Living a few minutes walk from it, my main gripe with Brindleyplace remains its reliance on chain restaurants to please the masses.
Of course there’s a few notable independents and small chains knocking about, but largely the busy square houses chains churning out mediocre meals – usually with a permanent discount voucher attached to it. This post is not designed to knock the likes of Cafe Rouge and Pizza Express – there’s a time and a place (not to mention a market) for such venues and I’m not in the habit of being condescending – it’s more that I know the city centre well enough to be certain we have much better to offer.
Brindleyplace, specifically, has a purpose outside of housing some of the big shot companies that make a lot of dosh for Birmingham. The area is popular with visiting music fans due to its proximity to Arena (the artist formerly known as the NIA, to most) and families taking in the otter show at Sealife Centre. Come the weekend it offers (some) relief from the carnage of Broad Street, but midweek there’s a few spots worth a visit for lunch – one of those places is Bank.
When summer hits, the front terrace is a sea of girls in dresses missing a few inches of fabric with a DJ drowning out the sound of Prosecco bottles popping. On the surface I should hate the place, but if you walk through the long bar and out to the terrace restaurant you’ll find an entirely different aesthetic. Looking more like a chic beach bar you’d find in Ibiza, the large terrace is a sun trap during the afternoons thanks to a retractable roof. Here, alongside views of the canals and incredibly polite service, you can enjoy a well-priced lunch menu and food that makes you realise not all ‘chains’ are terrible.
The lunch menu changes seasonally and comes in at a reasonable £17.95 for two courses. There’s plenty of variety and I have to say the food is more impressive than you might think prior to visiting. Cocktails will get you started, with an Aperol Spritz being my go to on a sunny day.
Available 12-5pm, the lunch menu offers 5-6 starters and mains to choose from. Perfectly judged Crispy Squid comes on a bed of Asian noodle salad and offers both the flavour and texture you’d hope. Goats Cheese & Heritage Beetroot Salad is probably too generous in size but gorgeous and fresh. The soft whipped cheese is luscious smeared across the chunks of beetroot, and a drizzle of pesto adds some pep. Chicken Tikka Skewers are pleasant without being exceptional, lacking any heat in parts being a bit dry. Stick to the squid.
Mains are all arguably a bit too big, but if that’s your only gripe you’re probably doing ok. Fish and Chips offer a brilliantly crisp batter without the greasy, heaviness I’ve found elsewhere – it’s an enormous piece of white fish that’s light and flaky. Asian Duck offers a leg of the meat cooked blushing pink on a bed of crunchy vegetables including pak choi, with a lightly sesame flavoured jus. A small additional surcharge will buy you Steak Diane – a cooked-to-your-preference slab of beef sitting like an island in a sea of sauce made from seasoned pan juices and a hefty dollop of cream. It’s not much of a looker but my husband inhaled it, so I’d take that as a good sign. There’s desserts to add for a few quid more if you wish, but I don’t think you’ll need them.
Sometimes looks are deceiving. It’s easy to get a false impression from the front patio before you’re inside the bar – I expected it to be all style over substance but left Bank feeling surprisingly satisfied. The daytime menu offers value (especially compared to the main menu which is quite pricy in parts) and the service is smooth. Book a table on the back terrace for a sunshine lunch with friends, and leave your preconceptions of this place at the revolving door. If you want a well priced lunch in Brindleyplace you could do far worse than this place. It’s not going to change the world but it’s one of the better options if you’re dining in this area.
Bank, 4 Brindleyplace, Birmingham, B1 2JB
Disclosure: I paid in full for this meal and drinks. Words and photos are mine.