Food & Drink
Ever considered a drastic career change? Our new semi-regular feature will follow a typical day in the life of someone with a Super Cool Job™, letting you have an insight without having to hand in in your notice. This week we're talking to Holly, who probably spends more time thinking about restaurants than even my ICB colleagues, as she designed some of the chicest ones in town.
Spoiler alert when picking the highlights at Taste of The Mailbox: they’re all highlights. But special shout out goes to Brad Carter who is holding a Michelin standard masterclass in the Kitchen Gallery showroom on the Saturday (Aug 3). Including tasters. So get that in the diary. Here are the deets and a few other things you won't want to miss.
It's 7,187 miles from Hawaii to Birmingham and, I'll be honest, some Mondays it sure feels like it. Which makes the arrival Kuula Poké to the Great Western Arcade a city-brightening addition even before you've tucked into the food. And I'll get on to the food in two shakes of a salmon's tail.
Fitness steez to donuts. You can't accuse our editorial calendar of lacking variety. This Saturday Notts-based Doughnotts are popping up at 200 Degrees on Colmore Row from 10am, for one day only. They’ll be announcing on social media closer to the time which flavours will be available, but I've got everything crossed for one or six of these.
Ever found yourself whiling away hours scrolling through Instagram when you could have been doing something (anything) more productive? I’m not denying anyone a good fall down a #NoFilter rabbit hole but your brain might thank you for a more creative pastime. These less than pedestrian hobbies might be just the tonic to reset your busy mind (and clip that phone screen time).
What do you mean, you thought The Oyster Club was an oyster restaurant? Pfft. The original Oyster Club was a hangout for scientists, philosophers and other big thinkers of Edinburgh in the 1770s. The Birmingham namesake was established to create a haven for this city’s most brilliant minds, and also just for people that are well into their seafood. Or their caviar. Or lobster. Or Wagyu. Either way, complete with it's Michelin-starred creds, The Oyster Club's got the good stuff.
Psst! We're approaching the bank holiday halcyon days. So if you're already running low on your quota of spare days off, make the most of April and May's long weekend opps, direct from B'ham. And you didn't hear it from me, but if you want to maximise your holidaying time, next month you can use four days annual leave to get 10 days off in a row. You're welcome.
The pancake is such a pure and simple pleasure. How can flour, milk and eggs illicit such joy? I haven’t looked into it, but I’m presuming the answer is some kind of sorcery. Guarantee yourself a good ol' Shrove with these folks.
If someone blindfolded you, put you on a train at New Street, and removed the blindfold only after pushing you through the doors of Sky By The Water, you probably wouldn’t think you were at Resorts World, or even in Birmingham. You’d probably also be like “Why did you blindfold me? That was kind of traumatic” but then “Wow this place is beautiful, can I live here now?”
Absolutely bossing Veganuary and considering keeping it up for... Febganuary? Luckily for you, me and our tastebuds, these folks are catering for the considerable plant-based demand with some new and all nice lil dishes. Now back to that name. Vegbruary? Feganruary?
Hey, we know we’re not the first people to write a gift guide in December. So sue us (please don’t).
Italian food. Fine fine dining. Ridiculously strong décor by Tibbatts Abel; the same people that did Saint Paul's House and Opheem, Aktar Islam's other joint over the road. It’s very hard to find anything not to love about Legna, the newbie to Fleet Street (that's basically Summer Row to the uninitiated).
This section of the email is rather preposterously called Ampersand. It’s an homage to the & in our name and hey, what can I say? I’ve got a soft spot for the lil linguistic device. I've gone super meta and I'm featuring &s in Ampersand.
Decapitated Barbies and pig-shaped macarons with eighties bangers for your soundtrack isn't exactly what you might think of when someone invites you for a spot of afternoon tea. But when this is the invite and chef patron Alex Claridge is the one in charge, you're not in normal town anymore. You're in new kid on the neon block, Nocturnal Animals.
If you’re teetotal, just cutting down, or fully throwing yourself into Sober October, going alcohol-free doesn’t have to mean sipping on a flat Pepsi Max from a tap all night. We’ve spoken to cocktail experts for their favourite virgin versions, for you to try at home. Your fanciest drinking receptacle is absolutely necessary, a muddler is optional (but makes you feel the part).
One egg is un oeuf, but two is waaaaay better at Purnell's, where the classics are classics for a reason. We could talk about at least five of the dishes we sampled in the Cornwall Street dining room, but we're going to focus entirely on two, which are as happy-making as they are accomplished.
What were you doing when you were 22? Louisa Ellis was beating thousands of applicants to take part in MasterChef: The Professionals, going on to compete against 48 chefs from around the country and eventually reaching the final three. Way to make us feel like underachievers, Louisa. She is hosting a one-off evening at Harvey Nichols as part of Taste of the Mailbox weekend, happening Aug 3 to 5. Read all about it.
Maybe it was ol' uncle Attenborough and The Beeb, maybe it wasn't, but in 2018, plastic became a dirty word. Rather than banging on about our increasing levels of guilt on the rare occasions we do end up using a 5p bag or disposable cup, let's talk about what our city is doing to help the enviro, and the little changes you can make to get on board.
There’s a big difference between being a competent cook in your own home and being amongst a group of foodie strangers in Loaf's profesh kitchen. But if the idea is a bit intimidating, the reality is a delight.
Old buildings, ports and markets: so far, so every other European city break you’ve ever been on. But Antwerp is also big on luxey living, high fash and supercool entertainment.
We once went to a wedding where Portuguese egg custard tarts were flown in for midnight munching. At the time it struck us as potentially excessive, but by God we've been on a quest to find those joy-giving little loves, without the need for a plane, ever since. Last week that quest came to the most glorious of ends.
No, we didn't get round to stocking our fridge this weekend either, despite the extra day. But we've got your back on din-dins tonight. It's super simple to maximise evening sun time, and there's a shopping list and everything.
As evidenced by cronuts, Brangelina (RIP) and labradoodles, portmanteaus can result in the creation of truly beautiful things. That delightful moment between breakfast and lunch is probably our favourite of them all. B’ham excels at brunchin, so we did the honourable thing and ate our way round town to bring this compilation of sorts. Bubbles are optional but highly recommended.
It’s only fitting that Dirty Martini teamed up with B’ham's own Langley’s gin for a collection of Peaky Blinders-inspired cocktails, designed espesh for their new Bennetts Hill spot. Here are some key ingredients for two of the Old Tom Gin lovelies. Rather than DIYing a drink, they're open from April 21.
Dream dinner party guest, David Chang, travels the world as he visits food hotspots to dissect comfort goodies like fried chicken, tacos and pizza. It might not always be pretty, but blimmin' hell it's tasty. Be warned: never watch this show on an empty stomach.
We need some more girls in here / Couple a Chantelles and Chanelles in here / So pass me the bitter let me get heavy on / Buff ting gally rude boy sling it on / There's too many man, too many many man /
Not exactly the most Bell & Smokey of lyrics, but when you're ordering two Menemen for brunch, trust us, it's hard to get the lyrics of Two Many Man by English grime collective, Boy Better Know, out of your head. So hard in fact that we found ourselves rap battling the lyrics with a neighbouring table the moment the waitress was gone.
There are so many new openings in B’ham right now that we’re proper struggling to keep up. What a wonderful time to be alive. Here are the absolute most excitingest.
We can't find anything we really want to watch on Netflix either. A completely gorgeous and alternative way to spend a school night is learning to create thaali — ridonc good for you, coin-purse friendly and envy-inducing when you recreate it for your pals. All very freezable too — dang we're growing up.