Pub grub’s a funny old thing, ranging from mass-produced mush served in bars dreamed up by dull-eyed accountants to Michelin-starred food that’s far removed from the packets of crisps and bags of pork scratchings that I used to eat at the old Norton Arms in Pype Hayes in my distant, spikey-haired youth.
But somewhere deep in the heart of every drinking man (and, I suppose, in these enlightened days, drinking woman) there lurks a mythical idea of what pub grub should be. Simple. Filling. Flavoursome. Dishes that resonate with memories. Good value.
Step forward this place: well-conceived, impeccably run, hitting the target.
The elegant building in which Purecraft is housed must once have been an office in which besuited people sat at desks.
Now it’s a space given an almost edgy urban edge with lots of exposed brickwork, cables and metal in which the besuited unwind over a few drinks and food after their work. Plus there are a good number of trendy young sorts like me.
The main bar area is expansive and can be a little noisy, but there’s a connected space to one side in which a quieter meal can be enjoyed.
The young staff, in their dark T-shirts, look hip. They are friendly, utterly professional and know well the drinks and food they sell, so that they can advise and inform customers.
Service is swift without being rushed. It’s a place where you could grab a quick lunch or linger longer over a more relaxed meal.
“Carefully-crafted versions based on good ingredients and given a contemporary lightness of touch”
Expect snacks and dishes that stir your memories – things such as pork scratchings, sausage rolls, Scotch eggs and fish and chips.
But don’t worry: these aren’t the stodgy, salty and sub-standard things available at many pubs, but carefully-crafted versions based on good ingredients and given a contemporary lightness of touch by a small kitchen with a whole lot of skill.
A fish and chip lunch earlier (yes, I know, very greedy and indulgent) had left me less than ravenous and so the place was an ideal choice for dinner for its small plates are an ideal size for those not wishing to eat heavily.
The little metal dish of small, meaty sausages with which I started was a treat, with a sticky, dark red sauce that had a real hit of chilli heat.
Later came a perfectly fried duck egg with a chunk of sourdough topped with a Welsh rarebit that was tangy and had been grilled properly so it had deeply savoury semi-burnt edges.
Elsewhere on my table were devoured the bar’s wonderful, semi-runny Scotch egg served with string fries and beer ketchup and a dish of heritage tomatoes with soft cheese. Both dishes were well-received.
As were the main courses of fish and chips and that retro marvel, chicken Kiev. Servings were generous.
But here a moan: dishes seem to be served in skillets, in baskets, on boards and in other ways rather than on straightforward plates and in ordinary bowls. Why? It doesn’t look good and isn’t always easy to eat that way. Let such great grub speak for itself!
The beers of Purity feature prominently on the drinks list, together with a number of guest and other featured ales and lagers. All that I’ve tried during my many visits have delighted me. There are wines, spirits and soft drinks, too, obviously.
Need to know
- Expect to pay around around £25 a head for food and drinks.
- Vegetarian dishes.
- Sunday roasts served.
Purecraft Bar & Kitchen
30 Waterloo Street, Birmingham B2 5TJ
0121 237 5666