Why are we eating ants?

INTRODUCING: THE WILDERNESS

We're going to start at the end — the denouement, the crux of the matter, the point. The very next place you're going to want to break bread is The Wilderness. And while we're not going to guarantee there will or won't actually be bread when you visit, something special you'll be hard pressed to avoid. The Wilderness opened yesterday. Book your table immediately, or read the feature first. Either way.
Rewinding briefly, it's been less than eight weeks since we announced the transmogrification of Nomad into The Wilderness. And it turns out eight weeks is a long time in the mind of founder, forager and borderline maniac (in the loveable genius sense), Alex Claridge. In fact, Nomad closed for only ten days before its reinvention, which includes something akin to the most well appointed forest you'll ever encounter. Think babbling brook, mossy knoll and the sort of crockery you'll wish you'd had the foresight to put on your wedding list. The whole experience is legions away from the late night trips to a forest required to finish the interior, using the only means of transport available to the team — a school bus.
As well as the dramatic increase in foliage, the level of experience in the kitchen has moved up at least a gear. With plenty of Michelin trained bods now working each service, it would have been easy to fall into the self-consciously technical territory, which isn't always as enjoyable for the customer as it is for the chef. Instead, the team is pushing itself into that even harder to achieve category of relaxed and playful food where every dish is part of a wider narrative — and every element just so happens to be perfect. 
Talking of perfect, there was an egg sous-vide at 64°C for two hours to create a concentration of flavour beyond any slow-cooked egg we've previously been served. A hand-dived scallop was cooked (and tartared) adeptly, initially plated in a fairly conventional fine dining manner, but then covered in a thick dusting of black edible embers created using squid ink. Part of a wider narrative which develops throughout the experience, you'll need to polish off a small battalion of wild wood ants which are set on running off with your cheese course, a vintage cheddar creme brûlée tart (see top). More than a clever quip which audibly raised intrigue levels at every table as it arrived, the intense citrus shot from each ant cuts through the strong, sweet, affirming tart.
The cocktail game is as carefully considered as the rest of operations. Full of concentrated, British, botanic-filled takes on classics — the Allotment Negroni (pictured) is as intense as it looks and includes rosehip liquor and gin which has been microwave-infused with sage, thyme and rosemary. For the unadulterated Wilderness experience, you can opt for The Full Story (around £65 for 10(ish) courses), including drinks matched to each dish it'll be more like £100. Or come in for what's being described as "a snack" (£3 to £6). A seasonal and wallet-pleasing chance to see what the kitchen is in to that day, we'll see you there for anything from salmon and strawberries, to lamb sweetbreads with nasturtium leaves.
And though you may think the day after opening is a little premature to be talking about the future, Claridge and his team have made refinements and additions to the menu even since we tried it out. "Oh b*llocks" (pictured) is a very British childhood catastrophe on a plate. Yes, that's a 99 Flake, and yes, we've been there too.

Open Wednesday through Saturday. Tables are available for lunch (which costs from £30), from 12.30pm til 2pm, and for dinner, from 7pm til 8.30pm. Snacks are for the getting 12.30pm til 3.30pm and 5pm til 10.30pm. Book

MOVIE: ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS


Should it rain this weekend — and last time we checked, Brum is in England — you could do worse than to occupy the kids with a trip to see this. This time Alice (a spirited Mia Wasikowska) must return to Wonderland to aid an ailing mad hatter, who’s haunted by his family’s disappearance. We follow her as she embarks on a Back To The Future II-style quest aided by the personification of Time, Sacha Baron Cohen (pictured). The design of Time’s domain is the star of the show, standing out in a film which otherwise feels briskly routine – as evidenced by Tim Burton declining to return and the minimal, likely contract-fulfilling appearances by big stars Johhny Depp and Anne Hathaway. It’s inoffensive fun for the family – just don’t expect it to linger in the memory. Times & trailer
 

WIN (& MAKE) YOUR WEDDING RINGS


In a busy corner of the JQ, ebullient engaged types are raising the stakes when it comes to a part of a wedding day which really will exist forever. So, rather than enduring the Warstone Lane scrum, how about designing and making your own wedding bands under the gloriously creative tutorship of Magnus & Bella? A jewellery studio specialising in handcrafted, artisan pieces, the day long experience (which usually costs £250), includes the inception, design and creation of your rings, as well as lunch with fizz. Previous creations include the continuous mobiüs rings (pictured), as well as a pair incorporating the Malvern skyline, a locale special to the couple. Head over to FB for your chance to win this experience, even if you're not *technically* engaged. Cutesy video

'MEAT PIE' AND MURDER, MAYBE?


With a heady combination of ale, cinema, pies and blades (not in that order), Colmore Business District's Food Festival fringe season continues. In what critics have been calling "a lively, varied programme of happy", okay — that was us — CBID is keeping the acronyms rolling with a visit to the OJS for its next (and final) stop. Get one of Mrs Lovett's famous "meat" pies, a taster tray of three ales, and a wet shave care of those loveable rogues at The Barber House (first come, first served for the blade people). Then take in a screening of — you may just have guessed — Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Taking place on June 8, tickets are £12. Food will be served from 6.30pm, with shaves happening between ales. The movie starts at 7.30pm.

LEARN ART. ALL OF IT.


Remember that creative part of you that went MIA around the same time you started working at a desk? The lovely folk at the RBSA are here to help, with the release of their summer workshops. Develop your skills as an urban sketcher, master monotyper or eat cake and make (brooches). Taking place from mid-July for six weeks, the workshops last from one day to three, and cost from £25. Full programme 

SUNDOWN CINEMA PROGRAMME REVEALED


mac Birmingham's got an amphitheatre sorta gig behind it. It also has seven sundown showings of movies from mid-August, tickets for which go on sale TODAY. If today is Thursday. If you're opening this issue late, what could possibly have been more important than little old us? Rocky, Psycho and Calamity Jane all feature. Tickets are £12 and available right now.
Venue: Viva Brazil, 7 Bennett's Hill, B2 5ST; website
Choice: Full Rodizio (£14.95, but prices vary) Chooser: No choices needed

I Choose Birmingham could have set up a restaurant serving nothing but lychee Rubicon and slightly out of date Twiglets and it would have been a marked improvement on Isaac's, the previous tenant of this building. Pleasingly Viva Brazil have done rather a lot more than that. You know the drill: A dizzying array of meats are slow-roasted over a charcoal barbecue then carved off skewers right at your table. The roasting process means the fattier offerings crisp-up and win out. The beef rib and pork belly were tip-top, for example, while a mouthful of lamb leg could be likened to a military-trained bugler playing Reveille on your tastebuds. The staff also deserve a word-based chest bump. Newly opened and a little nervous, tiny mistakes which will no doubt vanish, were apologised for immediately, making the entire experience utterly charming and very come-againable. Menu
 
  • Wine Freedom is at the Prince of Wales on June 3 at 7pm, with seven wines, demystifying words and nibbles. Tickets are £25
  • BRB has launched its 2016/17 season. David Bintley's new production of The Tempest is looking like the "must see"
  • Hidden Spaces is back. In fact the team has already released two thirds of its events for this year's month of novel access. Check them out and keep 'em peeled for the final third
  • Supercharge your Sunday with Chung Ying's Chinese take on the roast. £17.50 gets you suckling piglet, dim sum, steamed liquid gold buns, a cocktail and more. That's LOADS. Tickets
  • The New York Times describes Beyond Caring as "beyond praise". See this serious and important view of life from the breadline at The Rep from June 8 to 11. Seating is on stage
Share
Tweet
Forward
"I can guarantee the closest shave you'll ever know." 
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Subscribe free
WORDS: Katy Drohan, Andrew LowryTom Cullen
IMAGE: Daisy Blecker (The Wilderness - food), Tom Bird (The Wilderness - interior; cocktail)

I Choose Birmingham, Unit 317, Zellig, Gibb Street, Birmingham, B9 4AA
Copyright © 2016 I Choose Publishing Limited, All rights reserved.


unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences