When I heard there was yet another bar to open, top of Bennett’s Hill, off New Street, I immediately thought large chain, commercial, cheesy decor and somewhere I would not choose to be on an autumnal night in Brum town. But the Pint Shop is far from commercial.
Only one of three Pint Shops in the UK, this is the third to open after Oxford and Cambridge. Why Brum you ask? Well why on earth not.. The owners were so impressed with all the development and Brummie throng on a business trip, they realised that Birmingham city centre is really starting to thrive after a very long hiatus of bar inactivity.
Just a few old stalwarts seemed survive without much direct competition, yet, less than two years and Brummies have witnessed a new cooler version of Broad Street with large chains opening up, ofen taking on retail units for conversion – still can’t forgive the Botanist for the loss of Swordfish Records from the city centre.
Low light emanates from flying saucer shaped low hung lamps.
So, upon entry the downstairs bar is basic with a slight 1930/40s feel. That post Art Deco period, with clean lines, wood and brass. Low light emanates from flying saucer shaped low hung lamps. There is cool stylish art work on the walls which hark back to the 1960s pop art scene. It’s subtle, but the longer you spend in here the more you realise this was deliberate, even the art in the men’s lavs, with a nod to the vibrant colours of the late 1980s rave scene.
My appointment with my bird was upstairs, so up I climbed, deep into the bowels of this stunning Victorian building. Upstairs feels even cooler in my opinion. It was a quiet week night but there were still diners coming and going, all of whom seemed very satisfied with the food, ambiance and service.
I was greeted by Lee the manager and I began with a beer tasting board which, should be what The Pint Shop is all about, well it’s not I can tell you! The four beers I tasted were all great, the selection is something to easily rival the Wellington next door and I ended up with a full sized pint of something that I have to admit I cannot remember other than it went down perfectly.
Beer Brined Flat Iron Chicken & The Gin Float
What surprised me was the extent of the menu here. It’s not just bar snacks, they have taken the culinary delights of the nearby Pure Bar to the next level – and some.
The menu varies, and from the bar you can choose from delicious tasting treats like Pork & Fennel Scotch Egg, Beer Mustard Blackened Brisket Kebab, Chilli Sauce Lashford Swirl and Cheese Mash Honey Glazed Chicken Wings to name but a few.
There are set menus, starters, mains, kebab menu, Sunday roast, kids menu and sides to keep the hungrest of traveler happy! One item that stood out off the starter menu was Octopus Carpaccio, Confit Shallots & Lime Dressing, Crispy Seaweed.. yep I’m sold!
The main menu offers steaks, burgers, vegan options, chicken and so on. The drinks menu is extensive as you would imagine with an awesome and carefully selected choice of Gin, Whisky, Win and of course Beer!
Talking of birds and beer, I had to choose something that wasn’t just in liquid form, so I went for the next best thing I could see, Beer Brined Flat Iron Chicken with Chilli Pepper Sauce & Chips.
The chicken had the most delicious covering, was a large portion, the skin flaked away exposing the soft meat beneath.
The chicken had the most delicious covering, was a large portion, the skin flaked away exposing the soft meat beneath. I only used the sauce half way through it was that soft and juicy. I have been spoilt with tasty chicken in Brum recently, what with the Rebel Chicken Burger I tried. I think I could happily survive off the two alone.
You can tell this is a cut above your average chain restaurant, the attention is in the detail and for me taste is everything, there is plenty of it here. I also enjoyed the fact I could see the chefs preparing my food as I waited, the service was fast and friendly. Chips were light crispy in-between chunky and fries, which are just right for me, not too heavy and dipped them in the spicy sauce.
I finished off with The Gin Float dessert which was powerful and icy cold, cleansing the palate perfectly, paving the way for my other penchant.. gin! For this I was recommended the Wrecking Coast Clotted Cream Gin. Seriously this is damn good, like two tastes in one and beautifully aromatic. Not the cheapest on the menu but worth splashing out on.
Music Policy is so important to me, and I am pleased to say The Pint Shop has a great vibe going on already, which you would expect from the manager, Lee, as he was a manager and DJ for Circo and The Plough Harborne for many years.
This really was a superb experience, staff were friendly and were on the ball, without hanging around being awkward.
I can see this joint doing exceptionally well in this part of town and look forward to sampling some of those tasty bar snacks over a pint.. oh and the Sunday Roast!
Review by Nick Byng for Grapevine Birmingham.