** Update 4/4/13 – THIS VENUE HAS NOW CLOSED **
A new night out has arrived in the UK and it’s landed slap bang in Broad Street here in good old Brum.
Duelling Pianos is the first bar of it’s kind in Blighty and according to enthusiastic directors Simon & Robbie, Birmingham hit the mark for friendly and lively people looking for a bit more than just overly loud DJs in a generic bar or club.
So what is Duelling Pianos? Well the blurb describes it as “a high energy bar & restaurant” – I must say from our first experiences that is definitely an accurate description. After a warm up, the main part of the night kicks off with two pianists battling it out for your affection. Throughout the evening you can request songs from your favourite of the duo, and they then work their way though the requests with great banter and audience participation, showing some great playing and amazing voices.
There are a number of pianists working at the venue – we saw the very fabulous Vanessa, Robbie, and Adam, and a fantastic drummer. Robbie Peaple is the flamboyant Musical Director and stalwart of the show, and his selection of jackets and shoes needs to be seen to be believed!
So what to expect: You arrive on the red carpet (dress smartly, no one wants to party with someone in flip flops) into the ground floor entrance lobby where the lifts are waiting to whisk you up to the bar. Once in the venue you will notice that it has changed a fair bit since its previous incarnation as The Living Room. There’s plenty of seating available to rest your pins once you get tired dancing, the music is too tempting not to. There are booths which are lovely to dine in, as well as high tables (“poser tables”) for those wishing to stand and talk or for those whose toes can’t bear standing still while the music is kicking.
Drinks are fairly averagely priced with cocktails ranging from around £7 to £9, premium pints around £4 and wines start from about £3.80 a glass with a surprisingly good selection available both by the glass and the bottle.
From the 1st night of prising those too-long closed doors open we’ve already been back a couple of times – the opening night, the launch night, and a fabulous hen party (congrats Dawn & Tony!). The venue has improved each time we’ve been and now feels complete and appears to be offering, in the words of one of our group on Saturday, “a nice grown up night out” that appealed to all of our friends ranging in age from 21 to 50.
The variety of food on offer is great, if you want cocktails and sharing platters, a pint and pub style grub, or some nice wine and posh nosh, it’s all on the menu. We ate the cod & chips with minted pea puree, the mini burgers with mixed cheese, the Duelling Pianos Classic Burger with bacon & cheese, sirloin steaks, seared tuna fillet with Wasabi Mash & Pickled vegetables, and my personal favourite the Asparagus & Red Onion Tart. All lovely. Price wise, Tapas dishes start at £4.75 to £7 (any 4 for £16) and mains range from £10.50 up to £22 for the fillet steak.
Will we be back? Too damn true. Just as soon as I can shake this hangover from the last visit and our feet recover from all the dancing.