The Gastronomic Gorman
My New Favourite Restaurant

As you may or may not know, I live in Sutton Coldfield. It’s a great place, boasting the biggest urban park in Europe and a regular farmers market which I love, but it’s Sutton’s newest restaurant that’s really made me love this place even more.

Cambaz Bar and Grill opened on Monday, and looks set to be a foodie hotspot if the 450 attendees on opening night is anything to go by! Yesterday, I had the pleasure of going along to try some of their marvelous mezze.

Cambaz stands on what used to be The Cup, but is literally a world away. The interior is airy, stylish and warm with a mixture of creams, greens, oranges and browns, and the extension means the restaurant can easily take 130 covers a night, and more with diners outside when the weather is good.

In terms of the food, it’s a unique foodie offering, not only because it’s completely independent - not one of the many generic chain restaurants littering our high streets - but because it is one of the only places I know of round here, serving Mediterranean and Turkish food. 

The open kitchen has a stone pizza oven and charcoal grill and the extensive menu looks divine. I only had time to try a selection of Mezze, but what I did have has only whet my appetite for more! 

We were looked after by the manager, Roberto and our wonderful waiter Ecram, who explained what was in each of our dishes, and couldn’t do enough to make sure we were happy. We enjoyed fresh Turkish flatbreads, taramasalata, tzatziki, bulgar wheat salad, olives and grilled halloumi, each of which were fantastic. The taramasalata was the best I’ve ever had, even beating the stuff I had in Greece! The tzatziki was flavoursome and refreshing and the bulgar wheat salad was tangy, spicy and very moreish. For drinks I opted for a Turkish coffee, which was very interesting! Served in an espresso cup, this thick, strong coffee probably isn’t to everyone’s taste, but it serves up one hell of a caffeine kick!

But I must say, the absolute best thing I tried, was their homemade Turkish Delight. Served warm, it was absolutely delicious, packed with nuts and completely different to the flourescent pink, pre-packaged stuff I’m used to. Honestly, this Turkish Delight was a revelation, I don’t think I can ever go back to Fry’s!

Although I only tried a snippet of the menu, the food was that good, and the atmosphere and setting so impressive, I can’t wait to go back for dinner and have a proper meal.

I think they’re going to be seeing a lot more of me at Cambaz!

Cx

Cambaz Bar & Grill is on Birmingham Road in Sutton Coldfield, and is open for lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. Find them on Twitter @cambazgrill

Happy Birthday Browns

Last week saw Browns Bar and Brasserie turn 40 years old. Birmingham’s restaurant celebrated with a cocktail and canape soiree at Spiceal Street, and I went along with my lovely friends and fellow bloggers Sarah and Alev for the evening.

Being greeted with a complimentary glass of prosecco and some drinks vouchers is always a winner in my book, so we were off to a good start. The place was fairly quiet, but in some ways it was quite pleasant as we could chat and enjoy the live jazz band playing in the background.

Upstairs they were serving passionfruit daquiris (which were divine) and a selection of canapes were making their way around.

Now, I don’t know whether I was stood in the wrong place or what, but I seemed to keep missing the canape trays! Being a shameless foodie, and also, if I’m really honest, absolutely starving as I skipped lunch, I wasn’t impressed by this fact! Despite my many attempts to give the waiter the eye, he persistently evaded me every time. Some people would probably have just given up and resigned themselves to not eating, however these canapes looked so good I just had to grab the poor boy and direct him over to my table.

It was a good decision though.

Once we’d attracted the waiters’ attention, they really looked after us and the food really started flowing. First we tried miniature Yorkshire puddings with roast beef and gravy, which were lovely. Then we had Caeser salad filled little gem leaves, satay chicken skewers, goats cheese and red onion chutney nibbles and even miniature afternoon tea, swiftly followed by a toast to Brown’s and a slab of the most amazing birthday cake. 

Some more complimentary wines later and we were ready to head off, and to our dismay, it appeared there were no goody bags left. Luckily our lovely waiter was on hand and went and found some for us. Inside was the Browns book being launched in honour of it’s 40th birthday, as well as a branded beer glass and some Cornish lager. Being a beer girl, this was right up my street!

So after an enjoyable, and very civil (!) evening We headed off for a nightcap at the Victoria.

Cheers to Browns and another delicious 40 years.

C x

Battle of the Breakfasts

It’s Saturday morning.

So often I wake up on a Saturday morning after a heavy night before, swearing that I’ll never drink again, and in desperate need of a good breakfast.

Luckily this Saturday this isn’t the case, but as breakfast is on the menu I’ll be reviewing my favourite place in Brum to have breakfast.

The Verdo Lounge in Wylde Green is adorably kitsch, with mismatched chairs, quirky light fittings, an array of amusing old photos on the walls and a menu bursting with hearty and delicious meals. My favourite thing about the Verdo Lounge though is their all day brunch menu, meaning whatever hour you do finally venture out, there’s always an amazing breakfast waiting for you.

The options range from a traditional full English breakfast, a Mexican inspired Champions Breakfast, to an American style eggy bread and bacon stack smothered in syrup. They even make their own buttermilk pancakes and serve them with fresh fruit or bacon.

My favourite of all these has got to be the Champions Breakfast. With baked beans, chorizo, bacon bits, fried potatoes, cheese and fried eggs on top, when they called it the Champions Breakfast, they weren’t kidding. With the sweetness of the tomato sauce mixed with the smokiness of the chorizo and bacon and a perfectly cooked fried egg, this truly is a great breakfast, and it’s a BIG portion. One which even I can rarely finish (I know… hard to believe…)

Try it, you won’t regret not going to Wetherspoons!

C x

Find Verdo Lounge at 430/432 Birmingham Road, Wylde Green or online here

Cheap as Chips

I was looking through the Birmingham Mail website the other day and noticed that they have a feature called “Cheap as Chips” where they review local fish & chip shops. I found it highly amusing that they’ve reviewed Classics in Erdington High Street (anyone who’s been there will understand why I find this hilarious!) but the reviewer also had what he described as “in-car scales” to weigh his cone of chips!

But, mockery aside, I thought the idea of reviewing a fish and chip shop wasn’t a bad idea, especially seeing as I’m in the process of moving house and therefore living off takeaways.

So! I headed down to Atlantis in Wylde Green off the back of a recommendation from a friend. Much like it’s namesake, Altlantis appears to have uncovered a lost art: great fish and chips in the city.

As well as the takeaway fish bar, there’s also a sit down restaurant, and restaurant quality fish and chips is exactly what’s on offer here. A far cry from cold, cardboard chips and soggy fish. I went for a small cod & chips, although this portion was definitely not small! The batter was crisp and tasty, the fish was tender and the chips were just plain delicious. If I closed my eyes I could almost have been at the seaside.

So for all fish and chip lovers, don’t go rushing to the beach just yet, pop down to Atlantis and see what I mean!

C x

A Moveable Feast

A Moveable Feast was Warwick Bar’s summer fete, bringing a hotbed of arts, culture and food to the streets of Digbeth on a sunny weekend.

From a David Bowie exhibition and a cycle powered cinema to circus acrobats, the entertainment was brilliant. But… being a shameless foodie  I must admit the main reason I decided to go along was to sample some of the streetfood on offer, courtesy of Digbeth Dining Club.

After a leisurely stroll around the Edible Eastside garden, myself & my good friend John decided to venture into the booze shed and sample a grow your own Mojito.  With fresh mint straight from the allotment it was a refreshing treat to accompany our trip into the banana warehouse for the cycle powered cinema. If I could remember who had made the shorts we watched, I would sing their praises, but all I can remember is a bird that was afraid to fly south. I loved it!

I couldn’t keep myself away from the food for much longer though, so we wandered back over to Minerva Works and straight to the Mexican Bean streetfood van.

Both of us went for a pulled pork quesadilla, and my word it was good. Succulent and smokey pulled pork sat alongside a crisp quesadilla with tomato sauce and mozzarella, accompanied by a cacophony of flavours, including hot salsa, fresh guacamole, smoked sour cream and pickled jalapenos. It was good. Really good! The photo below pretty much says it all…

But even after that flavour explosion, it would have been rude not to go for dessert, especially as the Bourneville Waffle Company were on hand. Despite an unfortunate power failure, there were smiles on their faces and waffles on the iron so we headed straight over. Having looked at the menu, the Banoffee option was the only one for me. Bananas, fresh cream, caramel sauce and shaved dark chocolate adorned my waffle, which was absolutely, melt in the mouth delicious. I can easily say that it was one of the best waffles I’ve ever eaten, so if you haven’t tried one, I suggest you do at the first opportunity!

After that I didn’t think it wise to try and eat anything else, so we headed off, but it was a really nice event, in a wonderfully quirky location, like so much of Digbeth. And of course, Birmingham’s place in the Streetfood charts is still way up there!

C x

You can catch The Mexican Bean and Bourneville Waffle Company at Digbeth Dining Club every Friday at Spot*Light.

Bourneville Waffle Company’s next appearance is on Friday August 9th.

Have you tried a Currito?

A currito you say?

For those of you who haven’t yet experienced the delights of Wrapchic in the North Western Arcade, what I affectionately term a currito, is a whole new take on fusion food, matching authentic Indian flavours with Mexican streetfood favourites.

Last week Wrapchic turned 1 year old, and if their growing popularity is anything to go by, they’ll be around a lot longer than that! From lunchtime on Friday they hosted a birthday party where their loyal Facebook followers were able to have lunch for free.

I popped along around 1 and the whole place was packed, but no amount of queuing could put a downer on the event. Everyone waiting was served up a complimentary lassi, I went for a coconut and my friend had mango, both of which were gorgeous. When we got to the front, I had a burrito with Rajahstani chicken, mildly spiced and marinated in coriander and mint, alongside perfectly cooked basmati rice, salad and a yoghurt and mint raita sauce. I wish I could meet the man whose idea it was to mix these two titans of cuisine together, as his invention is simply fantastic. The chicken was so tender, cooked to perfecion, and absolutely bursting with flavour. The portion size was huge, and really filling (though I did save room for some of Wrapchic’s birthday cake), but the absolute best thing about Wrapchic is their strict no fry policy, meaning that their food is healthy as well as deliciously tasty.

Bang on!

C x

Is it hot in here?

The advent of the summer (finally) isn’t the only thing that’s warm about Birmingham at the moment, as last week saw the return of the Birmingham Chilli Festival.

Held in the vibrant Brindleyplace and sponsored by Aston Manor Cider, the Chilli festival brought producers of everything from chilli sauces and relishes to cake and even cola to the heart of Birmingham.

I went down on Friday after work to sample the wares, and to say that the festival was an explosion of colour as well as flavour is an understatement! The place was buzzing, as was the food! Brindleyplace residents and  streetfood supremos were all serving delicious dishes, however, the real stars of this show were the producers.

I’ve been a huge fan of Pip’s Hot Sauces since I discovered them at Brum Yum Yum streetfood market in Kings Heath, and every time I see her out and about she’s got a new creation. This time it was the Nagatropolis, made with fiery ghost chillies, certainly not for the feint hearted (or stomached…). Grim Reaper foods also impressed me with their huge range of chilli based products, including traditional oils and sauces, as well as some unconventional chilli mustards and chocolates.

The Cheshire Cheese Company were showcasing their range of gourmet cheeses, including a garlic and chilli variety that was mild and flavoursome, and had just enough kick, and The Baking House Wife’s rum and chilli cake was absolutely beautiful, but my ultimate favourite creation was Cola Rebell chilli cola. Made with 100% natural ingredients and a huge caffeine hit, this cola is flavoured with chilli and ginger which leaves a pleasantly warm sensation as it goes down. I tried both the Balance and Maxx versions, both of which were lovely and refreshing, but Maxx was definitely the one for me. So much more exciting than bog standard cola. I wasn’t quite brave enough to enter the chilli eating contest on Saturday though… probably for the best!

All in all, the Chilli Festival is a fab event, whether you’re into super spicy suppers or just great local produce. Here’s to next year!

C x

The Moveable Feast

What is a Moveable Feast then?

Well, next Saturday sees the Warwick Bar in Digbeth’s Summer Fete, Christened the Moveable Feast, with a day long festival of food, arts & culture based in Birmingham’s creative heart.

From an exhibition celebrating the life and work of David Bowie, to a pedal powered cinema, to a cacophony of acrobatics, visual art and performances, there’ll be an amazing range of things to see and do, all being served up with some of Birmingham’s treasured streetfood vendors and Digbeth Dining Club regulars, including Edible Eastside, Bushman Wood Fired Pizzas, The Meat Shack, Bournville Waffle Company and Miss Apple Sweets, among others.

And as if that wasn’t tempting enough, the whole event is free to attend. See you there!

C x

#futurefoodies

Last week saw the first ever #futurefoodies event at Hotel La Tour in Birmingham. Firstly… what a turnout! I arrived around 6:20 and it was absolutely packed. The whole space was full of people desperate to get their hands on Birmingham’s best foodie offerings, and they certainly didn’t disappoint.

Myself and The Style Floozie, aka Sarah, went along to sample the goods, starting with a rather interesting absinthe based cocktail from Le Truc. Now the last time I had absinthe was on a Greek island some time ago, in a rather less than civilised state, so this was the first time I’ve ever actually tasted it while sober. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a fan… so we moved swiftly onto The Birmingham Whisky Club stand.

Both myself and Sarah are rather partial to a good single malt, and the one we tried was called Macallan. Our whisky expert explained that this single malt was actually very young, as opposed to being aged like many others on the market, and was in fact marketed towards women. Another fairly unconventional element to this drink. Although we didn’t feel it needed to have a girly, wine bottle shape, the drink itself was very appealing. Much lighter than other single malts, this was in fact very refreshing, lacking the harshness of some other brands.

Next we moved onto Kingstone Press cider from the Aston Manor Brewery. There were 3 to sample here, traditional apple, pear and a smoky scrumpy. The apple was fab, sweet and fizzy, any Magners drinker would be at home with this one, but the real treat was the Pear. Not as sweet as a Kopparberg, but so refreshing. Literally tasted like Summer in a bottle, and considering they’re available at Morrissons for just £1, it was a definite winner!

After a liquid started, we decided to be unconventional and start with desserts on the food side of things. The dessert & wine matching from Aalto at Hotel La Tour was just brilliant. Jaffa cake sponges and dessert Riesling are a match made in heaven, The comedy moment was being photographed with a spoonful of strawberry dessert in my mouth and being asked to look happy! Why do I get the feeling that won’t be a flattering photo…

We also had to sample some of the beautiful treats from Miss Apple Sweets, Devenish Girl Cupcakes and Miss Macaroon. Miss Apple’s Brazilian Brigadeiros were phenomenal, gorgeous little chocolate truffles with some delicious flavour combos including dark chocolate & chili, and white chocolate with toasted coconut.

Then onto Devenish Girl Cupcakes, not your average cupcake may I say! The cocktail range was very innovative and absolutely delicious. I think I could even stretch to say that I preferred her gin & tonic cupcake more than the real thing!

Then we just had to sample the peanut macaroon from Miss Macaroon. A luminous orange burst of loveliness, not unlike peanut butter candies. Then onto some amazing fudge, lovingly handmade in the Jewellery Quarter by Creating Taste, diamond award winners at Heart of England Fine Foods. The ginger one was superb, with spicy ginger really balancing the sweet, stickiness of the fudge. Perfection!

After all that, we still felt we should try something savoury, so we headed back into the crowd and sought out Heart of England Fine Foods, Wrapchic and The Jabberwocky. We stopped off to sample an amazing goats cheese quiche, washed down with Purity Mad Goose Ale, where the guys at HEFF kindly gave me a bottle to take home, then joined the huge queues for food.

The Jabberwocky, regulars at Digbeth Dining Club, were serving up gourmet toasties like you’ve never had. I went for salmon and goats cheese, while Sarah opted for a beef and blue cheese, both of which were fab. We then moved onto Wrapchic for a brilliant, if a little messy wrap! The only ones left by the time we got there were soya, but with such great flavour and spicing, you didn’t miss meat at all. The guys there explained that even though Indian food usually has fried onions and spices to make their curry paste, these guys don’t fry anything at all, but still managed to create an authentic flavour but minus the fat. Safe to say their shop in the North Western Arcade is most certainly going to become a lunchtime staple for me, especially seeing as all this food is starting to catch up with me!

After a quick rest we finished off the evening with a quick sample at the Geek Brewery stand, which was pretty good too. I must say, I didn’t like it quite as much as Brewdog, but definitely worth a try, especially being a local brewery.

.All in all #futurefoodies was a roaring success, and rightly so, Birmingham has a buzzing local food scene. Here’s hoping for more of the same!

Chloe x

#futurefoodies was hosted by Dine Birmingham, find out more about them here

The Birmingham Whisky Club ‘A Dram Fine Summer’ is on from June through into August, with various events around the city, showcasing some of the best whisky’s around at the moment.

All of the foodies suppliers are on Twitter, you can follow them all for exclusive updates and info.

Classic Bellini, perfect

Classic Bellini, perfect