Stirchley has got various gems that make my city centre wanker heart green with envy, but the Tierra x Cork and Cage combo is right up there.
There’s no denying Stirchley is thriving – pandemic or not. Even before the heady days of pubs reopening in July (remember that? When things seemed a bit less shite for a month or two and the sun was shining? What a magical time..) there were people making the best of a bad situation, and stepping up to continue to serve their community. They adapted and evolved their businesses – cafes usually filled in the daytimes with mums avec pushchairs and date nights come the evenings became delis and shops to keep people in fresh vegetables when the supermarkets failed them. If this area is about anything, it’s community.
I spent a fair few afternoons wombling around the area having discovered the canal path from my flat leads directly to the place locals call Stirchvegas. I bought pastries from Loaf and tomatoes from Caneat.. I didn’t really need them but I liked being able to spend my money with good people and frankly any joy was welcome at the start of summer when I felt like I was losing my marbles. I felt safe in Stirchley even though I was merely passing through, and I vowed to return to enjoy more of it once Boris pretended it was safe to lick door handles again.
August came and went and I totally forgot to utilise the Eat Out To Help Out scheme over there, but I heard about a taco based kitchen takeover at a small bar I’d previously enjoyed a pint in. Based at Cork and Cage, Tierra (from the nice folk behind Tiger Bites Pig) has proved quite popular of late if the old Insta is to be believed and I can see why – because it just makes you quite happy.
Before the tacos came the Totopos (multi coloured tortilla chips to you and me) and a most generous portion for a little over 3 quid. Satisfying crunch and moorish as hell thanks to the lime salt, a simple salsa and some serviceable guacamole. Were the chips a bit too salty? Probably. Did I finish them all? Absolutely. That’s what beer is for anyway isn’t it, to wash down salty snacks and make you funnier?
Onto tacos (all £3.50 each) and there was a firm favourite for me in the shape of the Pork Carnitas pictured below. Lots of smoky pulled meat topped with sticky caramelised pineapple, crunchy red cabbage, tangy pink pickled onions and pumpkin seeds – the flavour smacks and the textures are spot on.
Chicken Tinga up next which I thought I might regret when I realised upon delivery it was now served with a surprise peach salsa, but the sweet and savoury combo was peng, as the kids would say. No idea what’s in the smoked crema below all of that but it tasted just as good licked off my hand later on.
The last taco choice of Baja Fish sounded right up my street in principle but the beer battered fish was a bit underwhelming. The batter tasted of very little and was overall a bit soggy due to the wet corn succotash spread on top. Compared to the other two this just wasn’t very exciting and needed a some kind of kick, and it left me thinking I probably should’ve ordered the beef one instead.
Sides wise you’ll find nibbles like corn on the cob slathered in chipotle butter and smoky black beans. Is the food as special as Tiger Bites Pig from the same chaps? Not quite for me, but it’s mostly tasty, satisfying and it’s great to see two businesses come together.
Cork and Cage is a proper neighbourhood gem with ever changing wine and beer lists and a relaxed atmosphere. I visited on Saturday lunchtime and had no issues getting a table or being served although the weekend evenings do get quite busy and booking ahead is helpful.
Don’t forget if you flash your Independent Birmingham app when paying you’ll get 3 tacos for £9 – drinks and food are paid for separately. Good people coming together to do good things to make other people happy – we love to see it.
Tierra, Cork and Cage, 1373 Pershore Road, Stirchley, Birmingham, B30 2JR
Disclosure: I paid for all food and drink included in this post and all words and photos are mine. The food discount above is available to anyone with the IB app.