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This week, we’ve got some important introductions to make. Mike Bullard and Jamie Desogus are obscenely well-trained chefs and, in advance of the launch of their first restaurant, are together creating top-notch monthly pop-up dinners and one-off foodie nights. With entirely new menus at every event (and two events in Harborne in March alone), it's time for you - the discerning people of Birmingham - to focus or miss out. And on this occasion, we're going to strongly recommend the former. 
Mike and Jamie are obsessed with food. And once you’ve tasted a plate created by the pair (such as their Shropshire Beef, above), the pedigree of the chefs’ training becomes immediately obvious. Think Michelin darlings, Royal Hospital Road, Le Bernadin and Pétrus (yes - that’s Gordon Ramsay’s place that gained a star within eight months of opening in Belgravia; yes - Jamie was part of the team). And fortuitously for us, the humble yet openly ambitious pair, have got plans for the city where they both grew up. And those plans begin in Harborne's School Yard.  
With a firm focus on a restaurant to call their own, Mike and Jamie have launched Harborne Kitchen, a monthly pop-up to perfect dishes (such as the pair's take on a Black Forest Gateaux, pictured above), try out styles of presentation and garner feedback from diners. Expect bites of food that you will be able to describe vividly a month later - all the early signs indicate that exquisite, unexpected flavour and texture combinations are where Mike and Jamie excel. The service proffered is relaxed yet assured. This is not a pairing shackled by the formality of its classical training but one keen to deliver an experience where patrons can enjoy exceptional food and feel comfortable doing so. Industry game changers? Yep. 
And if you’re already wondering about the when and the where, Friday March 27 sees the pop-up return to the Harborne Food School (pictured), which hosts its official launch today (Thursday March 12), with a mighty impressive course list. Secure your seat round Harborne Kitchen’s already-popular table for £45 (for these six courses) by emailing the team. The matched wines are an additional £25 and in our experience, well worth the extra dollar. And if the pop-up has sold out - which it definitely will - or if you really really like chicken wings, the good news is unstoppable today...   
Mike and Jamie have now secured premises on Harborne High Street and their first event is a beer and wings night. From 5pm until 11pm on Saturday March 21, the former site of Walter Smith's will become the Butcher's Social and the selection of chicken wings have undergone whole days of testing. From salted caramel to candied black olive, we haven’t got space sufficient to list the variety of wings and dips that the pair is planning. But with Two Towers Brewery and Langley's taking care of the bar supply on top of what promise to be lip-smackingly good wings, it’s safe to say you know where to find us. Entry is free and on a first come first served basis. Date? Date.


Leftfoot is celebrating its fifteenth year of soul-based, underground domination with a series of beat-filled, tub-thumping events across the city. From 10pm on April 26 the team is staging a Rainbow Warehouse takeover, culminating in a DJ set by big-hitting electronic artist, Bonobo (pictured, can't you tell?). Given the speed with which the initial two releases sold out, best not delay in getting your hands on the remaining tickets (£17.50, available here). For something rather sooner, check out Mercury Prize winning remixer and producer, Jamie Smith, next Saturday (March 20). Jamie, who is appearing as part of Leftfoot's Fifteen Series, secured his silverware for his part in platinum selling indie-band The XX but also keeps up an increasingly busy and international solo schedule. Tickets, also at £17.50, are yours for the grabbing: here


Liam Neeson’s late period shift into Charles Bronson territory has had highs and lows, but highs like Taken and The Grey are resoundingly joined by this deliriously entertaining thriller. Neeson stars as a guilt-ridden former mob hitman forced to return to the gun when his son witnesses a murder – problem is, the culprit is the son of local kingpin and Neeson’s oldest pal Ed Harris. Neeson could do this on autopilot, but he works hard to convey his transition from drunken sadsack to soul-eater, and there’s a refreshing zip to the very Seventies grit, be it during sequences where he GTAs his way around the New York projects or has a fistfight with a man who’s on fire. A strong cast, a nice surprise cameo and well-used locations, along with a host of moments likely to make it onto Neeson best-of montages, all combine to make this one of the most fun movies of spring.

Good art these days is hard to find, as Feargal Sharkey didn't even come close to singing. Fortunately, in Brum, it's got a whole lot easier after Reuben Colley Fine Art Gallery moved from its Moseley home of five years to Colmore Row, bringing its indubitably cool eye into the centre. The first pieces deemed worthy of wall space include Colley's own oil on canvas conception from underneath the Spaghetti Junction (£16,800) and an altogether grimier work, using pencil and charcoal, that portrays Barker Bridge with a BT Tower backdrop (£9,950). Pick of the lot, though, might just be Rick Garland's Long Hot Summer (above). The Kent artist's photorealistic acrylic is his only painting, globally, that isn't sold, with most of his paintings finding a home at a frightening pace. The £25,000 asking price is a smidgen north of our budget (how about yours?), but you are strongly advised to pop in and see it, whether you're buying or just keen to be in the presence of greatness.
Venue: Nom Nom Noodles, 51-53 Spring Hill, Hockley, Birmingham B18 7LH; 0121 679 6216 
Choice: Nom Nom Cha
 (£5) Chooser: Us (with approving nods and 'nuf respect from our waitress)

First off, if you’re wondering where Nom Nom is (we were), it’s behind Tesco’s Spring Hill car park, on a busy road, next to a Rooster Hut. And the good news? From our first big-eyed bite to our final scrape-from-bowl morsel, Nom Nom’s utterly authentic Vietnamese cuisine is as fragrant as it gets. And we say that with full knowledge of how much food critics like to over-use the word fragrant. Our pick, the Nom Nom Cha, is most accurately described as a Vietnamese fish cake. But a light, texture-filled, fresh one. Cuttlefish, prawn, crabmeat and chicken are combined into a shallow fried patty and served up on vermicelli noodles and a crunchy, zingy combination of raw and pickled vegetables together with roasted peanuts and Nom Nom’s signature garlic and chilli sauce. An accomplished and utterly moreish bowl of comforting goodness. Ensure you can justify a starter by ordering a small portion of the Nom Nom Cha (which is not small on any definition of the word) and try the mint-packed prawn and pork summer rolls for your beginnings (£5 for four). Full menu: here.
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"First we eat, then we do everything else." – M.F.K. Fisher
IMAGES: Mike Saunders (Harborne Kitchen)
WORDS: Katy Drohan, Tom Cullen, Andrew Lowry
ADDRESS: I CHOOSE Birmingham, Office 211, 43 Temple Row, Birmingham, B2 5LS

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