Tuesday 16 January 2018

Food Review: Sabai Sabai Thai Birmingham City Centre

For a city as into it's food as Birmingham, there really aren't too many places to go for Thai. However, Sabai Sabai, the local chain that started off in Moseley before spreading to Harborne, Stratford and now Waterloo Street in the city centre, is now on hand to cater for all your Thai food and cocktail needs.

With a good sized bar offering diners or simply drinkers a place to perch, there is a great selection of cocktails on offer from classics to something different. We started off with the Bangkok Fizz (£8.25), a prosecco based cocktail with citrus flavours. This was a great way to kick off the night, where bloggers from the city and beyond had gathered to try out the new joint. 

At the table, we were treated to sharing portions that weren't really that. I'm pretty sure we all had more than one dish each, which meant that we could avoid the awkward "oh no, you take the last one" situation because there really was plenty to go around. The portion sizes themselves were also extremely generous.

The first dish to arrive was the Meat Sharing Platter (£12.95 each), a mix of lamb chops, spare ribs, chicken wings and crispy duck rolls. The lamb chops were served pink, which is how I like them, and were very, very meaty. The chicken wings were again, thick and meaty and seasoned with chilli and salt. I was also treated to a warm bowl of Tom Yam Goong, Spicy and Sour Prawn Soup to cater to my gluten free dining requirements.

Next, we moved onto the main event, where the table was laid out with Monkfish Thai Green Curry (£17.95), Short Rib Beef Massaman, Papaya Salad (£9.95), Weeping Tiger Steak (£16.95), Pad Thai (£10.95), Tenderstem broccoli and Garlic Rice. 

A veritable feast, and something I would heartily recommend to anyone dining in a large group, please do order as we did and get stuck into a variety of dishes; it really is the most fun way to dine!

The stand out dishes here were the Massaman Beef, a delicious, thick nutty curry sauce poured over the softest piece of short rib beef you'll ever try paired with the garlic rice, with nutty flavour hints that complemented the sauce.

For fresher flavours, it was the Papaya Salad and Pad Thai that worked well together. Pad Thai was exactly as you'd expect it to be, a consistently good dish that never fails to deliver just the right balance of sweet, nutty and sour. The Papaya Salad was something little different, with shredded papaya and veg brought together by some big, crunchy peanuts and a touch of sour and sweet from the lime, chilli and palm sugar. 

For dessert, we opted for the prettiest Espresso Martini, just because food bloggers don't do Dry January. Cheers!

*With thanks to Sabai Sabai for the complimentary meal

Thursday 11 January 2018

Food review: Fressh Food Birmingham

Happy New Year folks!! Welcome to my first post of 2018. Excuse the delay, but sometimes it's good to take a break :)

Back to food. Fressh opened up last year in a prime location, close to Corporation Street in the City Arcade (also home to Tilt Coffee).

Hailed as a vegan cafe, it seemed fitting to talk about Fressh in January, also known as Veganuary, the movement that's taken the country by storm whereby followers opt to adopt a plant-based diet for the month.

In keeping with the name, Fressh adopts a colour scheme of mainly white with touches of green, making it look instantly calm and zen.

Walking in, the first thing you'll notice is the fresh salad bar area as well as the seating, which is varied between small tables, larger communal tables and benches; always good for when you're dining solo.

After receiving a very warm welcome from the manager, who went through the concept, menu and how to order, I picked out a few dishes to try.

First of all, I had to get the Taco Bowl (£4.75) if only to try Walnut Taco. This can be served as either a salad or a wrap; I opted for a salad. I then pontificated between the What the Guac? and Son of a Bun burger, finally opting for Son of a Bun (£5.95) because it's less spicy.

A word on gluten free options. The team were well versed in the gluten free options on the menu, which always makes me happy. What's also great is that the main menu is helpfully annotated with GF and GFO to make it really easy for us Gluten Free folk when picking from the menu. For example, the burgers are both GFO because the bun can be switched out for a gluten free bun for an extra £1, whilst the salads can be made gluten free by being served as a salad and not a wrap and by removing items such as croutons.

There are plenty of gluten free choices on the menu, from the burgers and salads to the butternut squash curry. Breakfast also affords much choice, with the porridge and smoothies also being gluten free.

Back to my order, I also picked the Turmeric Latte (£3.25), which can be served with soya, coconut, oat or almond milk, as well as a bottle of Organic Kombucha (£2.95).

My food was freshly made to order and arrived served on a tray and artfully arranged (I get the feeling they're used to being Instagrammed).

First of all I tried my Turmeric Latte. Although I'm not one for milky drinks, I really anted to try out turmeric as it's such a hot topic right now, with health benefits such as its antioxidant and inflammatory properties. For me, I just wanted to see if I could stomach the stuff, and thankfully the answer is yes! Smooth and warm, this tasted like a cup of warm golden sunshine. Now, I just need to figure out how to get it into my diet.

I really enjoyed the kombucha too, and I'd definitely try it again. I'm quite fascinated by it as it's actually a living thing, don't ask, just look it up.

Onto the food, both items were hearty portions, and the salad in particular is plenty big enough to fill you up at lunch time.

They were great at being able to customise your items too so don't be afraid to ask for the team to hold the onions for example.

My Son of a Bun burger was a big, thick, "meaty" burger, piled up high with a black bean and sweet potato patty, onion, gherkins, vegan cheese and a Fressh sauce. The patty itself was very thick and the rice content made it especially filling. The gluten free bun was also tasty, and the sauces added just enough flavour without being overpowering.

The Taco Bowl salad had a really unusual taste, almost cheesy but I can't be sure. The salad itself was huge and varied, and I loved the sweetcorn to keep it from being too bland.

Overall, Fressh offered great service, a great environment and a great menu. The prices are really affordable, which is good to see as so often healthy food can come at a high price. There was plenty of choice and everything is easy to swap around and customise. Would I come back? For a midweek lunch yes! My top tip? Grab a burger and go!

*With thanks to Fressh for the complimentary meal