Monday, 7 January 2019

A day out in Birmingham

Happy New Year! A combination of factors have caused me to neglect this blog lately but I'm back with a quick round up of some of my favourite places in Birmingham. At this time of year many people start planning their holidays for the next few months. Allow me to suggest a city break in my home town.

Pick yourself a lovely place to stay ( have lots of splendid hotels in Birmingham to choose from) and when you wake up, I suggest Quarter Horse Coffee for a classy breakfast.

A five minute walk out of the main city centre, Quarter Horse is worth the small detour. You'll find it on a lovely row of shops on Bristol Street, alongside a cafe and a sushi restaurant (Gaijin). The interior is simple and stylish and they roast their own coffee beans. As well as excellent coffee, Quarter Horse also have a range of quality teas: my favourite is the White Peach Blossom. It's very refreshing in the mornings. They serve sandwiches and cakes all day and a small but perfectly formed breakfast menu. There's the ubiquitous avocado smash, which you can add feta to, yoghurt and granola, bacon and eggs and my favourite smoked salmon with cream cheese on sourdough. This is a generous portion for around £6. I hate when you only get a sliver of salmon. The bread is excellent too.

After your breakfast, it's time to wander back into town. Hopefully you've noticed that New Street Station isn't as grim as it used to be. I love walking through the concourse and admiring the domed ceiling. Pop upstairs and have a look round the shops if that's your thing. Foyles is a lovely place to spend some time browsing books. There's a few places which might tempt you for lunch but I'm going to recommend leaving Grand Central (which contains the station) and heading round the corner to Stephenson Street.

Another row of intriguing businesses. There's the extremely popular York's Cafe at the end, a barbers and a hairdressers, plus two little eateries with similar ideas but different cuisines. I'm a big fan of restaurants/cafes sticking to one or two good things. All Greek used to be a deli but they've recently made the switch to street food, serving some yummy sounding gyros, souvlaki and pitta. Next door, Tiger Bites Pig is a new hole in the wall type place specialising in Bao and this is where I headed recently.

Look for the red sign, take a stall and flick through the menu. I liked the cheerful pig on the logo though I was a little worried for his safety. I've looked it up and the dish is called that because the meat in the middle is being 'bitten' by the jaws of the tiger.

So you can pick from a variety of bao or a rice bowl. The rice bowls looked lovely but I was there for a beer and a snack. It's a really nice place to sit and relax with a kombucha, gin and tonic, sake or half a cold beer like I did.

I tried the duck bao and the chicken. The duck you can see below. The bun itself was soft but chewy but melty as I expect it should be. The duck meat was beautiful and I enjoyed the hot sauce adorning it. Annoyingly my chicken photo did not come out well so allow me to describe it. Moist, sliced chicken was accompanied by chilli oil and a fantastic slice of crispy chicken skin with sesame seeds.

After lunch, go through a stroll and don't forget to look up. It's easy to walk past the shops forgetting they are housed within some lovely buildings.

You could climb up the stairs to Medicine on New Street: a cafe serving freshly made bread and cakes as well as being home to exhibitions from Ikon Gallery.

After a rest at your hotel it will be time for dinner.  There are a great deal of wonderful restaurants in Birmingham but for this post I wanted to talk about somewhere I haven't yet mentioned on the blog: Bonehead. It specialises in fried chicken so it's not for everyone, but I just love it there. It's very dark and moody and full with loud rock music. Downstairs is the bar, if you hover at the bottom of the stairs then someone will come down and find you a seat. Upstairs there's some simple seating. The menu is small: you can get chicken burgers, fried chicken, wings or chicken strips. There's minimal sides: waffle fries and slaw. For £10 you can get a portion of wings or strips, a small portion of fries, a dip and a pot of slaw.

I've tried the Buffalo wings and the strips and when I visited with a friend she tried the Hothead burger, which she said was the best chicken burger she'd ever had!

I know the photo is pretty orange but that's what the light is like in there. Anyway you're there to fill your belly with delicious chicken.

I hope you have discovered somewhere to visit in Birmingham. Writing this post has reminded me of all the fabulous things the Brum food scene has to offer so I'll be back with another post soon.

The spending money was gifted by, but all views are my own.

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