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A Wong, Victoria, London

I am meeting some colleagues in London to discuss a visit to China last year so I suggest, naturally, that we convene at a Chinese restaurant. I selflessly flag up A Wong, which I have wanted to visit since The Guardian’s Marina O’Loughlin gave it her seal of approval a couple of years ago. O’Loughlin has …

Purnell’s in Birmingham

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, prevent the critic from barking with a juicy bone… Because I think I’ve already had it: Birmingham’s Lunch of the Year. I know it is only July, but I can’t see how my experience at Purnell’s is going to be topped. Of course it might …

Spanish tapas at Amantia in Birmingham

The bread pretty much tells you everything you need to know when you dine out. If restaurateurs don’t get the bread right, they are playing catch up before the first dish hits the table. It matters if the loaves or rolls or swirly creations are made in-house. It is a restaurant’s way of saying: …

Wings and kimchi pork baps at The Butchers Social in Harborne, Birmingham

Pop-up restaurants represent one of the most refreshing additions to the UK dining scene of the past five years – and one of the most annoying. Temporary restaurants in sometimes vacant, sometimes partly occupied premises, have given young chefs and hipster entrepreneurs low-cost opportunities to test the market. Do black pudding …

The Cross, Kenilworth, Warwickshire

Starter envy, it’s the pits. It is not unusual to grow insanely jealous of a fellow guest’s plate of food at any point during a meal, but when it happens at the get-go it is torture. It usually sets the tone – the “I’ve-screwed-this-up-badly” tone – for the entire dining experience. And that …

Min Min, Southside, Birmingham

What can you buy for £7.80? Obviously, you can pick up a classic album, possibly two. For example.. and I find this hard to believe … you can pick up “Guilty” by Barbra Streisand (with help from Barry Gibb) and Barry White’s “The Collection” for a combined price of £7.20. Isn’t that …

Henry Wong, Harborne

It was a dining conundrum. Joining us was our 18-year-old, Polly, who I hadn’t seen for two months since she  started at university. It was the longest we had ever been apart. That’s a big deal for a dad. Clearly, Polly had been missing me tremendously. When I messaged her to ask what she …