I’ve been a lucky girl this week and stuffing my face at any opportunity. Here’s my round up of foodie adventures over the last couple of weeks.
The Smoke Haus
David and I went for an impromptu lunch at The Smoke Haus in Brindley Place. Dave is a sucker for southern comfort, so it seemed like a safe bet. The inside of the restaurant is classic americana, with pictures of Elvis everywhere, comfy booths, and baseball on the TV. Unfortunately, the air con was a little over-cranked, and even though it was red hot outside, I ended up huddling in my hoodie. We ordered a portion of pulled pork nachos to split, which I apparently didn’t photograph. Loaded with toppings, these were tasty, with pretty good pulled pork. We did come to regret ordering them though when the main courses arrived. I chose the Breakfast Club with a side of sweet potato fries. The sandwich is three slices of bread filled with egg, mushroom, bacon and sausage. It was very, very tasty, but so, so huge. Now, I like a generous portion size, but it just seemed excessive. Even without the nachos there is no way I would have finished this. I managed half, and our super friendly waitress very kindly boxed up the rest for me (I get the impression they do this a lot), but I’d also bet they get a hell of a lot of waste. Try it out, but go hungry. Very hungry!
I mentioned this in a Round Up, but we had another round of Seven Deadly Sins with Brumderland and Bitters N Twisted. This time, we were checking out newly launched food and cocktail menus at The Victoria. I’ll be honest, I often forget the Victoria serve food, and think of it as a place for drinking and dancing. They actually have a pretty sizeable menu, of classic Bitters N Twisted treats, with giant burgers, chicken wings and tasty pizzas. We tried a selection of new items, but the stand outs for me were the Korean chicken wings and the pizzas. The wings were sticky and well marinated, but the Korean flavours stopped them from being any old wings. Tasty twist! From the pizzas, I was particularly impressed with the Los Pollos Hermanos, which is roast chicken with ranch dressing. Sounds weird, but it was delicious. The cocktails, as they are always are at the Vic, were boozy and very drinkable. The new menu has been developed by a couple of the bar staff, which is a nice touch. One negative point, the pub manager, who has been in situ a couple of months now, while very friendly, seemed to be lacking in knowledge of the cocktail menu. When we asked for more details of what was in things, we were often answered with a reading of the menu, which is a little less than what we hoped for…
Apart from that, an excellent night all round.
Pop Up Taco Shop
Birmingham is a great city for pop ups. I’ve paid a couple of visits to Pop Up Taco Shop, in the Jewellery Quarter. I’ve been twice now, once in a large group, and once with just David. The menu is simple, with seven tacos, all priced at £2 each. The staff recommend you order around three a person. It’s a tough choice, as they all sound delicious. Whatever you do choose though, you won’t be disappointed. Prepared to order, each taco is made with fresh ingredients, and is beautifully light. You’ll leave full, but not uncomfortably stuffed. Everything is carefully balanced to bring out the best flavours, and you feel like you’ve eaten authentic, not the usual Mexican option of stuff smothered in cheese (looking at you, enchiladas!). There’s a great selection of tequila based cocktails too, so you can make a night of it. The staff are friendly and helpful when you order. The surroundings are incredibly simple, but the vibe is really relaxed. Both times I’ve been, I think you could have had a quick lunch and been out the door, as the service is fact, but as you get up to the bar to order, you could also sit all night with friends, ordering drinks and more tacos throughout a long evening. GO, before it disappears.
Most of Birmingham blogging were invited along to try out Itihaas, in the Jewellery Quarter. More than your standard curry house, Itihaas aims to offer fantastic food in stunning surroundings. The venue is beautiful, especially the canal side dining room downstairs. The space feels up market, but not stuffy. It struck me as great place to take someone you needed to impress, like an important client. I suspect Itihaas gets a lot of business diners. We started with canapés. Lots of canapés. Every time you turned round there was another waiter at your elbow trying to give you more food. The staff were friendly, but almost over attentive. It was almost overwhelming, although the canapés were beautifully cooked, and delicious. Main courses were just as impressive. We tried a pretty good variety, including lobster, butter chicken and incredible naan breads. Everything was beautifully presented (again with that impressing somebody vibe..). The food felt authentic; well spiced, well balanced and all done with a delicate hand. The only down note for me was the cocktails. With food and decor at such a high standard, I was expecting the cocktails to match, but instead felt they were just ‘fine’. Nothing special, and very boozy.
The Gin Vault
Birmingham Bloggers had a meet up at The Gin Vault. Cunningly hidden on Canal Side, the bar is gorgeous inside, with trinkets, fairy lights and cosy corners everywhere. With over thirty gins, and an excellent cocktail list, I was sure to feel at home here. The staff are clearly knowledgeable too. They were recommending and creating cocktails all night, according to people’s individual tastes, and as if that wasn’t enough, they were incredibly friendly too. The vibe in the air is relaxed, and you could easily spend an entire evening there. The Gin Vault also has a tapas menu, which we got to try too. We ate our way through piles of chorizo, calamari, chicken skewers in mango, satay chicken and lots more. Was it the world’s most authentic tapas in the world? No. It was, however, plentiful and tasty, and with three dishes for £10, excellent value. As a tasty bar snack with an expertly crafted gin cocktail, what more could you want?