17-10-2015-Carluccios Birmingham

During our recent weekend away to Birmingham, my friend and I needed somewhere to eat on the Saturday night. We had spent all day Saturday wandering around the shops, spending money on various items of clothing, with intermittent breaks to enable food and drink to be taken on board at various cafes around the centre. We had also enjoyed watching the many performers dotted around the City as part of the Birmingham Festival Weekend. The weather was perfect, and we were having a great time. During the day, we had made it our business to ask different people for ideas for somewhere to go for drink and food that night. The obvious place not to go, it would appear, was Broad Street. Apparently, this is the Ÿ??nightlifeŸ? street of Birmingham, which was described by one lady as Ÿ??vileŸ?, and by a rather attractive Birmingham Policeman as a Ÿ??zooŸ?. We were told, however, of an area called Brindley Place, which was located just off Broad Street. Seemingly, this was an area of eateries of a reasonable standard. It sounded good to us, and we were more than happy to nominate this area as our chosen venue for the night. We finished our afternoon off sat outside the Shakespeare Bar just off the centre, where we thoroughly enjoyed the attentions of the many drinkers who were enjoying the Birmingham sunshine. We watched a group of animal rights supporters boycotting a fur coat shop, along with the inevitable scuffle with the Police as they made attempts to disperse them. This, added to the fun of watching an old guy who was pushing a lawnmower and swigging cheap cider from a plastic bottle (he explained to us that he was a gardener!!) made for an eventful couple of hours. We slowly drank Lager through straws, watched the World go by, and soaked in the atmosphere. Next, it was back to the Hotel, where we sobered up, showered, and got made up ready for the night out. A short walk ensued, the end of which saw us getting into a cab and asking to be taken to Brindley Place. It seemed to be a long way away, but I don’t actually think it was Ÿ?? it was just a very complicated journey due to one way streets and road works. Anyway, 10 minutes or so saw us being dropped off at Brindley Place. The first Restaurant we tried was booked up, so we wandered along a bit further and found Carluccios (www.carluccios.com) which is located at The Water’s Edge, Brindley Place, Birmingham, West Midlands B1 2HP. It was busy, and we weren’t particularly hopeful, but, we were pleasantly surprised when the young lady we approached assured us that they would Ÿ??squeeze us inŸ?. I’m always happy when a girl can Ÿ??squeeze me in!Ÿ? lol. Tables were shuffled about a bit, and an odd chair or two was moved about, and hey presto, there was somewhere for us to sit and dine. We ordered a couple of wine and sodas to be going on with, and set about choosing some food. We had nibbled various things over the course of the day, but hadn’t really eaten properly since breakfast, so we were both hungryish It didn’t take me long to decide that my starter would be prawns marinara – marinated prawns in a sauce of olive oil, white wine, cherry tomatoes and fennel seeds, served with toasted focaccia bread for dipping, whilst my companion decided to tackle the bruschetta – fresh ripe tomatoes, roasted peppers, basil, and oregano on garlicky chargrilled ciabatta. They didn’t take long to arrive, and took an equally short time to disappear! That was round one very quickly and easily over, with us the obvious winners. Round two was soon to follow. For this particular bout, my friend had decided to don the gloves and go fisticuffs against the lamb rosmarino – tender lamb cutlets in a rosemary breadcrumb crust served with cavolo nero, cherry tomatoes, roasted peppers & olives. It looked, and so I am informed, tasted delicious. I, on the other hand, took on a portion of branzino – pan fried sea bass fillets served with a salad of rocket, tomato salsa and barley. As always, we added a little extra in the form of rosemary and garlic potatoes and warm green beans. Both fights were easily won, with us being the obvious victors. Empty plates all round, and slightly fuller bellies being the official result. As I mentioned previously, we had not eaten a great deal during the day, and we had drunk a few lagers, so our appetites were what could be described as Ÿ??healthyŸ?. This meant that desserts were inevitable. It wasn’t a case of whether, it was a case of which! I studied the dessert menu carefully, and eventually decided that I would go head to head with the panna cotta – delicious vanilla and rum flavoured cream with candied orange, and my sparring partner threw a well-aimed punch at the Meringa con panna al frutto della passione Ÿ?? easy for you to say! – meringue with a passion fruit cream, fresh raspberries and a raspberry coulis. Very nice too!! We didn’t bother with coffee, or indeed with any further drinks. We decided it was time to go and explore a bit more of Birmingham! We did both pay a visit to the loos, and I can report that they were perfectly clean and well presented; they were however up a long staircase in an unheated part of the building. Not an expedition I would like to make many times in an evening! We paid the bill (or should I say my friend did Ÿ?? so I don’t know how much to be honest), enquired as to where we could get a taxi back to Town, and said our goodbyes. Next it was Broad Street. Yes, I know, we were warned against it, but that is where the cabs are! So off we wandered into the night wondering what Broad Street would be like. In fairness, the policeman who had described it as a zoo was unfair. It was worse. It was like the Wild West, There were cars cruising up and down the streets with youths hanging out of all windows shouting various opinions, there was music booming out of every club and pub doorway, there were police vans and ambulances parked along the pavement every few yards Ÿ?? not necessarily attending to anyone Ÿ?? just there ready for when they would have to. It was pandemonium. We pretty quickly decided not to bother with a drink, just to hail a cab. Oh no, it wasn’t that easy! You had to go to a certain area where the taxi marshals were and join a queue where you would wait to be allotted a cab. None of the cabs were allowed to pick up fares off the street. The queue was about 3 mile long, and consisted of approximately 3 million people, all under the age of 25 and all pissed. This was going to be fun, I had already thought myself lucky not to have experienced any hassle, but surely my luck couldn’t hold out amongst this lot? In fairness it did. After about 30 minutes, we finally got a cab, and I can honestly say I didn’t receive one single heckle, jibe, or disrespectful comment. I got looked at a time or two, but nothing obvious was said. Birmingham had remained a perfect host City. Back into the Centre, back into a little bar for a drink, and eventually, back to the Hotel having had as near a perfect day as you can possible have. As they say all’s well that ends well. And boy, did it end well! I can only really answer two of the questions we normally ask so here goes: Is Carluccios Birmingham TV friendly Ÿ?? Yes it is, and it would appear, so is Birmingham full stop. I had a brilliant weekend. Value for money Ÿ?? This is the one I can’t answer, but I don’t think it was particularly expensive Ÿ?? I didn’t hear any winging from my partner, so I guess it must be OK. Go again? Ÿ?? Certainly hope so!