The Bun & Barrel has been open two weeks. During that time, I’ve been once for a friends and family night where I paid half price, once where I paid full price for all of the table, once where I was paid for by a friend, and another time where we went Dutch, which is a term for splitting the bill and not smoking pot whilst watching a sex show, however much fun the latter sounds. I have eaten every item on the menu at least once, drank every cocktail at least thrice, drank the wine but not the beer, and contemplated a soft drink before giving myself a good talking to. I think I’m going tonight. No, of course I am going tonight. I like it there. I like it a lot. It is why I have promised to go with just about everyone who has requested we go, which happens to most of Birmingham and a few from further afield. Can we go to Bun & Barrel? Why, of course we can. Get your wallet out, I’m not falling for that again.

Should we start with reasons why I like it? Yes, Simon, we probably should. I like that the walk is five minutes precisely from my front door. I like that the music is loud and gnarly and goes from Them Crooked Vultures to The Cure via a smattering of The Stones, Led Zep, IDLES, Green Day, L7, and Wet Leg. It is easily the best playlist in the city. I like that the cocktails are strong and generous, and that the pool table at the back is somewhere in Harborne which doesn’t involve a man in thigh-high boots selling CDs to me mid-game at The Vine. I like the venue; a red light seedy space of dark corners that could be in Soho, London just as easily as Soho, NYC.

But what about those burgers, Simon, you useless but undeniably sexy fuckwit? It’s not a street burger van style, however much they pretend. The burgers here have more obscure reference points, like the burgers at Bar Boulard, The Minetta Tavern, and Goodmans. Burgers that have come from the same mind as the plates of food at Harborne Kitchen over the road. It is a burger that has an end point of how the textures work and the flavours interplay. The standard house burger has pickled white cabbage over gherkins, jalapenos, and matchstick fries. At the centre point are two 3oz beef and bone marrow patties, scooped out with an ice cream scoop and heavily caramelised on one side. The demi-brioche buns made in-house are sturdy, slightly bready little bastards that hold their shape. Like everything else here it photographs appallingly, but my god it tastes good. Nine quid. Add cheese and bacon and its twelve quid.

But don’t stop there. Please don’t. Get the tempura softshell crab, legs reaching out to snip your greedy chops, with white crab and a salsa made from mango and chilli. The best veggie burger going with panko aubergine, halloumi, and an aubergine kimchi that eats like caponata with an axe to grind. Get the surf and turf with rolled pork belly, scallops, and apple. Delicious, mate. Absolutely fucking delicious. Or maybe do a Russell and order the £28.50 Rossini burger when someone else is paying. You’ll get the patties and a fat lobe of duck liver, bacon, and Lyonnaise onions. It’s super rich, and you’ll likely require a nap after eating it, but this is Harborne; I bet your sofa is extremely comfortable. Go full Russell and have a side of pig cheek fries. Maybe text me after to tell me its a lot of rich food.

Is there anything I don’t like? Well the crabby fries are more whitebait than crab, and I really can’t get on board with the miso mayonnaise that comes with the standard fries. And I’d love to see a ragu from a man who makes one of the best ragu I’ve ever eaten, ideally as a sloppy joe style burger, but I’d take it on some fries. In full disclosure my invite to the friends and family night likely confirms that I am a friend of one of the men who owns it. We go to cricket together, play darts badly, and sit around bitchin’ and drinkin’ wine and listening to bands from time-to-time. I would call him a friend and for that reason I’d also tell him to his face if The Bun & Barrel were shit. He also gives me nothing for free in his restaurants and that’s a very important point here. The multiple visits are out of my pocket which mean I’m happy to call this as it is. The Bun & Barrel is everything you want it to be. Harborne is extremely lucky to have it.