Grand Central is fast becoming one of my go to places in Birmingham. Whether I've just come back from a trip to London or want to meet friends for something to eat in somewhere super convenient, Grand Central has it all. It's no bad thing that there are plenty of gorgeous shops to pop into whilst I'm around too, and I love to run into Jo Malone, L'Occitane and Neal's Yard Remedies if I'm waiting to meet someone.
I was recently invited to try out five new dishes at Tapas Revolution. Launched in July, the new dishes include a gazpacho, honey and lemon chicken wings, spinach and goat's cheese empanadillas, lamb chops and a lettuce and Manchego salad.
However, I was also able to try out classic dishes from the menu, all created by Tapas Revolution founder Omar Allibhoy.
Having won the award for Best Spanish Restaurant at the Birmingham Food Drink and Hospitality Awards 2016 earlier this year, I was looking forward to my chance to try out some Spanish dishes.
Despite visiting Barcelona back in June, I didn't manage to try much tapas whilst I was there, mainly because I'd been warned away from anywhere that served buffet style food, in favour of venues that cook fresh. I did of course get to try a lot of paella, but I was eager to try more small plates.
Seated at a balcony seat with great views of the hustle and bustle below, we were offered drinks first whilst I looked at the dedicated gluten free menu. It was great to see such a detailed menu which even outlined which dishes were at risk of cross contamination.
I decided to go for the Ginabelle, a plum gin infused with red berry tea and served with Fever-Tree Indian Tonic and forest fruits (£9). This was a gin revelation for me, as someone who loves gin but also has a sweet tooth. Don't get me wrong, this was no strawberry daiquiri, but there was just a touch of sweetness which I really enjoyed. There is of course a range of Sangria options available too, Spanish inspired cocktails, more gin tonics, red, white and rose wine, craft beers, and of course soft drinks including horchata and authentic Spanish lemonade.
Next, we ordered Queso Manchego y membrillo (£5.75), Manchego with Quince paste to nibble on first. I love cheese, so there's very little else I need to say other than that I also love quince.
Our food arrived as it was ready, to ensure nothing was left to stand. We ordered Chuletas de Cordero, roasted lamb chops marinated with spices and served pink (£7.95), Jamon Serrano del Consorcio, 18 month cured ham (£5.25), Gambas al Ajillo, tiger prawns with garlic and chilli oil cooked in a terracotta dish (£7.95), Arroz Negro, black rice with prawn and squid served with alioli (£5.25), Huevos Rotos, baked chorizo sausage, potatoes and egg (£5.50) and finally, Patatas Bravas, roasted potatoes with spicy tomato sauce and alioli (£3.95).
My favourite dish of the bunch had to be the Arroz Negro. There's something about the salty flavour of squid ink that I just adore, and this dish was so full of flavour, it was far from a boring rice dish. With the addition of a few chunks of squid, this was the standout star. Of course, the cheese and ham were as good as I would expect, relying on a good palate to source the finest flavours.
The prawns were fine, but could have done with being finished off on a grill or pan to add colour to the dish and an extra depth gained from grilling or caramelising the dish.
Finally, the potato dishes were well cooked and spicier than I expected. The alioli was most welcome here.
As much as I wish I could eat churros, unfortunately they're not gluten free. In lieu of ice-cream, we finished off our meal with an excellent espresso each.
The service we received at Tapas Revolution was excellent, attentive and very friendly. The atmosphere was buzzing and lively, thanks I imagine to an excellent half price offer on sangria from 4-7pm daily and 2 for 1 on gin tonics. When we visited, the restaurant was full of friends catching up and work colleagues breaking bread, and mainly sangria, making it a great place to eat and drink in unpretentious surrounds.
I'd happily return for the paella next time, and for those of you who can eat gluten, there were some excellent looking dishes including the calamari, empanadillas, croquetas de jamon and of course churros.
Have you ever been to Tapas Revolution? What were your thoughts?