Travelbag focuses on restaurants in Dubai

A quick question for you. On all the holidays you have enjoyed and all the places you have travelled to, where is the best place you have ever eaten? This could relate to travels in Europe, further afield, or in the UK? I have been lucky enough to do some travelling, visiting some stunning and spectacular places over the years, especially before Joe was born. I loved the exciting cuisine of the Far East, especially the street food that costs so little and yet tastes so good, but if I had to pick the best food that I had eaten whilst enjoying a holiday, I would have to say that Dubai had the best, and most diverse restaurants.


Travelbag, the holiday website that helps you plan every stage of your holiday, and tailor makes it to your needs, has recently put together a great interactive map of some of the finest places to eat in Dubai. This is a great tool if you are trying to find somewhere great to eat, somewhere within your budget, or a place that specialises in a certain kind of cuisine. I was really excited to see that two of the restaurants featured where based in the Jumeirah Beach hotel, which is where I stayed with my husband when I visited Dubai.


The Jumeirah Beach hotel had so many different kinds of restaurants (I think it had 18 in total at that time, probably more today.). You could eat English Pub ‘grub’ which included the most amazing steaks, traditional fish and chips,  and a delicious fish pie recipe that I could, quite frankly live on for the rest of my life. There was a traditional Italian Gelataria, which seemed to have ice cream in every flavour, and there was also La Parilla which was the best restaurant of all, a sort of Argentinian Steakhouse with steaks of every kind along with seafood and vegetarian dishes. The food was just amazing, but it was the stunning views that made this restaurant so unique and special.


Have you ever been to Dubai? Where is the best place you have ever eaten?



Social Plates at Gas Street Social

DSCN8297[1]Gas Street Social has been a great addition to Birmingham’s thriving food and cocktail scene and I was very happy to be invited to try out one of its most successful innovations, the social sharing plates. So yesterday I made a trip to Birmingham’s Mailbox to try out a selection of the dishes on the social menu.

The social plates are a range of dishes that are meant to be shared – sort of like tapas, but on a larger scale. The idea is that you choose a selection of dishes to share amongst a group, these can be from a vegetable, meat of fish selection. This is a great idea for lunch or a snack while you are enjoying a cocktail or two. A sharing plate could also be chosen as a starter before a main meal.

If you haven’t been to Gas Street Social before, the first thing I need to tell you is that the place looks great. It is bright and spacious, with a modern industrial feel that starts with the concrete floor that almost has a factory shop-floor look. With an open kitchen and a mixture of tables and booths, Gas Street has a look that invites you to come in. Friendly and pleasant front of house and waiting staff add to the warm vibe the place just gives off.

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We were seated in a booth quite near to the kitchen and I started with a cocktail – my favourite Mojito. This compared well to the best of Mojitos – lots of flavour and plenty of mint. My husband Pete just had a coke has he was driving, but the addition of a carafe of water for the table was a nice touch too, especially as there was no need to ask for it first.


Enjoying a mojito

Enjoying a mojito



We chose a selection of plates from the social plates menu. On Sunday’s these cost just £4 each which is a real bargain – 5 plates costing just £20, so two people can dine for £10 each! From the vegetarian selection we chose 3 dishes:- the Bruschetta, the Sweet Potato Cake and the Tempura Vegetables. From the meat we chose GSS Meatballs and a Social Scotch Egg, and from the fish menu we chose Mini Fish and Chips.

A selection of sharing plates

A selection of sharing plates

The Brushchetta was delicious, lovely thick bread topped with avocado and sun-dried tomatoes. There was also a quails egg which I removed but Pete said was runny and delicious. I’m a real fan of avocado, and loved the fact that the topping was plentiful – this is best eaten with a knife and fork as it could get messy.

The delicious Bruschetta

The delicious Bruschetta

The sweet potato cake was unusual, with a slight undertone of chilli on the first bite that was then balanced with natural yoghurt. I loved this plate, it was one of my favourites, and I would definitely choose this again.

Without doubt, our favourite plate was the tempura vegetables. I love tempura anyway, but adding curried spice tempura to cauliflower, broccoli and mange tout is just a masterstroke. The batter was just crispy enough and the curry was flavoursome. Combined with a paneer and minted yoghurt dip, this was a plate I could order over and over again and never get bored with.

Delicious Tempura Prawns

Delicious Tempura Veggies

The Scotch Egg was Pete’s choice – Eggs are one of my pet hates, but Pete adores them, and totally loved this. A large egg cut in two, the outside was crispy, with a lovely flavour of black pudding coming through. The addition of beer ketchup gave this the perfect accompaniment. The second meat dish was the GSS Meatballs. These were served with hearty foccacia that was definitely needed to mop up the hearty tomato sauce. The meatballs themselves were really tasty, succulent pork and beef with just the right amount of seasoning to avoid the blandness that I often find with meatballs.



Scotch Egg with Black Pudding

Scotch Egg with Black Pudding

Our final choice was the delicious fish and chips. With minted peas and tartare sauce, this was the traditional favourite done really well – crispy batter and thick cut chips that were fluffy and soft on the inside. This is a decent sized portion too – you could easily choose this one for yourself as a light bite lunch.

Fish and Chips Social Plate

Fish and Chips Social Plate

The social sharing plates at Gas Street Social are a great way to try new things that you might not order as a full sized meal, and to make your meal a real social occasion – sharing is such a social activity.

Gas Street Social can be found at 166-168 Wharfside Street, The Mailbox, Birmingham B1 1RL
TEL: 0121 643 0362

A few unusual places to dine

There is nothing I like better than dining out, either for brunch, lunch or dinner. I love many different kinds of cuisines and have a few restaurants that I would consider ‘favourites’ from Bellagio’s Italian restaurant in West Bromwich, to Thai Orchid in Birmingham, and quite a few different places in London. But as much as I love to revisit my favourites, it is also great to try new, interesting and unusual places to eat. Here are a few new ventures, interesting ideas and pop-up’s in the world of food.

Bunga Bunga London

Bunga Bunga is based in Battersea and is named for Silvio Berlusconi’s ‘Bunga Bunga Girls’. I haven’t yet tried this restaurant, but, with our Italian name and background, I really want to. This is an Italian themed pizzeria that takes icons of Italy and incorparates them into your dining experience – the bar is gondola shaped, the doorway is an Italian phonebox and they do a Godfather inspired horses head cocktail. What’s not to love? (Visit Bunga Bunga website here.)


Nomad at the Kitchen Garden Cafe, Kings Heath, Birmingham

This is one you have to try for the unusual menu choices. Nomad is the new venture from Brummie chef Alex Claridge. It opened last month at the Kitchen Garden Cafe and offers a very unusual and eclectic tasting menu of five or 11 courses with such varied dishes as Reindeer Moss, miso, olive, white chocolate, caramel, seaweed and ewe curds, sea buckthorn, treacle oats. (Visit Nomad site here.)


UKIPT All-In Kitchen

A pop-up restaurant that combines poker and gourmet food is the concept of this food delight. The All-in Kitchen is such a fun idea, whether you’re a poker rookie, or regularly frequent the world of Super High Rollers. The concept is so simple. First you play three hands of poker. Then, what you pay for your meal is based on how many chips you have at the end of those three hands. That could be £10, £5 or absolutely nothing, all complements of PokerStars. This means that you could enjoy a meal for just £10.

The menu has been created by Jones & Sons, and includes dishes like a ‘Royal Flush of King Crab Thermidor’, ‘Queen Scallops accompanied by Salt Baked Swede and Bacon Marmalade and ‘4 Of A Kind of Lamb Chops, Rump, Kidney and Shoulder With A Rosemary Jus.’

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All-In Kitchen

Pokerstars Restaurant pop up (13)

Dans Le Noir? Clerkenwell, London

A restaurant where you eat your meals in total darkness, not actually knowing what you are putting into your mouth. That is the weird, wonderful, rather surreal world of Dans Le Noir, based in Clerkenwell. The restaurant enhances the other senses  by taking away sight, and offers food that is mostly fresh, natural and/or organic. You choose from 4 surprise menus. I think this is a restaurant that you would be talking about for quite some time, even if you couldn’t describe the decor! (Visit the website for more information here.)


Where is the most unusual place you have dined recently?