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Review: Isaac’s Restaurant, Birmingham

Fancy a bit of New York in the centre of Brum? We've found just the place - a buzzy new bar and restaurant in the centre of town, and it's got a big Veganuary menu, but did it pass the Muddy test?

THE LOWDOWN

New kid on the block, Isaac’s, is right at the beating heart of Brum. It opened last summer along with the Grand Hotel in which it resides, after a whopping £45million refurb. And ever since this New York-style brasserie has been making waves on the local foodie scene with its all-American menu and snazzy decor.

THE VIBE

We stepped through the quirky graffitied door and straight into a vintage-style upscale New York bar stacked high with wooden stools and green metro tiles. Leading through into the restaurant the theme continues, think chintzy green leather sofas, low lighting, the obligatory subway tiles and pictures of the Big Apple adorning the walls.

We visited on a chilly Thursday night in the middle of January but that didn’t stop the steady flow of diners from early on. Most looked like groups of friends or couples, which figures, because this place has intimate seating for a date night, but is buzzy enough for a catch up with the girls.

SCOFF & QUAFF

I’d heard great things about the menu (think lobster, steaks and seafood platters), but went along to try out its Veganuary offering. And of course I had to take my plant-powered friend along for the taste test.

To start we went for mixed olives with pickled fennel, which were just delicious. I’d recommend ordering one (generously sized) dish to share with your drinks to pick at while you peruse the menu. We then went for the avo dip with homemade nachos and I may have strayed slightly from the vegan menu to try a Wedge Salad which these guys are infamous for. It’s a perfect blend of creamy, tangy and crispy. A real treat.

For mains we struggled to decide so were given the entire Veganuary menu to sample – indecision won the day! So, we rolled up our sleeves and tucked in. The Butternut Squash Mac n’ (no) Cheese was a really rich and filling dish though the chunks of roasted veg felt wholesome and it was topped with a seasoned crumb. It was a creamy foil to the sticky and sweet Korean ‘no chicken’ Chicken and the ‘Dirty Dog’ hotdog. If you like your sauces light, you may want to ask for less or the toppings on the side rather than how it comes – engulfing the main event (which was deliciously indulgent in my book but may not suit all appetites).

The real start of the show was another sauce-ladened belter – the Sweet Potato Poutine. Crunchy fries dripping in gravy and cheese with big chunks of jalapeños (that were just thr right level of spice and not too hot).

There’s only one vegan option for dessert – but it’s a goodie. Chocolate Doughnuts – perfect little doughy balls of goodness topped in a chocolatey sauce with lovely splodges of vanilla cream for dunking in. You really wouldn’t know it’s dairy free.

The drinks list too is impressive. There’s plenty of choice of wines, including lots from American vineyards to go with the theme of the place. We went for a crisp bottle of fizz and a cocktail each. Our lovely, and very knowledgeable waitress Malwina offered to make us something to our tastes, so mixed me a Whiskey Sour (probably the best I’ve had in Brum) and a fresh and tasty Caipirinha for my friend.

OUT & ABOUT

Its Barwick Road location is great if you’ve caught the train (New Street and Moor Street stations are about a 5 minute walk away), and it’s a stone’s throw from some buzzy pubs and bars if you’re making a night of it. Check out The Alchemist or The Lost & Found for cocktails and The Old Joint Stock if a pub is more your vibe. The Hippodrome and Alexandra theatres are within walking distance too if you’re heading to see a show.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

GOOD FOR: Obvs, vegans, and those doing Veganuary but with a good appetite. Isaac’s other menus look delicious too though so the carnivores in your life will be well catered for with dishes like Grilled Whole Lobster or the Short Rib Burger.

NOT FOR: It’s more of a grown-up vibe so maybe leave the kids at home and go for date/mates night instead.

THE DAMAGE: The Veganuary Special menu is great value, costing £14.50 for a main, dessert and glass of wine, beer or soft drink. Definitely room in the purse for one of those cocktails too (£8.50 each).

Isaac’s Restaurant, 28 Barwick Street, Birmingham, B3 2NT isaacsrestaurant.co.uk, Tel: 0121 827 9670

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