If I asked you your opinion on Beefeater as an eating establishment what would be your response? Value for money and tastefully decorated which are always crammed to the rafters, yes. Inspiring food, the ideal place for a date or cocktails with the girls? Probably not.
Bar & Block in Birmingham is the older and more sophisticated big brother of the Beefeater chain. It’s out with the 241 meals and in with an extensive menu of dishes that would be more expected in the likes of Miller & Carter. With steak at the heart of its menu and a contemporary/industrial feel to the decor, the restaurant’s walls are dotted with odes to cuts of meat and farming and it’s easy to forget that this is a Beefeater restaurant and not just a cool eatery just off the main shopping area of New Street, Birmingham.
On a recent trip to Birmingham I met up with my lovely blogger friend Kim at an event for Friction Free Shaving, indulged in one or two (or 4 – whoops) cocktails before heading to Bar + Block where we’d been invited for a catch up over good food and a couple of drinks. We don’t get to see each other that often so we gave ourselves 3 hours to eat drink and be merry – that will be those 4 cocktails!
After being seated in one of the booths near to the bar area we perused the menu over a bowl of meaty flavoured popcorn which left us asking for a second bowl AND asking whether they a) stocked it for us to buy or b) if they don’t stock it HOW could we make it?
A couple of cocktails ordered, an Aperol Spritz for me and a Bloody Mary for Kim we were ready to order our starters. I’ll put my hands up and say that I’d much rather a starter than a dessert if I had to choose, I’m a savoury gal through and through and if there’s on thing to tickle my fancy on a menu, it’s king prawns. The Garlic King Prawn starter cooked in white wine, garlic butter and served with ciabatta is such a simple but tasty dish although a little bit messy. I usually have Dan on hand to remove the prawn from the shell (because I’m a wuss) and I even showed Kim the “brain sucking” trick I was taught whilst in Venice, much to her dismay. Kim opted for the King Prawn Cocktail in a throwback to the 80’s or Christmas Day starter which came with a Bloody Mary Rose sauce and everyone’s favourite salad accompaniment of the moment, avocado. A fresh, flavoursome starter to cleanse the palette before we moved onto the mains which we’d been salivating over since we sat down and saw other peoples mains be delivered.
Price wise the cuts of steak range from £11.95 for an 8oz rump and up to £24.50 for the 10oz spiral cut fillet and a daily special fresh from the Butchers Block based on what they have delivered in on the day. As it was, we both opted for the cut from the Butchers Block, cooked medium rare. “More rare though!” I said, worried that my steak would come erring more on the side of medium leaving me a little disappointed and wishing I’d asked for rare. You know how annoying it can be, you ask for medium rare, you get almost well done. There’s no pinkness, no juices and although you enjoy the steak (because y’know, steak) it isn’t quite what you wanted it to be. “I’ll tell the chefs rare, then if it comes out and you want it doing a little bit more I can take it back for you. It’s better for it to be undercooked than overcooked” our waiter said, thus confirming that I was in for a good steak.
Boy, I wasn’t disappointed. Served rare with a cheese and herb topped mushroom, chunky chips and a side of béarnaise sauce this was one of the most succulent pieces of steak I’ve ever eaten at a restaurant. It was cooked to perfection, really tasty and it went down well with my second cocktail, a classic Cosmopolitan.
I didn’t really have room for dessert but who can say no once the dessert menu comes out and you have such delicious sounding dishes such as Black Forest Sundae calling your name? With brownie chunks, vanilla ice cream and custard and cherries, the sundae was a refreshing finish to the meal which I’m ashamed to admit I couldn’t quite finish.
Fit to bursting point we
left waddled out of Bar + Block with very full bellies, a cocktail haze and a new found love for Beefeaters cooler, tasty big brother.