Notes On... Damascena

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How many establishments do you need to start describing somewhere as an empire? Damascena began life with its opulent flagship Moseley cafe, then added the city centre and Harborne spots. Latest to the list is the Jewellery Quarter venue. It's almost like they're doing something right.

I consider myself pretty well-versed in all things Damascena, and their growing consortium means all right-minded Brummies should be able to say the same. The breakfast meze at the Moseley edition is my go-to. I’ve had the makali wrap more times than I’m willing to admit. But in the spirit of investigative journalism (you're welcome) I tried a new addition to the menu, the fried halloumi platter (£6.95). The good news is, this was the best halloumi I’ve ever eaten. The bad news? The light and moreish plate has ruined all other fried Cypriot cheese combos for me for the rest of time. Served up with with spicy batata hara potatoes and a sweet as well as citrusy rocket salad, you don't need anything else to tick off lunch.

But if you're huuuun-gry and maybe even a little overwhelmed by the list of things you can't pronounce, the fatayer platter (£9.95) is a strong option to try a selection of the Middle Eastern pastries. Special mention goes to the M'hamara fatayer — spicy tomatoes and onions on flatbread which pack some heat. And in the bastardised words of Baz Luhrmann, if I could offer you only one tip for your visit, order baba ghanuuj (£3.95) to dip absolutely everything in.