Thursday, 14 December 2017

Food: Las Iguanas


Style: South American   Location: Temple Street, Birmingham city centre

Price: ££ (Around £25 for 2 courses and 241 cocktails, offers frequently available)

The venue

It might not be the most authentic South American cuisine, but Las Iguanas is a good, fun place to spend time, with some tasty food and great cocktail offers.

Birmingham's newest site on Temple Street opened in the summer. It's huge, with a bar area for cocktails and snacks, plenty of booths and a large seating area at the back. 


Drinks

The cocktail menu is extensive and they are all 241, a terrifying thought in so many ways. Some work better than others. I'd suggest anything cava-based and the Dark'n'Stormy and Long Island Iced Teas are good too. Some of the sweeter and fruitier ones taste a bit like squash.

There's also beers, wines and non-alcoholic cocktails.


Food

The food at Las Iguanas is a varied mix of items you'd expect to find (fajitas, burritos) some traditional Brazilian stews and crowd pleasers like ribs and burgers with a vaguely Mexican twist. I wouldn't usually order wings from somewhere like Las Iguanas, but something made me choose the flaming hot habanero chicken wings (£6.30) and goodness me I'm glad I did. The wings were unjointed, which makes many critics cross (apparently it makes them cook unevenly) but I quite like ripping them apart. The sauce really was flaming hot, but not so hot that the sweetness of the sauce didn't come through. I'm a fan of very hot wings, but if you struggle, these wouldn't be for you. Despite the lashings of hot sauce, the skin had retained its crispiness.


Edd, my dining partner, had chosen Empandas (£7.40) which come filled with minty, spicy lamb. There's also a veggie version with brie and mango.


I was already pretty full at this point, so I chose a non-meat based dish for my main. The Enchilada (£9.95 for veggie version) was a tortilla rolled and stuffed with butternut squash, spinach, red pepper and cheese. This was served on a bed of rice and refried beans. I really appreciated all the vegetables here and it had a good spicy kick. It was a huge portion for a tenner and I'll certainly have this again. 


Edd chose the Havana Club and Jerk BBQ Pork Ribs (£18.50) which had a good amount of spice.


It may not be an authentic experience (what is?!) but the food is consistent and there are often vouchers available. I've been back since for my mum's birthday, where we drank gin cocktails and ate half roast chickens. A good addition to the city centre.

Las Iguanas

Photos by Helen and Edd

Food and drink were complimentary for review purposes

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Food: Boston Tea Party, Edgbaston


Style: Brunch, coffee shop    Location: Edgbaston

Cost: £ (Around £10 for a breakfast dish and hot drink)


The venue

Boston Tea Party is a chain of coffee shops which goes to great lengths to make its sites have that independent vibe. I'm confident most people recognise BTP as a chain and they certainly have stylish cafes so I don't really have a problem with it. I've previously visited the Birmingham site and I'm a much bigger fan of this new one in Edgbaston. I visited one morning for brunch and appreciated the way the different rooms in the elegant building all had their own individual character.


You enter into the main shop, with the counter, tills and menus, then there are separate rooms to either side. It wasn't full, but it was busy with mothers and babies, people having meetings and those like me treating themselves to a leisurely breakfast.


In the warmer months you can sit yourself outside too.


Drinks

I wasn't a fan of the coffee at Boston Tea Party last time I tried it; it turns out sticking to the filter coffee is the best bet if you need the caffeine. They have a super range of loose leaf tea, which is more to my taste. On this occasion I chose Dragon Well green tea (£2.35) a fragrant and not-too-smoky drink, but there's plenty of other green and black teas and infusions.


It's worth checking the specials too. In the summer they had lovely iced drinks and juices, iced tea and lemonade so I imagine they have some super winter warmers too.




The food

Instagram is awash with images of Saturday brunches at Boston Tea Party. Looking at the menu, it's easy to see why: it's a varied menu with almost every breakfast dish you could wish for. From Full English to egg dishes, porridge, toast, granola, obligatory avocado- it's all there.


I picked one of my favourite breakfast dishes: smoked salmon and scrambled egg on sourdough (£8.50). This one came with avocado too for bonus hipster points. It didn't really add anything taste or texture-wise but it was good to have a bit of healthiness. There was plenty of salmon and I really appreciated the heat from the Tabasco sauce suggested by the staff member who brought the food over.


Edd chose the Chorizo Hash (£8.50) served with poached eggs, spinach, mushrooms and tomato. There's also a veggie option with a sweetcorn hash, which I'll be trying next time.

I enjoyed my breakfast at Boston Tea Party. The food was tasty with some nice touches, I enjoyed the range of teas available and the atmosphere was lovely.



Photos by Helen and Edd

Food and drink were complimentary for review purposes

Monday, 20 November 2017

Food: Bottomless Brunch at The Lost and Found


Style: Brunch                                                                       Location: Bennetts Hill, Birmingham

Cost: ££ (£22 for any brunch item plus unlimited prosecco, bellinis, mimosas or Bloody Marys)


The venue

A former bank, turned into a Victorian greenhouse-style hideaway. The Lost and Found is situated on Bennetts Hill and despite being a airy space, manages to feel cosy. I always find the atmosphere very comfortable, even when it's busy. I've been for food, drinks and afternoon tea and always enjoyed myself. The cocktails are excellent; it's somewhere I can always get a good classic cocktail without fuss.

So I was pleased to hear that they were launching bottomless brunch; one of the best ways to start a day. Available Saturday and Sunday 11am-3pm, by reservation only, you get a brunch dish of your choice plus unlimited Mimosas, Bloody Marys, Bellinis or Prosecco for £22. It's a lovely environment to start your day off.


Drinks

I decided to stick to Bellinis from the standard menu choice. The servers checked on everyone regularly to see if more drinks were needed, but not so much that people got too tipsy. I like a Bellini at brunch- it's not as harsh as neat prosecco but not as overly fruity as a Mimosa.


For the special launch weekend of The Lost and Found's Bottomless Brunch, Mr Black Coffee Liqueur were there serving up some special cocktails. I'd heard great things about this liqueur and I was pleased to try it- it added a strong coffee hit without being syrupy.

The Coffee Alex was a twist on a Brandy Alexander, one of the first classic cocktails I loved. Brandy, Mr Black liqueur, creme de cacao and cream were shaken together and topped with a sprinkling of nutmeg. This tasted like Christmas morning.


Mr Black Old Fashioned was enhanced by the coffee and the chocolate bitters, making an Old Fashioned appropriate for the morning.


Spiced Iced Coffee seemed to be the most ordered around the room, and was probably the lightest and easiest to drink. Spiced rum, coffee liqueur, syrup and milk made this an excellent breakfast treat.

I do hope The Lost and Found will be making these available to brunch customers.


The food

It's an excellent brunch menu, with everything from Full English to granola and yoghurt. I was tempted by Turkish Eggs with whipped yoghurt and chorizo butter or Eggs Royale with marmite Hollandaise.

I chose the English Breakfast to line my stomach (and also keep me going all the way through to dinner!). You can see poached eggs on my plate but you could also have fried. I enjoyed the excellent herby sausages, the delicious bread and even the peripheral items like mushroom and tomato were good quality. I do wish the beans were in a little pot as many people like to keep these separate. I'd also prefer back bacon to streaky but that is personal taste. The food was well cooked and seasoned and kept me occupied for some time.


Bacon and cheese burger without the bun was a clever twist on steak and eggs. While the burger wasn't the greatest to exist (please see my previous post on The Meat Shack), surrounded with bacon, smothered in melted cheese and topped with a fried egg, this was a good, fun brunch dish. Ideal for those brunching later in the day.


Whether or not you believe this is good value depends on whether you enjoy a leisurely breakfast and whether you can knock back a few drinks. I feel this is one of the better value Bottomless Brunches I've come across. The food was good quality, the drinks were plentiful, service was organised and excellent and the location is beautiful. I'll certainly recommend this to people looking for a fun way to spend a couple of hours on a weekend.

The Lost and Found

Photos by Helen and Edd

Food and drink were complimentary for review purposes