Although I’ve lived around Birmingham for over 20 years, there’s still so many places that I have yet to discover and I’m making it my mission to try out as many new restaurants as I can, so when I was invited to the press launch of Pasta di Piazza a couple of weeks ago, I obviously jumped at the chance to go.

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Based in Birmingham’s famous Jewellery Quarter, just off St Paul’s Square, Pasta di Piazza is a beautiful building with exposed brickwork, impressively high ceilings and the most wonderful stained glass windows. Pasta di Piazza is not a new restaurant, however they have just undergone a £400k renovation and have recently opened up the top floor of the restaurant allowing for more tables and it has a lovely cosy but airy feel.

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There’s so many delicious things on the menu and it was really hard to choose a starter! In the end, Tom went for the stuffed mushrooms which he thoroughly enjoyed and I had the grilled goats cheese which was absolutely delicious. There were also baskets of bread with butter on the table for us to have along with our starters.

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The star of the show was definitely the mains. Tom went for a seafood dish, the Linguine Alla Marinara –Marinated seafood mix with olive oil and herbs cooked with Neapolitan sauce, king prawns and garlic. Served with linguine. He really enjoyed this dish, however he was a bit disappointed that there was only one king prawn!

As I’m not a fan of pasta, whenever I visit an Italian restaurant I will usually go for a pizza, however I decided I would try something different and chose the Involtino Pollo. The Involtino Pollo is described as –  Flattened, rolled chicken breast filled with ham and provolone cheese with a breaded herbycheese crust. Topped with a light cheese sauce. It was honestly one of the best things I have ever tasted and I could have eaten it again straight away. Everything about it was perfect, from the creamy cheese sauce to the herby cheese crust. I’m now desperate to go back to Pasta di Piazza just so that I can have this amazing dish. I’m so glad I went for something different and didn’t go for a predictable pizza!

Tom and I are both in agreement that Pasta di Piazza is the best Italian in Birmingham. The building and the atmosphere is fantastic, as are the attentive waiting staff and obviously the food is divine. I definitely recommend that you book a table here the next time you want to treat yourself to a great meal.

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Chi Kitchen is a Pan-Asian restaurant located on the third floor of Debenhams in Birmingham’s Bullring. The restaurant features a champagne bar and also has a Grab and Go bar on the first floor. I’d walked past the restaurant many times but had never actually been in, so I was really excited when I was asked if I would like to go along and review it last week.

“The word Chi means energy in Chinese. Our aim, therefore, is to build a brand that not only offers great food, but also provides good energy to existing Debenhams customers, and the new customers that Chi Kitchen will attract. We chose to use the Chinese symbol for fire to represent the brand, which again has a strong meaning behind it. By linking the word Chi, and the fire symbol together, Chi Kitchen plays on the way fire can be converted into energy. Fire also relates directly to the restaurant interior, as our robata grill is a central feature at all of our sites.”

When we arrived at the restaurant, we were seated by the window which was nice as we could look over Birmingham whilst we ate. We had a look at the menu and picked a couple of starters and a main dish each, however the manager came over and asked if we would like to try some more dishes that he recommended and we ended up with a big feast between the two of us!

We started off with cocktails to drink, I went with a mojito and Tom went for a Raspberry Dream which we both thoroughly enjoyed and the manager also bought over a champagne cocktail which was made with mango juice and amaretto as well as the obvious champagne. We both liked this despite not being fond of champagne – the mango juice really sweetened it up and gave it a great flavour.

A selection of starters were brought out to us including prawn crackers with a sweet chilli dip, smoked salt and chilli chicken which was my personal favourite, battered sweet potato fries, wagyu beef kushiyaki, popcorn shrimp and shrimps in a coconut sauce which Tom has been dreaming of ever since.

After filling up on the small plates, it was then time for the large plates to come out. I had picked the crispy shredded beef which was as delicious as I’d hoped it would be and is definitely something that I would go for again. I also chose the chicken katsu curry which I didn’t enjoy as much as I thought I would – I found the chicken to be quite tough although the sauce and the rice were really nice. Tom picked the Korean steak which is served on a chive and wasabi mash which we both loved – the meat was so tender and the mash had such an amazing flavour. We also had the chilli and lime sea bass, however Tom wasn’t so keen on the sauce but said that the fish itself was really nice.

We will definitely be back to Chi Kitchen as soon as we both have been paid – we left the restaurant satisfied and full and have both been thinking of the food since then!

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Last week I was invited along to Tortilla which is situated in Grand Central, which is the newly opened shopping centre above Birmingham New Street station. As well as a new John Lewis, a Tiger and a MAC store amongst Grand Central’s shops, there’s also an impressive food court. I’ve only eaten at a couple of the places in Grand Central before and have always overlooked Tortilla in favour of restaurants that I already know and love, so it was exciting to try something new.

I took Tom along with me who is a big fan of burritos and we were greeted by the manager Mark who was really friendly and welcoming. Mark talked us through the different options on the menu and explained each ingredient thoroughly so we could decide what we wanted to have; he then made our burritos in front of us which was great – it’s always nice to see your food being prepared. We both went for large burritos with coriander rice, however I went for the barbacoa beef and Tom decided to have the carnitas pork. I then added some salsa verde and monterey jack cheese before Mark wrapped the burrito up in the foil.

I’ve never really had a burrito before and I didn’t know what to expect, I was very pleased with my meal (as you can see from the photo above where I’m gazing longingly into my burrito with half of my lipstick missing!) and will definitely be visiting again. The beef was cooked perfectly and I really enjoyed the coriander rice; I wish I’d had some sour cream and some jalapenos on my burrito now, but there’s always next time! Tom went all out with the black beans, onions and peppers and salsa so he ended up having to eat his with a knife and fork! I washed my burrito down with a frozen margarita which was delicious and refreshing, I highly recommend you try one!