Sunday, February 27, 2011

Birmingham: Back to Jamie's

With a rainy Saturday developing, we decided, on a whim, to take the train to Birmingham, for a bit of shopping and a meal at Jamie's Italian. Happily, we were under blue skies before long, enjoying the bustle of the Bull Ring. There's such an energy in that city, and in the open market especially; the air's a-buzz with it, the shouts of the vendors hawking their produce or auctioning off their cuts of meat coming over the top.

We put our name in at Jamie's Italian, and with an estimated wait of forty minutes, took their pager for a stroll. We came upon a fantastic find then: a bin, outside a lingerie shop of all things, filled with old water jugs advertising various breweries, £2 a pop. We picked up five, for less than we've paid for one in the past.

Shortly thereafter the pager went off. I'm happy to say that the Birmingham location is yet another example of the stellar standards we've come to expect from Jamie's. I went with their specials exclusively this time: a golden beetroot soup to start, followed by crab and risotto cakes with a fennel salad. Both were superb; simply superb. The only way the crab cakes could've been any better was if they'd included a few more tangerine segments -- maybe one per cake -- vice the one. Such an amazing blend of flavours. Tea's mushroom panzerotti was the same; probably more so, in fact.

Finally, while we were initially disappointed to learn that our beloved lemon polenta cake is a seasonal offering, the waiter was absolutely correct: the chocolate, raspberry and amaretto brownie with bourbon vanilla ice cream was truly to die for. And I don't normally make a fuss about the bill, but I think it's important that I highlight how affordable Jamie's is: all that, plus their fabulous selection of breads, a bruschetta starter, 1.5 litres of their lovely house red, and tea and coffee only cost £64. At the risk of officially joining their marketing team, I'll reiterate a sentiment I've blogged before: this is some of the best food I've eaten out; ever. And I've paid a lot more than that for meals of similar composition.

Pleasantly full, it was time for a bit of shopping. The last train home was around half nine, so we stopped up with enough time for a pint. Tea's CAMRA app. pulled through again, pointing out the wonderful Anchor Inn, just down the road from the Bull Ring. I'd recommend it for the atmosphere and friendly staff alone, but the list of real ales they had on pushes it to legendary status in my books. And it seemed to be a local favourite too, with lots of folks -- a range of ages at that -- havin' a good time.

The same could be said of the Royal Union, where we finished the night, back in town. It was good to see. We've decided Robin needs to let the dogs come down and mingle more, though.

As always, we've created a Picasa album with more pictures from the afternoon and evening.

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