Autumn has definitely arrived in Birmingham. And whilst I love a scarf and a pumpkin spice latte as much as the next basic bitch, one thing I really can’t get on board with is the lack of daylight. Dragging myself out of bed has become an impossible task; one that requires more willpower than I happen to possess and a fancy sunrise simulating alarm clock. It’s dark, it’s cold, it’s miserable, it’s shit, and I’ve used up all my holiday at work.
With a trip to Spain off the cards, the next best thing was a trip to El Borracho in Edgbaston, somewhere I’ve wanted to visit ever since eating at their brilliant 1000 Trades pop-up. It’s a lovely space; warm, welcoming and expertly presided over by the wonderful Emma.
We start the evening with Catalan bread. Simple flavours of tomato and garlic soak into the top of the bread, whilst the bottom retains it’s crunch. It’s almost definitely the best rendition I’ve ever had and puts the one we have two days later to shame; it’s half the price and definitely twice as good. To accompany it comes the house red (Pez de Rio, excellent at £17.50) which I quickly recognise as one I often drink far too much of in Bar Opus..
Skewers of chicken marinated in red mojo sauce are our first meat dish. The tender meat is packed with flavour and sandwiches chunks of pepper and onion that still retain a little bite. Drizzled with garlic aioli, it’s a perfectly formed plateful and – happily – a sign of things to come. Lamb is slow cooked and falling apart in the tomato and pepper sauce, whilst the tang of baked piquillo peppers stuffed with goats cheese balances brilliantly against the richer dishes.
The pork cheek is rich and comforting, the pork perfectly cooked and served with a red wine sauce that cries out for every last drop to be finished. It’s perfect for cold Birmingham evenings; a hug in a dish. The butterbean stew with smoked black pudding, chorizo, pancetta and red pepper has a similar vibe. It’s all kinds of warming, the kind of dish you want to eat tucked up on the sofa, mopping up the last of it with bread.
We order the potato churros with blue cheese because they sound intriguing. They are fantastic. Out of this world, life altering, fight-to-the-death-over-the-last-one fantastic. If I was a potato, I’d be pretty happy to end up in this particular afterlife.
Regrettably, we have no room for dessert. The bill for two barely reaches £70 including wine and we roll home full of some of the best Spanish food I’ve ever had. The value is further driven home a couple of days later, when we pay a considerable amount more for an underwhelming meal at a much-acclaimed Spanish restaurant in Manchester.
So thank you, El Borracho, for bringing some sunshine to my dreary Thursday evening. You really are a gem.
El Borracho de Oro is on Harborne Road, Birmingham, B15 3BU. WEBSITE.