Archive | December, 2011

Pickly spice

14 Dec

The last few years I have been travelling to Birmingham from time to time. Not blessed with the exotic location status of Paris or Barcelona, or even the country charm of the south-west region it always has one card up its sleeve: the food.

Last week when I was helping my girlfriend move the last of her stuff out of ‘Brum’, we went out for dinner at the Indian restaurant, Pushkar. Based down on Broad Street, it feels like an equivalent to Deansgate but less rambunctious (yes, rambunctious) than Deansgate Locks ,although I was assured there are fights for taxis at 2am on a Saturday, so some things are the same everywhere.

Check out the swankiness - image courtesy of What's On Midlands

The restaurant immediately sets an intimidating mood for a man in a shiny bubble jacket and a scuffed-up old pair of trainers but not enough so that I didn’t go in. Inside the place oozed plush. If you ever wondered what happened for the love of white leather that was so prevalent in the 80’s and 90’s fear not, its spirit lives on through Pushkar’s furniture though surprisingly, it just works.

His and Her's menu boxes

After propping up the bar for ten minutes we were led to our seats. Our menus were contained in what I assume were faux crocodile skin presentation boxes with similar design for the menus all topped with gold embossed lettering. At this point I was expecting a menu containing Steak Diane and Black Forest gateaux aplenty. Alas, all I could find were a selection of South Indian classics and a few unique options.

We ordered and took the poppadoms in hand as they arrived. The plain and seeded poppadoms were good quality but the new comer for me was the spinach poppadum. With a much thicker and chewier texture, they were the true opposite to a traditional salted, crisp poppadum. Just to be sure of their quality, I ate 5 of them.

You can't hide in there spinach poppadom

After inhaling the poppadum’s we were more than ready for the arrival of the main. I love a little presentational flair to a meal and despite having been raised on Indian food, I can say I’ve never seen a biriyani brought to the table in the way this one was. Still topped with a thin pastry topping kept soft by the rice and meat baking underneath, our waiter sliced through the crust, peeling it back with a theatrical grace to reveal freshly baked goodness underneath.

The before..

... and after. Magic.

The Lamb Achari kicked arse. Picked and spicy, its had the same tangy, mouth-watering quality that you’d get from Sichuan pepper or a mouthful of gherkins. The intense flavour hangs around in your on the back of your tongue thanks to the semi-dry sauce.

I’ m a big curry-lover so even a mediocre curry would make the evening for me, but Pushkar’s is a great step out for high-end curry in palatial surroundings. Long live posh curry.

Pushkar Cocktail Bar & Dining on Urbanspoon

Get drunk, Cuban style

8 Dec

Once in a while, a great thing will happen. I love rum, specifically Cuban rum and I’ve drank more Havana Club than I should. I was recently introduced to a Havana Club I’d never heard of.

While dining out in Birmingham, I spotted this little gem nestled in amongst the rums at the bar.

'That one there please. The god-like one in the middle'

The 15-year Havana club is a special drink. For any spirit drink, the dream is all of the flavour with none of the harsh, bitter, throat gargling kick back (I’m looking at you Smirnoff vodka.. and you Gordon’s gin). Dash of coke, squeeze of lime and run the lime slice around the rim of the glass just for good measure. It’s so smooth, you’ll swear you ordered a glass of liquid velour. Deep warming flavour, tang from the lime and easily refined enough that you could sup it like Ribena

For £116, a bottle could be yours, or as I found £11.50 gets you a single measure. Give it a go but check the balance at the cash machine if your planning a heavy night on the Havana Club 15-year.