(Issue 102)
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So it turns out Grand Central is a bit of a big deal. And talking of big deals - and talking of talking - we caught up with Omar Allibhoy, the wildly affable Duracell bunny of Spanish cuisine, who has picked Brum's glitteringly new shopping emporium for his first restaurant outside London. And based on Tapas Revolution's first weekend of trading (the team sold out all the food it had prepped by mid-afternoon on Saturday), expect to hear reams more about the Madrid-born food obsessive.
If you're in the market for producing a best-selling dish, it seems the mantra is: don't sleep. "I used to call them ‘little balls of love’ as the croquetas are the most labour intensive of everything on the menu – but worth it to achieve their creamy loveliness," says Omar. "The béchamel sauce is slow cooked for three hours. It’s then poured out, cooled, shaped, egg washed, crumbed, chilled and fried. Mouth-watering, but so many different phases are required to get them to perfection." 
Chances are you thunder through more than a fiver at Pret most lunch hours. Stop that because Omar has adopted a novel approach to the great British sandwich (termed 'bocadillo' in Spain). "I replace the crusty bread with a soft brioche bun to create the ‘buncadillo’ – the Spanish burger." There are five combinations including the pick, chorizo served with rocket and honey sauce, as well as a Spanish stalwart which Omar is rightly proud of, his house tortilla, served up with rocket and aioli.
Smoked pancetta and a rich bean stew replace some of the more usual suspects in Omar's answer to mornings. And if the 'Ingles' (pictured) is a bit more than you had in mind, join us in being converted entirely to the mesmeric world of 'pan con tomate' (£2.95). Mad popular across Catalonia, grilled bread is rubbed with garlic, olive oil and penjar (or 'hanging') tomatoes, which offer a flavour so intense, you'll know you are in the presence of greatness.
A dish from the menu that Omar reassures us is a doddle to make is the tiger prawns. "Cooked in garlic and chilli oil, when you make it, it’s a revelation," he says. "The simplicity seduces you" (recipe here).

Conversely, a dish that you may struggle to recreate - Omar imports the main ingredient from Galicia - is the Pulpo a la Gallega. An early winner with Brum (Tapas Rev sold more of it at Grand Central in its opening weekend than it does across all three London venues), the steamed octopus is the dish we're still thinking about.
If you're yet to try churros, Tapas Rev is probably the place to do it. With a specialist churreria imported from Spain, expect the longest, freshest donut you're likely to devour, tossed in cinnamon and sugar and served up with a generous measure of chocolatey molten goodness. And if you want your tapas cooked by the man himself, Brum can expect to see plenty of Omar - the commute to Grand Central from his London home is actually quicker than to some of his existing eateries. True dat.
Opening times and all that good sort of stuff here.


For three years a street artist who favours the written word to the can of paint has been placing stickers around Brum that bear emotion-stirring phrases. Known as Mssd Cnnctns (Missed Connections) the secretive artist has revealed a few facts about his work to celebrate the anniversary: There are over 40 different 'Connection' stickers in Brum (see many here) and they are inspired by a mix of books, films, music, and life experiences. The very first sticker was a nod to Super Mario and can be seen here. Over 2000 stickers have found homes on lamp posts and walls from Brum, where it began, all the way to Prague. 


Remember the Sienna bob? Luke Hersheson - the stylist behind the whole celebrity chop thing - has opened his first blow dry bar outside London, in Brum's Harvey Nics. Select from a menu of twelve styles and in but thirty minutes, be literally ready for anything. Anything where having finely coiffured locks is an advantage anyway. There's also a fifteen minute option if you're both very busy AND very important. Usually £28, mention us when booking for a 10% discount (until November 1; one discount per reader).


Horrifyingly, it won’t be long before there are adults who can barely remember the space shuttle, but this cracking film should inspire a whole new generation to dream of space travel. Matt Damon turns on the charm as an astronaut accidentally abandoned on Mars, but instead of the philosophising of Interstellar, he grits down and gets busy with surviving. It’s not the sweaty nightmare of Gravity – Damon’s main problem seems to be only having disco records to listen to – but the visuals are outstanding, the science is reasonably realistic, and the film’s cheery optimism about human ingenuity is infectious. Trailer & times
Venue: Simpsons, 20 Highfield Road, Edgbaston, B15 3DU; website
Choice: Guinea fowl (5 course menu - £65) Chooser: Head chef

Of all Birmingham's Michelin-starred restaurants none inspire a warmth and contentment in diners quite like Simpsons. But 'content' wouldn't be a word you'd use to describe the restaurant itself. Celebrating a new era following an extensive refurbishment they've opened up the main dining area giving the Grade II listed building a stunningly simple and sun-filled modernisation of Bauhaus proportions. Oh and the tablecloths are gone too - a small change, perhaps, but one restaurateurs agonise over. The refurbishment is a move that deserves to lure Brum's bright young things over to Edgbaston, particularly when coupled with the appointment of new head chef Nathan Eades who is one of the city's most exciting food talents. The meal he served us was, in a word, flawless, but pick of dishes was the guinea fowl with toasted grains, cep puree, carrots, grapes and verjus. The game was so undulating tender it made our tastebuds want to marry it and whisk it off to Marbella on honeymoon. You should go. Check it out. Or not, if flawless food isn't really your bag. Menu


Let the dulcet hum of the rotating dryer drum draw you in to a rather special screening of Hanif Kureishi’s My Beautiful Launderette, which was adapted for cinema in 1985. Taking place at Moseley's real life washeteria, embrace the love story of Omar, an ambitious British Asian striving to make it big during 1980s Thatcherism and his lover, former punk Jonny (here a young Daniel Day Lewis). Part of Shout Festival and the British Film Institute's 'Love' season, this complete one-off takes place at 8.30pm on Saturday, November 14 and tickets (which are selling as quickly as you'd expect) are precisely £5 here. Washing tokens not accepted.
  • Birmingham Royal Ballet is giving away 250 tickets to its triple bill, Themes and Variations. From 9am this very day (Thursday), click here
  • Get a gig, cinema screening and party in one at mac Birmingham on October 22. Starting with Blue Velvet as its movie, SNDTRK, is taking place monthly. More
  • Purple Gallery's autumn exhibition opens on Saturday. Five minutes from Bournville station, it features original prints, paintings and ceramics
  • Early bird tickets are on sale for Oxjam Brum, which takes place on October 17. There'll be 60 performers across six venues, including Sunflower Lounge and Frederick's canal barge
  • A double bill of fragile, mesmerising dance inspired by Murakami's Norweigan Wood comes to the Dance Exchange on October 16 & 17. Tickets (£12) here
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"The belly rules the mind." - Spanish proverb
WORDS: Katy Drohan, Andrew LowryTom Cullen
IMAGES: Tapas Revolution by Omar Allibhoy (Ebury Press, £20) (Gambas)

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