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SMULTRONSTÄLLE: FIRST LOOK

It’s Swedish. It means a discovered space special to you, treasured and returned to for solace and relaxation. Pronounced smul-tron-stella, practice because soon you’ll be saying it in the same breath as Purnell’s when telling people about the absolute very best things to do in Birmingham. "There’s nothing like this anywhere in the UK," says owner Rob Wood. "There's a place similar in Japan. But that's about it." Okay Rob. You’ve got our attention.
A cocktail bar buried deep beneath City Arcade, you'll need to book weeks in advance and a text on the morning of your visit will give you clues as to where, exactly, to head. Present yourself as instructed and you'll be led to a basement, through an innocuous door and down further still to a pristine, bunker-esque barroom that seats just nine. An entire wall is bedecked with a forest scene, a nod to the bar's commitment to the natural and the seasonal.  "You don’t come here for a drink," says Rob. "You come here for the experience of drinking. For the pursuit of flavour." 
This is fine dining in a glass and, just as with fine dining, there are taster menus. Sure, there's à la carte (minimum two drinks at £10 a throw) but if you've waited weeks, why not let Rob play Mahler with your tastebuds for two hours? From the immaculate leather menus (there are handmade paper menus for anyone who might not want to handle leather) you'll be presented with the Market List and the Terroir options. The Market List (£50 for six courses) uses the best seasonal ingredients fresh from farms or foraged and delivered to you in taste-bending potions, each coming in one of the 22 receptacles Rob has deemed worthy of Smultronställe.
But it's the Terroir menu that has us fixated. At £45 this route is a seven course celebration of a single ingredient showcasing beauty, diversity and flavour. And for the bar's launch, that ingredient is apple. Whatever your choice of menu, you'll start with oshibori — the Japanese ritual of cleansing the day behind you — followed by apple waste green tea to cleanse the palate. With Terroir you'll then be presented with a cube of apple compressed with elderflower and Cotswolds gin. A single mouthful that expresses Rob's unwavering commitment to taste. 
From start to finish you'll try 18 types of apple. In one course (above) a quenelle of green apple sorbet is decorated with apple blossom before a pipette of single variety apple eau de vit, aged in a mulberry barrel, is drizzled on top. A course called B13 8NL — a nod to the bar's allotment — consists of a sugar cube soaked in herbs that have been preserved into an alcohol base, topped up with a cider made with a méthode champenoise and nettle dosage. But perhaps the most intriguing concoction is Wassail (below) a drink of utmost witchcraft that’s both hot and cold — hot on the lips, cold in your mouth. And no, we don’t mean spicy hot.
"What we're doing here is a clear, coherent, progression of flavour," says Rob with the kind of mad smile you'd expect from a bartender that could conceive this experience. And that he's setting up in Birmingham, not London, not Singapore, not Berlin, but Birmingham, is a cocktail-shaped coup of the highest order.

Contact the team here. Places are available for New Year. barsmultronstalle.co.uk 

MOVIE: FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM


Five years on from the series’s last film, JK Rowling and her minions have wisely put blue water between this new series and Hermione, Voldemort et al. Looking back to Jazz Age America and sending Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to New York, the bumbling 'magizoologist' promptly loses his luggage and all the magical critters therein. The resulting game of period Pokemon Go – and the ensuing political machinations by the wizarding authorities – will feel very familiar to anybody who grew up with the earlier series, but isn’t likely to make any new fans. Given that about half the planet follows Rowling like a demigoddess, that’s not too much of a problem – and Redmayne is a charming guide into this new corner of Potterworld. Times
 

EDGBASTON VILLAGE TWINKLES


If Simpsons and Original Patty Men have previously appeared on the same bill, we'll hold our hands up and admit that we missed it. And the auspicious location where you'll find the Birmingham giants on food together? Edgbaston Village's Christmas lights switch on, which will be occurring this Friday at the front of St George’s Church, with road closures et al. Also lining up to make you both merry and bright are recent Edgbaston addition Comida@21, plus The High Field (pictured) and a reassuring number of other food and drink protagonists. You can also expect vintage fairground attractions, jazz and an early visit from the man in red. From 4.30pm to 6.30pm, think public transport. In fact don't just think it. More
In our endless quest for global domination we're increasing our stable of e-magazines from one to (count them) two! Introducing Bell & Smokey our second Birmingham-focussed weekly email, a digital, multi-platform glossy for women focussing on fashion, beauty, travel, interiors and trends. We've teamed up with editor Laurie Prescott to bring the right blend of luxury and High Street to the city’s ABC1 twenty, thirty and forty somethings. The magazine will follow the same successful format and formula as I Choose Birmingham. It is free to subscribe and a new issue will be sent out once a week, on Tuesdays at midday. The launch is in response to the changing way that women are consuming content, with digital continuing to lead the way, while established physical magazine sales and circulations slump. Bell & Smokey boasts a slick editorial experience across desktop, tablet and smartphone and fills a colossal gap in the city’s e-publishing landscape. And yes, you can spell 'smokey' with an 'e'. Elevate your inbox and subscribe.

TASTE THE GIN, NOT THE TONIC


If you take as much of an interest in 40 St Pauls as we do, you'll know that Aman and the team have been intensively testing and refining their recipe for Hockley Tonic for months. What you're less likely to be aware of is that from tomorrow (Friday), you can buy the good stuff in concentrated form from Loki. Created with a lighter flavour profile than your typical tonic, each botanical used is selected to highlight the craft of the gin, not to mask the bitterness of the quinine-filled, Malaria-fighting varieties of yesteryear. So if you're big into gin but less enthralled with the rise and rise of busty tonic waters, this little bottle of adult sparkle-dust is going to be entirely your jam. It's £8 for the concentrate, which comes with its own measuring tube and equates to twenty serves. Measure out 50ml of your favourite gin, 10ml of concentrate and 100ml of sparkling water. Add ice and garnish to taste. Feel rightly smug at the decisions that led you here. More
Venue: Cereal Killer Café, LinkStreet, Bullring, B2 4QE; website
Choice: Kariot (nougat) with white chocolate milk (£3.50) Chooser: Manager

When we're not debating how Thomas the Tank Engine eats given he has no arms, we're usually locked in bitter dispute over the planet's finest cereal. That office-based brouhaha has only intensified now that Cereal Killer Café has opened on LinkStreet, bringing with it 120 different boxes of morning munchies. People who walk past immediately begin beaming courtesy of walls lined entirely with 90s references: Zig & Zag cuddly toys, dancing Coke cans, Charles and Di trays, Alf memorabilia and 90s soundtrack featuring Simpsons classic Who Needs The Kwik:E Mart?. The rarest in the array of cereals currently on offer is Bootyo's while top sellers include Reese's Puffs, Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms. We were talked into trying Israel's crunchy Kariot with white chocolate milk, one of 80 flavours available. A detailed breakdown of the effects of the moreish cereal on our palates is, perhaps, a step too far, but rest assured this is, front-to-back, a joy-generating experience. Menu
 
  • Lobster Peninsula opens tomorrow from 5pm on John Bright Street. The menu includes an entirely glorious sounding surf'n'turf
  • Get 70% off the damn fine frames at Brittain Opticians this Saturday (November 19). The flash sale applies to every pair
  • Catch There Will be Blood accompanied by a live orchestral performance of its gritty soundtrack. On Feb 5 at the Symphony Hall, tickets from £28
  • Antiquarian and second-hand books are for the purchasing at mac Birmingham this Saturday. From 10am, there are 27 dealers
  • From 10am til 10pm today, Harvey Nichols have got 15% off beauty and up to 25% off fashion as part of their Britalia Chrimbo shopping party. After 6pm, they've also got comp'ed drinks. Happy happy Thursday
"I drink your milkshake. I drink it up."
- Daniel Planview, There Will Be Blood
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WORDS: Tom CullenKaty Drohan, Andrew Lowry
IMAGES: Jack Spicer Adams (Smultronstalle; Hockley Tonic)

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


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