Cielo Restaurant, Birmimgham

Yesterday, I went out for lunch with C and his family to Cielo restaurant in Birmingham, to celebrate his Mum’s birthday!

I wore a French Connection  lace dress with a nude undertone (the dress is actually called ‘cheeky pink’ how lovey is that?) Guess shoes in a nude and Jones’ clutchbag, also in nude.

Off we we went for a  Strawberry Mojitos (or two) at Bank. I’ve blogged about Bank before, it’s a cocktail hot-spot in Birmingham, and a busy restaurant.

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Cutest family or what!?

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Then, for some much needed lunch! We went to Cielo; a modern Italian themed restaurant in Brindley Place.

You can find all the menus on their website, as well as book a reservation and find out about up coming events.

For starters, I ordered the ‘ Tortino di pesce’ which consisted of Salmon & cod fishcakes, peas, spring onion, mixed leaf salad, with  lemon and garlic mayonnaise.

Unfortunately  there was hardly any fish, and the portion was simply too big for a starter! Quality over quantity I think the saying is.

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C’s Mum went for the ‘ Tagliatelle fiorentina’  consisting of Tagliatelle pasta, chicken, wild mushrooms, spinach, pine nuts all in a  white wine cream sauce.

This was delicious! However, once again the portion could have been halved in size.

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Both C and his Dad, opted for the ‘ Calamari Fritti’-Squid rings lightly dusted with seasoned flour, deep-fried and  served with garlic & lime mayo.

C always has calamari in any restaurant we go to, so one could presume he was something of an expert! He said they were ‘very tasty.’

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For mains:

How inviting does this lemon yellow sauce look, with the dashing of swimming wilted spinach? This is the ‘Sogliola al vino Blanco’ -fillets of lemon sole, tossed baby spinach leaves with vine tomatoes in a white wine & lemon grass sauce.

This was simply scrumptious, I couldn’t help but reach across the table to dip my finger in the sauce continuously.

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I went for the ‘Brasato Di Maile’-braised pork belly, crispy pancetta, apple pureé,creamed Savoy cabbage,  with a Madeira wine jus.

It was  pleasant, I would have personally enjoyed the crackling to be slightly crispier. The problem is I love belly Pork, and am a fussy madam regarding how it’s cooked!

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C had the ‘Filetto di manzo al Pepe’-fillet of farm assured beef, chunky chips, served in a pepper corn sauce.

Also, very tender and tasty, served a little cool (although us English are renowned to like our food piping hot which apparently, doesn’t do the flavours any justice, so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt on this one.)

(sorry about the photo..I know it’s a little dark. Here’s hoping someone will buy me a ‘real’ camera one day, so I don’t have to keep using my iphone!)

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All in all, a pleasant luncheon, with a few teething problems!

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Fleet Street Kitchen, Birmigham

So, the reviews are in, after attending the opening night.

Like I said, there was high expectations for this place, however I am glad to say the reality matched  up!

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I had the ‘Potted Duck with brown toast.’ This came with a beetroot relish..really yummy! I found myself sticking my finger in the little glass jar and licking the remaining sauce off my finger…until I realised I wasn’t sitting at home where non-one could see!

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C had the  ‘Seared Scallops with pan fried chroizo’ with a garnished salad. A tasty combination, cooked perfectly.

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For mains we both has the 10oz Sirloin with  coffee chipotle BBQ sauce and a side of fries. The sauce was insanely moreish! A very unusual combination but it defiantly works…no longer will peppercorn be my ‘go-to’ steak sauce; there’s a new sauce in town!

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The fires were chunky and salty with a fluffy  piping hot inside…the way they should be!

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The atmosphere was relaxed and natural whilst a buzz hung in the air filled with inquisitiveness ooo’s and ahhh’s as food arrived at the table, and the service friendly and warm. 

The standard menu can be found here and all other information on their website.

I just know this place is going to be a  being a real hit, so please book to avoid disappointment.

More importantly  let me know what you think!

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Fleet Street Kitchen, Birmingham (we wait in anticipation)

There’s a buzz of excitement in the air…the countdown has begun for the restaurant opening of the year-Fleet Street Kitchen. (FSK)

Launching on Friday 1st March in Birmingham city center,  there are high hopes for this new brand, originating from the  the owners of the Midlands most exclusive nightclub-Mechu, and chain of funky bars and eateries-Après.

FSK  however, is  a complete turn of ventures and one that is greatly anticipated; combining the expertise of over 30 years in the restaurant and entertainment sphere.The foundation of the brand, and the central crux to its ideology is delivering a  ‘farm to table experience that will offer unpretentious modern British flavors  cooked using traditional Barbacoan methods!’

Unpretentious,  rustic, heart-warming  food at it’s best, sourced from British farmers, with an abundance  fusion and intertwining of various flavours, creating modern twists from best loved dishes.

Steak is deemed to be the show-stopper, with a bountiful array  of rare-breed cuts  sourced  from respected British producers,  rotisserie chicken and poussin, whole fish and burger sliders are sure to be a hit, while abundant deli boards and a generous helping of naughty desserts round-off a deliciously comforting, satisfying yet simplistic menu.

Regenerating luxury country dinning in Birmingham’s urban pod, adding a fresh quirky dimension, with a structured interior and multi-dimension experience. Mixing light and airy with re-cycled and renewed,  offering something we haven’t seen before…a new concept!

I have kindly been invited to the launch tomorrow evening, and  have already booked a table for Saturday! ( Yes, of course, I shall be sharing my foody finds.)

However, I was kindly invited this week to take a look at the venue which has been kept under wraps… Birmingham’s best kept secret!

Take a look yourselves…

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The Barbacoa grill is one of the core characteristics at FSK,  the first of its kind to be installed in the UK.  It’s a  traditional method of cooking in the Mediterranean, however this grill has been placed in the center of the Kitchen, inviting dinners to experience it’s flames in full view.

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However, when one transcends the stairs, this is where I believe the genius streak of the brand comes to life.

Transforming the basement into a jazz-esque space, with overwhelming monocrone graphics, masculine blocked leather booths, patterned marbled surfaces and an array of colour collaborated to transform this space into the perfect hub  for the regular Friday Night Live sessions and DJ’s, who will grace the air with their musicals delights.

This space has groovy heart, with a sprinkle of elegance and old school glamour, aimed at the over 25’s market.

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What will make this place a huge success?

It’s the clever mixture of fine, hearty country-dining  and  the late-night downstairs area, giving one visit to FSK  a plethora of dimensions, something that is so rare to find in a venue. It’s a  fusion that involves a clever malleable creative flare, and experienced hands to execute it;  something which FSK has in heaps!

Check out the website for more info, book reservations, or for all you ‘tweepers’ follow FSK on Twitter.

http://www.fleetstreetkitchen.co.uk/

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Sans restaurant, Henley-in-Arden

This weekend just passed, I spent a lovely Saturday evening with my parents at Sans Restaurant in Henley-in-Arden. (This is in Warwickshire and nine miles form Stratford-upon-Avon for all you foreigners!)

Although everyone swears that the Chinese near their house is ‘the best in the country’ I can honestly say Sans is incredible, serving  super quality Chinese delicacies…and yes, it’s right on my door step!

Not only that, Henley-in-Arden is a chocolate box village, full of thatched roofed Victorian  houses, with tiny wooden doors and pastel colored pansy filled flower baskets on the widowsills.  Really, it’s a dream, embedded in between rolling hills, which is populated with icecream vans, dogs, children and picnics in the summer.

I think the phrase is post-card perfect!

What I wore:

Dress-Oasis

Shoes-French Connection

Handbag-Gucci

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The Menu is rather extensive, however after a lot of family politics we decided to have the Yuk Sung (which is a mixture of water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, straw mushrooms, and carrots wok fried with minced Pork, served in parcels of iceberg lettuce.) This is a family favourite.

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As well as the BBBQ Spare ribs (smoothered in sweet Kung-do sauce)

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I’m always fascinated how they make flowers out of radishes or carrots, so damn clever!

For main we had the Shredded spicy beef in Peking sauce in a birds nest…

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Duck in plum sauce…

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and a tower of Chicken in honey and soya sauce!

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As ever, the food was delicious, it’s the type of place you can go back to again and again, never get bored and know the quality and service will be spot on!

Of course, because the Chinese new year has just past fortune cookies were given at the table.

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My favourite ‘the days that make us happy make us wise.’

Couldn’t agree more!

It’s only when I got home that I realised I had talked non-stop for three hours, filling my parents in on the gossip, plans, what I’ve been up to. It’s time like these when you can sit down for a prolonged period of time without disruption  that you realise a phone call every-day is never the same as a evening together once in a while!

Perfection.

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Bluebird Restaurant, Chelsea

Last weekend, C and I followed advice of well-accustomed Londoner’s and went to the Blue-Bird Restaurant in Chelsea. I was very excited about this little adventure, hoping to spot some ‘Made in Chelsea’ characters, as they seem to spend a majority of time at this venue. (Yes ashamedly, I loved the show.) Sadly,  this wasn’t the case but I very much enjoyed my evening non-the-less.

Great value, more importantly great food, and most surprisingly great service (even when I managed to smash my water tumbler on the floor! *cringe*) A brilliant laid back atmosphere, with a  horizon of tables enough for 200 covers at any-one-time. Deep velvet red adorned with walls, with fresh flowers balanced precariously on the marbled bar top that circles the entrance. I reminded me instantaneously of  an 1950’s jazz bar-that cool, too-cool-for-school ambiance!

Check this out…for £25 you can enjoy three course and a glass of champagne whilst you dine at this famous restaurant on the King’s Road-even at the weekend!

Who said you don’t get value for money in London!?

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Often I find if you opt for a set-menu you are presented with tiny portions that are over seasoned and over-cooked; this was simply not the case at the bluebird.

For my started I had the cheese and onion hash  with brown black pudding, duck egg and  mustard dressing. This was divine! Nothing is more satisfying when you split the yolk of your perfectly cooked egg, bursting the skin allowing the liquid to cascade over your plate!

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C had the celeriac soup with William’s pear. He looks awfully satisfied doesn’t he?

For someone who doesn’t eat ‘rabbit food’ he licked the bowl clean!

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For mains we both had the hanger steak  with fries and  bearnaise sauce.

(although this looks a small steak , it was very thick-the photograph is deceiving!)

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For dessert I had the banana sticky toffee pudding with clotted cream. Sickly and yum!

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C had the chocolate tart with milk ice cream, which once again he ate too quickly for me to photograph! This is becoming a standard problem in our relationship.

Not forgetting out glasses of champagne…

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Now whose’s looking satisfied?!

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Although I hasten to add, my satisfaction soon withered away as soon as I reached the snow in York the following day, with the stark realisation that my dissertation deadline is forever creeping near! I kept telling myself,  it would be tiresome and boring to have this much fun all the time; however convincing myself of this, is the challenge I have yet to conquer!

Is there anywhere else  I just must try when I’m next gallivanting in the Big Smoke?

Suggestions very welcome.

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Novikov, Mayfair

Like I said, there are a plethora of posts I haven’t got round to writing…this is one of them!

A couple of weeks ago, C and I took took my parents on a whistle-stop tour of London. We  saw the landmarks,  went shopping and everything else in between. This  naturally consisted of an abundance of food, and our choice for Sunday lunch  was  Novikov restaurant in Mayfair. (the Italian)

I was mightily impressed, if you haven’t been to Novikov and are in London at one point, I urge you to go!

When I go for dinner, although of course the food is a central crux of the experience, I believe the interior is equally important at setting the scene and giving you an idea about what to expect from your dining experience; allowing  you an inkling and sneak preview into the motivations of the brand and the aims of the restaurateur. It’s the first connection between customer and product; and therefore must give the right impression!

For want of a better phrase, Novikov hit the nail on the head!

The ambiance was created as soon as we walked through the doors.

The waitresses wore fuchsia pink dresses with adorable silk neck scarves as they glided throughout the restaurant with impeccable manners and an air of grace, and the arrangement of pure white roses and fresh herbs planted on the solid wooden tables gave the place a true rustic feel; whilst the never ending abundance of fresh veg and fruit combined in an array of colours encased you with a citrus scent and a feast for your eyes. It was like being at an exclusive farmers market, with quality, home grown delights on display.

The clever collaboration of interior, intertwined striking elements of mono-tonal boldness portrayed a strong confident statement, with overlaying tones of understated cream, muted golds and frosted metallic created a simply inviting aura. A very unique and surprising mix…one that worked immensely and gave the space a very unique tailor-made feel, far from the mass-produced feeling you get when eating at a chain. It was bucolic, simplistic and clean without being try-hard or garish, oozing years of experience in creating the scene for top-nosh dining experiences.

 I felt satisfied and pleasantly surprised before I had even eaten a morsel or drank a drop…from the moment I sat down, I realised this was far from a restaurant  but a holistic experience, enjoyably for all senses. 

My Mum enjoyed the interior equally as much,  she even asked the manager where their wallpaper was from, as this was ‘exactly what she had been fruitlessly hunting for  her bedroom!’ As cheesy as it sounds, I felt like I was in the middle of Rome, you could have told me the  Colosseum was behind me and I would have believed you…very Italian!

A good ambiances places you at the heart of the scenes of inspiration..and this case Italy was the culprit!

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Antipasti galore!

I always believe it’s a good sign when a restaurants proudly  allow you to watch their chiefs at work, creating the delights to tickle our taste-buds. I believe it  shows a sense of confidence and above all cleanliness.

We enjoyed a selection of home-made flavored bread to start off with. I particularly enjoyed the Lavender infused ciabatta with the cherry balsamic vinegar! The fragrance filled the table…

I had the Taglierini pasta with pecorino cheese sauce aged (7 months) for main.If you love cheese this is what Id go for, rich, creamy almost perfection!

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Mum had the Asparagus with parmesan, fried egg & summer truffle, and Dad enjoyed the Herb seared yellow fin tuna with broad beans & “Pantelleria” capers. However they ate is so quickly I didn’t have time for photos! A good sign that the food was fab and too much of a temptation to wait…

You can book reservations for either the Asian or the Italian Restaurants here.

Although a little on the expensive side, Novikov do have a lunch-time menu with everyone’s Italian favorites on there, so why not give this a try and let me know what you think!

I for one cannot wait to tryout the Asain!

Hope you had a lovely weekend…

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January in forgotten photos!

Walking back from town to my car, I managed to capture the glorious and over-towering shadow of York’s Clifford Tower with the left-over snow sprinkled on the banks. The sky was so blue and the moon so bright…

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Talking about the snow….I got to wear my new coat!

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My Mum emailed me the picture of my back garden..magical isn’t it?

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With all this snowy weather it was time for left over Christmas cake…

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We had an evening where we watched trashy rom-coms and eat our weight in new found cheeses…

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My new found favourite is called Germain Langres!

It’s a French cheese from the Champagne-Ardenne region and has a smooth creamy buttery texture with a slightly more tangy crumbly core. Its rind is distinctive and  rippled with an orangy colour to it. The outside looks like a pensionser’s chin! (Odd I know) There is a deliberate dimple in the top of the cheese as traditionally a small pool of Champagne is poured so when you cut the cheese the champagne infuses into the cheese – shame I don’t have a bottle of Champagne knocking about!

If that wan’t enough I found these beauties which I had for Christmas but had completely forgotten about.

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