A train ticket in one hand and a bag-for-life in the other, I ventured into Grand Central to see if a revolution really had begun in Birmingham.
Anyone who has seen the much-loved documentary ‘Jiro: Dreams of Sushi’ knows that just because it’s in a train station, don’t mean the gal ain’t classy. The Michelin Guide’s number one sushi restaurant in the world occupies one such insalubrious spot in a Tokyo station, far away from the Prêt we normally grab before the 9.42 from Birmingham New Street to Manchester Piccadilly. However, things are changing in our much-maligned second city with the opening of Grand Central.
Tapas Revolution occupies an unusual space on the upper floor of Grand Central. Shopping centre on the top, train station underneath, diners never quite manage to escape to Madrid from either location despite the best efforts of the chefs and staff.
The Food and Drink
While the menu recommends three tapas per person, we couldn’t quite narrow down our selection and – in order to avoid a fight over the pimientos de padrón (or fried sweet peppers for those of you not fluent in Spanish) - we went for seven tapas between two. Ranging from £3.75 for patatas bravas to £6.50 per steamed octopus (pulpo a la Gallega – most definitely not my choice), the plates flowed quickly and regularly to our table. I’d recommend the huevos rotos – I’m loco for chorizo and egg - and the calamares fritos which came out fresh and crisp.
The torreznos con mojo dulce (crispy pork belly at £5.50)- the wildcard, and certainly the least traditionally Spanish, tapas on the table- felt as though it had been drizzled with an uncooked marinade- and was the solitary plate left standing by the end of our meal.
Drinks-wise, we didn’t venture far from the Spanish offerings with a jug of sangria (£11.95 per jug). Fruity, icy, wine-y: realistically, what more could you ask for? Well, we asked for a second jug. That said, a peek at the brunch menu (available weekends and Bank Holidays) revealed a selection of lagers and some intriguing gin-based cocktails.
This is where the talk of food gets put aside, and the consuming contradiction of the tapas-in-a-train-station format come to head once again. The crowd was a mix of post-post-work drinks and early evening diners with an average age of mid-20s to early-30s.
We weren’t the only diners who enjoyed the authenticity of the Spanish waiters; the couple on the next table could be overheard brushing off un poco español from summer in the Costa del Sol- and let’s face it- it’s nice to be reminded of distant, summer days on a Friday night in a Birmingham train station.
While the train station surroundings made for a more unusual meal in the city, Tapas Revolution is affordable, fun and boasting tasty fare that keeps the tapas dream alive.