(Issue 104)
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Like the shell-suited kids of the 80s that we are, we've been playing a rather involved game of table Top Trumps with the bars, restaurants and booths of Brum's best venues. The result? Not just the places to go, but the very tables to sit at when you're there.
KITCHEN TABLE: Opus, 54 Cornwall Street, B3 2DE
Ever wondered what goes on behind the swinging doors of Opus' big-hitting Cornwall Street HQ? Get as involved as you like with the kitchen, by sitting in it. The newly refurbed kitchen table has space for up to eight and a seat at it will get you a five-course tasting menu (£75pp), created with your preferred produce and whatever looked good at the market that morning. Tour the kitchen and talk sourcing, or simply marvel at the inner workings of a top notch restaurant in action. Sample menu. Book.
WINTER WARMER: The Boot Inn, Old Warwick Road, Lapworth, B94 6JU
From this weekend until mid-March, Sundays mean one thing: a roast. And an open fire. Okay, two things. The Boot at Lapworth offers both and their coals are already roaring. Opt for a table in the lounge (pictured), where you'll find two open fires and a reassuring quantity of throw cushions. If you're yet to make it out to Lapworth, you'll also find a picture perfect country village together with canal walks to justify the most outlandish dessert-based decisions (the canal runs behind The Boot). Menu.
BEST BAR STOOL: The Edgbaston, 18 Highfield Road, B15 3DU
More often than not the team at The Edgbaston will offer you a table on arrival. Decline and ask if you can sit at the bar so that rather than rubbernecking at everyone's cocktails as they come out, you can talk through the bar's creations as they're mixed. And while the whole team know what they're doing, the star of the bar is award-ladened James Bowker, who is the best at explaining what he is doing in layman's terms. Find out which of three bars he's working at and make a beeline.
MARKET LUNCH: Otoro Sushi, Unit 30d, Bullring Indoor Market, B5 4RB
With just six seats, get a different kind of exclusive at the newest addition to Brum's Indoor Market. Otoro Sushi has been open a month and wherever possible sources ingredients from neighbouring stalls (including Pearce's Shellfish, pictured). Every dish is prepared to order by Gdansk-born Maciek, who trained in all things sushi for three years in Poland before moving to the Midlands and the Sushi Passion stable. For more on the results of his solo venture, check out this week's You Choose.
BRUM BY NIGHT: Marco Pierre White, The Cube, B1 1PR
It's difficult to rival the 360° panoramic views that MPW offers. And the best night of the year to book in for a window seat is surely Guy Fawkes Night, which is three weeks today. Ask for a window table to the left of the bar with views of Edgbaston (and the pick of Brum's displays). The University of Birmingham's Vale Fireworks will be taking to the sky at 9pm, so be sure to book your table accordingly. And with a new head chef, GM and restaurant manager, expect a step up from the food. Book.
ONE TO WATCH: Adam's, 16 Waterloo Street, B2 5UG
The longest and most awarded 'pop-up' we've experienced is on the move, from Bennett's Hill to a New Oxford House spot which overlooks Victoria Square. And yes we are talking about Adam's. The team's new digs - which open in January - include a private dining room, chef's table (pictured), wine room and development kitchen. And while we're holding off on making a call as to which table will be the pick, you can get a spot for opening week (January 26 to 30) by calling 0121 643 3745, stat.


In a big old huzzah to the re-opening of the Mailbox's hallowed entrance, there's a busy weekend of events about everything from art collecting, to canapé creation. And they're all bloomin' well free. We'll be joining 2015's Mailbox newbies Gas Street Social and Aluna at 2.30pm on Saturday, October 24 for a cocktail demonstration and all round lesson in mixology - register to secure a spot. And if you've ever wondered about the somewhat mystical world of art collection, Castle Fine Art (who open in the Mailbox next week) is giving a lesson in collecting with confidence, starting off with the difference between originals and limited edition prints. There'll also be a demonstration of the latest blow dry trends from the team at Nicky Clarke, as well as a debate featuring Grazia's editor on the merits of fashion as art. Full programme.


It’s still shocking that it took until 1928 for women to be able to vote in Britain: for context, that’s about 50 years after the invention of the lightbulb. It’s a struggle that’s oddly underrepresented on film, but this cracker from director Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane) and writer Abi Morgan feels pretty definitive. A superb cast (Carey Mulligan takes the lead as a composite figure getting stuck into the suffragette movement; Helena Bonham Carter appears as Edith Ellyn and Meryl Streep cameos as Emmeline Pankhurst) all do sterling work, and while the film could have done with being less well-behaved in its style, the point is driven home that women weren’t munificently granted the vote: they had to take it. And as the protests against cuts to domestic violence services at the film’s premiere showed us, it’s a tradition that is still alive and well. Trailer & Times
Venue: Otoro Sushi, Unit 30d, Bullring Indoor Market, B5 4RB; Twitter
Choice: Uramaki dragon roll (£7.50) Chooser: Owner & Chef

We last ate otoro (top grade belly tuna) at 6am in Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market and it remains one of our top five bites ever. Roughly 5,931 miles and a continent or two later, Brum's new sushi bar deals in the good stuff (though you will have to ring ahead to guarantee they have it - otoro costs in excess of £100/lb). For something a little more friendly on the purse, plump for the uramaki dragon roll, topped with eel and mango. Known as the inside out sushi roll, the dish is created around a piece of prawn tempura and rolled with chunks of avocado. The result is sweet, tart, salty and sating. A modest daub of wasabi adds a further dimension to the enlivening dish, about which you should make any implied agreements on sharing legally binding before you dive in. Open Tuesday to Saturdays (10am to 5.30pm), go early in the week to avoid a wait. Text Maciek (07860 811371) for reservations and otoro requests.


Inspired by Haruki Murakami’s novel Norwegian Wood, DanceXchange's Without Stars/There We Have Been follows a young narrator’s complicated relationship with the bereaved girlfriend of his late best pal. Well, we’ve all been there. This dance double bill captures the mood and cult appeal of the novel complete with bold choreography and a frightening amount of physicality. The opening piece, Without Stars, sees a quartet of dancers portraying a complex web of relationships, as we first see the story through 'her' eyes. In contrast There We Have Been, represents the male perspective, with both dancers intricately folding, wrapping and balancing around each other. Incredibly her body doesn't touch the floor throughout the 17 minute piece. Discounted tickets here.


What's your song? There's a video of a certain rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody that means a whole division of our team is no longer able to enter Coventry. But enough about us. Karaoke Box is opening up its first venue outside London on October 26 and there's a library of 15,000 songs, from which you'll be able to create a playlist in advance, to maximise precious mic time. There'll be eleven private rooms to choose from including - for those who are all about the art - the rock star room, complete with silly good stereo. And though we generally like to sing and saké, the extensive cocktail list is making us ask some difficult questions. Book by emailing birmingham@karaokebox.co.uk. And watch out for the November launch party. Professor Green may or may not be opening the bar. Okay, he is.
  • Yorks is closing. Yorks is moving. Another Yorks is opening. Then old Yorks re-opens. Handy visual aid
  • October 21 2015. If you've watched Back to the Future II, you'll probably know this is the day Marty and Doc travelled to in their DeLorean. Enjoy it in real time at the Everyman. Book
  • Ghost writing, the Birmingham Qu'ran and Noel Coward all feature at this year's Book to the Future, which takes place at UoB until Saturday. More here
  • All Years Leaving Festival is at the Hare & Hounds next weekend and while weekend tickets have sold out, you can still get a spot for Friday or for Saturday, when East India Youth is playing
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"Trust in God: She will provide." - Emmeline Pankhurst

WORDS: Katy Drohan, Andrew Lowry, Laura Smith
IMAGES: Tom Bird (Otoro Sushi)

I CHOOSE Birmingham, Office 317, Zellig, Gibb Street, Birmingham, B9 4AA 

Copyright © 2015 Birmingham Publishing Group Ltd, All rights reserved.

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