I recently found myself moseying along the canals in between meetings, hungry and with an hour to kill. Jumping off the towpath around Gas Street, I spotted the familiar white washed walls of The Pickled Piglet.
It’s somewhere I’ve trundled past many times with good intentions of visiting, but until one recent overcast afternoon I’d failed to make it through the doors. Nestled on a relatively quiet street, The Cube looms to the left, the traffic and noise of Broad Street in the distance to the right. Unlike many of the chain restaurants that surround it, The Pickled Piglet is an independent gastropub, opened in 2013 before a sister venue, The Pig and Tail, launched in the Jewellery Quarter two years ago.
Through the slate grey archway, a cosy bar sits below a larger upstairs dining area. Colourful soft furnishings are paired alongside the rustic wooden tables and wall panels. Hues of teal and powder blue cover the rest of the walls and eclectic artwork provides some vibrancy, and the bistro feels stylish yet relaxed.
It’s a quiet but quirky spot for lunch (truth be told, it was nearly empty) which turned out to be the reason for my first visit. The menu is changed seasonally, according to the cheerful member of staff who took my order, with an emphasis on modern British dishes made – where possible – with locally sourced ingredients. During my visit earlier this month the spring menu was still in place, with a fairly concise but enticing selection of small plates, mains and sharing platters.
A simple and light starter of Buffalo Mozzarella and Tomato Salad managed to pack a spring punch thanks to a drizzle of herby pesto, the basil and rapeseed dressing spiking the leaves and ripped cheese. With so many juicy heritage tomatoes available at the moment I’d have preferred something more interesting than the cherry tomatoes this came with. Those red spheres always feel a bit soulless to me; bland and unimaginative. Shame, as the rest of the flavours were lovely and it was a very colourful appetiser.
Speaking of soul (sorry) the Grilled Sole main was utterly delightful. Amongst the crisp green beans and baby potatoes, a whole fish on the bone, fried as one would hope leaving the white flesh flakey. Boasting a mild, sweet flavour it’s as good as any I’ve had in the Midlands before. It didn’t quite match up to same fish I’ve previously had in Devon at Rockfish, but they are undeniably big shoes to fill. A splash of a parsley based herb butter sauce brought the dish together and I’d happily order it again.
A lovely lunch in a charming setting for under £18. I was told early July should see the summer menu drop, and I’ll be back with as many piglets as I can roundup to see what the next season will bring to this vibrant gem. The Pickled Piglet offers a smart dining experience, led by a small team of local folk who clearly love the venue and the food they’re creating. This is another independent we should be championing; accessible food and genuine enthusiasm collectively deliver an honest and unpretentious meal at a reasonable price.
Have you been here? What do you like from the menu? Let me know in the comments.
The Pickled Piglet, 22 Gas Street, Birmingham, B1 2JT
Disclosure: I paid in full and didn’t tell anyone I was reviewing. All words, opinions, photos are my own.