Issue 265
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Déjà vu — it's not the sense we usually get when walking into a restaurant that's bringing a completely new concept to the city. But we've been here before. Tattu's two floors of exquisite modern Chinese dining cleverly fills the space where The Grand's Boiler Room used to live. It's been almost four years since, taking a tour of the shell of a building, we were told that "the unit" would become a restaurant and bar, but only for the right tenant. After an hour with Tattu's co-owner, Adam Jones, we can see why The Grand waited for this thoughtful, ambitious, brother-brother team. Even if they are from Manchester.
Only the third venue in what already feels like a seriously established brand, Brum is Tattu's biggest and most ambitious opening. "This is the first heritage building we've brought the concept to, and it's definitely been the most complex", says Adam. You'll see obvious stylistic similarities to the Leeds and Manchester restaurants but each city applies the house style to a different theme. "Yin and yang — which in Chinese philosophy is a way of describing how seemingly opposing forces actually complement each other — made so much sense when it came to this fit-out," explains Adam. "We're putting modern Chinese food and a hugely contemporary interior into one of Birmingham's most iconic and historic buildings, and it works". This is a statement not a question, and Adam's confidence is utterly justified.
A chef hands Adam a five-spiced lamb, to sample — version one of a dish that may or may not make the Birmingham menu. Though the offering is similar across Tattu's three restaurants, every team member is encouraged to come up with new ideas and twists on dishes, and honey glazed baby chicken (£16.50) will be available exclusively in Brum. The fit-out includes Tattu's first open plan kitchen, where you'll find two dim sum masters and seven wok chefs, if you can take your eyes off your food, your drink and the interiors long enough. Adam is one of very few owners to give straight answers to his absolute picks on food and drink. "The beef fillet with caramel soy (£30) is so good — other restaurants have had a go at it but we're not giving away the secret to that sauce to anyone. Including you." In terms of the upstairs bar (pictured top), it's got to be the cherry blossom Negroni (£10) for Adam, which uses actual blossom for decoration and cherry blossom vermouth for flavour.
Despite making room for 130 covers, the atmospheric, dark ground floor "yin" space is divided into four different dining areas, with room for intimate tables for two, as well as plenty of spots with a view of the kitchen in the largest area. Five Japanese cherry blossom trees — the most you'll find at any Tattu — unite the floor. "It takes six months for our supplier to finish a tree: sourcing it, then creating the blooms by hand to the exact specification of the space, before disassembling the tree and putting it back together in the restaurant," says Adam. The team light the trees with the seasons and hang lanterns from them for Chinese New Year — the very best looking time of the year for the restaurant according to Adam, and falling shortly after the team's official opening on February 1.
You're looking at one of our two fave spots in the restaurant. The orchid-clad table for four was originally going to be a waiter's station but the space turned out to be a little bigger than originally expected, and this booth, complete with sound-control and hand-drawn body art was the result. The bright, light, "yang" upstairs (pictured top) is the first time Tattu's colour palette has veered from moody and it includes our second favourite spot, a semi-private dining room with sliding doors, that overlooks the main restaurant. Like the rest of the top floor, the space uses the same designs as the yin theme downstairs, but with different lighter-coloured finishes, from the chairs to the walls, to the ever so covetable pendant light fittings. It's almost like Adam planned every inch of this place.
Open at 12pm daily from February 1. Book


Modern day Britain’s institutional racism and mental health issues take centre stage with a fresh take on a twenty-year-old Olivier Award-winning production. Darkly funny, Blue/Orange sees a hospitalised psychiatric patient declare himself the son of former Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin, which leaves two leading specialists defending their diagnosis of his condition. Also revealed, however, is their underlying reasonings, including racism, egotism, ideology and prejudice, each packing a particular poignancy in the current climate. Written by Joe Penhall (creator of Last King of Scotland and Netflix’s Manhunter), expect to leave with more questions than you came in with. From Feb 1 at The Rep, tickets from £10.


It was bingeing out hard on Serial, a ground-breaker of a podcast, that started our addiction. And now we feed our audio habit anyway we can. If podcasts have become a pivotal part of your every day too, or if you're just wondering what in the heck everyone is banging on about, there's a weekend of live listening to be done. On March 23 and 24 the first Podfest Birmingham is bringing the likes of Sofie Hagen, Standard Issue and Comedians Comedian to the town hall for exclusive live shows. Previous guests of the latter, which gets right into the process of how comedians create, include Russell Howard, Bill Burr and Jimmy Carr. Two shows have already completely sold out so probably don't wait too long to book on this one.


If, like us, you don’t know your belt drive turntables from your Bluetooth speakers, then entering an audio emporium can seem like a daunting prospect. Listen up then, as we were made to feel nothing less than home from home at Hard to Find Hi-Fi: up on the JQ’s Spencer Street. Getting us to sit back in something both part-sofa, part-graphic equaliser, our man John schooled us in exactly why it’s worth investing your time and your money in a ‘proper’ Hi-Fi (which is what they specialise in), by cranking up a suh-weet McIntosh set-up. And, John tells us, the new opener is the only place within 100 miles where you can hear one. It wasn’t just loud. It was big. The store is an audiophile’s heaven, whether you’re already accomplished or simply aspiring. With a website and online store which will be fully open in the next few weeks, Hard to Find Hi-Fi’s worth keeping your ears out for.
Venue: Sky By The Water, Resorts World, Pendigo Way, B40 1PU; website
Choice: The Apple (£6) Chooser: Pastry chef, Darryl Collins
Booking in to a restaurant for its first ever night of service is a risky game, but as 100% of our team gave up successful careers to work in the world of independent businesses, you could say we're professional risk-takers. And golly-gosh-gandy, this was a risk worth taking. Having trained in the kitchens of Raymond Blanc — and closer to home — Brad Carter and Andy Waters, head chef Aaron Darnley is putting out some seriously accomplished food, that also manages to be homely and the right side of refined. The mushroom risotto was actually, properly al dente and actually, properly seasoned. Laced with truffle oil and packing a flavour-filled punch, it's just £5.50 (FIVE POUNDS FIFTY!), and the best risotto we've had in the city. The sticky, mouth melter of a pork belly (£16) is the right answer on mains, coming with a jug of extra gravy as standard, and now we have to move on to pud before running out of space. Holy s**t the desserts, by Bake Off: The Professionals finalist Darryl Collins, are sublime. At just £6 a go, we greedily demolished all five puds, from a grown-up take on an arctic roll (remember those) to the doyen, known only as The Apple. The show-stopper of a dish sacrifices nothing in substance for its style and is easily the best thing anyone's done with spiced apple compote this decade. Having undergone a mahousive refit, Sky By The Water is a stunning space, with faultless service and an ardently sunny disposition. Menu


When a young centre forward thumped one past Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman in 2002, the commentator famously roared: “Remember the name: Wayne Rooney.” It’s impossible not to feel the same about Darren Harriott. You might have seen this proud son of Birmingham on Live At The Apollo. But then again, you might not. Darren had been gigging around his beloved Midlands since the Noughties, until London beckoned and his career soared. He got snapped up by the same agent as Mickey Flanagan, and you should similarly snap up tickets before Darren is playing bigger venues. His fiery confidence on stage evokes memories of peak 90s Chris Rock, while his sheer charisma draws comparisons with belligerent Bostonian Bill Burr (for many, the best on the planet). Yet Darren is unquestionably his own man, as he talks about the impact drugs had on his family, his time as a security guard and his searing takes on current affairs. At a time when some comedians are terrified of a backlash to what they say on stage, it’s refreshing to see someone who doesn’t give a damn. Just like that young Wayne Rooney. On February 1, tickets are £15.
Early bird tickets for Kebab-ingham are now on sale. Banish any thoughts of 3am doners, this is about indies like Little Urban BBQ who'll be doing slow, smoky, Texan things to meat. On March 2, it's currently £8 in.
Join Ed at Connolly's as he tries to de-mystify the world of wine and give you the tools to confidently shout "Garcon!" in a restaurant (lesson one: never shout "Garcon!" in a restaurant.) Wine For Bluffers is on January 30. Tickets are £12.50.
Go plant some trees on Saturday morning? The Friends of Kings Heath Park are asking.
The National Theatre is coming to you. On January 31, new big deal I'm Not Running is being streamed directly from the South Bank to the sofas of Everyman Cinema. Tickets

"When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills."

Chinese proverb

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WORDS: Katy Drohan, James Gill, Robb Sheppard
PICTURES: Tom Bird (Tattu)

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