(Issue 157)
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On the site of Brum's most successful pop-up of 2015, Harborne Kitchen finally launches in a fortnight, having transformed its high street locale beyond even the recognition DNA testing can provide. Muscling in on a day of steely menu-based decisioning, we joined the team, at executive chef Jamie Desogus' house. And if the monkfish is too salty for your palate come opening, it's our fault entirely.
Arriving at 11am on a Saturday, sous chef Elliott Tibbins had been prepping since 7am, while general manager Kingsley Crocker is loosening the cork on a chilled bottle of Bolney Bubbly. The mood is one of relaxed confidence, mixed with all the perfectionism you'd expect from a restaurant that's headed-up by a Gordon Ramsay protégé. This will be the first time the team's collectively constructed the dishes or tried the wine pairings we're going to be testing out. And there are spots on the opening menu still to play for.
We kicked off with "snacks", which will begin meals in the 50-cover restaurant, and be available to all walk-ins at the 30-cover bar. The cod quavers were a jollying, bite-size beginning, which look all kinds of ace. Modestly described, the pork donuts with a lemon dipped apple crumb were immediately rejected by Jamie, as over-browned, which was a symptom of a domestic kitchen and said nothing of the chef. Next up was a main centring round Jerusalem artichokes and whipped Camembert. The cheese element is patiently plated through a device equivalent to a squirty cream dispenser, the consistency of which the team is still finalising. And all we can add by way of feedback on this one, is that we'll be inciting non-violent riots if it doesn't find its way onto the opening menu.
Not even finding time to pause over a masterful monkfish and pig's ear creation, it was time to talk pud. And to take some big decisions. The mango sorbet element of this combination was already a shoo-in, as was the panna cotta but would the dessert work best with ginger cake or a cracked black pepper sponge? Created by Mike Topping, Harborne Kitchen's pastry chef, both offer contrast in theory but would the other elements of the dish be lost next to such strong flavours?
Though both worked, the dish you can expect to find on the opening menu includes the ginger cake. Sticky, the right amount fiery and with a flavour that endured and enhanced the other components, it's finished off with bitter and beautiful leaves, as well as a spun sugar construct (pictured). And though the wine pairing (a Royal Tokaji) left us a bit wanting when tried only with the panna cotta, tasted with the whole shebang, it became a little bit of perfect.

Harborne Kitchen opens on November 18. Though you'll struggle to get a table around the hallowed date, snacks will be available in the bar. Tasting menu


What do Kendrick Lamar, Erykah Badu and Herbie Hancock all have in common? Apart from rude amounts of note-based talent, they've all been working with Grammy award-winning pianist and producer, Robert Glasper. Following a year of acousticing his way round the tour scene, the beat smashing Texan is revisiting his electric side. Performing as part of Bass Festival, expect a mashed up blend of jazz, mixed with deep hip hop-fuelled grooves, as well as the group's twisty takes on songs by bands like Nirvana and Radiohead. At the Town Hall on November 20, tickets from £20.50.


Get your fill of the grapes this weekend, with the one-day vin-filled homage, better known as Love Wine. From Seven Springs' South African Sauvignons, to Gloucestershire's glorious Three Choirs Vineyard, there'll be 37 exhibitors, including wine-ready nibble providers. On top of expert-led classes, there'll be wine walks, with guides including Ab Fab's Helen Lederer, who currently writes for Glass of Bubbly. At the Burlington Hotel on Saturday (Nov 5), get 25% off tickets (usually £25) with "CHOOSELOVE" as your code at checkout. A spot at the event also gets you a Riedel tasting glass and bag of winey sorta stuff.


Following the fall of Communism and the failure of successive governments to spread reform, much of the population of the former-USSR was left to survive on dwindling resources, and so people stripped disused Soviet buildings for sellable scrap and iron. Along with scapes across Romania and Hungary, photographer Tama Dezso has spent much of the last eight years capturing the story. With credits including the New York Times, National Geographic and Time, Dezso knows his way up, down and around a lense. The Hungarian captured The Night Watchman (Budapest, 2009 — pictured), standing guard over the sort of buildings that would otherwise be targeted for scrap. Take in Denzo's work at Argentea, a new gallery dedicated to showing the best in contemporary photography from both British and international artists. Until November 26. Opening times


There are two wildly ludicrous films out this week, but only one of them knows it. Fashion tosser Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals is a pretentious nightmare of over-aestheticised tosh, while this amiably bonkers flick at the very least knows it’s silly – and then some. Ben Affleck stars as the eponymous bean counter, an autistic savant who’s also, thanks to an upbringing with a Dad to the right of Chris Cooper in American Beauty, a master marksman and martial artist. Yeah, it’s ridiculous, but aside from a few quibbles over the Rain Man-esque suggestion that a potentially crippling condition is actually the route to real-life superpowers, this is riotously enjoyable stuff if you’ve had a few beers. Times


Supercharge the middle of your day with a racquet, a hollow rubber ball and exercise of the rigorous variation. Edgbaston Priory Club is opening up its squash courts, which are usually only available to paid up members, each week on Wednesdays at 12.30pm. You'll be paired up, then get the use of one of the club's swanktastic courts, as well as the sort of changing facilities that will have you lingering under the shower rather than fearing the cessation of the hot tap's fruits. Starting on November 9, it's a rather reasonable £5. And if you've got time on your side, the club house is open for lunch. Secure your spot by calling 0121 440 2492 or email mike.edwards @edgbastonpriory.com for more.
Venue: Miss Macaroon, 8 Great Western Arcade, B2 5HU; website
Choice: Raspberry macaroon (£1.25) Chooser: Rosie ("Miss Macaroon")

When Miss Macaroon opened her ebullient bolthole on Saturday the business had already made 169,734 circles of splendid out of its Hockley kitchen this year alone. They've worked with Karl Lagerfeld, Adidas Supercolor and a shedload of brides with ideas beyond cake. So it was a given that the product was going to be excellent. From the team's autumn range, to their search for a new savoury flavour, there's more subtlety to this explosion of colour and smiliness than it might first appear. Their raspberry macaroon is founder Rosie's current pick and is filled with fresh raspberries which have been lightly coddled, turned into compote, then run through butter cream. Briefly put, three thumbs up from us. Also on offer is Prosecco, beer by Two Fingers (profits go to Prostate Cancer UK), macaroon mixing decks and a printing service — you can get your face on a macaroon for £1. Your actual face. 
  • Elegant Eats, the pop-up restaurant at Edgbaston Cricket Ground is back and getting booked up. For pigeon cooked in hay head this way
  • Like the Oscars, but for BIDs, Brum's photographical archivey exbo, NicklinUnseen, has been nominated for an award. Vote!
  • A monthly dose of stand-up starts Friday at Cherry Reds, John Bright Street. Stephanie Laing will be occurring. From 7.30pm, tickets
  • Hay Festival's putting on a winter weekender at the end of November. Here's the full programme
  • Vale fireworks are tonight. With a funfair from 7pm, the completely free bangs and the whizzes are to be expected at 9pm
  • Jazz//Roast arrives at 1000 Trades this Sunday. It's jazz. And roast
"Squash? That's not exercise, it's flagellation." - Noel Coward
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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Andrew Lowry
IMAGE: Tom Bird (Harborne Kitchen), Simon Donnelly (Miss Macaroon)

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