It was Mr Fletche’s birthday this month, and although we’re usually out of the country, we decided to bring a little bit of Spain to Birmingham instead. I was impressed by Ana Rocha when I went on a Brum Bloggers event last year so Mr Fletche wanted to try out their tasty tapas too.
I was surprised – and pleased – by how busy it was on a Wednesday evening in early April which suggests this bar and restaurant is thriving. There is nothing quite like this bar/art-gallery/museum/tapas combo around the Jewellery Quarter. I was glad to see that the staff were as polite, attentive and efficient as they had been at the PR event – and the cocktails were produced with the same attention to detail. (I love a good twisty straw…I’m a simple gal). The menu is a little fiddly though, and the red/orange writing was a little difficult to see in the low pink lighting. That’s my only complaint. Oh, and Mr Fletche was a little disappointed in the beer selection. As this is a bar known for its cocktails though, Mr Fletche did test the quality of their Long Island Iced Tea (you know, the one with ALL the alcohol) and gave it a big thumbs up. The red wine sangria also got the Fletche seal of approval, and I’ll definitely try the sparkling version next time.
We opted for a selection of tapas – hummus & pitta bread, fried chorizo, patatas bravas, prawns in garlic and chilli oil and Spanish ham croquettes. As always with tapas, I’m surprised at how something that seems so small can be so filling. The prawns in particular were a standout, and the patatas bravas was lovely and spicy, without detracting from the flavour. The chorizo, croquettes and hummus were as good as I remembered from last time.
At just over £50 for five small dishes, two cocktails and a beer it’s not the cheapest option around, but for the quality, the quantity, the service and the funky soundtrack it was still worth the money. And its within stumbling distance of 1000 Trades, so Mr Fletche could get his beer fix after all.
April saw the return of a monthly street food market in Kings Heath, after a hiatus after BrumYumYum stopped running their event amidst controversy and Twitter arguments in August last year. On a sunny Saturday, sprawled out on the grass outside All Saints Church, with a plateful of Buddha Belly crispy chicken and noodles, or a Baked in Brick tandoori chicken wrap, you can forget that you’re just steps away from the busy high street. The beer selection left a lot to be desired (a bit of a running theme this month it seems!) so we quenched our thirst round at the York Road branch of our favourite Brum cafe bar Cherry Reds
Our Good Friday loomed with no plans, so to make sure we got out of our cave, I booked us a table at Moseley’s new kid on the block, Zindiya. I’ve been hearing great things about this Indian street food cafe, and even at 5:30 on a Friday afternoon those that strolled in looking for a table without a reservation were left disappointed. It’s colourful and noisy, and there are some fab posters, especially in the toilets (I was particularly taken with the “You’re a Bad Girl if…” poster).
After a couple of drinks in the Dark Horse beforehand, we wisely opted for non-alcoholic beverages – Mr Fletche had the masala chai whereas I went for the amazing Goan Sunset mocktail (which tasted not unlike a Solero). We went for three small dishes, and then two “mains”, all to share. The masala fries were served first, these were a little soggy but still tasty. Then came the aloo tikki chaat, and the bhel puri. Both of these dishes were lovely, but whereas I could easily have eaten the former as a main meal, Mr Fletche preferred the puffed rice, peanut and tamarind bhel puri. The chicken tikka was perfectly cooked and nicely spiced; I probably wouldn’t order the kati roll again, but that’s because I found the paratha flatbread a little sweet for my liking. It’s also a good job we shared as I would never have made my way through the two rolls served.
The staff were efficient, but not overly friendly – more concerned with getting the food served than with customer service. Our plates weren’t cleared at the end of the meal, and we had to request the bill after no-one returned to our table once the food had been served. At just over £30, it’s a well-priced alternative to the usual Indian restaurant experience.
We went to the Night Owl takeover at Birmingham Town Hall for their “Big Birmingham Soul Night” on Easter Saturday. You can read what happened here.
Don’t you just love it when a quick “pop out for lunch” turns into an all-day session? It’s those spontaneous days out that are the best, even over those that are meticulously planned. And the only thing that was initially in our plan for Saturday was the return of the Seasonal Market at The Bond in Digbeth. We usually plan to arrive just after opening time, but we don’t arrive til about 3pm and it’s much busier than we usually see it. We even have to queue for the beer bus…
Beer finally in hand, we cast our gaze over the street food offering. Too much choice is not always a good thing but I fancy a nice big juicy cheeseburger so opt for The Meat Shack. Mr Fletche goes for the chicken offering from Kebab Cartel.
We’re another pint of beer down and feeling a bit fuzzy. That’s what happens when you drink in the afternoon in the sunshine. So we decide to amble into town via the canals. Did anyone ever mention that Birmingham has more miles of canal then Venice? It’s not a straight walk as we end up somewhere near Matalan before winding our way back past Aston University, the Jewellery Quarter and finally popping up near the
NIA/ Barclaycard Arena/whatever it’s called these days. We continue beyond the familiar Brindley Place area, for a while before crossing the bridge and doubling back towards the city centre.
Always one to try out something new, we cross back over the canal and head back down Sheepcote Street towards The Distillery. Taking over the site of the Fiddle & Bone – a pub which we belatedly stumbled upon last year – this has been taken over by the company that runs The Button Factory in the Jewellery Quarter. There’s a big focus on gin – with an extensive gin list, pefectly matched mixers and cocktails. Downstairs there’s a decent range of beers, whilst upstairs is all about the gin. The brickwork interior mirrors that in its sister bar, but like The Button Factory it’s the outside space which is the draw on a nice sunny afternoon. In this case, the canalside terrace. I’d go back just for the pomegranate & basil tonic, which went lovely with my raspberry and peppercorn gin…
We wander back into the city centre, debating where to go for a light dinner. We probably could have stayed and sampled The Distillery’s offering but instead we find ourselves at Wildwood on New Street. (Yes, we do try and stay away from chains where possible but Bodega and Buffalo & Rye were both full. We did try those first, i promise). I can’t remember for the life of me what was in this building before. I’m guessing a bank or building society? It’s a nice bright space, and its bustling but not full on 8pm on a Saturday evening. There’s pizza, pasta, salads and a grill selection too; we go for the shared pizza and a side salad option. Friendly service, good food and not over expensive – it’s a good alternative when you want a step up from pub grub in a pleasant setting.
We finish the evening with a quick drink at the wonderful Tilt. It was good to see that the place was busy, with people finishing – and starting – their evening here. The pinball machines are a great place to get rid of your old pound coins…
We’re finishing off April back up in North Wales over the Bank Holiday weekend. Will there be more mountain climbing? Where have you discovered to eat and drink in April?