetables and caviar was perfectly OK. The skin on the fish could have been crisper, but it was a perfectly reasonable plate of food.

Dessert was a toffee cheesecake with white chocolate ice cream and honeycomb that I don’t remember at all.

The wine was Italian and despite having 50% off was not very nice.

Closing statement

“That doesn’t sound terrible, what are you moaning about?” you tut.

Correct, it wasn’t terrible, it was mediocre, ordinary, MEH. The reason this annoys me (well, I annoy myself) is because I want to try Carter’s and The Wilderness again and still haven’t been to Purnell’s. Spending £120 on an average meal that could have gone a large part towards a great meal is the behaviour of an absolute bloody fool.

I’m a fool

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

******* Learn more about how to make your food blog a hit with my 6 week blogging course only £995 £795 for a limited time only! Click here for more information *******

(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.

Folium – Birmingham

Folio, folias, foliat, foliamus, foliates, foliant.

LATIN – glorious. If that was Latin, and I’m almost certain it isn’t, perhaps it could mean:

  • ‘I eat at Folium’
  • ‘You eat at Folium’
  • ‘He eats at Folium’
  • ‘We eat at Folium’
  • ‘They eat at Folium’

If after reading this review you decide you want to eat at Folium, which I suspect you will, perhaps give them a ring and just say, “Foliates?” with a rising intonation to indicate it being a question, over and over again.

“Hello, Folium, how can I help?”

“Foliates?”

“Sorry?”

“Foliates??”

“Oh, you would like to eat at Folium. Of course, how many people?”

“A mensa, duabusquaeso.”

“A table for two, not a problem.”

FUN FACT: Every member of staff – the waiting team: Quintus, Scintilla and Horatia & head chef Flaccus – all speak fluent Latin.

Now, I bet you’re wondering what the food is like aren’t you? Is it traditional Latin fare? Well, the Latin poet Horace ate a meal of onions, porridge, and pancake, not exactly ‘Potato, Smoked Eel and Chicken Skin‘ is it? No, it’s not. That is however the first dish of the Folium tasting menu.

“Very fucking nice it was too,” as Horace would say. I have no idea how anyone cannot like smoked eel, it’s fantastic and improves ANY dish. That’s right ANY. Chuck some on that Pop Tart you’re eating and get back to me.

Next up was my least favourite dish of the evening: Mackerel, Cucumber, English Wasabi. It was refreshing and a little tart, but the mackerel got a bit lost, poor Mackerel – COME HOME SOON! We miss you!

ONWARDS:

Kohlrabi, Parmesan, Manjimup Truffle. This was delicious. So much so, I ate most of it before I remembered to take a photo. The Kohlrabi used as a tagliatelle style pasta blew my little mind. The truffle is from Australia – I know, madness!

Cod, Mussel, Parsley. Good, solid, 7.5 / 10. You know, that middle dish in a tasting menu where you’re like, “OK, yeah, pretty good, but bring on the lamb.”

Salt Marsh Lamb, Asparagus, Seaweed. FUCK YEAH. Lovely stuff. Would eat again, three times a day if necessary.

Sheep Milk Yoghurt, Wild Strawberry, Elderflower. PHWOAR. You saucy, yoghurty, little minx. Is that aerated white chocolate on there too? You absolute DEVIL!

Chocolate, Cobnut, Burnt Cream. Creamy, chocolate sex lord.

I think that gives you a pretty good idea of how the evening went. I had high expectations for Folium and they were met. Well done / Bene factum.

Lina Stores – London

I like Italian food quite a lot. I like the fact it’s at its best when simple and made by people who know what they’re doing.

I rarely go out to eat it though, as so often it’s bad. Not bad like inedible, just bad because I could have bought all the ingredients myself and cooked it better at home in about 15 minutes.

Basically, paying to eat terrible carbonara irritates the piss out of me.

Would you believe it was actually the lady woman in my life who said we should try Lina Stores?

“Where should we go for dinner on Friday night?” I asked.

“What about Lina Stores?” She replied.

“I haven’t heard of it.”

“An Italian I know said it’s where she goes when she wants authentic Italian food.”

“All well and good, but I haven’t heard of it.”

After some back and forth, and some Googling, I asked if we could replay the conversation.

“Where should we go for dinner on Friday night?” I asked.

“I’m not sure, where would you like to go?” She replied.

“I’ve heard great things about Lina Stores.” I boasted.

“Ok.”

Much better.

After a brief jaunt through London’s Soho district (I took us to the Lina Stores deli which is on a different street to the restaurant because I’m an idiot) we entered and took a couple of seats at the bar.

I like sitting at the bar in restaurants as it means I can bombard the chef with difficult questions and distraction techniques to see how on top of their game they are. You know, squawking like a seagull while shouting about how long to cook parpadelle – that sort of thing.

To begin, I had a negroni. I like negronis, ordering them makes me feel sophisticated for some bewildering reason.

With this we ate Parma ham and Gorgonzola extra dolce with pear & mustard chutney.

I fucking love Gorgonzola dolce, especially when it’s really soft and runny. I love it so much that I’ve decided I want to die by drowning in it in the Trevi fountain while American tourists pelt my bloated corpse with euros.

We then ordered three plates of pasta to share:

Veal ravioli, gnocchi with peas & salted ricotta and agnolotti with black truffle.

They were all very tasty – the truffled agnolotti being the winner.

As our empty plates were removed the waitress asked which was our favourite and I told her what I just told you. However, she was aghast that we hadn’t ordered their most popular dish – the pici with porcini mushrooms and Umbrian sausage.

Suffering from a quite severe case of FOMO I said we’ll have one of those too. Despite being full. I am the poster boy for greed.

Despite feeling particularly obese, I was very glad we ordered it as it was delicious.

“Did you have dessert, you fat fuck?” I hear you cry.

Yes, I had chocolate cake and an espresso martini. I couldn’t finish the chocolate cake despite it being very good, because I actually felt like I was going to explode.

So, there you go. It was very good, and also very reasonably priced. Go if you want, I’m not the boss of you.