Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Birmingham Street Food revolution starts tonight at the Prince of Wales pub, Moseley

The Birmingham Street Food revolution starts tonight at the Prince of Wales pub, Moseley

Street Food has become all the rage in London over the last four years. Forget the greasy burger bar on the street corner, whose products are downmarket. ‘Street Food’ is about top of the range food stalls that have perfected a single dish. If you want to see the start of a big push to bring this London phenomenon to Birmingham come to the Prince of Wales pub, Moseley, tonight to taste Meat Shack – this guy makes the best hamburgers in the UK outside of London.
But before we come onto MeatShack, let me go back two years.

Two years ago I was listening to a Radio 4 programme about a new fad in London called ‘Street Food’. The programme started off next to a mobile burger van in a pub car park in a dodgy part of East End of London – there were about 100 customers waiting for this burger van to open, since it had been blogged that this burger van sold the best burgers in London. The proprietor of this stall had studied the traditional hamburger and had worked out the ideal recipe for the bun, the relish and the burger itself.

Street Food was born!

In London there is now a thriving community of artisan chiefs, who focus on one piece of food, perfect it and sell it, ready to eat, from street stalls. There is now a lively blog and twitter community in London debating the best ‘street food’ stalls, such that the street food markets can have a regeneration efforts on shopping centres – the street food markets attract hundreds of customers who use the local pubs and shops as well as the food market. Indeed, I heard about one ‘street food’ market that rented the top (8th) floor of a car park in Peckham – it attracted thousands. When the market was finished, there was a party on this top floor to watch the sun set.

Now Birmingham has transformed itself over the last 8 years as a gastro-city. Many thanks are due to the excellent work of Marketing Birmingham who has led on this agenda. When I was Cabinet member for Leisure, Sport and Culture in Birmingham City Council (2009 to 2012) I was keen to help Marketing Birmingham, especially in growing the mid-range restaurant sector – Birmingham has a thriving bottom and top sector restaurants, but a big gapping hole in between. I believe ‘street food’ can plug this gap.

To explain a bit more about Meat Shack, has a piece by Mark Laurie, Director, the Nationwide Caterers Association


The humble burger has gone through many transformations over the years, from public enemy number one during the fast food explosion to over-priced gastro pub mainstay. This simple beef patty sandwich never seemed to live up to its billing, either over-priced, inedible or even downright dangerous. Whether Rocket and Stilton or lips and ass-holes, it seemed no one knew how to recreate this classic piece of Americana.

In the last few years however, there has been something of a revolution, starting in London a couple of years ago, companies such as the meat-wagon stripped back the gastro pub - gourmet fluff and started looking at what made the burger so popular in it’s heyday of 1950’s America.

Old cooking techniques were re-discovered, care and attention paid to sourcing the meat and the buns; trying every type of ‘plastic’ cheese, no stone went unturned.  Led by the Meatwagon, this burger renaissance has since led the street food revolution in London, which has transformed the city scape with good honest food done properly. It was only a matter of time until word got out.

I was chatting to one of the men responsible for bringing us GBK a few months ago about what made burgers so irrepressible and we agreed.  They have to be dirty, sloppy, greasy, guilty pleasures! there’s nothing ‘nice’ about a good burger. It’s all about a great combination of simple food prepared and cooked well. There are no pretensions when you’re battling to keep meat juice and ketchup off your clothes. 

Paul Collis’ Meat shack opened a few months ago with a residency at Stirchley market, offering proper ‘dirty burgers’. It was the culmination of months of research into the London burger scene, sourcing the right local produce and practicing cooking techniques. After cutting his teeth BBQ-ing at private parties the meat shack was ready to trade.

We’d been talking to him throughout the process, recommending new burger joints, hearing of his new discoveries, discussing the finer points of processed cheese (cheddar has no place on a burger and don’t get me started on stilton!) and how to get it to melt into the medium rare patty –true burgeracs let off the leash.

Now Paul has secured a new residency at the Prince of Wales pub, arguably the most popular haunt for Moseley hipsters, with it’s tiki-bar, urban beach and cigar shack, if the garden was a little bit smaller you’d swear you were in Shoreditch. Resurrecting the ghosts of the underground restaurant, the Meat-Easy with boozy cocktails and dirty burgers, this combination is just what Moseley’s been crying out for.

Opening tonight, the Meat shack will be at the POW Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. If you are looking for an alternative to the high end Birmingham food fest at Colmore Row head down to the Prince of Wales, I’d recommend a medium rare jalapeno or for the traditionalists, the classic dirty cheese burger. To find out more about street food and street food in the Midlands check

Written by Mark Laurie, Director, the Nationwide Caterers Association


At 7:16 PM, Blogger Tom hussey said...

Street food is popular in all around the world. It is so popular in front of people rather than restaurants. People like it because test of food is far more better than restaurants food.


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