With a trip to the cinema to see the preview of Baby Driver later on that night, Ian and I decided to head to Bacchus Bar on New Street.
Squirrelled away down two flights of stairs in Burlington Arcade, Bacchus Bar is a wonderfully weird little spot that offers traditional pub grub and a vast variety of gins and cask ales – as you’d expect from a bar named after the Greek god of intoxication.
We arrived early evening and chose a high table and stools by the main bar, rather than the restaurant area. Being 30 degrees outside I was surprised to see it quite busy, but we didn’t struggle to find a table or be served.
Bacchus Bar has a nice ambience to it with lots of little nooks and crannies where a drink and bite to eat can be enjoyed. The eclectic style combines the worlds of Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt – bizarrely it all works – with various spaces to drink and dine including a four-poster bedroom, an Egyptian tomb, and a library. Roman pillars, statues and suits of armour are dotted around giving the place a real quirky charm.
Checking out the menu it’s clear the venue is typical of Nicholson’s Pubs chain, with pies featuring heavily alongside traditional pub grub. Triple cooked chips come with (almost) everything and the vibe is very much of comfort food.
As regular readers will know, I’m now on the wedding diet bandwagon 99% of the time where possible (boring) so I trawled the menu for a “healthy” option… there was just ONE. A Chargrilled Chicken Salad (£11.95) and ordered a side of marinaded olives (£3). Ian chose the 5oz Rump Steak from the secondary £10.95 ‘Dinner & Drink’ menu.
The food arrived after 20 minutes and I was pleased to see my salad was a decent portion, although this was mostly lettuce and I can’t help but feel almost £12 is quite costly for some leaves really.
There wasn’t much by way of rice or quinoa, although what was there was vaguely tasty thanks to a hint of moroccan spice, and the heirloom tomatoes were juicy enough. It was all just a bit uninspiring, even by salad standards.
Without the chicken – which was actually quite dry and seriously lacking seasoning – it probably would’ve been quite a sad looking meal. At least the olives were decent. Look, the restaurant focuses on hearty pub grub and on this occasion I was not their target market, I get that.
Ian’s rump steak was cooked medium, as requested, and came topped with a healthy patty of garlic infused butter that melted into the meat. The chips were crispy but fluffy inside, although the portion was noticeably quite small. After finishing his meal Ian noted the steak was a nice piece of beef, although tiny, and because it came with a pint of Amstel for a tenner it wasn’t a bad deal. Again though, it wasn’t that inspiring either.
The food is fine, but that’s all there is to say really. It’s basic, predictable pub grub and you’ll struggle to find anything that doesn’t come with triple cooked chips, so it’s not an ideal place if you’re looking for a healthy option, to be honest.
It would be nice for chain pubs like this to offer more for people that don’t want to eat deep fried carbs constantly – even the fish dish Grilled Sea Bass (£13.95) came with a heavy sauce and mash potato.
I’d certainly come here for drinks and I’d possibly eat here again but only if I was game for a chip fest; this place is not diet-friendly on any level.
The only other thing to be aware of is that if it’s quite dark inside which can make menus difficult to read and the food difficult to see. Of course, this darkness makes for an excellent date spot, and it’s a cool, quirky location for those seeking an escape from swanky cocktail bars.
The staff are friendly and there’s a decent selection of gins and ales if that’s your bag, just don’t come here expecting fine dining. They sell the food as much ‘more’ than it really is: fine.
Have you eaten at Bacchus Bar? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.
Bacchus Bar, Burlington Arcade, New Street, Birmingham, B2 4JH
Disclosure: We paid for the meal. All words, opinions and photos are my own, as always