Over Christmas my husband and I ventured out of the flat in search of anything that wasn’t turkey or cheese. Yes – even I can only put away so much Camembert, it turns out.
Living by the canal means we often take the walk from Brindleyplace down to The Mailbox, during which we walk past a lot of places to grab food. Some are good, some not so much. We ended up in Gas Street Social, a bar we’ve frequented many times over the years, in search of a light bite after all the heavy Christmas food we’d eaten. This proved to be almost irrelevant after the 4 bottles of wine and mountain of pork crackling we polished off later that day, but let’s not talk about that..
Stylish with a hint of hipster wanker, Gas Street Social is part of the sprawling Mailbox complex and offers a large menu of light bites, burgers and small plates. There’s nothing particularly fancy or jazzy about it, but the premise is pub grub done well. It’s also a well priced offering in a popular location that often charges much more for a meal. The burgers that flew past looked pretty decent (note: they offer 241 on Mondays) but we opted for some sandwiches with the view that they’d be quite light. It turns out they’re actually quite big and come with a choice of chips. Thank god for elasticated waistbands.
First up, a Fish Finger Sandwich (£10.95) that was generously filled with pieces of a battered fish that’s flakey and moist but light on flavour, even for white fish. I haven’t got a clue what fish it actually was, but I’d guess something like pollock based on the flesh colour. The beer batter had good crunch but I didn’t get any of the beer flavour; the tartare sauce was more flavourful but lacked texture. Overall it was a pleasant enough fish finger butty but it was annoying to actually eat. The white bread used isn’t strong enough to support all the mayo-like sauce, and the large amounts of gem lettuce made it all tricky to hold and bite into. I ended up with mayo all over my face and half a battered fish in my lap at one point. Seeing Ian’s Steak Ciabatta (£12.95) that arrived next, I’d have preferred a sturdier bread like that over two disintegrating slices of bloomer that were as useless as me after the last bottle of Sauvignon Blanc later that day. It’s not going to win any awards for appearance either.
The steak sandwich was a bit hit and miss with Ian. His main gripe was that the rump steak wasn’t remotely pink. He wasn’t asked how he would prefer the beef cooked, but perhaps that would be helpful. Still, the flavours were all on point, the ciabatta itself arrived warm and crisp, and the meat was lean and tender enough to eat without a knife and fork. This usually comes with caramelised onions, by the way, but he asked for his without them because he must like disappointment. In terms of chips the chunky variety were best, and you do get a good portion included in the price.
The food at Gas Street Social, as yet, has hasn’t ever blown me away and service is a bit slow, but there’s much worse in the vicinity charging more. The surroundings are nice enough and it also offers a good Bottomless Brunch option that’s available every day. Heads up, if you have an Independent Birmingham card you can also get a free beer or cocktail with any sandwich or main meal.
Gas Street Social, 166-168 Wharfside Street, The Mailbox, Birmingham B1 1RL
Disclosure: I paid in full for all food and drinks. All words and photos are mine