Saturday, 30 May 2015

Food Roots Interview - Selina Periampillai

For my latest Food Roots Interview, I’ve had the opportunity to find out a little more about Mauritian food and culture through London based Chef Selina Periampillai.

Selina Periampillai

Selina Periampillai is a British-born Mauritian food pioneer, self-taught chef and food blogger.


She is behind the successful Taste Mauritius brand, which stems from her love for feeding people and a passionate plan to revolutionise Mauritian cuisine. 


She hosts monthly supper clubs from her home, offering people a taste of Mauritian cuisine.  She also organises and hosts regular pop-ups around London taking over restaurants like Roti Chai, Peyton & Byrne at The National Gallery involving culture as well as great food, with sega music/dancing to accompany the Mauritian experience.

In addition to the supper clubs and pop-ups, Selina runs cookery classes in Central London teaching the principles of how to make street food and she also offers the provision of Mauritian private catering for clients upon request.


Plaudits include recently winning the Mauritian Achievers Award in Catering/Restaurants 2015 and she has appeared in and written for Jamie, Great British Chefs, Air Mauritius Blog, The Guardian, Good Food Guide, Food Network and Good Taste Magazine.

I’ve enjoyed finding out more via Selina’s interview and becoming acquainted with Mauritian cuisine, the importance it plays in her life and her desire to cascade that to others.

You can follow her on Twitter at @tastemauritius or check her out at her blog and website at



Pics credit Guila Mule @


How would you describe Mauritian food and the importance of food to Mauritian people and Mauritian communities world-wide?

Mauritian food is a true melting pot of cultures, it has French, Creole, Indian and Chinese influences that can be seen through the dishes we have on the Island.  It is fresh seafood, bbqs, alfresco cooking, fragrant spicy curries, fried gajaks (snacks), popular street food, a dash of rum here and there and exotic fruits and desserts. It encapsulates Island life!

It’s very important to the people, it’s a central focus point for gatherings, family occasions, traditions and it’s something that connects people no matter where they are in the world.  I speak to people from all over on my social media who connect with me because of the food I'm cooking whether it’s Australia or Canada. It has a sense of unity and I've met some people on my journey who are passionate about Mauritian food and are trying to get it out there to more people.

How has your Mauritian heritage influenced the way you cook?

It has been a huge influence; both my parents are from the Island and I was born here in the UK. I pretty much learnt everything from them both, we grew up on the wonderful food and recipes passed down generations and that's what really sparked my interest in exploring the cuisine further.  I am now familiar with ingredients, ways of cooking, traditional recipes (from family) from trips back and forward to Mauritius from when we were kids until only last year.

It's also helped me to explore my own recipes and ideas for using key ingredients to create something with a modern twist.  I also like to visit and gain inspiration from restaurants/hotels on the island and see what’s on the menus.

Do you celebrate any of the calendared Mauritian feasts and what would you typically make for them?

Here we don't celebrate many, but for Independence Day in March, we tend to cook a delicious goat curry or on occasion for birthdays or treats, my Mum likes to make sweet potato cakes (filled sweet potato dough with coconut sugar that's fried) or gateaux patate as they are known.

Sometimes over New Year we make Indian sweets/cakes for celebrating as well and possibly a big pot of Mauritian briyani if lots of family are over!


What Mauritian food would you recommend for vegetarians?

We have cari groi pois or butterbean curry which is great and simple to make especially with dhall puri a splitpea filled flatbread. The curry is placed in the dhall puri with a vegetable pickle(achar) or chilli sauce, rolled up and eaten on the street in Mauritius.

Also making an egg rougaille is a great alternative to using seafood.  It’s a tomato based chilli, thyme and coriander sauce with cooked eggs nestled in there. Great for brunch or a healthy dinner. Gateaux Piment are split pea chilli balls (perfect snacks) that are fried and eaten when hot with chutneys.  We can also make lovely tropical salads with mangos, guavas, coconut and pineapple there are an abundance of these tropical flavours on the Island.

What would be the 'must-have' pantry items to replicate a Mauritian kitchen?

Must have ingredients are split peas/dhall (I always have a packet of this in the larder), basmati rice for all those curries and briyanis, chilli paste or fresh chillies for flavour, a packet of Bois Cheri (Mauritian vanilla tea) for those well-deserved breaks and chai plus not forgetting a bottle of Mauritian rum for flambee desserts or tropical cocktails!


Notes & My Thanks: 
I would like to thank Selina Periampillai for her time in participating in the interview.
For more information about Selina Periampillai, please visit
Photo Credits:  Leyla Kazim @Cutlery Chronicles and Charlotte Hu @charlottehuphotography

Monday, 25 May 2015

Review of Birmingham's First Foodies Festival

The sunshine held out for us at the Foodies Festival in Birmingham last weekend and I for one enjoyed checking out the latest festival to be held in the city.

There were many exhibitors, vendors and cookery demonstrations over the weekend with plenty of places to choose from for seated refreshments in readiness for some R&R in between all the activities.

With too many to list, here is a selection of the traders I enjoyed meeting:
Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Team – watch the milk and your chosen flavour turn into ice cream with the power of liquid nitrogen that freezes it! 


Phom Tea – gorgeous, smooth tasting tea (from tea leaves) with different flavours to choose from.  Phom were recently on BBC2’s Dragon’s Den programme and received financial backing and support from Designer Kelly Hoppen.  We really enjoyed our break over a cup of Phom's Breakfast Tea in their tent and we had some to take home so we could enjoy the experience beyond the festival!



Champagne, Prosecco, Hot Rum were all a-plenty for those that wanted something stronger than tea.  Deco Bar, Stella Artois’s The Cider House and the Pimm’s giant teapot were all offering bar services.

On the other end of the scale, Mr Fitzpatrick’s Vintage Cordials provided old fashioned flavours such as Rhubarb & Rosehip, Sour Cherry and Red Grape & Hibicus giving change to the standard orange or blackcurrant offerings.

Meringz sold beautifully colour rippled meringues and cheesemongers sold vivid cheese bombs, gorgeous for any dinner party cheese board.


Demonstrations conducted by MasterChef 2010 winner Dhruv Baker, Michelin-star Chef Glyn Purnell and Vegan blogger 'Little Miss Meat Free' Katy B were all well received and all seats taken. 

The festival is a lovely addition to Birmingham’s foodie calendar and those I’ve spoken to a few who went saying they’re looking forward to next year already!  But if you can’t wait that long, there are other Foodies Festivals being held in towns and cities across the UK.  Take a look at the website for details:



Disclosure:  This post was written following kind receipt of  complementary tickets to Foodies Festival Birmingham.   This review was conducted honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website. 







Sunday, 17 May 2015

Epicurean Mementos - Sarah Wasserman

Epicurean Mementos

With Sarah Wasserman
Chef from Mildred’s in Soho, London

Welcome to my new Epicurean Mementos feature! 

Epicurean Mementos will be where culinary personalities highlight a few of their favourite foodie treasured items with notes as to why those items are so special to them.

My first Epicurean Mementos article (to coincide with National Vegetarian Week), features Sarah Wasserman who is a Chef at renowned vegetarian restaurant Mildred’s (Soho, London) and is also co-author of the newly released Mildred’s Cookbook published by Octopus Publishing (click here for a review of the book).

For more information about Mildred’s, please visit their website:


A biographical note from Sarah outlining her experiences, passions,
working at Mildred’s and the new Mildred’s Cookbook ………..

I have always worked with food, from my first job in a health food store deli in North Carolina, to my time spent hitchhiking across America and my return to London and employment in an eclectic range of busy restaurants. Having misspent my youth at various wonderful London Art colleges, I’m lucky that I had this equal passion, which, unlike my art education, meant I could always put bread on the table!

During my postgrad at the Royal Academy of Art, I would often pass Mildred’s and always thought it would be a lovely place to work. Daniel and I started at Mildred’s a few days apart and have been friends and collaborators ever since. We started the Mildred’s blog together – coming up with recipes, interviewing suppliers and photographing the food in our spare time – so when we got the chance to write the book we jumped at it. I’ve read cookbooks for fun since primary school and have in the past been known to lug a hardback copy of Claudia Roden’s Jewish Food around for a month to read on the Tube. The idea of writing a book of our own was wonderful.

Even though we are sometimes insanely busy at Mildred’s, we never rest on our laurels. Jane (at Mildred’s) is always looking for ways in which we can improve, and that drives us as chefs to keep looking for new dishes. The menu is international because we find it really helpful to look to other cultures for vegetarian inspiration. Asian recipes are great for vegan ideas as they contain little or no dairy; the Middle East is good for salads and side dishes as foods from that region are often meat-free; Passover recipes can be excellent for gluten-free ideas, whilst of course India is a fantastic source of vegetarian food. There is always a new avenue to explore, which is what makes cooking vegetarian food so interesting.

One of the things I like about working at Mildred’s is that, although we cater for a wide range of vegetarian diets, nothing is on the menu simply because it fits a particular dietary choice – everything is there on merit. So, if we put a new brownie on the menu it’s because we think it’s a brilliant brownie. The fact that it’s gluten free and vegan just happens to be the icing on the cake… if you’ll forgive the expression.


Sarah’s Six Epicurean Mementos



Ancient La Creuset Skillet
A pan which is always either in use or on the drying rack, seemingly never making its way back into the cupboard. What makes this such a thoroughly useful thing is that you can heat it on the hob and then throw it in the oven. So you can fry a few baby aubergines in it and then drizzle over some soy and sweet chilli and a sprinkle of sesame, pop it in a hot oven and you get a lovely caramelised finish. Or fry a few peppers then crack an egg or two on top and bake them. Very handy. What makes it special is that it is one of many kitchen bits I inherited from my grandparents who were very keen foodies before there was such a term. This pan is older than me which goes to show that what you invest in your kitchen can last from one generation to the next. This is true of both objects and passion for food, both of which I inherited from my grandparents.

Digital Radio
I love to cook at Mildred’s. It’s a great team and we have a great laugh. There have been times Daniel and I have been absolutely creased up with laughter while the checks build up. A lot of kitchen work is manual so it leaves your mind and the conversation free to roam to all kinds of places. You wouldn't believe what we get into! But when I'm at home, cooking can be a great opportunity to have a bit of time to myself to listen to Radio 4. I would say 80 percent of what I know, I learned from Radio 4.

Kenwood Chef Titanium Mixer
Well this is a lovely posh bit of kit. It does everything from whipping egg whites to making the casing for kibbehs and it has a motor more powerful than some mopeds. You can make everything in the book without a flash mixer but does make a lot of jobs quicker. It was also an engagement present from my husband and my mother in law, and I made our wedding cake with it. I'd say I use it two or three times a week but I keep it the cupboard which makes my husband laugh because most people would show off a fancy mixer but it’s a tool not an accessory and counter space is more important.

Kids Kitchen Kit
This is a great little suitcase with a kids chef hat, apron and tiny kitchen utensils. I bought this for my son’s third birthday and he loves to wear it when we cook together. We make everything, not just kids things. We baked the Persian Almond cake from the book together this week. I don't think there are any recipes you can’t do with kids. You have to supervise vigilantly and just try to ignore the mess and the somewhat unpredictable results. It’s important to me that my children understand food. It’s such a shame when recipes aren't passed on from one generation to the next.

Grubby Notebook
This is my kitchen companion. It is possibly the third or fourth of its kind, the others having gradually fallen apart or become so filthy as to be illegible. Whilst cooking, I try to make little notes of the adjustments I make to things or of recipes I'm stealing from colleagues. Daniel and I constantly try to improve things and the recipes develop over time. It’s fantastic to have this beautiful book published instead of just these grubby little notebooks which are pretty much undecipherable to anyone but me.

Claudia Roden's Jewish Food
I have so many cookbooks. I grew up in houses stuffed with cookbooks. I can't pick just one but what I love about this book is it exemplifies what food is all about. Yes of course it’s about great recipes and flavours and an exchange of ideas but it is also about history, culture and family. It’s the most basic human need and yet it satisfies some of the most complex needs as well.

Review of Mildred's The Cookbook

Much love is evident for Mildred’s restaurant in Soho, London.  A firm favourite amongst the vegetarian community in the capital and beyond and after years of flourishing trading, they have now released a cookbook featuring some of their most popular dishes for readers to create at home.

Written by the restaurant’s Chefs – Sarah Wasserman and Daniel Acevedo, each recipe, as well as being vegetarian, is also additionally denoted as Gluten Free or Vegan where applicable which is helpful for those observing those dietary remits.   There is a little introduction to each recipe which outlines if there is a story behind it or a suggestion of using alternative ingredients if that is applicable.

The recipes are easy to follow with most supported by well-shot photographs.  Split into sections of Soups,  Salads, Starters, Mains Desserts and Dips to name a few, the recipes include good old traditional British fare to the capture of international flavours with recipes such as Persian Spiced Almond, Pistachio & Polenta Cake and Peruvian Quinoa Salad with Kidney Beans, Peppers & Chipotle Lime Dressing.  One catching my eye was Beetroot, Apple & Red Cabbage Borscht.  A nod to my Eastern European roots, I love this version as it features some contemporary ingredients which gives it a nouveau make-over, something I’m look forward to trying myself.  Equally, the Lapsang-Scented Mushroom Stroganoff is a new version of an old classic and it has been given a smoky tea flavour overhaul giving the tried & tested dish a new lease of life.

The ingredients featured on the whole are quite easy to source, although some may need to be purchased via specialist shops/stockists which may mean allowing extra time when meal planning.

As well as the recipes themselves, I enjoyed reading about Mildred’s history, from how Jane the owner took over the premises of a seedy Soho outlet, turned it round and it is now an acclaimed successful restaurant.  Equally, I soaked up the passion from the biographies of chefs Sarah and Daniel and thought it was wonderful how much they love their work – it made me envisage Mildred’s as more ‘homely’ rather than a business and made me more fond of it if anything.  To find out a little more about Sarah Wasserman, she kindly participated in my new interview feature:  Epicurean Mementos – take a look HERE.

I have heard that only lady-luck can get you in to Mildred’s during peak hours, so if she isn’t smiling down on you today, then cooking up a little of Mildred’s spirit at home via the book will be the recommended next best thing.

Epicurean Mementos Interview with Sarah Wasserman – click here.
Book Information:
Mildreds: The Vegetarian Cookbook by Mildreds, Photography by Jonathan Gregson, Published by Mitchell Beazley, £25,

Disclosure:  This post was written following kind receipt of a complementary copy of:  Mildreds The Cookbook by Sarah Wasserman & Daniel Acevedo.  This review was conducted honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website. 

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Dip Your Own Asparagus - The Highfield

The Highfield in Edgbaston, Birmingham has enjoyed a good reputation as a quality restaurant/gastro pub since its opening.

I recently took the opportunity to review the restaurant for Dine Birmingham as well as to experience their seasonal ‘Dip Your Own’ asparagus starter and to see how their fair for vegetarians.

A lovely place and great staff although a few tweaks needed for vegetarians, all in all The Highfield is a great destination for foodies and somewhere I look forward to returning to again in the future!

To read my review on the Dine Birmingham website, click this link.


Disclosure:    This post has been written following a kind invitation from The Highfield to sample their menu and their Dip Your Own starter.    This review was conducted honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website. 

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Veggie Dining Guide for Birmingham

Birmingham.    England’s second city, but certainly not second best.  It is an evolving metropolis, ever reincarnating itself with new offerings and upcycling existing areas. Its original raison d’etre of being an industrial hub has now taken a backstep and instead, it’s a diverse, cultural place to visit.

As part of its progression, exciting times lie ahead for Birmingham with new projects nearing fruition, such as ‘Grand Central’ for New Street Station and in its infancy, ‘The Village’ development in Edgbaston, which will enrich Birmingham’s landscape even further.  

So why visit Birmingham?
Birmingham Central Library

Aside from the thousands of business visitors that flock to Birmingham each year, attracted by its central location, conference facilities, good provision of hotels and transport links; regular events in the city such as the St Patrick’s Day Parade, Birmingham Pride (LGBT community), Chinese New Year, Frankfurt German Christmas Market, Crufts and Good Food Show, also see visitor figures soar.  Equally, attractions such as Cadbury World, the Jewellery Quarter, some of the best theatres outside of London, the much talked about wedding cake style building of Central Library, the iconic Selfridges building, all have their own kudos, plus the sports teams of Aston Villa, Birmingham City and Warwickshire County Cricket Club, have all put Birmingham on the map.

Whilst all of these are well known on the tourist trails, the one thing I feel that Birmingham should be evangelical about is the growing food scene and dining culture which has the city has to offer.  Birmingham boasts a good balance of independent eateries as well as chain restaurants and coupled with the various (30+) cuisine types available suiting all levels of budget and palette, there literally is something for everyone.  You have everything on tap from streetfood to supper clubs, fine dining to farmers markets and Michelin star restaurants (of which there are 4) to Mocha Chocca Latte barista coffees.    
Birmingham Independent Food Fair

Apart from the nationally recognised Good Food Show, there are two other big food festivals happening over the summer.  The first of which is Foodies Festival in Cannon Hill Park which is already popular UK-wide and is coming to Birmingham for the first time this May. Famous chefs, demos and tastings will take place over the weekend of 15-17 May.   The Birmingham Independent Food Fair at Millennium Point on 12-13 September will celebrate independent food businesses across the city and visitors will have the chance to sample what is on their doorstep.

With the city having so many little sub-pockets within, I’ve enjoyed exploring what my hometown is offering right now to residents and visitors alike especially for vegetarian diners.  Whilst there are a few vegetarian dedicated restaurants, many of the other restaurants offer good vegetarian options with some able to make tailor-made dishes upon request.   

Here’s a round-up of where you can visit when in the city both inside the centre and in the suburbs:

Colmore Row Area (aka the Business District)

Colmore Row (and its surrounding roads) is the city’s business district with easy access from Snow Hill Station.  The eateries there are frequented by local workers during the week with shoppers occupying the weekend footfall.  The range is vast from independent bakeries and coffee shops such as Yorks Bakery Cafe, Home Is…, Urban Coffee Company, Kafe 6/8, bars such as The Bureau to Michelin star restaurants of Purnells and nearby Adam’s (Temple Street).  Other notable restaurants include Purnell’s Bistro (which is a modest alternative to Purnell’s), Opus on Cornwall Street, fine dining Indian cuisine at Itihaas and stylish Chinese restaurant Chung Ying Central (part of the restaurant group in the Chinese Quarter).   
Edwardian Tea Rooms

Round the corner from Colmore Row in Chamberlain Square is the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery which has the Edwardian Tea Rooms.  Beautifully set within a gallery environment, they serve wholesome favourites such as soups, jacket potatoes and all day breakfasts.

Is a beautiful Victorian arcade situated off Colmore Row and opposite Snow Hill station.  The bespoke shops offer visitors a chance to sample independents at their best.  Situated within is renown local delicatessen Anderson & Hill amongst other foodie enterprises.  Vegetarian fine dining venue Bistro 1847 has been applauded by vegetarians and with dishes such as Tarragon Polenta Crisp, Pickled Wild Mushroom, Goats’ Curd, Baby Aubergine, Tahini & Petals on offer, who can resist?

Temple Street Area


Temple Street and its surrounding roads connect Colmore Row with the main heart of the city centre (which is New Street and the Bullring).  Within are a number of eateries and bars to suit all.  Fumo offers a contemporary Italian menu, San Carlo, again Italian, has been a stalwart in Birmingham for years and popular with local celebrities.  Further down, Latin cantina Bodega have a popular following and bars with food are Sun on the Hill, Pure Bar & Kitchen (offering 100 types of beer), The Lost & Found and The Botanist which also has a cocktail focus.  All Greek Delicatessen on nearby Stephenson Street has all kinds of Hellenic offerings including baklava, halva and authentic feta cheese.




A two minute walk from New Street and Moor Street stations, the Bullring is a shopaholic’s heaven and as well as a multitude of shops it has the iconic silver disked exterior of Selfridge’s.  Now part of Birmingham’s skyline, it has a well-stocked food hall and is also home to The Balcony.  Other restaurants within the Bullring area are mainly chain restaurants typically found on many High Streets with the addition of Chaophraya Thai, Mount Fuji Japanese and Jamie’s Italian.

Within a few minutes walk from the back of New Street station is The Mailbox.  Once the city’s main postal sorting office, for a number of years now it has been a favourite destination for those in search of designer shops  and sophisticated dining/drinking venues.  Bar Epernay and newly opened Gas Street Social offer food and cocktails.  For a dining & film experience, check out the brand new Everyman Cinema which offers luxury wide sofa seating and an American/Hollywood inspired diner.


Next to The Mailbox is the jigsaw-pieced facade of The Cube.   The 25th floor famous regionally for Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse and Laurent Perrier Champagne Bar.  Offering panoramic views of Birmingham, somewhere to see and to be seen, the menu is also vegetarian friendly.  Other restaurants include Brazilian Rodizio Rico, Teppan-Yaki Japanese, Bun & Bowl and Madeleines which is delightful for coffee or afternoon tea.


On the canal network, Gas Street links The Mailbox to Brindleyplace by way of a canal towpath walk which on a sunny day is a joy to stroll down and I love seeing how many more padlocks (‘love locks’) have been attached to the ‘Love Bridge’.  Walkers and cyclists often stop by at the Canalside Café for a cappuccino or modestly priced lunch which can be enjoyed alfresco or by the roaring fire in wintertime.  A well-worn statistic is that Birmingham has more canals than Venice so even if for a short juncture, it is worth making it part of your visit.

Both classed as nightlife locations, they also have a wealth of eateries.  For Brindleyplace, there are a number of chain outlets including Italian Carluccios, Chilacas Mexican as well as independents such as Tin Tin’s Cantonese Restaurant and modern British restaurants Bank and Edmunds.  Again on the canal network, a little further down is The Malt Shovel, made famous in the 1990’s when the then US President Bill Clinton was captured enjoying a pint on the pub’s balcony.

Broad Street, although more known in the area for its bars and for The Birmingham Walk of Fame (famous Brummies honoured by way of Hollywood-esque stars in the pavement), it features Asian cuisine from Shimla Pinks, Pushkars and East z East amongst others as well as new restaurant Marmalade (with good veggie options) within the Birmingham Rep Theatre building.

 Oozells Square

Tucked behind Brindleyplace is compact Oozells Square which if visited in spring, is decorated with flossy pink cherry blossom trees.  Ikon Gallery allows you to enjoy art exhibitions with a café on-site, across the way is Cielo offering Mediterranean cuisine and Piccolinos have lovely Italian vegetarian options in a stylish setting.

John Bright Street

A former nightclub destination in the 1980/90’s, it has now reinvented itself with some nicknaming it ‘real ale alley’.  Turtle Bay offers Caribbean influenced cocktails and meals, Brewdog offer a wealth of guest ales and beers and Cherry Reds have an excellent vegetarian offering (from lunches to snacks) served within a nostalgic/kitschly decorated setting.  The Victoria is one of Birmingham’s oldest pubs which is now attracting large crowds day and night for food and cocktails.

Arcadian/Chinese Quarter/ Southside




With its many different guises, this area is known for its theatres, gay village, comedy clubs, nightlife and Chinese Quarter.  With the Ibis Hotel New Street within this remit, it makes for the perfect base for exploring central Birmingham.  The Chinese Quarter boasts numerous Oriental style restaurants such as Chung Ying, Chung Ying Garden and Min Mins with a number of large oriental supermarkets for those that wish to experiment with cooking at home.    French inspired Le Truc Restaurant is next to the Ibis Hotel and is a favourite for pre-theatre menus.    It offers contemporary French cuisine with heaps of vegetarian options (tailor-made if required) with a wonderfully quirky interior that makes you want to get out of your seat to explore each corner and crevice!  The Green Room Café Bar is a long standing favourite for Brummies who are looking for a pre/post-theatre cappuccino or such like.



Digbeth is a small district just after the Bullring heading south out of the city and although known in the main for its National Express Coach Station, it is also known for its concentration of Irish bars and clubs and it is where the annual St Patrick’s Day Parade occurs each March.  Also, there are a few little hidden gems within this labyrinth of old industrial units and warehouses.  Just sneaking into Digbeth’s geography is The Karczma, a Polish restaurant on Bordesley Street which has been critically acclaimed by UK food critic Jay Rayner amongst others in culinary circles.  Serving homemade hearty Polish fare (with some vegetarian options) in a mock-Polish mountain chalet interior, this is one place that is enjoyed by all with a vigorous appetite!  Equally, The Warehouse Cafe is an established award winning vegetarian restaurant with a good reputation and an imaginative menu.

Digbeth Dining Club

At the top of Digbeth’s stretch, the old Bird’s Custard Factory has been converted into a trendy destination for vintage shopping, socialising and attracts lots of small media businesses to its units.  Resembling (in my mind) Spitalfields London, it has a diverse vibe and food wise has Alfie Bird’s (popular for its burgers, pizzas and live music) and also just on its periphery is the weekly Digbeth Dining Club event which won the British Streetfood Award 2014.  A selection of the city’s favourite streetfood vendors gather each Friday and attendees can enjoy their food whilst DJs provide a musical backdrop.

Other Suburbs

Acknowledging that the balti was invented in Birmingham, this fictitious area skims the borders of Sparkhill, Sparkbrook and Balsall Heath and encompasses a number of balti houses which is known locally as the Balti Triangle.  Covering a number of Indo-Asian cuisines you can experience authentic dishes, whatever your budget.  A guide is available for those who are curry connoisseurs and want to enhance their visit with recommendations and local knowledge.



Literally a mile or so out of the city centre is the district known as the Jewellery Quarter.  Like Hatton Garden in London, it has back-to-back jewellery shops, makers, goldsmiths and acts as the destination for engagement and wedding rings.  Enjoying a little bit of a renaissance, once the jewellers have stopped trading for the day, there are a number of pubs and restaurants that take over and offer a little nightlife to the area.  The Rose Villa Tavern is a beautifully decorated pub where Victoriana meets Americana and the ye olde English curios interior provides the setting whilst you enjoy their good old US of A burger influenced menu. 

Other food purveyors and restaurants to note are:  Peel & Stone (Bakers/Deli), Urban Coffee Company, Vee’s Deli, The Drop Forge and The Lord Clifden. 

Based in the Jewellery Quarter and new to the supperclub scene are Baltic chefs Two Cats Roaming – check out their site to see their next event.

St Paul’s Square next to the Jewellery Quarter is home to many longstanding restaurants such as Henry’s (Cantonese), Pasta di Piazza and also to Lasan, an Asian/Indian restaurant voted ‘Gordon Ramsay’s Best Local restaurant in the UK’ and was featured in the ‘Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants’ listing.


Moseley is often described as bohemian and eclectic and to me, is the nearest you’ll get to a London suburb.  Hub of all things arty and spiritual, its park is home to the annual Mostly Jazz Festival and Moseley Folk Festival attracting big names. On the food front, there is fine dining at Carters of Moseley, international dining at La Fibule which serves Moroccan food souk-style, La Plancha is a favourite amongst tapas lovers and Ponte di Legino which is Italian.  Lots of quirky pubs such as The Dark Horse, One Trick Pony, Fighting Cocks all have pub-grub fare and for those looking for a little café culture, it can be found in Cafephilia and Damascena Syrian Café to name a few.  The Moseley Farmers Market takes place on the last Saturday of each month.

Kings Heath

One mile from Moseley is Kings Heath, almost mimicking Moseley’s style, it too boasts an eclectic edge and has many delightful eateries such as Veg Out (formerly Manic Organic to those that know Birmingham well). Taking over the helm as the area’s vegetarian offering, it has a lovely menu in a cosy setting.  On York Road, eateries galore can be found with Cherry Reds (same ownership as the one in John Bright Street) offering more vegetarian delights with Byzantine Mediterranean tapas/mezze restaurant across the way and Kitchen Garden Café right next to it doing the same.  Kitchen Garden Café’s menu has a lot of veggie/organic food and also plays host to a number of pop-up supper clubs for companies such as Restaurant Epi.  Streetfood events regularly take place in the centre by Brum Yum Yum who have an ever-evolving food vendor listing and allow shoppers to stop by, enjoy live music and grab a snack as they go.  The Kings Heath Farmers Market takes place on the first Saturday of each month.


Going west from the city centre is leafy Edgbaston, famous for Warwickshire County Cricket Club and The Botanical Gardens.  A mini business district in the week, at night is comes to life by way of the new bars and restaurants that are settling in the area and which are taking shape as part of the ‘The Village’ development.  Already in-situ is cool Norwegian bar Norjske, The Edgbaston purveying cocktails, The Highfield getting well known for quality gastro pub food and Michelin star Simpsons.  New restaurants are opening up all the time, so watch this space!


Going west a little further is Harborne, somewhat like its Moseley brethren, it offers an eclectic eating scene of Turners (Michelin star awarded), Sabai Sabai (Thai) and award winning Sunday lunch extraordinaire venue The Plough.  The veggie Sunday lunches there are divine!   


Nudging the Birmingham/Black Country border is Bearwood, there a few restaurants in the area, but I have to give Franzls a big shout out.   The Midlands’ only Austrian restaurant, Austrian décor, cute bierkeller bar and wholesome home cooking have visitors returning again and again.  Family run, the chef was the part of the catering team when The Sound of Music was being filmed in Salzburg and brings the flavour of Austria to the city.


This is only a sweeping snapshot of the kind of restaurants/bars in the city you can experience and there are indeed many more to enjoy (sorry I’ve not been able to include them all)! 

If you’re after a particular cuisine or you want to know what is available in a particular area, a great guide to check out is Dine Birmingham.  It offers descriptions, suggestions and unbiased reviews about the different restaurants in the city and is has proven to be a handy tool for visitors and city residents alike.

If you are going to be dining in Birmingham more often, then you may wish to invest in a discount card such as Gastro Card or Independent Card.  Both charge an annual fee and in return the restaurants aligned with them offer generous discounts and deals. 
So if you're not familiar with Birmingham and I've tempted you with some of my suggestions then why not make a weekend of it and see the best of what the city has to offer?   Affordable chains like ibis Hotels have a number of hotels in Birmingham at reasonable prices, meaning you'll be able to spend more on some of these wonderful activities.

Whether you are visiting Birmingham for the day, a weekend or longer, Birmingham can offer you a new foodie experience each time.  All you need is a big appetite for both food and adventure.


Disclosure: This article has been written in collaboration with Ibis Hotels to highlight vegetarian dining opportunities in Birmingham for Ibis patrons and/or those visiting Birmingham.  I was given a one night complimentary stay at an Ibis Hotel as a goodwill gesture but was not obliged to review my stay or the hotel and also my expenses were covered to research this article.  All eateries/service providers and food related weblinks featured have been included through my own selection and I have not been given any incentive to promote them or to provide positive reviews.  All views are my own and are not necessarily the views of the Ibis Group.  This article has been written without bias.