Having a ‘local’ has never really been a thing for me. Sure, where I’m from in Coventry we have one, but it’s not somewhere I’d particularly yearn to spend every Friday night. It’s a Hungry Horse; great for meeting friends, catching up and having the annual Christmas drink, but nowhere particularly special or of interest.
Hence my excitement and joy to be living in Birmingham’s JQ, surrounded by some of the city’s best pubs and drinking spots. I’m not the type to spend every Friday or Saturday night boozing but the joy for me comes from the opportunity for spontaneity in being able to say “shall we go for a drink?!” and actually having somewhere, indeed plenty of wheres, to walk out to. Local faves include the Lord Clifden, The Church and indeed 1000 Trades, with Ana Rocha and St Paul’s House alternatives for a classier vibe.
Joy x 10 when one of these wheres is also 1000 Trades.
Founded by a couple of (shh) plastic Brummies (aka London expats), it has quickly become a flagship in the heart of the JQ’s casual drinking scene over the past year. Described as a ‘neighbourhood’ bar and kitchen, they are “bringing new life to a listed building, celebrating and championing all forms of craft.”
Naturally, the most important craft to me in this exercise is food and Trades have cornered a gap in the market for hosting resident food pop-ups. Since launch, the likes of The Indian Lunchbox and El Borracho de Oro (Little Borracho for this stint) have so far taken over the Trades kitchen for approx. one month to serve peckish boozers and curious foodies alike an alternative to the usual pub fare.
We absolutely loved Little Borracho and enjoyed some of the best tapas we’ve ever had there; we can’t wait to visit the big sister restaurant on Hagley Road (marketing win).
This month, June 2017, sees Habanero cafe take to the grills. With a resident food truck on the corner of St Philips Square serving tin foiled burritos to the city’s corporate crowd and a regular at Digbeth Dining Club, I would say Habanero is a fairly established street food fave in Brum.
Tacos are the flavour of the month here. Being my third taco experience, as proven in my rave reviews of both Cafe Horchata and Taco Wednesdays at The Plough, I’m increasingly becoming a big fan of these mini circles of joy.
Eager to try as many of the fillings as possible, we went in with an order of 3 x tacos… plus chicken wings and 1 x dirty fries.
The food comes out quick, fresh and hot.
Straight off, the wings were unnecessary. They were crispy and well cooked, with a delicate BBQ flavour, but just an unnecessary addition on top of a hell of a lot more tasty stuff. Still, wings are an easy winner with most. Especially boozers.
First in the taco line-up, the slow cooked beef short rib and chipotle glazed pork belly. Torn between these two in terms of fave, we both favoured the one we tried first… so basically, both were as good as each other. For R, the beef won on its chilli richness, gourmet feel and the tasty jalapeno mayo. The pork, for me, won on tenderness, chipotle kick and the all important slither of crackling (not necessarily the supposed coca-cola it had been roasted in…)
I’d then ordered the beer battered avocado just as an ‘omg I NEED to try that now’ moment but unfortunately, there was no avo to be seen on this Friday night – crime against humanity?! We swerved to the panko crumbed sea bass option instead, unbeknown that the veggie replacement was already on its way as an alternative… ricotta, spinach and kale in an unusually creamy, soft veggie mixture rather than patty.
This was tasty and an unusual texture for a veggie option. However I will be creeping back for that battered avo…
The eventual sea bass was really light, flaky and crisp, the spiced panko crumb offset by a super refreshing mango and tomato salsa. I really liked this.
So yeah, that was FOUR flavours of taco on our hands, eight in total. Plus wings. Plus dirty fries. What were we thinking.
Dirty fries arrived last topped with beef brisket, chilli, jalapenos, tomato salsa and so much cheese.
Don’t get me wrong, these are dirty fries. But they’re dirty fries that somehow feel clean due to their impeccable ingredients and proper beef brisket topping, as opposed to meer mince usually found on chilli fries (not a diss in the slightest of this ‘standard’ version that I happily chomp down quite often).
Yes the portion was probably too large for two people who also had eight tacos AND wings to share, but on another occasion when the cheesy chip craving kicks in after a few crafty ones, you’ll be sorted at 1000 Trades diving in to a pile of these.
(It’s here I shall insert a shoutout to Jack, the Mr of one of my best gals, who also does his very own home wood-smoked beef brisket. Slow cook it until it’s even more tender Jack, in an almighty woodburner, add some chilli or marinade and you’re on to a winner like that of Habaneros – how’s that for your review ;).
BIG TIP for the Habs/Trades crew: serve all of the above with wet wipes. Or better still, leave a big bottle of hand sanitizer on the table.
BIG TIP for Han Eats readers and roast lovers: foodie friend Nosh and Breks also rates ‘Jazz Roasts’ at Trades. They do look excellent – next on the Brum roast list.
After this delightful Friday night, I’ll a) be returning for those avo tacos and b) definitely be in line at Cathedral Square for a full sized circle of Habanero burrito goodness sometime in the sunny future. Just don’t expect me to stay awake at my desk all afternoon afterwards…
Trades are also celebrating their first birthday this weekend (Saturday 17th June 2017) with a stellar line-up of festivities, from natural wine tasting, birthday DJ beats and a talk on how Birmingham became known as, you guessed it, the city of 1000 Trade. Sadly I can’t be there but I hope you’ll join them for one of their crafty shindigs!
16 Frederick Street, The Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham B1 3HE
Disclosure: I was invited to try out 1000 Trades’ new pop-up by a mutual PR contact. Our food on this occasion was complimentary and we paid for our drinks.