On the night we eat at Jojolounge they are dealt a blow. Birmingham City council have decided that urgent work is needed outside and they have turned the gas off, and in true council style this comes with zero forewarning. The menu goes from the one online to a shortened version; one that be can be prepared using the electronic equipment in the kitchen. I make a call that if it’s not good I won’t write about it, and will come back when they fully up and running. They have nothing to worry about.
It turns out that Jojolounge have silently been knocking out some of the better food in the area, with a modesty I can’t relate to, and a quiet confidence that shows up on the plate. For starters we work through plump chicken wings coated generously in honey, chilli and soy that demand the excess to be sucked dry from the fingers. And crisped up chips of halloumi with a spicy and acidic gochugang ketchup, tempered with mint yogurt that takes off some of the more fiery notes. Best are cod bites, fish so fresh i could be sat in Brixham, in a batter that’s brittle and light and spiked with just a little lemon zest. We dredge the nuggets through an impeccable tartare sauce and decide that a bigger portion is needed: fish and chips for dinner, please.
The chef brings out the main and at once I’m lost in a conversation about quality that has him telling me that the cod came in that morning, and that every sauce, dip, and marinade is made in-house. It makes sense. I ask what else is good; try the burger he says, they make the patty from good cuts of ex dairy cow. The fish and chips is textbook; more of that beautiful cod, steamed inside the batter so that the flakes fall away like ice from a melting glacier, more of that tartare sauce, some competent fries, and peas, which I would have preferred mushy, and might have been had the council not turned the gas off.
We get the burger, a picture of which I won’t share because my photography skills after two cocktails, a glass of champagne and a bottle of red leave lots to be desired. It’s a behemoth; patty, crispy thick ribbons of bacon, a piquant relish, strong melted cheddar, lettuce, and tomato. Chips. More relish on the side. Only the bravest will take this one without cutlery. The flavour of the beef is as massive as the size of the burger. It’s a very good burger made from very good ingredients. I take it back. It’s one of the better burgers in the city There is a lot to admire.
Portion sizes mean that we don’t even try to take on dessert, leaving us to finish off the wine and grab a cab home. In a weird period of history, on one of the wettest nights of the wettest May, the inside of Jojolounge was thriving with groups of friends and colleagues, almost all of whom were eating. I started this food blog with the intention of finding the unsung heroes of the food world and shouting about them loudly so they get the recognition they deserve. I’d like to think that room full of people knew something I didn’t, and that they were keeping it for themselves. Anyhow, the secret is out. It’s a rather lovely place that takes the food menu seriously. You should give it a go.