soul food project @ hare and hounds
cajun/british | 106 high street, king’s heath, birmingham b14 7jz
[by Ahmed Ahmed]
Let’s face it: Sundays can be a bit of a chore. The traditional day of rest often turns into a day of regret that you didn’t make the most of your weekend. Last week, however, we shook off the blues with a generous serving of Southern hospitality in South Birmingham. The Soul Food Project puts a Cajun twist on the British Sunday roast, uniting two cuisines rooted in hearty home cooking, and dishing up the delicious results with a side of live jazz.
The Soul Food Project is housed all week long at the Hare and Hounds in King’s Heath.
Click here for Google map.
‘What would we want to do on a Sunday?’ This is how Matt Beck described the thinking behind Soul Food Sundays. The outcome was a cosy and familiar vibe, with checked tablecloths adding to the air of simple homeliness. Meanwhile, Brian Travers of UB40 fame blended jazz and soul classics that mingled with the friendly hum of background chatter.
First on the menu were hush puppies, savoury doughnuts so named by cooks in the Deep South, who would traditionally fry them up and toss them out to appease the appetites of hound dogs gathering on the porch. But these pleasing little parcels, prepared with polenta and Mad Goose ale, were more than capable of satisfying this human palate.
Vegetarians might opt to try the cajun stuffed pepper, which, like all the other mains, is accompanied by beautiful braised cabbage and sweet potato mash among all the other trimmings. Meanwhile, the jambalaya – Louisiana’s wholesome and decidedly meaty take on the paella – could satisfy even the most exacting of carnivores. But for the full effect of how cunningly the British and the Cajun cuisines have been woven together, we recommend the roast beef. While traditionally accompanied by roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings and crunchy vegetables, the perfect seasoning of both the trimmings and the gravy (which was heaven) brought an intriguing and unmistakeable soul food twist. Aunt Bessie and Aunt Jemima outdid themselves.
Dessert arrived in the form of key lime pie and soul brownies. These werewonderfully soft andrich, perfectly accompanied with vanilla ice cream. Discarding the traditional meringue, the key lime pie united a delicately citrus creamy filling with a crunchy ginger-tasting base to essentially create a Florida-inspired cheesecake.
Although known for having harboured its fair share of conflict, the American South is also associated with manners and hospitality. These last two were perfectly reflected in the friendly and efficient service at the Soul Food Project.
Whether you leave feeling more in the mood to play God Save The Queen on a blues harmonica or to fly a Union Jack from the bonnet of your pickup truck, the striking combination of British home cooking and Southern soul is sure to stir your senses.
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