Category Archives: Bullring

Restaurant Review: Handmade Burger Co. Bullring, Birmingham

A few weeks ago, a few local bloggers and I were invited to Handmade Burger Co. flagship branch in the Bullring to sample their food and meet the owner Chris and the marketing manager, Mike. I (Jo’s Kitchen) was joined by fellow bloggers Charlene, her husband Ian, and Elizabeth, along with Emma from the Bullring.

We perused their vast menu (who knew there could be so many burger choices!) and as Handmade Burger Co. does not do starters as such, we settled on a selection of chargrilled chicken and halloumi and vegetable skewers, served alongside an assortment of dips to share amongst us all. We tried all the chicken skewer flavours except the plain one. My favourite was the peri –peri as the chicken was really moist and tender, with a little bit of heat coming from the peri-peri. The dips were excellent too. I loved the hoisin and hot chill ones.

For my main, I chose the American cheese beef burger with an onion ring, gherkin, American mustard, mature cheese, mayonnaise and salad. I shared some peri-peri chips and onion rings sides with Emma. The bun was crisped to perfection and there was a generous amount of cheese on the burger too. The burger itself was charred on the outside and extremely moist within. It was unlike any burger I have eaten before. Due to the large portion size, I was unable to finish the burger. Next time I visit, I will probably have one of their smaller burgers as this one, although lovely was much too big for me to finish.  The sides were excellent too. I loved the peri-peri chips and the onion rings. The coleslaw was delicious and an excellent contrast to the rich burger. (I sneaked some to try from Charlene)

Chocolate Brownie Sundae

After a much-needed break, I decided to go for the chocolate brownie sundae for pudding. It was full of yummy vanilla ice cream, massive chunks of chocolate brownie and lots of chocolate sauce. I licked the bowl clean. It was yummy!

While we had been eating our meals, Chris chatted to us about why he started Handmade Burger Co and his beliefs in providing good quality food from other family run companies. The beef for his burgers comes from Scotland and is sent to the branches in mince form and they make the burgers themselves every day. The chicken is Red Tractor farm assured. Chris would like to use free-range chicken but cannot get it in the quantity he needs to supply all his stores. The bread comes from a family bakery that makes the buns according to Chris’s recipe. The potatoes are Maris Pipers and are brought to the branches as whole potatoes in bags and the chefs prepare them on site. Whatever Chris does not know about potatoes is not worth knowing!

Many thanks to Chris, Mike, Emma and my fellow bloggers for a lovely evening. I will definitely be back at Handmade Burger Co. soon!

Disclosure: I dined as a guest of the Bullring. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

Restaurant Review: The Gallery, Selffridges, Bullring, Birmingham

I went for lunch at The Gallery Restaurant on Level 4 in Selfridges in the Bullring, Birmingham. I was warmly greeted by the members of the waiting staff, and seated at a table near the balcony, giving an excellent view of Bullring. The menu at The Gallery is wide and varied, with everything from salads and sandwiches for a light meal to burgers and steak dinners for those with greater appetites.

As I was out on my own, (it doesn’t happen very often!) I decided to treat myself to a full three course meal. For my starter, I couldn’t resist having the Scallops with a Saffron Risotto and Peas. I loved the scallops as they were caramelised beautifully and were cooked to perfection. The risotto was fresh and creamy, and complemented the crispy scallops excellently.

For my main, I settled on the Confit Pork Belly, served with Chive Mash, Black Pudding Fritter, Apple Sauce and Red Wine Jus. The cracking was so thin and crispy, I can only wish my cracking I did at home was this good. The pork was juicy and the chive mash packed punch of flavour too. The mash was surrounded by a pool of red wine jus, which is good as in some restaurants, you only get a tiny bit of jus to accompany the dish. The only negative to my main was the black pudding fritter. I don’t feel it really added anything to dish. The texture just did not agree with the moist and juicy pork or the creamy mash. Everything else was excellent though and I would certainly order this again.

To finish, I had the White Chocolate and Raspberry Torte served with Mint Ice Cream. When I saw this on the menu, I wondered why the chef had chosen mint ice cream to accompany the torte as I thought that the ice cream would overpower the white chocolate. I was completely wrong. The mint cut through the richness of the torte and brought out the flavour of the white chocolate and the raspberries. This was my dish of the day and I could of eaten it all over again!

I am already planning my next trip to Bullring so I can go and try one of The Gallery’s burgers and eat the torte again! Thank you to all the team at The Gallery for an excellent meal.

The post also appeared on the Bullring website

Disclosure: I dined as a guest of the Bullring. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

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Restaurant Review: Itihaass Brassiere, Selfridges, Bullring, Birmingham

Gulab Jamun

What is the best Indian restaurant in Birmingham? I am sure that every one of us has a different answer to this question, me included. How about this then, where is the best place to get a delicious authentic Indian meal and still be able to carry on with the shopping afterwards?

The answer to the second question is easy. Itihaas Brassiere. Itihaas Brassiere is the outpost of Itihaas Indian restaurant on Fleet Street. It serves everything from Indian starters and snacks to the full on curry experience, right in the heart of Selfridges in the Bullring.

Stuart and I arrived at Itihass Brassiere on a busy Thursday lunchtime and were warmly greeted by the staff. We sat down at the high tables and perused the wide selection on the menu. As well as traditional curries, Itihass Brassiere also has chat, dosa and wraps on the menu, ideal for those who want something lighter for lunch or as a snack. Having tried one of the chat dishes the last time I visited, this time I decided to go for a curry, as I was feeling hungry.

Makhani Murgh

Lamb Rogan Josh

side salad

Stuart had Makhani Murgh, which is fenugreek & smoked tomato tikka chicken curry, with steamed Basmati rice, garlic Naan and chutneys. I had Lamb Rogan Josh, which is Garam Masala spiced lamb, curry with steamed Basmati rice, garlic Naan and chutneys. We were both immediately impressed with our curries. My lamb was melting tender and rich with all the garam masala spices. The naan bread had the perfect texture. Slightly crispy round the edges with a soft and very garlicky centre. I am very picky with my naan breads but this was near perfection for me. Stuart’s curry was excellent too. It had the right amount of chilli heat and spice, allowing the full flavours of the tikka to come through. The side salad and yoghurt we were served alongside cooled the small but very tasty fire in our bellies and meant we could eat even more curry!

Despite starting to feel very full, we managed to both eat Gulab Jamun for dessert, which is milk & pistachio steamed dumplings, with rose water syrup and served with pistachio ice cream. I love these little doughnut type things and would have quite happily eaten a whole bowlful of them, had I not been full of curry. They are full of syrupy gorgeousness and with the ice cream alongside, it was a palette cleanser too and very refreshing after all the spices. Stuart and I loved the Itihass Brassiere and we are looking forward to going back again soon!

This post also appeared on the Bullring website

Disclosure: Stuart and I dined as guests of the Bullring. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review

A Night at Jamie’s Italian Sampling The New Winter Menu

I have always been a big fan of Jamie’s Italian restaurants since I went to my first one in Covent Garden, London a few years ago. The concept is excellent and there is a wide variety of food and drink choices and things that you just do not see anywhere else. I was very happy when Jamie’s Italian came to Bullring and was lucky enough to eat there in first few weeks it opened. I have been back there many times since to break up a shopping trip or two.

Recently I was invited back to Jamie’s Italian with Emma, the lovely editor of Browse Bullring, Ahmed and Sanjeeta from Dine Birmingham and Charlene from No Love Sincerer and her husband to sample their new winter menu. We were warmly welcomed by the staff and were treated to a glass of Prosecco on arrival. While perusing the new menu we were served the ‘World’s Best Olives on Ice’ which had large green olives, black olive tapenade and music bread. The claim that they were the ‘world’s best’ started a discussion for the group as to why this might be. I am not a fan of olives so did not try them. However my companions decided that this might be because they are not preserved. By serving them on ice, they keep fresh and were very tasty according to my dining companions.

For my starter, I chose the ‘Crispy Stuffed Risotto Balls’ which came very originally presented in a metal pot on a board with a small portion of spicy tomato sauce alongside. The portion was very generous and I found that just eating 2 of the risotto balls was enough for me. The tomato sauce was yummy and was an excellent contrast to the risotto balls, lifting them to new heights flavour wise.

For my main, I chose the ‘Game Meatball’ which is a giant meatball slow cooked in a tomato and garlic ragu, served with oozy polenta and black cabbage. We each had a glass of wine matched to our main courses served to us by the manager. Mine was a gutsy red wine that complimented the large meatball perfectly; unfortunately I have completely forgotten the name of it. However I am sure that if you go to Jamie’s Italian and ask for the manager, he will give you the same wine I had and you can try it for yourself.

In my opinion, the meatball was the absolute star of the dish. It was full of a variety of game and had rich, earthy flavours suitable to warm you up on a cold winter’s evening. I did find the sheer amount of polenta slightly overwhelming and I thought it slightly overtook the majestic nature of the meatball a bit. I was recently lucky enough to interview Gennaro Contaldo when he came to the BBC Winter Good Food Show at the NEC. I spoke to him about recipe development at Jamie’s Italian which he is a key part of. The meatball was inspired by Gennaro cooking a game ragu which Jamie saw, thought was an excellent idea but decided to put his unique spin on it and make it big! For more about this interview, please see a video post coming soon.

For pudding, I was very tempted to have the Chocolate Brownie which I have had before and know it is absolutely amazing. However, for something different I went for the ‘Sour Cherry Bakewell’ which has a sweet almond filling with tart berries and is served with a clementine rippled sour cream. The tart was very moist and the berries contrasted the sweet filling perfectly. I have only 1 small request, can I have a bigger slice next time please? The manager brought me a glass of Limoncello to drink with the tart and it was gorgeous. If I closed my eyes, I could of nearly of been in Italy drinking it in the sunshine. I hope to be back at Jamie’s Italian in the Bullring soon, especially as I have lots of Christmas shopping still to do!

Many thanks to Emma, the team at Jamie’s Italian, Ahmed, Sanjeeta and Charlene and her husband for a lovely evening.

You can also see this post on the Bullring website

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Discover Ireland with Selfridge’s

From the 10th-29th April, you can discover more about Ireland and its food at Selfridges Birmingham. This week I was lucky enough to be invited to try it and I was certainly not disappointed. They have a wide range of Irish produce available to purchase in the food hall and they even have a special menu to celebrate in the fourth floor Gallery restaurant.

I went to the Gallery Restaurant early on a Monday evening when the restaurant was quiet. It was lovely to see into the Bullring below and see people shopping/getting on with their day. I was greeted warmly by the staff and given their Discover Ireland menu to peruse. As I was with my partner we were able to try both starters and main courses on the menu.

To start, my partner had potato and thyme soup served with soda bread and I had a ham hock terrine, served with white pudding and an Irish Whiskey Jus. The soup was light and creamy with a lovely background note of thyme. The ham hock terrine was rich and sticky. It was complimented beautifully by the velvety white pudding and crisp salad leaves.

Our mains were Guinness Braised Beef Brisket served with Colcannon and Sausage and Potato Pie served with cabbage and bacon. Both portions were very generous. The brisket was rich and full of the flavour of the Guinness.  The pie was topped with crispy pastry and filled with large chunks of sausages and lots of lovely vegetables. One minor flaw in both dishes was the over seasoned cabbage. It was a disappointment for both of us as the cabbage would have been an excellent accompaniment otherwise.

For pudding, I had Apple and Raspberry Crumble served with Buttermilk Ice Cream. The crumble had lots of texture in it and the fruit was not too sweet. The ice cream was creamy and delicious too. Overall we had a good meal at the Gallery Restaurant and look forward to return there soon to try their normal menu.

Many thanks to Emma at the Bullring and Selfridge’s for a lovely meal. It is much appreciated :-)

Bullring Announces Opening Date of Birmingham’s New Landmark – Spiceal Street

The city’s newest dining destination, Spiceal Street at Bullring, is to open on Thursday 24th November.

The new street of restaurants, located in the St Martin’s Square area, is set to shake-up Birmingham’s dining scene as it welcomes two new restaurant brands to the city, ChaoBaby and Browns Bar and Brasserie. Thai banquet-style restaurant, ChaoBaby, adds a new dimension to the dining out experience in the form of exciting live food theatre as diners watch on whilst food is cooked and prepared in the open kitchen.

The second of the new restaurants is the utterly stylish Browns Bar and Brasserie (officially opens 25th November), which offers a range of signature cocktails and a blend of classic and modern dishes. Both are joined by locally-run handmade burger Co., which opens its flagship restaurant on Spiceal Street, offering shoppers only the finest and freshest ingredients.

A spectacular performance between human and machine at 11am on Thursday 24th November will mark the opening of new dining quarter before ChaoBaby and handmade burger Co. open to the public. The unique performance follows a partnership with Arts Council as part of the Arts Nation initiative, and has been created by Leamington Spa based dance theatre company Motionhouse. Visitors can expect to see three diggers and six dancers unite in a mesmerising dance routine. Dancing with extraordinary grace, the machines carve the space, pivot and wheel their human partners whom they lift, nudge and shift in a poetic display to celebrate the completion of Spiceal Street.

The celebration will continue throughout the day as the new restaurants take to St Martin’s Square to offer visitors the chance to sample their food. There will also be music provided by DJs during the day followed by another atmospheric performance from Motionhouse at 6.30pm.

Tim Walley, General Manager at Bullring, commented: “We’re pleased to announce the opening date for Spiceal Street and we’re sure our visitors are too. As a centre we’re famed for our strong fashion offering and with the addition of Spiceal Street we’re confident that we can say the same about our catering offer too.”

The three new restaurants will sit alongside the existing five eateries in the vicinity, including Nandos and Pizza Hut, which have both been extended as part of the new development, and Jamie Oliver’s restaurant, Jamie’s Italian, which opened during late 2010.

A new water feature, containing poetry co-written by two local poets, Simon Turner and popular spoken word performer, Steve Camden (aka Polarbear), a green wall and a public art commission created by Wolfgang Buttress, will also be unveiled on the day.

The new dining quarter will open late into the evening allowing visitors to dine after the centre’s shops have closed at the city’s new dining and socialising hotspot.

I have been lucky enough to sample the fare at Browns and handmade burger Co. before they have come to the Bullring. You can read my reviews about them here and here. I am looking forward to trying ChaoBaby as the concept seems really interesting.

I am hoping to go to the Spiceal Street opening event but it depends when Bump makes an appearance. I hope to see lots of you there! :-)

Tesco Real Food BBQ Challenge: The Recipe

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about the Tesco Real Food BBQ Challenge. While I was in Cornwall on holiday over Bank Holiday, I cooked a recipe using local fish and produce and have submitted into the BBQ Challenge. I decided to cook ‘Fish In A Bag!’ as you can use whatever fish/vegetables you would like, its very easy and simple and can also be cooked in the oven should the weather change and you cannot cook outside. While in Cornwall, I used Whiting that I brought from Armenack Fisheries in Falmouth but you could use any firm white fish or salmon to make this recipe.

We were camping near St Ives and while I got the dish ready to go onto the BBQ kindly supplied by Tesco, I let Stuart heat up the charcoal and get the BBQ ready to use.


Fish In A Bag!

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 2 fish fillets of your choice, boned and skinless if preferred
  • 8-10 new potatoes, cooked until tender, chopped into halves or quarters depending on size
  • Half a red onion, chopped into medium sized chunks
  • Small bunch of parsley, chopped finely
  • 50g butter
  • Large drizzle of olive oil
  • 50ml white wine
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper
  • Half a small sized lemon, juiced

Method

  1. In a roasting bag or make the bag yourself using tin foil, add in all the ingredients leaving the liquids until last. Seal the bag/tin foil.
  2. Put the bag on a preheated BBQ and leave it to cook for 10-15 minutes, depending on size of fish with the lid down. If at home and using the oven, cook at 180 degrees C for 15 minutes.
  3. Cut open the foil bag and serve with good bread, salad and large glass of white wine.

As you can see this recipe is very easy and if I can make it on a windy camp site in Cornwall, you can most certainly make it in your back garden at home.

Many thanks to Helen for inviting me to take part in this challenge :-)

Happy Cooking or BBQing! :-)

PS: A few weeks ago, I went to handmade burger Co in Birmingham to sample their food ahead of them coming to the Bullring as part of the Spiceal Street development. You can see what I thought on the Browse Bullring site here.

Browse Bullring Guest Post

I have written a guest review on the Browse Bullring website about Brown’s in Victoria, London. Brown’s Birmingham will be coming to the Bullring in the Winter 2011 as part of the Spiceal Street development. You can read my guest post here.

Hope you like it.

Happy Cooking! :-)

Meeting Gino D’Acampo

Last Saturday, Italian flair came to Birmingham in the form of a visit from     Gino D’Acampo who was in the Bullring promoting his latest cookbook ‘Gino’s Pasta: Everything You Need to Cook the Italian Way‘. While he was there, Gino did cookery demonstrations and signed copies of his latest cookbook. I was lucky enough to meet him backstage and get a signed cookbook.  Thanks to the Bullring PR team for arranging this. It is much appreciated. :-)

When I got home, I felt inspired to cook a quick and simple dish from his cookbook. As I was home alone at the time, I decided to cook a dish that Gino cooks when he is only cooking for one: Penne al’Arrabiata. My adapted recipe of the dish is below. I reduced the quantities as the recipe in the book serves 4.

Penne al’Arrabiata

Ingredients (Serves 1)

  • Olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely diced
  • 1 chilli,  finely diced and de-seeded if preferred
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 100g Penne pasta, cooked to the packet instructions
  • 1 small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • Handful of grated Parmesan cheese, for putting on top of the finished dish (optional)

Method

  1. Put olive oil in a frying pan, and allow to heat up. Put in the garlic and chilli and allow to fry for a minute or two until softened.
  2. Add in the tin of chopped tomatoes in and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add in the parsley at the last minute and turn off the heat. Mix the pasta with the sauce and serve in a big bowl with grated Parmesan on top. Enjoy with a glass of wine!

I will be back with another post over the weekend. I hope you all enjoy the lovely weather we are having.

Happy Cooking! :-)

PS: Sorry for lack of posts this week. I have been busy with work and not been feeling 100%. Normal service will be resumed ASAP. Thanks for your patience.

PPS: I am featured in the University of Worcester’s Staff Magazine this month. You can see the magazine here.

Review Of The Year 2010

2010 was my first full year of blogging so its seems right that I should look back and reflect on what an amazing year it has been.

In January, I did my first Fresh From The Oven Challenge, making Chocolate Buns. This formed part of my New Year’s resolution’s to be more adventurous in baking and make more bread. I also made cottage pie and did my first ever guest post on Nora’s blog.

In February, I made Valentine’s Cupcakes (that looked like boobies!) for English Mum’s Best Valentine Cupcake competition.  I reviewed my first cookbook, Skye Gyngell’s My Favourite Ingredients and Nora did a guest post on the blog.

Image by Wendy from Peters Yard

In March, I celebrated completing my first year of blogging. The first meeting of the Midlands Food Bloggers was held at Loaf’s HQ in Birmingham, where we cooked pizza’s and tasted Peters Yard’s Crispbreads and Brock Hall Farm’s Goats Cheese for the first time. I went to my first Cupcake workshop at Kiss Me Cupcakes and I hosted my first Fresh From The Oven challenge, Kringel

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In April, I entered and won the Easter Cake Bake and made cupcakes for the Mad Hatter’s Shropshire Tweet Up. Helen did a guest post on the blog and I made croissants for the first and last time!

May started by making the ultimate spring time brunch and a crumble. Pizza Napoletana was the Fresh From The Oven challenge.

In June, Jo’s Kitchen was invited by Miele to do the Masterchef Invention Test at the BBC Summer Good Food Show. Marie and I took on a Giant Cupcake Challenge and I went on an archaeological dig and left my blog in the care of Gary, Linda, Louise and Charlene.

In July, I made my favourite childhood dinner of Fish Fingers, Mashed Potatoes, Peas and Parsley Sauce. I entered my second English Mum’s Big Bake Off and held a competition to win a Masterchef Apron.

In August, I made a sweet version of Fish Fingers, Mash and Ketchup with Mat Follas’s help and went on a foodie trip to Ludlow visiting the Ludlow Food Centre and Ludlow itself. Brioche was this month’s Fresh From The Oven Challenge.

September was a busy month so I only made some cupcakes and garlic and basil focaccia.

In October, I made some spooky Halloween cakes for English Mum’s Autumn Bake Off, went to my first 24 Carrots Farmers Market and attended the second Midlands Food Bloggers Meet Up.

In November, I made Coca-Cola Marinated Steak, with Wedges and Cool Beans, and I went to Jamie’s Italian in Covent Garden, London. I also reviewed the Findus Fresher Taste range of ready meals.

In December, I was invited back to the BBC Good Food Show Winter by Miele. I took part in two cookalongs and met lots of fantastic producers. I went to the new Jamie’s Italian in the Bullring, Birmingham. I learnt how to make pasta for the first time at Loaf and shared my Christmas wishlist with you. Finally, for a late seasonal treat, I shared my Mincemeat Flapjacks recipe.

Overall, 2010 was an amazing year. I met so many fantastic people, ate lovely meals, made lots of new recipes and I was lucky enough to review some great products. I cannot wait to see what 2011 will bring. Thank you to all my readers for being along with me for the ride. I hope you will stay with me for 2011. I hope you all have a great night tonight, whatever you are doing. I will see you early in 2011 with my New Year’s resolutions.

Happy New Year! :-)

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