Pint Shop, Bennetts Hill

So, the scaffolding covering the Bennetts Hill favourite that was once emblazoned with a giant banner simply reading, ‘Meat. Bread. Beer.’ is finally down and there’s a new menu to get your teeth into. Clearly, we don’t need telling twice.

We should say, while we were hot-footing it along Colmore Row like a rat up a drainpipe, there was a slight concern about the menu. One of us has gone meat-free since our first visit during which we gorged on kebabs of the lamb and chicken variety. How would the menu stack up in the fish and veggie arena?

Turns out, despite its beer and meat reputation, the Pint Shop does meat-free particularly well. We don’t mean a couple of token dishes, but really great, well thought out nosh that meant we didn’t have a whiff of food envy when the carnivorous friend tucked into some lip-smackingly good looking flesh.

Firstly, remember the onion bhaji scotch egg that almost broke the Internet when the Pint Shop first opened? It’s gone. I know. We gasped too until we tasted the new spicy kid on the Scotch egg block. A perfect boiled egg with a soft middle encased in Bombay potato and a crunchy outer served with a proper punchy mango chutney. Ta-dah. Onion bhaji who? There’s a classic meat version on the menu too.

The impressive beer list and over a hundred gins was still winking away. A Brummie g&t (Roundhouse gin) and a pint of Sheppys were promptly ordered. It was a Monday after all.

We tasted a lot of food, so here’s a whistle-stop tour of some of our faves:

Halloumi with a tomato salad slicked with chili and garlic oil packed with herbs was summery, light and everything we wanted. Super tender rare roast beef with a tangy salad of crushed chilli cucumbers, avocado, mint, lime and chopped peanuts was superb. The friend tucked into the beef enthusiastically while I found the tartness, heat and zing of the salad just brilliant. It could have been a dish in its own right.

Buttermilk fried chicken with red eye mayo didn’t disappoint my friend. Wings minus the bone were crisp on the outside, melt in the mouth tender on the inside and served with a mayo that packed a punch. There’s a vegan version available made with cauliflower which sounded pretty awesome too.

Sticking with meat for a mo’, the dirty kebab was tasty, if gargantuan. Tender pork belly marinated in Camden Ink dry stout was moreish, pickled white cabbage added a bit of crunch and zing, while hot chilli sauce and garlic yoghurt gave significant heat and coolness in equal measure.

The stand-out dish for us was one of the specials, a bowl of deliciously put together flavours and lots of them. Smokey charred asparagus, Jersey Royals, kale pesto, tangy soft cheese, loads of herbs (parsley, basil, mint) and toasted almonds. This was such a beautiful plate of food. I’d go back for this and a pint of Sheppys in a heartbeat and I might wash it down with a Bombay potato scotch egg. Don’t judge.

Pint Shop, 38 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham, B2 5SN. Tel: 0121 236 9039