The Canal House is launched in Birmingham

Last week saw the revitalising of a legendary Birmingham venue, when The Canal House launched in the old James Brindley pub. The James Brindley had been a Birmingham landmark in the 1990s, but had, in recent times become a bit of an eyesore on the skyline, lying empty for the past 8 years. Now, as The Canal House, it looks set to bring those glory days back, as it is once again a beautiful venue, with great food and cocktails.


We went along on launch night to try the food and cocktails and to soak up the atmosphere, and were not disappointed. It is a fabulous venue, with the large space giving off the vibe of traditional wharfside buildings, with lots of wood and glass. Inside feels spacious with lots of attention to detail, I love the high ceilings that make the place so light and airy, the use of wood for the floors to give a rustic feel, and the fabulous use of glass, whether to create skylights, or in a vintage form in the glass bottles and lanterns that make up the amazing chandeliers (such a talking point). There is also a rather beautiful private dining area that would be amazing for a birthday celebration.

The cocktails are one of the real plus points of this fabulous venue. The Canal House is putting its own twists on classic cocktails, so rather than a Mojito, I had The Cuban Influence, and rather than a Long Island Iced Tea, I had Narrowboat Iced Tea, which was described to me as like Fizzy Cola Bottle sweets in alcoholic form and was just delicious, even served in a glass bottle with a bag of sweeties attached. No Ordinary Labourer was a chocolate/coffee mix that even came with Bourbon biscuits. All I can say is that it was so good I had it twice.

The drinks were divine, a real destination on the cocktail map, but the food easily matched it. From appetisers liked the baked kale and sesame seed crisps (brilliant, with just the right amount of spice) to Homemade Houmous that was served with generous helpings of warm flatbread and crudites, the food was of a high standard, with everything well thought out for flavour and portions. The mains are incredible, from Grilled Seabass brilliantly teamed with avocado, to the famous hanging kebabs that you pour garlic butter over for an absolute taste sensation. I chose to have mine with sweet potato fries, a bit of a favourite of mine, and these are by far the best I have ever tasted. And, if you had room left for dessert, the baked chocolate chip cookie dough was just gooey and delicious, my dream dessert.

I loved my first visit to The Canal House, it is a vibrant, warm and inviting destination that is sure to be a favourite with those who love good food and exciting cocktails. I can’t wait to go again.

How To Make Your Party Go With A Bang

There’s a rather famous song that says ‘It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to’, but if you plan everything properly, there really is no reason to be crying. You need to source a great venue, create a guest list, make sure your food selection is tasty and memorable, and to decide on your entertainment, then everything else should be fine. Your party should be one that is talked about for years, whether it be for your birthday, engagement, wedding, anniversary, hell, people are even holding divorce parties these days.

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Kate Moss knows how to throw a party

Venue

Your venue is important, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Many people are holding parties in their own gardens these days, using a marquee that can be hired just for the event. If you would rather that the noise and mess (let’s be honest here) was away from your own home, there are places like community centres and village halls that can be hired at a reasonable cost. If you have more budget for the venue, you could look at local hotels which often have function rooms to hire. A hotel can often also organise your entertainment and your catering too, which could take away some of the planning for you.

Food

Even if you decide to host your party at home, it does not mean that you have to spend the day leading up to it making sandwiches. An outside catering firm like www.flavourscatering.com.au can address a whole host of catering needs or themes, and can even bring staff if you decide to have your food served as well as catered for.  You can set the budget for your food, being as frugal or as lavish as you decide, and you can ensure that the food will be up to a fabulous level, leaving you just to enjoy your party.

Entertainment

Your choice of entertainment should be a reflection of your taste. Want to dance the night away? Then a DJ would be a good choice. Like something a little bit more refined? How about a swing band. Totally fun-loving and love a bit of a sing along? Then you can’t really go wrong with karaoke. The choice really is all yours, it’s your party after all. I know a couple who held their own rave for their engagement party and totally loved it, and another couple who had a mini festival for their joint 40th birthdays.

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Your party should reflect you, and should leave everyone having had the best of times, and that includes you. After all, who wants tears on their special day?

Trying out #PrezzoLaFamiglia at NewSquare, West Bromwich

Italian food chain Prezzo recently launched a new concept on it’s already impressive menu. The #PrezzoLaFamiglia is a range of dishes that can be ordered in family sized sharing bowls, with more than enough food for a family of four to share. The dishes range from tomato based pasta, to creamy Cabonara, and the method of sharing from a large dish has a rustic charm that is very much the way Italian families share from the same bowl. I was asked to take my family along to my nearest Prezzo, at New Square West Brom, in order to try out the dishes for myself.

The New Square branch of Prezzo is a gloriously stylish building, complete with a spiral staircase. On the Friday night that we went, it was very busy and vibrant, a real destination. We were given a lovely window table, and our waitress was very informed on the special deal that you can have as part of the #PrezzoLaFamiglia meal deal. This is a fantastic offer where, for £30, you can have two garlic breads, two sides, four desserts and the La Famiglia family bowl of your choice. There are four choices of family bowl, Penne Arrabiata, Spaghetti Bolognese, Spaghetti Carbonara or Penne Alla Rusticana. It basically works out at £7.50 per person to feed a family of four – a total bargain.

We started with the garlic breads, these are not the pizza style variety, but individual style, and can come with cheese or without. We opted for the cheese version which was satisfying and very tasty. For our sharing bowl, we went for the Penne Alla Rusticana which is Seasoned chicken, pancetta, peppers and  rosemary in a creamy pomodoro sauce. I thought that was would be a good sharing option as it was not too spicy (no chilli in the recipe), and the addition of chicken would make it a good choice for myself and Joe, neither or whom like bolognase or meatballs.

The Penne Alla Rusticana truly is an enormous bowl of food. My hubby has a huge appetite, but even he was shocked at just how much chicken and pasta you get. Joe is not generally a pasta fan, but the combination of the mild flavour, the creaminess of the sauce and the succulent pieces of chicken were all a big hit with him. He also liked the fact that you can serve yourself, sometimes enormous portions on a plate can put a child off eating – they feel they have no chance of finishing, but being able to serve yourself means you can have a smaller portion, and then another portion if you are still hungry.

From an adult perspective, this was a little blander than I would normally choose, I would’ve liked more garlic or chilli, but totally appreciate that this has to be suitable for all palettes, including young children. That said, it was perfectly cooked, with pasta just soft enough for my taste, and the creamy sauce with the smokey pancetta was very pleasant. We couldn’t finish it all, with even the hubby having to admit defeat.

 

Of course, the best dessert to follow from a huge bowl of pasta is ice cream , or gelato for that authentic Italian edge. The chocolate and sea salt gelato was wonderfully rich, with a dark chocolate flavour. The traditional ice cream was a creamy delicious treat. Suffice to say, the bowls were quickly cleared (I would’ve licked mine clean, but, you know, we were in a restaurant, had to have some decorum!).

We really enjoyed our experience of Prezzo La Famiglia and think it is good family value.

“This post is an entry for the BritMums #PrezzoLaFamiglia Challenge, sponsored by Prezzo. https://www.prezzorestaurants.co.uk/LaFamiglia/