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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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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