Whitebait and marie rose sauce – a dish straight out of a 1970s cookbook and one that might draw sneers from snooty food lovers.
And quite rightly so, for done badly it can be an abomination – the fish thin, flabby and oily, the sauce acrid and artificial.
Thus it seemed to me a good test of the quality of cooking at Purecraft, which recently went through a bit of a churn in its kitchen but has emerged with a settled staff and new head chef.
And, blimey, it was good.
The fish themselves were plump, their surface lightly crisp and their inner flesh moist and flavoursome.
The marie rose was a blushing pink joy – rich but with an uplifting note of acidity.
This is a dish I’d happily order again.
Opposite my wife’s starter of roast beetroot with English feta, walnuts and apple was a pretty dish of nicely balanced colours, textures and flavours.
Like my whitebait, it was well received and enjoyed.
The quality continued as we progressed on to main courses.
A chicken snitzel that I ordered was a lightly crumbed flattened piece of bird that had been cooked with precision so the coating had crunch and the poultry itself was succulent.
Mayo laced with the hard, dry cheese Old Winchester had a tang, watercress added pepperiness.
The chips were all that good, homemade chips should be.
A fried egg served on top added richness and brought the components together.
The battered haddock eaten by Lynn was a wonderfully generous chunk of fish and, again, was cooked perfectly.
Mushy peas, tartare sauce and fries were all top notch.
These were all substantial and satisfying dishes so that I ordered a dessert is, in itself, an indication not only of my own gluttony, but of the tempting nature of Purecraft’s menu and trustworthiness of its cooking.
Thank heavens I didn’t give in to the good angel sitting on my shoulder whispering: “Don’t eat any more – you’ve had quite enough.”
For the caramelised malted custard – a sort of English crème brûlée or crema catalana – was a thing of beauty.
A gossamer thin layer of crunchy amber lay above a smooth, creamy, luxurious pool of custard given an intriguing flavour from the deftly-judged addition of brewer’s malt.
Here, from start to finish, was a meal of dishes that I want to eat with a pint (or more) of good beer.
It’s not fancy cooking. It’s not cutting edge.
It’s good ingredients combined with common sense but imagination and treated with care and respect by a brigade on top of their game.
I doubt there’s a pub serving better grub in the city.
A standard echoed front-of-house by staff who couldn’t be more accommodating and efficient.
Need to know
Purecraft also serves bar snacks such as scratchings, pickled eggs and sausage rolls.
There are sandwiches, too.
Expect to pay £5-£7 for small plates.
Main courses are between £12 and £20.
There are vegetarian options.
There’s a great range of craft beers.
They also serve wine.
Purecraft Bar & Kitchen
30 Waterloo St, Birmingham B2 5TJ. 0121 237 5666.