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Statistically speaking you can only turn one year old once, so you’ll forgive us for harping on about it, but chances are it won't happen again. Here, to celebrate our first birthday, we’re revealing 52 lessons we’ve learned in our 52 weeks of existence.
1. You can cook ribs in a filing cabinet. These guys do it.
Our "haunted" New Street Station photo deserved far more likes than it got.
3. This view, at The Rainbow, probably trumps any view, anywhere in the city. Alas, only a select view will ever have the pleasure. 
4. Imlees in Moseley sell a lamb, diced, but still on the bone curry called Karrara Gosht. They sell it by the half kilogram with a kilo feeding 3 or 4. It takes 45 minutes to cook so order it the second you step through the door. It's immense. 
5. Some Jewellery Quarter architects fancied splitting the old library in two and even showed how they'd do it.   
6. The Rose Villa Tavern serves the best chicken wings in Birmingham, bar none.
7. You can order a lamb roast dinner cocktail at Gingers. And you bloomin' well should, too.
The Studio Theatre at the new library is stunning. Go see it. 
9. There's a superb Lithuanian food store, under the arches, in the Jewellery Quarter. Consider yourselves dared to go there and buy things without having a clue what they are.  
10. It should be made illegal to use the phrase "More canals than Venice".
11. They sell a rare Japanese rum at The Plough and it's very, very incredible. 
12. The barbecue sauce made at Peel & Stone won best sauce at major BBQ cooking competition Ribstock. You can buy it by the bottle. Get to it. 
13. The single best slice of cake served in this city is the chocolate caramel cake at The Village, Moseley. At £3 it's pricey, but worth it. 
14. A Mr Egg cookbook would sell very well.  
15. Glynn Purnell's death row meal is crispy pork covered squid.
16. The best rum cocktail in the city is the Reggae Punch at Turtle Bay.
17. The best tequila cocktail in the city is
Tequilacolada at Alfie Birds.
18. The best whisky cocktail in the city is the Smoke & Mirrors at The Edgbaston. 
19. The best gin cocktail in the city is the Dirty Martini at Gingers.
20. The best vodka cocktail in the city is the Bison 75 at The Church.
21. We drink too much.
22. Officially - according to the National Street Food Awards 2014 - the best street food burger in Britain is made in Brum, by The Original Patty Men. 
23. Officially
- according to the National Street Food Awards 2014 - the best street food event in the country takes place in Brum, it's The Digbeth Dining Club.
24. There's a Peaky Blinders beer. It's alright.  
25. Few things are as cool as someone impersonating L.S.Lowry, painting Birmingham.
26. Birmingham has a Latvian supper club, and it's extraordinary.
27. Pure Bar & Kitchen sell Sorachi Ace, a large bottle of beer designed for sharing, like a bottle of wine
28. This is the best photo we took in an entire year. It's not great, to be honest. 
29. In coffee terms a piccolo (basically a baby latte) is the new flat white. You're not still ordering flat whites, are you? 
30. It’s local tradition to rub the finger or toe of the Buddha statue at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, for luck.
31. If you eat at The Balcony, in Selfridges, order the Martini Club Sandwich.
32. There’s a sneaky bull peaking over a balcony right under the Rotunda. 
33. Three incredible, internationally recognised gins are made in Birmingham: Brokers, Langley's No.8 and Martin Millers.
34. The standard of Scotch egg made in restaurants in this city is abnormally high. 
35. Brum lighting experts Nuvarti do good things. Very, very good things...
36. If there's a ramp in this city, you're going to know about it.
37. Verity Milligan takes a rather exceptional photo of Birmingham
38. If you’re buying bulk-made condiments rather than Brum-made condiments, you’re doing condiments all wrong. Stop saying "condiments".
39. Artist Reuben Colley’s City Living is, possibly, the most beautiful paean to Birmingham there is.
40. Tim Cornbill’s Birmingham Retropsective is a close second.
41. With 36 holes, Cannon Hill Park's mini golf course is, apparently, the biggest in Britain. Don't call it crazy golf. It's not and they will tell you in no uncertain terms.  
42. The people of Birmingham voted The Church into second place in ShortList magazine's search for Britain's Best New Pub. We've drank in the pub that came first and The Church is better. 
43. I CHOOSE Birmingham is only as good as its last issue. 
44. Temper is not only one of Brum's best artists, but he's the most Birmingham-passionate man we've ever met.  
45. Sunsets are beautiful anywhere on Earth, but in Birmingham they have their own Twitter hashtag: #Brumsets.
46. The announcement of the closure of the Giant Screen was very sad-making. Conversely, news that an Everyman Cinema will open in the Mailbox was incredible.
47. Every true Brummie should own one Provide t-shirt...
48. ...And experience Rib Nights at least once. 
49. Toffee coal is the new salted caramel. You heard it here first. 
50. Jack Spicer Adams makes good food look jaw-dropping.
51. The design your own chocolate bar stall at Selfridges right now is ace. White chocolate and wasabi peas is a genuinely terrific combination

52. If you knew all of these, you need to get out less.


We used to have an empire, you know? We acquired it through rather questionable means so it's probably for the best that it's been shrinking and shrinking but, over a six year period, Sutton Coldfield snapper Jon Tonks has been to some of the more far-flung islands over which the Union Jack still flies, to document what remains. The exhibition, entitled Empire, runs from October 18 to January 4 at the Mac, with each image having a delightful little tale behind it. If we haven't sold you - and it's free, so we've really failed there - this short video should do all the convincing required. Plus there's a picture of two penguins and it's basically the law to go and see pictures of penguins, right? 


Rising star of the Birmingham street food scene, Andy Low 'N' Slow, has long wowed us with his barbecuing capabilities and it seems the beer Gods at Brewdog concur. The John Bright Street-based craft ale bar will tie up, twice a month, with Low 'N' Slow to offer exquisite, brew-infused barbie bites including pulled pork, beef brisket and ribs, with suggested beer pairings. When we spoke to Andy he was experimenting with a chocolate chilli stout and ox cheek, which will be served at the first event on Thursday (October 23). Food will be served in an informal basis with bookings not possible. It's a show up and dive in type affair, with dishes being priced between £6 and £15. Our advice? Don't miss it.  


The Judge is the kind of middle-budget, middle-brow drama barely made in today’s Hollywood, and while it’s not perfect, it’s a sterling reminder of the days when it wasn’t only Marvel that could afford a name actor in every role. Robert Downey Jr stars as a hotshot lawyer returning to his small town roots to defend his confused and elderly father (Robert Duvall) from a possible murder charge. The cast bulges with quality and RDJ is so good it’s surprising it’s taken him this long to play a smarter-than-thou attorney. So why won’t The Judge be on every Oscar shortlist going? Sadly, director David Dobkin’s years in the comedy trenches making Wedding Crashers and Fred Claus mean he’s too eager to prove his drama chops, allowing his powerful cast off the leash in a second half that slides toward melodrama. That said, he’s to be applauded for aiming high, and after a summer of green screen epics it’s refreshing to settle into more earth-bound story.
Venue: Raja Monkey, 1355 Stratford Road, Hall Green, B28 9HW; rajamonkey.co.uk
Choice: Rajasthani Thali (£12.49)  Chooser: Chef
It’s an indian, Jim, but not as we know it. Fresh, fragrant and buzzing, the open kitchen and thoughtfully crafted menu puts bold and vibrant flavour combinations at the centre of Lasan’s mischievous answer to a Bombay street cafe. The Bhel Puri (£1.99) - that’s a mango and puff rice snack steeped in tamarind, coriander and a cool yoghurt dip to you and me - was our pick of Raja’s vivifying and delighting snacks. But we implore you to leave room for a thali. All served with daily changing daal, vegetable curry, paratha bread and rice, it was the Rajasthani Thali that left us greedily wondering how quickly we could justify a return visit. This deep and gelatinous explosion of mutton, ground red chilli, whole cardamom and cloves, simmered with bone marrow stock remains as delicate as it is comforting. Raja Monkey is palpably unstuffy and with just the right amount of chutzpah. Enjoy. 
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"I don't drink these days. I am allergic to alcohol and narcotics. I break out in handcuffs." ― Robert Downey Jr.

WORDS: Katy Drohan, Andrew Lowry

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