In Birmingham, we’re lucky enough to have some of the very best street food traders in the country. Imagine if lots of those traders were all under one roof, presided over by purveyors of burger filth, OPM, and ultimate foody event, Digbeth Dining Club. Imagine no more, because it happened, at Sear& Smoke in new Digbeth venue, Crane.
Crane is a classic Digbeth industrial venue. The space was packed with tables, hungry visitors and a haze of smoke from the many street food traders.
We headed straight for Low ‘N’ Slow, ready to load up on slow cooked barbecue treats. We opted to split dishes so we could try as many as possible and ordered the Middle White Pork Belly (£8) to share. Served with bone marrow smoked cornish potatoes, lemon vinegar slaw and heritage tomato salsa roja, this was a plateful of seriously sexy food. The pork belly fell apart, with good bark from the smoking. The salsa was hot, and a gorgeous companion to the rich meat. The slaw was tangy and fresh, cutting through the fat of the meat.
Next stop was The Whisky Shed, run by Birmingham Whisky Club. We tried a Boulevardier (£5) and an Old Fashioned (£5). These were seriously strong, well balanced and hit the spot nicely.
I was really excited to try Salt & Earth, the new venture from Two Cats Kitchen chef, Niki Astley. The Tilapia Ceviche (£7) with sweet potato, red onion and coriander immediately intrigued me. I love ceviche, but among the stands of burgers, wings and slow-cooked meats, I wasn’t expecting to find a dish like this. The fish was perfect, delicate with some serious tang from the dressing. The fish was beautifully sharp, and the colourful plate of food was a sophisticated contrast to all the heavier meaty dishes around it. Dave tried the Fried Chicken Thigh (£7) with cheese, salsa and chipotle ketchup. The chicken was juicy, and flavoursome, and the chipotle ketchup added deep, smoky heat.
Grill Brazil serve ‘Churrasco’, which is Brazilian barbecue. The Carnival (£8) is charcoal grilled prime Brazilian steak cut Picanha, Calabresa style sausage, caramelised onions and vinaigrette. The steak is soft, and well flavoured from the melting onions. For me, the stand out was the sausage. Slow-cooked, it was soft and smoky and paired well with the freshness of the tomato. A real highlight of the day.
Baked in Brick‘s grill is amazing; I love the fact it’s built out of an old Mini. We split the Sear and Smoke Special (£9), which was Aubrey Allen 45 day dry aged rump of beef with skinny chips, bone marrow and chestnut sauce. The chips were truly incredible (I assume from the bone marrow), and the meat was lovely and pink. Unfortunately one slice was a bit fatty and I struggled to eat part of it, but the other slice was perfection. Pink and soft and tender.
Next I failed as a blogger and didn’t manage to photograph The High Flyer (£7) from Flying Cows before Dave cut it in half. The burger is an aged beef patty, swiss cheese, sweet smoked streaky bacon, red onions, lettuce and club sauce. It won Best British Street Food Burger this year, and I can see why. The bacon was sweet, and so crispy. The burger was pleasingly messy, with a strong tasting patty and plenty of melty cheese.
Onto desserts! Urban Cheesecake was a must visit, as we both love cheesecake. We split The Lottery Winner (£6) which is a slice of their white chocolate cheesecake topped with Maldon sea salted caramel, Lindt chocolate pieces and smashed buttered shortbread. I like a good biscuit to cream cheese ratio and this was spot on, with a thick layer of crunch biscuit and a tower of creamy and somehow not sickly white chocolate cream cheese. The shortbread was perfection, buttery and crisp. Truly exceptional!
To finish, we grabbed some treats from Jam Vs Custard. I tried the PBJ (£3.50) which is a doughnut filled with peanut butter custard and raspberry jam and topped with a shard of caramelised white chocolate. The doughnuts are injected with their fillings in front of you and they are massive. The jam in mine was really sharp, which helped stopped the giant doughnut becoming sickly. The peanut butter custard was nice, but not peanuty enough for me. Dave’s Rum and Raisin vanished quickly and was met with good reviews too.
The event was an amazing way to experience a selection of the some most exciting street food traders around the city. There were even more traders we didn’t get to, and we rolled out, full and happy. I hear there are already plans for a second event next year, and I already know I’ll be going!
We paid in full for our entry tickets and everything we ate and drank on the day. All prices are correct at the time of writing. As always, all opinions, images and words are my own. Nobody knew I was a blogger.