REVIEW | Why Pint Shop is the place you need to visit in Birmingham

Pint Shop is taking the traditional pub to a whole new level. Now open on Bennett’s Hill, here’s what happened when I went to check out Brum’s brand new addition.

Birmingham’s food and drink scene is continuing to blossom into a true thing of beauty, with a new bar or restaurant popping up on near enough every corner of the city more and more frequently.

This season alone has seen the opening of the new Be At One in Brindleyplace, and we’ll welcome the new Brazillian joint Fazenda on Church Street in the coming weeks, which I can’t wait to try out.

Amongst this, Birmingham has most recently welcomed Pint Shop.

Blink and you’ll miss it, Pint Shop is located at the top of Bennett’s Hill, neighbouring the popular watering hole, The Wellington.

While we’re not short of places to wine and dine in the city centre, for me, it’s always a sheer delight to see a new independent making its mark on Birmingham and bringing something new to the table – and that’s exactly what Pint Shop is doing.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is some old man’s pub that’s dishing out pork scratchings and Sunday roasts. Pint Stop’s taken a traditional pub, flipped it on its head and brought it into the 21st Century with its stylish food, welcoming staff and cosy interior.

Before heading along for lunch on a rather gloomy Tuesday, admittedly I didn’t know all too much about what Pint Shop had to offer, apart from a lot of beer and an onion bhaji scotch egg that seemed to have sent the foodies of the city into some sort of frenzie on Twitter – myself included.

With my heart set on trying out this scotch egg that had seemingly got tongues wagging, I was very much looking forward as to what this new kid on the block had to offer.

Pint Shop is wonderfully cosy. Spread across three floors with a bar on the ground serving all the beer you could possibly imagine – and then some, the main dining area and open kitchen on the top floor and toilets on the top floor, its wonderfully spacious and makes for a cosy environment.

There’s a small area at the rear of the bar on the ground floor which will serve a great purpose next summer, and plenty of space if you’re looking to just grab a pint and one of Pint Shop’s infamous scotch eggs.

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I was dining with a colleague; we were part of a group that was very lucky to be treated to a tasting menu, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

Heading up the kitchen at Pint Shop is Mark Walsh. With Harvey Nichols and Opus on his CV, I’ve had the pleasure of eating Mark’s food on many occasions and I can never say that I’ve found that he’s missed the mark in producing a really sensational plate of food.

His menu at Pint Shop is hearty, stylish and reflects what this new joint is about perfectly. He’s designed some truly wonderful food and is working on tweaking his vegetarian dishes to suit vegan diets too, making the menu accessible to everyone.

There’s plenty of choice when it comes to drinks, too. As myself and my colleague were dining on our lunch break, we strayed away from the huge gin and beer menus and opted for soft drinks. I opted for the Apple Cooler, a blend of apple juice, mint, cucumber and lime that was beautifully refreshing and actually complimented a lot of the food quite well.

Now, to the food. Being on a tasting menu meant that we were working our way through some of Pint Shop’s star dishes. The menu was made up of snacks: Jam vs Custard sourdough with a whipped British butter and green olive paste.

Then came the starters. Small plates of Octopus carpaccio, which was soft and beautifully cooked and brought to life with a zingy lime dressing with a crunch of seaweed; crispy pork bites accompanied with a sharp Ponzu sauce for dipping; roasted beets & roots, served with a linseed cracker to add that extra bit of crunch against the soft beets and of course, the onion bhaji scotch egg, the dish I’d been most excited to try and it didn’t let me down.

The soft egg with a slightly runny yolk was perfectly cooked, with the yolk oozing into the soft surrounding onion bhaji shell that was packed with flavour and delicately spiced. And if you’re not dining, the good news is you can also grab one in the bar area downstairs. I’m no beer drinker, but even I know that scotch egg will go down well with a pint or two.

Next up came the mains. First was the overnight pork belly, served with crackling, roasted cauliflower and piquant sauce. The meat was cooked to perfection; there was no effort required in cutting it as it simply fell apart. Bursting with flavour a rich gravy was a welcome addition to compliment the sauce and the slightly crisp cauliflower.

The Pint Shop dirty burger followed. A generous and juicy patty was the star of the show – and so it should be – pair it with the hand-cut truffle fries and you’ve got one heck of a hearty meal that’ll leave you feeling full and satisfied.

Vegetarians won’t be disappointed either. We tucked into a huge grilled aubergine, layered with a delicious chickpea tagine packed with flavour.

And how could I forget the coal baked flatbread kebabs? There are two to choose from: one filled with blackened brisket and crispy onions, the other with tandoori masala chicken and toasted almonds. I couldn’t get enough of the tandoori chicken, it was beautifully moist and seasoned just enough to pack a punch.

Finally came pud: a lemon meringue fool that still left the taste of summer dancing in my mouth, poached plums with a milk jelly, a peach melba sundae which brought back a huge sense of nostalgia from lunches at my Nan’s house as a child and finally a chocolate cremeaux with a milk sorbet, which was as light as you could ever wish a chocolate pud to be after working your way through a generous tasting menu.

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I left Pint Shop feeling full, satisfied and eagerly wondering when on earth I can fit in my next visit to try full-sized portions of this sensational food.

Pint Shop is setting out to blow the doors of Birmingham down. And while it may still be in its early days of finding its feet and making tweaks and changes, there’s no doubt in my mind that this place will make its mark on the city in next to no time.

Whether you’re a beer fan, foodie fan, gin fan or a mix of all three, you NEED to try this place out, I can’t begin to express just how much you’ll be missing if you give it the cold shoulder. Pint Shop is waiting for you with open arms and a scotch egg, you’ve just got to walk on into them.

Pint Shop can be found on Bennett’s Hill. To find out more or book a table, click here.

Disclaimer: I was gifted this meal by Pint Shop. All views of this meal and images are my own unless stated otherwise.

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