Review: The Bureau Bar, Birmingham

The classy and elegant Bureau Bar, perfectly situated on Colmore Row, has long been a favourite with after-work drinkers and weekend cocktail-lovers in the city. Whether many people would think to visit for a meal I’m not sure, so when I was invited down last week I was interested to see whether their food could live up to the standard set by their drinks menu. Whether you’ve visited the Bureau Bar before for food, drinks or neither, have a read to hear about our dining experience at this vintage style bar.

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We visited early in the week and the bar was quiet but not completely dead. ┬áThe staff were very friendly and attentive throughout the evening, and very knowledgeable about the drinks on offer, being able to recommend certain things based on our tastes.┬áThe decor is classic and stylish and really lets the beautiful building on Colmore Row speak for itself. Maybe it’s just my most recent way of being picky (see my review of Rub Smokehouse) but I couldn’t help but feel that the atmosphere could have been far more up-market had they been playing sultry jazz music or something similar rather than chart hits. When the surroundings make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time to classier days, it seems a shame not to keep up that illusion with the music.

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We started the evening off with a cocktail each. Jack went for a Negroni and this short, dry classic was made perfectly and served in a stylish tumbler and garnished with Orange. I chose the Elixir No. 6, one of The Bureau’s original concoctions, where they keep the ingredients close to their chests. This drink was a foamy, zesty, gin-based cocktail served out of a CO2 cannister. It tasted divine and it was a nice change to have such a creamy and frothy drink that was refreshing rather than sickly. Though the cocktails at The Bureau are more at the higher-end price-wise, they certainly were great drinks and we would definitely recommend the two we tried.

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For his main Jack ordered the handmade fishcakes. Filled with sustainably fished salmon, spring onion, capers and parsley these cakes tasted really fresh and had plenty of flavour. The warm green bean salad and red pepper pesto really made the meal and perfectly complimented the fishcakes. I went for the goats cheese, shallot and herb tart. The goats cheese, made in Shropshire at an award winning farm, was beautiful, however the size of the tart meant that the richness of the cheese became a little too much in the last few mouthfuls. It paired very well with the shallots however, and the shortcrust pastry was perfect, so overall a really nice vegetarian option.

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We ordered a side of sweet potato fries and a side of hand cut-chips. Having had our fair share of sweet potato fries, we both agreed these had to be up there with some of the best we’d had, and that we wouldn’t be able to return without ordering them. The chips were also spot on, however we only realised afterwards that they were cooked in beef dripping, so if you’re a strict veggie watch out for this and unlike us, make sure you read the menu!

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Despite being pretty full by this point, we were still tempted by the dessert menu. Jack had the cookie dough and vanilla ice-cream and I went for the ‘Bureau mess’. The cookie dough was divine; served in a hot cast iron pot, this was an incredibly indulgent dessert and the one we would certainly order again. The Eton mess was very nice but nothing special, which, to be fair, Eton mess rarely is. The size of it was a little overwhelming, but the classic combo of cream, meringue and strawberries was still a nice way to end the meal.

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Overall, we really enjoyed dining at The Bureau, and I will certainly be recommending it to people who may never have thought to eat there. We really liked their focus on sourcing local food, and the service really couldn’t be faulted. Depending on your menu choices, it would also be easy to opt for a more pub-style meal (e.g.burgers, Deli-slates or bar bites) so it would still be worth a visit if you fancy something more laid back – though make sure to try the cocktails whatever the occasion! Thanks to everyone at The Bureau Bar for having us, we had a really lovely evening.

*Our meal and drinks were complimentary for review purposes. This does not affect my honest opinion.

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