Issue 145
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"Best bhuna ever", said Danny345 from Wigan, awarding Halesowen's 'Balti Towers' five stars on Trip Advisor. For a considerably more qualified look at Brum's foodscape, we've been conflabbing with the city's biggest cheffing talent, to find out where the dining masters patronise on their precious days out of the kitchen.
Luke Tipping, Simpsons
"I'm getting a bit long in the tooth, so when I go out, I opt for family time. Purecraft's our favourite — everyone knows about the beer, but the food operation is so good, you can't fault it. Steve doesn't realise what a good chef he is, but Adam [Stokes], Brad [Carter] — we all love going there. For pizza, head to The Plough. In terms of steak, just ask Aktar what Fiesta del Asado's best cut is that day, and order it. I can't wait to try Cheal's."
Brad Carter, Carters
"If I eat high-end, it's between The Cross and Purnell's — my favourite for a special treat. I love O.P.M. — its cool styling, garden space, and above all its burgers. As with all great food it starts with the sourcing, and here the boys get it bang on, using rare breed, well-aged patties for their creations. The Darrons Fancy with sparkenhoe Red Leicester is epic, plus you have to have ODB fries, as well as craft beer from Siren. My perfect Sunday!"
Aktar Islam, Lasan Group
"On a Wednesday, after a tough session at the gym, I like to meet up with the lads on Ladypool Road and we go to Antep — one of the many Turkish restaurants that have sprouted throughout Birmingham. You get to see the lightly marinated meats being cooked over the charcoal grill whilst nibbling on the team's mezze selection. The family platter is definitely what I’d recommend; it always hits the spot and it's great value for money."
Matt Cheal, Cheal's
"It sounds a bit predictable but I was at Simpsons for lunch yesterday, which says it all really. It's an institution for great food service and I love what they've done with it. Another great spot is The King's Head at Aston Cantlow, which has got a lovely garden and is cosy come the winter. Brett, the former exec chef at the Hyatt, runs a brilliant kitchen, producing classic pub food, as well as higher end options. If it's on, be sure to try the venison."
Alex Claridge, The Wilderness
"Faculty Coffee is a bit of a retreat for me when I just need to clear my head - some of the best coffee in the UK, with everything else simple but delicious. Blink and you'll miss Malaysian Delight, an unassuming restaurant opposite The Arcadian. It’s right up my street — big flavours and super relaxed. The bathroom is behind a curtain (unusual, I’ll cede), and it’s in the midst of the chaos that is Hurst Street on a Friday night, but I love it."
Adam Stokes, Adams
"Time off is mainly a family affair and we're always looking for good child, friendly options. The Cross at Kenilworth not only has a great a la carte menu but the kids offering is tasty and nutritious. After a busy shift, the chicken tikka naan wraps and dosas from Raja Monkey are both amazingly tasty treats. On Sunday mornings you'll find me with the family at Cherry Reds for brunch, there is so much on offer — it's great for everyone."
Ben Ternent, Opus
“For special occasions, it has to be Carters. Brad and Holly are fantastic hosts and they have a great approach to seasonality, as well as cooking everything so well. My guilty pleasure is picking up a curry in Moseley. We don’t normally cook curries at Opus, so it’s a welcome change. Try the Chicken Chana Balti from Kababish — the dish uses an exotic collection of fresh spices and herbs which gives it a really tasty, distinctive flavour."


Using thick oils to mould and sculpt the scene, Carrick Siddell's take on Brum's space station of a welcome depicts a gloomy day with luminosity, texture and depth. One of a series of works Siddell has completed to record the city right now, Stephenson Street's trams have also warranted a piece, as has the novel reflections that the completion of New Street's bulbous shell has created. Painted at eye level, there's something very familiar about the works, while the Sutton Coldfield based artist's focus on changing light and shadows brings with it a ballsy brightness to every day scenes. Carrick's series is being exhibited at Purple Gallery's Autumn Exhibition, which launched on Saturday and runs through to October. The piece pictured is yours for £895, or can be secured via instalments through the Own Art Scheme, which is rather nice.


It may not have been a banner summer for blockbusters, but as the season winds down, we’ve been blessed with this deeply enjoyable and likably unpretentious B-movie. Blake Lively, after some cursory character development, finds herself alone on a rock in an isolated Mexican cove – with a hungry shark circling, waiting for her to make one mistake. Shark attacks aren’t exactly new cinematic territory, but director Jaume Collet-Sera – who made Run All Night, one of the better entries in the Neesoniad – finds new ways to shoot them that are legit terrifying, and Lively makes for an appealingly resourceful heroine. A streamlined no-frills all-thrills ride, this is a lesson for its more bloated competition that less is often more.


It's not the sinister bit from a Bond film, it's not a new-fangled kind of waxing regiment, and it's not a propane-based pop-up. It is an other worldly performance with fire, music and glass blowing (of course), showing live for the first time in England, in Brum. Torcher Chamber Arkestra consists of glass artist Carrie Fertig, composer Alistair MacDonald and percussionist Stu Brown. And you're totally allowed to have a go on the instruments Fertig will make during the production using a process of flameworking with fire, as well as move around throughout the unseated show. Turning mac Birmingham all mesmerising and tribal like on 2 & 3 September, tickets are £12, with an autism friendly performance on the Saturday at 2pm.
Venue: So Mezze & Lounge, 89 Holloway Head, B1 1QP; website
Choice: Set mezze (£20pp) Chooser: Chef

For the first time in its illustrious history, the "You Choose" best dish methodology has hit a glitch — a glorious small plate-filled glitch, known as mezze. To pick a single order when it comes to a food type expressly designed for mixing and sharing and combining would be to entirely miss the point of the Ottoman relic. But what we can thoroughly recommend you do is to ensure that baba ganoush, fatoush, lamb kofta and Arabic flatbread find their way to your plate at the same time. With everything possible cooked over the kitchen's charcoal grill, the meats are as flavour filled and smoky as you'd expect, whilst the veggies and herbs play equal fiddle to their carnivorous brethren in both taste and texture. Housed in a former 'gentelman's club', it's a little hard to get over the feeling that the team could have gone more extreme on the refurb but the part-outdoor shisha garden, complete with raised and semi-private areas actually works rather well for its updated purpose. Good, solid mezze, albeit unlikely to change your life. Menu
  • The Guardian gives Red Shed — currently showing at Edinburgh Fringe — four of those pentagonal shaped things. Catch Mark Thomas' new show in Brum on October 17 & 18. Tickets are £12
  • The Edgbaston's newest line in indulgence returns on Sept 15 and a few tickets remain. No Holds Barred costs £50 and the creations you'll sup haven't even been invented yet. Call for tickets
  • SewBrum is a sewing meet up in Brum. This year taking place on September 24, it's free and you can sign up around about here
  • We've tried the new menu at The British Oak. Here is but a crumb of what it's all about
  • Ramen is coming to Selfridges on Sept 5, in the form of Tonkotsu's first gaff outside London. Oh happy, happy day. 
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"Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart." - Erma Bombeck
WORDS: Katy Drohan, Andrew Lowry, Tom Cullen
IMAGES: Mike Turzanski (Torcher Chamber Arkestra)

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