Baked in Brick

September 17, 2018

Those of you who are regulars at Leicester’s streetfood event Canteen* will be familiar with Baked in Brick. Their street food cooked out of ovens in a Mini Cooper have always proved popular and recently they have been acclaimed as the Best of the Best at the European Streetfood Awards for 2017.

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Building on that success they’ve now opened a restaurant, based at Birmingham’s cultural industries hub The Custard Factory in Digbeth. If you’re ever in Brum and in the market for lunch it’s definitely worth the walk out to Digbeth (maybe 12 minutes from New Street, 2 from the bus station). The design might be a bit edgy, with one of those minis careering out of the walls, but on my visit we found the atmosphere is pleasingly cheerful and unpretentious.

The menu focuses on pizzas from the brick oven in the open kitchen. There’s big bags of 00 flour around the place and mountains of tins of san marzano tomatoes – they take their ingredients seriously and you’ll also find local produce such as Lincolnshire Poacher and Colston Bassett Stilton involved. I had their award winning dish of a calzone stuffed with deeply flavoursome beef shin ragu, wild mushrooms, cheese and basil – it was fantastic, right down to the stilton dip for the crust. A fresh salad with mildly smoked burrata and heritage tomatoes was great too, while salty padron peppers, pan-roasted in the pizza oven were the best I’ve encountered.

As you might imagine there’s a good selection of craft beers – I had the Cannonball hop bomb from Magic Rock (I wouldn’t try going back to work after that one) – and a small but good-looking choice of wines. With such quality at around £10 a pizza, it all adds up to a compelling offer.

 

* Not sure exactly what’s gone down here but Canteen has announced it will be moving to a new venue, while previous host LCB Depot has launched its own event Last Friday to replace it. It starts on 28 September and will run along similar lines to Canteen – streetfood, cocktails and live comedy. Canteen has been promising details of its relocated plans but I’ve not seen them yet.

Update 23/9/18:  The new venue for Canteen is to be The Morningside Arena – home of the Leicester Riders and just off Belgrave Gate. The event seems to be going head-to-head with Last Friday and promises more space and less queueing. Will be interesting to see if the audience can grow to support both events.  Here’s a link to a short  promotional film: Canteen

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Conventional Beers

February 15, 2018

I remember a typically droll Daily Mash piece about the local pub that added two draught ales and declared it was having “a festival”. Maybe it was fear of such ridicule that that made the LCB Depot and Gray’s call their event this weekend the Leicester Beer Convention.

20180215_183049In fact though they’ve brought together ten draught beers, four ciders and a range of bottled beers, all made in our fair county. They’ve set it up to coincide with a big weekend of Leicester Comedy Festival happenings.

Ok it’s not the most cosy of venues to spend the evening but this is a great way to help promote local brewers and if you are around and about at the festival Friday or Saturday evening you should pop in and try something. I managed three cheeky halves this evening, including two excellent IPAs,  Nook from Anstey Brewery and Spark from Tollgate. Both of these came in at around 5 per cent and while I like a hop monster as much as the next beardy, these were both more traditional in style  –  clean, fruity and just a little sweet. Even better was the Stout from the West End Brewery, a well-balanced dark beer with hints of coffee and toffee but very gluggable.

 

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Gray’s Mexican dog with pulled pork and fixins.

In-house café Gray’s is putting on decent quality comfort food too – burgers, dogs, loaded fries etc. It opens from 5pm on Friday 16th and from 12pm on Saturday.

If you can’t get along, don’t forget the following Friday – 23 February – is the return of Canteen, the massively successful streetfood night at the Depot. This month marks its first anniversary and traders will include European Street Food Award Winners Baked in Brick and their wonderful chicken tikka, Chinese snacks from Dim Sum Su, a spicy take on fish and chips from The English Indian, gluten and dairyfree panAsian food from Canoodle and grilled meats from Street Souvlaki.

Canteen runs from 5pm and watch out for a Lion dance and other special events. to mark the Chinese new year.

Oh – and yes I realise they couldn’t call it Leicester Beer Festival because there’s already one of those and it’s coming soon…

  • One more thing.  Sadly the vast bulk of my contribution to last night’s Restaurant Rescue ended up on the cutting room floor. The programme makers clearly decided the story they wanted to tell here was about the personality and motivation of Pratik Master rather than the food itself. It was a fairly interesting insight into the restaurant world, though I think Russell Norman’s series “The Restaurant Man” did it all rather better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canteen proves a hit

February 28, 2017

A belated congratualtions to all concerned with last Friday’s Canteen street food event at the LCB depot in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter. This felt like a real breakthrough event for city’s  food scene – I don’t have stats but there must have several hundred people over the night enjoying some really fine food and entertainment. The atmosphere was buzzing, even if the music was little loud inside for old codgers like me, and the food traders all seemed to be getting plenty of custom. I enjoyed a Cambodian chicken and sweet potato curry from Canoodle but there was a wide range of stuff available which I failed to write down – rest assured there’s choice  and it was all appealing.  This free event is set to continue every last Friday of the month from around 5pm onwards.

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There’s been welcome confirmation this week that Canteen – the Street Food night previewed in December at LCB Depot in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter – will continue as a regular monthly “last Friday” event from February.

The next event will be on Friday 24th, which neatly coincides with the Comedy Festival and will feature stand-up as well some of the UK’s top street food outlets parked in the rear yard, a DJ, full bar and a specialist cocktail bar.

Among the traders will be Birmingham-based Baked in Brick, winners of the 2016 UK Street Food Awards. Founded by an alumni of the Le Manoir aux Quatre Saisons no less, they serve Neapolitan style pizzas from a wood-fired oven out of the back of a 1964 Mini Cooper (and grilled chicken tikka from the front).

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The evening is billed as a place for “friends and families, creative types, city residents, students and stressed out city workers to mingle and have a great evening” and judging by the December evening they’ve got the mix right. It runs from 5pm-11pm and entry is free, with children welcome until 9pm. Each trader will be offering a vegetarian offering.

  • One quick note  – it seems to be public news now that the next St Martins/Crafty project I alluded to in an earlier post will be the renovation of the Richard III pub on Highcross St as a high quality dining pub. There is backing from Everards for the conversion and I’m entirely confident that the St Martin’s team will do a great job of creating a go-to dining venue.

 

 

Streetfood at LCB depot

December 5, 2016

Over the years a few people have contacted me with talking about getting a street food event off the ground in Leicester.  It’s not come to anything  – until now.

This weekend saw the launch of Canteen – a monthly event at the LCB Depot in the heart of Leicester’s Cultural Quarter. It has the big advantage not just of an array of hip young  businesses on site, but a yard which is accessible to food trucks. Ok, in December outdoor eating is a bit of a challenge, but everything seems right about this idea and venue.

Organised by the energetic and enthusiastic Ahmed Kage, who’s done this sort of thing a lot in Birmingham, the event  ran from 5pm on Friday and was free to enter. There were four traders, a DJ and a cocktail bar from sponsors Sailor Jerry. There’s also plenty of indoor space for diners in the  LCB lobby and café area.

In-house caterer’s Gray’s were offering triple-cooked chips with a variety oftoppings – Canadian-style poutine, Mexican guacamole etc and a Pakistani chick pea curry version.  Out in the yard were Pluk’d , chicken wing and hot sauce specialists who are soon to open a venue in the city; Home Boys, offering Japanese-inspired street food from Nottingham Masterchef finalist  Pete Hewitt; and Esmie, a tremendous Caribbean seafood specialist from St Kitt’s via Birmingham.

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I wasn’t able to try everything, obvs, but I’ll say the Mexican chips received rave reviews. I  did have  Katsu Sando from Home Boys, a panko-crumbed chicken breast in a bun with tonkatsu , a tangy, sweet, fruity sauce. It was great comfort food on a cold night but I’d like to try something with some more complex  Asian flavours.  Having heard the oohs and aahs from friends I also had to try the Doubles from Esmie (below). These Trinidadian favourites are a loose sandwich affair of two pieces of fried flatbread  with curried chickpeas – Esmie’s versions was sweet, spicy and completely delicious. I wish I’d had room  to try the seas bass fillets, prawns and scallops they were serving up too with rice and peas – maybe another time.

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There was a decent post-work crowd in and hopefully more came along later because this was a good opportunity to try some great food in an informal setting. Watch out for more details of January’s event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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