‘Modern Greek’ by Leo Kattou at Purecraft, Birmingham

Leo owes me dinner, technically. Wind the clock back a few months and you’ll find him stood in my kitchen at 4am, my boyfriend attempting to feed his ego by feeding Leo his beef ragu. A bowl of beef ragu that was supposed to be my dinner the very next evening. I would have been annoyed, but Leo is too impossibly likeable for that.

Wind the clock forward again, and Leo has just finished a successful stint on Masterchef: The Professionals, gaining a place in the semi-finals and a horde of female fans which has led to his Modern Greek pop up at Purecraft Bar & Kitchen selling out not only once, but twice after the basement was opened up for extra bookings.

The menu is a fine dining twist on Leo’s Greek-Cypriot heritage, and at £55 for five courses plus beer pairings it’s an absolute steal. We start with smoked cod roe, blitzed smooth and smeared onto squid ink crackers. It’s a classic Simpsons snack, and a perfect introduction to the evening.

The next dish veers firmly towards the Mediterranean, combining fried halloumi with tomato, smoked aubergine purée and olive tapenade. Bar the unseasonal tomato, which reminds me that I’m sadly still in Birmingham, every element is packed with flavour and executed perfectly. It delivers what you always hope a halloumi dish will, but so rarely does in this part of the world.

‘Fish and Chips’ is a wonderfully playful dish that takes all the best of the classic dish and abandons the worst. Gone are the greasy, heavy carbs, replaced by panfried cod with a punchy sauce which references tartar by way of capers, onion and lemon. Peas give bursts of freshness, and the ‘chips’ (essentially a fine dining version of Salt and Vinegar Chipsticks) bring tang and crunch.

So far, so brilliant. It gets better though. Lamb kleftico, brined and then slow roasted so that the bone slips cleanly out, the kind of dish I could never tire of eating. On the side, black cabbage and a salad of bulgar wheat, golden raisins, pine nuts and onion. I could rave about this dish for hours, but really I just want the recipe.

Dessert is equally as delicious; in essence it’s cherries topped with yoghurt, honey, walnuts and filo, made a bit clever. I try and wangle a second portion out of Leo but he’s having none of it, so I settle for nicking my mate’s cherries whilst he’s not looking. I haven’t really talked much about the beer pairings, because in all honestly I know fuck all about beer, but the Bacchus cherry beer that accompanies the dessert deserves an honourable mention for being really rather nice.

The pedigree of those in attendance, and the lovely things they have to say about the dinner, is a sure sign that Leo is one to watch in the Birmingham dining scene. Not only is he a rising star, he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. Next time he announces a pop up, take my advice and book in immediately.

Leo’s Modern Greek pop up took place at the always fabulous Purecraft Bar and Kitchen on Waterloo Street, Birmingham, B2 5TJ. Alternatively, catch him in his day job at Simpsons.

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Kebabylon at 1000 Trades

Confession: I am a massive fan of kebabs in any form. Yes, even the greasy, 3am, back-of-a-taxi variety. So when 1000 Trades announced their two week Kebabylon takeover I was understandably delighted.

It didn’t take much persuading for my boyfriend to join me. Living in the Jewellery Quarter, 1000 Trades is fast becoming our favourite after work hangout with its chilled vibe, quality drink selection & always on point soundtrack.

The (boxed!) wine there is always fab but as I was about to bite my hand off in hunger I can’t remember which ones I tried. He drank the Titanic Stout & the Wild Beer Co Millionaire Stout. Both got good reviews but the Millionaire Stout was the stand out favourite, with rich decadent flavours of chocolate and salted caramel.

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Kebab-wise, we went for the ‘Med in Brum’ (chicken, sun-dried tomato, olives, feta, guacamole etc) and the ‘El-Chapo’ (chicken, chipotle en adobo, scotch bonnet pink slaw, jalapenos). Containing all my favourite flavours, the ‘Med in Brum’ couldn’t fail to deliver and I think I managed to finish it in around 2 minutes flat. I also loved the smoky, tangy chipotle en adobo sauce on the ‘El-Chapo’. I thought the heat was perfect but my boyfriend is a chilli addict and would have preferred hotter – so let them know at the hatch when you order.

Unlike those 3am kebabs, the fresh, natural ingredients wrapped in light Lebanese flatbreads mean no morning after regrets as you are left satisfied without it being too heavy on your stomach. What more could you ask for?!

Side dishes are often an afterthought and as such, massively disappointing. Not so here. The sweet potato fries were honestly some of the best I’ve tried – perfectly seasoned and beautifully crisp – and topped with the scotch bonnet pink slaw (creamy & crunchy with a gorgeous heat at the end) they made an ideal side. I didn’t manage to try the grilled avocado halves but have heard great things.

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I’m now officially a massive Kebabylon fan and will definitely be back for more. Get down to 1000 Trades while you can and let me know your thoughts.

The Kebabylon residency runs until 18 September at 1000 Trades, 16 Frederick Street, B1 3HE. WEBSITE