Eating out has become a pleasurable minefield of willpower and indulgence. Priti Modi discovers whether eating out can be tasty and healthy
Dedicated to the best in all matters vegetarian, Warehouse Café is an alternative eco-friendly venue which boasts ethically-sourced drinks like lemon and mint alongside specialities like hazelnut lattes and mulled wine. Maggie, my charming waitress, was proficient in translating unusual ingredients such as tempeh (fermented soy) as well as explaining the benefits of chia seeds and how they aim to offer the freshest dishes in the city. Some of our favourites here are the cassava fried (think oven chips made from a wholesome source) and the deconstructed raw cheesecake. Mains wise, if you want to up your protein game, opt for the daal, a warming and gently spiced lentil dish served with brown wheat flat bread. An innovative spin on modern day vegetarian cuisine, watch out for their food events and collaboration with local schools.
Authentic and modern Italian food served in opulent surroundings, Fumo offers a fine selection of specialty seafood. Based on an Italian eating style called Cicchetti (pronounced chi – ket – tee) and similar to the Spanish tapas, several medium-sized dishes are meant to be ordered per table; the true way to eat. As imagined, each dish is served piping hot and full of flavour. Street food (high-end obviously) including Sicilian arancini (filled rice balls) and gamberoni (king prawns) are a nice alternative option for those looking to try something a little different. Expect the usual pasta and pizzas but the menu is so varied, it includes many specialty dishes such as Piadina (well-dressed flat breads) and vegetable sides doused in the finest olive oil. The quality of ingredients was clear and the service style attentive. Look out for the seasonal menus and yummy toppings on the mini bruschetta.
This successful chain was established by vegetarian culinary guru, Mr. Damien Davenport, so even before trying the food, you know it’s going to be something rather wonderful. Recently refurbished, 1847, situated within the Great Western Arcade, offers everything from tasting menu evenings to fixed price and lunch menus. I sampled the squash and whipped feta appetiser (dusted in sumac) which was packed full of flavour. For mains, I opted for winter veggies with coconut, which was both visually appealing and filling. Sides include superfoods such as wilted kale and fresh savoy. Even the desserts include fruit from the tropics such as burnt pineapple and pomegranate. Overall plenty of healthy choices, try the nuts to nibble on which were delicately spiced (get your good fats in.)
Located riverside of the Mailbox, Vivaanta (meaning to live well gracefully) is a premium Indian restaurant headed up by chef and owner Shah Alam (who also runs the award-winning Malabar in Walsall). The food is predominantly south Indian, however Alam brings in other Indian influences from his time spent traveling. Expect everything from sizzler dishes, 100 per cent fresh (not powdered) garnishes and seafood cooked in the most sumptuous bases minus the use of ghee (clarified butter). Specials like quail, venison, rabbit and game are available and all food is lovingly prepared in oils such as coconut, rapeseed and groundnut, for flavour and nutritional purposes. Expect top-notch sauces including scallop bisque puree and spices handpicked to heighten taste and cleanse the palette. Definitely no mango chutney needed here. Vivaanta is all about fine dining and depth of flavour. Portion sizes are ample and the lamb chops were the highlight of the evening, not fatty just seasoned to perfection. To date, it was the best Indian restaurant I have been to in Birmingham!
See more of our top picks in issue 48 – out now and online