The Pint Shop – does it live up to the hype?


The Kinks’ most snidey hit, Dedicated Follower of Fashion, seemed an appropriate song to be playing as the last remnants of beef brisket disappeared from my plate.

Here, I thought forlornly during my first visit to the newly-opened Pint Shop, is a place that indeed seems to be eagerly pursuing all the latest fads and trends.

Craft ales? Yep.

Gins? Plenty.

Hipster soft drinks? You bet.

A menu that ticks current food trend boxes? Of course.

The decor is an odd mix of old-fashioned boozer drab enlivened with striking artwork, some of mightn’t be to feminist tastes.

This is only the third Pint Shop to be opened – the other two are in the genteel towns of Oxford and Cambridge.

But, to cynical old me at least, it has the feel of a concept that might be rolled out across the country like some über-cool Wetherspoons.

All of which was disappointing because there’s been a lot of hype surrounding the Pint Shop’s opening and a great many positive comments from those whose opinions I generally respect.

Henceforth I shall dismiss them as fools.

But let’s say something positive.

The service was extremely friendly and efficient – despite the practical problems posed by the fact that the venue’s first-floor dining area is divided into three separate rooms.

Pint Shop

The room in which I sat – gazing like some grotesque bald urchin through leaded windows towards the open-plan kitchen and main dining area – veered from being oppressively hot to bollock-shrinking chilly.

But these are early days and perhaps the heating issue will soon be resolved.

A pint of unfiltered lager was a bracing and pleasant drink.

Less impressive was a snack of Beer Sticks, which were sort of compressed spiced strands of salami sharing a similar texture and colour to the snacks I sometimes feed my ravenous dog Kurt, a creature not famed for his exquisite taste.

Pint Shop

They weren’t exactly unpleasant – simply odd.

Far better was a starter of roasted golden and red beets and other roots served with a crisp linseed cracker, rather gorgeous creamed cheese, a zingy herb oil and what I think was a spiced beetroot syrup.

This was a dish that looked pretty and ate well.

Pint Shop

Alas, no-one could accuse my main course of being pretty. Or even remotely attractive.

Blackened beef brisket came on top of a large flatbread with crisp onions, pickled white cabbage, mint yogurt, chilli sauce and herbs.

The beef itself was strongly flavoured with cumin and had been cooked long and slow so that it fell apart.

Trouble was, it fell apart into monstrously long strands that dangled alarmingly from my fork in a way that suggested I was eviscerating a strange alien creature.

The various accompaniments worked neatly, though more pickled cabbage would have perked up proceedings and the flatbread was a touch floury.

Which caused me to wonder why I’d head back to eat this dull riff on a shawarma when I could eat similar – and better – versions at places such as Damascena.

Thus, full but not especially thrilled, I sauntered into the brisk Birmingham night air underwhelmed, Ray Davies’s lyrics resonating.

Need to know

Expect to pay around £25-£30 a head for food and drinks.

Bar snacks are available downstairs in the bar.

It’s open seven days a week.

Veggie options are available.

The Pint Shop

38 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham B2 5SN. 0121 236 9039.

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