Good steak puns are rare

MEATOPIA (BIRMINGHAM BRANCH)

"If you take the word steak out of the dictionary," said a friend of ours recently, "it's just a list of things that aren't steak."
At first we dismissed this as Malbec-fuelled bunkem, but the more we lay awake at night, tossing and turning and pondering his riddle, the more we realised it was a moment of Proustian clarity. Without steak, the English language is meaningless. Without the English language, civilisation is over. 
THE RESTAURANT
Okay, okay, we're exaggerating. But deep beneath 55 Colmore Row, steak obsessives Gaucho have opened their 18th restaurant, and though it's not the binding force behind the Universe, it's quite something to see. Giant nods to the South American ombú tree are the focal point of the twinkly 117 cover, Argentinean restaurant. There's a 24 cover bar area that'll soon be serving snacks, but currently you'll need to rely on their main menu. Which brings us to...
THE FOOD
Collar Group Executive Chef, Jamie Robertson, stick a Dictaphone under his nose and he'll break under questioning. His favourite starter is the tuna ceviche - a big-selling "hero" dish, whereas his favourite beef cut is the flank steak special, Media Luna de Vacio. If you're a steak purist the classic rump-fillet-sirloin-ribeye conundrum awaits, all free range, all Aberdeen Angus. And though we can't help you with the decision, we can recommend wines by region, all of the Malbec variety. Head Waiter Jean-Baptiste suggests the gamey, irony flavours of rump requires the minerality of Patagonian Malbec. Reds from Uco Valley are ideal for fillet fans, while sirloin (Argentina's go-to) needs a classic Malbec from Lujan de Cuyo. Ribeye-ites need something made geographically North and altitudinally high. Scour the menu for options from Colomé in Salta province, where the baking sun results in thick-skinned grapes with concentrated flavour, that can stand up to heavy marbelling.  
THE COCKTAILS
Post-work drinkies are big on Gaucho's agenda. You don't need to dine to stop by and the people-watching opportunity from the bar area is ace. The Beverage Director sticks his reputation on two drinks in particular of the 40-strong cocktail menu. The Bloody Shame — Reyka vodka, San Pellegrino Blood Orange, with rosemary syrup and Chandon sparkling wine (pictured, left) — is a zesty, zippy kiss — while the digestif cocktails deserve desserty attention. Winner, according to the expert, is the caffeine-charged Cafe de Leche (pictured, right) — Café Patron XO combined with Mr. Black coffee liqueur, Appleton Estate Rare Blend Rum, mascarpone and espresso, finished with grated dark chocolate. Yep, dessert drinks. 
THE FLOURISH
Gaucho's private dining room is a 300 bottle wine-walled option bookable for a minimum of six, and maximum of 12. Worth a mull for special occasions or if you're keen on beef masterclasses, there's no minimum spend and if it’s available, in short, you can have it. Which surely is how all private dining rooms should be run?

Gaucho, 55 Colmore Row, B3 2AA; 0121 439 9236; More 

PRIDE: SMART CASUAL


Round numbers make events infinitely superior to the versions that precede them. And Birmingham Pride was proper right brilliant last year, so its twentieth edition, over bank holiday weekend, is basically destined to be ridonc on the dazzle scale. Amongst many, many things, Basement Jaxx are looking after Saturday, while Sophie Ellis-Bextor is paying a Sunday trip to Brum. There's a marquee dedicated to cabaret and an arena all about dance, plus the small matter of the carnival parade. You don't need a ticket for that — for everything else, go here.

AWARD-MAGNET GIN. NOW WITH FOOD.


Martin Miller’s gin has won more gold and platinum medals than any other in the last ten years, including at the four most respected global competitions. Suspecting this to be something more than a coincidence, Hotel du Vin's doing dinns based around the stuff, starting out with a classic gin and tonic to keep the canapés company, followed by a four-course meal paired with a darn scintillating selection of Martin Miller's junipery wares. A one-off event taking place on our affable ad's guy's birthday (in common parlance, that's June 8), it's £79. Tickets

FILM OF THE WEEK — ALIEN: COVENANT


The sixth film in the Alien series – eighth if you count the dodgy vs Predator spinoffs – is, like the beasties it concerns, an odd beast. Half the film is a spirited, if at times overfamiliar, trip through the franchise’s signature tropes: Distress signals unwisely followed, body horror, running full-pelt down corridors. The other half is a slightly clunky meditation on hefty themes — a long way from the original film's straightforward goal of scaring you silly. Director Ridley Scott nails several deeply uncomfortable set pieces, but their thrills sit oddly distinct from the more cerebral stuff. Still, seeing the intergalactic menaces of the title on screen again is like seeing an old friend, Michael Fassbender excels in a dual role as two generations of the same model of android, and there’s plenty of gore, if that’s your kind of thing. Also: who would have thought that the standout performance in an Alien movie would come from, of all people, Danny McBride? Times & trailer
Venue: The Balcony, Selfridges on 4, The Bullring, B5 4BP; website
Choice: Salmon fish cakes (as part of three courses, £22) Chooser: Waitress

Everyone thinks we're all about food, but we're bang up in to lighting (lamps rather than one big bulb every time). So, it turns out, is The Balcony, with more than 30 fixtures and shades, plus a new menu, which tells you a lot more about why we were there than this weird wattage chat. A Champagne bar as much as restaurant, they've got plenty of light dishes to sate and refresh you through a shopping day, but not put an end to it. The salmon fish cakes are a top example of this — served with a tartar sauce which is exactly the right amount pickley, and a peppery rocket salad — this is tasty, summery stuff. The Sicilian Cosmo (£9), with Salerno blood orange is a pretty looking hello to events, but with ever so decent house Champagne by the glass, we know where our loyalties lie. Subscribe to Bell & Smokey, our sister e-mag by 3pm today (Thursday) to be in with a chance of snaffling a meal for two at The Balcony, with a drink thrown in.
 
  • Drink and draw in the stunning surrounds of the Edwardian Tea Rooms this Saturday from 6.30pm. No need to book
  • Tickets for Derren Brown's best of show, Underground, go live at 10am this very day. He'll be at the New Alex from July 24 to 26
  • Sausage? Good. Cider? Good. The British Oak? Very good, especially that garden. The British Oak's Sausage and Cider Fest starts today and continues across the weekend. Free entry
  • Blue Man Group is coming to Brum's ICC. Tickets go on general release, through THSH, at 10am tomorrow. 
  • Win Champagne and a ten-course dinner to toast Purnell's tenth birthday. For free. Here's the how
"They mostly come at night. Mostly." - Newt, Aliens (1986)
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WORDS: Tom CullenKaty Drohan, Andrew Lowry
IMAGERY: Tom Bird (Gaucho)

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