Regrets? I’ve had a few, but then again too few to mention.
Apart from failing to finish the chips served to me at the Old Crown in Digbeth.
What was I thinking, I for whom gluttony is as ingrained in my soul as surely as self-delusion is ingrained in the psyche of the average Brexit supporter?
These were beautiful things – their exterior crunchy and tanned golden brown like muscle-flexing mankini models, their inside soft and yielding as an angel’s fluffy wings.
Were they fried in beef fat? I suspect so, but don’t really give a toss because their flavour was simply superb.
FFS, they could have been cooked in the oleaginous, blubber-faced Michael Gove’s rendered ear-wax and I’d still have eaten them.
That several lay on my plate uneaten – the picture above provides evidence of my wimpishness – reflects not on their quality, but the fact that I’d unwisely ordered a starter which rather filled me up.
The buttermilk chicken wings I shared with my wife as that starter were very pleasant things.
A crisp breadcrumb coat encased moist meat with a good favour, the dish enlivened by a perky sriracha slaw.
This plate, I thought, would make a great snack to share with friends over a few beers at the Old Crown, which dates from 1368 (the same year that Villa last won a major trophy).
It’s a friendly a buzzy space – bare tables, wooden and tiled floors, lots of gnarled old beams and a series of discrete spaces in which to eat, drink or listen to music.
An early midweek evening found the place busy, but service was never anything less than attentive.
The menu’s a simple but imaginative and varied thing. The surroundings are smart and quirky.
It is pub grub 21st century style. Food that tempts and satisfies.
There are interesting sandwiches (think Texan bourbon BBQ burnt ends), light bites, an array of burgers, pizza and pub classics.
It was from among these classics that I selected fish and chips, a dish with a simplicity that’s a good test for any kitchen.
The fish itself was excellent – pearly white flaking flesh hidden beneath thin crisp batter.
And, of course, there were THOSE chips.
Crushed peas were gently minted, tartare sauce had a great texture and tang. There was a burnt lemon for added zing.
Here was a dish that ticked the right boxes.
As did Lynn’s steak and ale pie with smooth, buttery mash, a rich onion gravy and a good variety of vegetables.
Each of these two plates costs less than a tenner, which is remarkable value.
This is homecooking done well, the plates substantial and presentation unfussy but attractive.
It’s absolutely fantastic to see one of Birmingham’s truly historic buildings enjoying a vibrant new life.
With the renaissance of Digbeth, it can only go from strength to strength.
Need to know
Expect to pay a fiver for a sandwich.
Few dishes are more than £10.
There are vegetarian options.
It serves Sunday roasts.
The Old Crown
188 High Street, Deritend, Birmingham B12 0LD. 0121 248 1368.