Issue 312
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What better way to return to your inbox than with a trademark pun headline that absolutely needs explaining? You may or may not have embarked on the gruelling ritualistic nightmare-fuel that is Dry January, but either way, easing off on the old moonshine probably isn't the worst idea to begin a new decade. So here's some DRY-VERSIONS™️ to divert you away from the hooch until Fab-ruary.



Blossom-bedecked and luxey Chinese restaurant Tattu is offering a handsome 30% off your food bill. If you're veganuarying may we nudge you towards the crispy kale seaweed (£5) and the king oyster mushroom hot pot with baby spinach, silken tofu and yuzu soy (£16). Where Tattu have really pushed the boat out, though, is on mocktails. Check out the show-stopping Royal Tea (£4.50, top left) which includes ginger, hibiscus, lemon and rose lychee tea. Pfff, wine is so dull. (Until Jan 31)


The Godfather of Black British Photography, Vanley Burke, whose body of work represents possibly the largest photographic record of the Caribbean Diaspora in Britain, is now showing at the Hippodrome and admittance won't cost you a thing. Home is an exhibition of new, interactive portraits of Birmingham’s female elders, in the places they feel most at home, brought to life via augmented reality that sees them tell their stories directly to the viewer. (Until Feb 21)


There's a dizzying array of decent discounts kicking about, but pick of the booze dodging troupe is found at one of the most beery of establishments. A pair of really rather impressive Brewdog deals can be combined (we asked). Not only are they offering 50% off all vegan dishes but also bottomless alcohol free beer, on draft, from just £3.30. And Brewdog's boozeless pints are particularly on point.



Plans for Saturday? Pub dodge and hand make a beautiful silver chain on a one-day workshop with jeweller Grace Page. From 10am to 4pm all materials are included in the £60 fee, as are non-boozy refreshments. (Jan 18)


Author, writer, broadcaster, Costner fanatic and 11 year Den Of Geek editor, Simon Brew, launches his new monthly live film show (and podcast) at the MAC. Introductory ticket prices are just a fiver and you can expect filmmakers interviewed on stage, a film quiz and 90 minutes of top movie nerdery. (Jan 22)


There's still plenty of tickets to the British Basketball Cup Final. Even if you don't really like the hoops, just a pick a side, go along, and get un-Britishly American about the whole thing. It'll be well lol. Speaking of picking a side, Bristol Flyers take on Worcester Wolves. Cut us, we bleed Wolves. (Jan 26, from £28.25)


Technically, new Custard Factory neon arcade nirvana NQ64 isn't only open for one night. It'll be open forever more, but the paying public are welcome for just the last evening of Dry Jan. And you weren't drinking beer last time you were playing Tekken, Street Fighter II or Space Invaders, were you? Were you? If you want to get in earlier they're looking for games testers over on Instagram. (Jan 31 onwards)



For just three pieces of the Queen's gold (and free to members) BMAG's boffins are providing guided tours of the museum, this month. They're so chill over there that no advance booking is necessary. Just meet your tour guide in the Round Room at one of these timed slots. (Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday)


Admittedly their slogan is 'Booze & Ball Games' but with just a smidgen of will power you can focus on the latter when Roxy Ball Room opens on Mill Hill Lane, Digbeth. Expect a hot casserole of ten pin bowling, ping pong, pool, shuffleboarding and lots and lots of neon. You can always go back and try the bar in Feb. (Jan 24 onwards)


Lions and dragons and Shaolin Warriors. What the hell's not to like about Chinese New Year? The firecrackers and the light up stilt walkers will be banging and clattering their way around town to this schedule of events. If you're looking for something indoorsy, big-time choreographer Corey Baker is putting on a new dance piece with Hong Kong Ballet and BRB at the Patrick Studio. Book(Jan 25 and 26)


The Political History of Smack and Crack lands at the Rep, January 29, and its drawing parallels with Trainspotting in the way it takes dark material and still generates joy. Tracing their lives from the 1981 riots to the present day, Mandy and Neil chronicle those communities crushed by the Thatcher-era heroin epidemic. A snip at just £10. (Jan 29 to Feb 1)


Like the Avengers only better in the kitchen and worse in lycra, three top chefs are combining for a Valentine's (or not Valentine's) one-off on Sunday, Feb 16. Following their sell-out first collaboration back in September — when the head chef at Michelin-starred Hampton Manor joined the Sky By The Water team — Matt Cheal, the man behind Cheal’s, is next to tag team with Aaron Darnley and Darryl Collins, at the Resorts World restaurant. Cheal and head chef Darnley partner on a duo of starters and main courses, including a cured salmon and crab number and — get this — a Loomswood Farm duck, Parmesan gnocchi and passion fruit main. Great Caesar's ghost! Desserts and petit fours will follow from Collins, the former Bake Off: The Professionals finalist, including a milk choc macaron with a mango compote and roast parsnip ice-cream (a what??) with miso caramel, pictured. It's £75 a spot including a drink in the Secret Winter Garden from 6pm, with a matching drinks pairing available at £30 a head. E'er so likely to sell out, book by emailing or calling 0121 273 1000. More


There are giveaways and then there are GIVEAWAYS. We ensure our competitions fall squarely into the latter category. Behold, one of the greatest gifts you could ever offer your wallet/purse. We've teamed up with Vietnamese food gods Pho, to give one I Choose Birmingham reader a 50% off card for all of 2020. Visit as many times as you choose until December 31 and your food bill (not drinks) will be halved with this gem. Pho, for the uninitiated, specialise in stocky bowls of noodley nirvana, zesty side dishes and vegan-friendly hits. All you need to do to enter the competition is be an I Choose Birmingham subscriber. That's it. New or old, everyone is in with a chance. And if you're reading this you're probably (but not necessarily) already subscribed. Winner picked at random from our database, 12pm Jan 24. 


There's an eventy sort of equation that just works. Take one entirely beaut location, ideally an iconic one. Add an independent maker or creator, open up said venue after hours and offer an ever so reasonable ticket price. Introducing Barber Lates — a whole series of art-inspired workshops and events taking place at the gallery that do exactly that. Make sourdough with local lovelies, Loaf, while you learn about the place of food in the Barber’s collection (Jan 30 and March 26, £20). Try out a relaxed life-drawing session where there'll also be the opportunity to talk to the models (Feb 6, £18). Or how's about some terrazzo casting and coaster design inspired by the Art Deco elements of the Barber (March 5, £65)? Check out the full programme here, which also includes completely free evening happenings.
Venue: The Plough, 21 High St, B17 9NT; website  
Choice: Salad bar (£9.50 to £12.50) Chooser: General Manager

"You don't win friends with salad" crooned Bart, Homer and Marge as they Conga-ed famously around their living room. Clearly The Simpsons has never been to the Plough in Harborne, where, if you
download their app, you'll get two-for-one on their new salad bar — so you literally can win friends with salad by taking someone. And what a spread it is too. The work of a specialist salad chef, over 30 items are on rotation, so we can't guarantee what'll be on offer, but unsurprisingly they go big on fresh veg, salad-y-pastar-y sorts and protein. You can bob and weave your way to a vegan selection with ease and fittingly it's the veganuary-friendly dishes, sauces and little extras that steel this particular show. A sunblush tomato blend was the absolute standout, garlicky and salted with soy. Plunge your roasted aubergine with parsley and dates deep into its vermillion depths. The giant bowls of salad arrive all freshly prepared for you (this isn't a queueing with tray a deal), and portions are super-generous, but somehow we managed seconds of the glorious crispy kale. Anyone who can make kale taste this good is surely employing some sort of kitchen-based voodoo. There's oak-smoked salmon and chicken skewer options, but mark our words, you won't miss either if you take the cheaper meat-free and morally more "right on" route. Midday to 3pm, weekdays only
Moseley Cocktail Weekend sort of marks the end of Dry January from Jan 31 (naughty) to Feb 2. Wristbands (£4.90) entitle you to a £5 cocktails from 12 bars, from the bound-to-be-brilliant Cuban Embassy, to the umm, wildcard Wetherspoons.
Gup Shup is now open and delivering sandos (fat, filled sandwiches encased in Japanese Shokupan bread) to your desk. We've not had them yet but they look resplendent.
Stick it to 01/20 with Heroes of Hooch, a new show which looks at history’s greatest drinkers. From Plato to Picasso, tickets (£17) include five drinks. Old Rep, Jan 25
Wasteland is a gritty, political, happy, sad new dance piece that you can see at the Hippodrome's Patrick Studio on Feb 27 and 28. Covering off the decline of the coal industry next to the 90s illegal rave scene Whistle crew! Tickets are £14.

The UK’s biggest adult ball pit is currently being built to be taken on the road, and it'll reach Digbeth, February 29. Yes it is called Balls Deep. No we did not want to type that sentence. Prices start at £11.54 rising to £17.30.

"Any salad can be a Caesar salad if you stab it enough."

Old one-liner

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WORDS: Tom Cullen, Katy Drohan
PICTURES: Worcester Wolves, Hannah "Professor" Green (Resorts World)

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