With great beer comes great responsibility. Or so I heard. A quirky pub chain by the name of ‘The Head of Steam‘ owned by Camerons Brewery has landed slap bang in the middle of the city centre on Temple Street. Snuggled nicely alongside a variety of new restaurants and cocktail bars, the place has a prime focus on craft beer and quality pub grub. Not forgetting the bar also boasts 20 keg and 10 cask ale lines; serving a rotating line up of ales, beers and ciders from across Birmingham. What more could you ask for really?
The place is spacious, with a lower ground floor for drinks and food, and up the stairs is the bar and separate restaurant area. Interior is quirky with lots of wooden tables, chairs and bottles behind bars. There’s plenty of room for large groups and to make it easier for everyone, you choose what you want from the menu and order at the bar. There’s a relaxed atmosphere with lots of booths available for more intimate occasions.
I’m always the person that asks the bar tender ‘what’s colour ale/beer is it?’. I don’t like dark ales as I find them way too strong, so it’s good to see the colour of the drink you’re about to consume. To make it easier for people like me, there are small jars in front of each pump to show you what the drink looks like. It’s so clever I can’t believe I haven’t seen more places do this before. The cocktail selection is pretty intense too, I asked for the Apple based cocktail (I can’t remember the name of it sorry) and I watched the guy behind the bar make it. It tasted like apple juice – simple but deadly if you have 4 or 5 of them…. *hick*.
Head of Steam Starters
I personally think the menu is too busy and has way too many options. When I’m hungry or had a couple drinks, the last thing I want to do is browse a menu for 10 minutes. I think they could really streamline their options, giving perhaps 2-3 options under each category; but maybe that’s just me being way too picky. There’s light bites, pizzas, pies, hot dogs, burgers, pretty much everything you can think of, they do it. For starters we opted for The Besler (£14.95). This consists of 3 light beers, with any three light bites.
We chose the Red Pepper Hummus with rosemary & olive oil flatbread, Mini Sweet Paptrika Chorizo with honey glaze and Koren Inspired Squid with salt & pepper coating, lime & kimchi dipping sauce. Arriving on a standing tray, accompanied with 3 different beers to suit each of the foods, I can honestly say this was the best part of the meal. Portions big enough for two, it’s great to share if you’re not that hungry but want to eat. Considering each light bite costs on average £4 each, to have the whole board for £14.95 works out brilliantly, and there’s booze included too.
Head of Steam Main Meals
Since we were consuming three calorific courses, I wanted to try one of the veggie options as my main meal which I rarely do. I ended up ordering a Crispy Halloumi & Guacamole Burger (£9.95). The burger comes with roasted pepper & red onions and is served with giant beer-battered onion rings, baby gem, tomato, relish & fries. I found the burger to be a little too ‘wet’ for my liking, perhaps because I don’t really eat a lot of burgers full of guacamole. The halloumi was delicious and ended up picking this off the bun. The fries were crispy but the salad seemed a bit lifeless. If I were to order this again, I’d ask for the meal to come without salad.
Josh ordered the Full Head of Steam Burger (£12.95) – a towering beef and chilli bun loaded with onion rings, smoked bacon, Monterey Jack & chilli jam. It’s served with giant beer-battered onion rings, baby gem, tomato, relish & fries. Portions are decent and Josh’s burger looked a damn sight tastier than mine did. On the side I asked for some Mac & Cheese Bites (£3) which has just enough crunch and the right amount of cheesy mac inside. The Garlic Ciabatta (£3) was lovely too. Order both, you won’t be disappointed.
Head of Steam Dessert
For the finale, the Salted Caramel & Chocolate Torte (£4.25) sounded wonderful so I asked for one with two spoons. Sharing is caring, and all. There’s a wide variety of desserts available, from cheesecake to knickerbocker glory, ice cream, and a few more items worthy of sharing. The torte came within minutes of ordering; a small slice of torte with some bitter berries and glaze on the side. It was tasty and great for two people to nibble on but we were pretty full by the end of the meal. Dessert wasn’t anything to shout about, but would I order it again? Probably not, but only because there’s better options on offer.
At first I wasn’t too sure on how I’d feel about The Head of Steam, Birmingham but I grew to love the cocktails and starters. I had 3 different cocktails whilst there and left feeling very content. I would much rather go back and drink rather than order a full main meal. The light bite options are a fantastic idea if you’re popping in for some drinks and want something to pick at alongside the booze. I’m already planning going back with my girlfriends for drinks and if the service is anything as good as opening night, then I’m really looking forward to trying more of their cocktails. Opening times and full menus can be found on the HoS website.
Somerset House, 36 Temple St, Birmingham B2 5DP
Please note, I was invited to The Head of Steam on press night for a meal review with a +1. All food and drinks were free in return for an honest review on my blog.