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!

Advertisements

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!

Halal – Is it meat you’re looking for.

Its been a while since we updated the blog, no we haven’t dropped off the face of the earth we’re simply dieting. Rest assured more reviews are on their way. In the meantime enjoy a classic offering from Birmingham based Faisal Hussain.

Forget food I hear you cry, this is food for the soul so get your dancing shoes on and your singing voice in tune!

Food Reviewers wanted

The Halal Food Review is looking for reviewers to join our team from across the UK.

If you are passionate about food and prepared to put your thoughts online then we want to hear from you. We are especially looking for reviewers from outside of Birmingham to join the team to help take our reviews National.

So if you’re up for contributing to the tastiest blog on the web drop us an email. I want to write for the Halal Food Review

[contact-form]

What constitutes Halal?

So what constitutes Halal? In terms of definitions there are better sources than yours truly to answer that question.

For the purposes of this blog we will not be reviewing any restaurant that falls into the following categories:

  1. Sells alcohol
  2. Sells pork or any other Piggy derivative
  3. Cannot verify its Halal Certification.

The Halal Food Review goes live!

Salaams and Greetings

For a number of years I’ve thought about blogging about something I am passionate about… Halal Food.

Living in Birmingham we have a wealth of Halal Food outlets drawing on inspiration from South Asia, the Middle East, Europe the Far East and even Muslim twists on UK and American classics.

I’ve experienced the good, the bad and the damn right ugly. Food that takes your taste buds on a journey of wonder and food that takes your stomach to the depths of despair and back!

To help me with this blog I will be inviting guest reviews from friends and colleagues who share my passion for food.

My blog will prominently feature the Halal Food scene in Birmingham in the first instance but I will no doubt offer reviews on Halal Food outlets whilst I am on my travels up north, down south and all points in between.

A certain Arab establishment will get a chance to redeem itself before my next visit. One thing I have noticed which is a positive trend is the increasing number and variety of fish dishes appearing on menus across Birmingham. Sea Bass and Salmon are suddenly in vogue and long may it continue.
Expect the first review shortly and then a review on a weekly basis!