One of the things I like to do as a pescatarian food blogger is check out places that you wouldn’t think would be worth it for a veggie, and find out if they are. Last year I went to review Nandos in Grand Central and discovered that, contrary to common belief, the chain actually had some pretty great veggie options on the menu, and that it wasn’t a restaurant for veggies to avoid. So when I was invited down to the try the new Beefeater Bar and Block on Waterloo Street, I was interested to see if this chain could leave me as pleasantly surprised.
The new Bar and Block certainly doesn’t look like the kinds of Beefeaters I’d visited before. Inside, the decor is stylish and the atmosphere was similar to any other good bar in Birmingham – you certainly couldn’t tell it was the Premier Inn restaurant chain. The staff were very friendly and welcoming and were very happy to recommend their personal favourites from the menu. We chose our drinks from the extensive wine list, and were given a small pot of beef popcorn on arrival, which sadly we couldn’t have – but this is Beefeater afterall!
Unfortunately the food is where it started to go down hill for us as pescatarians. For his starter Jack opted for the garlic king prawns. They were fine, but had far less flavour than you’d expect from this kind of dish, with no hint of the white wine they were apparently cooked in. I went for the cheese and herb topped mushrooms, the only fully vegetarian option of the starters. As much as the combination of mushroom, cheese and a herb crust should have been a winner with me, I could only think how boring it was. Again, the flavours were very bland and once you’d gotten past the thin crust of herbs and cheese, you really were just eating a ramekin of mushrooms.
There are three fully vegetarian options on the main menu, which isn’t too bad for a restaurant that focuses on steak. Jack went for the veggie burger, which was a mix of broad beans, peas and spinach, topped with feta and chargrilled red peppers. Having had a lot of veggie burgers over the years, it was nice to see a different take on the ingredients, however our overall thoughts were that it was pleasant, but a bit dry. The french fries that are served with the burgers are pretty indistinguishable from McDonald’s fries, and certainly cheapened the feel of the meal.
For my main I went for the Aubergine and Mozzarella bake. This dish was a real disappointment and I would really recommend Beefeater takes another look at their recipe. The bake, again, lacked any real flavour to speak of, and it was so oily that I couldn’t finish it (I usually cook with a fair bit of oil – but this was swimming in it). The ‘side of rocket salad’ was simply a pile of plain rocket, which again was just not what you expect from a mid-range priced meal.
After a disappointing couple of courses, I’m pleased to say that the dessert did put a smile back on our faces. We opted for the chocolate and toffee fondue for two, which was a gorgeous sauce and a selection of banana fritters, bread and butter bites, chocolate brownies and fresh fruit. Each separate component was extremely tasty, and the triple chocolate brownie in particular was to die for. I’d really recommend this dessert for anybody visiting Bar and Block, as it gives you a chance to sample a range of what is on offer.
Overall, though it was a pleasant enough evening, we had to conclude that Beefeater Bar and Block simply isn’t worth it for vegetarians. None of the food was awful, but for the price-point we certainly felt that it was a disappointing meal. Obviously Beefeater is all about the steak, and I’ve heard from other food bloggers who eat meat that they had a great experience. However, I always feel that if a restaurant is going to put veggie options on their menu and charge a fair bit for them, it’s important that they don’t feel like a neglected after-thought. Thank you to everyone at Beefeater Bar and Block for having us – we may return for a second visit if ever the menu is updated!
*The food and drinks on this visit were complimentary for review purposes. This does not affect my honest opinion.