When I revealed I was going to the Plough & Harrow for Sunday lunch, friends and family responded nostalgically, “oh the Plough & Harrow used to be THE place to go in Birmingham.” ‘Friendly’, ‘upmarket’, ‘great food’ they chorused. While I didn’t have such a connection with the place I was intrigued.
The 300 year old building has weathered well. A plaque by the entrance boasts Tolkien stayed here and according to enthusiastic manager and Lord of the Rings fan Darren part of the tome was inspired by this enchanting old coaching inn. The interior hasn’t weathered quite as well, but redecoration is well under way. The bar is finished with deep red walls, oversized light fittings, well placed mirrors and cosy seating areas. We had pre-lunch drinks in the bar as we perused the menu and found it to be a relaxing spot. As we moved to our table it was clear that although the restaurant hasn’t been refurbished yet it could be really special with its high ceilings, attractive cornicing and original windows.
I opted for the guinea fowl terrine to start, which was packed with flavour including a good hit of fennel and was served with sweet sticky chutney. Murray chose the platter of charcuterie and while there was a good selection of cured meat, they all tasted a bit similar apart from the chorizo which was the star of the plate.
After a heated debate about who would have the beef I came out on top. The beef was tender, pink and delicious. The gravy was moreish and horseradish was perfect. The potatoes weren’t as crisp as I would like and while the rest of the vegetables were nice, details like carving the carrots into crosses seemed a bit dated. Murray’s pork was lovely and moist. I didn’t try the crackling, but it was audibly crunchy and got a big thumbs up.
HOT DOG ANYONE?
The friendly waiter challenged me with hot dog and fries for dessert with a sort of ‘I could tell you what it is but I’d have to kill you’ vibe. I’ll keep up the intrigue and just say it was fun, delicious and inventive. Murray had the more traditional sticky toffee pudding which was a real treat.
If like me, you have fond childhood memories of Sunday lunch – all the family together, banter, laughter, the mouth-watering smell of roast meat in the air you’ll like the Plough & Harrow. Even if some of the detail needs tweaking, in essence it’s captured the traditional spirit of the Sunday roast in what could soon be stunning surroundings.