Facehuggers & Flatbreads

FROM RIGA TO HAVANA 
(VIA ERDINGTON)

Why you must visit at least one of Birmingham's two best supperclubs

Food envy is a crippling condition. Your sorry-looking order upstaged by the showpiece dishes sat in front every other diner in the joint. It's one of the reasons we love Birmingham's underground supperclub scene - where you eat what your given and what your given is great. If you don't know how they work, it's simple. You pay in advance, arrive at the venue on the day and time that you're told, and you dine with complete strangers. There's plenty of skilled chefs doing it, but pick of the bunch are two very different experiences: Fine-dining, Latvia-style and the homely warmth of Caribbean soul food.
TWO CATS ROAMING: LATVIAN FINE DINING, JQ
Run by Nick Astley, a remarkably talented British chef and his Latvian partner Diana Fjodorova, the food is utterly meticulous, more aesthetic maybe than anything else you'll find in Birmingham. "Latvia isn't exactly known for its food," says Nick "But the quality of the produce is astounding. Fresh, rich, it's got everything going for it. There's French influence, Russian, Mongolian, Arabic. Nobody else in Birmingham is showing how beautiful it can be. So here we are, doing just that." 
Two Cats don't stick to one venue, instead finding quirky places, usually in the Jewellery Quarter, to host. You could find yourself climbing through trap doors to (literally) underground dining rooms or eating in the garage area of artisan bakeries. The randomness is part of the experience. 
Of the five courses we were served the standouts included Lobster tail with paste of lobster tomalley, nasturtium flower and side of quail egg (pictured above), potato birds nests with chicken liver parfait, lumpfish roe and a side of crayfish (pictured here) and the show-stopping cep mushroom broth, pelmeni and egg yolk (pictured top).
To attend the next event follow them on their hunger-inducing Facebook page, or on Twitter and keep your eyes peeled for announcements. The next event will be in July, with plans to go alfresco.
Price will be roughly £30, which is a steal.
TAN ROSIE: CARIBBEAN HOME COOKING, ERDINGTON
Tan Rosie tour the food markets of Birmingham, selling their superb Caribbean condiments, rubs and spices. If you see them, buy something. Their truly charming supperclubs, however, stay put - hosted at their family home in Erdington. Company owner Lee is at the front of house while her mum, Carriacou-born Monica, a truly brilliant character, is working wonders in the kitchen. Everything you eat is homemade - the plantain crisps, the bread, the ice cream - all of it. We went to their Cuban night and were treated to sensational crab fritters, authentic drunken chicken with saffron rice and, bar none, the best banana and rum cake you'll ever try. They've hosted Antiguan, Grenadian, Trinidad & Tobagan and Jamaican nights - demonstrating, despite what many think, how varied Caribbean food can be. This Saturday's street food evening is sold out, but tickets are still available for their sizzling jerk barbecue night, the carnivorous main course of which includes both jerk chicken and jerk ribs. Oh boy. That's on July 19, £31.50, book here. Follow Tan Rosie on Twitter or Facebook or, heck, follow them on both. We don't make the rules.

ALFRESCO ALIEN, ANYONE? 


Bet this chap could do with a cold beer and some fresh air. Rather wonderfully the mac are offering you the chance to watch Ridley Scott classic, Alien, on their outdoor cinema screen (August 8, £10) so, rather than worry about fresh air, you can focus your concerns on the endoparasitoid about to burst through John Hurt's ribcage. Back To The Future (August 22, £10) is also showing as part of their Sci-Fi season, while Invasion Of The Body Snatchers and the original Star Trek movie will be running the rain gauntlet in September. Oh and FYI, you can buy beers from the bar and take them outside. We've asked. #Priorities       

TOP COFFEE TO YOUR DESK


No cup of coffee should be mediocre, even at work. The people at Birmingham-based PerkUlatte roast and grind their beans in Brum, before sending you a new blast of fully flavoured 'joe' every month, with tasting notes. The coffee arrives in a letterbox friendly parcel so you can have it sent to your home or your desk. It's a great way to expand your taste and learn about coffees from small, passionate and independent farms from El Salvador to Ethiopa. They're available at NotOnTheHighStreet.com and their own site. Monthly subscriptions start from £8.99, which will make 15 mugs of the good stuff. 

YOU LIKEY THIS BIKEY?

We're currently at the business end of National Bike Week and although we know, literally, nothing about what that entails, it does give us the perfect excuse to tell you about Trillion Cycles. Handcrafted in Solihull using incredible components they are utterly stunning. With a starting price of £650 they could, at a push, be a first bike for those looking to get fit and go green, but are certainly the perfect upgrade for people already pedalling. Either way, with the city council set to pump £24 million into cycling, it really is the time to saddle up.      
Venue: Turtle Bay, 89-91 John Bright St, B1 1BL; turtlebay.co.uk 
Choice: Blue Mountain Curry Goat, £9.65 Chooser: Waitress

In a city of countless curry aficionados it's bold to recommend a Caribbean curry as a standout dish. But recommend it our waitress did and we could have kissed her for it if it weren't, you know, socially frowned upon. Turtle Bay - the latest arrival to the brilliant John Bright Street - is perhaps the friendliest restaurant in Brum, and not in a horribly forced way. Tender marinated goat (genuinely goat - not the mutton many places pass off as such) mopped up with fresh flatbreads reminded us of what a wonderful meat it can be, but it's the sweet onion chutney that really lifts this dish. Throw the whole lot in there, add some Bajan hot sauce (which,
condiment fans, is available to buy) and dig in. Turtle Bay is also home to some resplendent cocktails, our pick being the Regge Rum Punch. Happy hour your heart out. 
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Images: Jack Spicer Adams 
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