Back to Scott’s of Harborne

With so many excellent food options in Birmingham, I seem to be forever trapped in an endless list as long my arm of places I want to try, and an equally long list of places I want to go back too. If I make it back to a place within a month of visiting, it’s generally a sign it’s something special. You may remember I was very impressed with the Tapas offering at Scott’s of Harborne, so on my birthday weekend, I knew I wanted to go back and try the breakfast menu.

Quarter Horse Coffee

coffee

Scott’s uses Quarter Horse Coffee, and has a good range of syrups and milk alternatives. I ordered a latte, which was smooth and tasty, with all that Quarter Horse loveliness. Dave’s Hot Chocolate was enormous, loaded with marshmallows, which vanished quickly.

Iced Latte

I also had an Iced Caramel Latte, perfect for the warm weather and served with a pretty paper straw. No plastic here!

Pancakes

birthday breakfast

I’m normally not one for super sweet breakfast items, but I’ll eat anything smothered in salted caramel, so I decided to try the Pancakes with Apple Sauce and Salted Caramel. It’s a very generous portion, and the pancakes were perfectly fluffy. Salted caramel was rich and delicious, but held back from turning sickly by the pairing of a slightly sharp apple sauce.

Panini

Dave hit the lunch menu and ordered a Ham and Mozarella Panini. It was packed full of good quality, thick cut ham, oozy cheese and red onion.

I didn’t manage to get a snap before it was inhaled, but the Breakfast Burrito looked gorgeous, and the little nibble I was offered made me think it cleverly uses some of the tapas dishes (definitely the bravas) for the filling, which is a very smart idea, and means you’re definitely in for deliciousness.

I’m pleased to find the breakfast menu is just as high quality as the tapas offering, and means I’ll be a regular at Scott’s for sure.

We paid for breakfast in full (but Scott very kindly gifted me a slice of cake as a birthday present), but obviously the owner is a friend and knows I’m a blogger. All words, images and opinions are my own. 

Food Poverty, Classism and Snobbery

I know, the irony of a food blogger writing about being a food snob…but I’ve been thinking a lot about the food we eat and the way it’s used to judge us.

Jamie Oliver found himself on the receiving end of some backlash recently, after launching a new campaign against junk food advertising. While much of it has been humorous, with many joking that Oliver can pry their Two For Tuesday pizza from their cold, dead hands, there’s also been a much more serious push-back. Plenty of low income families have been pointing out that this campaign, and others like it that target deals on ‘unhealthy’ food, completely miss the reason why many families eat this way. It’s what they can afford.

Canapes

These campaigns seem to think that parents are feeding their children oven chips and chicken kievs because they genuinely don’t understand that fresh vegetables are more nutritious. This is very often not the case; there are thousands of families across Britain struggling to get by, either using food banks or just buying the absolute maximum amount of food they can for their small budget, who know perfectly well that they should be eating better meals. However their priority is quite rightly on filling tummies. You can’t solve this by making junk more expensive; the better stuff needs be more affordable.

I think too, it’s hard to picture having to make those kind of decisions until you’ve had to do it. Growing up, we definitely had lean periods as a family, and I’ve had them as an adult too, thanks to times of low income, and a period without work. There’s nothing to make you go cold inside quite like standing in the supermarket aisle clutching the last fiver you’ve managed to scrape together wondering what the hell you’ll eat that week (spoiler, a lot of pasta and tinned tomatoes…). It’ll never cease to make me angry to see people who’ve obviously never had to do that, dictating to the poor that they ought to be making Lasagne from scratch at triple the price for which they can buy the Tesco Value version.

At the same time, there’s some insane snobbery about the food you’re ‘allowed’, and the food that makes you a worthy person. A few years back, food writer Jack Monroe took a battering over a recipe for Kale Pesto. The recipe called for kale, cheese and oil, and was priced at a tiny 15p a portion. But kale is for middle class people, and Monroe found themself on the radar of angry internet commenters, outraged that it be suggested that you could, and should, eat kale while on benefits. There’s no winning. If you do manage to afford some nicer foods, you’re knocked back for getting above your station.

Afternoon Tea

It’s also assumed that if you can’t afford the very best, that you must know nothing about food. Ask any parent who has struggled to pull together a meal to feed fussy children, while not breaking the budget, and I’m certain they’d disagree. Knowing how to cook, and knowing about ingredients isn’t something you gain by osmosis when your salary hits a certain level. You can know about food by trying new foods, exploring what you can afford, and getting creative in your own kitchen.

I’ve seen this aimed as a criticism at bloggers, which is frankly insane. The idea is put out that you can’t possibly know a thing about the industry if you’re not in the incredibly privileged position of being able to splash out on lavish dinners at restaurants from the Michelin Guide or do your weekly shop at Waitrose. Money can’t buy taste, unfortunately, and personally, while I love a good aspirational read, I also prefer reading reviews from people like me. People who earn enough to get by, with some treats, but who also can’t spring half a month’s rent on dinner.

Putting it better than I can, Freesia McKee, wrote for the Huffington Post about the classism behind being a foodie, and said, “Calling myself a foodie would signify that the duck nachos, the seven dollar cocktail with pounded basil in the bottom, the gluten-free tater tots made with local sweet potatoes are experiences that anyone could choose to take instead of monetised privileges that are gifted to some and not others. It would imply that these hipster foods are inherently more valuable than the foods that are eaten outside of those gentrifying restaurants.”

I hope I never become so blinkered that I forget what it’s like to not be able to afford to eat much at all, and even if I reach the giddy heights of switching Aldi for Waitrose every week, I never forget that good food doesn’t make you better.

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Anderson’s Bar and Grill, Birmingham

Birthday weekends are for eating too much, if you ask me, so with two birthdays to celebrate last weekend (mine, and my fiance’s best friend), we decided to head to Anderson’s Bar & Grill to eat lots of delicious steak.

the restaurant

Anderson’s is tucked away under St Paul’s Square, in eighteenth century cellars. With vaulted ceilings, exposed brick and well spaced out tables, Anderson’s feels modern, welcoming and a little bit special. I always get distracted by the fridge full of huge hunks of beef that you pass on the way in. It’s nice to see the meat shown off, with clear pride in their ingredients.

Several tables are tucked away into alcoves, with options for intimate date night, and for larger groups, so you can make as much racket as you like without disturbing your fellow diners.  It’s clearly a popular spot for celebrating too; I lost count of the number of birthday candles I saw emerging from the kitchen, and the couple behind us were celebrating an anniversary.

Espresso Martini

wine and cocktails

The boys weren’t drinking (one for driving and one for hangover reasons), so I took on the task of investigating the wine list alone. A glass of Elementos Shiraz Malbec (£4.85) was full of juicy fruit flavours, and was the perfect friend for my steak.

I also couldn’t resist an Espresso Martini with dessert. The first Espresso Martini I ever tried was actually at Anderson’s, and basically, there’s a reason it started off my obsession. It’s easily one of the best in the city; plenty of actual coffee flavour with gentle background sweetness.

Steak, steak and more steak

We kicked off with Baked Rustic Breads with Roast Garlic (£2.95) and Marinated Whole Green and Black Olives (£3.50) to share while we waited for starters. The bread was still warm when it hit the table, and the roast garlic was perfection. Deep and sweet and so soft you could spread it on the bread. Given the choice, I’d have swapped the garlic olive oil for oil and balsamic, but then it’s a favourite of mine, and it was a bit garlic overload when paired with the roast garlic. The olives were plump and salty, and very tasty.

Sashimi Tuna

To start, I opted for Seared Sashimi Tuna (£7.95) with black sesame, wasabi mayonnaise, pickled cucumber, pickled ginger and soy dressing. Fat slices of tuna were full of rich flavour, and the fish was clearly beautiful quality. The zingy pickled cucumber was an excellent accompaniment, and the whole thing made for a great, light start before the red meat fest to follow.

Pork Belly

Dave went for Slow Roast Belly of Pork (£6.95) with a sticky chilli and honey glaze and toasted sesame. The pork had a good thick layer of crackling, with the meat below left full of moisture. The honey glaze was delicious, with a subtle chilli kick to cut through the sweetness.

Surf and Turf

For mains, I went for Anderson’s Surf and Turf (£20.95 with a 6oz steak, £25.95 with 8oz), which is made up of a sirloin steak, roast Monkfish wrapped in pancetta and poached scallop. The monkfish was some of the best I’ve ever eaten. The added pancetta had leaked salty, meaty deliciousness into the robust fish. The scallop was tender as can be, and the steak was cooked to perfection. I like it medium rare, and this was pink in the centre without a hint of leaked juice.

Shorthorn Fillet

Anderson's Bar & Grill

Dave tried the 10oz Shorthorn Fillet on the Bone (£22.95), which was a gorgeous slab of meat. Again, it was cooked to a perfect medium rare, and was juicy and tasty. The three of us shared a dish of ChipsPotatoes of the Day, and Green Beans. I skipped most of the potato, but the chip I nibbled was fluffy in the centre and crisp outside, and the beans had hung onto plenty of crunch, and were so drowned in garlic butter even our vegetable-dodging friend enjoyed them.

White Chocolate Cheesecake

I hadn’t planned on ordering dessert, but the nice people at Anderson’s had obviously been told we were celebrating, as a mystery dessert appeared with a birthday greeting in chocolate. I’m pretty sure it was their White Chocolate Cheesecake (£6.95), which is a deconstructed cheesecake topped with pistachio. It was very tasty, but rich, and I only managed about half of it, alongside the dessert cocktail I had actually ordered.

attentive service

Anderson’s staff know their stuff. Everybody we dealt with was friendly, and the touch of the birthday dessert was a lovely surprise. If anything, and it’s an odd complaint, we found them a touch over attentive. We were often checked on by multiple staff during a single course, and when the table was cleared, we kept losing things we weren’t actually done with. Half a dish of olives vanished with our empty starter plates (annoying when you’ve paid for them), and the boys both lost their water glasses before dessert arrived as mains were cleared away.

I always enjoy Anderson’s and for occasion dining like a birthday, it’s a great treat without being too expensive. I even converted the two northerners to it.

We paid in full for our meals, and didn’t tell them I was a blogger. All prices correct at time of writing. All words, opinions and images are my own. 

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Click here to vote for me for Best Food/Drink Blogger. Scroll to category 17. It takes thirty seconds and means I’ll love you always.