Friday, 11 August 2017

Event: Trust Your Senses at The Botanist Birmingham

The Botanist Birmingham is well known for food and cocktails in the city, and is a top tip for food and drinks with friends and family for anyone in the area.

I was recently invited to try something a little different at The Botanist; an evening called #TrustYour Senses. Intrigued, I made my way down to The Plant Rooms below the main bar and restaurant to find out more.

A twist on the traditional cocktail masterclass, instead of simply making cocktails, we were first asked to blind taste test a number of cocktails from the new menu.

We had The Plant Rooms to ourselves, and this underground space is usually used for events and private hire, with separate rooms available for large groups.

Huddling around the downstairs bar, we watched as our bartender expertly mixed, shook and poured a number of cocktails that showed off just how innovative The Botanist's cocktail menu really is.

Pear and Kiwi Cup

Once the cocktails were ready, complete with smoke to boot, we set onto the cocktails with our straws and tried to guess the ingredients in each.

I'd like to say that after years of expertly sipping numerous cocktails across the country and beyond that we had this down to a t, but sadly this wasn't the case and the task was surprising difficult!

Raspberry Disaronno Sour 

We taste tested the Raspberry Disaronno Sour, Velvet Green Martini, Cinnamon Oregano Old Fashioned, Rhubarb and Gin Old Fashioned, Pear and Kiwi Cup and Grapefruit and Rum Punch.

Rhubarb and Gin Old Fashioned

Now, it was time for us to try our hand at making our cocktails, with the help of the experts of course. Everyone took it in turns to come up with their very own cocktail, and I created a Peary-Good which included muddled pear and hints of cherry.

I enjoyed my drink so much, it was gone in a flash! But thankfully I managed to take a picture first. We also voted for our favourites and mine won! If only I could remember exactly what I put in it, I'd make it again but alas, I forget.

By now it was home time and full of botanical cocktails, we said our goodbyes. Bespoke cocktail making and blind tasting turned out to be a whole heap of fun, and I'd recommend a cocktail masterclass for anyone looking for an alternative way to celebrate a birthday or event.

*A big thank you to The Botanist for inviting us and for our complimentary cocktails.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Event: Haig Club Bar Launch at The Cube, Birmingham

It's highly likely that you'll have heard of Haig Whisky by way of David Beckham, the brand's high profile ambassador.

Although you may not be able to meet the man himself, you can now enjoy Haig Whisky, whisky cocktails and bar food at the newly launched Haig Club Bar.

Located on Level 25 of The Cube, right alongside Marco Pierre White's, the Haig Club Bar is a brand new whisky bar with a spectacular skyline view.

I was recently invited to try out the whisky itself along with cocktails and food from the new menu.

Welcomed with a shot of Haig Man and Haig, this was my first introduction to the brand. Something of a novice when it comes to the grain based spirit (you may remember I recently attended an event with the Birmingham Whisky Club), I thankfully rather enjoyed this single grain Scotch.

With a list of 22 cocktails to choose from, we may not have tried them all, but we did try quite a few. As well as Pears in Paradise, we also enjoyed the Clubman Apple Mule, Ginger Julep and Berry Beauty which was sensationally served in a cocktail pyramid, expertly poured by head barman Jack Spencer.

The venue itself is intimate but comfortable with plenty of tables and bars stools to make sure there's space to sit and enjoy the evening. Inspired by the bottle itself, the blue and copper themed bar is relaxing and sumptuous, and I especially liked the blue velvet chairs and copper tables located by the floor to ceiling windows.

The entire menu was available for us to try including Chicken Satay Skewers, Smoked Duck and Sesame Skewers, Halloumi and Courgette Flowers, Aromatic King Prawns, Iberico Ham and Dijon Croquettes, Scotch Eggs, Patatas Bravas, Moules Mariniere, Chorizo Frito al Vino, Crispy Fried Calamari, Chorizo and Black Pudding Sausage Rolls and Black Pudding Bon Bons.

Although not everything was gluten free, the team was very good at signposting and I did end up trying a few dishes such as the Patatas Bravas, King Prawns and Chicken Satay, but do check with the team if you're gluten free or have any other dietary requirements.

The grand finale had to the be watching head barman jack expertly mix and pour a whole pyramid of cocktails for us at the bar. As you can see, it was pretty spectacular; and the Berry Beauty cocktail itself was easy to drink too.

The whisky itself? I found it smooth and easy to drink, as well as expertly blended and matched in the cocktails on offer at Haig Club Bar.

If you're looking for a new hang out in Birmingham, Haig Club Bar is as smooth and intimate as the whisky itself. 

The Haig Club Bar is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 6pm-1am and offers up cocktails, mixers, whisky by the bottle and snacks and sharers.

*With thanks to Haig Club Bar and Rewired for the invitation. 

Friday, 28 July 2017

Blow LTD Launches in Birmingham - Hair and Make Up Services Direct to Your Door

Ever wished you could have a team of experts come to your door and make you over, Cinderella style?

Well now you can, thanks to Blow LTD. Offering hair and beauty services such as manicures, pedicures, blow dries and up do's, Blow LTD brings you hairdressers, make up artists and nail technicians straight to your home or workplace.

I was lucky enough to receive a blow dry and makeover, just in time for my birthday lunch a few weeks ago.

Working backwards from my arrival time of 1.30pm, I booked my hair and make up appointments from 10am on the app to ensure I'd have plenty of time to get ready.

First up, hair! I had been advised to book my hair first, followed by make up. I washed my hair early in the morning and when my Blow stylist arrived, she wasted no time in setting up the hair station on my kitchen table!

I then picked from the menu of 8 Blow Dry Looks, and opted for the Luxe Blow. 40 minutes later, the Luxe Blow was complete.

In no time at all, my make up artist was at the door ready to go, and quickly set up the table ready for action.

Again, I chose from a menu of 4 options, but was able to adapt this slightly as I wanted a stronger look than the Day look, without being as heavy as the Evening look. Mine was more in the middle ground of Cocktail, featuring a gorgeous cateye.

As you can see from the pictures, my hair and make up transformations took place on the kitchen table, in the kitchen itself! It was so convenient to have a team of experts come straight to the door and deliver some fast glam, not to mention time saving.

The team was really professional too and very friendly, making it a really fun experience.

Prices start at £40 for a Blow Dry and £40 for a Make Up. Manicures and Pedicures are available too starting at £40 and £45 respectively.

*With thanks to Blow Ltd for the complimentary treatments and EV Agency.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Food Review: Siamais Brindleyplace Thai Food and Cocktails Review

What's Siamais? The name Siamais is taken from 'Siamese twins', to reflect the dual nature of Brindleyplace Birmingham's only Thai restaurant.

A restaurant and bar, the two areas are quite separate meaning you can enjoy an evening at the bar or in the restaurant without needing to do both.

I was able to enjoy an evening at the restaurant courtesy of Brum Bloggers and met up with Kerry from Brum and Beyond for a Bloggers Dinner Date.

Taking a seat in the main restaurant, myself and Kerry were matched up for a blind date and hit it off like a house on fire. My date had already started on the cocktails so I quickly caught up and ordered the Oriental Orchid, mainly because I tried this at the launch and have craved it ever since. Served with a smoking flask, the cocktail itself is stunning; a light combination of peach and vodka that I could simply keep drinking.

We ordered our starters of Weeping Tiger Sizzling Steak and Crispy Duck Salad and decided to try both. The Sizzling Steak was gluten free but the Duck salad was served with the sauce on the side for my benefit as this part was not.

Both dishes were beautiful, with the steak being rich and full of flavour, whilst the salad was exceptionally light and refreshing.

For our main course, I opted for Green Curry with Chicken which comes served with Jasmine Rice, whilst Kerry chose the Massaman Curry. Again, my curry was gluten free whilst Kerry's Massaman was not.

The server was very helpful when it came to helping me pick what was suitable for a gluten free diet, and checked with the kitchen to ensure I ordered the right dishes!

I adored my Thai Curry, and since Ekachai in Selfridges has closed I've found it difficult to find somewhere that matches up. Thankfully though, I can safely say that I would come back repeatedly for this dish, and that's before I even get started on the cocktails.

Kerry enjoyed her Massaman and similarly to mine, felt that the flavours were just right and rich enough to carry everything in the dish, without tasting like a wash out of coconut milk.

We also shared a cocktail called the Bang Pai Falls, which I highly recommend for the social media pictures alone. This is a sharer that comes served in a skull head glass, complete with steaming top. The drink itself is bright red and delicious, and comprises rum, cherry, vanilla and cranberry juice.

We were both far too full to enjoy a dessert, especially since we'd tried a few cocktails too and picked some sweet options! However, if you're not drinking then definitely try three courses.

The atmosphere whist we were there was lively and it has an almost electric feel at the moment as it is one of Birmingham's hottest restaurants/bars. The restaurant was full and the seating means you can come either in a couple or large group, with the restaurant being able to accommodate both. If you were after a quieter experience, then I'd recommend coming at lunch time to try out two course for £12.95, which is fantastic value for the quality of food.

The cocktails were all imaginative and fun, and the waiting team were really knowledgable on the menu so were able to recommend drinks based on our preferences. This meant that we were happy with each cocktail we tried and I'd order everything I tried today again.

The food was well crafted, well put together and full of flavour, as well as offering good value. My beef starter was £12 and the Green Curry was £14.95 including rice, making it an affordable treat.

No matter what the occasion, a casual lunch, a few drinks after work or a celebration with friends, Siamais ticks all the boxes. The food, drink, service and atmosphere are all to a high standard, as well as the value for money offered by the dishes.

Time for Thai? Yes please!

*My meal was complimentary and courtesy of the team at Siamais.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Food Review: Tapas Revolution Grand Central Birmingham Summer Menu

Tapas is such a great dish to gather around. A table full to bursting with small, delectable plates of yum should only be shared with great friends.

I was invited to try out the new Summer menu at Tapas Revolution in Grand Central, Birmingham and invited along a relative to join me for some summer bites.

Located in Grand Central, Tapas Revolution is the brainchild of Omar Allibhoy, Spanish chef, cookbook author and a regular on our TV screens.

This talented Spaniard opened Tapas Revolution Birmingham back in 2015, and it is often busy after work as people drop by to try out tapas, sangria and cocktails.

Settling into our booth with a view, we were able to take a peek at the cocktail menu first and went for some fruitier options to start with. We ordered the Passion Fruit and Marzipan Batida and Blood Orange and Cherry Royal.

With an entirely separate gluten free menu, I was pleased to see that many of the dishes on the main menu are perfectly fine to eat for gluten free guests.

With this in mind, we decided to order dishes that were suitable for both of us including the Marinated Beef Skewers with Spicy Sauce (Pinchos morunas con mojo picon), Paella Valenciana, Tiger Prawns in garlic and chilli oil (Gambas al ajillo), Black Rice with Prawns and Squid (Arroz Negro) and of course Patatas Bravas.

The dishes were brought out quickly, and as they were ready, which meant we could tuck into dishes whilst they were hot.

My favourite dish had to be the black rice paella; a combination of salty flavours and meaty pieces of squid, the flavour balance for me was just right.

The classic paella was also delicious, and the prawns were a good sized portion too. Patatas Bravas was well cooked but not burnt, with enough sauce to cover each piece.

The prawns were heavy on the garlic, but still very enjoyable and a good portion.

Finally the beef skewers. The sauce was for me a touch too spicy but still delicious.

By now it was time to order another cocktail! This time we went for matching martinis, I for the Espresso Blanco Martini and my relative, the sparkling Rose Margerita.

I could enjoy the Tapas Revolution version of the Espresso Martini any day of the week, but I probably shouldn't!

A few hours hours later, we left Tapas Revolution feeling very satisfied. The service we received was excellent, extremely friendly and the restaurant has a great laid back, post work vibe. Our dishes were all satisfying and I'm pleased with what we chose. Next time, I would perhaps have had another dish or two depending on how hungry you are.

There are a number of offers worth checking out too, including the £9.95 lunch deal, half price Sangria jugs and two-for-one Gin and tonic's from 4-7pm, Sunday-Friday.

Thank you to the team at Tapas Revolution for a great meal!