Tuesday 26 June 2018

Food Review: Don Diego Edgbaston

Tucked away opposite the White Swan is Chad Square in Edgbaston, near the border with Harborne. Home to a few small shops, this is where you'll find Don Diego restaurant.

A family run restaurant serving up Spanish food, run by two Spanish brothers, the restaurant bills itself as serving "well balanced, sunny flavours with a focus on basic quality ingredients and beautifully presented colourful food."

I headed to the restaurant with a Spanish friend to put them to the test.

Ready to welcome me before I'd even headed to the door, I was busy snapping pictures of the exterior when I was greeted by one of the owners.

The restaurant itself is quite small, with mostly small tables for two and four and velvet sofa seating around the outside. The decor features quirky picture printed wallpaper, red velvet seating and ornate mirrors.

We took our seats and ordered drinks. My dining partner opted for a traditional Alhambra Beer, whilst I had a Gin and Tonic. These arrived super quick, and we ordered some Manzilla Olives (£2.50) to nibble on as my dining partner assured me they are known for their quality.  

For starters, I picked the Smoked Salmon, Red Onions, Lemon Olive Oil (£6.50) and my companion ordered a rustic dish of Rice Black Pudding, Piquillo Peppers and Brava Sauce (£5.95). 

My salmon was a very simple dish of smoked salmon presented well on the plate, with very little else. The flesh however was fresh and sang once covered in lemon juice. 

The peppers came in a spicy tomato sauce, with the sweet exterior housing a well cooked soft filling. 

Our main courses were both fishy, with my dining companion picking the special Octopus Leg Roasted in Paprika Olive Oil (£17.95) and I had the King Prawns, Chillies, Garlic Lobster Bisque (£17.95).

The octopus is a beautiful dish to behold, presented so strikingly that it's become quite iconic in these parts. It was smoky, soft, tender and not at all rubbery.

My prawns were spicy but extremely juicy, and the sauce was delicious with the sides of Patatas Bravas and Vegetables. The potatoes were clearly boiled and then fried, which gave them both a good flavour and crispy texture. 

Wanting to try some authentic Spanish desserts, we also shared the Whiskey Chocolate Semifredo, Berries Dressing (£5.95) and Santiago Almond Tart, Apricot Puree (£5.95). I was suprrised that there was so much choice for a gluten free diner, as so often we're overlooked when it comes to dessert. I was shocked to hear that the Almond Tart doesn't include any flour, and is made from ground almonds, egg white and sugar. This made a delicious sweet treat and I'm so glad we ordered this dessert from the North of Spain. The semifredo was also delicious, sweet, creamy with a little fruit coulis to add to it. 

Don Diego is a traditional family run Spanish restaurant, something that can be difficult to find. As a cuisine, it can be hard to find amongst the hoards of Italian's serving pizza and pasta. With rustic charm and a real sense of authenticity, the food quality meant it was a thumbs up from me and my Spanish friend.

*With thanks to Don Diego and East Village PR for the complimentary meal.

Friday 22 June 2018

Food Review: Smokey Barrels Birmingham

The American Smoke House is a restaurant trend that you may well have heard of, offering meaty dishes of ribs, burgers and brisket alongside slaw and more.

Smokey Barrels has opened near Birmingham on the Coventry Road and I was lucky enough to be able to make a visit.

Located outside of the city centre in Yardley, the restaurant itself is impossible to miss and clearly signposted from the main road.

With plenty of parking, I parked up by the door (always a bonus) and headed in. The inside of the restaurant heavily features wood, staying true to the American Smoke House theme. With a large bar and a mix of seating from high tables, to booths and banqueting tables, there's plenty of options.

We headed to a high table and had a look at the menu. There's plenty of platters, starters and mains to choose from, including everything from fajitas to salmon skewers if Smoke House isn't your thing.

I opted for the Cajun Prawn Skewers (£5.95) and Smoked Beef Brisket (£13.50). My dining companion opted for the Halloumi and Red Pepper Skewers (£5.95) and Half Slab of Texan Glazed Ribs (£13.95).

Everything arrives smoking hot and by smoking, I really do mean smoking! The food arrived at the table fairly quickly, and love them or hate them, there was plentiful use of wooden boards.

The starters were tasty and a good sized portion. I enjoyed my prawns and they were cooked and seasoned well. I really felt that this starter in particular offered good value for money.

Onto the mains, just check out the size of our plates! Both the ribs and brisket arrived in plentiful portions. Both dishes came wish sides as standard, so for the ribs this looked like skin on fries, grilled corn and BBQ pit beans. For my brisket, this included skin on fries, slaw and pickles.

My beef came with a little sauce, and I asked for some extra as it was a) tasty and b) added some moisture to the meat. The slaw and pickles were delicious too and it was good to see so many sides included as standard, especially as it was a change from the usual mash or salad option.

My dining companion enjoyed her ribs, although was a little defeated by the size of them! She also enjoyed her sides.

Although we were too full for dessert, there are some tasty looking options available including Chocolate and Peanut Butter Slice, Caramel Cookie Crunch and Doughnut Dippers. Sadly, none of these are gluten free but I definitely didn't leave hungry.

We were also treated to a peek at the in house smoker, where everything is smoked on site.

Smokey Barrels is a themed restaurant. Great for families with plenty of space inside and out, it's a convenient spot for a slap up meal. The starters and mains are a good sides portion, and to be honest, you could happily enjoy just a main course and not feel like you'd missed out because of the sides that are included with the dish. This makes the main courses in particular great value.

The service was friendly throughout, and our waiter was really helpful when it came to catering for my gluten free diet. He was more than happy to check with the kitchen and confirm what was and wasn't suitable and importantly, why, proving the staff know what goes into each dish.

Overall, Smokey Barrels is a fun family friendly restaurant with sizeable portions and a friendly team.

*With thanks to Smokey Barrels and Delicious PR for the complimentary meal.

Tuesday 12 June 2018

Food Review: Primitivo Birmingham's new breakfast menu

Primitivo has a long history in the city of Birmingham. A favourite of city boys and bankers, the establishment will celebrate it's 21st birthday in August.

Known as a spot for after work drinks and boozy lunches, what it's not known for is breakfast; until now. Just launched, Primitivo is now serving breakfasts on weekdays from 8am by booking. Will this bar's breakfasts hold up?

Right in the heart of the business district, Primitivo or 'Prim's' as it is affectionately known, is handily close to Snow Hill station on Barwick Street.

Serving up champers and beer on weekday evening's (they're closed on weekends), they're opening early to fill bellies and glasses.

I arrived early on Saturday morning and joined a table full of fellow bloggers. I declined the offer of champagne and sipped tea instead. I was pleasantly surprised to see there are a number of gluten free options on the menu, including gluten free toast in place of an English muffin in the Eggs Benedict and a Rosti, Egg and Mushroom dish that is naturally gluten free. I opted for the Rosti (£7.95) as I thought perhaps you've seen enough Eggs Benedict on here for a while.

The others indulged in a few croissants too (£2.95), and I was generously furnished with gluten free toast and preserves to start (£1.95).

Onto the main event, the potato rosti arrived topped with a huge portobello mushroom, poached egg and a glorious hollandaise sauce. The portion was very generous and the hollandaise was unlike any other I've ever tried (I think there was some additional cheese in here).

The others went for the Full English, a steal at £8.95. The price of the dishes is well worth mentioning. Compared to so many other brunch spots, the menu is very keenly priced, and my rosti was worth at least £7.95 if not more for such a well crafted, freshly prepared dish.

Although the menu is small, it is indeed perfectly formed. My rosti dish was something that I have not tried elsewhere, and I would gladly have this again on any day of the week.

Whilst we were there, we were introduced to not just the chefs, but also the owners and team. The feeling was very much of family, and we were warmly welcomed and treated as friends.

Primitivo has almost legendary status in Birmingham. Guests are welcomed and treated like family, and there lies the secret to it's success. The bar and eatery is there to look after its patrons and this is something that shows in the food, drink and hospitality.

If you're looking for a regular drinking spot in Birmingham, Primitivo could just hit the spot.

*With thanks to Primitivo and Paul Fulford for the invitation.