Two years ago I went on holiday to Budapest and visited Szimpla Kert, the most popular Ruin Bar in Budapest. I absolutely adored it and therefore, I was thrilled to hear about The Ruin (a ruin style bar) recently opened in Digbeth, only a short ten-minute walk from Birmingham city centre.
The Ruin is fairly new and is situated in the centre of Digbeth on Floodgate Street. The actual building itself is old, it’s listed in fact, and has changed from pub to pub over the years but the owner, Rich, has done a fantastic job of making the place feel modern with lots of quirky decoration and a relaxed vibe. It’s right on a corner, painted all black with a big sign hanging down so you can’t miss it!
Like the Hungarian Ruin Bars, the walls are painted in bold, bright colours and the wooden furniture, including the bar itself, is distressed and sanded down. Tons of quirky little design features entertain the eye, including an abundance of mirrors and old photos, exposed wires, computer tech from the 80s and my personal favourite the clock display.
There is a collection of different and interesting clocks on the wall by the bar, one is even in the shape of an apple, and they each have a different location underneath. After playing the guessing game with my friend of what the places had in common for almost 20 minutes, we gave in and asked. It seems still to be a bit of a mystery but the bar staff told us they thought that each clock was the time zone of the different places that Rich, the owner, has lived. I really liked this idea and the personal feel it gave to the whole place.
When you go make sure you walk around so you don’t miss anything, especially the space tunnel with its galactic wall art and fairy lights.
The Ruin puts a real British twist on the Hungarian Ruin bar, pairing the typical decor of a Ruin bar with a combination of an urban city street vibe with the style of an English pub. We sat in the main bar area but there were plenty of places to choose from depending on the kind of atmosphere you wanted. There was even a cosy corner with sofas and a coffee table, where the shelves were filled with books and board games for people to grab and play. Personally, it was the outdoor area which really sold the place for me.
The brick walls surrounding the outdoor seating areas were painted with cool, urban graffiti style artwork. There was an amazing rural mural on one of the walls. When you go make sure you walk around so you don’t miss anything, especially the space tunnel with its galactic wall art and fairy lights. Generally, people were in groups and there were lots of benches and grouped seating areas, however, my friend and I had a lovely time just the two of us and there were tables for two where a couple could enjoy a drink alone together also.
When it came to food and drink, I was really impressed. Like a typical pub, you order food and drink at the bar and food is delivered to you at your table. The variety of drinks on offer was vast, with a whole page on the menu dedicated to all the different types of beer on offer. The Ruin currently is one of the only places in Birmingham to serve Vedet IPA and offers local beers and cider from Stratford. I opted to try one of their bottled ciders (£4.50) which are made in the nearby town of Wellingborough on the award-winning Saxby’s farm.
I’m not normally a cider drinker but I was attracted due to it being not only free from all artificial ingredients, but also gluten-free and vegan! I had the blackcurrant flavour. It still had the classic earthy taste of cider but with that added fruity deliciousness which reminded me of drinking Ribena when I was young, but a less sugary, more fun alcoholic version! My friend’s mojito (£6.50) was strong and bitter with a classic mint garnish. I stole a sip; the rum had a real kick and it was really refreshing.
both our flatbreads were topped with a mound of crisp, peppery rocket. Both were delicious and honestly very filling; we definitely think these should be a staple on the menu.
Food-wise, we both plumped for flatbreads which are new to the menu. The dough base of the flatbread tasted as if it had been grilled and reminded me of the pita and flatbread that is toasted and served in Hungary and Greece. I chose the Peppers and Onion flatbread (£4.50) and it came loaded with juicy tomato sauce, melted cheese and a healthy mountain of cooked peppers and onion.
My friend had the Margarita flatbread (£4) and both our flatbreads were topped with a mound of crisp, peppery rocket. Both were delicious and honestly very filling; we definitely think these should be a staple on the menu. The menu also boasts a variety of different wraps, sides and nibbles. Burgers are new to the menu also. Four different burgers are on offer, including a chicken burger and even a Halloumi burger for all the halloumi-lovers out there, like me. The menu favourites included a chickpea and squash stew, feta and olive salad and their famous Goulash which I have heard is excellent.
All in all, the menu was expansive and great value for money. The Ruin is an ideal spot for students with main meals costing a max of £6.50 and Happy Hour from 5-7pm available Monday to Friday on wines, ciders, and beers. There’s also great deals on in the week such as Meat Free Monday (£7 for a veggie special and a drink) and Pizza and Prosecco Wednesday where you get two flatbreads and a whole bottle of prosecco for just £20!
Welcoming and relaxed, The Ruin has both friendly staff and a warm atmosphere.
The Ruin even does roasts on Sundays for only £9.95, with a veggie option available. Regular live music and open mic nights were also advertised on the menu and sounded like a lot of fun. They also have a DJ every Saturday night! Upcoming events are Scott Bleepz on July 6th, Richie Rundle on the 13th and 27th and July, an Electronic Music Open Mic Night on the 18th of July and Desert Island Discs followed by Digbeth Funk and Soul Sessions on the 20th of July. All of these events are free to attend, so go and drop in and see everything The Ruin has to offer.
Welcoming and relaxed, The Ruin has both friendly staff and a warm atmosphere. It was fairly busy for an early Wednesday evening and so is already proving popular. I liked how chilled the place felt and it was so great to see such a range of ages enjoying themselves in the same space. It was definitely a slightly different environment to Szimpla Kert, but really funky and quirky and I enjoyed it a lot. I’m planning to go back with friends and spend the evening in the outdoor area with lots of alcohol and flatbreads!
The Ruin is open 12-11pm Monday through Thursday, until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays and shuts at 10:30 on Sundays. Food is served 12-8pm Tuesday to Saturday and 12-6pm on Sundays.
Words by Daisy Andrews for Grapevine Birmingham
*interior shots were from a previous visit.