It was a Tuesday evening when I walked into Bar + Block, Birmingham. I really needed a girls night out and wanted to eat a big piece of meat and drink red wine, so my pal Lorna was the perfect person to invite along. The restaurant is situated on Waterloo Street, on the corner of ‘Pigeon Park’. It’s actually located inside the Premier Inn, but don’t let this put you off as it has a separate entrance for public use. When walking through the door, the server quickly caught my eye and asked if we had a reservation. A tiny blip as I was invited for reviewing purposes but they didn’t seem to know I was coming on the night. This was quickly rectified when being seated and the wine menu was swiftly brought over with some beef dripping popcorn.
I’m an avid wine drinker. I don’t pretend to know anything about the stuff, but if you’ve met me in person you’ll usually find me with a glass of Malbec or red wine in hand. A bottle of the Graffigna Centenario Malbec will set you back £20.95 – a full bodied wine, bursting with rich flavours of plum and blackcurrant. The subtle oak taste finishes it off perfectly. You can also get a small glass of the good stuff for £5.65, or a medium for £7.35. The Malbec is a perfect beverage to gulp if you’re ordered a red meat dish like steak, or lamb.
Starters at Bar + Block
We were browsing through the starters for a while before landing with the Pulled Beef Croquettes (£4.95) and Salt & Pepper Squid (£6.50). Lorna isn’t a huge fan of squid but we shared dishes anyway. The croquettes are filled with pulled beef, slowly marinated in a rich port, black treacle and bone marrow sauce. The three spheres swim in a lemon & garlic mayo, topped with parsley. I thought this starter was delicious. The crunchiness of the batter with the tender beef was a perfect way to start the meal. The portion is generous and I’d order these again. The large bowl of squid was cooked beautifully, lightly battered, seasoned perfectly; mixed with chilli and garlic. They’re also served with lemon & garlic mayo and a wedge of lemon. A tantalising starter if you like fishy dishes. Menu options can be found on the website and change seasonally.
Main Meals at Bar + Block
The bit I was waiting for, the steak! If you’re a frequent reader of my blog, you’ll know I eat a lot of steak. Owing to Bar + Block’s speciality cuts range and their rotating Butchers Block, they’re not afraid to boast ‘great steak and great value’. To be frank, I wasn’t expecting much in terms of flavour. A Beefeater restaurant isn’t usually renowned for mind blowing food. It was a tasty meal nonetheless, but I wouldn’t rush back for this specific steak meal. I wish I had gone for the Smoked Pork Belly, but perhaps next time.
The thin 10oz* spiral cut sirloin, marinated in garlic and parsley for 24 hours was a hearty portion, but the flavours weren’t strong enough for my liking. I feel that if you need to add sauce to a steak, something is missing. I felt as though it needed an extra kick of garlic whilst being cooked or something to make it stand out. All steaks are served with a choice of house salad, or beef dripping triple cooked chunky chips. Easy to cut through, my medium rare slab had extra chewy bits of fat that I do actually love. The greenery on top didn’t make any difference and I think was unnecessary. An extra portion of onion rings were ordered with my meal which added crunch, alongside the hot, chunky chips which were rather nice.
I felt jealous of Lorna’s Lamb Shoulder (£15.95) which was marinated and slow cooked for 24 hours, finished over charcoal and served with a Greek salad and tzatziki. As you can see, the meat to salad ratio was slightly off but after trying a bit of the lamb, it was perfectly tender and seasoned well. This is a great summer dish but I’m not sure if I’d pay £15 for this as it was more greens than meat. There are other mixed grills dishes, burgers and fish & vegetable options too.
Bar + Block Desserts
With bellies full of wine, sides and meats, there was just enough room left for pudding. The recommended dessert of Chocolate Churros Sundae at a fair price of £5.95 was, in my opinion, best to share and was a great way to end the meal. I’m a sucker for sugar and all things sweet so this went down an absolute treat. Vanilla ice cream, slated caramel ice cream and brownie chunks were topped with cream and chocolate toffee sauce in a jar. Two gigantic churros were sticking out of the top. It was a quirky pud and I shared the churros with Lorna. It wasn’t the most memorable pudding I’ve eaten but it was fun. The Mixed Berry Pavlova was another dessert of choice (£5.95) and consists of seasonal berries with cream and ripple meringue.
Overall, the meal was ideal for a girly date night and is a good place to go if you’re looking for hearty food and quirky puddings. Don’t expect to be blown away by the food, but the service is efficient and a satisfying wine selection is something to look forward to. There’s no doubt you’ll leave feeling content and with a full stomach. Thanks to Bar + Block for the invitation. Thanks to Lorna also for accompanying me.
Birmingham Bar and Block, 6 Waterloo Street, Birmingham B2 5PG
Please note, I was invited to Bar + Block with a guest for reviewing purposes. Food and drinks were free in return for honest feedback.