There’s a new bar on the scene in Birmingham. Nestled by the canal, on the site of the old James Brindley is The Canal House. The bar aims to combine old and new, with nods to Brindley himself in a venue that ties together the feeling of old canal warehouses and an all new, chic venue.
Serving food, cocktails, a house distilled gin, hundreds of craft beers and ales and some very special import beers, The Canal House is out to make one hell of a mark on the Birmingham bar and restaurant scene.
I was invited along to their launch party, so I rounded up some friends and set off to meet a narrow boat, that would transport us to the party.
A motley crew of bloggers, media types and excited plus ones clambered aboard the beautiful narrow boat from Away2dine. Normally, this boat is a cruising restaurant, but for tonight, it was our ride to The Canal House. To keep us entertained for the short trip, we were treated to a mini masterclass in some of the beers available. The Canal House offer an eye-poppingly large range of beers and ales, in their Anthology of Ales. We tasted three. Now, I will confess to not being much of a beer drinker, but I’m always interested in a masterclass.
The Beavertown Gamma Ray (£5.20) is an American pale ale, and is chock full of American hops and tropical aromas. The High Wire Grapefruit by Magic Rock (£5.40) was light and summery, with plenty of fruit taste. I was most surprised by the Einstok Toasted Porter (£6.20). I don’t like dark beer, or so I thought, but this smelt like good coffee and had a taste of dark chocolate and well brewed coffee.
We disembarked at the Canal House and settled ourselves at a table. The venue is huge inside, with a large waterside beer garden for sunny days. Seated and staring around us, we were already excited, as the place is beautiful; all blonde wood and old fashioned trinkets.
A round of drinks arrived to help us through our perusal of the menu. The Wormhill Whiskey Sour (£8.95) combines whiskey, lemon, sugar, egg white and Angostura bitters. Topped with a slice of lemon, it was sharp and with an excellent amount of booze (just how I like it). The Disaronno Sour (£7.50) is Disaronno, lemon, sugar, egg white and Angostura bitters. With a good taste of the amaretto, this was warming and delicious. A classic gin and tonic also appeared, perfectly made and refreshing.
We decided to order a selection of treats from the Nibbles section of the menu to share between the four of us. The Nocellara Olives (£3.25) were enormous, and really juicy. The Pork Crackling (£3.95) is sprinkled with chilli and spring onion and served with an apple and fig ketchup. They were salty, surprisingly light and very moreish. The Baked Kale and Sesame Seed Crisps (£1.95) were a surprise hit, offering a tasty, salty crunch. The Cumberland Chipolatas (£3.95) are accompanied by a honey and cider mustard. The sausages were excellent, but the mustard was a touch oily.
We also opted to share a selection of starters. The Baked Camembert (£6.95) is a triumph. Studded with honey and fresh rosemary and served with slices of apple and granary croutons, the cheese was gooey and gorgeous. The Duck Rilette (£5.95) is served with fig chutney and granary toast. This was rich and very tasty, in a generous portion. The Rotisserie Pork and Black Pudding Fritters (£5.95) with apple and fig ketchup and piccalilli were full of rich flavour, with good tang from the piccalilli. We did think this looked a small portion compared to the other two though.
For the main courses, we ordered separately, but liberally stole bites of everyone else’s. Dave chose the Salt and Pepper Pork Hanging Kebab (£12.75) which comes with chips and is slopped in sweet chilli and ginger. The pork was melt in the mouth and was probably the standout dish of the evening.
Zoe opted for the Rotisserie Chicken Flatbread (£8.95) and a side of Charred Sweetcorn (£3.95). The flatbread was over flowing with chicken, chorizo, red onion, avocado and blackened tomato salsa. It looked bright and fresh on the plate, and the taste reflected that too.
Emily’s Lancashire Cheese Burger (£9.95) with Sweet Potato Fries (£3.95) was enormous. The meat was strong tasting, with piles of crisp bacon and melty cheese. Delicious.
I chose the Chargrilled 10oz Sirloin (£17.95) with Sweet Potato Fries (£.3.95). It was perfectly cooked to the medium rare I ordered, juicy and pink in the middle.
All the main courses were excellent, but for almost all of them you have to order sides separately, which always bugs me. For the quality though, the prices are still sensible.
Next, more cocktails. If like me, you enjoy your cocktail short ans strong, I recommend the Old Ruby (£9.95) which combines gin, rhubarb and ginger liqueur, rhubarb bitters and a pinch of black pepper. The first note is almost floral, but then it smack round the head with gin. I assure you, this is a good thing. If, however, you prefer not to sweat gin the next day, like Dave, he enjoyed the Cuban Influence (£7.95) which is essentially a good mojito. The Lady Killer (£7.50) is sugar, rum, passion fruit gomme, apple juice, peach liqueur and lime juice. It was fruity, and served in this very cute little Tom Thumb glass. we also enjoyed but forgot to photograph the Gentleman’s Number 6 (£9.95), which is whiskey, cognac, Antica Formula, tobacco gomme, Benedictine and bitters. Smoky, gorgeous and lethal…
Finally, we found a small corner for desserts. Most of the table ordered the Baked Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (£5.95), which I actually found a bit floury, but I’ve heard rave reviews from other bloggers, so perhaps it was just ours. I loved the Affogato (£5.95). You an choose vanilla ice-cream, with espresso and a shot of amaretto, which is the option I picked, or you can choose run and raisin ice-cream, with espresso and a shot of rum.
The Canal House really impressed us. The venue itself is beautiful, with good quality food, drinks and service. I’ll be back very, very soon.
Myself and three guests were invited to The Canal House for their launch party. Our food and drinks were complementary but as always, all opinions are honest and my own.