Join us on Facebook & Twitter as we bring you exclusive discount codes and special offers

Salaams and welcome back to the Halal Blogosphere.

Over the coming months we will be bringing our readers a series of exclusive discount vouchers and special offers for halal food restaurants across Birmingham and inshallah nationally across the UK. This is an opportunity to thank our readers for their continued support over the last couple of years and inshallah you will continue to benefit from the site in the coming years.

To help you keep up to date with any exclusive vouchers or special offers you can follow us on either Facebook or Twitter so that you don’t miss out on any time limited special offers.

You can find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/HalalFoodReview

or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/halalfoodreview

Keep you eyes on the site over the next few weeks for the first of our exclusive reader offers.

Sameer Eats – Douglas Pizza and Grill, New Jersey

Salaams and welcome back to the Halal Blogosphere, we thought we’d share some love at the Halal Food Review by introducing you to our favourite reviewer from the USA who takes the Halal Food Review experience to a whole new level with live video!

Sameer is an institution back in the USA and if you like your halal food then check out his website at http://www.sameerseats.com you can also find Sameer on Twitter and Facebook!

In the meantime check out his latest video which features the Douglas Pizza and Grill in New Jersey, USA.

Which Restaurant are you most looking forward to opening in Birmingham

The Results are in for our 2011 vote to find out which restaurant Halal Food Readers were most looking forward to seeing open. Voting commenced on the 20th December 2011 and closed on the 4th February 2012. We had just under 100 votes cast from our readers who were given a choice of 5 restaurants and you’ve given us your verdict!

Congratulations to Haveli Buffet for getting a whopping 49.51% of the vote.  A special mention to our runner up Yaqub’s Steakhouse and Grill which received 21.36% of the vote. Both restaurants are now open. We’re expecting the other 3 restaurants in this voting category to open in the coming months with Fargo’s the most likely to open next.

Inshallah all our nominations in this category will go from strength to strength and continue to offer halal diners a wonderful experience throughout 2012.

 

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.

We are fundraising for the Feed the Poor Charity to support investment in clean water and the distribution of food parcels during Ramadan please make a donation no matter how small.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

To donate via mobile phone text NPWX82 £3 to 70070

You can change the amount from £3 to a lower or higher amount.

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!

Mughal E Azam Restaurant Birmingham

This is a first for the Halal Food Review where we don’t actually complete a review. Yes I sampled the menu but in all honesty I wasn’t really wearing my Halal Food Review hat, mind you I’ve not been wearing it for a while!

So why do I flag up this restaurant? Well to put it simply its probably the most stunning renovation I have seen for any restaurant in Birmingham. Mughal E Azam is located on the border of Hall Green and Sparkhill just past the junction between College Road and Stratford Road. The full address is Church Hall, Stratford Rd, Birmingham, B11 4DA, just pop it in the old satelite navigation and it should get you to the restaurant, there is ample parking on site.

The owners have beautifully transformed the former church into the most attractive balti restaurant you can possibly imagine. They have retained the charm and beauty of the old Church and added some stunning touches in relation to the décor with influences from Mughal India and the Middle East.

If you are looking to take a loved one for a fine dining experience that is pleasing on the eye then look no further. Food wise my experience was generally pleasant with a fantastic starter and a main that could do better but as I said earlier I wasn’t in full review mode.

I definitely plan on returning and will update my review accordingly but for now I would encourage you to experience the restaurant for yourself. The scale of the restaurant also suggests it will be ideal for meetings, functions and intimate weddings. If you happen to be a restaurant owner I would encourage you to go down simply to see how you should design an eating space!

Until the next time, I’ll sign off for now until I hear the familiar call of Food I hear you cry!

We are fundraising for the Feed the Poor Charity to support investment in clean water and the distribution of food parcels during Ramadan please make a donation no matter how small.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

To donate via mobile phone text NPWX82 £3 to 70070

You can change the amount from £3 to a lower or higher amount.

Where do you want to send the HFR Team next!

We’re keen to hear from our readers where they would like us to review over the next few weeks, we’ve added some suggestions from our team and regular readers and welcome any other suggestions!

Muslim Sweet Tooth

Salaams and welcome to an Easter Sunday Sweet Tooth special. If you’ve had your fill of easter eggs here is our list of recommendations to tickle that sweet tastebud! We selected our picks from London, Leicester, Birmingham and Bradford but feel free to let us know of any you rate highly that we’ve missed out!

Tinseltown – Tinseltown has four outlets in London and one in Leicester and is the original pioneer of the Muslim friendly Milkshake place, its a love it or hate it place for definitely worth experiencing at least once in a lifetime! Service, food and decor varies depending on the outlet. As well as milkshakes and desserts there is a fairly comprehensive burger and grill menu. For more information visit the Tinseltown website.

Pastry House – The go to place in Birmingham for cakes and a range of hot drinks, their Arabic tea is something special and the good news is they have had a refurbishment which has seen the ancient and uncomfortable seating and tables replaced with some funky new cushioned seats as well as some more up to date outdoor furniture just in time for the summer season! Pastry House is located on the corner of Coventry Road and Whitmore Road in the heart of the Arabic quarter.

Eis Cafe – Our second Birmingham recommendation is the best milkshake joint in Birmingham which is also located on the Coventry Road but further up near the Muntz Street Junction. Eis Cafe offers the widest choice of milkshakes, juices, smoothies and teas in Birmingham and also offers a light lunch and dessert menu. If you are in the mood for a shake and a snack Eis Cafe is the place its at. If you are planning on heading to Eis Cafe a note of positive caution it closes during congregational prayer hours.

Cafe Patisserie – Bradford may be famous for Mumtaz and its Mahmood’s King Kong Burgers but for a sweet treat try out Cafe Patisserie which has an amazing selection of Ice Cream Sundaes as well as a really comprehensive non dessert food menu. Whilst we’re pitching Bradford we are desperately in need of reviewers from Yorkshire who can help us do some food reviews in Bradford and Leeds if you know anyone who can help get in touch with us now! For more information on Cafe Patisserie check out their website

This is just a small selection off the top of our heads if you are aware of any good dessert places let us know via the comments function!

Bader Restaurant – Birmingham

Salaams and welcome back to the Halal Blogosphere. After a couple of mixed noodle reviews its back to our old haunt of the Coventry Road and a review of Bader Restaurant offering traditional Arabic and Lebanese cuisine in the heart of Small Heath.

As far as Arabic and Lebanese cuisine goes Bader offers both the widest choice and the most authentic dining experience from the options available in Small Heath. The restaurant retains a number of design features incorporating textiles and patterns from the middle east. When you enter the restaurant you are greeted by a traditional Arabic seating area to your right which is extremely handy as Bader tends to get filled to capacity very quickly particularly on Fridays after the post Friday prayer rush. We had a group of six diners arrive in the peak time rush post prayers and the staff were very accommodating in rearranging diners to allow us to find a place where we could sit. I don’t know how accommodated the diners who were moved felt but we were very appreciative!

One of the challenges of the Bader menu is the sheer choice from starters to the mains as well as the various grill and dessert options. For starters we decided to go for a Mix Maza which included Houmous, Falafel, Stuffed Vine Leaves as well as a Tabbouleh salad and traditional Arabic breads. The beauty of the Mix Maza was there was no meat in sight! Its to easy to go to an Arabic or Lebanese restaurant and not really try out some of the outstanding vegetarian options, I would definitely recommend people experiment with their starters even if they are not prepared to sacrifice the meat from the main courses! The starter was excellent, the portion size is more than suitable for a group of 3 to 4 people but it does become limiting when you have six very hungry diners! For larger groups I’d suggest ordering a wider selection of starters.

For our mains our table ordered mixed grilled kebabs, shawarma and baked salmon. The mains came with a variety of side dishes including rice, fries and salads. There was a slight problem with my order of baked salmon where I requested fries but received a giant portion of rice instead. The waiter promised to bring over replacement fries but they never arrived which whilst not the end of the world is not great customer service!

The frustration only grew as Arabic rice tends to come with no accompanying sauces which to the Desi palette borders on food blasphemy! Whilst the rice failed to meet my expectations the salmon was excellent, perfectly cooked with a rich sauce that I wished there was more of! The side salad I ordered was also rather limited to the culinary delights of the very traditional English lettuce which left me yearning for Arabic flavour!

The dishes around the table were tried and tested and delivered against expectations. Again if there was to be a criticism it would be that rice and meat mains do require an accompanying sauce or condiment e.g. gravy. The flavours of Arabic starters can often be missing in the main dishes particularly the grill options.

Service was mixed, the restaurant was exceptionally busy after Friday prayers which merits giving the waiting service the benefit of some doubt but small errors like forgetting to bring food out is just a basic error that can happen when a restuarant is not busy.

Prices at Bader are competitive, slightly higher than prices you may pay at other local Arabic restaurants but this is more than compensated by the dining experience and the range of choices available that are not matched by rivals in the area.

For families there is a small seating area at the back for families and female diners who wish to eat in a segregated environment. I still hold our hope that restaurants can become more family friendly, there are very few halal restaurants in the city that you feel comfortable entertaining friends or family particularly female family members as so many places have become male dominated. This isn’t necessarily the fault of the restaurant owners but something you would hope can be addressed. One of the exceptions to the rule is Dubai Express which provides a really ambient dining experience but struggles with a whole host of other problems as testified by the range of reader comments on our review.

General observations aside, Bader definitely gets a thumbs up!

Quality of Food 8 (More sauce please, we’re British!)
Quality of Service 7 (Try and avoid the post Friday rush)
Quality of Space 8 (Can get tight and overcrowded during peak times)
Prices 8
Overall Score 8

To view the website go to

Three to try in Birmingham

Salaams and greetings from the halal blogosphere. As promised we are looking to introduce a few new ideas for the Halal Food Review and one of those is to recommend some of the places to eat in Birmingham that we’ve not quite got round to reviewing but would welcome reader comments on.

First on the hitlist is Nata a small Portuguese eatery in Martineau Place in Birmingham City Centre opposite the Rackhams store on Corporation Street. The food at Nata is absolutely first rate and there is a choice of set meals, tapas, paninis and desserts. The only two drawbacks of Nata are a lack of covers which can make eating in Nata a most intimate experience and secondly it is open primarily for lunch time trade. If you’re in Birmingham and you fancy something continental that isn’t Nandos then Nata is out pick of the bunch. Sadly there is no website either!

Our second recommendation comes courtesy of Birmingham’s famous graffiti artist Mohammed Ali who stumbled across the Chop and Wok a new halal Chinese concept a few doors down from the Alex Theatre in Birmingham. Chop and Wok offers a simple take out concept offering you the chop option of a salad or wrap meal or you can go for a more filling wok option which offers some classic Chinese stapes from Noodles to Rice with a choice of meat and tofu extras topped off by a flavour of your choice.

The concept is novel, again there is even less space to sit in and eat than there is at Nata but it gives city folk a great halal Chinese alternative. For more details check out their simple but very funky website at http://www.chopandwok.co.uk/themenu/Menu-page.html

Our final recommendation for the week is the Chennai Dosa which has been suggested to us by Walsall Arts veteran Haroon Ravat and our favourite photographer Saleem Bagasrawalla. Chennai Dosa is an established chain offering halal and vegetarian friendly restaurants across London and they have recently opened their first outlet in Birmingham on the Hagley Road bringing another halal alternative to the busy commuter and commercial route. We’ve heard mixed reviews about their food, their dosa menu is winning more plaudits than their buffet but its definitely worth a visit to try out an alternative South Indian cuisine. For more information on Chennai Dosa check out their website at http://www.chennaidosa.com/

If you happen to try out any of our top three tips send us your reviews and comments, when I get round to eating with my reviewer hat on I’ll add my thoughts too.

Until the next time happy eating!