I was a weird child. Still am. Amongst the many childhood tales my mother has recounted to me, the first word I chose to utter is one of my favourites. It wasn’t mama, or dada. Not hello, bye-bye, yes or no. It was moo.
My boyfriend might point to this as an early warning sign of my infamous moods, but I prefer to think of it as a first declaration of my love of steak.
You see, a properly cooked steak is a thing of beauty. I personally like mine dry aged, charred on the outside and so rare that it could be returned to life with a defibrillator. Properly rested so that the juices disperse across the protein, not the plate. But this beef nirvana is rarely achieved; far too often my rare steak is overcooked, or the meat has been cooked on too low a heat so that the exterior is a sweaty, muddy grey. Cooking a bit of cow shouldn’t be that difficult yet it so often misses the mark. Luckily, my visit to Bar + Block proved they know how to handle a piece of meat (whey).
I know I’m in the minority, but I have a real issue with meat flavoured crisps. It’s just. not. right. I won’t pretend, then, that the arrival of beef popcorn to start the meal filled me with joy. Fortunately, in this case I was wrong; these little pops of meatiness would make even the cheapest of Cineworld seats bearable, and had completely disappeared by the time our wine arrived.
We choose three small plates from the menu to start us off. A gammon and pineapple scotch egg gets a mixed response; I like the nostalgic flavours of ham surrounding the egg, studded with sweet pineapple and the occasional tingle of chilli, but my dining partner brands it a complete bastardisation of a classic. I reckon I’m right.
Mac and cheese bites do exactly what they say on the tin; deep fried bits of molten cheese and pasta. They’re good, but better eaten with burnt ends; smokey, sweet and crispy bits of slow cooked brisket, with a hint of heat lurking in the background.
I’ll gloss over my boyfriend’s odd decision to order a chicken burger in a steakhouse, because it was a decent burger, but if you’re here it should be about the cow. And it was for me; a hunk of 10oz fillet, exactly how I asked for it. The exterior had a nice crust, the centre still gently moo’ing, with a tangle of samphire bringing welcome saltiness. I like it a lot, and it’s a bargain for it’s size at £22.95.
Dessert is definitely not needed, but we order it anyway. The sundae comes piled with churros, honeycomb, brownies and other things your dentist warns you about. It’s mammoth and would defeat the hugest of appetites for only six English pounds. The baked cheesecake with cherry is the only real disappointment of the meal. The texture is all wrong, a mass of bland, dense sweetness that tastes like it’s been defrosted. I should have ended on the steak. Serves me right for being greedy.
Bar + Block is never going to be my favourite restaurant, the place that I rave about to everyone who’ll listen and take all my friends to when they visit. But it does what it sets out to do extremely well; it serves up tasty, well cooked food at an extremely reasonable price. And for that I can’t fault it.
Bar + Block is at 6 Waterloo Street, Birmingham, B2 5PG.
Food was complimentary for review purposes.