Category Archives: Restaurant Review

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

Restaurant Review: Fleet Street Kitchen, Birmingham

Image by FSK

Image by FSK

A few weeks ago, Stuart, Thomas and I were invited to lunch at Fleet Street Kitchen. Fleet Street Kitchen is a new restaurant on Summer Row/Fleet Street in Birmingham, specialising in farm to plate British cooking with a relaxed contemporary edge. The restaurant has the only ‘Barbacoa’ Grill in the UK, which is a barbecue cooking method popular in Northern Spain using American lumpwood charcoal.

Image by FSK

Image by FSK

Image by FSK

Upon arriving at the restaurant, we were seated promptly and given a few minutes to sort ourselves out. Once we were all settled, our drinks order was taken (they have a wide range of real ales, proper ciders and an excellent wine list) and left to browse the menu. Fleet Street Kitchen do not have a children’s menu but are happy to make any dish on their menu a half portion for children.

For a shared starter, we had Freshly Baked Bread Oil & Balsamic and Kalamata Olives Marinated pepper. The bread was excellent with a crisp crust and a lovely chewy middle. The olive oil was slight bland and could have been better quality. The olives and the peppers were so delicious that we had to fight Thomas for them as he ate them like they were sweets. He is a proper little foodie already!

For our mains, Stuart had the 12oz Dexter Chop with FSK #1 Meat Sauce. The Dexter chop had been aged for 35 days and was served with a flat mushroom and roasted cherry tomatoes. The portion size was amazing. It reminded me of something Fred Flintstone might eat. It was cooked to the perfect medium and was very juicy and tender. The sauce was absolutely gorgeous too. My main was a corn fed Poussin cooked in a rotisserie and served with chips and homemade coleslaw. The chicken was juicy and the meat flaked easily off the bone. The coleslaw cut through the creaminess and was a great compliment to the poussin. Thomas had the Minted Pea Risotto Truffle Oil which was very fresh and zingy. Thomas really enjoyed eating it as the picture below shows.

For pudding, Thomas and Stuart shared the Soft Whip Ice Cream with Flake and Strawberry Sauce. I am not quite sure who ate the most but it was gone very quickly. For my pudding, I had Spotted Dick with Custard which was dense and very rich. The custard was beautiful with lots of vanilla seeds in it. My plate was soon clear too.

Overall, we had a fantastic time at Fleet Street Kitchen. I think it is an excellent addition to the Birmingham food scene. I am already planning my next visit on an evening when I can have a fantastic meal, then go downstairs to their bar for a cocktail and then party the night away!

Image by FSK

Disclosure: Stuart, Thomas and I dined as guests of Fleet Street Kitchen at a pre-restaurant opening press event. 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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I am a Naughty Blogger!

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Hello everyone! Sorry for the delay in between posts again. Life is still crazy at the moment as I adjust to being a part time working mummy for the first time. I have a confession to make…

I am a naughty blogger! I have been invited to lots of events, courses and been sent lots of lovely things to review but I have not told you about any of it. I have the world’s biggest backlog of posts at the moment and I am determined to get through it before I go insane.

Therefore I have decided that I am going to get through this backlog over the coming weeks and months. Whenever you see the ‘I’m a naughty blogger’ badge above on a post, you will know that it is a post I should of written and published ages ago. I would like to apologise to everyone who has sent me something or asked me to go somewhere and I have not written about it yet. I hope you will forgive me. I have also got lots of recipes to share with you too so this blog will not turn into review post central. I am going to try to get the balance right.

Thank you for keeping on reading Jo’s Kitchen. Your support is greatly appreciated :-)

A Meal at Turner’s Restaurant, Butlins, Bognor Regis

We are still on our honeymoon at Butlins Bognor Regis and for lunch today, we went to Turner’s Restaurant which is located on the resort. It has a relaxed and very family friendly atmosphere. The prices and the portion sizes were very reasonable too and the quality of the food was excellent.

For Thomas they had a good children’s menu, lots of high chairs and a large easily accessible baby changing facilities. I am not going to list all the food that we had here as I am on a phone and it would take me ages to write, so in summary we had: baked local hen eggs and smoked salmon as starters, pork belly and plaice as our mains, followed by golden syrup crumble and ice cream as our puddings. Thomas had homemade fish fingers and mash. The full menu is on the website.

We both loved our starters. The leeks cooked with the chilli in my dish was something I had never tried before and it was yummy. The plaice and the pork belly were both cooked to perfection. Thomas’ fish fingers were lightly covered in breadcrumbs and were some of the best fish fingers I have ever tried. (Thomas let me try a tiny little bit!) The ice cream was full of flavour and Stuart was just about willing to let Thomas share with him as it was very yummy. My pudding did not looked how I expected it too. It was a crumble tart not a normal crumble. The custard accompaniment was full of vanilla seeds and so good I could of drank it with a straw!

While we were visiting today, Brian Turner of Ready, Steady, Cook! and other tv shows came to see his restaurant. It was lovely to see him again and I can confirm that the food in his restaurant is as lovely and generous as he is. Thank you to Brian and his wonderful team for a fantastic visit today. We will be back! :-)

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Quick Review: The Lobster Pot, Felpham, Bognor Regis

We are currently on our first family holiday/honeymoon at Butlins in Bognor Regis and today, we found such a lovely place to eat that I have decided to tell you about it straight away.

It is simply called The Lobster Pot and it is located a short walk along the promenade from the Butlins resort. We arrived during a busy sunny lunchtime service but still managed to find a table straight away. We ordered at the bar and watched in awe as gorgeous looking food kept coming out of the kitchen. After a 15 minute wait (fairly quick considering how busy they were), our two fish in a bun and a kids cheese sandwich for Thomas came out. Stuart had mackerel in his bun and I had cod. Both came battered and were served with coleslaw, pickle and a lemon wedge. We were both impressed with the size of the portion, the freshness of the fish and how well cooked it was. Thomas enjoyed his sandwich too.

The Lobster Pot had a relaxing vibe and very friendly helpful staff. I urge you to visit if you are in the area like we are. It is a great place and a must if you like fish!

PS: One minor negative is the lack of baby changing facilities. It is located in an old building so I can see how this could be problem. They have lots of high chairs though and are obviously geared up for families so this is a slight disappointment

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Restaurant Review: Aalto Restaurant, Hotel La Tour, Birmingham

On Tuesday it was Stuart’s birthday and as a special treat, we were lucky enough to be invited to visit the new Aalto Restaurant in Hotel La Tour, Birmingham. We arrived a few minutes before our scheduled reservation time and we were warmly greeted by the staff and were taken up to the second floor to the modern and very spacious restaurant and bar. We sat in the bar and had a drink before our dinner. We perused the wine list (on an ipad!)  and settled down and enjoyed the atmosphere. By chance, we saw James of Eat The Midlands while we were there and had a catch up with him before taking our seats in the restaurant.

Once taken into the restaurant, we were impressed by the chef’s table with views into Head Chef Alex Penhaligon’s kitchen and excitedly awaited the menu which has been inspired by advisor and Michelin starred chef, Marcus Wareing.   To start, we decided on Charred sourdough, olive oil, roasted garlic, followed by Leek and Potato Soup and Shrimp ‘cocktail’, Marie Rose, baby gem, brown bread. The bread and garlic was absolutely amazing. I could of eaten it all night. The garlic and olive oil was full on flavour but not overpowering. My soup was one of the lightest leek and potato soups I have ever tasted however it was let down slightly by the chunks of only just cooked through potato in it. I know they are there to give a textual difference to the soup but I thought they were not needed as the soup was amazing on its own. To clear our palette in time for the main course, we were treated to The 1889, a in house invented cocktail made with Bombay Sapphire, apple, elderflower, ginger, and lime. It was very refreshing and zingy on the tongue.

For mains, I had Great Garnetts Farm pork belly slow baked, apple sauce, kale and Stuart had Hereford beef rib eye steak, red wine sauce, horseradish, chips. My pork belly was fantastic. Very well cooked and it was complimented beautifully by the apple sauce which was the sweetest and the most intense apple sauce I have ever tasted. I could of eaten bucket loads of it.  Stuart’s steak was perfectly cooked to medium and was very tender. The horseradish was sharp and was the perfect choice for dipping the chips into.

In between our mains and my pudding, we were treated to a glass of a dessert wine and the name of it now escapes me as we were having a very good time by this point! For pudding, I had Jaffa cake pudding, warm chocolate, orange cake crumb, cream. I was very impressed by the pudding and thought the flavours were amazing. It was the freshest and most yummiest jaffa cake I have ever had. One of small let down with the pudding was that it was served with cream. I think it would be better if it was served with ice cream as it is a very heavy pudding with everything combined and I think ice cream would cut through this a little bit.

We finished the night with a well needed latte and headed home with very full bellies and a big smile on our faces. Overall, we were very impressed with the Aalto Restaurant and would happily eat there again. I have only one request: Can we stay the night next time and get to sample the breakfast too! :-)

Many thanks to Sue and the team for a fantastic evening. We were invited for complimentary meal that was well timed with Stuart’s birthday however all opinions and views on the experience are my own. 

Banfi Wine Evening at Malmaison Birmingham

Stuart and I recently went out on our first night out together since Thomas was born. We were invited to a Tuscan Wine and Food Evening at the Birmingham Malmaison Hotel, located in the Mailbox. We were joined by fellow Midlands Food Bloggers members Jules of Butcher, Baker and Julia of A Wannabe Foodie and their partners. The event was to celebrate Banfi Wines and the event was hosted by Dante Cecchini, UK manager of Castello Banfi and David Manson from Bidendum. The menu was designed by Head Chef Brian Neath. As soon as we walked in, we were greeted by friendly faces and lots of wine and food to taste.

The menu and the wine was as follows:

Pinot Gigio Toscana San Angelo

Canapés; Pecorine risotto balls

L’antipasto; Mediterranean vegetables & cured meats

Le Rime Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio

Il primo; Hand made pumpkin & sage tortellini

Rosso di Montalcino & Belnero Sangiovese/Merlot

Il secondo; Veal ‘osso busso’, puré de patate, olio d’olivia

Brunello di Montalcino

formaggio corso; Bra formaggio, Piemonte

Florus Moscadello di Montalcino Vendemmia Tardiva

Il dolce; classic tiramisu

The Pinot Gigio with the antipasti and starter was excellent. It was light and refreshing and complimented the cured meats and vegetables. It was my kind of wine – the sort I could (and did!) drink too much of! The risotto balls were amazing and something I will definitely have a go making at home.

The tortellini was expertly hand made. It was very thin and light. The filling was rich without being overpowering. I wish my pasta could look and taste this good. The Chardonnay was a lot smoother than the Pinot Gigio as you would expect. The Pinot Gigio was more crisp and light and although it was my favourite, Stuart preferred the Chardonnay.

The Veal ‘osso busso’ was our dish of the night. It was so tender you only had to look at and it fell off the bone. It was my first time of having this veal cooked this way and I certainly will be having it again. We had two red wines to try with this course and my favourite was Belnero Sangiovese as it was not as dry as the Merlot and had a more rounded flavour with the Veal.

The red served with the cheese course was a bit rich and intense for me. I still enjoyed it but not as much as the reds with the main course. The selection of cheese and crackers were fantastic but my favourite part of this dish was the onion chutney. Its sharpness cut through everything else and refreshed the palette.

For dessert, we had a classic tiramisu. I love coffee but dislike coffee flavoured desserts. I tried the tiramisu but found the coffee way too sharp, rich and overpowering. The regional manager Stephen very kindly asked the staff to bring out another dessert for me which was a lemon tart. This was much more up my street and the pastry was light and crisp and the filling tasted divine.

After a well needed cup of coffee and a final chat to Jules and Julia and their partners, we suddenly found ourselves as the last to leave. It was a wonderful night and one I would love to repeat again. The Malmaison run a few events like this a year.

Many thanks to Zara, Stephen, Brian and the rest of the team for a fantastic evening. I will be having another adventure with the Birmingham Malmaison soon so please stay tuned :-)

PS: You can read Jules account of the event here :-)

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