Amantia restaurant. 

I love this restaurant,  situated on Bennetts Hill literally 3 minutes from new street station in the old Sun Building, the iron gates still bare the Sun logo.  It’s  always great food, great service and a lovely atmosphere.  

The food is very authentic,  the tapas are perfect sized for getting a good selection and sharing.  (I recommend  3 tapas per person)

The decore is stylish shades of purple and very romantic for a dinner date, not overly noisy and yet never too hushed this is a great venue for couples. 

A well stocked bar is always  a plus, Amantia do serve a huge selection of Gin &Tonics Spanish style ,  although they also serve a great sangria too. 

A cosy little waiting area is located beside the bar looking out of the large window making this the perfect spot to meet a group of friends too. 

Dining here tonight we were quite a substantial crowd so I got to try a huge variety. My tapas choices tonight were a  beautifully cooked chirizo sausage in a rich and tasty red wine sauce, potato bravas with a light and delicate tomato sauce, cheese and potato croquet,  calamari served with mayonnaise and lemon (perfect). Other dishes were on the table but I had to leave space for the paella. Having had the paella here before I knew just how nice the chicken and rabbit version was and tonight didn’t  disappoint but I also had a chance to try the seafood and that was super nice too. Generous portions of prawn, mussel and calamari made for a wonderful meal. 

                   Seafood paella 

               Chorizo in red wine

Don’t hesitate to try this restaurant,  and if you think Mediterranean  food is only for hot summer days, comforting winter warmers are currently on the menu and very much worth trying. I absolutely recommend  the chirizo in the red wine sauce with a portion of potatoes, dieting can wait for the warmer weather for now.

Ikon gallery and bar

First things first, what a beautiful building,  a victorian school house which has been converted  to a wonderful gallery by the addition of uber modern glass stairways and glass flooring upstairs but  maintains all the  old schoolhouse charm  at the same time. Light, bright, small enough to enjoy without missing any exhibits but large enough to  feel you’ve had a good mooch  and got your dose of culture in an hour, this is a gallery I shall be heading to on a regular basis. A lovely place to finish your tour of Ikon gallery is the café bar,   this small bar has ample outdoor seating,  a good menu and  friendly staff. 


   My take on Monet girl behind a bar.

We enjoyed a few glasses of wine here and some tasty nibbles but the full menu looks great and so many people were enthusing about the breakfasts at Cafe Opus I think I will have to visit again very soon.
Simple decore which is reminiscent  of a 1970s living room and not the most comfy of seats this little bar is the perfect end destination  of a tour of Ikon gallery and overlooking the square you could enjoy your drinks outside whilst people watching.

                  View of the square.

Being part of the Opus group you can use your Opus loyalty card here too.

A completely different  vibe to Bar Opus , Cafe Opus is relaxed and  family friendly,  the menu offers 3 course children’s menu for £6.50 and 5% of the money they take goes towards Ikon Gallery so you can feel good when you are enjoying a fish finger sandwich. Take the family and surprise  them with the  unique singing elevator, I know I’ve never experienced  anything quite like it! 

New Street  station and lunch at Pho.

This  is such a massive improvement  on how it used to be. It was dingy,  concrete  and very much the worst of  1970s archetecture, but now it’s just like the future I was promised as a child! Light, bright and airy with a very futuristic feel thanks to the led lights in the ceiling around the massive skylight.very much puts me in mind of spaceships 🙂 It just feels nice to be in here now.  Plenty of places to shop, eat and drink means you can easily while a way a few hours if you’re stuck between connections at the much improved  train station.  

Amazing skylight and plenty of shops.

I appreciate  the beauty of the shiney clad exterior every bit as much as the cathedral  proportions  of the interior. It’s such a massive change and a really nice way to let visitors to Birmingham  see just how modern and beautiful our city really is. A great representative of a city that is  ever reinventing itself, hopefully  this will go some way to quashing the rumours of Birmingham  being an ugly, grey concrete carbuncle.

Having picked my daughter up from the train it was time to explore the plethora  of new eateries at Grand Central and we decided Pho (pronounced Foo i am informed) smelt very tempting.

Only wanting a light lunch as I had a big evening meal planned,  noodles seemed an inspired choice. 
The food was really good, a big bowl of vermicelli  noodles in a spicy broth ( you get the choice of spicey or less spiced)   with a variety of vegetables  and some generous  chunks of meat ( I opted for the chicken noodles and my daughter plumped for king prawn)  topped with bean sprouts , shredded carrots, onion and finely chopped chili. We both had the spicy  and it was very tasty. The waitress explained that our dish was not served hot but room temperature,  but the noodles and broth were both adequately  hot, the salad on top did cool it but it was okay for me. (Once you have been a parent you really do forget what hot food is and I have always been ok with lukewarm meals)

Service was relaxed and bearing in mind it is located in the train station they maybe need to rethink the speed of Service, luckily we was arriving and not departing . 

The homemade lemonade is certainly worth trying and in my opinion that was a 10/10  neither too sharp nor too sweet. 

Nice enough food and a good size portion for only £8.  My daughter already informed me she wants to eat Vietnam  food again before she heads home. Being in a great location for the traveller Pho will do well but if my daughter wants Vietanames food again I think the food is better at Sung Tuoi . But horses for courses and Pho is so much nicer than a sad sandwich bar if you want to eat a Grand Central,  the slowish service didn’t put me off at all, it was lunchtime and busy. 

We enjoyed our meal, although we didn’t try the desserts there was a selection of desserts on offer too. Maybe next time eh.

Chi kitchen in Debenhams

Chi Kitchen is located on the third floor of Debenhams and is a beautiful space with floor to ceiling windows, decorated in contemporary  blues with an open kitchen. 
Chicken curry. Special fried rice with egg.

Salt & pepper squid. Coconut prawns.

The food on offer is a variety  of Asian foods so there really is something for everyone. From mildly spiced and super tasty curry to sushimi and sweet gyoza for desserts, food is fresh, light (they proudly  boast of no msg) and tasty. 
The prawns in creamy coconut sauce are a treasure, I was just frustrated that they came out after duck salad with watermelon, chicken curry, special rice, various little dim sum treats and salt & pepper squid to name but a few of our dishes. 

Full bar.

Attentive  staff were replacing dishes and taking away empty plates, fetching drinks and full of advice on all the meals. Owner Eddie made himself known to everyone and was a charming man, his passion for good food is obvious. 
Chi kitchen is just perfect for lunchtimes but I shall be taking Keith there for our next date night, although the large round table in the middle of the restaurant  is the ideal party table if you’re out with a crowd. 

Fresh fish.

Yet another jewel in the foodie crown for Birmingham,  don’t let Chi Kitchen be a hidden gem. It’s worth remembering  that they also have a breakfast menu and a great cocktail menu. Don’t pass Chi Kitchen off as just another department  store diner, once you are seated you will forget you are in a store within the Bullring shopping centre.

Rose Villa Tavern

​I have been here so many times that I really can’t believe I have never posted a review.  

 RVT is a stunning looking pub with a very traditional look to its interior,  nice old tiles on floor and walls, stained glass windows, a dark wood bar area and it also boasts a nice enclosed courtyard, small but perfectly formed and some outdoors seating at the front so as you can enjoy a spot of people watching. 

We particularly  liked the outside as my hubby joined us after walking our dog and the dog was allowed to join us too, although we sat outside as he was a bit muddy. (I do know of pubs that do not allow dogs, even in the outside space) 

RVT has a great cocktail menu as well as a good  selection of ales. I really enjoyed my Pink Ladyboy  , a zesty gin based cocktail very much like a Tom Collins in its lemonyness  but obviously  it’s pink! And it’s frothy due to the inclusion  of egg whites. Keith commented that his IPA  that I had ordered for him was a great choice as it was such a nice beer too. So what better end to a Sunday afternoon than enjoying a drink with friends and a muddy dog.

RVT also have a large screen that rolls down so as to show big games on, not a TV but a projector type screen so it only comes out for certain matches and doesn’t intrude on the pubs lovely old interior the rest of the time. I have been here with friends when a rugby match was showing and it certainly had a great atmosphere . 
Now to everyone else RVT is just a nice pub, but for me it will always have a special place in my heart as we came here for the first time after we had ordered my engagement  ring  and we had a meal, just typical bar food on offer, hot dogs, burgers, salads and Chili’s  but good size portions and fab value. 

A lovely pub I’m always happy to go to,  as it seems every time I have been here its always been such a cheerful event with friends or just as a couple.

The new cocktail menu was being launched so if you ever need an excuse for a visit what better time than now. 

Las Iguanas

​This Brazillian  restaurant  is a great choice for families, super tasty food in a very relaxed and child friendly environment.  

If you like Mexican   I can  confidentiality  say you will enjoy the food choices at Las Iguana,  spicy but not hot,  tasty food.  
Keith and I called in on Sunday afternoon and it was fairly quiet with a family celebrating a birthday tucked into the conservatory  side, a nice area where the windows continue over the ceiling  giving a lovely bright niche. Several large booths which can also accommodate a crowd make for a really family friendly venue. 

We were seated in the back where we could  see the barman mixing up the cocktails,  they do have a good cocktail menu.  We both enjoyed a Dark & Stormy, a rum based cocktail which was refreshing with lime and ginger beer and served in a jam jar. Great value too as we were there for happy hour which offers two for the price of one ( both cocktails must be the same) 

I can’t remember  what what Keith meal was called but the chicken and crayfish in a spicy peanut sauce was theatrically  presented in a large bowl placed over a warmer,  the more than genorous sized portion being kept hot until the end. I had a quinoa salad with the most delicious  cranberry salsa, that really zinged , sprinkled with some tiny, fruity, flavoursome  Chili’s and black beans. With carrot and parsnip crisps  there were some serious flavours.

Keith finished with an Aztec hot chocolate  fudge cake which is served with ice cream,  sadly it was more a warm chocolate  fudge cake but it tasted great. 
The decore  is bright colours, plastic chairs,  vibrant tiling and nothing plush or breakable so that’s why I think it’s a great choice for families with younger children.  The lavatories were clean although a little hidden away. 
After our meal we found we had about 40 minutes spare time to kill so we ordered  another drink, made with a sugar cane spirit I had it served with raspberry and crushed ice, Keith opted for the same but served with pear juice.  It was nice to find something new and this friendly restaurant  had a few surprise in store in both the food and the drinks menu. 

A lovely layered coffee, rich but oh so sweet to finish,    with the bill at £54.  Las Iguanas  was a great choice for dinner before visiting the Glee club.

Donny Osmond at Genting arena

When I was very young and a massive  Donny Osmond fan, as almost every girl was in the 1970s I made myself a promise that I would one day have a date with Donny. It took some 40 plus years but Friday 3rd February  I made good on my promise.

We bought tickets last year and February  seemed so long away but at long last I actually got to see my first love in the flesh. 

Not only did Donny give a wonderful show  but his personality  shone throughout, this man is gosh darn perfect. He is still as incredibly handsome as he ever was, he is a talented singer, very funny with a great sense of humour and his love and gratitude  to his fans was obvious.  After all without his army of fans he would not be where he is now. So Donny dedicated  about 30 minutes of his show to answering questions, singing requests and coming into the crowd for hugs, kisses and photo opportunities.  What a genuine star! The show started at 8.00pm right on time and straight to the main act. The air was heavy with HRT and the men were outnumbered 300/1 Donny fans all seemed to be ‘women of a certain age’ (my age!) 

He covered all his hits, I sang along to Puppy Love,  Crazy Horses, Young love and Moon River. He talked with affection about his home life, his brothers, his childhood and his beginnings on the Andy Williams show. 
I was also able to enjoy some of his newer songs and a superb rendition of Any Dream Will Do  from Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour  Dreamcoat  where we were treated to Mr Osmond wearing the actual Dreamcoat and wig from the stage show. 

With a big screen to make sure we didn’t miss a thing,  unfortunately  for us our seats were far from great and there was a couple of speakers right in front of the big screen, but nothing was going to put a downer on this long awaited date with Donny. 

Whilst answering questions from his legion of fans Donny had a request from one lucky lady who was at the Genting arena on her wedding anniversary,  she had Donny serenade her inches from her face with a hug at the end, another request came from the back of the upper level seats. Was I super impressed with Donny when he clambered up the barriers from the lower level so as to serenade yet another fan? Oh yes! At 59 he is still in great shape. 

It was the perfect night, sadly we had to hurry away for the last train just before the end of his last song but he had been on stage for almost 3 hours by then and the last train was at 11.15 and it is quite a stretch of the legs to get to the train station.

I rather cheekily tried to negotiate  a discount on my program, it was after all the last night of his tour and at £15  it was the same price as other show programs,  we had a chicken wrap from Theos  at the Genting which at £6.50 was pretty good value for a captive  audience, sadly my wrap must have been hanging about for some time as it was very dry and hard but I enjoyed the chicken and salad, Keith’s  was soft and fresh. A glass of bubbly at Frizzenti  at New Street station on our way could have been embarrassing  as I had forgotten it is a cashless bar and Keith had not taken his debit card but a lovely lady paid on her card for us and we gave her the cash. 

It was a lovely evening and I am thrilled I got to see my first love and that my current love was not at all jealous. A DVD was being filmed at the Birmingham  leg of this tour and I look forward to buying a copy of it. February  3rd was a night to remember. 

Ozzy Osbourn was playing with Black Sabbath at the Genting arena on the same night, I wonder if the two Mr. O’s  met up and had a chat? It’s hard to find two more polar opposites than squeaky clean Donny and Ozzy! The sound proofing must be pretty hardcore as I didn’t hear so much as a peep from the other half of the arena. I presume  the Genting arena had been divided into two, but as it was my first visit here I’m not sure. 

Friday was a perfect night, one I will remember  for ever. I’m so pleased that my first love is every bit as perfect as I always knew he would be.