Chien Lunatique at 1000 Trades, Jewellery Quarter

I’m calling it. Simon Masding is the unsung hero of the Birmingham fries scene. It’s a scene which – admittedly – is a little lacking, but even if Birmingham was a veritable chiptopia I would still bet on Mr. Masding to provide more pleasure per inch than anyone else I know.

It all started back in September with his Kebabylon pop up at my favourite Jewellery Quarter haunt, where I declared his sweet potato fries “the best sweet potato fries I have ever eaten”. I’ve been chasing those batons of goodness all round 0121 ever since.

He’s now back at 1000 Trades for January, slinging gourmet hot dogs made from Lashford sausages (some of the best sausages in the Midlands, if you’d missed that memo) and a variety of toppings that are more genius than Donald Trump on a Twitter rampage. “Do we really need fries?” asked my dining companion. A disgusted look gave the necessary answer; we ordered fries. At Chien Lunatique potatoes of the hand-cut, skin-on variety accessorise the dogs, and at first I’m disappointed because I truly am obsessed with those sweet, sweet, sweet potato fries. But when they arrive it’s love at first bite. Masding has done the double – won the FA Cup and Premier League, if fries had legs and could kick a ball into a net. God, I love the way that man handles a potato.

But enough about fries. It’s the dogs we came for, and they are just as good as the chips. There’s eight on the menu, each utilising a different flavour of Lashford sausage. We slept late – it’s one of those overcast, blustery days when the duvet is reluctant to release you from it’s welcome hold – and so I order ‘The Churchill’, reasoning that it’s technically brunch. Seams of black pudding run through the sausage, and a simple garnish of bacon lardons complete this homage to pigginess. It’s not ostentatious – in fact it’s almost laughably simple – but the use of the best ingredients possible means that this pork-and-bread combo is heads above the sausage baps that I usually stuff in my face after a night on the sauce.

Our other chien veers more towards the lunatique end of the spectrum. The sausage mix is given a decidedly Brummie vibe with the addition of Balti seasoning before being topped with tzatziki, onions and poppadums. I don’t think I would ever have ordered this – my cynical side immediately thought “gimmick” – but I’m bloody glad my boyfriend did. It’s almost as if he knows something about food. It’s a massive punch of flavour, the best six inches of pork anyone has ever served me. I’ll be coming back for more of this.

I could bang on about these bangers for hours, but that would be wasting time of yours that you could be spending eating as many of these hot dogs as you can before Chien Lunatique pops down on 3rd February. Make like a French ski instructor and allez vite!

The Chien Lunatique pop up will run until 3 February at 1000 Trades, 16 Frederick Street, B1 3HE. WEBSITE.

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Lasan, Jewellery Quarter

I used to live almost directly above Lasan. It was the ultimate temptation; my arrival home from work each day coincided perfectly with the start of dinner service. Exotic scents wafted out of the restaurant as I lugged my bag upstairs, causing numerous tantrums as I peered into the fridge and realised dinner would be nowhere near that enjoyed by those seated downstairs.

I’ve moved on since then, and so has Lasan; although you’ll still find it tucked just off Saint Paul’s Square, inside it’s been transformed. Gone is the dark, serious interior, replaced by a light and airy space full of quirky features and ripe for filling with a buzzy crowd. There is a newly formed bar area which gives much more versatility; it’s now as much a place for after work cocktails as for a special meal.

The menu has been revamped too. Some of the old favourites are there, but they’ve been joined by dishes with a bit more heart and a little less fuss. The meal still begins with delicious mouthfuls of pani puri, brimming with chickpea and tamarind, followed by three faultless starters. First, soft shell crab arrives, enveloped by a light chilli batter; it’s accompanied by tomato chutney, sour mango and Devonshire crab which appears via Kerala in delicate crab cakes. Samosas filled with venison are rich and tender, whilst chicken comes in a trio of paté, kebab and drumstick that is beautifully presented and tastes just as good.

Lasan really know how to treat their meat; the mains are proof of this. Slow-roasted lamb shank has a charred coating of spice which gives way to reveal a soft interior which slips away from the bone effortlessly. On the side there is a silky dhal makhani and raita to cut through the richness. Hyderabadi Biriyani is even better, with tender chunks of deftly spiced goat meat hidden under soft rice. It’s as good a biriyani as I’ve ever tried and alone is enough reason for a return visit. The portions are generous, so the side of additional dhal makhani is not at all necessary, but is delicious scooped up with garlic and coriander naans and paper thin Roomali Roti.

Even gluttons like us cannot contemplate dessert, so we finish our wine and depart reluctantly. I’ve always been a fan of Lasan, but I like this new direction; it’s more relaxed, more authentic, with the service and food consistently brilliant. It makes me excited to return.

I dined as a guest of Lasan.

Find Lasan at 3-4 Dakota Buildings, James Street, St Paul’s Square, Birmingham, B3 1SD

Lasan Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Groupon lunch at Henry’s Cantonese 

Having lived on St Paul’s Square for about a year and a half, Henry’s Cantonese is one of those places the other half & I walk past, say “we still need to try there” and promptly forget about.

A couple of weeks ago, on spotting that they had a £16 Groupon deal for a two course lunch for two, we finally paid them a visit.

Henry’s is set slightly back from the square and from the outside is a very unassuming building. However once inside it’s warm and welcoming, with nice Oriental style decor. I was also a fan of their Christmas decorations which had been kept subtle and stylish.

For the Groupon deal, they have a small set menu that you can choose from – 5 starters, 5 mains and 4 sides (each course includes a vegetarian option).

My starter was a generous portion of tender barbecue spare ribs loaded with sweet moreish barbecue sauce. He went for the chilli & pepper chicken wings which were super crispy and flavourful, although slightly too salty for me.

The Groupon menu main courses offered a little less choice, especially as two of the options required a supplement. We went for the sweet and sour chicken & the beef with black pepper sauce.
Originally I wasn’t that excited by the sound of the black pepper beef. It’s appearance didn’t do much to convince me otherwise – it looked a bit like a school dinner version of a beef casserole. I actually couldn’t have been more wrong. The peppery sauce was rich and full of flavour, and the beef was moist and not at all chewy. It was lovely and I’d definitely order it again.

The sweet and sour was a solid rendition of a classic dish; miles away from the neon coloured, super sweet sauce you often get in takeaways. I’m a sucker for a good sweet and sour and I can see why they put this crowd pleaser on the Groupon menu.

The mains come with two sides (we chose egg fried rice & stir fried noodles with bean sprouts). Both again were generous portions which even a greedy couple like us couldn’t quite finish!

Although we had limited choice of dishes I was really impressed with the quality of the food (and the amount we got for £16). I’d definitely recommend Henry’s Cantonese; we want to go back and sample the full menu, and visit on an evening/weekend when it’s a bit more lively. If you’re looking for a good lunchtime deal then this Groupon is a winner as well – keep an eye out as I’m sure they’ll run it again! They also do an Express Business Lunch for a similar price which is definitely worth checking out!

You can find Henry’s Cantonese Restaurant at 27 St Paul’s Square, B3 1RBWEBSITE.

Henry's Cantonese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jazz/Roast at 1000 Trades

I know EVERYONE thinks this, but my mum really does make the best roast dinners. Bar the time the oven broke & she served up half cooked roasties to my new boyfriend, she has truly mastered Sunday lunch.

Now I’ve moved to Birmingham I rarely make it home to Cheshire for Sunday lunch. This means that roast dinners are now a huge treat, so when 1000 Trades invited me to try their new Sunday Jazz/Roast I was super excited. Especially as I’d spent the entire weekend moving into a new flat (which one week on still has no hot water, internet or washing machine…wahhhh).

The weather in Brum has turned pretty chilly over the last couple of weeks so walking in and spotting the open fire was a welcome relief. The atmosphere was cosy and friendly – perfect Sunday vibes.

The simple menu offers two meat options (Shropshire organic roast topside of beef and Welsh organic herb-crusted leg of lamb) and a vegetarian wellington.

They all come served with roast potatoes, Tempranillo-braised red cabbage, seasonal veg, a Yorkshire pudding, gravy and parsnip crisps (mine also came with yummy stuffing, but this wasn’t mentioned on the menu). As you can see from the picture, the presentation is lovely and the portions are generous. I couldn’t wait to tuck in!


The generous slice of herb crusted lamb was beautifully tender and full of flavour. The slight sharpness and crunchiness from the red cabbage gave a nice contrast to the rich flavours, and the other veg were all fresh, tasty and perfectly cooked. The parsnip crisps added texture and made it feel a bit more special – because really, who can be arsed making parsnip crisps at home?! If I was going to make any changes, I would make the potatoes a bit crispier (my mum still wins on these) and as a Northerner I prefer my gravy a bit thicker. Although no one will ever beat my mum’s roast, I reckon this is the best roast dinner I’ve had out and I’d definitely recommend it.

Price wise, the meat options are £13 and the veggie option is £10. It’s not super cheap but for the quality and quantity you get I think it’s fair.

Roasts are served from 12, with live jazz starting from 5pm. Unfortunately I had to leave to assemble an IKEA wardrobe so missed the jazz, but I can imagine this being the perfect backdrop to a roast and a glass or two of wine.

Whether you’re battling a hangover, hanging out with friends and family or taking a break from moving, a roast at 1000 Trades is a perfect way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon. My mum’s Sunday lunch will always rule, but this is a great second!

Disclaimer: 1000 Trades asked me to come & try their new roasts so my meal was complementary. All writing and opinions are mine as always. 

You can get your jazz/roast fix every Sunday from 12 at 1000 Trades, 16 Frederick Street, B1 3HEWEBSITE

Otto Pizzeria, Jewellery Quarter

Since moving to Brum last year I haven’t come across any really great pizza places. Granted, with such a huge choice of bars, restaurants & cafes on my doorstep I haven’t been deprived of a good meal, but sometimes only pizza will do!

Step forward JQ favourite The Eight Foot Grocer, who have converted next door into a wood fired pizza restaurant named Otto, Italian for eight (see what they did there?). AND IT’S LESS THAN 100 METRES FROM MY FLAT!!! They opened last weekend so we headed there on Sunday evening to see if my pizza dreams really had come true.

Inside the decoration is simple and laid back with lots of exposed brickwork and Birmingham inspired artwork – perfect for a casual pizza place. The all important wood fired pizza oven takes pride of place at the back of the room.

I was really pleased to see bottled beer from my favourite Jewellery Quarter brewery, Rock & Roll Brewhouse, on offer alongside their draft beer, spirits & vino.

The menu is short and sweet with an emphasis on quality ingredients and flavours. To start we shared the Charcuterie Board which is served with flatbread and combines cured meats, sundried tomatoes, roasted vegetables and olives. Everything on the board tasted fresh and delicious and the presentation was really pretty. If I was going to be super picky, I’d say that the olives could have had a bit more flavour and I would have liked to have a bit more of the meat on the board but overall we really enjoyed it.

There are six pizzas on the menu plus two seasonal specials. On our visit there was a pumpkin, pine nut and honey special on which I was very tempted by. The pizza only takes 90 seconds to cook in 500 degree heat and it comes out piping hot with a beautifully crisp but soft crust – absolutely perfect!

He chose the Hunter’s salami, seared pepper & olives topping. This mirrored lots of the flavours from the charcuterie board and was really tasty. However it was beaten by my ‘Nduja (spicy pork salami) pizza which was outstanding. The simple tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil base really let the gorgeous ‘Nduja take centre stage whilst complementing it perfectly. The chef told us it was his favourite and I can 100% see why!

The prices range from £6 to £9.50 which is pretty good. I think they also do takeaway and I would definitely order this rather than a Dominoes in future – cheaper, more delicious and closer to my flat!

The service was a tiny bit slow but to be fair a) it was their opening weekend b) there was a huge group eating at the same time as us and c) I was feeling hangry so time was going slowly! The staff were all lovely and friendly and I really liked that the pizza chefs came and chatted to us at the end.

Otto has definitely solved my pizza dilemma and I now feel utterly spoilt having such great pizza within metres of my flat. You guys really ‘otto’ check this place out!

Otto can be found at 14 Caroline Street, B3 1UG. TWITTER

Cheese & Charcuterie Boards at 1000 Trades

Call me crackers (wahey) but I really, really love cheese. It’s one of my favourite foods and I can’t help but regard anyone who doesn’t like it with slight suspicion (see my recent text below). So when Jon & John (the big cheeses at 1000 Trades) invited me round to try their new cheese and charcuterie boards, you cheddar believe that I was excited! Okay, I promise there are no more cheese puns from this point on…

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This new offering will sit alongside their rotating kitchen residency as a permanent menu option. Reflecting the ethos of the wine, the cheeses are sourced from small, artisanal producers both in the UK and continental Europe. The selection currently includes Brie de Meaux, Black Bomber, Applewood Smoked Cheddar, Blacksticks Blue, Manchego and French Goats Cheese.

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My personal favourite was the Black Bomber, an extra mature cheddar made in North Wales by the award-winning Snowdonia Cheese Company. It has a beautiful rich flavour and creamy texture, and is a million miles away from the boring cheddar you get in Tesco!

I was already a fan of Blacksticks Blue as a pub I used to work at serves it in their cheeseboard. It’s handmade by Lancashire based company Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses, who also produce the famous Kidderton Ash Goats Cheese. It has an amazing tangy taste, but the distinctive blue colour marbled through the golden cheese means it also looks great on the board.

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I loved seeing the Manchego on the cheeseboard as I rarely get to eat it unless I’m in Spain and it’s so underrated. Along with the classic French soft cheeses (brie and goats cheese), it gave a really nice balance to the board; there’s definitely something for everyone here!

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Almost as important as the cheese are the accompaniments. 1000 Trades do a great job here, serving up an unusual choice of quince jelly, cornichons, balsamic onions and Peter’s Yard Crispbreads (sometimes including a fantastic black charcoal variety) which complement the cheese perfectly.

The cheeseboard is priced at £8. After checking out some other Birmingham bars & restaurants, where prices ranged from £6.95 to £9.50 for 3 cheeses, I reckon this is pretty damn good.

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Alongside the cheeseboard I also tried the Spanish charcuterie board (£10), which contains a selection of cured meats imported from small scale producers in Spain. With generous portions of quality meats and big flavours, this board was a winner as well. The charcuterie board is served with the same accompaniments as the cheeseboard, apart from the quince which is replaced with basil & garlic olives.

We NEED to talk about these olives because they are seriously amazing. I don’t think I’ve had better in the UK, and Ollie will vouch for the fact that I can’t stop going on about them. It’s worth getting the board for these olives alone!

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I can see these boards being a good lighter dinner for two, or something to share in a group over drinks; you can try some fabulous meats and cheeses and make yourself feel all sophisticated and continental.

Considering 1000 Trades’ emphasis on quality organic wine, I think this is a perfect addition to their menu and it will be difficult to resist ordering one after a few glasses of wine. After all, is there any combination on earth better than wine and cheese?!

Disclaimer: I was invited along to try the cheese by 1000 Trades, so did not pay. Of course, all opinions are honest and my own.

1000 Trades can be found at 16 Frederick Street, B1 3HE. WEBSITE

Bag-in-Box wine tasting at 1000 Trades

I am the first to admit that the only thing I know about wine is that I like drinking it. So the idea of ‘wine tasting’ has never really appealed to me; it has always seemed a bit snobby and pretentious. However, when I saw that 1000 Trades were running a Bag-in-Box wine tasting for only £5 I was quite intrigued.

1000 Trades are a champion of these natural Bag-in-Box wines and I’ve always really enjoyed drinking them. I was really interested to find out more about them so I took the plunge and booked my first ever wine tasting!

The evening was run by Tom Craven of Vinnaturo and Sam Olive of Wine Freedom. Sam works with importers to supply fine natural wine to bars/restaurants etc, mainly in the Midlands area. Tom sources natural wine from farmers, puts it in bags and pouches and sells it. In his own words he “buys wine he likes from people he likes” – sounds like a pretty good job to me!

We started with a quiz to find out where on a numbered scale our palates lay. We then lined up in order and were given a small piece of paper to taste. Some people (myself included) found the taste absolutely disgusting – like when you leave a paracetamol on your tongue for too long – and some people weren’t at all bothered! The point of this was to show how different people’s palates are and therefore how different people’s taste in wines would be. As I was at the lower end of the scale, I am more likely to enjoy lighter, fresher whites than robust reds, which fits pretty well with what I usually drink.

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Tom and Sam then explained a bit more to us about why they choose to import and distribute organic (no man made chemicals except copper & sulphur) and biodynamic (‘supercharged organic’, using spiritual philosophy) wines which haven’t been messed around with either in the vineyard or the cellar. I was surprised to learn that supermarket wine has 1000s of permitted ingredients and manipulations, and part of the reason you feel so awful after a night of drinking wine is the effect of all these chemicals on your body (I have to admit that I drunk a LOT of organic wine that evening and didn’t feel nearly as bad as I normally would. I happily got myself to work for 8.30 without even needing a coffee!). In addition to being better for the people drinking it, natural wine is much better environmentally for the vineyard land and the people who live around it.

They also explained why they put the wine into boxes and pouches rather than bottles. By using this method they are able to make huge savings on shipping, which can then be passed onto the customer. It’s a great way to make really good wine more accessible to more people. Again, it is more environmentally friendly as it cuts CO2 emissions by around 50% compared to importing bottles.

Most of the wines we tried were from grapes that I had never heard of. As the famous grape varieties – Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon etc – have become more and more fashionable, more vineyards have started growing them over the wealth of other varieties (some of which have sadly now been lost). 1000 Trades are trying to introduce people to some of these other brilliant varieties, using the wine list to give you cues on which ones you might enjoy.

My pick of the evening was definitely the Trebbiano. This was a lovely easy drinking white grown in acidic volcanic soil, which actually makes the wine more alkaline. It’s fresh but also has a creaminess due to a second ‘fermentation’. At the time I said I could happily drink this all day. This was confirmed yesterday evening when I managed to put away about 5 glasses in a couple of hours…

I came away from the evening feeling like I’d learnt so much more about wine, without being overloaded with information. The format of the wine tasting, where we moved around and tried wines at our own pace, having conversations with Tom & Sam rather than being lectured, made the evening really fun and accessible. And as if everyone wasn’t already convinced, they brought out a cheese board and charcuterie platter at the end – HEAVEN!

Bag-in-box organic and biodynamic wines are available at 1000 Trades, 16 Frederick Street, B1 3HE. WEBSITE