The Shoreditchification of Stirchley continues at a pace.
Recent years have witnessed an extraordinary transformation of this once unassuming neighbourhood.
Trendy new places offering interesting food and drink are springing up almost weekly.
House prices are soaring. Developers are snapping up land.
And I’m no statistician, but I’d wager that it’s got the highest concentration of bushy beards anywhere outside an Amish community.
It really is hard not to draw parallels between East London’s hipster hub Shoreditch and Stirchley.
The latest newcomer is Cork and Cage, which opened about month ago just over the road from the British Oak.
It serves unusual beers – think lambic and wild – alongside a limited range of natural wines and spirits plus Turkish food and traditional coffees by a young man called Şımarik.
Early Friday evening found this narrow unfussy space packed.
But stools near the window provided my wife and I with a great vantage point from which to watch cars sploshing along Pershore Road through the rain.
And also an opportunity to eat and drink.
Which is to be rejoiced because this is an exciting, generous and hospitable place.
Let’s get a marital disagreement out the way first, though.
I bought a bottle of PN 18 wine – a slightly fizzy rosé made in East Sussex using some strange grapes and old-fashioned and natural methods.
“It smells like drains,” insisted Lynn, peevishly.
She was wrong, of course.
It smelled yeasty and funky but not like any drain I’ve encountered.
Gallantly, I volunteered to neck back the whole bottle (plus a rather pleasant half-pint of lambic beer) whilst she drank a couple of glasses of bright vibrant cabarnet franc from the Loire.
Her loss, I thought, for the PN 18 opened out to reveal lots of cream soda charm underpinned by fresh acidity.
It also went extremely well with the many dishes we ordered – all rustic, flavoursome and satisfying fare.
First came little cigars of golden, crisp pastry came stuffed with cheese and garnished with parsley and nigella seeds.
This, the chef told us, was based on his grandmother’s recipe. She must be a bloody good cook.
Kuru misket kofte were equally pleasing – crumbly beef meatballs served with tangy red onion, potatoes and delicate spices.
A bulgar wheat salad with pomegranate sauce, crunchy fresh vegetables and great olive oil was a delight.
Hummus was properly coarse, packed a punch and beautifully dressed with vegetables and pickles.
But the star for me was cevizli patlican – melting aubergine with walnuts and caramelised onion to create a rich, soothing taste-bomb
Flatbreads was pretty much perfect.
This is a food menu brimming with surprises.
There are spices, seeds and herbs that intrigue and help to create beguiling layers of flavour.
And there’s a sense that the people behind this venture really are passionate about what they’re doing.
Cork and Cage really is worth a visit.
Need to know
The dishes come in the form of mezzes.
The most expensive is £8.20.
There are plenty of vegetarian options.
Walk-ins only – tables can’t be reserved.
There’s an incredible range of weird beers.
Payment is by card only.
Cork and Cage
1373 Pershore Road, Stirchley, Birmingham B30 2JR.