top 10 eats continued…

top 10 eats continued…

5. Al Frash, Sparkbrook. £

al-frash
Al Frash, copyright Birmingham Mail

Perhaps you have heard of certain dangerous no-go areas in Birmingham due to the efforts of a certain Fox news commentator with the luxurious hair of a Ken doll and the hue and complexion of an ageing ham?  Well if it was up to him then you would never get to experience the wonder and majesty of what is Birmingham’s brilliant and famous Balti Triangle. And I would argue that Al Frash is it’s crowing jewel.

Al Frash themselves claim they are the very best curry house in the Balti Triangle, and judging by friends recommendations plus not to mention bumping into out-of-towners who have made a special trip over to Brum for an Al Frash balti, I think they might be right. The no-frills decor is simple, staff are frantically haring around getting orders out, but the quality of the food speaks for itself.

It is generally pretty busy so a good idea to book, although they can usually  squeeze you in somewhere, and like most of the curry houses in the area, it is (praise be) BYOB.

Menu recommendations: 2 months later and TB is still raving about the Tandoori fish, Balti chicken (of course).

 

4. Warehouse Cafe, city centre. £

Warehouse Cafe
Warehouse Cafe, Brum Diaries

An award-winning vegetarian and vegan cafe nestled away just behind Birmingham Moor Street station and the Bullring shopping centre. Despite the tucked-away location, the Warehouse Cafe is so popular it can sometimes be almost impossible to get a table here.

The food is excellent, blending interesting flavours with seasonal ingredients sourced locally from allotments. The cafe sits on the top floor of a converted warehouse with an exhibition space and shop below. Well worth a visit despite any carnivorous proclivities you might have, I can guarantee you will not miss meat from your meal here.

Menu recommendations: Halloumi fish & chips, Digbeth Daal.

 

 

 

3. The Karczma, city centre. ££

Karzma1
The Karczma, Brum Diaries

A bonkers Polish restaurant perfect for wintery evenings. The decor is interesting; straw donkeys sit on shelves in front of painted pastoral scenes of farmhands and country maids, whilst white faux fur throws adorn the wooden benches. But after the shots of vodka are wheeled out, becomes more and more delightful.

If anywhere is made for cold dark evenings, it’s Karczma. The traditional Polish dishes are delicious, carb-loaded and most importantly, huge, the interior warm and inviting and the staff, lovely. I have not yet managed to finish a main course and always roll out the door in a food-induced haze. Marvellous.

If you’re visiting on a Friday or Saturday, I recommend booking a table.

Menu recommendations: Try the hearty rye soup served in a bowl made from bread. Also the cabbage and mushroom dumplings and melt-in-the-mouth beef stew.

 

2. Carters, Moseley. £££

Carters1
Carters of Moseley, Brum Diaries

It is harder to book a table at Carters than it is navigate the London transport system in rush hour, with a hangover and a large suitcase. You must book about 6 years in advance to secure a table by the toilet on a Monday at 11am. I jest, perhaps only 5 years in advance. Either way we were very lucky to manage to get a table to eat there for my birthday last year.

Once you are in however, you are in. Staff are so lovely and having found out it was my birthday produced a plate iced in chocolate wishing me a happy birthday at the end of the meal. When we went, the 7 course menu included an extremely tender Cornish Coastal Lamb, sea kale with seaweed sauce as well as a delicately flavoured concoction of Sheep’s Yoghurt Mousse, Alphonso Mango and Pistachio. The menu changes according to season and climate and is quite frankly, excellent. There is a reason Carters has just been awarded a Michelin Star. And if there was a way I could get a table there again (and if my bank manager allowed it – with Michelin stars and brilliant cooking comes a hefty price tag), then I would be there every week.

Menu recommendation: Whatever is on the menu that month. The food is all incredible, you will not be disappointed.

 

1. Nomad, city centre. £££

Nomad
Nomad, the Brum Diaries

Nomad is really quite special and an obvious labour of love from chef and creator Alex Kerridge.  We visited one evening last year on TB’s birthday when Nomad was hosting a pop-up restaurant in the Kitchen Garden Cafe. From the moment we walked through the fairy-lit garden, to finding a birthday card waiting for us on the table from Nomad, I knew we were onto something special. Staff were friendly and knowledgable, advising us on each course to come (all staff try the menu in advance).

The food itself is incredible – the menu changes depending on the season, what’s available in the allotment and the tastes of Alex, but some recent examples would be: reindeer moss, bacon, egg and baked coffee, as well as ewe curds, sea buckthorn and treacle oats.

At the end of the meal Alex came for a chat and to check we liked everything, you get the sense that he, as well as the rest of the team genuinely care that visitors have a brilliant experience, which of course, we did. I really cannot recommend Nomad highly enough, and luckily they have now set up a permanent home on Dudley Street, renting the space next to the also brilliant art space, Birmingham Open Media.

Menu recommendations: Put yourself in their hands, it’s all good. Staff at Birmingham Open Media whispered to me that if you fancy a gourmet meal on the cheap, you can visit Nomad at lunchtime mid-week, where you can try taster samples of the menu for a fraction of the cost. 

 

Rosie wine
The Brum Diaries

I look forward to reviewing and refining this list based on more eating adventures around Brum. Any suggestions or recommendations, give me a shout.

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My top 10 favourite Birmingham eats

My top 10 favourite Birmingham eats

I am still fairly new to Birmingham, having only moved to the city last year. But what better way to discover what a place is about then by eating my way through it? These are my findings…

10. The Kitchen Garden Cafe, Kings Heath. £

Kitchen Garden Cafe
Kitchen Garden Cafe, Brum Diaries

An oasis in the heart of Kings Heath and one of the first places I discovered in Birmingham.

One of my favourite things about the KGC is their multi-purpose offering: in the market for mint? Herbs and other plants are on sale in the garden centre. Run out of organic washing-up liquid? Do not worry, lots of environmentally-friendly goods plus foods available in the shop. And on top of this – the cafe, cooking wholesome food with ingredients sourced from plants grown onsite, not to mention special evening events and acoustic nights.

Menu recommendations: Homemade fishfinger sandwich and Kitchen Garden brunch.

 

9. Cherry Reds, city centre and Kings Heath. £

Cherry Reds
Cherry Reds, Brum Diaries

Woke up hungover and feeling like death? Need a massive breakfast to see you through the day? Looking for somewhere to meet up with your ex/long-lost pal/mum that will make you appear trendy but also (important distinction) not like a try-hard? Whatever your needs Cherry Reds covers them all – serving up simple, classic and very reasonable food in nice surroundings. Which if we’re honest, is all any of us really want.

Menu recommendations: The ‘Big Red’ breakfast, homemade beef burger

 

8. Digbeth Dining Club, Digbeth. £

The ubiquitous street food market is a must for any self-respecting city and generally filled with navel-gazing men in lumberjack shirts with beards selling very expensive meat in bread (see artisan sandwich) to other men with beards and their unbearable girlfriends who have likely queued for about 5 hours for this privilege.

And I should know what I’m talking about, I used to live in Hackney.

Now, while I am not saying that Digbeth Dining Club does not comprise of some of these elements (please can SOMEONE invent a better queuing system?! I accidentally joined the pie queue instead of the waffle queue), it does have a lot of good food available for not totally outrageous prices.

DDC features a regularly rotating cast of amazing vendors (including Vegan Grind, Low n Slow and my favourites, The Bourneville Waffle Company), as well as music, art and entertainment. Make sure you arrive early (doors open at 5.30pm) as it gets really busy with massive queues (grrr) from 6 onwards.

Menu recommendations: To be honest, all the vendors are pretty good but I cannot resist a Banoffie waffle from The Bourneville Waffle Company.

 

7. Lewis’s, Moseley. £

Lovely, lovely Lewis’s. When I first moved to Birmingham this place was my go-to for a coffee, cake, brunch or something delicious from their delicatessen counter…and it is still one of my favourites now. Having undergone recent renovation work they have now expanded the cafe side of things to offer more seating, but despite this it is still ridiculously busy and you must be prepared to elbow Moseley’s plimsoll and pashmina brigade out of the way to get a table. Or failing that, become very, very good friends with the staff. Really, I’d recommend both approaches, this place is worth it.

Menu recommendations: the Vegetarian breakfast and all of the coffees.

 

6. Cafe Soya, city centre. £


Ahh Cafe Soya, always the first stop on the itinerary whenever we have friends and family visiting for lunch. Staff can sometimes be forgetful (it’s not unusual to remind them three times that they have forgotten your drinks order), there is ALWAYS a noisy family on the table next to you, and the decor is well, a bit odd. And yet, I still love it so much.

Portion sizes are massive, they have an incredible drinks menu including such wonders as the Ice Soya & Grass Jelly, a good veggie selection and they can always find room for you. The menu purports to be Vietnamese and Chinese, and who knows, maybe it is?

Either way this hotchpotch of neon walls, pan-Asian food and sticky karaoke room out-back has won my heart. You really won’t get a more fun/weird meal than here. They also offer a special lunch deal of drink, main and dessert for £6.95, which is not be sniffed at.

Menu recommendations: Pipa tofu (minced prawns and tofu deep-fried balls), Vietnamese hot-pot curry.