Cocktails first, questions later

INTRODUCING: THE BOTANIST

It's little more than nine hours until you get to bid a speedy ta-ra to your bulging inbox and to keep you entertained in the interim, we've been digging deep to discover the top picks of just about everything at Brum's hottest new opening, the Botanist, courtesy of its General Manager, Julian Rose-Gibbs. And from what we've heard, we may have just found a new home. Unless, of course, you'll have us? Thought not. 
COCKTAIL OF CHOICE 
"Before dinner, after dinner, or - you know - during dinner" Julian is yet to come across a person who hasn't gone doe-eyed at his first choice cocktail, the Apricot and Mint Daiquiri (£6.95). Herbaceous and fragrant fruity combinations are the order of the day across the new bar and restaurant's extensive cocktail list. But off list is also actively encouraged. Go off list. Double dog dare you.  
PERHAPS YOU PREFER BEER? 
With 95 bottled beers to pick between, getting Julian to select his numero uno was no mean feat, but he eventually committed to the Alhambra Reserva for its "great taste and good looks". The Botanist has seriously upped its ale and craft beer offering across its northern outposts over the past few years and is putting on ale masterclasses for groups of six or more at its Temple Street nexus. 
TO START
The GM recommends the Botanist's deli platters. For £9.95, select four plates from a list of over twenty, which includes a stalwart bevy of veggie options. He's particularly keen on the pomegranate and minted pearl couscous. We're going to completely ignore him though, and recommend the chicken liver and rum pâté with plum and apple chutney, pictured (£5.95). Mainly because it includes rum pâté.  
THE MAIN EVENT
Chicken on a stick. You could stop there and we'd be sold. But for the more refined, we should probably mention that these handsome beauties come soaked in sweet chilli, ginger and garlic butter and also as prawn, halloumi or lamb dishes. From £10.95, the Hanging Kebabs (they've genuinely trademarked that name) are served with "properly seasoned chips" but you'll have to bring your own worthy looking books for the full effect. Julian's also lauded praise on their soon-to-be served Malaysian chicken curry.
AND FOR AFTERS?
The GM made easy work of recommending the Botanist's old school puds (all priced at £4.95). Having steered clear of the likes of trifle and peach melba for some thirty years, Julian, who professes to not really being a dessert man, polished off the lot when taste-testing the Botanist's afters offering. And if you're not completely kebabbed-out by this stage, there's one of the strawberry and marshmallow persuasion. And it looks like this. You're welcome. 
THE KICKER: 40% OFF
We'd like to think we're pretty good to you. In fact, we're just going to go ahead and say it: we are. So good in fact that while the Botanist doesn't technically open its ornate gates until Monday (April 6), you can preview it this Saturday or Sunday and get 40% off your total food bill, here. There's also 25% off food throughout April for all online bookings. Act quickly, or not. 
BIRMINGHAM: A PHOTOGRAPHIC LEGACY

No you're not completely losing it. The year is 1963, the Bullring looks nothing like a Death Star Aero and the Rotunda is around half way through its construction. Moving swiftly back to the present day, in an unassuming filing cabinet in Selly Oak, a bounty of slides has been uncovered. And the collection just so happens to be by the late photographer, Phyllis Nicklin, whose existing archive of 446 photographs has been championed by BrumPic for the colour and insight it offers into fifties and sixties Birmingham. Having died in 1969, little is known about the University of Birmingham graduate and teacher, save for the considerable collection of urban happenings she chose to capture. The discovery of at least 600 further shots by the University is initially being marked through the exclusive release of images like the one pictured and a display by BrumPic through Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s digital interactive table, in the History Gallery, from today (April 2) until April 18. And expect a big deal of an exhibition come the Autumn. BIG big.
Venue: Bournville Waffle Company, tracked down at the Bournville Street Food & Ale Festival, Row Heath Pavilion, B30 1HH; bournvillewafflecompany.co.uk
Choice: Rocky Road Waffle (£4) Chooser: Us - it just felt right

Take one freshly baked waffle and lovingly adorn with mini marshmallows, chocolate buttons, cookie bites, whipped double cream and warm chocolate sauce. Do we really need to go on? Well, as it's you... Throw in a carefully restored, egg-shell blue caravan together with some of the smiliest service in Brum and you're basically up-to-speed with the Bournville Waffle Company and its highly-deserving bestseller, the Rocky Road. Crunchy, chewy, unbridled joy. We've even known the obliging team to offer some bespoke hybrids. So if you just can't pick between the Millionaires' and the Banoffee Waffle (we certainly couldn't), you may not have to. Salivating conspicuously? Daub that dribble and catch the team at the Digbeth Dining Club from 5.30pm tomorrow (April 3).

IT'S OPERA, JIM - BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT 
 

Helicopter hangars, orchestra members on trapezes and riots at Cannon Hill Park - it must be the Birmingham Opera Company. And if you're yet to be formally introduced, your timing couldn't be better. The company's latest production, The Ice Break, marauds its way into a Digbeth warehouse from tomorrow (April 3) until April 9 - because a purpose built theatre would be far too straightforward. Alongside the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, expect internationally acclaimed leads and a carolling chorus of Brummies in what is a modern opera, tackling issues of race, gang warfare and rebellion. And bring good shoes. From what we hear, you're unlikely to be sitting down for long. Tickets, at £17.50, here.

MARVEL AT MARVEL:
STAN LEE AT THE ICC
 

A new collection of Marvel comic book covers, created by the grandaddy of the industry, Stan Lee, is on display at the Castle Fine Art Gallery. Whether you favour The Amazing Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk or perhaps it was a Captain America doll - sorry, figurine - that somehow used to find its way to the top of your Christmas list, the super-sized collection of twelve limited edition prints include some of the most influential characters to have graced our magazine shelves in recent history. Each image forms part of an exclusive edition of nine and is signed by Lee. Starting from £2,950, if it is a sighting rather than a purchase that your wallet allows for, the prints are on display until Sunday, April 12, at the gallery's ICC outpost and can be viewed for free.
  • The Original Patty Men are bringing burgery goodness to Brewdog from 3.30pm on April 4 and we're feeling a little emotional about their one-off, beer-battered pickle burger named Beef & Glory.   
  • From 6pm tomorrow (April 3) late exhibition openings, film screenings, a waste-food cafe and non-specific revelry in some unusual spots will dominate until late - it's Digbeth's First Friday.
  • Harborne's Butchers Social is popping up for a good ol' hog roast on Easter Friday and a beer and wings night on Saturday. With an Easter Sunday brunch also offered, we're unclear if the team sleeps.
  • Circus Mash is springing across Brindleyplace from 2pm on April 4 and 5. Alongside circus acts and workshops, expect a panoply of street food eats and treats throughout Easter. Enjoy.
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"Opera is where a guy gets stabbed in the back, but instead of dying, he sings." - Robert Benchley
IMAGES: © University of Birmingham (Phyllis Nicklin)
WORDS: Katy DrohanTom Cullen
ADDRESS: I CHOOSE Birmingham, Office 211, 43 Temple Row, Birmingham, B2 5LS

Copyright © 2015 Birmingham Publishing Group Ltd, All rights reserved.


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