Ahmed writes about food, drink and travel. He has lived in Birmingham for eight years and is passionate about the city’s dining scene. He has also lived and worked in Barcelona, writing about travel. Follow him on Twitter @ItsAhmedAhmed
Listings and reviews (25)
Konya's Gold Turkish Restaurant & Cafe
Authentic Turkish cuisine has arrived in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter with the opening of Konya’s Gold, named after a historic foodie town in Turkey’s Anatolia region. Small and intimate, the restaurant seats 28 people and exudes a Mediterranean vibe infused with Arabian influences. Apt, given Turkey’s unique culinary heritage at the crossroads of East and West. The tile mosaics, ornate curtains and al fresco dining courtyard all add to the subtle air of exoticism. The chef is an expert in both Turkish and Syrian cuisine, and the menu reflects this dual heritage. Starters include baba ghanoush, tabbuleh, falafel and mixed meze. Mains include a number of fish dishes featuring sea bass, salmon and sea bream. From the charcoal grill come all the traditional meaty options including lamb kofte, lamb chops, chicken shish and chicken kofte, as well as chicken steaks and wings. These are all part of the mega mix platter (£32.99). Guests can choose from a range of accompanying sides including salads and chips. Pizzas include chicken shawarma and lamb kofte. The restaurant does a line in exotic mocktails, and also offers coffees and baklava - the traditional Turkish pastry and honey confection, to help diners round off their meals.
For the adventurous foodie in search of of new flavours and food experiences, Blue Nile is both an interesting and pocket friendly choice. The Jewellery Quarter restaurant specialises in Ethiopian cuisine, a much underrated food culture made distinctive by its use of slow cooking, unique breads and traditional spices. One of the most striking things is the way they serve the food. Diners are presented with a gigantic flatbread called Injera, which is a staple bread in Ethiopia. It’s almost table-sized, and serves as the plate on which all other food is directly placed. Traditionally, you eat the food by rolling the bread around the stews, but cutlery is also available. The menu features heavy use of lentils, chickpeas, beans, nuts and vegetables, making this restaurant more than vegetarian-friendly. Meaty mains include the Tibs Firfir (£8.50), tender lamb cubes fried with spices, hot pepper, onion and Ethiopian herbs. There’s also the Special Kitfo (£9.50) - minced beef meat seasoned with herbed Ethiopian butter and mitimita chilli and Ayb cottage cheese. Desserts are conspicuous by their absence - not being traditionally part of Ethiopian food culture. Instead, you might want to go in for the elaborately named Ethiopian Tea Ceremony (£10). Green coffee beans are roasted to create an aromatic blend that’s served to you from a traditional clay coffee pot.
Among the many Indian and balti restaurants of the renowned Ladypool Road, Antep flies the flag for Turkish cuisine with its authentic selection of grilled meats, traditional salads, casseroles and Turkish pizzas. There's a full takeaway service, but this is no casual kebab joint. The restaurant’s Eastern-decorated interior boasts stunning tilework and the tables are usually filled with families and friends dining out. Starters available include Saksuka, a dish of sauteed aubergine, peppers and fried potatoes in a tomato and onion sauce (£4). Those familiar with food from the Eastern Mediterranean will recognise Yaprak Dolma - green vine leaves stuffed with rice and cooked in olive oil (£4). Opting for a meze platter allows you to enjoy a selection of different dishes in the traditional way. You can’t miss the charcoal grill as you walk into Antep. From this beast come a whole range of creations, including Kuzu Kaburga - chargrilled seasoned tender lamb chops (£11). There’s also lamb chops, chicken wings, minced lamb with parsley and red peppers, plus a menu of kebabs that includes the classic doner. Vegetarians are not left behind. One option is Mussaka, an oven baked dish consisting of layers of seasonal vegetables topped with cream sauce and cheese. Another is found on the Turkish Pizza menu, and features a topping of feta cheese, peppers, tomatoes, onions and parsley.
Vegetarianism is the name of the game at this meat-free cafe in Martineau Place in Birmingham city centre. Conveniently located near the new tramline, 3 Three's specialises in jumbo vegan frankfurters. But this is just one option on an expansive vegan and vegetarian menu. In fact, only one dish breaks the vegan rule and this is a sandwich containing feta cheese. The famous vegan frankfurter (£3) is a convincing-looking creation made with tofu, served in an 8.5 inch soft roll and slathered with all the toppings and sauces - jalapenos, mustard, tomatoes and ketchup. Other ‘meat fillings’ are made of soya - for the wraps, paninis, salads and sandwiches available at the cafe. Another popular option is the ‘Turkey and bacon’ sandwich served with sun dried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, lettuce, avocado and mushrooms. You can get soups including spinach, split pea, while the salads menu features corn, quinoa and edamame options. Gluten-free foodies are well served with a range of gluten-free crisps, sweets and chocolates. Other desserts available include dairy-free gelato, and coffees served with almond and soya milk. For the meat free, gluten free or vegan eater, 3 Three's is the ideal pitstop and serves a growing niche.
One of the first venues to open at lavish new city centre complex The Grand, 200 Degrees is a haven of artisanal coffee and exquisite sandwiches. Despite the wealth of independent coffee shops in Birmingham, this one stands out for its emphasis on the food as well as the brews. Sandwiches are available from a frequently refreshed menu. The range of ingredients used in fillings range from the more traditional (sweet mustard ham, stilton), to the more avant garde - blackberries among them. Not in the mood for a sarnie? The menu also boasts soup, frittata, quiche and salads. The main event, though, is undoubtedly the coffee itself. Naturally, they roast their own house blend, an exotic combination of Vietnamese Robusta and Columbian Arabica beans. In addition to this, a ‘guest bean’ is hosted each month, enabling patrons to sample and savour new coffee flavours. A word on the setting for all this caffeinated creativity - 200 Degrees is housed in a dark and moody space filled with warm wooden furniture, exposed brickwork, leather armchairs and attractive light fittings. The high ceilings and dim lighting give it a cavernous, almost mysterious vibe that fits well for a temple of coffee.
An oasis of Middle Eastern hospitality in the leafy bohemian suburb of Moseley, Damascena has won over Birmingham’s tastemakers and punters alike. Proof of its success came with a raft of awards and an announcement in late 2016 that they would be opening a new branch at a prime city centre location. Coffee first came to us from the Middle East, and Damascena is the place to discover its roots. Try an Arabic Coffee (£1.80) with cardamon, or a Turkish Coffee (£2.40) served in traditional crockery with Turkish Delight on the side. The usual espressos, Americanos, lattes and flat whites are also available. True to its name (Damascena means ‘rose of Damascus’), the cafe serves a cornucopia of Syrian and Lebanese delicacies. The breakfast menu features options like the Fuul Medmes (£4.25) a dish of fava beans, yoghurts, chickpeas, parsley, tahini, garlic, tomato, lemon and olive oil with flatbread. Then, when it comes to lunch and dinner, classic shawarmas feature roast lamb or chicken wrapped up with garlic dressing and gherkins. There are also plenty of choices for non meat-eaters, such as the Makali Wrap: flatbread containing aubergine, courgette, cauliflower, cheese and herbs. All served in a tastefully decorated Arabian-style interior.
The taste of the Great British seaside has come to Birmingham in the form of this delightfully quirky and interesting fish and chip restaurant. You’ll find it in the Jewellery Quarter district, conveniently close to the railway station. Along with fish and chips, the restaurant also offers ice cream and, for a touch of glamour, prosecco. Yes, they do do takeaways, but with the place designed to bring alive the nostalgia of a childhood trip to the seaside, it would be a shame not to dine in. And what’s more, the drinks on offer include Cornish cider, as well as champagne, prosecco and a range of beers. And not forgetting possibly Birmingham’s favourite tipple - gin and tonic. The traditional fish and chips side of the menu serves up exactly what it says on the tin - battered fish with chips freshly cut each morning, along with pea puree and tartar sauce (£8.95). But you can also push the boat out (geddit?) with a crab and chips or really cause a splash (sorry) with a lobster and chips. Gluten free foodies will be pleased to hear that everything on the menu at Fishylicious is free of gluten, with the exception of the curry sauce. Vegetarians are also well catered for, making this restaurant a crowd pleasing choice all round.
Well placed in the heart of Birmingham’s foremost financial and professional area - the Colmore Business District, Zen Metro is an upmarket Thai restaurant and bar with an assorted selection of dishes ranging from the modern to the traditional. The location is within easy reach of both Birmingham New Street and Birmingham Snow Hill train stations. The bartenders mix exotic and classic cocktails at the sweeping statement bar, while a stunning mirrored walkway to the restaurant area sets the tone for this swanky spot. And at the heart of the dining room ‘grows’ a beautiful blossoming tree. The menu features Asian dishes rich in flavour. One particularly lavish creation is stir fried whole lobster with ginger, mix mushrooms, crop aubergine, peppers, baby corn and crushed yellow beans (£32.95). There are also massaman curries, tempura vegetables and classic pad Thai - rice noodles stir fried with tofu, eggs, peanut, green onion and bean sprouts. Puddings include the East-West fusion dish of lemongrass infused creme brulee (£5.95). The wine list is varied but the cocktails are the real star of the show. Lemongrass makes another appearance infused into vodka and mixed with lime and Thai basil. And the Black Forest Martini features cherry brandy, butterscotch schnapps, pomegranate and mixed fruit.
Tonkotsu Bar and Ramen, to give it its full title, launched in Birmingham back in September 2015. Already a success in London, the restaurant declares its mission is to bring Japanese ramen to the nation. Tonkotsu is also the name of the venue’s signature dish (£11). This is prepared by slowly simmering pork bones to create salty, creamy stock, then adding sliced pork, boiled egg, vegetables and the all important noodles. Other ramen options include Tokyo Ramen, which features soy marinated pork belly and chicken, or a meat-free option Shimeji, Shitake and Miso Ramen. The menu also features a range of other Asian dishes, including Chinese dumplings filled with prawn, pork, shitake mushroom or bamboo shoot. As you would expect, a range of Oriental teas including green, jasmine and lemongrass are on the drinks list. There’s also Japanese lager, sake and some Japanese whiskies on offer.
Pig & Tail
After successfully launching ‘British tapas’ gastropub The Pickled Piglet on Gas Street, the owners decided to start a new spot in Birmingham’s resurgent Jewellery Quarter. It’s a contemporary take on a classic public house, with vibrant interiors and lovingly prepared food on the menu. The vibe is comfortable, friendly and relaxed, while the character and heritage of the building - a pub since the 19th century - adds a warmth and depth to the whole experience. Drinks wise, expect to find a bar well stocked with craft beers on tap. There is a good selection of local and regional brews, with plenty for the hardcore hophead as well as the craft beer beginner. Naturally, there is a decent wine list a well as a number of cocktails available to order as well. When it comes to food, the team have brought their popular British tapas concept to the second venue, with high quality ingredients like sea bass, red pepper and roasted squash used to craft satisfying and interesting creations designed for sharing. The small plates revolution is alive and well in Birmingham. The Pickled Piglet was an early pioneer, and its sister restaurant the Pig & Tail is now following suit.
The surest symbol of Shorditchery has exported its technicolour brand of breakfast to Birmingham’s Bullring shopping centre. The hipstertastic venue takes the humble breakfast cereal and adds spoonfuls of nostalgia, quirk and (one assumes) irony, to serve up a haven for every big kid out there. Looking beyond these understated shores for inspiration, Cereal Killer Cafe does more than just your run of the mill cornflakes and rice krispies. Instead, prepare to discover a whole rainbow of sugariffic American cereals from Hershey’s Cookies and Cremes to Apple Jacks, Chocolate Lucky Charms and Poppin’ Pebbles. And once you’ve worked your way through the stateside sweet stuff, why not embark on a cereal voyage around the world? From Spanish Estrellitas (Little Stars) to Australian Milo, the range has lots of international treats as well. MIlk comes in a whopping 30 different varieties and flavours, and there are toppings like hundreds and thousands to be added as well. Expect to pay around the £4 mark for a bowl of goodies. In return for that you also get to enjoy the retrotastic atmosphere. Think arcade games, bike reflectors and other bits of 90s memorabilia that you didn’t realise you missed. This is a place squarely aimed at the wistful Millennial market.
Birmingham restaurants - new, improved and coming soon!
Autumn is here and with it sweeps in the annual flurry of new restaurants. As reliable as falling leaves (and almost as numerous), the influx brings in savvy venues setting themselves up for the busy months ahead. Here’s our monthly round-up of places that have just arrived on the scene, places who have tarted themselves up, and places preparing to strut their stuff for the first time. Recently opened... Vivaanta - Holliday Wharf, 17 Waterfront Walk, B1 1SRBirmingham’s modest seafood selection has been given a boost by Vivaanta, a new canalside restaurant serving up marine cuisine near the Mailbox. The theme is ‘seafood and spice’, with monkfish, sea bass, salmon, and lobster all given the South Asian treatment. Delicious seafood starter at Vivaanta last night 🍴 #seafoodandspice #vivaanta #seafood #pescatarian #fish #fdbloggers #foodie #food #foodbloguk #foodbloggers #indian #birmingham A photo posted by Emily 🍴 (@emily_etc) on Sep 10, 2015 at 1:20am PDT Meating - 1st floor, The Arcadian, Hurst Street, B5 4TDThis new restaurant in The Arcadian will excite carnivores no end. The British barbecue joint is out to serve up steaks, burgers, ribs and other delights taken from heritage and rare-breed cattle. Head to The Arcadian in Southside to sink your teeth into all that. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;img id="93bb5030-d716-9679-c011-46ccdff2764f" data-caption="" data-credit="" data-width-class="" type="image/jpeg" total="123306" loa