A battle rages

SCOTCH EGG WARS

Since the slow and painful demise of our mid-90s Graceland, Mr Egg, egg-centric dishes have been something of a sore spot. Until that is, we moved office, deep into the CBD, where we discovered a vicious Scotch egg war between six establishments, all within a short stumble of our building. So we ate all six in three hours and decided to write about them. You know what they say: If it's not investigative, it's not journalism.  
Purnell's Bistro
House serve: Chips and salad
Thoughts: Shunning sausage meat in favour of black pudding, a move that prompted our ads guy to dub this egg "daring", this is a rich and crisp dish, and the beer pairing of Wolf Rock Red IPA was the best of the six. You'll taste this beauty deep down in your very marrow but, despite the addition of chips, £8.50 seems steep for a bar snack.
Score: 8/10
Lost & Found
House serve: Red pepper tapenade and salad
Thoughts: Gloucester Old Spot sausage is blended with chorizo for what, cruelly, was an under-seasoned egg (£5.50). The pané was extremely thick taking great swathes of flavour away from the meat. The tapenade was decent and the Anchor California Lager a great beer choice, but there's problems here. Onwards!     
Score: 5/10
Hotel Du Vin
House serve:
Erm, beef? 
Thoughts: Rule breakers Hotel Du caused company-wide uproar when they served us a stunning beef carpaccio dish (£8.95) on which a perfectly cooked quail Scotch egg is but the garnish. An immaculate plate though this was, they should know better than to try and pull the wool over our eyes. It was served with a superb Conde Villar Alvarinho, but alas... Score: Honourably disqualified
The Old Contemptibles
House serve: Brown sauce, bab
Thoughts: Gloucester Old Spot again, in an egg that seriously split the team's opinion. Three diners enjoyed it, but this writer did not. Despite being charmingly priced (£3.50), humbly sauced and well paired with Purity's UBU, it had been fried into oblivion and the sausage meat seemed exceedingly robust. Too firm if anything. A bit like my abs.
Score: 5/10
The Bureau
House serve:
Duck meat on onion jam with mustard cress
Thoughts: Served whole, this badboy may look like ovomorph, but it tastes over MARVELLOUS! Sweetness, with an oriental twang this duck meat beauty (£6.50) had us ignoring the fact that the Oxford English dictionary specifies that a Scotch egg is served with sausage meat. Somehow not disqualified. Hotel Du Vin will be furious. Score: 8/10
Purecraft Bar & Kitchen
House serve:
Beer ketchup and matchstick fries
Thoughts: The most sausagey sausage of the all the day's sausage, the meat had brilliantly fused with the breadcrumb preventing that irritating Scotch egg outer layer collapse. The slightly spicy meat (there's chilli in there, yo) and depth of flavour were exceptional. Only downside: The yolk was slightly over. Paired with Longhorn.  Score: 9/10

YOU'RE COMING SHEEP RACING


There are three certainties in life: Death, taxes and our annual attendance at Summer in Southside. This year (and this weekend, no less) the Hippodrome-run free festival of ooh and ahh is more ooh-arr as it comes complete with a distinctly countrysidey theme. We will definitely, definitely not be getting over-excited at the two 90 metre long sheep races that'll be tearing around Hurst Street, so that's completely fine. Other major highlights include storytelling, music and song in the company of The Fabularium’s Reynard The Fox – and big beats from Bhangra troupe The Lions of Punjab. Birmingham Royal Ballet will be in attendance and The Black Eagles from Tanzania will present their high-impact acrobatic show set to a lively soundtrack of African music. And if we can squeeze one more important mention in: Rogue Play will be Taking Flight, with an enchanting aerial display. There's much, much more, but look we appear to have completely run out of spa...  
Venue: The Orangery, Old Rectory House Hotel, Ipsley Lane, Ipsley, Redditch, B98 0AP; website
Choice: Lamb rump (£18.50) Chooser: Front of House

Those amiable folks from the Mailbox's Gas Street Social have plumped for Redditch for their next venture, renovating the Old Rectory Hotel and adding the Orangery restaurant. Oh and they've added the above. Reminiscent of the Crystal Maze dome, minus the giant fans and the over-excited chap with the harmonica, it's a bizarre, verging on brilliant private dining space in their stunning grounds. If you're after something a little more, you know, restauranty than this cupola creation, then the Orangery is a bona fide beauty too. Oak-smoked salmon skewers were victors of the starter-based fight to the death, but the salt marsh lamb rump, ratatouille and anchovy dauphinoise, which came with that ever comforting 'allow 30 minutes to cook' caveat, was MVP. The perfectly pink lamb packed meaty punch while the dauphinoise were so mercurial we wanted to lob chef in a river to see if he was a witch. Addendum: Bloody hell their truffle fries are good. Menus; Greenhouse dining

URGENT: FOOT DARTS AND ZORB BALL


When a press release is so perfect you have to close your laptop and just walk away applauding. That's what happened when news reached our desk that a 22-foot high sticky, inflatable dart board had arrived at PlayFootball near the Jewellery Quarter. Rally work colleagues and boot velcro balls at it or, hell, woo clients with something somewhat out of the ordinary. And if that weren't news enough, the same venue now offers Zorb Football, which essentially involves trying to play football while your upper half is incased in a bubble and your opponents are trying to ram you into next Tuesday. (For 50% off football at PlayFootball head here. Offer does not apply to Foot Darts or Zorb Football. Other T&C apply)

"THE PUNK ROCK OF INDIAN CINEMA"


Europe's largest Indian film festival returns to Brum, June 23, complete with 11 indy movies over 10 days in three cinemas. Sharing hosting responsibilities with that there London, the celebrations kick off at Cineworld (Broad Street), with a red-carpet premiere of historical epic, The Black Prince, which launched at Cannes and stars Punjabi singer Satinder Sartaaj and Jason "Lock Stock" Flemyng (both pictured). Elsewhere mac Birmingham will screen surreal Malayalam road-movie thriller Sexy Durga. Winner of the Tiger Award for best film at Rotterdam International Film Festival it's the tale of a hitch-hiking couple who try to escape a road to hell after accidentally getting into a car of deranged gangsters. Been there. More
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  • Digbeth Dining Club host the Midlands heats of the British Street Food Awards this weekend. There's a Cake Doctor, apparently 
  • The good three Lord of the Rings movies are screening in Moseley Private Park in September. Grab a Samwise and get tickets 
  • Not one for those with Coulrophobia (a fear of clowns), the Moscow State Circus is Becketts Farm-bound in early July  
  • Recipe lunatics Blanch & Shock are taking a full Roman feast to the Royal Shakespeare Company, June 25. Before you ask, yes they are serving bog myrtle. Menu here, tickets here
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"The scotch egg is such a Scottish food. It's as though a great Scottish chef said: I need a tasty snack. Let's take an egg... and wrap it in meat! Makes it a bit harder." - Bill Bailey
WORDS: Tom Cullen and only Tom Cullen. What a guy. 
IMAGES: Michael McGurk (Sheep racing)


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