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The Button Factory

Vertu had become somewhat of a symbol in the heart of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. It was not many years later however, that this joint had run its course and was ready for a fresh new look, new ownership (but the same management), new food and a new name.

Reinstating it’s original use as quite literally, a factory where buttons were produced in 1824, The Button Factory has allowed this building to be returned to its’ former glory. *Attempts to find button emoji*.

The launch night was a great success! We ended up staying for around three hours; this was mostly due to us dining at their speedy supper club where around 20 guests were invited to try smaller versions of the dishes that are available on their full menu. It’s worth pointing out that, since I don’t eat beef, they were quickly able to accommodate by offering lamb as a substitute – no complaints here ?!

They have kept much of the exposed brick work and Manhattan loft-style feel that is so distinguishing of this building, giving more attention to the newer areas of the restaurant; the food.

I was particularly impressed with the open Robata grill where you can watch some of the finest meat being cooked right before your eyes ??.

Peter McDonald, the COO of the City Fund Pub Company aims to make The Button Factory a place for everyone, from,

“mums meeting for a morning coffee and professionals looking for a place for corporate catch-up’s or somewhere to work remotely, to those in search of a spot for long lazy lunches, date nights and dinner with your family.”

  • Loving the yellow!
  • #viewsfromthe6
  • GORG wine ?
  • Even more GORG mussels
  • The rarest, and one of the most beautiful pieces of lamb I have ever tried w/ flatbread
  • Bar sitch upstairs (yes, there are two bars)
  • Overlooking Frederick St

So

I’m really very excited about the food here; everything packs a punch. Full of flavour and full of love for the ingredient at hand. There are influences from all over the world here, with the most prominent being Middle-Eastern.

Definitely head down to The Button Factory; it’s doing great things!

Service – 7/10
Ambience – 7/10
Price – ££

 

 

Fleet Street Kitchen

Fleet Street Kitchen is the child of a much larger group that has played a big part in Birmingham’s bar scene on the famous Summer Row, from the ever-prominent Mechu to the VERY exclusive (and members only), Lexicon. Town & Country are big in the game.

The biggest feat of Fleet Street? Their food. I know, shouldn’t that be every restaurant’s biggest feat? Yes, in essence it should, but FSK really, really, REALLY focus on the produce, so much so that you question, how much do we really know about the growing, sourcing and miles of our meat, fish and vegetables served in restaurants?

There is a celebration of simplicity; great, honest food served in a casual, up-scale environment – the best kind of restaurant. I have visited FSK before and when I have a great experience twice in a row, a blog post is definitely in order. Gotta love consistency!

The interior is a designers dream; or rather, the product of fantastic designers. A wonderful mishmash of textures and styles that work incredibly well together. There are shutters and sheer white curtains which reminds me of an upmarket club lounge somewhere near the coastline of the East Hamptons, whilst the wooden chairs and marble table tops are more reminiscent of a quirky pub.

The restaurant opens up when you head towards the left as you walk in; it’s no wonder they’ve created so many different ‘zones’; they have the space to do so.

Vibrancy is prominent here, especially with the cleverly showcased ingredients and produce. There are rows of vegetables on the chef’s counter, accompanied by infused oils, as well as a charcuterie and bread stand with salami’s that have been hung there since the day FSK opened. It would be very strange for a restaurant with FSK’s philosophy to not showcase their ingredients.

Philosophy

Which brings me nicely to the culture of this restaurant.

Fleet Street Kitchen (FSK) was founded on two simple principles: that ‘The best parties are always in the kitchen’, and the finest food is served ‘Farm to Table.’

You’d be a fool to argue.

Sustainable agriculture, proper farming practises, seasonality and locality are celebrated here and taken very, very seriously. This philosophy forms the very concept and is at the heart of everything they do. They source their produce from (in their opinion) the most trusted farms around the UK. In a time where many food practises are questionable, and in one where diners are increasingly more aware of the food they are eating, FSK couldn’t be better placed (or better timed.) All of their ingredients and produce are sourced according to their philosophy, including their meat and fish, and majority of their vegetables are heirloom and open-pollenated. PLEEEEAASEEE educate yourself on heirloom veg. It’s magical.

Most of our favourite chefs celebrate tirelessly the beauty of simplicity when it comes to ingredients. Simplicity doesn’t just mean ‘basic’, it also means fewer miles and the least amount of fiddling.

Fried Calamari and garlic Äioli

Calamari should never be so rubbery that it actually feels like rubber (ergo, you cannot swallow it). You can pretty easily tell apart fresh squid and the frozen crap you get in some pub chains (resists the urge to mention name). Size is a big tip off; think about the shape of a squid and the rings it produces when sliced; they should look like onion rings and get smaller in size progressively, as opposed to tiny, thick rings that look like Hula-Hoops. The squid should be white and firm in texture, again, not rubbery – you must be able to chew through until it reaches a softer texture in the mouth. – I believe I am ready to do a PHD in calamari ?.

All a big tick for this dish at FSK. A deliciously light and crispy batter and a beautiful garlic äioli with a fresh squeeze of lemon – a great favourite to kick start any meal. The portions are fairly large here; one is enough to share between two.

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Sea Bass

A special on the board. Beautifully filleted and presented sea bass and not a bone in sight! Strong and sweet flavours came through the sultana puree and caramelised onions which complimented the tempura asparagus and soft white fish wonderfully.

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

STP (can I call it that?) is not featured on my blog nearly enough. It’s my go-to sponge in any restaurant. This is by far one of the yummiest, stickiest, and all-around gorgeous sticky toffee puddings out there. Definitely my favourite in Birmingham so far!

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So

Here we have a restaurant that is doing food right. Not only do they have an aesthetically beautiful space, they also have a beautiful concept that foodies (or anybody) can truly enjoy. It’s a rarity in Birmingham for a restaurant to be so steadfast in their goal of delivering sustainably sourced and produced food, and I will be returning again soon. Keep up the great work, guys!

Service – 8/10
Price – ££
Ambience – 7/10 (better when busier)

 

Sticks ‘N’ Sushi

Sticks ‘N’ Sushi is one of the better choices for sushi in London with all the saturated-ness of sushi joints around town. It’s a place I can always rely on when I’m feeling like Japanese cuisine, but with a twist. By this, I mean Danish-inspired. I know, Denmark and Japan, whaaaaaattttt?! There’s actually a very simple explanation and it doesn’t involve chef’s trying to re-invent the wheel, forcing new flavours during an experimental sesh in the kitchen. The founders, Jens Rahbek & Kim Rahbek and Thor Anderson are brothers of Danish and Japenese descent…*ahhhhh*, makes sense now. They found a way to cultivate the flavours from their mixed backgrounds and create food that is celebrated all over Copenhagen and in London, and as of two days ago, Cambridge.

What does being a Danish/Japenese crossbreed restaurant entail, exactly?

One of the biggest giveaway’s is that there is a sushi roll on the menu with smoked cheese – this is not normal Japanese behaviour, trust mi(so). Ha! What really makes this partnership between flavours so special is their rare focus of food on the grill, yes, pork, chicken, duck – you’ll find the lot, all cooked to order. It’s not often you share your table with Salmon Nigiri and Duck Yakitori. Of course, we are all well acquainted with Robata (Japanese grilling). The Yakitori constitutes the ‘sticks’ part of Sticks ‘N’ Sushi, and the ‘sushi’ part of Sticks ‘N’ Sushi, is, well, sushi. My mind amazes me at times.

Does anybody eat salad at a sushi joint? What if I told you their salads have all the usual goodies like raw salmon, miso, edamame and soy, but also snow peas, pumpkin seeds and quinoa? Taste sensation? I think so. This place is fit for the health-conscious and indulgers alike, (myself being the latter).

The food here is fresh and full of flavour, but most of all, full of surprises. You will always find yourself trying something new here. One of the biggest reasons being their infamous book-esque menu with beautifully presented photographs showcasing all that’s on offer. We eat with our eyes, and if sushi is simply ‘fish in haute couture’ as the waiters’ uniform claims, then why not show it off? It makes life a whole lot easier for us diners! (They do have a handy-dandy 14-piece set menu if you’re not up to the challenge of picking everything yourself)

Corporate stuff (I usually put this at the end of a post but I just feel like it fits better here #DontJudge)

They are BIG on CSR (corporate social responsibility), simply put, this is when a business actively rectifies or prevents issues that their daily operations may cause to the environment or it’s stakeholders. In fact, they have a guy who focuses purely on this, Jakob Gaord, aka the ‘in-house troublemaker.’ Their ethos is simple:

“Make less mess, purchase more environmentally correctly, act more properly.” – I LOVE this. So clean, so simple.

The term CSR is becoming a household term (to some extent), but is usually only heard of when referencing corporate conglomerates like McDonald’s or Shell, where the impact of their operations are global. Although Sticks ‘N’ Sushi have around 15 branches in total, they are still mightily small compared to the aforementioned brands, which makes it much more satisfying to see them take so much pride in the environment they work in. A lot of restaurants can learn from this. It’s something I believe should be pushed to(wards) the forefront of a business and it’s ethos on a whole, customers love stuff like this!

OKAY, back to the real reason we’re here.

Food

Ebi Bites

I don’t know how the hell they keep these babies so darn crisp and the prawns so juicy! Ebi Bites are prawns deep fried in a rice-krispie like batter, or as I like to call them, crunchy clouds of prawn with a glorious  miso-aïoli, a little soy, fresh red chilli and a spritz of lime. (Disclaimer: two portions are necessary, you will not be satisfied with one). I often wish these were served up in a deep bowl with a big pot of miso-aïoli, I’d be a very happy girl.

Tempura shrimp, chili, coriander, pepper, miso-aïoli & fresh lime.

Chicken Yakitori

A sweet and uber saucy sensation and perfectly minced chicken balls. These are as playful as they are delicious; lip-smackingly good. Perfect for the non-raw fish eater.

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Momo Chili – Chicken meatballs in teriyaki / Tsukune

Salmon Nigiri

Just look at that flesh, need I say more? Okay, as I’m a blogger, I probably should say more lols. Perfect sushi rice and wonderfully soft, delicate salmon that melts in the mouth. Simple and beautiful.

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Salmon Rice Paper Roll 

I don’t often eat fully cooked salmon, unless it’s for breakfast, but this is an exception. Soft, smoked, salty salmon in a borderline slimy (yet satisfying) cold rice wrap and crunchy lettuce. Hands up if you just got my Lion King reference. A pleasant cold roll that’s nice for in between the dishes that carry bolder flavour.

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Crispy fried salmon & crunchy skin, lettuce, avocado, chili sauce, miso-aïoli, coriander & ponzu

Crispy Ebi Roll

Is it just me or are there never EVER enough crispy prawn tempura Maki rolls (which is what this is). I always say you can tell how much care a sushi joint puts into their food by how crunchy the batter is, and boy is their tempura crunchy! No soggy batter here, no siree! A classic roll in my books and one that doesn’t disappoint here.

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Tempura shrimp, avocado, spicy sauce, tsume soy, rolled in sesame

One of the OTHER biggest reasons why I always opt to go back time and time again is because of the physical appeal of the dining space. Just like the ideal guy, this place has got muscle, it’s partly exposed, mysterious at times and a whole lot of fun. It’s deceivingly large considering the exterior, but hey, that’s Covent Garden for you! There are almost four separate dining ares, including a downstairs section where all the magic happens (the kitchen), picture, Dishoom in Shoreditch.

So

It’s the kind of place you’d want to, and absolutely can, spend hours in. The amazing food you can pick and share with friends or family, the lazy brown leather sofas, the soft but focused lighting, the somewhat bare walls, the randomly placed floral arrangements, literally everything about this place screams chic comfort, and anywhere like that is my kinda place.

Min Min

I have spent a lot of time dwelling in the famous Chinese Quarter of Birmingham this past week, and I’ve found a few new gems – *yay*.

I usually stick to my childhood favourites when I’m around this part of town, and never really venture out. There are so many new and interesting places that have opened up in recent years around the Arcadian and beyond, and I finally tried a sweet little, very green restaurant called Min Min. (You’ll see what I mean by green in a second).

It was too early for dinner but I was ever so slightly hungry (as always), which meant I didn’t order much, but boy did I love what I ate!

They’re big on their broths here, but what’s more exciting is their selection of noodles. These range from the basic egg noodle to shrimp egg noodle w/ dried shrimp, which means the noodle concoctions here are endless! Their noodle menu not only offers Vietnamese style, but also Japanese and Thai, so you can have your ramen AND vermicelli fix if you really want to. You’ll find Lemongrass Pork, Massaman Curry, Creamy Prawns and so much more on for mains. Don’t be deceived by the size of this place, their menu is immense and offers so much variety. The Chef’s Specials include Thai Style Chilli Fish, Garlic Beef w/ pak choi and Pipa Tofu (minced tofu deep fried). To help with the long list of choices, there are images of dishes which is incredibly useful if you’re trying Min Min’s for the first time.

Food

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

A favourite amongst returning patrons. These beauties are filled with glass noodles, prawns, pork and diced vegetables served with an acidic dip. I should mention that the batter on these babies are unlike any other spring roll I’ve ever eaten. Visually, they looked like prawn crackers that had blistered in the oil when they were deep-fried. The crispy texture complimented the soft filling inside perfectly. There were 3 large spring rolls, and I ate them all. By myself. Yes. #DontJudge

Salt & Chilli Squid Chicken w/ boiled rice egg fried rice

Yes, I totally edited the menu version and replaced squid with chicken and boiled rice with egg fried rice, because fried rice.
This instantly became a new ‘top 5 best Salt & Chilli Chicken’ dishes for me. I took my first bite skeptically because bad versions of this dish depresses me. Crisp and salty chicken pieces, with fresh peppers, spring onions, diced carrots, garlic, chilli and a little residual oil sitting beneath, perfectly paired with the ever popular egg fried rice.

So

Min Min’s is a glorious little space on the quieter side of Hurst Street (Bromsgrove Street to be exact). What attracts you more than it’s accompanying neighbours is the fresh, green colour that lights up the road, day or night. The big glass windows allow you to look into the restaurant and dining area which is modern yet comfortable. If you sit facing the kitchen, you can see chefs at work from time to time. I am very excited about this little hub and I could go back there tonight to try more of their exciting menu!

Service – 8/10
Price – £
Ambience – 7/10

 

 

 

Daphne’s

I was meeting my sister in South Ken for a quick lunch – you wouldn’t usually pick Daphne’s for a swift meal, yet, there we were.

Walking in, the striking bar is reminiscent of Martin Brudnizki design, of course. The green leather and marble tops – classic. It is long and narrow surprisingly, and takes up one room of it’s own.

Daphne’s is divided into 4 ‘main’ rooms, with the best of the lot being at the front of the restaurant, where you have a better view of your surroundings. Before speculating the menu, we analyse our fellow patrons. It’s all very cliché Chelsea – what else do you expect?

The staff were very attentive, I put this down to the size of each dining room – it was difficult to not be catered for.

Daphne’s is a gorgeous spot for dates, catching up with close friends, lunching with your Mum or even your entire family. It has a certain charm about it that brings Italian chic and classic together harmoniously.

Food

Gamberoni

The prawns were the best prawns I have EVER tasted. I don’t know what sort of witchcraft was going on with them, because they were no usual ‘Gamberoni with chilli & garlic.’ I almost never ordered them until the waiter recommended they were one of their best sellers. Not only were the prawns themselves succulent, fresh and moist, but the sauce packed a punch – full of wonderful Italian flavours. The prawns had formed a sort of, crust around the flesh (I presume they were pan-fried), this took the flavour to a whole other level.

PLEASE go and try these prawns <3

Hake w/ Seafood risotto

This was my first time trying hake – it was a pleasant enough fish, especially with the accompanying flavour and textures from the seafood risotto and basil sauce. I have always loved the combination of fish with rice, there’s something very humble about it, and I love me some comfort food!

Fillet of hake & seafood risotto w/ calamari
Fillet of hake & seafood risotto w/ calamari

Gnocchi Sorentina

A very simple and honest dish. Wonderfully cooked gnocchi, more potatoey than pasta-like; they were giant clouds of carbs lathered in salty mozarella and a gorgeous tomato sauce.

Gnocchi Sorrentina (tomato and mozerella)
Gnocchi Sorrentina (tomato and mozerella)

So

I am going back for those magic prawns.

 

New Row Coffee

I love New Row Coffee.

I love the space, the size, the coffee makers, the pastry display, the quietness, the condensated windows and the minimalistic furniture, it’s incredibly cosy in here. The most indy of indy coffee shops.

“We don’t need to mask the flavour of our espresso with dollops of syrup or cream – our blend is strong enough to speak for itself.” 

Their coffee is wonderful – thin on the palate, meaning you can have more cake. *YAY*

Brownie

It’s that good, it deserves it’s own section. The star of the show is the chocolate brownie – the owner’s homemade recipe. I CANNOT STOP TALKING ABOUT THIS BROWNIE. Who’d have thought I’d find it here, in an unassuming coffee shop on a little street in Covent Garden?

It’s thin, salty, sweet, slightly chocolatey, gooey and chewy, and the balance is so so perfect. Never have I wanted to eat another brownie right after already devouring one, but I can have 10 of these, legit.

Okay so back to New Row. It’s as famous as Covent Garden itself and has continuously been named one of the top coffee shops in London. Take a look at some of the snaps. Oh, also, they were playing ‘Justin Timberlake – What Goes Around’ when we walked in. After Bieber dropped his new album, you wouldn’t expect anyone to be raving it up to Timberlake right now. This made me love it even more than I already did. I could just sit in here for hours.

The owner has two other coffee shops in their portfolio; separate to New Row. I think this is incredibly important in a world where indy is much more appreciated than chains and franchises. I spoke to the guys behind the counter about this topic and they totes agree; it’s so nice to talk about coffee shops in a coffee shop 😉

 

So 

Perfect for getting away from it all when Covent Garden has ran you down a little.

Service – 8/10
Price – £
Ambience – 8/10