Issue 246
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When you can hear your colleague cackling, mid-chat, through three brick walls, you know the phone interview is going well. TV Comedian and Geordie, Chris Ramsey, arrives at The Rep next month with The Just Happy To Get Out of the House Tour and we asked him to tell us what he thinks six of Birmingham's best food and drink spots specialise in, going purely on their names. Weirdly, he was up for it.


What it is: Birmingham's first and longest held Michelin-starred restaurant
What Chris thinks it is: "Right, now obviously my first impression is that it's some kind of themed bar for The Simpsons. But I've been to Birmingham so much that if that existed in Brum and I'd never been, I'd be so furious that I'd burn my house down immediately after this interview. Maybe it just sells yellow food? But that sounds appalling and it would be shut down within a day. I'm going to say it's a posh restaurant. Am I right? Get in. Next! "


What it is: A one time egg-focused, post-club diner, it now sells Chinese street food
What Chris thinks it is: "There's a place in Edinburgh called Monster Mash and all it does is sell mashed potato, I'm going to pray that this place just does eggs. Nothing but eggs. Eggs as far as the eyes can see. Either that or it has a really round owner. You what? It's a Chinese restaurant? Do they do egg fried rice? No? They're missing a trick, mate. But I'm going when I'm in Birmingham. I'm all over Mr Egg, mate."


What it is: The city's multi-award winning street food nirvana 
What Chris thinks it is: "Big Puss Dining Club? Oh, Digbeth. Digbeth Dining Club. Thank god. Now then, that sounds like The Breakfast Club in London where people queue out the door, 40-deep for a restaurant that has 10 seats, in the pissing, driving rain. Why do they do that? Digbeth Dining Club. Hmmm, is it a place where pensioners go to get a meal deal and a game of dominos in? No? Is it one of the places that's full of cats that you can pet while you eat? No? What is it then? F*** me that sounds good. Does it do fish finger sandwiches?"


What it is: Brum's newest cocktail bar, finding the place is half the challenge
What Chris thinks it is: "1881 eh? I'm not a massive historian so I don't know what happened in 1881. Can't be prohibition, can it? That was in the 20th century. 1881 you say? What the hell do they sell their, gruel? Who wants a meal from 1881? I'm guessing it's a trendy bar, is that right? Yes! Can I just say you sound like you have the busiest lifestyle out of anyone I've ever spoken to."


What it is: The city's only pinball bar it specialises in craft beer and great coffee 
What Chris thinks it is: "Is it a restaurant in a building that's god bad subsidence and they've made a feature out of it? You stand at one end of the bar and they release your drink from the other. No, I know what it is! It sounds like a 80s nightclub. You know in The Terminator when Sarah Connor is running away from Arnie? That. That's what Tilt is. Something just a bit better than Snobs. What's that? Snobs is the last venue. Shut the f*** up! What are the odds?"


What it is: Brum's iconic sticky floored indy club moved to new premises in 2014
What Chris thinks it is: "I've driven past Snobs many a night and thought thank god I'm not going in there! I go to a curry house called the Taj Mahal whenever I'm in Birmingham — it's just behind the Old Rep  — me and my tour manager and my support act. The joke is, every time we go to the Taj Mahal at midnight, as we drive past Snobs one of us will always say "couple in Snobs?" before we all recoil at the idea. Never been mind you. It's probably brilliant."
Chris is at The Rep on September 10. Tickets are from £20.
Also standing-up at The Rep:
U ok hun? After a summer narrating Love Island, Iain Stirling has answers on September 7.
Edinburgh Fringe sell out, Juliette Burton’s Butterfly Effect is on September 15.
Brum Comedy Fest award-winner Kai Samra's on Oct 20 with No. Love. Lost.
Ahir Shah's bringing his new show Duffer on November 16.


One night, two awe-inducing ballets and ten of them pounds you spend your days accruing — that's the offer from Birmingham's most royal of ballets. BRB's got 100 £10 tickets, on a best available seat basis, for their performance of Fire & Fury on Friday, October 5. That's a saving of up to £22. And if you're not already entirely convinced, you'll be taking in The King Dances by super-established choreographer and Director David Bintley, as well as a world premiere of Ignite by Juanjo Arqués — a tale inspired by Turner’s painting The Burning of the House of Lords and Commons. To nab your seat, simply click here and select 'Best Available Seat'. From October 3 to 6.


Sweden, India and France — not the top three countries you'd necessarily associate with whisky, and yet whisky they'll all be showing and telling, at a 300-bottle strong festival, which of course also includes all the Islay and Speyside distillers you'd expect. Entry to Midlands Whisky Festival is £40 and gets you a tasting glass, samples of hundreds of whiskies available across 60 exhibitors' stands. You'll also get access to expert talks, food pairings and cocktails, plus a dream dram token. Exchangeable for a taste of a proper pricey drop, a number of the super premium range are worth over £1000 per bottle. On September 15 from 12pm, at The Studio on Canon Street. Tickets right here

Venue: Yiayia Mama at Kitchen Garden Cafe, 17 York Road, B14 7SA; website
Choice: Moussaka (£35 for 15 mezze) Chooser: Waiter

The big, warm hug of the pop-up world turns out to be Yiayia Mama, a night of mezze by third generation Greek Cypriot (and Brum resident) Tim Phedon. The 15-dish menu — yes we said FIFTEEN — was based on traditional recipes taught to Tim by his mother and grandmother ("Yiayia"), with tweaks to bring the dishes up-to-date. And while many of the dishes are super simple, like the proper garlicky tzatziki and ultra-fresh bulgar wheat salad, they're also tastes we haven't had outside Cyprus, which makes a trip to the Kitchen Garden Cafe in Kings Heath, where the pop-up takes place, a relative doddle. The most comforting in a raft of ludicrously lovely plates came in the form of Tim's moussaka. We tried the lamb version, with dry fried aubergines making the end result happily less oily than the usual, and oodles of thyme and cinnamon in the mince for a delicate, lasting flavour. In true Greek Cypriot form, this mezze didn't happen in a rush, and in some cases it would have been nice to be able to eat more of the dishes at the same time. But this was Tim's first ever pop-up, and he simultaneously catered for 65 people, so we're thinking there'll be refinements for next time. On the subject of which... Yiayia Mama's next pop up is on October 28. Contact Tim to reserve a spot.


The Trump era has energised firebrand filmmaker Spike Lee, who here delivers his best film in two decades as an angry, funny, funky response to the uptick in arguably (or not at all arguably, depending on your stance) racist rhetoric from the Oval Office. John David Washington stars as an African-American detective who sets about infiltrating the KKK in the 1970s, getting over the obvious impediment by using Adam Driver as his substitute when he’s not talking to real-life Grand Wizard (and modern day Trump fan) David Duke over the phone. It’s so insane you know it’s a true story, but this is no boring and worthy exercise in a white filmmaker’s liberal guilt: Lee’s anger over contemporary America makes this as bracing as it is funny as it is disturbing, and there are several moments that genuinely beggar belief. Also, the costumes are fantastic. Times & trailer

Ever tried a roast pork Yorkshire pudding wrap? Local indies, Pig & Apple, are going to make all your meaty dreams come true, opening September in Grand Central.
Try something new at mac. It's taster session season, with art and dance and musical things for the trying before the new term of 12-week courses starts fo' reals.
Katsu Kitchen Birmingham is working the pans at Bonehead on September 3. Veggie and vegan options. The deets

Big congrats to the RAF, which turns 100, and is hosting its own party. There's a Red Arrows flypast over Victoria Square on Sunday at 3.07pm, and you can see a full-size replica aircraft across the bank hol in the same spot.

"To be a comedian: Make peace with the fact that you will never be as funny as a baby falling over."

Chris Ramsey

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WORDS: Tom CullenKaty Drohan; Andrew Lowry
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