This week I had an exciting invite to go and see what the shiny new Canal House (and James Brindley’s old residence no less) had to offer us brummies and all those who visit our fine city. The night started with a canal boat; my husband and I watched our heads as we ventured onboard and down the steps to the tables and chairs. We were given a masterclass in ales, looked at the Anthology Of Ales, and sampled the 3 on offer at our table. I loved arriving to the venue via the water and with the taste of beer in my mouth (I’m reading this back with a pirate-style voice). It was then time to get off the boat and say ahoy (last bit of pirateness, I promise) to The Canal House on dry land.
As we entered the building and went through the doors towards the bar; I felt warm and cosy. There was plenty of deep wooden hues and an industrial feel that reflects Brindley’s old workshop space; it was a welcoming atmosphere and the perfect way to escape the rain outside (it’s August by the way, *rolls eyes). My immediate thought was that I can’t wait to revisit in Autumn, grab a pint, and sit with my dog in one of the snug nooks (yes, dogs can go into the bar area; tell everyone!).
Once at the bar; I was (over) excited by the cocktail menu, and after seeing a bell jar full of oak smoke, I searched and found the Smoking Daisies. Through the heady scent of what I can only describe as fantastically bearded men next to a fireplace (dreamy) and the smoke that billowed out from underneath the cloche, stood a delicate coupe glass filled with my cocktail. While I sat on the barstool (which was actually more of a tall seat, so you felt secure, surrounded, and weren’t in fear of slipping off), I felt the bar area was an honest space, where you could get a decent pint or something with a little finesse for Fridays when you’re feeling fancy. The bar staff were as warm and friendly as the environment, and knew how to serve a good drink.
After sipping my drink for a while; it was time to head upstairs and into the restaurant area, which is based on Brindley’s home and includes sumptuous upholstery, antiques, and curios. I got to the top of the stairs, took in a sharp breath, and thought; holy shit (sorry mom) what a beautiful space! High vaulted ceilings, ornate chandeliers, and plenty of natural light from the roof glazing and the exits to the outside terrace (al fresco cocktails on dry days; here we come). It was a contrast from the cosiness and intimacy of downstairs, full of dining tables and another bar area. I was hungry and ready to eat…
After spending far too long perusing the delicious looking menu; we decided to order some olives (I always do), kale crisps with sesame seeds, and a baked Camembert. I also picked a non-alcoholic cocktail to drink (it was a Tuesday guys and I ain’t as hardcore as I used to be). Out came a pretty flute of 56 Years Young, which I was told by the lovely man who served us, contained a non-alcoholic, botanical spirit called Seedlip Garden. It was a delicate drink overall with a little punch to remind you it’s cocktail hour.
The olives were a lovely salty addition to my sweet cocktail, and I’m a fan of kale so I forgot (ahem) to share the crisps. As for the baked Camembert; I don’t think you could go wrong with gooey melted cheese, chunks of bread, and some sliced apple to dunk inside, it didn’t last very long at all.
For my man course I wanted something filling without too many carbs, so I went for the grilled seabass. I was impressed with the portion and quality of the fish, and it had that chargrilled taste that makes you think of summer, and warm evenings near the coast. The pink grapefruit segments gave it a citrus burst which was a welcome alternative to the usual wedge of lemon (nothing wrong with lemon; I love it with fish, it was just nice to try something new).
The creamy sliced avocados were fresh and firm (just how I like them) and the toasted quinoa gave the dish some nutty earthiness and bite. I actually couldn’t finish my plate (those who know me will have passed out or think I’m lying); I left about a quarter of the seabass because I was so full. Full, and very happy with my meal.
My husband went with the beer-battered fish and chips (which I sampled for research purposes). The batter was light and not greasy, the fish flaked and melted in the mouth, and the chips didn’t disappoint either. We were both stuffed, and couldn’t manage a dessert; but I promise to return to sample the pudding selection because I care about the detailed information I provide (and because I shed an inner tear when there was no room left for a third course).
There was an array of hanging kebabs, rotisserie dishes, and other delights coming out of the kitchen; I’ll leave you a little link to all the menus here so you can see what’s on offer.
I felt I needed to be carried downstairs; however nobody was up for the challenge, so I made my way slowly back down and into the bar again. The night ended with another non-alcoholic cocktail for me called a Formation Of Good Habits, and a pretty strong gin-based drink for my husband (apologies, I have the image but no name; I think I was ready for bed at this stage). I met, and had a lovely chat with Nick from Grapevine Birmingham and Laura from Bite Your Brum, who gave me plenty of blogger advice and some tips on where to eat next (thanks guys).
The Canal House has restored one of Birmingham’s beautiful buildings and filled it with a warm atmosphere, delicious food, and drinks to suit every palette. I’ll definitely be returning for pudding, and a pint with my dog.
Peace, love, and Smoking Daisies, Fay x