As Harborne locals we are still mourning the loss of The Butchers Social (their decision on the missing apostrophe, not mine). In the middle of the week, when work was grinding and the weekend stubbornly refused to make an appearance, it was a great stop for a pint and a quick dinner with friends. Thank goodness then that about 500 metres from my front door, the wonderful Peel & Stone bakery, including basement bar and kitchen, has quietly opened. The bakery is open Tuesday to Saturday all day until 11, and the bar and kitchen is open 5 till 11 with food till 9. That’s subject to change of course and you can check out the details on their website here. It’s located on the roundabout by the leisure centre, just three minutes walk from the High Street, so no excuses for buying substandard goods from supermarkets.
First, let’s talk about the bakery. This is not your average high street bakery knocking out cupcakes and sausage rolls. It’s baked goods qua artisan craft. Everything is baked either on site, or at their larger kitchen in the arches on Water Street in the Jewellery Quarter. The selection of breads and other produce varies from day to day. With the warm smell of baked rye and wheat in the air, and racks of breads, pastries, and viennoiserie, on entry I had to mentally remind myself of a quote from Mrs. Gloop: “Augustus, please don’t eat your fingers!”. The croissants were a triumph of butter and folding, with fine crisp layers; the ‘slice of the week’ – their sweet pie special was a fudgy nutty indulgent delight; and their crunchy crusted sourdough perfect for a Sunday brunch. There are of course a load of other variations of breads should you rather have a rye, partial rye, white tin etc. I think we’ve established there that I like a carb more than your average man.
Now to the food and bar. It feels like it’s a secret at the moment. Of an evening you can take the stairs towards the back of the shop down to the smallish seating area and bar in the basement. I’m told that when it gets crazy popular, and I have no doubt that once it’s properly discovered it will get very busy, they will take reservations for food. The menu is perfect for grabbing a quick cheap dinner after work, or for sharing something with friends. The lamb meatballs (an £8 bargain) are filling and tasty, and are served with a tangy tomato and mint sauce. The garlic bread, a whole 400g loaf hedghogged, is perfect beer food with friends. The kimchi grilled cheese sandwich packed a spicy cheese punch (£6.50). We also tried the strawberry, goats cheese, and avocado side salad (£3) and the burnt cauliflower side salad (£3).
The drinks selection is good. I’m not a big ale fan, especially as there’s a trend at the moment for everything to be made like Brewdog beers, far too hoppy. I was convinced to try the Cloudwater – though hoppy, there’s a wonderfully balancing sweetness (9%! £4 for 1/2pt – you don’t need many, hic!). There’s lots of other interesting beers too, plus wine, fizz, spirits, and soft drinks of course.
Peel & Stone are a small independent bakers, and if you haven’t used them before I’d urge you to seek them out. Their team are excited about this new venture, and that comes across in their attentive service and the product.
Time for another croissant I think… #carbatosed