After a bout of heavy snow and freezing temperatures, Birmingham turned into a death trap ice rink earlier this month. I didn’t so much walk to Liam Gallagher’s gig at the NIA rather I slid there, like some kind of shit-faced Bambi.
Having bought The Husband tickets to see Manchester’s favourite yob back in October (for his birthday) we decided to make a night of it and headed out straight after work for drinks and dinner at The Canal House. Ian chose this place because it’s close enough to the arena that you can walk over after a few shandies – plus he’s not stopped talking about the hanging kebabs it offers since we attended the official opening back in August.
The Canal House is still a gorgeous setting for drinks and dinner, especially now it’s decked out for Christmas. With the snow still settled on the ground around the canal basin, the bar-come-restaurant felt even cosier this time around, and thankfully the heating was on full.
Arriving at 6pm the place was already fairly lively, and a smiling member of staff seated us upstairs before taking our drinks order. (It’s a bit dimly lit upstairs come the nighttime but relaxing nonetheless). My one standout memory from our last visit is that the staff were all super friendly and helpful, and this proved to still be the case throughout our second visit.
The menu is very similar to The Botanist (no surprise really, being that they’re both owned by New World Trading Company) and you’ll find fish, grills and deli boards. We started with some Pork Crackling (£3.95) served with chopped chilli and spring onion, plus an apple and fig ketchup. The crunchy fried nibbles are salty lumps of joy, however the dip is both unnecessary and far too sweet.
A nice little snack to enjoy with a pre-dinner pint, but it was the hanging kebabs we’d come back for. On our last visit we’d tried the Chorizo and King Prawn (£6.95) starter version (you can read about that here) but this time we both opted for the main meal alternatives.
We chose the Jerk Salmon Hanging Kebab (£12.75) and the Chicken Hanging Kebab (£11.75). They looked great approaching the table, and make for much Ooohing and Ahhhing from others around us. Served on hanging skewers, they are arguably a bit style of a substance (easier to look at than eat) but the fun presentation is quite lovely.
The fish kebab arrived served hanging above a bowl of rice and peas, sopped with a chilli and ginger sauce. The marinaded salmon was juicy and the Jamaican-inspired flavours were warming but not overpowering alongside the sweet pineapple.
Full disclosure: I actually returned the first version that arrived because the salmon was a little undercooked but, to the credit of the kitchen and staff, this was handled swiftly and I had a new dish within 5 minutes.
The rice was well cooked although not life changing (how exciting can white rice ever actually be?) but was made more interesting by the juices and sauce dripping down from the kebab.
Ian’s chicken was moist and flavourful, with plenty of an optional garlic drizzle. Both were generous in size and arrived quickly, with the sauce being poured at the table to enable you to chose how much you’d like.
The Canal House has a nice selection of draft and bottled beers and IPAs and a solid wine list. I enjoyed a large glass of Bulletin Zinfandel (£6.25) which for a house red is bloody lovely; juicy and light.
We left full and happy, and miraculously arrived at the gig with all bones intact – we also had a jolly time shouting SHIIIIINE with thousands of other 30 somethings (thanks for asking).
A lovely cosy spot to enjoy dinner this winter. Despite the minor hiccup we had such a nice time we’ve decided to book in for New Year’s Eve lunch with friends, in the brighter area downstairs.
P.S HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!!!
The Canal House, 12 Bridge Street, Birmingham, B1 2JR
*Disclosure: we paid in full. Sorry the photos aren’t great quality; due to the lighting my iPhone just wasn’t playing ball. I’ve got my sights set on a nifty Sony camera come the new year so I’ll make sure pics are better*