Lisa & Pann’s Kitchen, Birmingham – Guest Reviewer Miranda Heggie
Lisa and Pann's Kitchen at The Pig & Tail
12 - 13 Albion Street, Jewellery Quarter. Birmingham B1 3ED
07533 886988 www.lisapannskitchen.com
2 courses for two £29.10
Cooking 7/10 | Service 4/5 | Flavour 4/5 | Value 5/5
Although the last year has had its challenges, one thing which has been a positive is the creativity that’s abounded through people’s ability - not to mention need - to be resourceful and adaptable. From Michelin starred take-aways to cocktails freshly made by expert mixologists delivered to your door in biodegradable bags, the hospitality industry has certainly seen its fair share of innovation surrounding the pandemic. With most pub kitchens closed for months, several of Birmingham’s have played host to takeovers by smaller food outlets producing takeaway meals. One such kitchen was that belonging to The Pig & Tail, a bar tucked away on a corner of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. Lisa & Pann’s Kitchen, a Caroline Street cafe serving English breakfasts and Malaysian lunches, moved into the Pig & Tail kitchen at the beginning of March serving Malaysian, Thai and Japanese food to takeaway. And, now outdoor hospitality has opened back up in England, they’re serving up their fabulous food in Pig & Tail’s newly revamped courtyard.
What a joy then, last Thursday, to be able to go out for dinner. Sure, it was outside (indoor hospitality doesn’t open south of the border at all until 17 May) but luckily the weather stayed dry and just about warm enough to enjoy an al fresco evening meal. Their courtyard is a lovely, quirky outside space with a few tables for two dotted around, and several more for groups of up to six. Drinks are prepared at an outside bar in the corner, ordered via scanning a QR code and served to you at your table. Those of you in Scotland should start freeing up some space on your smartphone now and updating your online payment details, as every pub seems to use a different app or online ordering platform. I get it, it’s very Covid safe, it’s convenient, but call me old fashioned - it just seems weird to have to use so much technology to get a pint. Cash feels oddly antiquated, and queueing at the bar is, for now at least, a thing of the past.
Anyway, I digress. Code scanned and card added, we ordered two pints of IPA from locally owned independent brewery Attic. I don’t tend to be much of a beer drinker, but the novelty of a draught pint is one which I’m very much enjoying at the moment. Pints secured, we scanned the (separate) QR code for the kitchen, bringing up a wonderful menu of South Asian delights. From their small plates section we ordered some chicken Gyozas - pillowy yet crispy Japanese dumplings - and Karipap Pusing, Malaysian curry puffs. The curry puffs comprised a flaky, almost croissant-like pastry encasing minced spicy chicken and vegetables, and were delicious - it’s easy to see why these often sell out. Gyozas were lovely too - perfectly crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. For mains, Iain opted for Katsu Chicken, then questioned himself on why, for his first meal out in months, he ordered chicken and chips. That didn’t stop it from being very tasty though - the chicken was coated in Japanese panko breadcrumbs, served with a sweet but tangy katsu sauce and fat, white udon noodles. And chips. I went for Kampung Style Fried Noodles - stir fried noodles with chicken, vegetables, pickles and homemade sambal (chilli paste) topped with a fried egg. The freshness of the onion and cucumber were nicely offset by the spiciness of the noodles, and the egg yolk added to the gorgeous stickiness of the sauce while the white’s crisp edges were delicious dipped in the sambal.
Everything’s served in (environmentally friendly) takeaway boxes, and while I would have preferred a plate, in reality that’s the only way everything would fit on the table. And with the total food bill coming to under £30, I really cannot complain. Not dealing with a whole load of crockery probably makes it easier for staff too, who are running a pretty slick operation here with a very small team. There were only two members of Pig & Tail staff, one preparing drinks and one serving, and from what I could see only two in the kitchen. Service was speedy on the whole, though part of the trouble with online ordering is you can’t see how big the bar queue is, and we placed a couple of orders at inopportune moments.
It’s great to see independent venues open and busy again, especially when it’s a partnership of two local businesses such as this one. I’ve been saddened to see on Pig & Tail’s social media they’ve been experiencing a fair number of no-shows since reopening; shame on you, whoever you are! Also - you’re missing out. Good booze, good food and a great atmosphere,
this outdoor space is a real post-pandemic gem.
The very lovely Miranda Heggie no longer needs an introduction (and she can also be guaranteed to boost the readership). Publication day coincides with our first meal out post lockdown. I was facing either a rush job to meet deadline, or yet another golden oldie. Then, unbidden and out of the blue came an offer of today's piece, immaculately written, and delivered ahead of deadline. Thanks again, Miranda. And Tom's Food! agrees wholeheartedly with her comments about the no-show brigade. Unacceptable at any time: unforgivable at the moment.
Tom's Food! will return in about a month.
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