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Monday, 2 April 2012

Fierce dogs and a meal at Cafe Rouge

My best friend Janette and I went out on a day trip to the city of Birmingham (UK) on Saturday and had a fun time being tourists and we ate lunch at one of the Café Rouge restaurants at Brindley Place near to the canal system and around the corner from the famous Ikon Gallery. We managed to get the train fares for a ridiculously cheap price which was just as well as the price for lunch came as a bit of surprise for us! Curse those desserts!!

In the morning we cruised around the New Street branch of Waterstones’ bookshop (fab staircase) and promised ourselves to come back on the way to the railway station and pick up some great French style wrapping paper featuring Paris. In the meantime we headed for what we thought was the right direction of Selfridges and had to ask two local lasses for directions. "Just head for the Bull n' yo'll be there."

When we eventually found it, we were disappointed to be unimpressed with Selfridges’ Food Hall. It seemed to be lots of overpriced boxes of chocolates and a big area dedicated to wine. There were a few eateries and the only redeeming feature was the counter with the cakes and macaroons. Janette was tempted to purchase a selection of these to try later as she is considering making some herself.

Much more interesting and lively was the open market close to the Bullring and it had great atmosphere with the fruit and veg stall holders calling out their wares. Birmingham is a very multi-cultural city and this ethnicity was reflected in the shoppers, the foodstuffs on offer and the area itself around the rag market and the open food market.

A walk in the light rain back though the city centre, via a great statue of the Birmingham reformer and philanthropist Thomas Attwood and past the new library being built near the Rep and on through to the canal area where there are plenty of restaurants to choose from. By the time we got there the drizzle had stopped.

You just want to put a banana in his hand.

We had already decided to go to Café Rouge (one of three in the city centre). The service was excellent and we had a convivial time together chatting, eating and people watching. For those of you on Facebook check out Café Rouge at this link.!/ Otherwise go to for more details of branches in your area.

For a starter I had ‘Moules Marinières’ - mussels steamed with lots of garlic, shallots, white wine and cream served with French bread. Janette went for the veggie option of ‘Feuilleté de Champignons’ - seasonal sautéed mushrooms with a garlic and cream sauce in a puff pastry

My main was a ‘Saumon à la Niçoise’ described as a - pan-roasted fillet of salmon on a classic Niçoise salad of potato, anchovy, egg and black olive with mixed leaves dressed in a light vinaigrette. The salmon was ok but a bit tough and dry on the ends.

Likewise, Janette said she enjoyed her pasta with goat’s cheese and spring onions and olives but there was a bit too much chilli for her taste.

You have to have a dessert don’t you? We opted for the classics: a Crème Brûlée made with vanilla pods and cream (Janette) and I indulged in the Coupe Rouge, a sundae of white chocolate flake, ice cream and a tangy raspberry sorbet, topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries and light crème fraîche with a warm red fruit coulis.

The service at this branch of Cafe Rouge on Brindley Place was excellent and we both agreed, in that respect, that it was much better than the one in the centre of Nottingham. Zuzanna, our waitress couldn't have been better and changed my tepid coffee on request without fuss. What they thought of us photographing the food, I don't know. I expect lots of nutty people do it.

After a coffee and a hot chocolate we paid the bill and headed for the Ikon Gallery around the corner and were met with a scene looking like The United Nations of little dogs. Bizarre!! Check out this website and you may be slightly wiser about Fierce at Live Art project.

During the visit we had a look around the Ikon Gallery and the Birmingham City Gallery (lovely old fashioned tearooms) and both took a fair amount of photos. Early in the day, on our search for Selfridges, we popped into Louis Vuitton to look at a handbag that cost over a thousand pounds. Well dear reader, it did have a hand stitched logo. My dear old Dad would have been flabbergasted at this (the price, not the hand stitching) and if it had been purchased he would have puffed out his cheeks and said one of his stock phrases, “They saw you coming!”

On the theme of ‘stock’ we also popped into the Old Joint Stock pub that was formerly a bank and admired the décor.

Also, earlier in the day, we had spotted a vendor selling pretzels and we called back on route to the train station to pick one up for Janette’s hubby Rick. It was from Ditsch, a company I’d never heard of and looking on their website they appear to do a pizza in the shape of a pretzel. Can’t say that it appeals though. The pretzel itself (we got two) was very nice, as was the day out with my best friend Janette.
Happy in Cafe Rouge

Janette doesn't like having her photo taken


Gailsman said...

Sounds like you had a whale of a time in Brum. I've been there a few times with work. Once when I went, I met Gok Wan filming outside Selfridge's. I said hello and he signed my train ticket for Gail, as she's a big fan of his.

Janette Jones said...

Fab day with a fab friend - looking forward to our next trip already!

Karen said...

I'm surprised you could both move after all that food. We haven't been to Brum for a few years , but quite liked looking at Selfridges food hall, if only to grumble at the ridiculous prices of all the chocolates. There were only a few fresh food stalls then, so perhaps they don't do so well in there. I remember we had a few samples from various stalls too - including the Krsipy Kreme place.
We love the Museum & Art Gallery best - I'm in love with a Rossetti painting called Proserpine, & have spent many happy times just staring at it, wishing it was mine. And all the outdoor sculptures are wonderful.

Phil Lowe said...

Yes hada great time thanks GM. Sounds like you did too!

Phil Lowe said...

Moi aussi!

Phil Lowe said...

Karen, there was a huge painting in the tea rooms witha Victorian nightscene by a harbour I think. But it sems to have been removed. Perhaps it was on loan when we went.

Phil Lowe said...

Maybe London next?