Issue 221
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A trumpeter and a duck walk into a bar, bao and noodles follow. Okay, they don't. But you will find bao and noodles at newly-opened Lucky Duck, and a world-renowned trumpeter doing world-renowned things (with a trumpet) at The Paper Duck. Hence our Dickensian headline. And that's probably where the parallels between us and Charles Dickens end.  
Lucky Duck is exactly the sort of place JQ-ites are out-and-out clamouring for: a small, indie, neighbourhood outfit run by a hard-working, super-smiley team. The sort of place you'd hit on the way home from work, because you don't want to cook but nor do you want to start breaking banks in the name of supper. And on its first full day of service, the stripped back noodle and bao bar was turning people away, which is some distance from usual practice on Tuesday nights in Brum. So we're kind of thinking they're on to something.
Food-wise, the team have still got some honing to do. There are three ramen-style noodley broths and three bao buns to pick from. Easily the strongest dish was the pink duck breast with pak choi served on homemade noodles, which retained a satisfying bite (£9, pictured). And on bao, it was the aubergine with coriander and chilli (£3) which was the surprise pick over the cod and the pork. But the bun was too doughy, and the dishes generally needed more of a kick. Once sprinkled with Togarashi (the Japanese equivalent of five spice) and doused in tamari (a dark, Japanese soy sauce) the potential here became really clear. So go and support this potential, and very likely watch it flourish. With a wedge of lime, a few more herbs, and that handsome tamari on every table, this place could become a regular — we'll be watching with interest, and we'll most definitely be back. Currently BYOB; menu
On an average Sunday night, you'd be much more likely to find trumpet virtuoso Tamás Pálfalvi in a major European concert hall than a pub. But this Sunday night the 26-year-old Hungarian is doing 30-minutes of superstar trumpetering, while you sup one of The Paper Duck's 18 craft beers (and those are just the ones that are on tap). Pálfalvi'll be doing his thing from 7.45pm until 8.15pm, which is pretty perfect in terms of avoiding Sunday night work fear, but getting home in time to iron that shirt.
Pálfalvi's won more awards than you've had birthdays. His style and programme selection have been described as 'innovative', 'visionary' and even 'acrobatic' — so if this'll be your first foray into the world of classical, you can confidently leave all stuffy preconceptions at the bar. The informal Harborne gig is taking place the night before Pálfalvi's full concert at Symphony Hall the very next evening, so best not keep him up at the bar too late.


Bite your thumb at the grey of Feb with an awesome new exhibition dedicated to the Scottish Colourists. The Rhythm of Light showcases the works of a quad of 20th Century painters who worked in France, getting all inspired by the likes of Manet, before heading back to Scotland to apply what they’d learnt. When you arrive, start on the right of the room and follow the pictures round. They'll take you on the Colourist's journey as they, almost chameleon-like, took on the brash and vivid hues of the Fauvists. Your journey will end with Samuel John Peploe's Green, Sea, Iona (pictured). The daddy of the Colourists, you can see how Peploe has gifted the rugged Hebridean coastline a Matissean vibe. Parts of the canvas can even be seen as the painting is left in an almost unfinished state, just as Henri Matisse often did. Find the collection at The Barber until May 13. And as a tribute, we're going to leave this article somewhat unfinish...   


There’ve been countless coming-of-age tales about boys, but precious few about girls. Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird won’t single-handedly correct the imbalance, but it’s better than most about either gender. Saoirse Ronan is phenomenal in the lead, a girl in her final year of high school desperate to escape from her boring suburban existence — a familiar idea, but here made fresh with a frankness about how a lack of funds can serve to clip the wings of teenage dreams, and that this urge to flee the nest isn’t without emotional cost. The 2002 setting may be vaguely sketched — especially if you remember it — but Gerwig is a generous writer, undercutting teen movie stereotypes at every turn, wisely making the parents if anything more sympathetic than their daughter, and — most of all — absolutely nailing that weird late-adolescence period that sucks at the time, but is really the most magical moment of your life. Times


There's nothing more treatsy than a night away which basically requires no travel on your part. Well, there is actually: winning that stay, and adding a seven-course Michelin-starred feasting'll do it. Hampton Manor has fifteen beautiful bedrooms. Think huge bay windows, free-standing bathtubs, more throw cushions than a person could use in a lifetime and homemade cookies — we can't praise these enough. In terms of dinner, Peel's restaurant is where you'll be heading. Now in its second year of Michelin stardom, the good-looking restaurant's all about seasonal, local flavours and majors on texture. You'll also find plenty of spaces for coffee-drinking, paper-reading, max-relax-chillaxing: Hampton Manor's basically the best version we've found of the home you live in, in your dreams. To be in with a chance of winning an overnight stay and dinner for two, sign-up to Hampton's mailing list before 2pm on March 5. 


You know the teeny tiny looking Medicine Bakery on New Street? It's got an enormous stunner of a space above it, which is opening with a weekend of art, culture and food. Project Birmingham's curating the muzak on the Friday night, and for Saturday putting on five mixed media installations which all have big Brum at their centre. And get this sort of food throughout the weekend. March 2 to 4. The deets.
Venue: Bodega, 12, Bennett's Hill, Birmingham, B2 5RS, Website
Choice: Xim Xim (£11.95) Chooser: Waitress, Maria ("You've gotta see her!")

When it first opened,
Bodega was pretty much a fortnightly occurrence for this writerist. But with all the newness of the last couple of years, it fell off our 'recently called' list through no fault of its own. Fortunately, a menu spruce got us back in the door, and into a room full of buzz, and tasty, filling food at a tasty, filling price point. The main changes to the menu focus on introducing more veggie dishes, like a quinoa and aubergine main (£8.95) and a Chinese-Peruvian fusion stir fry (£8.50). But it was the Xim Xim that had us immediately agreeing to alternate our Friday lunching between OPM and Bodega. In the new menu world, the Brazilian stalwart of prawns, chicken and diced veggies in a thick, peanuty sauce now has a coconut milk base for the coveting, and is served with big, fight-for-the-last one sort of tortillas, as well as Bodega's dirty rice — a creation that includes cumin, peppers and sweetcorn. Start things right with a Mezcalarita (£6.50). Think a Margarita but with smoky Mezcal rather than tequila. One of these will half your afternoon's output. Menu
Connollys Wine, the funky place under the arches on Livery Street, are converting the front half of their store into Arch 13, a wine bar set to open in May.
Digbeth Brew Co's launch party is Friday from 7pm. There'll be a new double IPA, pizza and tuneage.
On the subject of beer, the subtly different Birmingham Brewing Company's taproom is open Friday and Saturday, with street food from Full On Chaat. Their beer is rather good.
The role of electricity in the human body is the inspiration for Charge, a dance and acrobatic-filled production coming to the Hippodrome for one night on March 13. Tickets
Caneat's next pop-up is on March 13. Tom Loaf's kitchen-ing from 6.30pm and everything is priced individually. El detailios
And Gino D'Acampo's opening a restaurant and prosecco bar on Temple Row, including bowling alley. Of course he is.

"And yet I have had the weakness, and have still the weakness,
to wish you to know with what a sudden mastery you kindled me,
heap of ashes that I am, into fire." 

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

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WORDS: Katy DrohanAndrew Lowry
PICTURES: Tom Bird (Lucky Duck)

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