New Menu Tasting at Bodega, Birmingham

A Bitters N Twisted event is always an invite I accept quickly, as I know there’ll be lots of my favourites bloggers to hang out with there, lots of delicious food and lashings of booze! Bodega has revamped the menu, so a group of us settled in the downstairs Sugarloaf bar to road test the new dishes and drinks.

Bodega Cocktails

We began, naturally, with a cocktail. This is the Blueberry and Elderflower Margarita, which has tequila, orange liqueur, elderflower cordial, fresh lime juice and blueberries. This is a more floral take on a classic margarita, and was sweet and tasty. Easy drinking.

Nachos

To go with our welcome drinks, we had a plate of nachos to share. Bodega’s nachos are, in my opinion, the best in Birmingham. So many places just dump some sour cream on top of plain nacho chips, but Bodega make theirs from fresh flour tortillas. The nachos are smothered in cheese and jalapeños with toppings of sour cream, salsa and guacamole served on the side. Perfect for sharing if someone is fussy about one topping, and it stops the chips going soggy. Delicious. We also nibbled on sweet potato fries and chipotle slaw, which were both lightly spiced and delicious.

Burritos in Birmingham

It wouldn’t be a trip to Bodega without a burrito, and this visit didn’t disappoint. Bodega offer great options on their burritos, so you can customise them exactly to your taste. I suggest the upgrade to the dirty rice, which adds a little extra heat. The burritos are crammed full of meat, beans, rice and cheese. Full of flavour, and generally super tasty.

Tacos Birmingham

I always get distracted by burritos and never order anything else, but I think I need to start ordering the tacos! The tacos have had a revamp, and are now served in a this fancy dish, which makes them much easier to get hold of and shove in your face. You can choose between chicken mole, Dr Pepper marinated pork and roasted vegetables. The Dr Pepper marinated pork was delicious, with the Dr Pepper marinade adding some subtle sweetness to the juicy pork. The vegetable tacos are excellent too, with the veg maintaining some crunch.

Salad in Birmingham

After a brief Sangria break, we got to try the new plantain salad. Piled high with fresh veggies, and caramelised plantain, this was tasty, but I found the plantain itself a bit firm compared to the rest of the salad. Bodega always have interesting vegetarian options, and if someone in the group is trying to eat healthily, this salad would be a filling and yummy choice. I don’t think you could talk me out of ordering a burrito or a taco though…

Gin and Tonic

Mezcal

As if we hadn’t had enough to drink yet, we then tried something a little different. Bodega now serve a Mezcal Gin and Tonic. The mezcal is infused with gin botanicals, then served with tonic and lemongrass. The taste of this was very striking, definitely a sipping drink. It reminded me more of  a whisky than a gin, and I don’t think I’d order it as an alternative to a gin and tonic. If you’re out for only one drink though, this would be a great choice, as you could easily sit and nurse this for quite a while. I did find the flavours of the added lemongrass worked well, but the lemongrass itself got in the way. It was either going up my nose when I was trying to sip the drink, or I was spitting out small pieces of it. Perhaps smaller pieces would be better, if not as visually impressive.

As always, Bodega put on an excellent evening, and I had a lot of fun and went home full and happy. Go. Order tacos. You won’t regret it.

 

I was a guest of Bodega to sample and give feedback on their new menu. All opinions are entirely honest and my own. 

 

Bar + Block, Birmingham

BarBlock Menu

Lunch dates are my favourite, especially when they’re impromptu. Dave and I often end up trying out new places for lunch after Geeky Brummie on a Saturday. A couple of weeks back, we were wandering about hungry, and decided to investigate Bar + Block, on Waterloo Street. I’ve walked past it a few times and made a mental note to try it, epecially as Dave is such a steak fiend. I hadn’t actually noticed it was owned by Beefeater until we got there, so I will confess, my expectations weren’t super high, but boy was I wrong. Inside is classic trendy decor, all light wood and copper details. We sat in the main restaurant in a cosy booth, and promptly became besties with the waitress after she admired my Superman t-shirt. Top marks for friendly staff, Beefeater!

Mocktails in Birmingham

I was…a little delicate from a night out with friends the night before, so unlike me, I didn’t fancy a cocktail, although they do have a good menu. Instead, we thought we’d try a mocktail and both opted for the Cherry Bakewell, which is cherry puree, amaretto flavour syrup and cranberry juice. The drinks were a good size, served promptly, and were very tasty. Good, interesting options for non-alcoholic drinks is so often overlooked, but we enjoyed these so much, we ordered a second round.

Mixed Seafood Pot

We hadn’t planned on ordering starters, but they sounded so tasty, we couldn’t resist. I chose the Mixed Seafood Pot, which is a pot of mussels, prawns, white fish, squid and clams cooked in white wine, garlic and butter. The fish was all gorgeous, in huge chunks and so soft it just fell apart. The shellfish and squid was tender and juicy and the sauce was delicious. I really appreciated the chunks of crusty bread to soak up every last drop of sauce.

Beef Empanadas

Dave chose the Beef Empanadas, which are Argentinian style pasties, filled with spiced beef, served with tomato salsa. As a northerner, anything pasty like is ok by Dave, and this vanished pretty quickly. I didn’t try, as Dave looked sad at the prospect of sharing, but he reported they were generously filled and the salsa was fresh and light.

Steak in Birmingham

As it was a steakhouse, it seemed rude not to order a steak. I went for a rump steak, cooked to medium rare, which came with beef dripping chunky chips. I also ordered a Béarnaise sauce to go with it. The steak was incredibly thick, but was cooked perfectly. Pink in the middle, crisp at the edge, exactly how I like it. The chips were fluffy, and the beef dripping I assume they’re cooked in had added a lot of flavour and crispness to the outside. My only quibble is that I don’t think the steak had been allowed to rest for long enough, so leaked a lot of fluid and was almost immediately swimming in a small pool of water, which was a shame. It didn’t impact the flavour though, which was fantastic.

Smoked Paprika Chicken and Ribs

Dave opted for the Smoked Paprika Chicken and Ribs from the grills menu, which comes with spicy beans and french fries. Warning, this is a huge plate of food, so don’t order this unless you’re bloody hungry or have a good appetite. Dave made a noble effort, but couldn’t finish it. The ribs were beautiful, and allowed to have their own flavour instead of being drowned in sauce. They were so well cooked the bones literally dropped out of them. The chicken was juicy and well smothered in paprika. The spicy beans were positively inhaled, so I suspect Dave would recommend those too.

Mac and Cheese

As if we hadn’t eaten enough, we also picked a side of the Mac & Cheese with Crab. I’d say this is one to share for sure, as the cheese and crab were both strong flavours, which made this quite rich. It was very tasty though, with lots of crab.

We rolled out very full and contended after a very enjoyable meal. We’ll be back for sure!

We paid in full at Bar + Block. They didn’t know I was a blogger. All opinions are honest and entirely my own (or Dave’s…). 

Whisky Women: Birmingham Whisky Club

Birmingham Whisky Club

Everybody knows I’m a ride or die gin drinker, but I’m also never one to turn down some alcohol knowledge. Birmingham Whisky Club run regular tastings in the city centre throughout the year, but for International Women’s Day they decided to do something a bit different. Whisky definitely has a reputation as being a drink ‘for men’, but it turns out that whisky actually owes a lot to some rather awesome women. Birmingham Whisky Club is actually run by two women, Vicky and Amy, so when I was invited along to their Whisky Woman night, it seemed the perfect way to discover a spirit I’ve always liked the idea of, if not the taste.

We were given six different whiskies to try, already neatly laid out when we arrived, on a numbered mat. An accompanying sheet told us which whisky was which, and the name of the woman we’d be learning about. Amy talked us through each whisky, explaining the differences in production, and a bit of the history. Amy is clearly very passionate and very knowledgeable about whisky. She was interesting to listen to, and left us all feeling like we really needed a holiday on Islay, an iconic location for Scottish whisky.

I felt the balance of information was perfect. A lot of the group were new to whisky, but we had some old hands too, but Amy walked an ideal line between helping us newbies understand what we were drinking and how best to taste it, while also providing plenty of new and interesting information for those who were more knowledgeable.

Whisky Tasting Birmingham

Vicky talked us through some of the amazing back stories to the whiskies we were drinking, from the brazen ladies of bourbon bootleggers who smuggled bourbon in their skirts, to the incredible story of Rita and Taketsuru. I can’t do it justice, but I recommend doing some googling to discover a beautiful love story between a Japanese whisky producer and the Scottish girl who supported his business, before being accused of spying during the second world war.

I definitely don’t know enough about whisky to intelligently review what we tried. However, I can say that I was really surprised. Having assumed I didn’t like whisky, I actually did enjoy most of what I tried, once I’d got over the initial burn of the bourbon. My favourites were Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt and Mackmyra Svensk Rok. The Taketsuru was light and almost friuty. According to the bottle, you should expect notes of espresso beans, which perhaps explains why it was my favourite. The Svensk Rok tasted very clean, and smelt slightly like good cake. Very, very drinkable.

If you’re like me, and like the idea of whisky but don’t know where to start, I highly recommend booking a tasting with Birmingham Whisky Club. They have some great events coming up, including food pairings and a taste along with the original Godzilla movie. I’ll certainly be exploring more whisky from now on.