Pull up a seat at Cosy Club

What does an English Garden, Lemon Drizzle Cake and Sparkling Duchess have in common I hear you ask? Nope, I’m not giving you tips on which horses to bet on during this year’s Grand National. They are in fact a spectacular assortment of cocktails available at one of my all-time favourite bars, Cosy Club.

Situated on the site of a Grade II listed former banking hall on Bennetts Hill that was built in 1830, Cosy Club opened its doors to Brummie’s in 2015, offering “mansion splendour meets village hall eccentricity.” The quirky restaurant and bar has been a popular ‘chill-out’ hub for me and my friends ever since and we can regularly be found tucking into a juicy burger or sampling one of the delicious gin based cocktails here.

What do I love about Cosy Club? The ambience is one thing. Walk in through the big double doors and you’re welcomed by jazz music and interiors that sit somewhere between art deco mixed in with your Aunt Deidre’s curtains which haven’t been changed since the 1600’s. It does what it says on the box, delights in eccentricity. It blends British aristocratic furniture with glamorous 30’s materials and strangely, it seems to work.

Cosy Club is a ‘go-to’ place for me when I’m in need of brunch, lunch or dinner, thanks to its extensive choice of gluten and dairy free meals. Despite there being a large selection of dishes that can be altered to suit my dietary needs, I always seem to opt for the same almost every time – The Classic burger with a beef patty, lettuce, beef tomato, red onion, gherkin and burger sauce.

I’ve also tried the Pan Fried Salmon Fillet with green beans, sugar snap peas, pak choi, roasted potatoes and a green chilli, lemongrass, coriander and lime dressing which was delightful, as well as the Black Angus 80z steak with thick cut chips which was both tender and flavoursome.

Breakfast is just as good. Being gluten free means that whilst my friends gobble down a Full English with all the works, I am often left with a pitiful meal of just bacon and egg. The Cosy Club breakfast on the other hand delivers the full package, minus the sausages and hash browns, which really hits the spot. Soya milk is available, giving you the option to enjoy an after eight coffee or teapot of good old builders brew.

The lounge at the back of the restaurant offers a place to take refuge in when you want a quiet drink and a chat and the building does boast private rooms for parties, cocktail masterclasses and Murder Mystery nights – which judging by the hidden corners and Cluedo style deco would be a believable place for Professor Plum to dispose of Colonel Mustard.

There are multiple Cosy Club restaurants across the UK and each one has its own personality. The one in my old uni town of Leicester for example is not really up my street due to its casual café layout, but the Birmingham one, with its two storey restaurant and candle lit tables is the perfect place for an aperitif or post-meal martini on ice. Just sit back, relax with a drink and enjoy the friendly atmosphere that Cosy Club has to offer.

We salute you, or not? Rack ‘a Ribs at the Smoke Haus

Some people buy clothes on payday, head out for a night on the town or for a little pamper session. Me, I head straight down to a local steakhouse and gorge on a nice piece of sirloin or BBQ ribs. It’s an expensive habit, but similar to my love of gin and all things delicious, it’s one that I just can’t give up.

Due to my love of steak and ribs, I tend to be pretty critical when I try a new place. I’ve been to America three times and eaten the best steak I’ve ever tasted at a place recommended to me called Manny’s Original Chophouse. It promises the best steak in town (what US of A steak house doesn’t?!) and it didn’t disappoint. In the UK, my favourite place for steak is Miller & Carter and my favourite for ribs is Gas Street Social.

I was pretty excited therefore to hit The Smoke Haus in Brindleyplace recently. With a slogan that says “we’re all about delivering the big flavours of authentic American barbecue,” you can be forgiven for expecting big things.

On arrival, you’re met with a very typical American steakhouse scene. You know the stuff – Harley Davidson, black and white photos of Hollywood stars, French’s classic yellow mustard on the table as a prop to convince you that you could indeed really be in America and not the middle of Birmingham.

Décor aside though, it was my birthday, I was hungry and so I decided to order the biggest and most impressive looking rack of ribs I could find on the menu that were gluten free. Introducing the Jacob’s Ladder, a full four boned slab of pure barbequed meat and a side order of sweet potato fries.

“Jeepers” I said in a polite but not completely true Scooby Do exchange to my friend, “I wish I’d not eaten lunch.” At nearly £25, the ribs presented to me could have fed a small army and his pack of dogs.

One of the reasons I love ribs is because it’s proper finger food. Unfortunately, it’s not the sort of grub you can order when you’re having a civilised meeting with someone unless you feel comfortable with them seeing you eat like a wild animal. The Jacob’s Ladder however, was not finger food, it was so big you had to slice through each layer from the top. As I got down to the middle of the ribs the marinade had completely disappeared – I was left slicing through thick and sometimes fatty chunks of meat similar to when you use a carving knife to dish up the beef for your Sunday roast. I felt then that The Smoke Haus probably focused more of its attention on quantity over quality.

Going back to my earlier statement, I’ve been to America and I know how big their portion sizes are, although some of the best ribs I’ve tasted have been big enough to satisfy your hunger pangs but small enough to leave you wanting more. The meat should literally fall off the bone and the marinade should have soaked through long enough to leave a tangy after taste once you’ve finished. My mistake, I think, was ordering the biggest thing off the menu. It became more of a competition to see how much you can eat rather than an enjoyable experience.