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MICHELIN GUIDE TO PUBS:
FIVE WITHIN 25 MILES

Morning. Is it too early to talk about pubs? Good. Hot on the heels of announcing the latest list of Brum restaurants to be awarded Michelin stars, Michelin has revealed the winners in its pub category and there are 13 in the West Midlands alone. Here's five of them, all country pubs within a 25 mile striking distance of central Brum. There's a bonus one too because, as you know, we won't be constrained by rules.
THE CROSS AT KENILWORTH 
Knew to the Michelin Guide and deemed worthy of a Michelin star in September, this place is owned by Simpsons supremo and Pure Bar & Kitchen stake-holder Andreas Antona. The guide goes all gooey about the "skillfully executed, classical cooking" of world-class head chef Adam Bennett, as well as their super-cosy snug bar with wood-burning stove. Menu; Website; Location 
ORANGE TREE, CHADWICK END
Close to Knowle and not 20 minutes from Hall Green, Michelin have lauded their menu of global dishes like Mexican chilli beef, tandoori chicken burger and Thai crispy beef salad. Cosy, rustic and unfussy with "a bit of kitsch thrown in the mix", you'll be able to get your Purity Brewery favourites as well as some lesser known ales. Booking is advised.
MenuWebsite; Location
THE TROOPER, WALL 
Situated between Lichfield and Sutton Coldfield, this is truly one for the steak aficionados. Michelin heap praise on their "selection of mature steaks, from local rump to fantastically marbled Kobe beef; rare breed steaks go up to 20oz for the truly ravenous and a fine array of sides including the somewhat unusual parsley root fries." Wood-fired pizza will satiate those less meat-obsessed. Menu; Website; Location  
WHITE HART, HARTLEBURY
"Once a run down old pub," says Michelin "it's now the pride and joy of the owners who have established it as a proper village local, where locals watch TV from brown leather chairs." Cracking food options (it's in The Good Food Guide, too) include chicken, port and bacon pâté and loin of pork with champ and sage cream. They also have an annual beer festival so the ales are ace. Website; Location 
MALT SHOVEL, BARSTON
Just east of Solihull the Malt Shovel is new to the Michelin Guide and they champion it as a "pub for all seasons". Right now expect a crackling fire in its delightfully rustic bar. "People come here to dine, rather than drink," say Michelin. "The menu offers pub classics but the Malt Shovel is also well known for its fish." Pro-tip: Check the specials board before making any rash decisions. Menu; Website; Location
BONUS: FUZZY DUCK, ARMSCOTE 
This one's 35 miles from Brum, but sounds brilliant, so make a weekend of it and book a room. South of Stratford-Upon-Avon, it received the coveted "Inspectors' Favourite" and is new to the guide. Michelin are falling over themselves to herald the stylish bedrooms and stunning menu with the Chocolate Whatchamacallit dessert a must for choc-heads.
Menu; Website; Location
A full list of West Midlands pubs that feature in the guide can be found here. The guide itself can be purchased at book shops and here.

BRUM GROOMING
RANGE LAUNCHES
 

If you want to know how many seconds there are until Christmas - and no doubt most of you do - this website will help with that. Bottom line? It's bearing down on us like a shotgun full of snow. If you want to buy anything for our male members of staff then they're rather smitten with this new, delightful grooming brand, born from Birmingham. Gruhme (pronounced 'groom') is the brainchild of Robert Hallmark, a corporate solicitor who left the world of law to enter the retail market where he's now devising and designing his own quality Birmingham-made products. He's started well. The first and signature fragrance (£35 for 100ml) is a woody number with top notes of juniper, black peppercorn, bergamot, lemon and lavender. We could mention more ingredients, but it'll get you no closer to knowing what it's like, so maybe head into The Barber House on Colmore Row and give it a nose. They also offer an outrageously sophisticated shave kit in a peli case with a Bolin Webb R1 razor, for £150.
gruhme.co.uk

MOVIE OF THE WEEK: INTERSTELLAR
 

Book your babysitter: this Winter’s megamovie has arrived. Whatever your opinion of US-British director Christopher Nolan’s mix of bombast and brain-teasing – he’s behind Inception and the recent Batman trilogy – Interstellar is going to be the film people are talking about. Taking on nothing less than the power of love to transcend physical limitation and relegating Matthew McConaughey’s intergalactic quest to find a new home for humanity to a B plot, this is a big movie in every sense of the word. Such is its ambition that it needs to be judged harsher than most films. Yes, you can see every influence, 2001 in particular, working away under the bonnet, it’s bladder-challengingly long and the dialogue hit the nail on the head a little too firmly – but in every other capacity this is bold and innovative cinema so smart it’s uplifting to imagine an LA exec thought it worth spending $200 million on. Genuinely moving, thrilling and a visual spectacle even in this FX-heavy age, this is as good as mainstream entertainment gets.

FIREWORKS FROM THE ROTUNDA


Caps doffed in the direction off Brum photographer Tim Cornbill who joined us at a fireworks from the Rotunda event, courtesy of penthouse suite operators Staying Cool. While we raided the hooch cabinet he stood on the balcony of the 20th floor, in bracing conditions, snapping away at fireworks events across the city.
Top shots were taken in the direction of the Edgbaston Cricket Ground display (above), and one that seemed to be taking place on the very doorstep of the Central Library (below). 'Like' Tim's Facebook page to see the rest of his firework snaps, which'll go live tomorrow (November 8).
Suffice to say the view from the luxury suites atop the Rotunda is outstanding and although most Staying Cool apartments are booked up at weekends throughout November and December, they've kindly offered I CHOOSE Birmingham readers a 15% discount on any overnight stay in January. We're thinking a night in the penthouse would make for a corking Chrimbo pressie, no? The discount applies to any Staying Cool Rotunda apartment (not just the penthouse) - simply use the discount code "ichoose" in the rate code box, when booking.  

BAR OPUS: BAR OPENS


The Opus dynasty has this week taken a further step towards world domination with the launch of the third member of its multifarious family, Bar Opus, at the Piazza, One Snowhill. Open from 7am to 11pm and with a bedazzling selection of food and drink throughout the day, we’re thinking about simply asking for a bed there. Okay, we did ask. They don't do rooms. With a bar stocked to impress the most discerning of imbibers, we like the Autumn Bellini (bumbleberry or pear, prosecco), while "Opus Lager" is available on tap. Early reports on the menu? Try the devilled kidneys (£7.50) or Brixham Bay bouillabaisse (£12.50) for lunch and the glazed baby chorizo from their “After 5pm” sharing plates. And relax. Bar Opus is a laid back, airy addition to the suited and booted CBD.
 

SARA PASCOE IN BRUM


After a truly bizarre and wildly wrong recent tirade from comedian Andrew Lawrence in which he slated both female comedians and "ethnic" comedians, it's timely that one of the best comics on the circuit (female or not, it's irrelevant) is Birmingham-bound. Sara Pascoe, star of Stand Up for the Week, Live at the Apollo, QI, Never Mind the Buzzcocks and Mock the Week presents her first ever UK tour show: 'Sara Pascoe VS History' and the reviews are brilliant. Pascoe will be performing at Birmingham's Glee Club, tonight (November 7) and Bromsgrove Artrix on November 20. Tickets for both are just £12. Expect Pascoe to confront wars, witches, Kim Jong-il and your ex. Check out this clip for a taster of her crack-a-rib-laughing-and-not-even-care, routine.
Venue: Boston Tea Party, The School Yard, 106 High Street Harborne, B17 9NJ; bostonteaparty.co.uk
Choice: Chorizo Hash (£7.25)  Chooser: Manager

As the conveniently alliterative battle ground that is "Birmingham's best breakfast" rages on, Boston Tea Party have thrown their name in the hat (i.e. we've eaten there) with the superb chorizo hash with poached eggs, mushrooms, spinach and roasted tomatoes. The chorizo hash really is the ensign of this dish with the meaty chorizo treats filling the gums with flavour and the roasted tomatoes cutting clean through the intensity with palate cleansing aplomb. Poached eggs are always great (fried eggs are greasier than a 50 bus handrail) while the spinach offers much more than just colour. Further nods should be given to the sourdough eggy bread with with smoked bacon and avocado breakie (£7.25 - they recommend plenty of tabasco) while lunch and dinner diners should consider the top-selling cheeseburger with bacon jam, cheddar, pickled cucumber and chipotle aioli, washed down with Wiper & True Amber Ale. Full menu 
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"I went to a restaurant that serves 'breakfast at any time'. I ordered French toast during the Renaissance." - Steven Wright

WORDS: Tom Cullen, Katy Drohan, Andrew Lowry

Copyright © 2014 Birmingham Publishing Group Ltd, All rights reserved.



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