The name Beefeater may throw notes of nostalgia in the way of most, but with a 2016 rebrand, Bar + Block was born under their wing; and we couldn't wait to try it out.
It’s incredibly hard to remember what Colmore Bar & Grill looked like when you walk into Bar + Block. It’s both a world apart from its predecessor and the typical Beefeater style in general thanks to an uber rebrand and reboot. There’s big booths and tables, a huge central bar area, wooden wall panels, exposed brick, neon lights and quirky ‘cow/beef and food’ themed art work (which, if you actually look at it, is also educational). It’s definitely in keeping with the current trend in terms of interior spark.
The Food and Drink
What I liked was being presented with a little bowl of beef popcorn whilst we looked at the menu; sets the tone for a meat-heavy meal (even the Bloody Mary comes with bacon). The menu itself comes with a steak guide – Which I always think is great.
For starters we had the chicken wings (6 for £5.95, 12 for £10.95 or 24 for £19.95). Bear with me on this one….crispy chicken wings with Tabasco raspberry chipotle sauce, with a pot of sour cream dip; a great balance of sweet-to-spicy-to-salty and incredibly moreish. Alongside this we had Garlic King Prawns (£7.50). A healthy amount of prawns in white wine, garlic and butter with a lemon wedge and ciabatta, which you’ll need to mop up the very generous quantity of butter. The only thing I would say is that I didn’t need the heads removing and then placing back on the prawns, done solely for presentation, and I’d have liked my ciabatta toasted.
When you think of a Beefeater, you may conjure a retro image of steak with tomato, grilled mushroom and a side of onion rings. I mean OK, they still do steak and onion rings, but the 8oz fillet I had was cooked perfectly; butter-soft and seasoned well (you can sense the Gaucho influence) and the onion rings are buttermilk and much crispier than their ancestors. My co-reviewer went for the special, which was brisket and beef dripping chips. The brisket was soft and barbeque-y. Although well cooked, if I’m going for something as naughty as beef dripping chips, I’d want them to scream, “I’m bad for you,” and these didn’t quite make me feel guilty.
For pudding I had the triple chocolate brownie (£5.95) which is warm, topped with chocolate toffee sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. My counterpart had the Blackforest Sundae (also £5.95) - Layered chunks of the brownie, kirsch cherries, custard, vanilla ice cream and chocolate toffee sauce, topped with cream. Can’t go wrong with either in my opinion, both were royal, and indulgent.
To wash all this down, we shared a carafe of the Beefsteak Argentinian Malbec, which was a little spicy and chocolaty and rather lovely. I looked over at the tables and saw two women having a bottle each, which I’ve never seen before and was jealous that I didn’t think to do the same.
The Atmosphere and Clientele
I imagine that the clientele are largely hotel-stayers (being the restaurant is attached to the Premier Inn) and those grabbing a bite after work within the business quarter. Service was incredibly fast and efficient so I’d recommend it for a burger or steak before hitting some of the bars if you're inclined to a hearty evening on the Birmingham tiles.
Believe it or not, but I calorie count and I had carefully planned my day around my meal. Perhaps it’s because I was ravenous, but I would have to think carefully about what I’d spend my precious calories on if I came back thanks to the indulgent menu. There could be some improvements to the presentation; you want to do justice to the perfectly cooked meat. Overall I would say it was great, but just shy of amazing.