I remember when The Stable opened in late 2015 – mainly because it marked the first time since my teens that I’d actively enjoyed a pint of cider. Like many high school reprobates, cider was one of the first tipples I ever got drunk on and – despite my best efforts at university – it remained one of the few alcoholic drinks I avoided. *There’s a story here but I’ll save that for another time…* That all changed when the ever-evolving John Bright Street saw the arrival of The Stable, specialising in pizza and cider, which quickly became a Brum hot spot and meeting place for my friends and I.
I continued to enjoy the odd pint at the pretty venue, and especially enjoyed the pizzas, but (as so often happens) as the venue got more popular I found the quality slipped and eventually I found other venues to enjoy food in. Having not eaten at The Stable for 12 months I was actually quite excited to receive an invite to come along and try out the updated menu, and on Friday evening myself and my partner Ian headed through the doors once again.
I’d forgotten how big the bar-come-casual-eatery was, and immediately remembered why I had been a fan of the place. A large space filled with long tables and benches, and rows of high chairs ideal for people watching from behind the floor to ceiling windows, the venue is spacious and attractive; the mix of candles and ceiling lighting is just gorgeous.
Arriving just before 6pm on a Friday there was the usual after work crowd you’d expect, although there was plenty of space to sit (note: by 7pm it was much busier). A friendly member of staff greeted us and we were sat towards the back on the venue (reserved mainly for diners I believe) before meeting our host and deciding on our drinks and food.
The open kitchen and bar lie side by side, and visitors are encouraged to grab a menu from the tables and order food and drinks at the bar. The cider menu is still very impressive, now boastsing over 80 British craft ciders to try. If pints aren’t your thing, or you want to sample a few different types, there is a tasting board available, and the bar staff are happy to advise on the winning combinations offered.
The food menu has seemingly expanded slightly from my memory with additional salads and sharing boards of cured meats, and I was impressed to see they had added some great vegan options.
Having several vegan friends I’m always looking for somewhere that does decent grub for them as I often recognise they’re undercatered for. I was also happy to hear, when I asked, that the sourdough pizza bases and red sauce are handmade on site and the ingredients sourced within the UK.
Being that The Stable is known primarily for pints of the apple nectar, I decided to try a variety of ciders and ordered a taster board (£7.50). You get a pre-selected assortment of five third pint glasses of ciders which come nestled in a numbered wooden frame, with a list of tipples and percentages that corespondend to the ciders. Jon – the top dog – explained that the taster board is designed to offer a mini showcase into what’s on offer, although be aware that the samples are changed on a weekly basis – so if you like one it’s best to make a note of it for next time. Perfect for sharing (or not, come on it was Friday night, don’t judge me!) my personal favourite was the Flowery Bottom, which had an elderflower flavour kick. Wowzers *heart emojis, etc*
Keen to sample a good selection of the food menu we ordered two 11 inch pizzas, a pie, and a salad to share – when in Rome (Birmingham). Ian and I are big fans of lamb so opted for Lamb Bam Boogie pie (£9.50) which comes with herb potatoes, salad and chutney.
According to the menu the shortcrust pastry pie itself is flavoured with rosemary, garlic and honey and, of course, the all important meat. The pastry was crispy and the filling tasty, and whilst the meaty lamb chunks were small they were tender. I didn’t get the honey taste (a solid effort nonetheless) but it was rich, and the wedges were thick and hearty.
Pizza wise we chose the Margarita (£9.00) on the recommendation of Jon who quite rightly says a pizza place can only be judged on a winning cheese and tomato, and The Denhay Delight (£12.00) which was essentially a breakfast on a pizza, including bacon and mushrooms.
Both pizzas were cooked perfectly, with just enough crisp to be satisfying without being crunchy, and the toppings pleantiful. There’s not much worse than a cheese and tomato pizza that’s lacking in fromage, let’s be honest. The fried egg on the Denhay was perfect too – fair play to the chef.
Finally, we decided on the Sooper Dooper Salad (£8.50) from the vegan menu, which combines shredded white cabbage, avocado, rocket, orange, mixed seeds, pickled cucumber, red onion and mixed peppers with a citrus vinaigrette. This (weirdly) was my highlight. Delicious, fresh and full of interesting flavours and textures, the variety of leaves and salad vegetables made for a fab dish. The zingy dressing is also spot on.
All in all a very nice casual Friday supper. The food was all good quality, the drinks were grand (try the mango cider – it’s really weird but brilliant) and the three staff members we spoke to were each delightful.
I’m also a fan of the massive pizza cutters, as you can see…
My only nag (and it is down to the fact that I’m a ganet) is that the pie meal portions could be more generous. I can’t help but feel four wedges is a bit stingy with regards to the pie sides, but the meal (collectively) was very enjoyable. I think partly this was because we had a little bit of all four dishes to try, so maybe order a few things and share them.
Also, as a side note, they had an acoustic singer/guitarist on stage from 8pm who was very good. A nice unexpected treat, and something they don’t advertise but is an added weekend bonus.
It feels like it’s primarily a bar, but the food offered is decent enough and the atmosphere (on a Friday night at least) is most enjoyable. A much better visit to my previous one, for sure.
You can view The Stable’s food menu, including the vegan options, online here. Don’t forget they have a bargain offer on Tuesdays: £10 for a main, a side salad and a drink.
Top tip: the cider tasting board was marvellous and great value. I loved hearing about how they source the ciders and where they all come from – don’t be shy about asking more about the ciders on offer! 👍🏼
The Stable, 115 John Bright Street, Birmingham, B1 1BE
*Disclaimer: I was invited by The Stable’s management team to review the menu/venue, and therefore the food and drinks mentioned in this post were complementary. However, as always, the (amateur) photography, thoughts and words are all my own*