You know when you just get that hankering for a really good steak and nothing else will do? Well, that was us, bags unpacked in our hotel room ahead of a busy Pride weekend in Birmingham and in need of a hearty meal to fill us full of energy for the bank holiday celebrations which lay ahead.
We’d been invited to try the new Bar and Block in Birmingham – that’s right the new one, not the well-known one on Waterloo Street but an all-new restaurant on Exchange Square- so new in fact that it’s not on the group’s website, google or, in fact, anywhere so it took a little bit of hunting before we found it hidden beneath the Premier Inn hotel near the site of what will be the new HS2 train station. Not the best location at the moment, to be honest, but with plenty of regeneration activities happening around it I’m sure it will be one to watch.
Chunky wood, comfy booths, soft lighting, and an open kitchen make for a casual yet stylish environment…
The inside of Bar and Block makes up for the outside though. Chunky wood, comfy booths, soft lighting, and an open kitchen make for a casual yet stylish environment that feels nice enough for a treat but not too fancy for it to feel comfortable. We were immediately welcomed by our friendly server, Esme who took us through the menu before getting our choice of wine from the bar – a summer’s evening called for a Sauvignon Blanc, and the New Zealand Saint Clair was as fresh and zesty as you would expect from a Marlborough.
Sipping our wine and munching on a bowl of steak-flavoured popcorn we took our time to check out the menu. There’s a good choice of starters and mains as well as the expected steal section from which to choose with influences taken from across the globe. The other half went for Asian-style crispy beef with spring onions, ginger, and coriander to start with before leaping continents to the Med for a charcoal cooked Chicken Souvlaki with Greek salad, flatbread, houmous, and homemade tzatziki. With a hint of envy at his choices, and in an attempt to fit into my best pride outfit the next day, I went for a Greek salad with olives, red onion, peppers, feta, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber before plumping for the Spiral Cut Sirloin steak with chunky chips, samphire and homemade chimichurri with a side of peppercorn sauce to satisfy any FOMO.
Our starters arrived promptly and in bowls that belied the grandeur of both the portion and the dish itself.
The crispy beef was flavoursome and moreish, and the Greek salad was packed full of freshness and left me feeling satisfied and suitably pleased with myself and my healthy choice.
On to the mains, both pleasingly served on blocks with a full complement of sides and sauces. The skewered souvlaki was deliciously charred and with salad and flatbread really did taste like a plate full of summer. As for my Spiral Cut steak, it was cooked exactly how I like it – medium but with a char and was so soft and tender I could have cut it with a spoon. It was very, very high on the list of my best steaks ever so much so that writing this and looking at the pictures has started those steal cravings all over again! The heat of the chimichurri and the saltiness of the samphire made the perfect accompaniment for the steak leaving the peppercorn sauce relegated as a dip for the satisfyingly chunky chips!
Feeling fit to burst but being the true professionals that we are, (wink)…
we decided it would be wrong not to sample the dessert menu so went for the triple platter to share – a sticky slab of lemon drizzle cake, rich chocolate brownie with ice cream and churros with a chocolate, toffee sauce which were to die for. These were washed down with a sneak preview of Bar and Block’s fruity new Pride cocktail which will be sold in all branches this summer with profits going to the Albert Kennedy Trust, a charity that helps displaced LGBTQ+ youth.
Deciding it was probably best we walked back to our hotel after all that food rather than calling a cab, we left Bar and Block knowing that we would return again. The quality of the ingredients, the size of the portions, the environment, and the price – our meal was gifted in return for an honest review without expectation but would have cost around £68 plus wine making it, in my mind, great value for money.
Bar and Block is at The Exchange Square, Birmingham as well as Waterloo Street Birmingham, and Chapel Quarter, Nottingham. Visit www.barandblock.co.uk