Pastry House – Birmingham

Salaams and welcome back to the Halal Blogosphere where we’ve been transformed into one of those buses you wait ages for then you get three coming around the corner at the same time!

With it being Eid and the end of half term, we’ve been out and about with the family which normally involves stopping off somewhere for some halal fuelling so to speak! This afternoon after a trip to the Science Museum we ended up at Pastry House which for Birmingham residents is pretty much an institution when it comes to going out and having Arabic tea and a slice of cake.

Pastry House is located on the corner of Coventry Road and Whitmore Road in the heart of the Arabic quarter. It’s not the largest of places but there is always room to fit someone in! They have recently expanded their seating outside the shop which was great in summer but not sure how popular it will in the coming months unless we get some nice outdoor heaters in place!

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If you are going to Pastry House you have to try the Arabic chai, its jsut what the doctor would prescribe for a cold Autumn day, throw in more sugar than you would possibly want to think about, add some mint leaves for flavour and you have the most popular choice of hot drink in Small Heath!

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You’re most likely to go to Pastry House for a hot beverage and one of the many cake or pattisserie selections. Pastry House do offer a limited but excellent range of paninis and our choice this afternoon was the Chicken and Coriandar panini which comes with a range of sauces. It’s very rare to find a decent halal panini place and Pastry House do serve some of the better ones. If you’re looking for a light lunch its likely to tick all the boxes. This is not 5 star dining, but for what it is you can’t go wrong.

No trip to Pastry House would be complete without the standard choice of cakes or sweets. We had the chocolate crunch and a slice of chocolate sponge cake.  We’ve eaten at Pastry House for longer than we can remember and both of these have been staple parts of our menu selection.

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So if you’re ever in Birmingham and need an interesting spot to satisfy your sweet fix or are in need of a hot beverage then Pastry House is difficult to beat. Its a wonderfully ecclectic insight into the wonderful diversity of humanity that makes up Small Heath. It’s simple, its cheap and its the perfect way to round off a meal you’re digesting from elsewhere or when you’re in need of a light snack and a much needed Arabic tea. It’s a small slice of comfort in the hustle and bustle of Birmingham of Small Heath. The characters behind the counter can be as entertaining as the characters who come in to eat and drink, so sit back and enjoy!

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Eid Day 2 lunch at Chicago Gourmet Burger Company

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Salaams and welcome back to the Halal Blogosphere where we continue to celebrate Eid. This afternoon we took the family for their first Chicago experience. The food was brilliant as ever and the kids loved it.

After the excesses of the day before we stuck to the tried and tested Jacket Potatoe and Strips meal. For those of you who have not eaten there this includes a jacket potatoe with cheese and spicy beans with a side salad plus strips of your favouite burger patty where you can choose from various fish, chicken and lamb options. The meal also comes with a drink and a dessert. If I had to be critical the dessert offering of a tub of custard or creamed rice is really not that inspiring and feels a bit out of place with the other elements of the menu.

The kids shared a very generous portion of jacket fries and chicken nuggets.

A big thumbs up to the Chicago crew and a special shout out to their staff who seem to be on first name terms with most customers. In conversation with the staff there is talk of refreshing the menu at some point. I’d definitely recommend introducing a milkshake and ice cream menu as part of the dessert offer as well as a selection of cakes and bakes. This is the only part of the offer that I really do think could be improved upon.

If you’ve not tried out Chicago, we’d definitely recommend it!

Until the next time happy eating!

Late night Eid meal

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Salaams and welcome to the Halal Blogosphere, inshallah our readers from around the world have or are celebrating Eid!

We’ve had a biriyani overload today which we had to sleep off during an early evening siesta! To satisfy our taste buds this evening we hit Chop N Wok in Shirley. The team were in the process of closing for the day and I wouldn’t blame them for thinking why did these guys come in when they did. We initially had 5 minutes to eat our meal but all credit to the staff they hung around so we could eat at a more leisurely pace and having a chat with the waiters at the same time.

The great thing about the Shirley branch is it stays open a bit longer until 11pm but you need to get last orders in by 10.30pm. Also I noticed Shirley do a kids menu too, I can’t remember seeing that in the city centre branch.

This blog entry is our first trial with our new smartphone courtesy of the wonderful team at HTC, so you can look forward to seeing more short and sharp updates in full technicolour!

In the meantime enjoy your Eid and may your prayers and duas be accepted!

 

Get your dish on the menu at Fargo’s Food Factory!

Salaams and welcome back to the Halal Blogosphere.

How many times have you been to a restaurant and scanned the menu only to think I wish they had that on the menu. Well think no more thanks to the team at Fargo’s Food Factory who want to put the power in your hands. They are running the very aptly named X Factory competition where diners can suggest a dish to be added to their menu.

So if you have an idea for a new burger, grill, stir fry, curry or pizza dish let the team know. You can do it via Twitter, Facebook or best of all in person at Fargo’s itself.

You can email your dish idea to info@fargosfood.co.uk tweet your dish to @FargosFood or via Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/fargosfood

Beirut Restaurant Review – Manchester

Salaams and welcome back to the Halal Blogosphere, where we have been in an extended halal hibernation since before Ramadan. Apologies for the absence and just like your favourite Uncle or Auntie we’re back!

For our comeback review we decided to pack our bags and leave Birmingham, yes we do travel and we were granted a visa to leave the second city and headed for the home of the premier league champions Manchester! The purpose of our visit was to see a new play by one of our friends which was showing at Contact Theatre and then to pay a visit to the British Muslim Heritage Centre. We enjoyed the theatre and were thoroughly inspired by the work and vision of the BMHC which in our humble opinions has the potential to be one of the most amazing Muslim led cultural initiatives in the UK.

Enough of art and culture what about the food I hear you cry!

Based on the recommendation of our local theatre star we headed to Wilmslow Road and ended up at Beirut Restuarant a Lebanese restaurant in the middle of the strip. The restaurant itself looks pleasant enough, the decor is of a good standard fusing traditional and contemporary design features. We arrived around 10pm and it was great to experience the buzz and energy of Wilmslow Road. As a Brummie I have to confess I love our Balti Triangle but we seem to have lost the energy and the atmosphere that is alive and kicking in Manchester’s famed curry mile. 

The restaurant wasn’t particularly busy when we arrived and we were promptly seated. The menu is fairly standard in terms of Lebanese cuisine, the restaurant doesn’t have a live website and didn’t have any menus to take away. I forgot to photograph the menu before we left so apologies in advance if I don’t remember all the dish names.

When it came to ordering we encountered our first problem, the restaurant had no sharwarma left. That becomes a bigger problem when shawarma is a key component of a number of your dishes whether its starters or main courses. It’s a bit like an Indian restaurant running out of chicken tikka!

On the plus side it does make you experiment and try something different. For starters we ordered hummus, chicken liver and a pizza. The restuarant served complimentary bread and olives. The starters were ok, nothing spectacular, the highlight was definitely the chicken liver. The pizza and hummus were what you would expect. Credit to the service team they were more than happy to replenish the very nice traditional chilli sauce they serve.

For the mains we ordered a selection of kofta chicken, lamb chops, a full baby chicken, rice, fries, a kofta chicken wrap and a traditional pastry based meat dish. We were hoping for something really special with the mains unfortunately it was a bit of a mixed bag.

The traditional pastry dish which I thought would be a deep filled pie was another pizza type dish, hands up I should have asked for clarification. I was expecting Beirut’s equivalent of a Betty’s Hotpot but we got a second pizza type dish instead! The chicken was underwhelming, both the kofta and the baby chicken were on the dry side. The lamb chops were much better. The highlight of our dining experience was the traditional Arabic tea we ordered to round off our evening meal. There is nothing better to complete an evening with at a Middle Eastern restaurant. 

Our experience at Beirut was ok, it wasn’t brilliant and when you come to Manchester you always have higher expectations. The restaurant has a nice atmosphere but overall it felt like we had one of those last customers in a restaurant experience when some of the food you really want is not available and then the alternatives you select don’t really hit the spot. Customer service was ok, our waiter was helpful in offering alternative suggestions of what to eat but sadly the food didn’t quite hit the spot.

Our group of four diners paid £55 for a set of four starters, four mains, soft drinks and Arabic tea. In terms of pricing its fairly standard for mid range Arabic restaurant.

So what are the scores, George Doors?

Quality of Food 6
Prices 6
Quality of Space 7
Quality of Service 6

Overall rating 6

 

Overall Experience 6