by Ryan Parish aka Brummie Gourmand
The Canal House opens in Birmingham
Those who have walked down the canal side, between Brindleyplace and Mailbox in central Birmingham, have probably noticed the poor dilapidated state the former James Brindley Pub was getting into. It was a 90s hotspot but closed its doors in 2008 for the final time after facing stiff competition. The building has since sat there unloved, the glass arch steamed with condensation, the windows shuttered.
All that has changed now, and for the better. New World Trading Company have been busy little bees, giving the building a makeover from top to bottom and adding some gorgeous panelling on the outside to give us The Canal House, a unique venue for the second city, inspired by James Brindley and the canal trade. I went with BrumHour for a sneak peek, prior to its opening on Monday 14th August.
Our trip to the venue was a spectacular beginning with a trip on the canal itself with a little beer tasting. Sitting at the Captains table (why not) alongside fellow food blogger Bite Your Brum and her partner, Ian, we tried three beers which will be available at the venue, and though the weather wasn’t being nice it was a fun way to arrive from the wharf side.
Our first beer was the Alhambra Reserva 1925, a high quality, malty lager with a clear amber colour and a 6.4% abv and slipped down a treat. Our second taster was an Einstök Icelandic White Ale flavoured with orange peel and coriander and brewed with pure Icelandic water. A very light and pale ale with a fresh clean palate balanced between sweet and spicy, 5.2% abv. The final tasting beer was a Kona Hanalei Island IPA, a tropical fruit beer, brewed with passionfruit orange and guava, at 4.5% abv. A hazy golden colour with a fruity taste, and not to my personal taste, but if you like a fruit cider this could be a great alternative.
And what a venue it is! Split into two sections, canalside, where we arrived it is known as ‘The Engine Room’ with views over Gas Street Basin with a roof shaped like barrels, rustic furniture, exposed lighting and a collection of curiosities.
Upstairs is known as ‘The Residency’ with a beautiful glass gallery roof, bottle chandeliers, private dining and brewery fresh Budvar ‘Tankové Pivo’, that’s matured for 90 days in temperature controlled tanks and a secret distillery somewhere…
After taking our seats downstairs we ordered enough food to feed a small battalion between us to ensure we could give you a full menu experience, of course.
From their bread and olives selection, we tried, what’s sure to be a big crowd-pleaser, the Farmhouse Loaf & Chicken Gravy, with gravy made from the in house rotisserie chickens and served with a mini loaf, it made for a delicious was to start the taste buds going.
From the Nibbles section we tried Cumberland Chipolatas served with a honey and cider mustard, the sausages were nice and crispy and went well with the sweet spicy mustard. We also tried the Pork Crackling, served in a cone with chopped chilli, spring onion and apple and fig ketchup which disappeared quickly with relish.
From the Starters we tried the Stuffed Romero Pepper with basil, goats cheese and toasted quinoa and tomato jam and the Prawn & Chorizo Skewer with minted peas drizzled with cucumber and mint yoghurt.
The mains section has lots to choose from rotisserie options, deli boards, hot-pots, salads, grills, flat-bread sandwiches and their famous Hanging Kebabs. We chose the Salt and Pepper Pork Hanging Kebab served with properly seasoned chips, the Roast Lamb Grilled Flatbread Sandwich and a Deli Board Rotisserie pork with apple & fig ketchup, Smoky beans & lamb meatballs, Camembert stuffed with mushrooms & truffle oil and Piri Piri glazed chicken wings.
We found just enough room for dessert to squeeze in we had the Grilled Pineapple with vanilla and star anise syrup, toasted coconut and rum frozen yoghurt. Sticky Toffee Pudding with vanilla ice cream and Baked Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough served with salted caramel ice cream and toffee sauce.
We also took a good stab at the drinks menu with a wide selection of cocktails including:
Smoking Daisies which comes with theatre, a Mezcal cocktail served in a canopy filled with smoke which makes an impressive arrival.
The Narrowboat Iced Tea is great for those with a sweet tooth as it comes with a bag of cola bottles on the side and is a nice twist on the classic iced tea with vodka, rum, gin and Cointreau served in a bottle topped up with plenty of cola.
The Wheelwright’s Apprentice came with even more sweets! And came full of fruity flavour with raspberry, rhubarb, ginger, cranberry and mint.
We did try some of the non-alcoholic cocktails too:
56 Years Young is a muddled chilli, elderflower and apple drink giving a bit of spice and fruit and served in a flute.
And the final cocktail of the evening was the Formation of Good Habits with lemon, elderflower and thyme, served in a jam jar was a great refresher for the evening.
I even found time to sneak in what’s is probably one of my new favourite beverages from their extensive beer list. Hollows & Fentimans Alcoholic Ginger Beer. Inspired by Thomas Fentimans original recipe it’s a very smooth and refreshing drink which you could quite easily forget had alcohol in it if you’re not careful and is perfect for a summers evening, it’s also gluten free for any of those who usually have to avoid beer for that reason!
We look forward to getting further acquainted with The Canal House soon if we can get in as I feel this is going to get busy soon!
Find out more here: thecanalhouse.uk.com
Ryan, Jo-ann and #BrumHour were invited to the media launch of The Canal House we were given food and drink in exchange for a honestly held review. This isn’t a sponsored post.