The Canal House Launch Party

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.

The Canal House

James Brindley

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.

Gamma Ray

High Wire

Einstok

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.

Cocktails by the Canal

Whisky Sour

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.

Nibbles

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.

Canal House Starters

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.

Hanging Kebab

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.

Flatbread

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.

Cheese Burger

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.

Steak

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.

Old Ruby

Cuban Influence

Lady Killer

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…

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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. 

Cocktails at 1565 Restaurant, Bar and Terrace

Hands up if you love cocktails and a bargain? Oh, all of you? GOOD NEWS, the gorgeous 1565 Restaurant, Bar and Terrace are currently running a cocktail month, with a different cocktail every day for just £5. Tucked away in the Park Regis hotel,  1565 is a chic, chilled out spot for a cocktail or five.

1565 Cocktail Month

Laura of Bite Your Brum and I headed over on Tuesday for Rhubarb Margarita day. We settled down on a pair of bar stools and immediately became friends for life with outrageously charming barman, Christian. Unfortunately, the Rhubarb Puree he needed to make our drinks had entirely disappeared, but this actually ended up being a good thing. Our new best friend had an alternative solution for us.

Margarita Birmingham

We’d already regaled him with a tale of a truly awful Margarita Laura had been served elsewhere that evening (think salt and lemon squash…yuck) and Christian was pretty horrified, so he set about making up for this horror, by presenting Laura with the beauty above. I had a little sip and this margarita was perfect. Sharp, and with just a slight hint of salt from the lip of the glass. Christian talked us through properly salting the glass so you don’t end up with salt in the drink, and then served it by rubbing a wedge of lime around one half of the glass so Laura could change the sip to have more salt or more lime, depending on her preference.

Old Fashioned

Christian himself is a fan of the Old Fashioned, which is one of my favourites too, so I had to try one of those. It was perfection. Strong and with a good hit of citrus from the orange peel, which is exactly how I like it. Again, Christian talked us through the proper method to make this cocktail perfectly, and he clearly knows his stuff.

The restaurant was quiet, so we stayed sitting up at the bar, chatting with Christian about cocktails, his home in Romania, afternoon tea and life in Birmingham. He truly was the perfect barman; chatty, entertaining and very knowledgable about his craft. A real credit to 1565!

Espresso Martini

I will always drink an Espresso Martini if there’s one on the menu, and 1565 do! They call it the Insomniac Martini. It was gorgeous, with a great balance of the bitter coffee and sweetness. Perfection.

Throughout August, a different cocktail is available everyday for only £5. Each cocktail is taken from the main menu, so if you enjoy the cocktail of the day, you can come back and enjoy it again and again. For details of the what the day’s cocktail is, make sure you’re following 1565 on Twitter.

Our drinks were complementary in exchange for social posts while we were there. I was not obliged to write a post. All opinions are honest and my own. 

All You Can Eat Pizza at Rub Smokehouse

I’m all for a good old-fashioned carb load, so when Rub Smokehouse asked if I could take on the challenge of their All You Can Eat pizza, I put on a food baby hiding dress and headed straight over.

Rub Smokehouse

For £12.95 a person, booked in advance, you could eat all you can eat pizza (each slice is brought individually and you must finish each slice before requesting the next one) for an hour and a half. The current record stands at 20 slices, and if you beat it, you can win £100 in Rub vouchers. Bite Your Brum, Miss Pond and Kat’s Blog of Stuff decided we weren’t quite ready for 20 slices of pizza, but we could still make a pretty good attempt at shovelling in LOTS of pizza.

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The pizzas on offer are all a little…unusual. I tried four of the six pizzas on offer (choosing to pass on the slightly dry looking Nacho Cheese Monster and the classily named Mystery Ring Sting). The Mad Korean was by far my favourite. The toppings are Pulled BBQ Pork with a Korean BBQ Sauce, Spring Onions, Sesame Seeds, Kimchi, Chilli, Mozzarella & Prawn Cracker Dust. The BBQ sauce was tangy and the prawn cracker dust slightly melts into the topping adding an interesting chewier texture. This was a very popular option round the table and we all ate lots of it, enjoying the addition of kimchi immensely. The Mac n Cheetos (Mac n Cheese with Cheetos & Mozzarella) was mostly confusing. It was tasty, although we found the slices were much tastier if you got the first few slices of a batch. The longer the pizza stayed on the tray, the more the mac ‘n’ cheese solidified, and it was much nicer a bit sloppier. The cheetos were a bit challenging to keep on top of the slice while you were chomping, and I do feel pasta and crisps on pizza is a lot of carb in one go, even for me. It’s also on a barbecue base, which is never my favourite.

The Idaho State Fair (Frankfurter, Buffalo Sauce Popcorn, Dill Pickles, French Mustard & Ketchup Base) was also really good. The pickles and the mustard add tang, and the frankfurter pieces were  juicy and tasty. I did prefer this without the popcorn though, as I didn’t think it added anything except getting stuck in your teeth. The Katsu Chick Flick (Japanese Curry Sauce, mini chicken nuggets, pickled ginger, mozzarella and crushed spicy rice crackers) was the one we were all looking forward to, but it was actually a bit disappointing. Kat was presented with a slice that didn’t actually have any of the chicken nuggets on it, and while the slices were well smeared with katsu sauce, the other toppings were a little sparse. What was there was delicious though.

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Cocktails are two-for-one all night during the event (classic cocktails are two-for-one 11am til 7pm and 10pm til close usually). I started with the Bourbon Peach Smash (£8.50), which is Buffalo Trace, Briottet Creme de Peche, sugar syrup, fresh mint, lemon juice and soda water. It had a good peach flavour without being overly sweet, although a splash more bourbon wouldn’t have gone amiss. I do like my cocktails boozy though, so perhaps if you’re not so inclined, you wouldn’t miss it. I followed it with a Bramble (£7.95), which is Brokers Gin, Briottet Creme de Mure and lemon juice. It was sharp and delicious, and I think the best of the two cocktails I tried.

Rub is, to be honest, slightly mad. The menu is all enormous American classics (there is SO much stuff I want to go back and try, like the Pizza Fries, Risket for a Brisket, the Hoagies and of course the truly ludicrous Kitchen Sink Sundae) and the decor is all american diner in feel, with lights, posters and all sorts of bonkersness all over the walls. The staff were all super friendly, despite how busy and noisy it was. If you’re looking for a bit of a unique dining experience, keep your eye out for future events and eating challenges.

Our food was complementary in exchange for a blog post, but we paid for our own drinks. All opinions are honest and my own.