Saturday, 27 May 2017

Deposit Secures Your Table

I’ve known Alex Claridge almost as long as I’ve been blogging, so since 2012 I’ve been following his work and projects around Birmingham and I’ve watched him move from one challenge to another.

The Wilderness Interior
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

A lovely guy whose passion for food, service and creativity are second to none and you won’t see lame penne pasta in tomato sauce or mushroom risotto on his menu anywhere. 

His ethos is to push boundaries and to bring tastes together that you’d never think of combining.  To give you a work of art that is visibly clear has taken hours to make, that has been nurtured to give you a real food experience and something far, far away from an average Tuesday-night-TV-dinner.

Going the extra mile, he goes foraging for seasonal herbs and sources ingredients from remote places (sea buckthorn anyone?).  For instance, tomatoes are marinated for 24 hours, strained for 24 hours and the juice of which is then used to make a meringue.  This is the effort he goes to, the man has the patience of a saint to bring it all together.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

This is why you pay good money to eat at his venue The Wilderness.  Everything is thought through, every minor allergy, dislike, food intolerance request is factored in (if notice is given) to make the diner a bespoke version of the planned menu.   Vegetarians are given a culinary rollercoaster of taste and texture, something you don’t get in an average establishment.

Bearing all of the above in mind, so why is it that have people been grumbling about his new policy of providing a deposit upon booking?

The Wilderness Interior
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

I’m angry for him that he’s had issues with this.  He’s not in the league of the large High Street chain outlets where you can arrive as you please and a lot of the food is all pre-done for future consumption so waste isn’t a primary issue.  Instead, he’s a small, independent business where 2 or more no-shows per night makes a real impact not only on a financial level, but all the hard work in putting the menus together are wasted and it also denies someone a table that wanted to get in but couldn’t.  And he does have waiting lists.

I’m not the only one who thinks this way, fellow blogger Laura from Full to the Brum even appeared on local TV news discussing this supporting Alex’s stance.  She makes a good point, if you have to pay deposits at restaurants on occasions such as Mother’s Day or Christmas, then what’s the problem in doing so all the time?

So if you’re one of those who feels put out by paying a deposit, all I’d say is, don’t cut your nose off to spite your face and respect his deposit policy to secure your booking as I truly mean this, you won’t want to miss out on his menu creations.  We often say, our visit to The Wilderness (and also when we visited his venture Nomad) was one of the best meals we’ve ever had.  And the best things are worth paying for.



This is an extract from The Wilderness’s Vegetarian Menu from last summer.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
Chapter One
The Shoreline – Evening to Dusk
A Coastal Breeze (Pea, Cucumber, Hazelnut, Potato)
Under Embers (Roast Cauliflower, Salted Grapes, Oyster Leaf)

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Chapter Two
The Forest & The Fields
Celeriac, Leftovers & Weeds (Celeriac, Egg Yolk, Herb Oil, Cheese Biegnet)
The Forest & The Field (Pearl Barley, egg yolk, Forest Herbs inc: white flowers, stone fruit)

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Chapter Three
The Picnic 2009
The Flowers Got To the Tart First (Cheddar Tart, Many Flowers from the Allotment)
Jammy Dodgers
Oh B*llocks (99 Flake, Strawberry, Meadowsweet)

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Monday, 15 May 2017

Bardolino Birmingham

Yesterday, I had a very nice little lunch with two of my closest friends at Bardolino’s in Birmingham.  Based in The Cube by The Mailbox, it is part of Marco Pierre White’s chain and is more informal than some of his other offerings.  In fact it’s used by the guests of The Cube’s spa facility so there were plenty of people in white robes dotted around, so don’t worry about feeling under-dressed.

We went there for lunch, rather tempted by the £6.95 offer which includes a pizza or a dish from the Al Forno section of the menu and a soft drink.  In addition, jugs of chilled water were brought out as standard which I was pleased to see.

Opting for a Wild Mushroom Lasagne myself, it came with a good amount of wild mushrooms and they had that nice ‘chewy’ texture you get from them as opposed to that from standard field mushrooms, so a rustic twist on a classic.  My friends both had the Salmon Cannelloni which they said was also good.

We ordered a side dish each, however these came late and without asking, our waitress took them off our bill as an apology, which was fair of her.

In fact, Laura (our waitress) was really attentive and delivered a high level of customer service which we appreciated.  Customer service is just as important as the food itself and either factor can make or break your dining experience.

Sorry, but no photos as we were too busy gossiping, but to put you in the picture:  the restaurant has a clean, airy feel about it, lots of white tiles, mosaic slates on the floor, views of the canal, framed Italian kitsch posters and of course obligatory photos of Mr White himself as is standard across all of his venues. 

The lunch offer was extremely good value, so definitely worth popping in for that and again, another round of applause for the customer service we received.  People often talk about the bad service they have and not so much about the good service, so I’m bucking the trend here.  All in all, good to see a chain restaurant that offers the personal touch.


**We paid for our food and I did not disclose that I was a food blogger**

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Gluten Free Veggie Crisps

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

I find it’s a dangerous game opening a bag of sharing crisps.  Because they go.  Open the bag, fail to stop at having ‘one or two’ and before you know it, they’ve gone.  The larger the bag, the larger the temptation – for me anyway.

But it seems I’m not alone.  New in the sharing crisp category are Seabrook’s premium Lattice range and as I found, having them makes you fall into the trap as above – they are somewhat addictively moreish.  Offering a bag to friends, they commented how easy they were to polish off and did so within a car journey.   I watched my mother who insisted that a couple of crisps would be enough for her to try, to then see her dismay when the packet was empty.  This is what I mean by a dangerous game – it’s hard to stop.

But unlike my mother and I, for those with a tad more willpower, the packet comes with a peel & seal facility on the front, it can be closed off quite easily if you only (really, literally) just want a handful of crisps.

The lattice shape gives it texture and each crisp is quite thick which gives them substance and flavours in the range include Natural Sea Salt, Sea Salt & Black Pepper and Cheese & Onion, all of which are enjoyable.

Additional benefits is that they boast natural ingredients, are vegetarian friendly and are also gluten free, thus giving those that are observing a GF dietary lifestyle a chance to have a snack which suits them and yet doesn’t compromise on taste.

With #GlutenFreevolution Week in-situ (8 May – 14 May) and ahead of British Sandwich Week (14 May – 20 May), (and who doesn’t like a sandwich with crisps?), Seabrook’s Lattice Range are worth a try and also, they are really good for the Saturday night ‘beer munchies’ – for which I can vouch.


Disclosure:  This review was conducted following receipt of complementary samples of Seabrook Lattice Gluten Free crisps.  The review was conducted honestly without bias. For further information about reviews, please see the Disclosure tab on this website.