I’ll start by stating that I was invited to eat at The Bournbrook Inn. That I ate and drank too much and was encouraged to fit dessert in when there was no room, and that the same applied to a cocktail when I probably should have gone home. In keeping with the experience no money was exchanged, and that as we left the extremely convivial Tom – general manager Tom to you – asked me what happens next: I told him if it’s good I’ll write to say it’s good, and if it’s shit I’ll say it’s shit. “That’s exactly why we wanted you to come” is his response.
I’m stating all of this because, as I told them, I’m the last person to invite to a pub doing what looks like pretty standard pub food on paper, but we go, mostly because Claire went for drinks and said the wine list was very good and the inside looks nothing like the dive that used to occupy the bottom end of Stirchley. She’s right; they removed the pool table and the England flags in the window, installing a great indie playlist and a new clientele who don’t want to headbutt me after a couple of Carlings. We sit outside, order wine and get going.
I’ll just put it out there; it’s very good. In parts very very good. Better than all of the try hard pubs south of The Plough. A chorizo scotch egg is pin-point accuracy on the cook of the yolk, whilst the piggy bits are a blend of minced pork and chorizo. It’s a very good way to spend £6. Same with the pork terrine; my quibble of the piccalilli lacking a touch of acidity is a minor one, it’s well constructed, well seasoned. It’s unpretentious but highly skilled.
The reason to come, indeed the reason for much of this hyperbole, is the beef bourguignon. Braised ox cheeks, meat stripped, bound in a sticky reduction of the sauce, rolled, cut into hockey pucks and reheated. A good, if unspectacular, mashed potato, bacon, carrots, and a sauce pebble-dashed with beef fat. It’s the essence of bourguignon, repackaged into a smarter suit for all occasions. Eminently beefy, outrageously tasty, I’ll be heading back to order this regularly at just £15.
That’s not to say the steak wasn’t good. Accurately cooked, carved in the correct direction (it matters, trust me), with a salsa verde a touch of vinegar away from being ideal, it disappeared almost as fast the other main. And those chips. Just look at those fucking chips. Burnished crispy thumbs of thrice fried potato, I’m calling it as the best chips outside of the Oyster Club in Birmingham.
We don’t get dessert but we do drink more cocktails, some better than others, but maybe that’s the result of the gentle sway of the evening by now. I can’t tell you what the bill is, but I can tell you that they are doing vinyl Sunday’s which, with that bourguignon and maybe a side of those chips, sounds pretty ideal to me. The Bournbrook is an asset to a already bustling Stirchley; way better than I expected it to be. I used to hate the pub that once stood here, but now I’m fully embracing its new life. Gentrification, it ain’t all bad.