Found within the ye olde walls of The Anchor, a new food concept is quietly bubbling away. Say hello to Digbeth Market Kitchen.
First a little background colour. My first taste of Digbeth Market Kitchen in (unsurprisingly) Digbeth came about because of my dear friend Vicky. An absolute nut for whisky, the lady also known as Brumderland kindly offered to host a tasting class for a small group of us. I don’t claim to know anything about whisky (nor have I particularly enjoyed it previously outside of an Old Fashioned) but I’m always willing to learn and try new things. Also I was promised food, and we all know I’m anyone’s for a complex carbohydrate.
There’s more on the whisky tasting at the end of this post, if you’re interested.
After a quick pint in the bar (lovely ale and beer selection; I’ve since been back for more Surf) and a menu mooch we set up camp in our private and cosy dining room. The menu is split into two: light bites and bigger plates. The former is more geared around bar snacks, the latter more a main meal vibe. The chap running the show, Mike, has made a real effort to include something for everyone, with some pretty impressive veggie options. The price point for all the food is undeniably decent too. I went for the Crispy Pork Belly (£7.95) served with noodles, teriyaki sauce and pickled vegetables.
A generous bowl of food, thick slices of pork belly topped a hefty pile of rice noodles and assorted crunchy veggies. My heart sank a little when I clocked the meat wasn’t, like the menu suggested, crispy at all (imagine more ramen-style) but I was offered two more pieces which were thankfully much crispier. The pickled slices of veggies added crunch and were tangy enough, but the noodles needed a bigger hit of teriyaki. I left half a bowl, finding it all a bit bland. Saying that, I do think with a few tweaks this could be a really lovely dish, and the replacement pork belly was absolutely delightful.
Also from the bigger plates was the Crispy Fried Tofu Sandwich (£7) with Twice Fried Chips (£3), which was pretty special according to our token vegetarian. It’s quite a skill to make tofu interesting, in my opinion, and this looked really impressive. The chips, also enjoyed by many around the table, were glorious. They actually reminded me of how homemade chips tasted and looked back in the nineties when I was a kid. None of that pre-cut bagged up, stuff here.
The ‘pub grub’ snacking plates were all totally spot on. My husband made short work of the crispy Chicken Wings (£5) and a memorable homemade hot sauce; that stuff is absolutely banging. Similarly the Chicken Bites (£5) had excellent crunch, the coating salty and moreish. I was actually incredibly jealous Ian had a whole bowl of these little pieces of joy. It might not be the most sophisticated chicken you’ll ever eat, but it’s seriously flavoursome.
For those interested, here’s a little breakdown of the whisky tasting part of the evening.
Vicky had booked a private room away from the main bar area, arriving armed with 6 bottles from her personal collection. My theory was that if VJO couldn’t make me like at least one of these tipples no one could; by the end of the evening I’d actually become quite fond one of them. Our host talked us through the origins of each whisky from the collection, which included single malts, blends, bourbons etc. After two hours (and a lot of shots) my main observations were that I’m partial to a Japanese whisky called Nikka, I don’t like peaty flavours, and whisky gets you shit faced. Many thanks to Vicky and her husband Dan for being great hosts.
Near Digbeth Dining Club, The Anchor is a pub full of character and charm and (while I do miss the epic toasties a bit) the passion and people behind Digbeth Market Kitchen will ensure this new food offering keeps the punters happy. A few tweaks and I think this could build quite a cult following. There’s a great weekend brunch option available, and if you keep your eyes peeled you may spot some swish private supper club evenings pop up.
Have you tried Digbeth Market Kitchen at The Anchor yet? Let me know in the comments.
Digbeth Market Kitchen, The Anchor, 308 Bradford St, Birmingham B5 6ET
Disclosure: We paid in full for all of the food and beers; Vicky kindly supplied the whisky. All words, photos and opinions are mine.