New Halal Restuarants coming to Birmingham

Salaams from the Halal Blogosphere! If you believe what Dickie Attenborough tells you nothing stirs in Winter, well as much as I love the voice of Frozen Planet things are definitely stirring in Birmingham as we look forward to the most exciting Winter in living memory as we anticipate the opening of a whole series of new halal restuarants in Birmingham. So to help you pile on those festive pounds here is a our guide to the some of the highlights coming to a street near you.

Royal Haveli Restuarant – This was even caught your halal food reviewer by surprise but it didn’t get past the attention of our HFR reader Angela Thakur who has informed us this super new buffet restaurant will be coming to Coventry Road in December featuring a full live music programme! Whats really got us excited is that the restaurant is being opened by former managers and chefs at Manchester’s premier buffet restaurant Nawaab’s! Birmingham has been crying out for a really good buffet, we have some great B and C grade efforts but Birmingham deserves a A grade buffer and lets hope the team behind the Haveli can deliver!

Fargo’s Food Factory – The Punjab Paradise is dead long live Fargo’s Food Factory, Ladypool Road’s first attempt at an American Diner concept which is again due to open in December. The last time we had a diner concept in Birmingham it was the team at Mushtaqs who were so far ahead of their time it never quite clicked. I am really looking forward to Fargo’s opening and bringing a different offer to Ladypool Road.

La Favorita – After the failure of Al Faisal’s Pialto, Birmingham has waited for the next version of Halal Italien dining and its coming soon to a side street just off the Ladypool Road. The La Favorita chain is brining its italien concept to the odd location that is a side street of Ladypool Road. I’m not sure if it will be Halal in the fullest sense or whether they will slap a big fat bar behind the counter but it will be interesting to see how halal Italien goes down in Sparkbook.

Ismail’s Grill and Yaqub’s Steakhouse – We’ve mentioned both this restaurants before, Ismail’s has been reviewed and Yaqub’s just keeps telling us it will open soon. We are definitely excited about both opening up in Sparkbrook with Ismail’s taking over the old Angel pub at the junction of Ladypool Road and the Stratford Road and Yaqubs taking a corner plot at Stoney Lane across the road to Sparkbrook’s Hubb Art Centre run by our famous foodie and award winning artist Mohammed AerosolArabic Ali who will probably be one of the first diners to experience the new steak menu. Whilst we have all been waiting for Ismail’s and Yaqub’s to open the team at Grill 3 have quietly opened up their second outlet in Sparkbrook which might just have stolen Small Heath’s crown in the halal steak stakes, see what I did there! Rumours are that Small Heath might have something up it’s sleeve and we may see some exciting changes coming to Abu Zayd…. Watch this space.

Two other developments that we know very little about at this stage is the renovation and reopenings of the old President Restuarant and the opening of a new Akbar’s concept restuarant at the old Jug of Ale in Moseley. Both look like they will be hitting the premium end of the market which is the new sweet spot for the Birmingham halal market.

Birmingham doesn’t forget budget conscious halal foodies, Bismillah Bakeries has opened another outlet on the Stratford Road in Sparkbrook which is great for light lunches and cakes and some really interesting home cooked takes on the Gregg’s Pasty! In the City Centre the halal revolution continues in Martinuea Square with the opening of Frydays a traditional styled halal food outlet with a focus on good old fashioned fish and chips and yes you get read COD!

Hopefully that has more than tickled your halal tastebuds and we can’t wait to go out and review all these new places as the Birmingham Halal Scene fights back!

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Mughal E Azam – The return of the Halal Reviewer!

Mughal E Azam has got our Halal Food Review readers all shook up and its not just the hot Lahori spices the waiting staff pre warn you about before you order your dish!

I’ve now returned from my third trip to Mughal E Azam and I can say with complete certainty it is my favourite dining experience in Birmingham, the service is vastly improved from my first visit but in all fairness that was in the opening week and the food is equal to anything in Birmingham. The portion sizes are great, premium prices don’t always mean micro portions and Mughal E Azam has the balance just right.

I’m not going to go into too much detail about the food as so many of our readers are providing feedback I would have to comment that on the three occassions I have been there the tandoori roti has been a let down. The roti is being cooked far to thin and as a result instead of a soft roti you get a dried roti that is doing its best imitation of a poppadom. My request to the chefs would be to add some extra flour and water and give us a roti with some texture to it. Some of the roti was so hard and sharp it could cut through some of the really delicately cooked lamb which was delicious. Other than that no grumbles from Mr HFR!

The menu offers a great choice in the most unique halal dining experience available in Birmingham. If you’ve not had a chance to go down, give Mughal E Azam a go! If you need to go to the toilet don’t wait till you get home, Mughal E Azam has toilets that would be the envy of every Mosque and restuarant in Brumistan!

Quality of Food – 8
Quality of Service – 8 – service is improving with each visit, though the waiting staff can be over eager to interrupt you every 5 minutes!
Quality of Space – 10 – the magic 10 has just been slam dunked!
Prices – 8 – Premium Prices but Premium experience
Overall – 9 – The new standard bearer in Birmingham halal dining.

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A B11 Food Renaissance!

Salaams and greetings from the halal blogosphere, once again I write with no intention of reviewing food which is a contradiction in terms but the more I think about the Halal Food Review the more I think it has a wider role to play rather than just inform people of how good or bad the food was!

Having recently visited the stunning Mughal E Azam on the Stratford Road its been great to sit back and just read the comments of our readers who have been sending in their opinions on the decor, food and service. The purpose of the HFR was always to create a community where no one voice is more important than the other so I really appreciate the time people take to submit comments and I hope our readers can continue to submit their views on a regular basis.

The stunning renovation of the old church for Mughal E Azam has got me thinking about some of my past HFR entries and one theme in particular which was the decline of the traditional balti triangle in Sparkbrook.

With the opening of the Mughal E Azam, the continued success of Hajee’s Spices and the current work taking place to relocate Ismail’s Grill to Sparkbrook, the redevelopment (again) of the old President and the imminent opening of Yaqubs is the balti triangle ready for a new renaissance in halal food that is beginning to offer a new dimension to compliment the strength of the historic balti offer.

Steak houses, Halal Chinese, Traditional Desi, Somali and Middle Eastern cafes, Kurdish Bakeries and dessert parlours are now part of the new dining experience. Even old favourites like the Codfather are opening up bigger premises along the Stratford Road corridor which for so long has played second fiddle to the rapid emergence of Small Heath as a hub for new halal activity across the Coventry Road and the traditional strength and familiarity of the Ladypool Road Offer.

Over the years the Stratford Road has lost Sher Khan, the Royal Naim and the Grand Tandoori to name just three long term victims. Slowly but surely with the arrival of Ismails, Yaqubs, Mughal E Azam to compliment the existing offer is creating a slow but gradual renaissance and I for one couldn’t be happier! Despite the progress there is still much to be done to bring Sparkbrook back to its balti glory days but for that to be achieved the balti can no longer be the driver for that growth. The food offer in Sparkbrook needs to reflect a new diversity and the changing face of a vibrant community that for so long has been a starting destination for new migrant communities making the long journeys to the UK and Birmingham to create a new and better future for their families. There is still much room for growth and development and it would be wonderful to see some of Birmingham’s halal food entrepreneurs explore even more diverse food offers to add to the ecclectic mix that is Sparkbrook life.

What would readers like to see in Sparkbrook or for that matter any part of Birmingham! Until the next time happy eating and may I take this opportunity to wish all our readers a blessed Eid and hope you have an opportunity to experience some of the culinary delights of home and restuarant cooking over the coming days as you celebrate with loved ones.

Stay blessed!