The Birmingham hotel has had a poor recent past. Live music has come and gone, a campaign proclaiming ‘it’s not shit anymore‘ a few years ago didn’t last and it slipped into irrelevance before closing. Now it has reopened after a complete refurbishment featuring a vintage industrial theme based on the industrial heritage of its namesake city.
The interior walls have been stripped back to bare brick and the floors to bare timber, and there’s a pressed tin lined bar with stools and table with chairs and high tables with stools throughout. The overall feel is warm and cosy, which is thankfully better than many of the sterile cold makeovers other pubs have received (the 2008 makeover of the Royal Derby in particular comes to mind).
In 2010 I suggested that food was the only viable business model left, and that is what we are presented with in its new incarnation. The menu encompasses traditional pub favourites like chicken parma to new trends like a pulled pork and coleslaw sandwich. There’s a few vegetarian dishes but the menu suggests that this is a pub for meat eaters.
When I visited for lunch on Friday the pub had been open for only a couple of days. We had the two dishes mentioned above, and the parma was pretty good. I could taste all the elements – the chicken, ham, sauce and cheese – making it better than many others where the only thing you can taste is oil.
The food was not outstanding, but it was good enough to want to return. I’m grateful that new food businesses are pushing northwards on Smith St, extending the dining precinct and revitalising the street.