Friday night dinner in our household is usually a chip shop supper (minus the fish for me though), ending our working week with a smidgen of gluttony smothered in tomato ketchup and framed by pickled gherkins and onions on the plate. Mmmm.......
However, we have been meaning to break this tradition for months in exchange for a visit to Digbeth Dining Club in Birmingham but for one reason or another the timings haven’t worked out. But recently, we found a window of opportunity to go and taking a sabbatical from the chip shop, we made our way to Digbeth.
Digbeth has reincarnated itself over recent years becoming very much the ‘the place to go’ in Birmingham. Although old news now yet ever evolving, the Custard Factory remains a haven for fashion designers, artists, media businesses and latching on to current trends, there are also numerous vintage goods traders. The former Bird’s Custard factory is also home to a number of cafes, eateries, bars and hosts a number of the city’s events. Keeping in the theme of food, round the corner from The Custard Factory is the Spotlight Nightclub which is the venue for the Digbeth Dining Club.
|Dining area for Digbeth Dining Club|
|DJs on the Decks|
A nightclub for a dining club may seem a bizarre concept at first but the reality is that it lends itself really well. The indoor area has a well stocked bar with speciality cocktails and plenty of seating areas, low atmospheric lighting and with DJ decks in-situ to provide chilled out tunes whilst you eat.
|Cocktails Du Jour!|
The outside area is where all the food vendors trade and you can either eat inside the club or on the benches by the vendors (if the weather is kind).
|Soupremes - Caribbean Food|
The 3-4 vendors present change each week which keeps it fresh for visitors enabling them to have the chance to try different foods and of course it allows for vendors to rotate and trade fairly. There is usually a split between vendors offering savoury foods and those offering sweet choices, which of course allows you to have a 2 course meal in effect.
|The Mexican Bean Van|
On the menu when we went there was The Mexican Bean - offering nachos, tacos, chilli con carne etc, Manila Munchies – selling Filipino style noodles, Soupreme – providing hot Caribbean fair, Matilda’s Bakehouse – which makes hand-made oven cooked pizzas. Then to cover those wanting desserts, Platinum Pancakes created a range of sweet style crepes.
|The Manila Munchies Team|
I enjoyed the mild vegetarian noodles from Manila Munchies which were totally delicious! They also offer meat dishes and spicier options too. My husband had the nachos from The Mexican Bean which he said were moreish and filling. I then followed my noodles up by a crepe from Platinum Pancakes. Using their menu as a guide, I decided to get creative and take the Chocolate & Mint option and add on peaches which I have to say was really enjoyable.
|Chocolate, Mint & Peach Crepe from Platinum Pancakes|
This type of dining club is much less formal than a dining club per se with the emphasis on the speed and convenience of street food with the benefits of casual dining facilities. The trend for street food has excelled in recent times with people’s demand for accessibility, variety and modest cost.
Earlier on in the year, I wrote about the increased interest in street food for Cook Vegetarian magazine and the trend just keeps on rising. Birmingham also offers street food events such as Brum Yum Yum’s – kings hEATh as well as the varying farmers’ markets and these offer the street food phenomenon on a larger scale which have been extremely popular with shoppers, families and those wishing to socialise during the day. With Digbeth Dining Club, it offers a more intimate environment with almost that ‘night out’ feel, and although the food is available instantly, the set-up is such that invites you to elongate your evening and make it much more of a social scenario.
Taking a look around, the demographic was mixed both age-wise and true to Digbeth Dining Club’s statement, there were people there having a post-work drink/food with colleagues, residents from nearby apartments down for their supper (I was told the locals love it) and also those dressed up for a night out using the club to meet up for food first before moving on for revelry.
The latter is where we fitted into and being mindful of our plans, taking the final bite of my pancake, feeling fed and watered and relaxed, we were ready to carry the evening on. And going forward, if we ever want to take a vacation from the chip shop again, we know exactly where to come!