Reflex the 80's bar.This place does what it says on the tin.
Its a good old fashioned eighties themed bar/club, it has a good mix of ages and the atmosphere most nights is a really good one. Drink prices are a bit high, but its broad st so that to be expected really. Sometimes there could be more bar staff as the place gets really packed from 1130 onwards and you end up waiting for fifteen minutes to get served.
One thing that it has introduced that a few other bars and clubs have done on broad st, is employ 'toilet attendents', bascially they are people who sit at the sinks with a huge selection of eau de toilette's and other smelly bottle things and expect to be tipped. Sorry be i never do, i always done without eau de toilette's and with price's ever rising its an expense i can do without.(rant over)
Due to the popularity of the place and its good location the venue does get crowded and sometimes its standing room only, but with it good atmosphere these negatives can be overlooked. Overall a good place to visit on a night out on broad st, but get in early to avoid the rush!
Birmingham, home of the infamous Broad Street. Of course this long road is famous for the endless bars, clubs and pubs along it, as it the nearby Arcadian (to a lesser extent). Having been at University for 3 years I have had numerous experiences at going out for the night.
First of all, the policing is quite good. Friends have told me horror stories about seeing people covered in blood, or possible stab victims but for the most part Birminghams night life is quite safe. The bigger clubs and bars employ numerous well-trained and sharp bouncers to stop the trouble before it can start (although some are there purely to ruin your fun) and when it comes to closing time there are a number of uniformed police patrolling. This is mostly true of Broad Street, although other areas in Birmingham are well-guarded. Selly Oak, for instance (student central) usually has police visible and on stand-by.
Right, now you know that you're going to be safe from muggings you need to know how much money to withdraw. Most clubs charge an entry fee, although that can be avoided if you arrive early. Getting there early means that you have to wait around for hours for the atmosphere to build up though. Most bars tend to be free and all pubs (that I know of) are. You will need photo ID as there is no way you're getting in otherwise. There has been a strict crackdown on underage drinking in the Birmingham area (fortunately not put into place until after I was 18). So, including taxi fare, entry fee and then a few drinks you will probably be looking at about £30, or £20 on a student night. Pretty average value on the whole, although many bars and clubs offer cheap drinks promotions (Reflex will give you a pint for £1.50, Risa will give you a double vodka and redbull for £2.00 on a student night).
Competition in Selly Oak brings the prices right down - it is an ideal place to go for a few drinks or to start the night off. Five pub/bars along a 500 metre street means that pints are consistently less than £2.00, and spirits with mixers are also cheap. Good food can be found at reasonable prices too. The Gun Barrells (Bristol Road, Selly Oak) offers a pint of Carling, a burger and chips for £3.50 - great value.
So how good is the nightlife? The clubs are excellent and among the biggest in the county. The pubs have a good atmosphere although it can be difficult to find one which is nice and quiet - you will have to pay extra for peace. Taxis regularly patrol the streets looking for fares, but be warned: if they think you are drunk they will try to rip you off. Persuasive negotiation can usually get the price down a couple of pounds though, so make sure at least one of you is sober!
In all, the pubs and bars in Birmingham are among the best that I have been to. In terms of price alone they come out trumps (unless you end up at some of the more swanky bars such as Zinc, where you will be paying upwards of £3 for a bottle of cheap beer), and each bar/club/pub offers a great atmosphere without too many seedy locals. Unfortunately for some, there are an abundance of students in Birmingham (with 2 big Universities located close to Broad Street), which means drunkeness, loudness and occasional unpleasantness. Of course, students are not the only ones guilty of this, but it is because of their abundance that it seems more prominent.
I would recommend Birmingham as a stop on a cross-country tour for a big night out, or even for a quiet drink during the day if you are passing through. Those of you going to University in Birmingham next year, you are going to have a great time. I hope everyone else enjoys Brum as much as I have
This is one of my favourite pubs in the whole world. It nestles in the centre of Birmingham, hidden away from the hustle and bustle of city life with the canal lapping beside it. I live in Hampshire, so this isn't exactly my local! For the past two years I have had need to make fairly regular trips to Birmingham. My daughter was studying music at the Conservatoire and introduced me to this pub. Now this is a real musicians pub in every sense of the word! It has live music each night. The music is varied and some nights will be jazz or a bit of skiffle and on others there might be a folk band. On one ocassion we arrived to find a salsa lesson in full swing! The girls and I were far too timid to have a go. We did watch though, and it looked such fun!There were some quite middle aged people really going hell for leather! There were also some lithe youngsters strutting their stuff. This pub is ageless in it's appeal. When you walk into the pub the first thing you notice is the vast array of musical instruments suspended from every conceivable surface. There are old violins and trombones, pretty much as you would expect, given the name of the pub! There are all manner of other instruments too, bits of old piano, flutes, oboes you name it it's there! If you are into a bag of pork scratchings and Limp Bizkit then this probably isn't the pub for you! It is a real olde worlde pub with heaps of atmosphere. Now why are the instruments all over the pub? The Fiddle and Bone is owned by two musicians from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Trombonist Danny Longstaff and his partner Mark Robinson (a violinist, what a surprise!) had a dream of converting the then derelict old School house of Sheepcote Street into a pub and restaurant. It is situated in the area known as the Roundhouse. They wanted the restaurant to be a mixture of an old English pub with a European bar. They have succeeded well in this
respect, I think. In the 16th century King Edward the sixth gave land to found schools. This was one of them. When the industrial revolution came the canal was built alongside the School. At about this time the Roundhouse was built for stabling the barge horses. It is a horseshoe built building around a cobbled yard. At the beginning of the twentieth century the School and Roundhouse were being used as a Municipal Works depot. By 1990 it was disused and all but derelict. The present owners saw potential and purchased the site from the King Edward?s foundation in 1996.Thank goodness they did! So, here we have it. A new pub in old (albeit done up) buildings. Many of the original features have been retained. There is a minstrels gallery, which overlooks the main bar and you can see narrow boats passing by on the canal. It is so lovely. The Fiddle and Bone is built on three levels. The entrance level is the restaurant although there is also a bar. The middle level is mainly a bar although they will serve you bar food and this is where the bands play. It is quite a small bar and there is ample seating. On this level you can also buy Fiddle and Bone merchandise- tee shirts, umbrellas, pens etc. The upper level is the minstrel's gallery. This is a real ale pub and has been in the CAMRA good beer guide since 1999. They specialise in Marstons and Theakstons and even have their own special brew (made by Theaksons) "Fiddler's Pluck" (this is sometimes also called Fiddler's Elbow. Well, as a violinist I had to give it a try! I also really love real ale. This was a winner before I had even tasted it- the barman started to pull and I noticed that the pump handle was a violin scroll and neck. Cheesy I know, but very effective. It was a very good pint. Ok, so I should have been lady like and had a half, but who ever said I was lady like!! The pub is open from 11-11 on Monday to Saturday and fr
om 12-10 on Sunday. The food there is to die for! The main restaurant is, as I said, downstairs. It is beautifully laid out with flowers, candles and napkins. Now, prepare to get your gastric juices going and I will tell you a bit about the menu: The following are only a selection to give you a taste! The menu is very comprehensive. STARTERS: Sautéed king prawns with lime and coriander sauce or garlic butter. £5.95 Salmon en Croute £ 5.95 Cajun Mushrooms (for veggies) £4.95 MAIN COURSE: Lemon Sole stuffed with smoked salmon, prawns, tarragon, white wine and cream £9.95 Fillet Bonnie Fiddler.. Medallions of beef flambéed to perfection in a sauce of onions,mushrooms, drambuie and cream. £13.95 Duck Rustique.. Breast of duck pan fried with honey and cinnamon and served on rhubarb compote. £11.95 Lasagne Funghi(v) lasagne with oyster and shitake mushrooms served with garlic bread. £7.95 Swordfish Steak topped with home made Provencal sauce. £10.95 Mama's Pasta (v) spinach and egg fettuccine swathed in home made basil and coriander pesto, served with garlic bread. There is also a choice of grilled steak with delicious sauces if you like that sort of thing. An 8oz rump steak will set you back £9.95 and an extra £2 if you want a sauce. Are you salivating yet? Now, as you see, this is not exactly cheap. It is quality, homemade food. This is a special meal out with time to indulge the senses! If you are in need of something a bit more basic you could try the bar food which is also excellent. It is somewhat more affordable! BAR FOOD Bangers and mash.. 4 choice pork sausages with cheese and chive mash £5.95 Pie of the day £5.95 Mushroom and spinach lasagne £5.95 There is also a choice of filled jacket potatoes for about £3.45, baguettes for about £3.00 and salads w
hich vary from £4.95- £6.25 How to find it! The Fiddle and Bone is very near the centre of the city. It is in walking distance of Symphony Hall (along the canal -ooh lovely!), the National Indoor Arena, the International Conference Centre and the Sealife Centre. The pub is actually opposite the South entrance of the NIA carpark. I would suggest parking in here if you cannot get in their own carpark. Driving into their own carpark is like taking a trip back through time. It is at the corner of Sheepcote Street and St Vincent's Street. You drive through a lovely old cobbled archway and past the buildings of the Roundhouse. You will see the pub on your left. It has a mainly glazed frontage and looks very nice all lit up. Watch where you are going though, as if you drive past and through the other gate you will end up in the canal! This gate is for canal walkers. We like to walk on a lovely summers evening.It is really pleasant. The canal was reopened and done up a few years ago and they really did a fantastic job. It is most attractive and has been used as a feature through the city. If you have time and are there during the day, have a look around the Roundhouse. It has craft workshops, a gallery and a shop. Upstairs they have function rooms, which are used for functions and concerts. There is a wonderful sense of history looking round the pub and surrounding buildings and you can't help wondering what it must have been like when it was a working canal and the horses stabled there! Perhaps I am a hopeless old romantic! They have even had open air music in the arches some summer evenings. Do try it. The beer is great, the service very friendly and the food sublime. Add to that a live band and friendly company and what more could you want!!
The development of Broad street into a trendy club/bar haven happened during the time when I had just started going out, venturing into pubs and clubs in the town. Now, admittedly, being under age I was grateful to get in anywhere, so I couldn't be too fussy, but over those years I think the night life in Birmingham has gone down hill. Millions of pounds have been spent on this street while other parts of the town become run down and desolate. In the "old days"-(oh dear, I sound ancient! I'm only 19!), there were 2 main areas in Brum for going out. One was Broad Street-expensive, generally for older people, trendy type bars. The other was around China town, in a more dodgy bit of town. However, there was a good selection of bars-Central Park (all drinks £1), Rosie O Briens, and cheap, fun (ok then tacky), clubs like Exile, Pulse and the Dome. They weren't trying to be trendy because let's face it, they weren't. But I had some great nights out at those places without spending loads of money. They also played whatever music they wanted to rather than what was considered "cool". Gradually though, all those places one by one have closed down or been turned into more expensive places. Exile has been turned into McCluskys for over 21's with a steep entry fee. The Dome has turned into a gay club. Come on, there's nowhere for the young(skint) people of Birmingham to go anymore. Broad Street has taken over and closed practically everywhere else down. It is over-rated, over crowded and unpleasant. There are always fights there, and it is impossible to get a taxi home. It takes about half an hour for the bus to get down the 1/2 mile stretch that is Broad Street, due to the drunken people staggering in the road. Nearly every bar on the road charges you for the privilege of being able to sit in there and have a drink. Is it just me or is this pathetic? I don't mind paying
to go to a club, with a DJ, and dancefloor, but to pay just so you can go and have their over priced drinks is a joke. Prime suspect is the Sports Cafe, of which there is one in every large town. In my experience, the bar staff are rude, the drinks overpriced and the DJ's overpaid for the charty rubbish they play. Bar 260 is another desperately trying to be trendy bar/club. Avoid it at all costs, unless you are in your late 20's and think Moloko-Sing it Back is the height of trendiness. Oh yes, and you are into men who wear loafers with no socks (it makes my skin crawl personally). So onto some specific pubs and bars along the Broad Street mile- There are "old time" places such as Edwards and Stoodi Bakers which have been there for a good few years, but also many bars that open and close within a year. The Radio Cafe used to be the BRMB Radio station themed bar, with pop stars appearing and VIP parties, but that has now closed down. Similarly, the lovely building of an old church near to the Symphony Hall has been The Church nightclub, a Ministry of Sound bar, and is now Flares, a 70's themed bar. ** The Figure Of Eight ** This is a JD Wetherspoon pub of which there are many others around the country. You know the score-plain interiors, cheap drinks and no music. One of the few places on Broad Street with no strict dress code, it has a real mixture of customers, from the young Sharons and Kevins getting lashed on the cheap before going clubbing, to old men playing cards! I find that for a night out, there is not enough atmosphere with no music and bright lighting. There are drinks deals such as selected bottles for £1, which is excellent compared to the normal prices in the area, but I suggest going there for a few drinks and a chat before quickly moving on to somewhere a bit more exciting... ** The Rat and Parrot ** One I actually like! Spread over two floors, with lots of plants, and spi
ral staircases. The upper floor has a balcony overlooking the first floor and big windows overlooking the street. It's dark inside, with lots of lovely squashy sofas on upstairs to relax on. The toilets are quite luxurious too! On Thursday and Friday nights, they have a live MC and the music is dance/garage/RnB. There is a great atmosphere and cocktails are buy one get another for 25p. You can't go wrong! They also sell "testtube shots" for £1. Don't have too many, or you will be unable to sample the delights of... ** Stoodi Bakers ** Now I haven't actually been here for ages, although I do like it. There are usually queues outside, the entry policy is quite strict, and the drink prices are ridiculous. I remember when I had arranged to meet a bloke in there who I had met the previous week. They wouldn't let me in! (ok, I was 16) So thanks Stoodi's, not! So why do people flock there? Every time I have been there it has been so crowded that you can hardly move..But they have a fantastic light/laser show (usually at around 10pm and then every hour) where the whole bar is plunged into darkness and the lasers go around the whole club. The bar is basically one large, long room, with a long bar in the centre. At the four corners of the room there are suspended podiums. During the shows there are sexy professional dancers (men and women) who strut their stuff wearing not very much at all. The clientele are generally young (but not underage young), painfully trendy (go away Sharon and Tracey) and friendly (not really a meat market, more a posers palace). The sound system is excellent, but don't expect to be able to have a nice sit down and a chat-you will almost certainly have to stand, squashed up, and pay around £4 a drink. Look out for student nights on Tuesdays and cheap deals on week nights though. * * * A Hard Rock Cafe has recently opened up on Broad Street, as has a nightclub called The Works, which
is supposed to be large (4 rooms), modern, and is free to get in before 10 pm every night (although I have heard the drink prices are bumped up to make up for that generosity!) There is quite a bit of similarity between the bars and pubs down the street-similar music, similar people. Although if you like alternative music, there is XL's night club in the Five Ways Shopping Centre at the end of Broad Street. You are brave though, if you choose to walk down Broad Street on a Saturday night in goth gear! Basically, if you like cheesey pop, 70's music (Flares), and mainstream dance music, you will be happy enough. I just think somewhere should open up which offers something a bit different from the norm. Often if you don't look right, you can't go in. I worked in one of the bars for a while and I saw the bouncers let in a few token black and asian people and then refuse entry to any more after that. It makes me sick. All people want is a good night out and they get treated like fools. The drinks are a complete rip off and most likely watered down anyway. If you go down to Broad Street when you are in the area, you will have many flyers for different clubs thrust upon you as you stroll along. This can be quite annoying, especialy as most of them end up on the pavement. If you are really too young to go into bars, there is the worst McDonalds ever (which says a lot) which recently opened. It's so bad that it has bouncers on the door (it opens until 3 am). The toilets are rank as all the clubbers who need a wee go in there to wee and take drugs. One of the good things about Broad Street is the UGC cinema at the end of it (5 ways end, away from the city centre). This is a massive cinema, the screens are huge and it shows a variety of fils including late night screenings at weekends. It costs £5.50 to go on a Friday or Saturday night though! Eeek! I have an unlimited card though, so it doesn't bother me. T
he best thing is the car park next to the cinema, as when you buy your cinema ticket, you can get your parking costs refunded. They have not yet extended this generosity to bus fares or indeed taxi fares, but I'm hoping this will change! After a Friday or Saturday night the street is overflowing with flyers, leftover food and various remnants from a drunken night out. It's disgusting and I pity the people who have to clean it up. I am not saying it is impossible to have a good night out down Broad Street. I have had a few myself on occasion. I am just pointing out the bad sides of this development. Most of the bars are chain bars, one in every town, eg. O'Neills, Walkabout, Flares, Rat and Parrot, The Old Monk, etc etc. Our towns are turning into carbon copies of each other. Manchester, Liverpool, Cardiff, they all have these identikit bars. It annoys me. I like to go to individual clubs in certain areas with an atmosphere unique to itself, not a McDonalds style bar. There are good pubs and bars in Birmingham, you just have to look hard, and preferably not on Broad Street. It is convenient to be able to walk (ok then, stagger) from bar to bar in seconds. An alcoholics paradise! But only if you look right, or you're not coming in, ok?
I had heard great things about Saints and Sinners on the Chester Road in New Oscott, Birmingham (Opposite Oscott College seminary). Previously The Med, the location had a good reputation for simple dishes well prepared and presented. My first instinct on entering however was to turn around and leave immediately. A mixture of pop and dance music blared whilst MTV broadcast totally different videos on a giant screen. The clientele left a lot to be desired - well preserved blondes competed for the attentions of men who figured if they spent enough money they would look cool, but were certainly old enough to know better. We fought our way to the bar for drinks whilst we waited for the rest of our party, and hoped against hope that there was a separate dining area. Sadly our hopes were dashed. The tables are on a raised area at the back of the establishment, far enough away from the bar to prevent drinkers jostling you as you eat, but not so far that the music was not all pervasive, preventing sensible conversation, and causing us to eat in time to Ricky Martin. The menu is short, to the point and easy to understand. Essentially your choices are narrowed to fish, pasta, meat or vegetarian options. The fish is by far the best section, with choices ranging from salmon or tuna steak with Caesar salad or spicy pasta through whole fish like seabass or lemon sole, on to a good selection of shellfish. Carnivores can feast on fillet steak, or braised lamb amongst other dishes. Mussels are the mainstay of the starter menu, with around half a dozen choices for domestic or green lipped mussels, from the traditional moules marinere, to Italian or Thai concoctions. Duck, smoked salmon, and more shellfish abound, and an excellent choice is the grilled field mushroom with brie. Entrees are priced in the £10-£15 bracket, starters squeak in just below £5, but remember that vegetables and potatoes are extra, and whilst some meals com
e complete, others do need these side dishes. Desserts are a major disappointment, very much from the Brake Brothers/Sara Lee stable and defrosted to order, so save yourself the £3.50 and defrost your own at home. Overall allow about £25 a head for food orders. The wine list seems fairly comprehensive for bottles in the £10-£20 range, but our first two choices were sold out so it seems more like a wish list. Several of the dishes on the menu were off on our visit, probably about 20%, which was disappointing, but I’m assured this is not typical. Service was polite, cheerful and friendly, but a little erratic and rather homely at times. Overall Saints and Sinners offers superb food at reasonable prices in absolutely abysmal surroundings. I'd give it 5 stars for food, but 1 for the bar. For best results try eating at lunchtimes or early on mid week evenings to avoid the loud music, and the kind of folk who roll up in white stretch limos, carrying mobile phones, unless of course that is your prefered dining companion.
There's no point in doing a cocktail bar half-heartedly... so if you're looking for a sophisticated and almost endless source of great drinks in Birmingham, I'd recommend Bank ahead of all the pretentious theme bars... Not that Bank isn't a bit pretentious, but they also mix a good cocktail, so after a few of them you're inclined to forgive them anything. An offshoot of London's Bank (and not to be confused with Left Bank, an established Birmingham restaurant only a stone's throw away), Bank in Brindley Place is decorated in chrome and glass, with bright solid blue and red walls, and comfy red leather chairs. The door policy is pretty relaxed, and there's a good mixture of drinkers, and people waiting for a table to eat: you don't feel out of place wearing smart casual or dolled up. It's good for posing or people-watching. The drinks menu is brilliant if you like to be spoiled for choice. It's divided up into daquiris, martinis, breezers and other long cocktails, with a good selection of traditional recipes, and original concoctions. Lots of them involve fruit - perfect for justifying another drink on the basis that you need the Vitamin C. The bar staff are friendly, and the long bar means you avoid the chaos and crush of smaller places. Cocktails are around the £4.50-£6 mark, which is fairly expensive, but I think it's worth it for the surroundings. There's also a short but tasty bar menu - and you can always book a table in the restaurant, which serves good modern food. All in all, a classy venue for visitors and locals alike! Bank, Brindley Place (opposite the fountains), Broad Street, Birmingham
The Bulls Head pub (one of many by that name) is on the Stratford Road in Hall Green, Birmingham (it's actually the corner of the Stratford Road and the Fox Hollies Road). It is part of a new mini-brewery which is a division of Mitchells and Butlers and seems to have brought together a very successful mix of eating and drinking culture. It seems that in order to make a lot of money, pubs need to be very seriously into the eating thing and there are very few pubs around now who do not serve food all day. There are very few drinking pubs left around any more. However, the Bulls Head seems to be able to cater for everyone. They serve an extensive menu all day from 11AM until 8PM. At 8PM the salt and pepper and menus are cleared away from sight and the pub becomes the drinking only pub that it once was. Clever, I thought. The menu itself is brilliant. There are loads of different dishes to choose from and they will suit all appetites. There are starters, light bites, sandwiches, main meals, roasts and puddings. There are plenty of vegetarian options and loads of stuff for people on a diet (salads, baked potatoes, chicken breasts etc). It is also very cheap. I don't know of any other pub chain that offers this kind of value for money. The portions are all huge and the main meals come in at under £4. As far as drinks go, well, it's a pub. Carling is £1.75 per pint and Guinness is £2.10. They offer loads of different types of red and white wines in either small or large glasses. There are some disadvantages to this pub. One is that no kids are allowed inside and that brings me to the next, which is that the beer garden only has 4 tables, it's in the car park and it overlooks a very, very busy main road. However, there is a no-smoking section in the pub and it is very popular with people from all over Birmingham, not just those who live locally. There is no entertainment on offer ex
cept for the pub quiz. On Monday nights it is a trivia quiz and on Wednesdays it is a music quiz. On Fridays and Saturdays there are bouncers on the door and you would have to be there by about 6.50 pm to get a table. Really good for food during the day and up to 8PM and so popular as a drinking pub in the evening that it is almost a victim of its own success - it's always packed.
Birmingham in my view used to be a drab place to live if you were young and trendy (I'm no longer either by the way) , the only places to go were down John Bright Street , Bizzy Lizzy's , Sam Wellars etc. However , over the last 2/3 years a major revolution has taken place down Broad Street which used to be the pits of Birmingham. Substantial Investment made and now they have approximately 20 Pubs / Bars from the JD Weatherspoons £1.29 specials to the Brasshouse and Australian Bar where closer to £3 a pint or bottle is nearer the mark. I'm not moaning in anyway regarding the price , we all have the ability to make up our own minds , I am only trying to say that Broad Street contains something for every 18-40 year old from Cheap Beer to the Trendiest of places to be seen. Next time you are in Birmingham , give Broad Street a try , I think you will be very impressed.
A great night can be had at McCluskey's if you are prepared to leave your pride at the doorstep and fully emerge yourself in the tacky realm of this impressively sized city centre pub/club. This place is a relative newcomer to the Birmingham night scene, having replaced the rather dire Excile Nightclub, and has already cornered the market as the place to be for an unpretentious night out in a decent-sized venue playing 70s-90s hits where the cheesier the music the better. McClusky's have a small dancefloor, and plenty of other open areas, and they have been granted a late licence until 2am at weekends which negates the expense or hassle of moving to a nightclub once you and your party are settled. The menu offers hearty portions of good quality, if unspectacular, food at very resonable prices (usually 2 for a fiver); the vegetable wrap is a personal favourite of me and my group. There is a VERY mixed crowd in McCluskey's right from sexy young nymphets all the way to sad 80s perm tight jeans and leather jacket men. However, most of the crowd are good humoured and a great night can be had by all.