Holy Moly Macaroni, Birmingham

In opening their inaugural branch in Grand Central, Holy Moly Macaroni have really laid out their plans. There is to be no settling in period; no slow burn of customers led by word-of-mouth to a discreet sign on a backstreet. They have positioned themselves in one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares; the gateway to our central train station, in amongst the chains that dominate the food court. They want to be seen, with the open façade a crash of neon that has attracted a waiting crowd like flies to a light. In that respect the gamble of high rents has already paid off. Where else would have them queuing out the door a little over a week since opening?

Now we can praise the audacity of a new independent and leave it there, or we can face facts about the quality of the food they are serving. I won’t be rushing back to join that queue anytime soon. It was fine, in exactly the same way that you say ‘fine’ when the waiter asks and it really isn’t. The issue is a pretty big one; for a restaurant that has built a menu around macaroni cheese, the main event is a let-down. Overcooked pasta, coated in a grainy sauce that tastes as much of uncooked flour as it does of the alleged four cheese blend that appears to have three of them missing in action. We choose a ‘Cluckin’ Hot’, yours for £10.50 with the addition of two sorry pieces of cheese topped garlic bread. The macaroni is beaten into submission by pieces of Cajun chicken, Sriracha sauce and jalapeños. We finish it all without really enjoying it. It is that kind of meal.

A dish without pasta fares marginally better. Chicken and waffles is fairly satisfying stuff; okay, the quality of the chicken isn’t the greatest, but the waffle is light in texture and it’s not been drowned in maple syrup. Apologies for the lack of action in this post; any excitement about the prospect of writing it died during the eating. We wash them down with a couple of cans of Brooklyn lager and leave, £30 lighter than when we started.

It was a meal that did nothing but make me miss the mac and cheese from Pure Bar, where it is cheesier and richer and cheaper. I wanted to love it, to embrace the ambition of taking on the big boys in their own yard, but I can’t. It’s simply not good enough at present. Sure, I expect that the bright lights will continue to bring the queues, but I’ll be elsewhere enjoying an assured meal, waiting for them to improve.

5/10

Transport provided by A2B Radio Cars

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