Issue 225
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Forget Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor and those crappy pamphlets you find in the seat pockets on planes, we've been speaking to the chefs and owners of our city's best restaurants. Here's where they hit when overseas, all easily get-to-able from BHX.

Pinotxo Bar: "In La Boqueria market, go here for great, honest Spanish food, like tortilla, butifarra sausage and delicious thick bread, prepared in a tiny kitchen right in front of you." 
Cal Pep: "Full of life, the dishes are totally market dependent, and you’ll be happy to queue. Wines are exclusively local, and who can complain when Priorat, Tarragonès and Penedès (where Cava's from) are among them?"
Flax and Kale: "For a city famed for its meat and fish, there's also bags of veg options. Founder Teresa Carles has been creating healthy food for over 30 years, the largely veggie menu bursts with flavour and there's a brilliant fish taco [pictured] if you need a pesce hit."
Fly direct with Vueling & Eurowings 
Tender Bar: "A temple of classic cocktailing. Try to snag seats at the bar and watch Kazuo Uyeda, a veteran bartender of 50 years, shake and stir drinks to absolute perfection." 
Toriki: Some of the best yakitori I have eaten, if not the best — that’s what happens when a chef cooks one thing for 30 years. I'd do bad things to good people to eat here again, and it's just chicken cooked on an electric grill." 
Gen Yamamoto: "The original cocktail tasting menu bar [pictured]. You must book before you go but it’s worth the effort, it's for something really unique. Or head to Golden Gai's labyrinth of tiny bars and you'll be sure to find your new favourite hang out."
Fly with Qatar Airways & Emirates
Eleven Madison Park [food pictured above]: "The ultimate treat, defined in all the guides as the best restaurant in the world consistently — an unforgettable experience with an X factor." 
The Rum House: Several people told me to go and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a swanky, candlelit, wood-paneled piano bar which draws the well-heeled. I had a classic Penicillin, a Dark & Stormy, and a Manhattan." 
Jimmy’s Corner; "Where do normal blokes like me go for a drink in NYC?  A narrow, old-school, boxing-themed ‘dive bar’ in Times Square, with owner Jimmy Glenn telling tales of his days as an ex-cornerman. The joint isn’t fancy— four beers are on tap and there’s soul on the jukebox — but I loved it.” — Fly direct with Primera Air 
Plachutta: "Go here for Tapelspitz, a typical Austrian boiled meat, a description which in no way does it justice. Think slowly simmered meat stocks packed full of flavour with marrow served on the bone." 
Steirereck: "A two Michelin-starred restaurant rated 9th in the World's 50 Best, I preferred Plachutta, but Steirereck is worth the expense. Housed in a tremendous building [pictured] in the middle of the Stadt park, it's worth it just to see the bread cart with over 30 freshly made breads!"
Schönbrunn: "Experience some history at this incredible palace, one hour out of town on the U-Bahn. And once you've had your cultural fill, stop off at one of the many vineyards on the way back — they all serve great home-cooked food, and you know, wine."
Fly direct with Eurowings
"Chandni Chowk is one of the oldest markets in the city and between the brightly coloured sweets and sizzling kebabs, serves incredible food."
Parantha: "Visit any of the ‘hole in the wall’ stalls that serve these rich, flaky flatbreads, which come with chutneys and dips — just sensational."
Biryani: "You can’t miss the vendors selling fragrant biryanis. The recipes and cooking techniques have been in their families for generations. People will travel continents to eat the finest tandoori butter chicken."
Indian sweets: "I can’t leave Chandni Chowk without these. They smack you with flavour and are worlds away from traditional British desserts. Go for barfi, a fudge-like treat that’s often flavoured with coconut and pistachios. Nowhere does them quite like Delhi."
Fly direct with Air India
Zeughauskeller: "A beer hall from a bygone era serving very traditional, great quality food. It hasn’t changed since I used to frequent it as a young trainee and entering the building is like going back to the 1930s."
Kronenhalle: "A restaurant with an illustrious history, for many years it was the haunt of some of the world’s most famous artists and designers — Picasso, Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent to name a few. The former owner's passion for art has resulted in an impressive collection. The restaurant itself [pictured] is excellent and exactly what a continental fine dining restaurant should be."
Sprüngli: "It's well-known for its delicious chocolate but the cafe is an institution. I love to visit for the irresistible patisserie, cakes and chocolate and simply for the quality and craftsmanship of the products. It’s located in the business district and quite the place to be seen." — Fly with Eurowings
"In breach of the rules of this feature, I’m putting all my words behind one spot — an overall experience I can’t compare to anywhere else I've eaten. Fly to Stockholm then get an internal flight to Östersund. Rent a car and make your way to Fäviken, part of a 100-acre estate. We went for one night, and it was completely worth the journey, in fact, it was a part of the whole experience. Get cold beers and cured meats on arrival. Take in the views from the sauna before dinner, or head to the atmospheric old bar, and then feast. This is food theatre on steroids. All guests eat together and the whole kitchen comes out to present the food in a sort of otherworldly food procession. After dinner, gather round a fire-pit in a tipi complete with crazy Swedish singers. An incredible food journey, which gained two Michelin-stars on its first year of inspection."
Fly with SAS
Perilli: "Try what many Romans will tell you is the best carbonara anywhere, in Testaccio, a part of Rome full of lovely restaurants. For the avoidance of doubt, real carbonara is not with spaghetti but a short pasta and doesn’t have cream, nor onion."
Pizzeria Baffetto: "Where locals go to get proper thin and crispy pizza. There is no way to book, you’ll have to queue (and remember that Italians can’t queue, so don’t get upset about that please). Everyone, including the Prime Minister, will have to sit where they are told, so expect to share a table, and get to know people who will end up as your new friends."
Hostaria da Enzo: "A lovely little, cheap and informal spot, it's all about fresh ingredients and great local food. You won't find many tourists here — enjoy your fellow Roman diners. And don’t come here to propose, unless you want to ask the chef to marry you." 
Fly direct with Jet 2


From 10am this very day, you can book a table at The Ivy Birmingham, which opens on Temple Row, April 11. But if you'd rather get inside before everyone's doing it, how's about tickets to the brasserie's launch night? Be sure to make as many excuses as possible to pass through Victoria Square until 6pm today. You're looking for a vintage green phone box — be the first to answer when it rings and two tickets to The Ivy's preview night are yours for the using. Or you might turn into Superman, but you probably won't.


Sleeping lions, falling off space hoppers, pass-the-parcel — it was a simpler time, a gloriously simpler time. And one you can recreate, with the addition of bottomless fizz. Yep, on Friday March 30, The Distillery is essentially hosting a kids' birthday party, complete with Party Rings, sausage rolls, boozy accouterment and no kids. Hopscotch 'N' Hooch has got a grown-up prize: a masterclass where the victor can make and bottle their own gin as part of The Distillery's gin school. On hosting, it's those genius fools from the performance quiz known only as Rafiki's Cuisine. Tickets are limited to 40. It's £25, including party food and one hundred and twenty whole minutes of unlimited prosecco-ing. No swapping round on the party bags, kids (we have no idea if there are party bags).


Try saying that 20 times over and your tongue will end up in a perfect Prusik knot. Or, more comfortably, head to Castle Fine Art in the ICC where they're currently exhibiting some of the most colourful and most important contemporary artists of today. Brummie's favourite, Temper, will be showing his latest collection: a real change of pace for the street art ace who learnt his trade on the walls of Wolverhampton. Expect nods to Dali, da Vinci and the golden ratio from him, but we're super taken by the Roy Lichtenstein-inspired works of Milanese artists, D13EGO (pictured). His “Badass Girl Collection” was born from a love of retro comics, street art techniques, elements of pop art and a good blast of irony. First created as a series of graffiti on the streets of London, it eventually found its way to canvas and galleries last year. On until April 15. More


Alex Garland’s follow-up to Ex Machina was never going to be a workplace comedy, but it’s still heartening to see him respond to the earlier film’s success by doubling down on the brainy science fiction. Natalie Portman here leads an all-female team into the Shimmer — one of those forbidden zones sci-fi loves so much — that looks like somebody spilled a bottle of fairy liquid into a river, then sailed an oil tanker through it. What Portman and her team find in there is best left unsaid (let’s just stress that things don’t go well for her squad) before a closing movement leaves horror behind for more cerebral territory. As you’ve probably guessed, this is no shoot-em-up, and makes demands on its audience – but if beautifully shot, occasionally gross, and languorously paced explorations of a stylised and surrealistic world are your thing, this is the film for you.Times & trailer
Venue: Salt, 8 Church Street Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6HB; Website
Choice: Carrots (£65 as part of eight-course menu) Chooser: Waitress

There are enough whispers about the food at Salt right now and its potential for a star, that we took to the train and made steam down to Stratford-upon-Avon. The dining room, staff and set-up personify lovely — the place is casual but still special and you can see everything chef Paul Foster is doing from his open kitchen at the top of the restaurant. In terms of food, there were some hits and some not-quite-hits. The monkfish and the cod were cooked adeptly — firm yet melty and with the right amount of flavour for their accompaniments, like an oyster emulsion. The carrots slow-cooked in chicken fat with crispy chicken skin were the best tasting versions of the vegetable ever to have passed our well-worked lips, and our waitress was clearly unsurprised to hear so when we fed back accordingly. Conversely, the wagyu was a big ol' let down, chewy and lacking in the sort of flavour you'd expect, and the salt-baked celeriac didn't have enough going on to keep us interested much past the first bite. Some super-duper wine, completely perfect bread and butter (we really like bread and butter) and a hard to achieve atmosphere made us glad we'd made the trip but in terms of consistency, and judging against its Birmingham competition, Salt is some way off a star. Add it to the watchlist.
It's national chicken wing day and BoneHead is representing with five specials including Wing Jong-Il, sweet and spicy Korean wings by Lap-fai Lee (£6).
Represent your little bit of lovely, and vote for the best place to live in Birmingham ahere.
Pret's giving away 400 free brekkies. Hot-foot it to their new Newhall Street gaff for a bite and a hot bev.
A Matter of Life and Death is a festival about life and death. Taking place in May, much of their programme has now been announced.
Cheeky Burger sounds like the sort we want to get deeply involved with. Find them on Friday and Saturday at Digbeth Dining Club.
Chortle-maker, Tom Stade, is at Glee on March 28. Probably go forth and chortle?
Tickets are £17.50.
The NEC-bound Craft Drink Festival is giving away two VIP tickets worth £139 each. All you need do is subscribe to our big-thinking little sister title Bell & Smokey, by 2pm on April 3, to enter.

"Isn't it funny? You hear a phone ring and it could be anybody. But a ringing phone has to be answered, doesn't it?

The Caller, Phone Booth (2002)

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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Tom CullenAndrew Lowry
PICTURES: Flax & Kale (Barcelona), Gen Yamamoto — Instagram: ploppestable (Tokyo), Eleven Madison Park — Evan Sung (New York), Steirereck (Vienna), Chandni Chowk — Instagram: shaikhfatehuddin (New Delhi), Kronenhalle (Zurich), Faviken — Fjona Black, Hostaria Da Enzo — Instagram: _janeee_eee,
The Distillery — Sam Wood

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