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Purnell’s Bistro is in the Colmore Business District, Birmingham’s commercial district where the crisp suits and glass buildings of big business are softened by the relaxed green space of St Philip’s Place, and the casual independent coffee shops that have cropped up in that area.
Located on Newhall Street, Purnell’s Bistro aims to combine the friendliness with more than a hint of sophistication. The cocktails are prepared to a high standard with ingredients that you don’t come across every day - it’s hard to think immediately of anywhere else in the city where you could get kaffir lime leaf or fig liqueur.
What’s the vibe?
The bar area, which is in fact more or less integrated with the bistro, is also known as Ginger’s Bar. That’s a reference to Hollywood Golden Age screen goddess Ginger Rogers, and hints that the venue takes inspiration from Old World glamour.
What’s on the menu?
There are two distinct options for food: the bar food menu and the bistro menu.
The bar food menu is a list of snackish treats that could easily be made into a meal on their own. You’ve got options like duck scotch egg, garlic and chilli prawns and leek and blue cheese tart. There are also a number of different sandwiches available - from cheddar and chutney to whoops! (hot roasted pork belly with Merguez, cured meats and roasted garlic mayo).
In the bistro, diners can pick from the à la carte menu of traditionally-inspired dishes, with a gourmet or exotic twist. Ham hock terrine comes with homemade piccalilli, slow-braised shoulder of lamb is accompanied by spiced cous cous and red pepper purée.
And don’t forget desserts. White chocolate and crème fraîche torte with raspberry and basil sorbet. Enough said, surely...
What’s the damage?
The cocktails come in between £6 and £8, and the bar snacks are mostly around the £6 mark, with hand-cut chips going for £3.50, and a couple of the meatiest picks close to £8.
In the bistro, starters average £6-7, mains at £14-20, and desserts are £5-7.
Right now, Dine Birmingham is offering a 15% discount. Get your hands on that here.