Sunday, 31 January 2016

Birmingham: A day out at Resorts World

Resorts World opened late last year. I initially thought it would just be a casino but there's also a hotel, restaurants, shops, bars, a cinema... Edd and I hopped on a train and strolled through the NEC complex to get there during the Christmas holidays.

This place is completely aimed at drivers. Walking next to the fake lake was nice but also felt weirdly as if we were going in a side entrance.

Inside was clean and bright and a little dull. However, each unit had done a great job of fitting themselves out as you will see.


First we headed to a showing of Star Wars at the cinema. They have it in 3D and IMAX but we were quite happy with 2D. I had an email with a booking reference, so I located the self service machines on the right as you walk in, entered my reference number and my tickets were printed. Most people were stood at the concessions stand waiting to buy tickets. It still baffles me that people dislike self service machines, even tech-savvy people of my age. I was working as a cinema multifunctional when the switch from box office to self service/buying tickets at the concessions stand came in. I can't tell you how much it ruined my life (not dramatic). People were so ANGRY and to be honest, as a staff member, it makes the transaction longer and more awkward.  Plus a box office shift was so chilled out- you got a chair.

As a customer though, I love it and always choose the self service machines.

Rant about people over. It's very nice in the new Cineworld, very shiny and clean and bright. I loved the giant star on the ceiling. There's a proper Starbucks concession too which is a great idea. People took it in anyway so why not make some money from it?

Edd and I shared a large fanta and I had some Joe and Seph's popcorn which I love.

We were in one of the smaller screens but the screen was a good size, the sound from other screens didn't bleed through and I was comfortable.

The film was fantastic. I laughed, I gasped, I cheered! I thought it was a brilliant reboot and great fun.

The World Bar

Time for a quick drink before our meal. We popped into The World Bar, which to me summed up how things have changed. No, it isn't independent and it has that faux-independent wood and cool light fittings thing going on. But think back five or ten years. You're at the NEC. Perhaps you are waiting to see a show or for a flight. You pop into a bar on the complex and ask for a beer. Your options are Carling or Carling.

Not anymore!

It's still a bar in a Casino/Hotel complex. There's Sky News on the telly and baby seats in the corner. But there's a great range of beers to choose from, in a place that would never have sold them up until recently.

The menu had been broken down into different styles of beer, which is great for a beer newbie like me. I know I like IPA and pale ales so I perused that section and chose a bottle of Little Creatures, which was light and fruity.

There's some options from local brewery Two Towers as well!

The focus here was on beer, but there are ciders and wines available too. I also spotted some fun looking beer cocktails. The food menu has some beer matchings too.

We didn't have food here but it looks like a great place to pop in for a snack and a beer before a show at the LG arena. Not badly priced either, at £7 for a hot dog and chips.

Robata Bar and Grill

The Robata Bar and Grill was much classier than I expected. I don't know what I thought it would be like- brighter and louder perhaps? But it was warm, relaxed and intimate. We had a seat next to the window, looking over the Pendigo Lake and it was actually quite romantic! We toasted ourselves with a glass of prosecco and had a look through the menu.

The focus here is Pan-Asian and Japanese grill. The menu covers quite a lot of cuisines from Thai to Cantonese to Japanese to fusion.

While we were waiting for our starters, the waiter appeared with some snacks for us to try. The 'Korean fries' were green beans in a tempura batter with chilli sauce. These were brilliant- crunchy and sweet with just a little chilli kick. I would never have picked these off the menu so I'm so glad they sent some over.

The village bread was essentially a crunchy, salty flatbread with a sweet chilli jam. Again, much better than I expected.

After the tasty snacks, we were excited for the starters. Edd chose soft shell crab.

I chose the Cantonese Fried chicken which had a lovely crispy skin, sprinkled with sesame seeds and served with a fresh chilli sauce.

My duck was less of a success. The glaze was lovely and it had a tasty moist duck bonbon. However, it was advertised as crisy skin duck and it was not crispy unfortunately. A tasty dish but not quite as advertised. 

It was served with fragrant sticky rice.

Edd's lamb grill had a smokey charred flavour.

I was feeling quite full but found room for mango sorbet, sweetly served with meringue and popping candy.

Edd had an impressive looking chocolate bomb.

A set ball of chocolate and vanilla ice creams, surrounded by chocolate and served on cream.

We had a lovely day at Resorts World and will definitely be back to try the other bars and restaurants. It's perfect for a visit before a show or if you are staying over before or after a flight. 

Photos by Edd and myself.

Thanks to Resorts World for inviting me to review.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Birmingham: Cocktails at The Mailbox

Where do you go for cocktails in Birmingham? The cocktail scene is booming at the moment. Just think how many bars have opened in the last year and there's still more to come.

Living ten minutes from the Mailbox, it's a bit too easy to pop in for a cocktail. However, a year or so ago there wasn't really anywhere I wanted to drink there. In the last year though we have had Gas Street Social and Aluna open, both offering different experiences.

I joined a group of bloggers for a mini cocktail tour just before Christmas. We started at Aluna with a little cocktail masterclass. Two bloggers made a delicious black forest cocktail and myself and Emily made the popular lava lamp.

I love making cocktails so it was great fun getting to make the little gel drops to go in the drink! Aluna sell a variety of exciting and dramatic cocktails. Check out my review of their opening.

We also got to try a new creation by Aluna, a Cherry Rum Manhattan with a flaming shot. I didn't try the shot but I loved the strong but sweet cocktail.

We then headed to Gas Street Social to try some of their Christmas drinks and to check out their winter decoration. You can see more on my Alpen at Gas Street Social post.

Now, Christmas is obviously over but you can still see the lovely decoration at Gas Street Social and the rest of their cocktails are fab!

We tried a few shots and Christmas themed cocktails. These were creamy and indulgent and cleverly flavoured. I'm hoping they will have some summer themed cocktails too!

Two different bars, both selling fun and inventive drinks, both in spitting distance. I'm so lucky to have them both on my door step!

Gas Street Social

Photos by me.

I was invited to this event and drinks were complimentary. I was not required to write a blog.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Wing Wednesday: Chung Ying Central

I've mentioned my love of Chung Ying Central previously so they were going to show up on Wing Wednesday eventually. I had a Deliveroo from there a couple of months ago, choosing a variety of mine and Edd's favourite Dim Sum. I was also intrigued by the variety of wings they had- chilli and salt, Peking style or Thai style. Most of the wings featured on here have been American style so this would make an exciting change.

I ummed and ahhed before choosing Salt and Chilli wings.

They say: Salt and chilli chicken wings £8 for about five.

I say: £8 is a little more expensive than most places but Chung Ying Central is usually very cheap! I had these wings via Deliveroo and they had lost some of their crispiness although the kitchen had cleverly cut a hole in the plastic lid to let the steam escape.
The fresh chilli meant I could tailor the amount of heat each wing had. I chose to scrape most of the chilli off but still got a good hit of heat. The flavours were great and there was plenty of chicken but they just didn't travel that well.

I'll be having these again- in the restaurant!

Chung Ying Central, Colmore Row

Photo by me.
Food paid for myself.