Ibrahim’s Steak House Groupon Offer – Birmingham

Salaams and welcome to the Halal Blogosphere where we have got the latest Halal Groupon deal offer for you. Ibrahim’s Steakhouse is offering a cracking deal where you can get a steak meal and drinks for two people for £13. So if you are in the mood for a great deal you better get your steak on!

To take advantage of the offer just hit the link

 

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Yaqub’s Steakhouse Review – Birmingham

Salaams and welcome back to the Halal Blogosphere. Over the last few weeks months we’ve seen a number of new Halal restaurants open in Birmingham from Mughal E Azam to Haveli Buffet and our first new opening of 2012 Yaqub’s Steakhouse.

As our readers know we are currently running a 25% off your total bill promotional offer and we’re grateful to the management at Yaqub’s for extending this generous offer to Halal Food Readers. Inshallah we will be bringing you other restaurant offers in the future, if you are a restaurant owner reading this then please do get in touch. If you want to be kept in touch of any offers like our page at Facebook or follow us at Twitter @halalfoodreview

In order to keep our reviews completely impartial I have not written the review for Yaqub’s, so that our readers get a completely neutral perspective and we maintain the integrity of the site so please welcome back Altaf H Kazi who has kindly agreed to review Yaqub’s Steakhouse. For regular readers with a long memory Altaf’s name might ring a bell he also penned our La Fibule review. So without further to do over to Altaf for our review of Yaqub’s!

Yaqub’s Steakhouse Review

After months of anticipation Yaqub’s finally opened its doors to the public. I was well excited; I’d been missing my lamb steak and picante gravy. This, I thought, would be my fix! I convinced a group of mates to join me. We had heard rumours that it was a little expensive so the guys warned me, that it better be worth it. I booked the table on Wednesday and got a late Friday booking, which was good. We booked our table before the Halal Food Review discount code went live so we paid the full price for our meals.

Getting to Yaqub’s is easy it is located opposite Lahore Chinese on the Highgate Road near the junction with Stratford Road. There is ample free parking opposite the restaurant which makes it easily accessible by car. From the outside Yaqub’s looks the business and looks like an upmarket establishment even though this seems a little odd for Highgate Road! But does it look like a Steak House? Unfortunately it doesn’t it looks good just not a steakhouse. It reminds me a little of Ismail’s with it being finished to a high spec but not having a steakhousy feel if that makes sense.

As you enter you are greeted by a ‘door opener’ standing between the two entrance doors which seemed a little odd but nevertheless he greeted us with a smile and did his job; making sure we got in safely. Doors are dangerous things, potential hazards even so it’s nice to see Yaqub’s safeguarding its customers from risk! It wasn’t particularly busy when we arrived but we did get there at 9.45pm.

So what about the food? 

Between our group of five we ordered different starters, I opted for the fish tikka whilst others in the group ordered the lamb chops, potato skins, prawns and fried beef starters.

My fish tikka was very nice; the batter was crispy with the right amount of spice, whilst the cod was perfectly cooked and moist.

Unfortunately my mates on the other hand were not as happy and understandably so; the lamb chops cost £4.50- for that price you’d expect to get 3/4 pieces but we received 2 chops for £4.50, that’s £2.25 a chop!  That was not the end of it we received 5 prawns for £5. The potato skins tasted fine but didn’t look impressive and I’d expect more when it comes to presentation particularly for a fine dining experience. I hope the management can take note.

On to our main courses. Yaqub’s offers a range of Steaks, Burgers and Fajitas. Their steak menu is extensive and they offer a range of different cuts of beef, t-bone, sirloin, rib eye or rump as well as lamb and chicken options. There is even a picture of a cow on the menu showing you were the different cuts are from. Along with offering the choice of your steak being prepared in 5 different ways you knew the team at Yaqub’s had done their research! With all this information I was about to go Heston on them and ask them if their meat was fresh or not. Steaks are better the more mature the meat gets- they are best at around six weeks from slaughter. 

The prices at Yaqub’s are definitely at the premium end of the dining experience and thus expectations are also raised high. I don’t think we mind paying good money as long as we get good quality food, attentive customer service and experience a good ambiance.

My mates ordered the t-bone steaks and burgers. I stuck to my guns and ordered a lamb steak (medium to well done) with picante gravy in the hope of getting my fix. The burgers looked exceptional- towering high and made from pure meat. They went down a storm. The burgers were succulent and juicy they had the right amount of cheese and where served in a ciabatta bap. They were as good as those served at Chicago Gourmet Burger with the bonus of more meat! We had the doubles and they were definitely the highlight of the evening!

The t-bone steaks didn’t hit the same note on the other hand and were just average in comparison. They didn’t jump out or taste exceptional and the gravy again was at best average. Now for the science part!

The t-bone steaks were not cooked to perfection. I could see the cooks using thermometers and for those who know about preparing and cooking steak should know that the medium to well is served best at 54- 57 Celsius. In my opinion it looked as if they had got the temperature right but forgotten to take into account the fact that residual heat keeps cooking the steak and that after resting the steak for at least 5 minutes they need to run the steak out to you. I think when you offer so many ways of cooking steak you need to get it right, especially at the premium side of things and this is something I hope improves with time as the potential is there. 

I got my lamb steak and was expecting a fillet of lamb (about the size of a burger patty) but what I got was four small pieces of lamb. I was gutted and all my mates were laughing at me! My dreams of getting my lamb fix were dashed! On enquiring with the waiter I was told that this was spring lamb and it came like this. I told him that they should tell customers this in order to manage expectations. He apologised and suggested that I could order something else. Having seen the burgers I ordered one of those instead.

The customer service at Yaqub’s is as good as anywhere in Birmingham but in my opinion the standard in Birmingham is below par compared to other cities I have eaten in. The service was ok, the waiter came and took our order, he then re-read the order to us and asked us how are food was once it had been served. So he did his job. In many other places that would have sufficed but when it comes to the premium side of the dining market I want the waiter and service to be exceptional at a level that goes above and beyond what I would expect at other restaurants. Again I think there is room for Yaqub’s to improve this part of their offer.

A note to Muslim customers Yaqub’s has no lota in the washrooms for making wudu so take your own bottles or wudu mates with you but I’m hoping the restaurant will rectify this!

Overall our night out to Yaqub’s wasn’t the success I hoped it would be but it wasn’t a failure either. The guys didn’t ‘cuss’ me for taking them there which shows that it had some good points like the quality of the fish tikka starter and the excellent burgers. The other starters were just ok particularly related to the price we paid. The restaurant needs to focus on delivering value for money for what is a premium dining experience and this includes improving the presentation of the food that is served so that it reflects that premium experience. My share of the total bill came to £18 including the starter and main dish and at that price the food, service and presentation has to be consistently good.

The biggest disappointment of the evening was the steaks; I was expecting something exceptional, something to befit Yaqub’s as the new premium choice, unfortunately our experience was average at best but I would hope things improve as we’re still at the early stages where all restaurants have teething problems.

I am planning on returning in a month or so after the restaurant has had some time to bed down. In a month’s time I would hope they have perfected the steaks and gravy as well as raising the level of customer service to reflect the premium dining experience.

I hope they do as they have the potential to become one of Birmingham’s finest dining places.

Scores

Quality of Food: 6
Quality of Decor, Facilities: 7
Quality of Service: 6
Value for Money: 3 (full price paid, no discount codes used)

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Yaqub’s Steakhouse Opening Date Confirmed and we have the exclusive!

Salaams and welcome back to the Halal Blogosphere!

Yesterday morning I had a special sneak preview of Yaqub’s Steakhouse with a behind the scenes tour of the latest edition to the Halal Food scene in Sparkbrook. Yaqub’s is located on the corner of Stoney Lane and Highgate Road literally opposite the Lahore Karahi Halal Chinese Restaurant.

Yaqub’s has a fresh contemporary feel to the decor with a strong visual brand that is visible both on the exterior and the interior of the restaurant. The downstairs dining area seats approximately 70 covers with room to seat a further 100 covers upstairs. The restaurant has a vast window frontage with the bottom half of the windows benefiting from having a frosted cover to allow diners to have a more intimate dining experience without their steaks getting the evil eye from passers by! The attention to detail expands to the toilets which have also been fitted out to a good quality standard. Too often some of our halal restaurants can really be let down by the toilet area. We’re constantly getting emails from some of our readers sharing some of the worst experiences but I digress!

Food I hear you cry! I had a chance to sit down with one of the owners of the restaurant and he was really excited about the menu the chef and his kitchen team have come up with. There was a clear emphasis on creating a unique steakhouse experience and yes folks that includes the option to ask how you want your steak cooked. I’m really hoping Yaqub’s bucks the trend of having your steak come in any form as long as its well done! What was really interesting to hear was that Yaqub’s will also be offering a comprehensive fish menu which will include everything from sea bass and salmon to lobster!

So when is Yaqub’s opening. Drum roll please……. Yaqub’s Steakhouse will be opening this coming Friday which also happens to be the 13th! Not that we Muslims believe in superstition! So start crossing off your dates on the calendar and join us in the countdown to the latest edition to the Halal Food landscape in Birmingham.

Can it get any better, yes it can! The Halal Food Review will be bringing our readers an exclusive discount code to use at Yaqub’s this should be live in the next couple of weeks so make sure you keep an eye on the website. For the quickest reminder just follow us on Twitter @halalfoodreview or join us on Facebook by clicking the link to our Facebook page in the top right hand corner of the site or at http://www.facebook/halalfoodreview

As always we will be bringing you our review of Yaqub’s as soon as we’ve had a chance to sit down and tuck into the menu at newest steakhouse in Birmingham.

Ismail’s Grill Review – Birmingham

Salaams and greetings from the Halal blogosphere!

I kicked off the Halal Food Review blog with a review of the Abu Zayd Grill House and after overdoing on far too many Baltis and different variants of masala fish and chicken pakora I thought it was high time I returned to reviewing some non desi food.

I’m writing this review after watching the second episode of Michael Winner’s dining stars which I have to confess I am enjoying beyond expectations and I would definitely recommend it as a way of winding down for the weekend ahead.

This week’s review takes me to Ismail’s Grill who pride themselves on being Birmingham’s first Halal Steak House but the question is are they the city’s best steak house. I’ve already given you my review of Abu Zayd and inshallah before the month is out will be reviewing Mogos Grill @ Touchwood in Solihull.

Speaking of Abu Zayd I enjoyed a post Friday prayer meal at the Steak House, whilst the food was up to its usual standard one of my fellow diners was kept waiting for his meal. All credit to the management for waiving the cost of his meal. We had earlier discussed the finer points of complaining and it was good to see the management team make amends for a cock up with the ordering process. Whilst I’m complimenting the management team I’d also like to encourage them to do something about the décor upstairs which is seriously letting down what is otherwise a great dining experience.

You might be asking why is Abid rambling on about the décor at Abu Zayd isn’t he supposed to be reviewing Ismail’s Grill. The reason for my ramble is that what Abu Zayd is in need of addressing Ismail’s has placed at the heart of its dining proposition. You can’t fail to notice and be impressed by the chic décor which blends red and black with soft lighting to create a well designed dining space.

The one problem you do encounter with Ismail’s is the location and street parking. The restuarant is bizarrely located off a side street in the main Acocks Green Village Centre, parking is limited and we had to drive round a couple of times to find a suitable place to park. If you’re taking the car you might be better off parking the car on one of the adjacent streets to Station Street.

This is also the first review where the missus and the two munchkins joined me so I was quite keen to see what the customer service experience would be with a baby and an active toddler in tow!

The dining space itself is a rather peculiar L shape which is a result of the building itself, the front of the restuarant is a panelled in glass with the lower half frosted to give a degree of privacy to the diners, the glass exterior definitely lends itself to adding a degree of style to the space itself. For those looking for photos I decided not to take any photographs as Ismail’s have a wonderful website which has some great photos of the dining space and the food on offer. If I was reviewing websites I’d give Ismail’s a big thumbs up. I think more Halal restaurants need to up their game when it comes to developing an online presence.

Inside the dining area is well decorated and has a real contemporary feel, the ambiance is enhanced by subtle nasheeds playing in the background which just adds to the experience. Too many halal restaurants lack sound or are simply reliant on having some random foreign satellite tv station broadcasting on a random lcd screen in the corner. If I was to point out a criticism of the dining space it would be that Ismail’s has put too many covers into the space available. There were times when I found it all to easy to feel I am part of another table’s conversation!

Food I hear you cry!

Well you will have to wait a bit longer 🙂 The other thing I liked about Ismail’s is the waiting staff having uniforms its little touches like this that add a bit of class to a dining experience and I like it when an establishment pays attention to the finer details!

Ismail’s has a wonderfully diverse menu there are ample chicken, lamb, beef and fish options including grills, burgers, platters and wraps. I decided to go for the Mex Beefburger meal, the missus opted for the lamb steak and Maryam went for kids meal comprising of chicken and chips. For starters I also ordered a portion of chicken tenders and thought I’d try out the Aero Milkshake from the drinks menu.

When you’re eating out with kids especially a toddler and a baby you do want to make sure the staff are attentive to detail and I have to give the waiting staff at Ismail’s Grill a glowing review for their customer service. Our waiter for the evening was good natured, engaged in banter and was particularly accommodating towards the needs of our most demanding diner the toddler!

The chicken tenders were excellent, they were well cooked without suffering from an overdose of spices, my criticism of the starters and the mains would be a rather lacklustre salad accompaniment that came with the various courses. I do like a good salad and lots of shredded lettuce, a couple of pieces of cucumber and a stray piece of pepper or two does not constitute a good salad. I’d like restaurants to  pay more attention to the accompaniments. If you are going to put a side salad on my plate don’t put it there for the sake of it, give it the same love and attention you would give to the other items on the menu!

My Mex Beefburger with guacamole was a delight, the burger was fresh and perfectly cooked, the meat was not overpowering and the sauces and guacamole added extra dimension and flavour to the burger. Having had the homemade beefburgers at both Abu Zayd and Ismail’s I have to tip my hat in favour of the Ismail’s beefburger. Others might disagree but this is my blog!

The missus ordered a lamb steak which duly arrived and again the portion was generous perhaps not the same portion size as an Abu Zayd Grill plate but certainly a worthy portion. Where Ismail’s does steal a march on Abu Zayd again is the little extras and in this instance it was an accompanying gravy which I though was delicious. The missus was less keen as she didn’t want the gravy to distract from the flavours of the lamb steak.

The lamb steak itself was a mixed affair we found it to be on the chewy side and slightly overcooked which is a no no when it comes to a delicate meat such as lamb. I mentioned earlier that the intimate table layout made it difficult not to eavesdrop on conversations on neighbouring tables and it was interesting to note we heard similar comments on a larger dining table of the lamb steak being overcooked.

The milkshake was of a good standard. My standard for chicken pakoras is Mushtaqs and when it comes to milkshakes the benchmark is Eis Cafe on the Coventry Road. The Ismail milkshake was good and came with a generous helping of sauces and whipped cream but I’ve still to taste a milkshake that tickles my tastebuds as well as the ones dished out at Eis Cafe!

We ate at Ismails on a Thursday night whilst the restuarant wasn’t overly busy there was a good number of diners with a good mix between guys enjoying a boys night out and families. The restaurant definitely lends itself to a wide range of diners and I’d recommend it to all groups of diners and as well as families. The restuarant does have an upstairs which I am reliably informed can cater for larger parties as well as offering a dining experience to accompany sporting events with its large TV screen.

Price wise Ismail’s definitely falls into the premium category but in all fairness this is reflected in the décor, the quality of the space, customer service and the extra little touches the restuarant provides. If you’re looking for cheap and cheerful Abu Zayd would be your choice of destination but Ismail’s offers an excellent alternative for a more sophisticated experience that is definitely more family friendly and likely to secure you some brownie points.

I thought the chicken and the burger were of high quality but the lamb steak was a let down. Little things like having a gravy accompaniment make a significant difference and allow for a range of flavours to be experienced. The salad definitely needs work. I think when it comes to steaks what we do need to see is customer service staff asking diners how they want their meat prepared. In all the time I’ve eaten at Abu Zayd and Ismail’s this has not been asked and I think it should be standard practice.

Saying all that I would most definitely recommend Ismail’s to readers of the Halal Food Review.

Quality of Food 7.5

Quality of Service 9

Quality of Space 8

Price 8 ( Premium price is reflected in service offer )

Overall  rating 8

Abu Zayd Review – Birmingham

You can’t help but admire a group of enthusiastic aspiring restaurateurs wanting to open a new Arabian inspired eatery on the Coventry Road to compete with established favourites like Momos and Al Badr, even more so when the group has no experience in the restaurant game.

Enter Abu Zayd the Coventry Road’s first Arab themed Grill and Steak House.

For me there is no better time to judge the quality of a halal restaurant then walking in for a bite to eat in the post Friday prayer rush when the great and the good from the Muslim community spill out onto the streets from the hundreds of mosques jotted across the city to satisfy their grumbling stomachs!

The restaurant is housed over two floors in the heart of the Muslim quarter on the Coventry Road in the Small Heath district of the city. The ground floor is dominated by male diners with a separate family area available upstairs for family and female groups.

Downstairs the decor is a step up from some of its competitors, a warm mix of browns and creams. Upstairs in the family area there is a darker feel due to the lack of natural lighting and presence of partitions to provide intimacy for female and family diners.

Walking in during the post Friday prayer rush its easy to feel overwhelmed and squeezed in as the main dining area is narrow and some of the space is offset by the counter and food preparation area. In peak periods its likely you will have to table share in the spirit of Wagamama whilst this is a novel and new concept for me its a welcome one and extends the spirit of community and congregation from the prayer rooms to the dining halls.

Our group of three arrived later than we wanted to and we walked in to find the downstairs space full to capacity resulting in us getting a table upstairs. Any grumbles with the lighting were quickly dispelled as a seat next to the central heating providing much needed comfort from the biting cold outside.

The highlight of the Abu Zayd experience is the diversity and simplicity of the menu. Beef takes prime position on the menu which is no surprise with Abu Zayd’s focus on grills and steak. From T Bone and Jerk Beef strips to the first truly Halal original Beefburger there is something to suit every taste.

Equally impressive are the Salmon and Sea Bass options so often missing from ethnic Muslim menus. The menu is rounded off by a selection of chicken dishes, koftas and staple offerings of savoury rice, pasta, chunky chips and sharwama.

For our visit we skipped the starters and opted to dive straight into the mains. I ordered the half Grilled Chicken. My dining partners ordered a T Bone Steak and a grilled Chicken Steak burger all accompanied by side orders of pasta, chunky chips and a generous helping of salad!

I have to apologise for the lack of photos of the food, the camera on my Nokia E71 was not the best choice for dining upstairs, will try and get some photos into the entry at a later date.

Abu Zayd pricing is on the money and provides excellent value. The menu is competitively priced and the portions are extremely generous. The T Bone Steak with Pasta, Chips and Salad came in at a very reasonable £8.95, the grilled chicken and steak burger with the same side dishes came in at a credit crunch beating £4.95.

The service was prompt and friendly, the banter with the staff was warm and the waiter was more than happy to advise on specials and dishes worth sampling. We had hoped to try the Jerk Beef but it was unavailable and one to try on a return visit.

So how was the food I hear you cry!

My plate arrived overflowing with chicken, pasta, chunky chips and a salad accompaniment. The chicken was grilled to perfection and had the right balance in terms of flavour without being overpowering. The pasta had a sweet flavour that accompanied the earthiness of the grilled chicken, if I was to have a criticism it would be that I do prefer my pasta to have an “al dente” firmness to it but this was easily excused by the rich flavours of the pasta.

The T-Bone steak looked absolutely delicious. From speaking to my fellow diner his only complaint was there was too much food on the plate! If you’re gonna opt for the T Bone Steak its definitely advisable to skip starters!

The one thing missing from the Steak menu is an accompanying gravy or sauce that is so often a staple part of the offer in other restaurants. I’d love to see a traditional gravy option or a mushroom or pepper sauce to compliment the steak menu and add a different flavour dimension to the dishes on offer.

Abu Zayd has been open now for a number of months and there is a consistency to both the quality of the food and the standard of service that is so often lacking in some of the competing restaurants on the Coventry Road. Prices are competitive and make Abu Zayd the perfect choice for evening meals and lunch time gatherings. Portions are extremely generous and if there is to be a criticism the size of the portions can stop you from sampling some of the starter and dessert options.

The diversity of the menu and the quality of both the food and service makes Abu Zayd a restaurant you are very likely to revisit. I’m yet to try the grilled sea bass and still want to try the jerk beef strips. Abu Zayd is a welcome addition to the growing dining options on the Coventry Road and the latest in an increasing number of Arab restaurants in the Small Heath area that could do for Small Heath what the Balti triangle has done for Sparkbrook.

Its a big thumbs up from Mr Hussain

Quality of Food 8
Quality of Service 8
Quality of Space 6.5 ( Upstairs dining area needs more light )
Value for Money 9

Overall Rating 8