Zindiya, Moseley

Zindiya and I have grown up in Moseley together. I’ve been here fourteen months now, replacing them as the newbie in town two months after they opened. We’ve come through hard times together, mostly involving my hangover, occasionally stemming from their oh so fine cocktail list. And it’s amazing living so close to them; it’s impossible to have a bad meal there. I can easily recount the menu from memory, tell you what I want to eat based purely on my mood without looking down at the paper on the distressed wooden tables.

We’re also growing outwards together; just like my waistline after too few gym sessions and too many burgers, their menu is expanding. Which is obviously more bad news for my waistline, but absolutely brilliant news for everyone else. Over two trips I’ve managed to tick off pretty much all the new dishes and I can confirm they are b-a-n-g-i-n-g.

We kick off both visits with Zindiya’s Raj Kachori, a miniature version of the famous Rajasthani dish. The crispy wheat vessel is similar to that of pani puri, but here encases potato, lentil, chickpea, pomegranate, sev, tamarind and mint and coriander chutney; essentially all the elements of their chaat in a little bomb of deliciousness. Think pani puri evolved Pokémon style and you’re on the right track.

I might (definitely) have mentioned before that Zindiya’s chicken tikka is legendary, and it’s now joined on the menu by the Hariyali chicken tikka, a green version with fresh spinach, coriander and mint running through the marinade. Our heated discussion over which of the two is best nearly ended in violence, so you’ll have to be the judge; I’d probably order both to be on the safe side.

Authentic is a bit of an odd term to use whilst eating street food inside a restaurant in a middle class Birmingham suburb, but the moreish rounds of aubergine, fried in crisp gram flour batter and dredged though a sweet-sour tamarind sauce, remind me so much of my sub-continental travels that I think it’s warranted here. It takes the palate to similar places as the crispy aubergine dressed in honey, soy and chilli at El Borracho de Oro (which, if you haven’t already, is one of my Brum ‘must eats’) and is just as good at it’s Spanish cousin.

Keema pav is probably the least exciting of the new dishes that we try, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not good. It’s a comfort food kind of dish – the Indian equivalent of a shepherd’s pie or a chilli – comforting, warming flavours that I imagine will come into it’s own once Britain stops trying to be a tropical country and gets all miserable again.

Zindiya’s sister restaurant, Tap & Tandoor, do a wicked chilli paneer so it’s great to see it on Zindiya’s menu (along with a chicken version for dedicated carnivores). The punchy Indo Chinese sauce is sweet and sour for grown ups; more spice, less sugar and Zindiya’s trademark quality ingredients.

As well as traditional street food dishes, Zindiya like to put their own twist on things. Dessert samosas are nothing new but instead of taking the safe option and stuffing them with chocolate, they’ve used Gajar Ka Halwa, an Indian dessert of carrot, milk, sugar and nuts, as the filling. I know, I know, it sounds weird, but trust me on this one. It works.

I didn’t think it was possible for Zindiya to get any better, but the new menu is so good that I can definitely see some of the dishes ousting old favourites when I order. Either that, or I’ll just get them all. Sorry waistline.

Zindiya is at 21 Woodbridge Rd, Moseley, B13 8EJ. WEBSITE.

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Wing Wednesdays at Original Patty Men, Digbeth

The popularity of chicken wings as a meal is a bit weird, if you think about it. Compared to something like a burger, the effort to volume-of-food ratio is pretty damn high. But irrational as it is, I love a ‘wang’ as much as the next ‘thang’, and it’s good to see more places popping up around Brum to fill the wing shaped hole left by the Butcher’s Social.

One such hole-filler are burger legends Original Patty Men who have turned their attention to the other side of the farmyard for ‘Wing Wednesdays’. I’m not going to write War & Peace about chicken wings, but this deserved a post because OPM have got. it. nailed.

Their menu has four regular choices of wings (Buffalo, BBQ, Gochujang, Alabama), plus a rotating special, currently Chicken ‘n’ Waffles. We ordered them all, but if you’re not as greedy as us then feel free to close your eyes and point; whatever you land on will be world class. There’s tang, heat and sweetness in the various sauces, not a soggy chicken skin in sight and the battered Alabama and Waffle wings have perfect crunch even when doused in white sauce or honey respectively. Oh, and make sure you order fries to scoop up the last bits of sauce once you’ve finished the wings.

Bravo, guys. You’ve done those chickens proud and made hump day that little bit more manageable.

Original Patty Men is at 9 Shaw’s Passage, Digbeth, B5 5JG

Bonehead, Birmingham

I love seeing new independents opening up in Birmingham, especially when they’re bringing something new to the table. Sorry Indian street food, I love you, I really really do, but surely we’ve reached our quota now? I want my chicken any way but tikka, so the news that Bonehead were bringing fried chicken and liquor to Birmingham was music to my millennial ears. A gentrifried chicken shop. See what I did there? You’re welcome.

It’s a short menu and we make a dent into almost all of it in the name of research, starting with wings in a variety of coatings. I like that the chicken is all ethically raised Cotswold White, and the wings are fat and good quality. However I find the original batter anaemic in colour, under seasoned and a little floury. Not the best of starts, but then come the sour and hot buffalo wings with ranch sauce, which have us fighting over the last wing, and the hothead, which have good flavour but are more lukewarm that hot in terms of chilli fire. I can (pretend to) handle my heat, I want more.

Having gone to a chicken pop-up at The Meat Shack which served as a prequel to this opening, I was, in all honesty, a little disappointed by the burger. They’re good, don’t get me wrong; the fried chicken thigh is generously proportioned and would be described as moist if the word didn’t make me shudder. But they just don’t excite me that much. I’d like to see some of the more interesting toppings from the pop-up, rather than the same wing flavours and sauces rehashed into a burger. I need more variety, and a reason to rush back. Basically, I l want some gochujang mayo vibes up in here. Pretty please?

What did make me want to rush back, though, are the loaded waffles; potato goodness dressed in the comeback sauce and a ‘slaw that is sharp and damn-right delicious. They’re more interesting than fries, and a slight 90s childhood throwback which I love.

So here’s the thing; I liked Bonehead and really admire what they are doing, but I didn’t LOVE it. Not like I thought I would, anyway. I can’t see myself craving one of these in the same way that I do with The Meat Shack, or OPM. I can’t see myself waking up thinking about eating one. But the queues on the weekends say this will be a roaring success, and it’s great to see another independent in the John Bright Street area. Unlike many others they haven’t had time on the street food scene perfecting their trade, so given some time to settle into their skin (and some gochujang mayo – I’m not letting this go), Bonehead should be a great addition to Birmingham.

Visit Bonehead at 8 Lower Severn St, Birmingham B1 1PU

Original Patty Men, Digbeth

Credit to Original Patty Men for the photo. I forgot to take any photos because I was so hungover and the food was so delicious.

On Sunday afternoon my hangover was in full swing and there was nothing in the fridge. Original Patty Men was calling my name.

I’m ashamed to say this was my first visit to Original Patty Men. It’s been on my ‘list’ forever and I’ve had countless recommendations but have somehow never made it there. But now I’ve been. And it was amazing. And I want to go again and again and again.

Sadly it was a bit cold to sit outside (goodbye summer…) but I loved the laid back industrial-y vibe inside. The menu is short and sweet with 3 burgers plus specials. Details of the specials & other burger porn can usually be found on their Twitter (@originalpattym).

We went for both the specials; I had the ‘Alabama Slammer’ and he had ‘There will be Blood’.

The ‘Alabama Slammer’ (pictured) was a fried chicken burger available with either a white mayo-based sauce or a chilli sauce made with Pip’s Hot Sauce & butter. It’s basically a McChicken sandwich on steroids. Like, as in, the ‘Alabama Slammer’ is an Olympic gold medalist and the McChicken Sandwich is your dad going for a jog round the park. Because they use chicken thigh, the fried chicken is juicy and delicious and full of flavour. It’s smothered in delicious sauce and served in a Peel & Stone bun. It literally couldn’t get any better. OPM, can you please put this on the menu full time?!

‘There will be Blood’ was black pudding, sauerkraut, pickles, mustard mayo and rigatello cheese. According to him it was “gooey and glorious, the cheese was really melty and it was fucking tasty”.

We also ordered a side of the ODB fries which come piled high with OPM spice mix, jalapeño slaw, sriracha mayo, crispy onions and spring onions. These tasted amazing but I would have added more heat to the jalapeño slaw. I would also have added more sriracha mayo. Because sriracha mayo is delicious.

Original Patty Men may not be Michelin-starred but it is rated THIRD BEST RESTAURANT IN BIRMINGHAM on Trip Advisor (that most reliable of sources) and has 5 stars on Yelp. Clearly no one needs me to tell them how amazing it is but, for the record, it’s amazing.

Original Patty Men is located at 9 Shaw’s Passage, B5 5JG WEBSITE