Al Rabie Review – Birmingham

Salaams and welcome back to the Halal Blogosphere where today we have a special guest review from a Halal Food Reader and a dear friend of ours Modasar Rasul.

Over to you Modasar!

Al Rabie review – November 2012 

Following on from attending Kristiane Backer’s book launch ‘From MTV to Mecca’ at the amazing Hubb Arts Centre, the wife and I with 2 kids and a baby in toe set out on a cold November evening in search of an evening meal. After some discussion, we decided to check out the newly refurbished Al Rabie restaurant on Coventry Road. 

The restaurant is well placed in the heart of the Arabic restaurant quarter in Small Heath and has a warm and inviting exterior. The restaurant opened a few months ago and is run by the same team that manages Bader a couple of doors down.  Upon entry we were warmly greeted by a friendly waiter who asked us where we would like to sit. We opted for a family room to try out a different experience and more relaxed experience especially when you have the kids with you. The ambience of the space was inviting and warm the decore is of a high standard and has a distinct middle eastern feel to it. We were guided to the one of the four family areas situated towards the rear of the restaurant. 

Al Rabie is a spacious, arabesque styled Lebenese restaurant which has a laid back no fuss approach to eating. One could even be mistaken for thinking they are in an up market café at times. The layout is contemporary but informal with a warm welcoming feel. For the more seasoned ethnic foodie there is even a floor seated family area towards the rear of the restaurant which makes for a really nice traditional touch. The bathrooms and wash facilities are top notch and clean which is a big improvement on a lot of other restaurants.  

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Although the menu lacked more adventurous options, it did offer a standard range of Arabic dishes and was very well priced. For our starter, we wanted something light and went for the Feta Cheese Salad which promptly arrived and was a visual delight. The fresh salad was beautifully layered with generous pieces of feta and drizzled in balsamic vinegar. It tasted as good as it looked! 

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For the main meal we opted for the chicken grill platter, the waiter hastened to inform us that it was sufficient for 2 or possibly 3 adults. We were two adults, two children and a hungry baby, so as a precaution, we ordered an additional portion of fries and we prepared ourselves to order more dishes if needed. For drinks, we decided to test the freshly squeezed juice option and went for a mango juice and orange juice. These were juiced immediately and delivered in large glasses with fun straws which the kids found amusing. They went down a treat! 

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Within a short period of time, chicken steaks, skewers of chicken kebabs, chicken shawarma and a generous portion of wings arrived on a large platter of aromatic rice, layered with peppers and roasted tomatoes. This was accompanied with a complimentary plate of fresh side salad. It was a sight to behold and a meal fit for a king. Although intended for 2 adults, the platter was more than enough for the whole family. The roast chicken was mildly seasoned, well cooked and tender and the rice was light and fluffy. The chicken kebabs and wings were beautifully cooked and the kids made sure they didn’t last long. Overall it was a great meal. The only area that fell short was the noticeable lack of sauces and chutneys which would have complimented the meal and completed the experience. The portion was so large that we were not able to finish it and had to arrange for a take away pack which the waiter promptly arranged. The experience cost under £30, this was a bargain. 

We didn’t order dessert but noticed a range of sweet dishes and beautifully decorated cakes on the way out as well as other diners mingled and enjoyed their coffees and hot chocolates. 

We enjoyed our first experience at Al Rabie and hope to return again someday. It is a versatile venue and can be visited for a quick coffee (with something sweet) or a full course meal. 

The restaurant also offers a lunchtime buffet which runs Monday through to Friday for those who want to try out a buffet option over lunch.

Quality of Food 7 
Quality of Service 7 
Quality of Space 8 
Value for Money 8

Overall score 7.5

For diners looking to eat at Al Rabie the full address is 392 Coventry Road, Small Heath, Birmingham, B10 0UF

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Rawal Village Review – Birmingham

Salaams and welcome back to the Halal Blogosphere where we’ve been in a mini blog hibernation as our summer diary gets busier on the work and social front!

Inshallah we hope to pick things up in the next few weeks but in the meantime we would encourage you to follow us on Twitter @halalfoodreview and joining our Facebook commuity http://www.facebook.com/halalfoodreview

Even when the blog is a bit quieter than normal we do tend to update Twitter and Facebook and if you’re interested in being kept in the loop for special offers and discounts than our social network accounts are where you will hear the news. Some offers only last a day or a few days so it can make them difficult to update on the site so please do join us on Facebook or Twitter. In the last few days we’ve had offers from Fargo’s, La Favorita and Tinseltown.

What about the review I hear you cry!

In the mood to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee we decided to take a group outing for a bite to eat. Our original plan was to visit Hamza in Lozells but we never stick to our plans so we thought this would be a good chance to try out Rawal Village on the Ladypool Road which was an easier local option to get to!

Rawal Village is now a two restaurants in one concept. The buffet restaurant which is located upstairs has been open for a number of months. The grill restaurant downstairs opened for business at the end of May. The first thing that hits you about Rawal Village is the clean and modern feel to the restaurant which is another new build which is fast becoming a trend in the city. You are greeted in the lobby area by a rather cheerful chap who points you in the direction of a soft seating area whilst your table is prepared. We came to Rawal with a view to eating downstairs at the Grill, we hadn’t skipped breakfast or lunch so didn’t quite feel up to a full buffet experience but that didn’t stop us from going upstairs to have a wonder and a peep and what was available.

The buffet set up seems fairly standard for the buffet concept, the added bonus of the Rawal Village buffet offer is that soft drinks are included in the buffet price, this is perfect for any diners who do like a glass or three of Coke to wash down their buffet! The seating area is well designed and doesn’t feel cluttered so you have ample room to enjoy your meal.

We can’t give a review of the buffet as we didn’t try it but will update the review once we get a chance to sample the buffet menu which won’t be too long!

So what about the food I hear you cry!

With four of us dining we decided to go for the rather simple option of the four person platter which came with rice, a full chicken 4 sheekh kebabs, lamb chops, chicken wings and a portion of chicken sharwarma. We also received the most attractive salad we’ve seen on Ladypool Road which included lettuce, tomatoes, sweetcorn, cucumber and jalapenos, it actually looked and tasted fresh! The four person platter costs £16.95 which is very good value.

The platter portion was generous with the highlights being the lamb chops and the chicken. It would have been helpful if the chicken had come quartered saving us the challenge of trying to cut it with our standard knives. The quality of food is comparable to many of the other establishments on the Ladypool Road and the prices are competitive. Customer service was relaxed and friendly and when it came to leaving the restaurant the staff member at the front desk was keen to ask us both what we enjoyed and what could have improved the experience which is always a nice touch. He was receptive to some of our suggestions and it leaves a positive impression with customers as they leave.

It’s too early to do a full review of the restaurant as we didn’t sample as much of the food as we would have liked to but based on our experience it is definitely an option we would consider again when dining on the Ladypool Road. We will also attempt the buffet when we have a more suitable appetite to tackle a bigger portion of food!

Based on our experience though we would recommend you give Rawal Village a try for something different on the Ladypool Road.

Until the next time make sure you join our Facebook community.

EXPIRED! Haveli Buffet – 4 People eat for £19, get your voucher from KGB Deals.

Salaams and welcome back to the Halal Blogosphere.

The team at KGB Deals is offering an incredible voucher deal which lets 4 people eat at Haveli Buffet in Birmingham for £19 an incredible saving of over £50 on normal prices. The offer expires in 6 days so get your voucher now.

To take advantage of the offer hit the link here, you have 6 days left to grab yourself a deal.

Happy eating!

 

Royal Haveli Buffet Restaurant Now Open

Salaams and welcome to the Halal Blogosphere!

The Royal Haveli is now open on the Coventry Road. Opening hours are 5.30pm to 11.30pm so don’t be rushing in expecting a buffet extravaganza at lunch times! The restaurant has taken over the old Dubai Express premises which was the second most searched for restaurant in 2011 by Halal Food Readers. Lets hope Royal Haveli are here for much longer than Dubai Express lasted. Birmingham has been crying out for a really good high end halal buffet location and Royal Haveli seems to have spotted a really good niche in the market. Also big props to the team at Royal Haveli for their radio, billboard and banner marketing campaigns, its great to see a halal restaurant develop a clear marketing strategy.

The buffet menu is £11.99 excluding drinks and there is currently an offer running where kids under 10 can eat for free. This offer is valid until Christmas day. The Halal Food Team will be heading down to review the Royal Haveli in the coming weeks, but if you plan on eating out at the Royal Haveli before we get there then please do send us your reviews and comments.

Let the feast begin!

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Mishtidesh Review – Birmingham

Having sampled the delights and at times pitfalls of Arabic and Pakistani cuisine in the past fortnight I thought it might be time to try some Bangladeshi inspired food. My timing as always was impeccable and I’ve chosen to review Mishtidesh the very week it launched its new buffet offer.

Now we all know Muslims love their food and we love our food more when we hear the magic word BUFFET!

So some background information on Mishtidesh. I have to confess I’m not an expert on Bangla cuisine or the scene in Birmingham but I sampled Mishtidesh in the company of two Bangladeshi friends both of whom have worked in the trade. To add to the ethnic mix of our trip we were joined by friends repping the Afro Caribbean and Irish communities.

Mishtidesh is best known for its sweet centre and catering service for weddings and functions. From a sweet centre perspective I guess its to the Bangladeshi community what Ambala and Mushtaqs are to the Pakistani community.

I was reliably informed this was the second attempt to relaunch Mishtidesh as a dining destination the previous attempt didn’t fare to well and the buffet marked a return to a more traditional style of Bangladeshi cuisine that lends itself to home cooked favourites rather than High street dishes.

Mishtidesh is located on the Coventry Road in the Small Heath area of the city opposite the well established Dar Ul Loom mosque or the Bangladeshi mosque as its better known in the city. From the outside there is nothing spectacular about Mishtidesh its a standard retail outlet with a strong emphasis on its sweet offer.

Inside the restaurant the decore is clean, simple and welcoming. You do get a feeling they have tried to cram as many covers into the downstairs space as possible especially around the front of the space where you are likely to have takeaway customers becoming more intimate with your table than you would like!

Towards the back of the dining area there are a couple of booths which are designed for family diners, again these were a tight fit especially with the guests we had around the table!

As with our previous reviews we arrived just after Friday prayers to find the buffet being set up, our nervousness at seeing a few dishes was quickly replaced with the enthusiasm you expect Muslims to have at the mention of a buffet as more dishes arrived out of the kitchen area albeit in a slow and disordered way!

Food I hear you cry!

For my first trip to the buffet counter I topped up my plate with vegetable pakoras, some potatoes, what I can best describe as round sheesh kebab mini balls, some salad and spring rolls. At this stage we were still crying out for some sauces which thankfully arrived in the form of mint and chilli sauce.

The starters were a mixed affair, the pakoras were good albeit a bit on the cold side, the spring rolls were more pastry than filling and the salad was a flood of lettuce with the odd tomatoe and cucumber hiding in the undergrowth of lettuce. The star of the starters were the sheekh kebab balls which were spicy, tender and simply delicious!

For my mains I had a mixture of pilau rice, keema, chicken balti, cauliflower and potatoe balti and a fish curry coupled with a few more kebab balls for good measure! This for me is the beauty of any buffet the wonderful ability to mix and match some bizarre and delicious food combos. There were a number of other dishes including a plain rice, lamb and lentil option that I didn’t sample but as far as a selection of mains went I thought Mishtidesh offered a good mixture and there was something for every taste.

I enjoyed my mains much more than my starter plate, the chicken and keema in particular were very enjoyable, the fish was tender and delicate. My only critisism of the latter was the number of bones but thats a minor quibble in the grand scheme of things. The variety of flavours on the plate definitely packed a punch and there was a distinct spicy taste to the overall mix of dishes on my plate.

The views around the table varied dramatically. Whilst I thought the starters were on the average side I felt the mains delivered a good variety, some great flavour and a real spicy kick! This view was echoed by the non Bangladeshi diners.

Our two Bengali heritage guests however seemed less impressed not so much at the quality of the food itself but its lack of adventure and eating out feel. The buffet variety was described by both as “typical wedding food” and “what my mum makes at home”.

On a personal level when I dine out I like to eat what different cultural communities would eat and that made the Mishtidesh experience a welcome insight and journey into traditional home cooked Bangladeshi cuisine.

Price wise the buffet is a bargain, at £5.50 you can’t go wrong price wise and the choice is varied enough to give you a number of different options to sample.

I have no doubt the buffet will develop over time, if I was to offer advice it would be to add more variety to the starters which pale in comparison to the main courses on offer. The layout of the space and buffet area needs further consideration. The dishes almost sit one on top of another there is no room to swing a cat let along swing a serving ladle!

Despite the minor grumbles I think the buffet offer definitely has potential and will improve over time.

Quality of Food: 6 ( I would have scored higher but the starters were a let down )
Quality of Service: 7 ( Self Service!)
Quality of Space: 6 ( Cramped )
Value for Money: 9

Overall rating: 7