Rub me up the right way… visiting Rub smokehouse and bar: Birmingham

Living in Wolverhampton and loving food provides you with a bit of a problem. With the odd exception of a few gastro-pubs there aren’t really any stand out places to eat out and have the option to order something out of the ordinary, just the usual chains and a few knock offs of those chains. This doesn’t apply universally as there are a few cafes and things that are pretty good but Wolverhampton does have a habit of leaving you stuck for places to go. That is however unless you hop on the train to Birmingham.

Birmingham city center is luckily only a 20 minute trip down the line and offers a lot more choice when it comes to food and drink, so this week my friends invited us out for a wander and a bite to eat at the new ‘Rub’ restaurant on broad street. To give you a bit of background, Rub is a small chain of American style diners that seem to be very much focused on bringing an authentic experience to the high street with their huge portions, sweet/savory combinations, slow cooked meats, burgers and fried chicken that US cuisine is famous for. It looks like a recipe for success doesn’t it? the question is does it deliver?

We got there at around 6:50pm and walked into the foyer where we were greeted by two staff members and shown to the lift that takes you into the restaurant, the decor as you enter the building is modern and interesting, with artificial grass style carpeting and chip board walls that lead you into the elevator. The lift (which also has artificial grass in it) took us up to the top floor and opened its doors to reveal a booming hive of activity that graced my senses and notified me that I had most certainly arrived!

First impressions were that the place was buzzing with activity and it had a real fun factor without feeling too juvenile. the intriguing decor from downstairs was continued with tables and chairs that looked like they were made from pallets and painted intermittently, yellow and blue. The place has a great aesthetic and I really liked it. Sitting down and looking at the menu was a little bit of a task as the menu is so huge, this combined with my large appetite creates a bit of an issue, as being so spoiled for choice can be frustrating at times. The contents of the menu however did offer a good range of everything you would want from an American inspired restaurant including things like corn dogs, ribs, mac and cheese, hush puppies and slaw.

After much deliberation we decided upon a large sharing starter called ‘Born in the USA’ to begin with that we could share between the four of us, which consisted of a bowl of pulled pork nachos in the center of a platter that held four chicken wings, onion rings, pork crackling, garlic bread, mozzarella sticks and a selection of dips, finished off with four potato skins filled with bacon and cheese. Needless to say that if you were to order a few drinks this could easily sustain you all night on its own between two people, between four it was just enough. The potato skins were good, not too filling and not overdone as I cannot stand skin on potatoes that have shriveled up and dried out due to waiting to be thrown lazily out to a customer for hours upon hours in an oven. Everything else was pretty textbook really although the nacho’s stood out as the party piece. At first you don’t actually realise they have any pulled pork anywhere near them as it is buried deep within a cheesy, guacamole smeared corn chip crust. Only upon digging do you strike gold, or in this case, low and slow pulled BBQ pork that melted in the mouth and really set everybody up for the next part of the meal, which seemed to bode well so far.

It took me the entire time we sat eating our starter for me to choose my main and I still changed my mind when the waitress took my order! I ordered the ‘Rub burger’ which is the bog standard house beefburger but added a few extras to turn it into something a little bit more special and interesting. The beef burger came in a brioche bun branded with the Rub smokehouse logo and was filled with the following extras: beef brisket, caramalised red onions, bacon and blue cheese and I switched the fries for sweet potato fries, this turned it into a little bit of a mouthful to say the least. Upon receiving it everything looked great and it delivered in terms of its aesthetic, however the actual burger itself wasn’t by any means the best burger I have ever had. I ordered the beef medium rare but it was fairly dry and the texture wasn’t as good as I would have hoped, but it wasn’t a bad burger, just a few minutes past how I like it. The brisket was the star though as it redeemed the meal some points that the burger had lost, very much like the pulled pork it just wilted away when it was given the slightest tug and almost completely gave up on having any sort of resistance the moment you started to chew it. Finishing the burger off nicely was the blue cheese and bacon which gave it a much needed salty richness that elevated it a few levels and gave it the extra dimension that it needed, paired with the crunchy sweet potato fries it was a very enjoyable experience indeed.

Given all that I am sure you can understand dessert was not really an option this time but the menu looked interesting enough, including an item called the ‘Kitchen sink’ which you guessed it… come out in a small aluminium kitchen sink. extra points for having a sense of humour! speaking of which Rub doe not seem to take itself too seriously which is nice, the atmosphere is relaxed throughout even if it can get a little bit loud sometimes, you never feel overwhelmed or claustrophobic. There are little quirks to found like the sign to find the toilets that reads “for those that tinkle and for those that sprinkle” with the corresponding arrows to men’s and ladies bathrooms, the quirky cocktails and desserts that come out of the kitchen with what can only be described as fireworks hanging out of them (literally). The only downside is that it’s the type of place where the staff seemingly maul people on their birthday with the raucous rendition  of ‘Happy birthday to you’ while serving their dessert, and I kind of hate that. But that is more down to me being a miserable old fart at the ripe old age of 26.

So in summary the staff treated us well and were attentive to our needs, the food was not by any means perfect but it was a thoroughly enjoyable meal on the whole. The time that we spent in there on a busy Saturday night didn’t feel like we were being rushed out of the door while the food was hearty and satisfying, it was pretty good value for money at the same time too as including drinks between four of us it came to around £90, which, in Birmingham city center is pretty much about average. It was a restaurant that needs to be visited really to see if it is your type of thing but it is certainly mine. This place is a must visit in a big city with lots of really good restaurants that provide great food, and that is high praise in itself.

Ratings:

  • Aesthetics and feel – 4/5
  • Service – 4/5
  • Foods ‘wow’ factor – 5/5
  • Food quality – 3.8/5
  • overall satisfaction -4/5

Total = 20.8/25

Birmingham’s new rising star is a must visit and I encourage anybody to give it a go

Burgathon edition #1: Southern american soul meets british beef

Hi everybody,

This post marks the beginning of a series of 3 recipes in celebration of the Burger, be it lamb, beef, pork or chicken as long as it is tucked up nicely in a bun of your choosing with a few tasty accompaniments it can really make your day tucking into a wholesome, home made burger.

The reason for this trio of meaty creations is my truly amazing experience in September competing in the grand final of the battle of the burgers competition… What more would somebody need to inspire them to carry on making something than to do what you love with some really great people. The smells, the taste and the textures always get me exited when it comes to any food but nothing brings out my inner child like a big, juicy burger.

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My experience in London was bordering on life changing, I met some fantastic people and felt like I came away a better cook. I took my A game and I came away proud of how well I had done, now having cooked for JB Gill from the boy band JLS, also wasn’t too shabby to put on my culinary CV. I made two appearances on local radio, one of which was back to back with an interview with JB, so that was interesting to listen to! My 15 minutes of fame did not go to my head though I promise.

So really quickly here is a picture of the final Bengal Burger, I was incredibly proud of it and will be back next year for sure to try and take the top prize.

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That brings us to the new recipe I have written for the first recipe of the burgathon. I call it the Mardi Gras burger and it is a tip of the hat to the bustling streets of New Orleans and the zingy kick of the Cajun and Creole styles of cooking that give southern America its soul and heart. I have combined the warmth of Louisiana style liquor with the zap of tangy tomatoes to create a sauce that is the perfect blanket for the spiced up beef burger. I hope every bite takes you straight into bourbon street, the trombones and whistles ringing in the background of your mind while the Cayenne crackles away, warming your inner Cajun!

The Mardi Gras burger

Ingredients:

The Mardi Gras burger sauce

  • 1 White onion, Diced.
  • 2 Tbspn Olive oil.
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced.
  • 125ml Southern comfort/ Spirit of Louisiana liquor.
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes.
  • 2 tbspn brown sugar.
  • 3 Tbspn Worcester sauce.
  • 1 heaped tbspn good tomato ketchup.
  • Large pinch of sea salt.
  • 1 Tspn white pepper.

The burger

  • 600g lean steak mince.
  • 1 1/2 tbspn Cayenne pepper.
  • 1 tbspn Smoked paprika.
  • Large pinch sea salt.
  • Large pinch black pepper.
  • 2 Tbspn olive oil.
  • 4 slices of smoked cheddar.
  • 4 Good quality seeded buns.
  • Handful of mixed salad leaves.

Method:

Firstly you will want to get cracking with the sauce.

  1. Put the oil into a large frying pan and bring to a medium heat and spread the oil out evenly.
  2. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the garlic starts to soften and becomes fragrant.
  3. Add the Southern comfort and simmer for 5 minutes until it reduces to half its volume, cooking out the majority of the alcohol.
  4. Add the tomatoes, sugar, Worcester sauce, ketchup, salt and pepper. Cook on the medium heat for an additional 10 minutes, stirring regularly until the sauce thickens and the tomato juices reduce and begin to emulsify.
  5. Take off the heat and leave to cool, then drop the contents of the pan into a food processor and pulse a few times. This will give it a thicker consistency and thicken it up a little.
  6. Empty into a small container and put to one side to await its meaty vehicle.
Before and after... Father and son.

Before and after… Father and son.

For the burger…

  1. Combine the meat, cayenne, paprika, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix well with clean hands.
  2. Split and roll into 4 evenly sized balls.
  3. Pat the balls down into approximately 2 cm thickness and lay on a plate, cover the plate with cling film.
  4. Refrigerate patties for 20 minutes.
  5. Preheat a griddle pan on a medium heat. Pre-heat your grill too.
  6. add a dash of oil to both sides of each burger and gently rub it in.
  7. Place 2 patties at a time on the griddle and cook for around 6-7 minutes on each side.
  8. At the end of the second sides cooking period, add the cheese to the top of the burger and leave to melt for a further 2 minutes.
  9. Take the Burgers off the heat and leave to rest in a warm place for 3 minutes.
  10. Cut the buns in half and grill each side until slightly browned.
  11. Add the mixed leaves to the bottom part of the bun, followed by the burger, top it with the sauce and cap it off with the top half of the bun.
This sucker got soul!

This sucker got soul!

Now tuck into the zingy little beast and enjoy with your friends and family. This baby has real soul!!… Can anybody hear a brass band!? I look forward to next week as number #2 is certainly a porky little number!

Phil

Anglo/ cajun burrito

I came up with this recipe recently and its fast becoming one of my favourites. I really do feel Mexican and American influenced food is totally lost on British soil in the vast majority of cities, there is the odd street food vendor or independent that has a genuine passion for it but there aren’t many (if any) chains that I know of that really provide any sort of creative, exiting westerly influenced dishes. So I like to get inventive and make something tasty with a bit of a southern American vibe now and then, this one really hit the spot for me…Its cheap. its easy. and don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Its also doable with things I trust you may already have in your house. The best part of this recipe is that it is totally adaptable and customisable to your own tastes so only use this as a template if you like, get creative. Add your favourite peppers, different varieties of beans, fresh chili, amp up your heat. its all up to you, But keep reading to get to know the basis for your next western adventure. I will add a slight disclaimer, this isn’t a traditional style of burrito. But feel free to use kidney beans for a more authentic feel.

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The essential ingredients:

6 flour tortillas

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 can baked beans

500g turkey/beef mince

1 heaped tablespoon of Cajun spice mix (Available at most supermarkets)

2 tablespoons of chopped coriander

2 tablespoons of cooking red wine

2 medium sized chopped chili peppers (red and green for a little colour)

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1-1.5 tablespoons of smoked paprika

pinch of sea salt

Your choice of strong cheese, grated, approximately 100g

Method:

1) Add the beans and tomatoes to a pan and bring to a simmer on a medium heat.

2)Place the mince into a pan on a medium heat with a little oil until it starts to brown.

3) When it starts to simmer add the Cajun mix, red wine, the sea salt, paprika, mince, garlic and chili peppers. Stir gently but thoroughly.

4) Cook together in the pan on continuous medium heat until it really starts to bond together and the turkey is cooked through. This is usually around about 20-25 minutes. Stir regularly.

5) Once it is cooked through, turn your oven on at 180 degrees/ gas mark 4. Heat a frying pan or griddle pan on medium and place a tortilla on for about 15 seconds each side.

6) Spoon the chili mix and a sprinkle of cheese into the middle of the tortilla.

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7) Fold over each of the sides, leaving about half an inch between each side.

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8) While keeping the side folds steady, take the bottom lip of the tortilla and press it to the top lip.

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9) With a firm but steady hand, slowly drag the contents back so that it gathers in the bottom part of the tortilla.

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10) Roll over completely to lock it together. Wrap snuggly in tin foil and place in a tray. Repeat 6 times!

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I will be updating this with a video soon to help as it can be tricky.

11) Put the wrapped bad boys in the oven for 10 minutes to really get rockin’

12) Remove from the oven, unwrap and serve with rice or eat stick them on a platter and let people pick one up for themselves. I love these, comfort food in its best and simplest form.

This one is a little messy and a little crude but I have to say its one of my many guilty pleasures and great for a hearty, fun meal for the kids! I hope you enjoy them.

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Phil