A New Autumn Menu at Ask Italian

It’s been a really REALLY long time since I’ve visited an Ask Italian. In fact I think I’ve only ever been once before, possibly back while I was university, and I don’t remember it that favourably. Therefore when we were invited down to the new Ask in Stratford-Upon-Avon to try some of their new autumn menu and kids menu we were keen to try it out, especially as Imogen LOVES pasta.

I was impressed with the decor of this new venue, much better than what I remember of the older Ask’s  which were quite stark and white. The restaurant space was warm and welcoming with twinkling lights, plant vines and a mix of booths and tables. They are very much geared up for kids and families, but more on that later on.

The menu was actually really appealing, with more interesting sounding dishes than I expected. One of their new drinks, a Peach V&T (essentially a vodka tonic with added peach liqeuer) kept me company while I had a browse!

The kids menu too was funned the ‘do it yourself’ way of building your meal is great, especially for slightly older children.

We chose Crudites and Breadsticks with Tomato Dip for Imogen, followed by some Cartwheel pasta with tasty tomato sauce. Again, for slightly older ones, the ‘dip and dunk’ pasta sounded great! Imogen pretty much demolished the whole lot, so a thumbs up from her!

We chose some of the new additions to the staple menu; TUSCAN BEAN SOUP and PUMPKIN ARANCINI were our starters.  My negative head, when in comes to chain restaurant was expecting a bland soup and heavy arancini but I had to bite my tongue as both starters were packed with flavour and perfectly proportioned.

For mains Lee tried the SAUSAGE CANNELLONI  – he was impressed with the herby sausages and kick of heat to the sauce and really enjoyed the dish. I had The PENNE ARRABIATA, quite a staple on Italian menus I guess, but this one was done well with a lovely chilli hit and depth to the sauce.

It was definitely a day for desserts as well, and the BAKED CHOCOLATE GNOCCHI and CHOCOLATE ETNA were good ways to finish the meal feeling mega stuffed, although quality wise didn’t quite match the savoury food.

The Christmas menus at ask sound like good fun and good value with options at £19.95 or £24.95 for 3 courses, with a Vegan option too.

Now don’t get me wrong, this food isn’t fine dining and isn’t necessarily trendy, but it does taste pretty good. I really do think chains have upped their game in the last couple of years to compete with the new up and coming places, and lets face it, they needed to so it’s really good to see.

Family Friendly? Very. One of the best chains we have been to for this with this restaurant in particular having ample changing space, offering to pop you pushchair somewhere safe for toddlers, or letting you keep in right by the table for little tiny ones. The menu is well priced with various options, there is a kids pack with colouring and they even brought imogen over a balloon, which let her learn her first lesson in static electricity (see below!)

Thank you to ask for hosting us to try out the new menu in return for some honest opinion. No further compensation was received. 

Review: The Brasserie at Pennyhill Park

On our recent stay at Pennyhill Park for a friends wedding we didnt want to stray far from the hotel the evening before, so opted to have a meal in the Brasserie restaurant. The Brasserie restaurant is the more relaxed offering at Pennyhill, the other restaurant is Michelin Starred The Latymer. Given that they probably wouldn’t allow a 13 month old in a michelin starred dining room, we opted for the former! The dining room itself is lovely and overlooks some of the grounds with mellow moody lighting, great for a relaxed meal, not so great for my photos!

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Review: The Fighting Cocks, Moseley

Since we live in the north of the city, we don’t often get to explore areas like Moseley as much as we should. We have visited the Fighting Cocks before a few years ago with friends, but I didn’t really remember much about it. So when we were kindly invited down to take a look at the new menu we were keen to see what this old pub had to offer.

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Review: The Meat Shack

Given our usual tardiness at checking out new places in Birmingham these days, you’d be forgiven for not expecting this review for another year or so. But occasionally we just go and pull it out the bag!

The Meat Shack have recently opened up a permanent place on Thorp Street (near the Hippodrome) so we went along a couple of days before our holiday to check it out. Randomly, Lee used to actually work in that same building many moons ago when it was another restaurant, so the space was strangely familiar yet very different.

There’s a nice small selection of drinks – Lee tried a Sadlers Peaky Blinder.

But let’s get to the food. We’re no strangers to The Meat Shack’s ‘filthy dripping goodness’ burgers, with their never ending lines at street food events underlining just how popular they are. I can’t say I’m not glad to be able to sit and wait for that cooked to order burger though, rather than stand!

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I ordered the Buffalo Blue burger – with blue cheese, american cheese, candy bacon crumb, iceberg, red onion, blue cheese dressing and frankys buffalo sauce. I’ve had this one only once before and love the salty and spicy combination so much.

Lee went for a Dutch Piggy – dripping such cheese, american cheese, streaky bacon, iceberg, red onion, pickle, ketchup and chipayo, one he had not tried before, but kept up their reputations for being some of the best burgers in the city.

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We also tried the Shack attack fries (skin on fries with green chilli relish and Holy F*ck Suace) and sides of onion rings and frickles (fried pickles). We looooooved the Frickles, which made a great addition to the burgers. The fries, although nothin wrong with them, could have been so much more, which was our only (very minor) criticism.

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The burgers certainly live up to their tag line and as usual we loved every single bite. The city is a really great place now for burgers, with these guys and OPM doing a trade down in Digbeth so let’s hope there’s room in the city for both to thrive!


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Review: Wagamama Birmingham New Street

Wagamama is now one of those high street staples, along side Nandos, Pizza Express etc. You can find them in every major town and city and then some.  Despite this, it’s somewhere I’ve only every been twice before. Once when I decidedly hungover in Manchester  many years ago and really couldn’t have given two hoots what I was eating, and once a couple of years back when we were a bit underwhelmed with the food. With only these experiences under my belt, when so many other are so complimentary about a place, I wondered whether I was missing something, so when the guys at the New Street Wagamama asked us to come and try some of the new summer menu, it was time to try again, and I think I finally see what other people have been telling me.

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