Issue 385
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It's difficult to overstate the level of vitriol that was unleashed in the immediate aftermath of our first ever Birmingham Emoji Quiz. Two years later, in 2019 and against the advice of both our legal team and security detail, we compiled a second, and within hours contracts were taken out on our lives. Sadly, it comes with the territory and, having laid low for a further three years, below is our third and probably not final Birmingham Emoji Quiz. And this time, if you're the first individual (or team) to submit 30 correct answers we will bedeck you with Mr Egg and Snobs pin badges as well as this beautiful Brum buildings print by The Urban Giant, worth £80. The following emojis hint towards landmarks, restaurants, venues or areas in dear old Brum. Number 27 alone will cause riots.
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Brian Homer's photography caught my eye long before I found out he was essentially responsible for the I Choose Birmingham of the early 70s. In 1971 Brian co-founded Grapevine, modelled on Time Out London it contained a mixture of Brum's what’s on info, with news that didn’t feature in the usual press. Sound familiar? Anyway, Brian was, among other things, a photographer for the title. "This was back when Hockley was being re-branded as the Jewellery Quarter," he says. "Snow Hill Station had just closed and the later increase in rail usage was yet to kick in. The canals were still a decaying relic with no indication of the later developments of bars, restaurants and night clubs. On the east side, slum houses and abandoned factories were being demolished. Birmingham was a city that was avoided by many and yet to begin a process of improving its reputation." So, in short, he had a tougher gig than me. Some of the photos that found their way into Grapevine (and a lot that haven't seen the light of day) have been compiled into a new photozine now available from Brian’s website (£7). The above shot shows an alleyway between Warstone Lane and Regents Place in the JQ, but perhaps by favourite is the photo of a man patiently awaiting his train at an abandoned Moor Street Station. Details


There's a moment in Leave The Edges, an immersive, mirror-walled film now screening at BOM, where a ritualistic practice is taking place at an unspecified African shoreline. Shot from a distance, documentary-style (although that doesn't do justice to the beauty of the mis-en-scene), the subjects are slapping the gentle waves and writhing in the sand, the sun silhouetting them throughout. It's hard not to get completely enveloped by it. To forget where you are. To forget you're 8 metres from an adult cinema, a stone's throw from one of the busiest train stations in the country. It's escapism at its finest, but not at its most utopian. Shot by Ghanaian/British artist, Baff Akoto, it places visitors in a reflective space where moving images jump from one African scene to another, weaving together fragments of spirituality and visiting dark truths of empire. The work calls into question our country's history with the continent and the ways that cultures and people have intertwined across the Commonwealth, leading to fragmented identities. At one point a writer sits alone in the centre of the screen, completely parallel to where you're sat. She wrestles with her words as they appear behind her, echoing hard and sitting heavy in the air between the two of you. It's excellent, if you're in no rush. Until April 30   


I don't know if you've ever fallen in love with a brand before you've even experienced their product? I have, and I'm not proud of it. My passion for sleeper hit fried chicken pop-up, House of Hen, is unadulterated, and I've never eaten a bite. Pathetic. I guess that's the Instagram influence, particularly when you see how brilliant their branding is, but, moreover, the power of the most important marketing tool of all: word of mouth. The groundswell of support for House of Hen, that impressed Digbeth with a three-night residency at Dead Wax in December, has registered on the restauranty richter scale and now the Brummie team of two are already hurtling towards a four-night fling in February, with Stirchley's Stir Stores. HoH is a partnership between Rob Jordan and Anthony Duffy, Rob finding time to soft launch the concept way back in 2018, but giving it far more focus now than ever before. The pair have hospitality in their pores, Rob working at Rofuto (during that brief opening period when it was excellent) and Bonehead among many, with Duffy the cook behind the Sunflower Lounge's short-lived and rightly loved soul food kitchen, Big Papa's Beautiful South, which is very much a regular 'were you there when' conversation in Brum food folklore. "House of Hen is all about Izakaya," says Rob, who spent six months eating his way round southeast Asia, even stopping to work on a Malaysian organic farm to top up his spending dosh. "That spirit of post work beers, taking your tie off and ordering a few small dishes. The more people around the table the better, you know?" I know. And I miss it. The menu for their February 3, 4, 5 and 6 pop-ups includes twice fried ssanjang wings, pickled ginger, toasted sesame and scallions and Japanese style chicken popcorn in coconut salt with pickled cucumber and toasted sesame (both £5.95). Essentially their hero item is fried chicken, taken a few steps further on the old gourmet-o-meter than is the norm. That said, almost 50% of all dishes will be veggie or vegan, with hot and sour corn ribs, house barbecue sauce and pickled chillies (£4.95) set to feature. The long term goal is, of course, to have a city centre venue, but until then catch them at Stir Stores or, I'm told, The Ruin when they will return to Digbeth, in March for a month-long residency. For now, book Stirchley by emailing 


For those not engaging with dry January but, perhaps, keener to make more discerning drink choices, Birmingham's bartender-in-chief, Robert Wood, will make weekly suggestions on where best to place your booze bucks and why...

"The long wait until the sun returns has, in many ways, only just begun. If however, like me, you need a little Vitamin D in your diet then look no further than Tierra Tacos and their Paloma (£7.50). Available downstairs, where food is usually the star of the show, this simple highball drink is packed with flavours both true to their Mexican heritage and absurdly fresh in their makeup. The Paloma is a Mexican staple and, due to its ease of preparation yet excellent results, has been a go-to drink for agave connoisseurs for few years now. However, like all simple things it can be messed up if you take your eye off the ball. Cheap tequila will just not do and even worse when drowned in aspartame-laden soda without the addition of fresh citrus. Fear not, Tierra have done all the right things in all the right places. From the legendary La Alteña distillery in sunny Jalisco comes the beautiful and crisp Tapatio Blanco tequila. Joining this tremendous example of Blanco is a pink grapefruit soda from Two Keys, a UK-based outfit making ace mixers to go with worthy spirits. Tierra finish their Paloma with a rock salt rim crowning their towering highball glass and a fresh slice of pink grapefruit and all that is left is for you to book a table, crush one and order another... alongside their excellent Totopos and Frijoles."
Inventive and inspiring Brum jogging collective Run Of A Kind are offering 10% off their running tours, including their street art jog (5km and 8km), their 10km Leafy Brum run and their 12km Best of Birmingham tour. Discover your city and get moving. Use the code "STEPINTO2022" until midnight, January 16.  

Birmingham-made gochujang ketchup, Gochup, is now available from the people behind excellent street food stall Canoodle. Nice branding from Brummie, Omar Budeiri, too.  
Old Crown-based luxey kebab specialist, Bop Kebabs, are doing 50% off everything in January. That's roughly half price everything!
Speaking of kebabs, Greek street fooders and all round nice guys, Street Kitchen, are popping up in Moseley's The Village pub on Wednesday (Jan 19). Book

You can get 50% off food at Vagabond in January. The roasted chorizo, padrón peppers, crispy croquettes and roast hanger steak are menu highlights. 

"Your emoji quiz is sh*t. Unsubscribbed [sic]."

An actual email received in 2019

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WORDS: Tom Cullen, Robert Wood

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