It’s not all grim in Birmingham

Shunned by Lonely Planet, neglected by Londoners, looked down upon by Mancunians, England’s second city has forged on and shrugged off these slights. And for its efforts it has been listed as one of 45 places to go in 2012. For the food, of course. I assumed meat-eating tourists would not be disappointed by any of the names dropped in the NY Times paragraph on Brom so I endeavoured to find out which of them would be suitable for an omni and herbivore combo, as Dr Sin and myself could be described.

Of the seven restaurants mentioned, Edmunds, Loves and Simpsonʼs have dedicated vegetarian menus, which was a much more promising start than I had anticipated with my vegan reservations about ʻmodern Englishʼ. Edmundsʼ veggie menu was the most extensive and three of the eight dishes looked either vegan or easily veganisable. Loves say that they always try to provide a choice for diners, whatever their dietary requirements, and though the vegetarian menu is heavily tilted towards the lacto-ovo, the menus change frequently and there will always be at least one vegan dish. They require some notice with the booking for dishes that have to be veganised. When I wrote to Simpsonʼs, their updated veggie menu contained two vegan mains and one of the starters could be adapted for a vegan diet.

The other four restaurants did not have anything vegan on their menus but a smattering of vegetarian dishes could be found. Lasanʼs menu featured no veggie options for mains but did have a few appetisers marked V for vegetarian, the lemon sole curiously also bearing this mark. The kitchen can create something vegan with enough notice given, which should be ample given weekend bookings are taken seven to eight weeks in advance and two weeks ahead for weekdays. Purnellʼs can cater for vegans on their lunch and a la carte menus, with the chef designing a menu according to your dietary requirements. At Opus the menu changes frequently and when I looked there was one vegetarian main. Turnerʼs has a sprinkling of veggie starters and one veg main on its various menus. While they are willing to cater for different dietary requirements as much as they can, they cannot guarantee that dishes will not contain any trace of butter, egg or any other animal-derived ingredient. Top marks for honesty but minus points for serving foie gras.

The Balti Triangle was also mentioned in the NY Times. Every balti restaurant we have been to (which is by no means all of them) uses vegetable ghee and vegans will feel more than welcome with the usually extensive offering of vegetable dishes. After almost a year in our new hood, we have a few faves. We are frequent visitors to Ladypool Road though we haven’t been able to get much further than Al Frash. Outside the triangle, Diwan on Moseley Road is delicious, not oily, great value and BYO. Sylhet Spice in Kingʼs Heath is just as flavoursome but a bit pricier as it is fully licensed.

Until next time,

Mrs Lomez

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