I don’t really like living in Tyseley. It’s lacking in entertainment, Deliveroo doesn’t deliver Lebanese food at 10am here, and my next door neighbours are basically a 2017 version of the Nesbitt’s (showing my age there). However, one of the few things I am grateful to this shitshow of an area for – aside from the cheap rent – is its proximity to the canals. Just a 5 minute walk from my house there’s a tiny cut through that allows me to nip onto the winding canal paths that lead all the way to the city centre. Gone are the cars and echos of local kids screaming, and found is some quiet and greenery; minus the occasional bit of ‘Fuk da po po’ graffiti. Aside from some old blokes fishing and the occasional Lycra-clad runner it’s also quite possible to walk for miles without seeing another soul, which when you have a job that involves talking to people a lot is often a blessing.
With the lovely summer weather returning briefly but with gusto in the first weekend of July, Ian (the newly crowned ‘Liam Gallagher wannabe’ – Birmingham Mail, June 2017) and I headed out for a long walk. Being that my fiancé refuses to walk anywhere unless there’s a pint at the end of it, and I will walk for hours just to eat something tasty, before setting out we agreed our destination: The Distillery.
A mere *cough* 10km from our house, I’ve heard a lot about this canal-side joint but until now hadn’t managed to get around to visiting it. My other half – who runs home along the canals most evenings – came across it, and knowing what I like in a summertime pub (big beer gardens, good beers, copious amounts of food) suggested we try it out.
Arriving at 2pm I was struck by two things: 1) it’s a gorgeous place inside and out 2) the beer garden was only a third full on a boiling hot day. (The latter is not a negative and I enjoy not wrestling the smokers for a seat). The brick work is beautiful and the bar is massive; I don’t know why I’d been expecting something so much smaller but it was a pleasant surprise. The bar staff – one of which I randomly knew from my days in (the proper) Snobs when I dressed like Cher on acid – were all super welcoming and chatty, and the eclectic mix of music playing inside and out was excellent.
I took a good look at the extensive gin menu (great choices including Pinkstar, Aviation, Tanqueray no. 10) as well as the cocktail options, but due to the intense heat, and my inability to say no to lager, I ordered a pint and a half of Lawless. There was a really decent selection of draft beers and lagers actually, although not the cheapest.
We got settled on a sun-drenched table near the bar, and admired the setting. From where I was sitting I had a view of the canal and the far reaching tables, as well as an array of flowerbeds; the garden area is kept immaculately clean and well presented. This picture below doesn’t do the size of the outside area justice, by the way.
Many people around us were eating, and the food looked glorious – special shout out to the chap smashing in a huge roast lamb dinner whilst sweating buckets. Heroic effort; don’t let sunstroke stop you having gravy, lad.
After debating what to order, I decided on the Lemon Thyme Rotisserie Chicken (£11) which came with fries, garlic aioli and a lettuce, mint and radish salad. Ian opted for the Pork and Chorizo Burger (£11) with fries and fennel slaw. The food was delivered quickly and both dishes looked fantastic; generous portions which is always welcome.
The herby scents wafted up from my meal and I couldn’t tuck in fast enough. The half chicken was still on the bone meaning I was able to rip it apart like the aggro carnivore I am, and the meat was tender and flavoursome. The lemon infused skin was also crispy and uber tasty, making me think it had been basted in a flavoured oil before and during cooking. Either way it was ruddy delicious and I happily ate morsels of the zingy meat alone or plunged into the creamy garlic dip. Great fries too; decent portion, crispy, freshly fried and seasoned. The side salad was small but provided some nice freshness to cut through the well basted chicken. Having had a really awful piece of chicken the night before I would’ve been impressed by a 3am KFC to be honest, but this was genuinely wonderful pub grub, and I woke up wanting to eat it again the next day. Bravo.
The burger was flavourful and colourful to boot. The patty of chorizo and pork mince was tasty with a hum of spice, and was well seasoned. Due to it being pork it was a touch on the dry side compared to a beef burger, for example, but the slaw (stuffed inside under the burger itself) and mayo gave it some extra moisture and it didn’t detract from the great flavours; Ian inhaled it, and the chips, in minutes.
The Distillery is a lovely city centre find that’s both cool and homely; somewhere you could take your mum for a nice Sunday lunch or have a cheeky double Hendricks (or 5) with friends. The added (non negotiable) 12.5% food service charge seems a bit unfair, being that you order at the bar and only see your server once, but considering the quality of the food and venue I didn’t mind paying it really. I want to try the roast dinners for sure, and I’m most definitely heading back for some more of that dribble-inducing chicken. What’s more it’s literally a 5 minute walk from Brindleyplace, making it more accessible than people probably think.
Dear substandard sun traps of Birmingham, look to The Distillery for inspiration – this place is the dogs gahooners.
The Distillery, 4 Sheepcote Street, Birmingham, B16 8AE
*Disclaimer: This post is not affiliated with any brand/company mentioned within and we paid for our food in full. All views and photos of sexy chickens are my own*