food

Every now and then you visit a restaurant where things go a little bit wrong, but the friendly staff and the service they provide makes you want to go back regardless, and that's exactly that happened when I dined at The Encore in Stratford-Upon-Avon.


The Encore restaurant is located in central Stratford-Upon-Avon, a mere stones throw from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and easily accessible by car, bus, train, and even boat. It houses two floors of beautifully designed dining space and is a lovely setting for lunch, dinner, or just drinks. 


Looking up at The Encore restaurant from the street below
The Encore viewed from Bridge Street in Stratford-Upon-Avon


There are several menus to chose from at The Encore (lunch, brunch, vegan, etc) but as we dropped in on a sunny Sunday afternoon, it would have been rude not to order a traditional Sunday roast. Whilst I eat a mostly vegetarian diet these days, I do bend the rules for certain meals, roast dinners being one.


The options for the Sunday roast include:


  • Trio of roasts (beef, pork, chicken) - £18.50
  • Roast beef - £16.50
  • Roast chicken - £14.75
  • Roast pork belly - £14.95
  • Fig & dolcelatte roast - £14.95


I chose the roast pork belly and my sister opted for the roast beef. At that sort of price we were expecting good things and we weren't disappointed, mostly.


A large plate of meat, roast potatoes, and a large Yorkshire pudding. A bowl of vegetables can be seen in the background.
Slices of roast pork belly, roast potatoes, crackling, stuffing, and a large Yorkshire pudding


Once our dinners arrived we were presented with two large plates of meats, roast potatoes, and giant Yorkshire puddings, and one sharing dish of mixed veggies. The portion sizes were certainly not small. We were delighted at the sight of the meals we were about to dig into, until I spotted a hair in mine. 


Accidents happen from time to time, and although most restaurants have high hygiene standards things like this do happen. That being said its never nice to find a hair in your dinner even if you haven't started eating yet. I raised the issue with the waitress straight away and she swooped the dinner from under me to replace it as soon as possible.


Grace is sitting to the table. Her dinning in on the table below her. The inside of the restaurant can be see in the background.
Is there any point going for a fancy dinner if you don't take a photo with it?


As my dinner was so impressive I did worry it would be quite some time before another was brought to the table but to my surprise I didn't have to wait too long at all. I would estimate that a fresh pork belly roast was plonked down within 10 minutes of the waitress taking the original away. After bringing a new meal to the table, our waitress apologised quite sincerely and said that the meal would be complimentary. Whilst I expected maybe a small discount, or the offer of a drink after such an issue, I didn't expect the whole meal for free. For this reason and the genuinely good customer service I received from our waitress that afternoon I would not hesitate to return to The Encore again.


We soon wolfed down our meals which were equal parts delicious and filling, and went on our way discussing another possible visit for December after spying their festive menus earlier in the day. 


Despite the little blip I was quite impressed by my experience at The Encore, and the way they dealt with the situation ensured we left the restaurant as happy customers.


The Encore
1 Bridge Street
Stratford-Upon-Avon
Warwickshire
CV37 6AB



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Stratford-upon-Avon CV37, UK

THE ENCORE STRATFORD UPON AVON

Brunching, it's one of my favorite past times. There really is nothing better than heading off for some banging grub and a few fab bevvies with your pals! So when it comes to brunching in Birmingham, well, I'd like to think I know some great spots by now. 


I've done bottomless Brunches at Dirty Martini, boozy lunches around Birmingham city centre, and various Afternoon Tea's across the Midlands (I'm putting them in the same bracket as brunches), but this new brunch offering at the Bournbrook Inn in the heart of Stirchley might just beat everything I've tried so far!


THE BOURNBROOK INN - BIRMINGHAM'S BEST NEW BOTTOMLESS BRUNCH
 Living my best life in Stirchley - Birmingham's favourite neighbourhood

The Bournbook Inn on the Pershore Road in Stirchley has been recently refurbished making it the ideal pace to grab a few drinks with the girls, without having to drag yourself off into town. The pub offers a whole range of affordable food and drinks throughout the week, with there new bottomless brunch taking place every Saturday.


The brunch which comes in at a very reasonable £25 per person runs from 12pm until 3pm, that's three whole hours of unlimited drinks, something you'd be hard pushed to find elsewhere else in the city. The majority of Birmingham brunches now only last between 1.5 and 2 hours which is not nearly enough time to guzzle down a wild amount of cocktails.


Speaking of cocktails, the Bournbrook Bottomless Brunch offer several drinks - 


  • House red, white, and rose wine
  • Prosecco
  • Strawberry Bellini (my personal favourite)
  • Maiden Adora (non-alcoholic)

Egg's Benedict garnished with salad
Eggs Benedict at the Bournbrook Inn Stirchley


Brunching with the Girlies in South Birmingham


While I do think they offer a good selection of drinks, I've very surprised that beer isn't an option for the brunch as beer is something the Bournbrook does very well. The pub regularly serves a variety of both big names and locally brewed beers, so it would be nice to see one of these included in the brunch in the future perhaps.

What are the food options like? Well in my opinion they're equally as good. While the majority of bottomless brunches across Birmingham serve a platter of 'picky food' the Bournbrook brunch includes 2 courses. 


Mains available with the Bournbrook Brunch -


  • Smashed Avocado on Toast
  • Eggs Benedict
  • Eggs Florentine
  • Wild Mushrooms on Toast
  • Waffles & Bacon
  • Full English


Desserts available with the Bournbrook Brunch - 


  • Pancakes
  • Waffles and Ice Cream
  • Bournbrook Mess


Sipping on Strawberry Bellini's

Waffles with Pecan and Chocolate Ice Cream  (Just about surviving the sunshine in the beer garden)

For my main I chose the Eggs Benedict which was absolutely delicious and I can confirm the eggs were cooked to perfection - nice and runny, but not runny enough for me to be concerned about dying of Salmonella. My dessert was also incredibly tasty. I opted for the Waffles which come with pecan and chocolate ice cream, just what I needed after a few hours of sipping on Bellinis!


So would I recommend the Bournbrook Brunch? Absolutely! Not only is it one of the cheaper brunches in Birmingham, their bottomless drinks also last for much longer than most others, and the food is just incredible. If you haven't tried it out yet, get yourself booked in for an afternoon you'll not soon forget (or maybe you will, the drinks are unlimited afterall!)


The Bournbrook Inn

1273 Pershore Road

Stirchley

B30 2YT


Open  12pm - 10pm Monday - Sunday



Do you have a favourite Birmingham brunch spot?

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Birmingham, UK

THE BOURNBROOK INN - BIRMINGHAM'S NEW BOTTOMLESS BRUNCH (& it's only £25)

One of my favourite things about travelling is definitely gorging on new types of weird and wonderful foods. I love trying out new things, and even though I'm the fussiest eater known to man, I always leave a trip having eaten something I've never tried before. The only problem with this is that when I'm not able to travel I find myself pining for my favourite foreign foods, and usually, nothing that I, nor my local restaurants cook will suffice. You cannot beat traditional meals cooked by the natives who grew up eating them, it's a fact. 


Grace is sat to a table inside Mr Souvlaki Restaurant in Stourbridge. In front of her is a plate of Chicken souvlaki, a bowl of salar, and a mixed grill platter.


So when I saw Birmingham Eats tucking into a banging portion of Souvlaki a few weeks ago my interest peaked. Chicken Souvlaki has been one of my all-time favourite meals since I first tried it over 10 years ago on the beautiful Island of Crete. It's a fairly basic meal, but done well it's absolutely delicious. So where had the pair behind Birmingham Eats managed to nab an authentic-looking Souvlaki dinner? Mr Souvlaki in the centre of Stourbridge.


Now Stourbridge isn't exactly on my doorstep, it's around a 40-minute drive away from Birmingham, but that's a hell of a lot closer than the nearest Greek island so I was prepared to make the journey to feast some traditional greek food.


On entering the cafe-style venue, you're almost transported to a beautiful whitewashed Greek town. The interiors are done in such a way that it looks as though you are sitting on the outside of a small Greek taverna, it's just a shame they weren't able to also capture the Mediterranean weather. 


Inside Mr Souvlaki restaurant in Stourbridge. The interior is decorated to look like a white-washed greek town.


But the feel of Greece doesn't end with the decor, oh no, its with the food itself that you are really taken on a trip. The menu is pretty straightforward - Souvlaki, Gyros, Burgers and more are all on offer here, and available at greek prices too! The only thing over £10 on the menu is the mixed grill which comes in at £19.50 but feeds two!


After what seemed like an age of starting at the menu (we really were spoiled for choice) we opted for a couple of Mixed Grills, a portion of Chicken Souvlaki, a Village Salad, and 3 pots of Tzatziki. We thought 2 portions of Tzatziki would do at first but believe me that stuff is so delicious you'll want a scoop of it with every bite!


First impressions of our meals were good. The portion sizes were generous, everything was well presented, and the smell, well that was just something else. I'm not sure how I managed to take any photos before we all jumped into our dishes because the scent of the warm fresh meat in front of us was beautiful. 


And the taste didn't disappoint either. My Chicken Souvlaki was cooked perfectly and the pitta bread that arrived with it was the best I've probably ever tasted before. I can only assume it was cooked fresh on the day because I've never had pitta bread that was quite as soft and fluffy as this - not even in Greece! I also tried a few bits and bobs from the Mixed Grill Platters which tasted just as good as my meal if not better. I didn't get the chance to munch on everything from the platter but I was assured by my family that it was all as good as it looked.


A plate of Chicken Souvlaki, a mixed grill,  a bowl of salad, and a bowl of Tzatziki at Mr Souvlaki Restaurant Stourbridge


The only criticism I have with the food was that it wasn't as warm as I would have liked. Although the cooked meats were warm, the potato sliced chips were actually quite cold which we raised with the staff at the time. This wasn't a huge issue but the meal would have been perfect if they were a little bit hotter. 


Would I visit Mr Souvlaki again? Without a doubt! I've never had a more delicious and authentic Greek meal outside of the country itself before, and I doubt I will come across one again for a while. Although it's not exactly local to me, the quality of the food and the crazy low prices would definitely bring me back to Mr Souvlaki's again in the future, especially while travel is off the cards!


Are you a fan of Greek foods? Where is your favourite place to nab an authentic Greek meal in the UK?


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Two previous images from inside Mr Souvlaki. Test between the images reads "MR SOUVLAKI - A TASTE OF GREECE IN THE HEART OF ENGLAND"


MR SOUVLAKI - A TASTE OF GREECE IN THE HEART OF ENGLAND

A couple of weeks ago myself and Mom were invited* down to Rico Libre to see the new location and try out the new menu. I’m a big fan of tapas on holiday and so I jumped at the chance to test out how well we do it here in the centre of Birmingham. Rico Libre is now situated in the heart of the custard factory, so just a short 10-15 minute walk from Birmingham city centre. 



Between us we ordered 6 dishes which was the recommended amount. Initially we weren't sure if this would be enough as we are big eaters but I think anymore than 3 dishes each would have been a bit of a struggle.

After a fairly intense look at the menu, I finally decided on my three. I chose Pollo Marbella (chicken breast with white wine, chorizo, and cream), Pisto (Spanish Ratatouille), and Tortilla de Patatas (Spanish Omelette). The Polla Marbella was nice, though the taste of the chorizo was a little strong for me after a while, the Pisto was delicious, if not a little on the spicy side of things, but the Tortilla de Patatas was the real winner for me. It was larger than the other dishes and really was my favourite of the night. I would also recommend the Pisto as both myself and mom thought it was very tasty, but it is a little spicy and if like me you can't hack the heat, you may struggle with this one.


Mom on the other hand went for Pan de Barra (bread with Kalamata & Halkidiki olives and balsamic oil), Pescado Blanco Frito (deep fried fish in a light batter), and the grilled beef served with a five bean salad. The Pan de Barra was perfect, we both love olives and thoroughly enjoyed nibbling on them as we sipped our drinks. The fish I'm almost certain was moms favourite dish as the portion size was quite generous and she said the batter was lovely too. I will admit though that the beef, as beautifully presented as it was, just wasn't really our cup of tea.

A lot of the dishes were very different to the kind of tapas we’d tried in the past so some of them we loved and some of them just weren’t to our taste, but that’s always the risk when trying out new foods. Sometimes it's nice to give new things a go even if they aren't something you'd be in a rush to try again.


After finishing off our meals we decided to have one small desert between us, and I will admit, it was quite small. We chose the Mousse de Maracuya (Passionfruit mousse in a chocolate cup). I think mom only had one small spoonful, but in all honestly was more than happy to finish it off as the mousse was incredibly tasty with a really great texture to it, and the chocolate cup, well I wolfed that yummy little casing down in no time.

Drinks wise we opted for a bottle of Peach green tea and a can of San Pellegrino as Rico Libre isn’t licensed and we didn’t know this beforehand. I do wish I'd done my research before dining as I'd set my heart on a glass of Sangria which I thought would be readily available in a Spanish restaurant, but as they cannot sell alcohol this would never have been possible. I would definitely recommend taking your own wine/ beer etc. as that way you can drink whatever you like and obviously it keeps costs down a little which is always a bonus.


As for the service, I did think this was a little on the relaxed side of things, especially for a weekday. I did have to ask for things a couple of times, but I will say our server was incredibly friendly and once we had requested something, nothing was too much trouble for him.

So my verdict? As I said previously not all of the food was to my taste, and if I’m honest I did find some of it a little on the pricey side of things. Dishes range from £3.50 all the way up to £7/£8 which can very quickly add up when you are ordering a few items. That being said it is a little independent place set in one of my favourite (and one of the most instagrammable) parts of the city and it offers an experience unlike any chain restaurant you dine in. It's clear that the food is cooked fresh and the ingredients used are good quality, you wont get microwaved tat here.

Are you a fan of Tapas? Where is your favourite place to eat Tapas in Birmingham or even the UK?



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* Our meals were complimentary however all opinions are my own 

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Birmingham, UK

RICO LIBRE - TAPAS IN THE HEART OF BIRMINGHAM*

Well this is an overdue blog post if I ever did write one! A couple months ago myself and my lovely mother took a trip down to Solihull as I was invited to review* the new (well, not so new now) afternoon tea at the Village Hotel. Spending an hour or so chatting over a good cuppa and munching on miniature cakes is one of my favourite past times, this however was an afternoon tea with a twist...



The afternoon tea is actually inspired by Great British Bake off winner Candice Brown. Now I'll come clean, I've never watched bake off, nope not even once, so fans of the show might find that more interesting than me - I'm just here for the tea and cakes let's be honest.

So what's on the menu? As with all great afternoon teas you should expect lot's of tea (or coffee) and cakes. As I said however, this is no regular afternoon tea so you'll also be treated to bite sized quiches, teeny tiny egg mayo rolls, and some kind of prawn cocktail creation on a cracker, instead of the usual finger sandwiches. Now I'm not a fan of seafood so I didn't touch the prawn creation or the salmon quiche but I was told that alternatives are available for fussy eaters like myself. My mother and loyal afternoon tea taster did enjoy the little fishy foods however and reported back to me that they were in fact quite tasty. I'll take your word on that one mom.



Along with the little savoury snacks we were also presented with rocky road style cakes, miniature rhubarb & custard profiteroles, and posh cornflake cakes of all things. The cornflake cakes actually took me a bit by surprise as they are something you usually make with 5 year old and not something you would ideally serve up to paying customers, however it was more than your bog standard cornflake cake. The cake had a soft base, similar to that of a cherry bakewell and was filled with a sweet lemon filling, the cornflakes themselves were then topped with coconut which might seem like a ctrange combo but funnily enough it all worked really quite well together.

So what's after the cakes? Scones of course (or scoooones if you're posh). To mother and I the scones really are the make and break of an afternoon tea. Give us a good jam & cream scone and you're onto a winner. Give us a bad one, or one with, god forbid, butter and you're straight into our bad books. So did this this afternoon make our naughty or nice list? Well I'm still slightly undecided. The scones included in the Village Hotels afternoon tea were actually chocolate orange flavoured so they were pretty much written off straight away by my mom. If it's not broke why fix it right? Well I would be inclined to agree with her but I did actually quite enjoy these funny little citrus scones and although they aren't necessarily what I would chose, they were still pretty decent.


So what was my opinion of the whole thing? Well it was a different afternoon tea experience I'll give it that, but it wasn't too different, and actually it was nice to spice it up a little bit. The platter comes in at £17.50 per person which isn't too pricey for a 4 star hotel restaurant, but it probably is a little more than I would usually spend on an afternoon tea if I'm honest. All in all it was pretty damn decent and I enjoyed trying out an afternoon tea with a little bit of twist.



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* Our afternoon tea was complimentary however all opinions are my own!


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Solihull, UK

THE SOLIHULL AFTERNOON TEA WITH A TWIST*

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