Around The World In 80 Dishes (2007)
This is an archived article from 2007.
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If you have ever wondered what makes someone open a restaurant, Brummie businessman Jag Singh's story takes some beating. "My business partner Dal Singh is into his Indian food but I love Italian," says Jag. "We have been good friends for a long time but always argue over where we are going to eat." So to finally settle this long-running argument, they opened Around the World in 80 Dishes on Broad Street in November 2007.
The restaurant is in the building where Ipanema used to be on Broad Street, but Jag has done away with the outside seating and extended the inside eating area. The business is based on food from around the world so while there are the popular foods, such as Indian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican and Italian, speciality chefs will be brought in on a regular basis to cook dishes from countries such as Brazil and South Africa. Around the walls are pictures of France's Eiffel Tower, China's Terracotta Army, Italy's Roman arches, India's Buddha and Chinese New Year Dragons and all the artwork has been created especially for the restaurant. There is a feeling of having one foot in one country while the other is somewhere completely different, so while diners sit in chic brown leather chairs at dark tables, above their heads hang glittering globe chandeliers. Even the music reflects the theme with a mixture of tunes such as Bollywood, Pan Pipes and Salsa.
Jag's aim is to have a restaurant which appeals to every taste so while he could have gone for an eating area with a capacity of 500, he has divided it up into smaller areas. There is a trendy bar, a VIP area with waiter service, a family-friendly restaurant which can seat 300 and a dance floor with live music. Diners can help themselves to the three course buffet and from Sunday to Wednesday it costs £12.95 per person, from Thursday to Sunday it is £14.95 and lunch is £6.95. Starters include crispy potato wedges, Chinese wings, vegetable pakora, vegetable samosa and spring rolls. Most of the ingredients are sourced locally and Jag says they have made a point of bringing in local people to build up and run the restaurant. There is even a salad table with fruit, bean sprout, potato and leek, pork and green salads. Hot main dishes include a creamy pasta dish in a mushroom sauce for those who want Italian, chilli garlic noodles for anyone wanting a Chinese dish and tender chicken in a delicious korma sauce for those who want a taste of India. Other dishes include sundried chilli chicken, beef shashlik, chicken keema, chicken jalfrezi, lamb rogan josh, mixed vegetables and saag paneer. Because of the buffet style, diners can load there plate up with a mixture of food from around the world, so if noodles with curry, or nan-bread with chilli is to your taste then dig-in.
If you haven't stuffed yourself silly on the main dishes then there is an unlimited supply of ice-cream, a chocolate fountain, fresh fruit and freshly prepared pastries for dessert. Jag says that with a restaurant as big as Around the World in 80 Dishes, you have to cater for everyone. "There are a wide variety of dishes available and if someone wants more or fewer spices in each dish, we can accommodate them," he says. "As well as bringing in speciality chefs to create alternative dishes we also want to bring in celebrity chefs such as Ken Wok and Madhur Jaffrey who will hold workshops where visitors will be able to make their own dishes. "Our chefs look up to these people and it gives our brand kudos."
Jag says the Birmingham restaurant is their flagship one and they are already looking at taking the brand to other cities in England. But for now they are putting heart and soul into the Birmingham restaurant as they have invested £500,000 of their own money in it and the total bill for the refurbishment will come to £800,000. Jag says he is used to running a successful business as he owns the Birmingham franchise of Coffee Republic. "I have never been a big Broad Street guy but as soon as we heard these premises were available we didn't even come down to look at them -- we just bought it over the phone," he says. "This purchase was more about heart rather than head because we wanted to be in Birmingham as this is where we are from. "The restaurant is family-friendly as more people want to eat out with their children and relatives for special occasions. Even though there are a wide variety of dishes it is not like a canteen - my aim is to have some of the best food in Birmingham in the restaurant." Around the World in 80 Dishes is a welcome addition to Broad Street. While other restaurants in this busy part of the city seem to come and go, with its 'appeal to all' ethos, it should be here to stay.
Around The World In 80 Days
Tel: 0121 643 5577
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