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…). 

Ju Ju’s Cafe, Birmingham

When not one, but two food bloggers have told you how much they like a place, you should probably visit it. Ju Ju’s Cafe, hidden away in canal square, has appeared twice on Brummie Gourmand in recent weeks, and I’ve heard Out in Brum sing the cafe’s praises too. Dave and I took my Mum for breakfast a couple of weekends ago, and decided it was high-time we investigated Ju Ju’s.

The cafe itself has great canal views and after a recent makeover, has a punky British vibe, with all sorts of quirky things on the walls to catch your eye (my favourite was a unicorn head). We were seated quickly by a window with canal views, despite the fact the place was clearly busy. Unfortunately, the coffee machine was broken so they couldn’t do any drinks involving steamed milk, but as we were warned about this as we were sitting down, it wasn’t a problem. Machines break down, it happens, but it’s a pet hate of mine when places wait until you try to order something to tell you that you can’t have it. Instead, I opted for a black coffee, and Dave an Earl Grey. My mum is very particular about her coffee; she likes an americano with the tiniest speck of milk, so she was pleased when, on ordering a white coffee, she was asked how much milk she would like, and then offered a little jug on the side when it was clear she had a very specific requirement. The drinks arrived speedily, and the coffee was tasty, even if it wasn’t my usual latte.

Avocado Smash

The breakfast menu at Ju Ju’s is vast, and it all sounded delicious. After much deliberation, I chose the Smashed Avocado, which is spicy tomato salsa and avocado on a toasted muffin with poached eggs. As well as looking delicious, this tasted delicious too. The salsa was very fresh, with some nice crunch to the tomatoes, and there was a good amount of avocado. The eggs could have been a tiny bit more oozy, but they did ooze well when I cut into them. All in all, a very tasty breakfast!

Breakfast Hash

Dave helpfully ordered the other breakfast I really wanted to try, Ju Ju’s Hash. The hash is crushed hash browns mixed with sausage, bacon and onions, topped with tomato and fried eggs. Dave also went for the optional side of toast and hollandaise. Served in the pan, this looked and smelt gorgeous. The egg yolks were runny when cut into, mixing nicely into the rest of the medley. Dave was very pleased, and I will definitely be ordering this myself next time we visit.

Mum chose scrambled eggs and bacon on toast, which I apparently didn’t photograph, but got good reviews. The toast was an absolute doorstep of a slice, and the scrambled eggs were clearly cooked to order as they were light and fluffy. For busy breakfast service,a  lot of places batch cook scrambled eggs (quite understandably) but being left to sit in a hot pan does impact the quality. Mum and I have both worked busy breakfast services ourselves, and can always tell when corners haven’t been cut. Very impressive!

The cafe was very busy but the service times were perfectly reasonably and the staff were friendly and attentive. Ju Ju’s is a bit of a hidden gem, and we will definitely be visiting again!

 

We paid in full for our breakfasts. They didn’t know I was a blogger. All opinions are entirely honest and my own (or dragged out of Dave).