“ Gracechurch Centre / The Parade Sutton Coldfield / B72 1PD / Tel: 0121 355 5379. „
Last night we decided to try out our local Ha! Ha! Bar & Canteen after Id heard some very good reports about it on a Saturday night.
The first thing I noticed was the fact that this bar (which looks miniscule from the outside) is absolutely huge when you walk in. There are loads of tables inside, ranging from small discrete tables for two right up to huge circular tables which I reckon would seat 12 at a squeeze.
Its a gorgeous place; decorated throughout in the classic chrome, pale pine and glass combination which catches the light beautifully and creates an airy, light atmosphere. Despite the fact that there is a large amount of seating available, Ha! Ha! is still very spacious inside owing to the fact that the seating is cleverly laid out to make good use of space, with wide aisles between tables.
The food menu is diverse, interesting and delicious. When youre given the menu you can choose between the Canteen section; which consists of Egg & Chips, Steak Burgers and other café foods. All of these standard dishes have, however, been given a twist to make them more exciting than your average café the chips are super skinny a la McDonalds (although much nicer tasting), the burgers are homemade and any cheese dish incorporates mozzarella rather than your bog standard cheddar.
We ate from the Proper Food (as Ha! Ha! call it) menu, both of us choosing an 8oz Sirloin Steak which was char grilled to perfection with the outside being wonderfully blackened while retaining a hint of blood in the centre. Gorgeous. This was served with the skinny chips I mentioned earlier, the most deliciously crispy onion rings Ive ever tasted and a pile of crunchy green salad. A perfect meal for a hot Saturday evening and the meal was absolutely huge the best part in my opinion being the onion rings which were given a mild chilli batter and had a wonderful spicy kick. This meal was the most expensive on the menu at £10.95 but it was definitely worth every penny the waitress also explained that a certain amount from each Sirloin Steak meal sold goes to the Everyman charity which raises money to help diagnose mens cancer early.
We also shared a Crispy Shredded Duck Platter, which was authentic Chinese pancakes with a large portion of lean shredded duck and hoi sin sauce. This was delicious and big up to Ha! Ha! for serving such a fantastic version of this Chinese classic dish many other restaurants have tried and failed, but Ha! Ha!s Crispy Duck was as good as any proper Chinese meal!
The desserts are nothing short of decadent, I had to sample the Warm Chocolate Brownies with Fresh Strawberries and I thought Id died and gone to heaven when this was brought to my table with a large bowl of thick melted chocolate in which to dip the brownies and fruit
The drinks available at Ha! Ha! are extensive; they serve everything from lager and cider to spirits, wine and cocktails. I had a Baileys Latte with my meal and it was quite possibly the best alcoholic coffee Ive ever had (and Ive had many), a very generous shot of Baileys in a wonderfully rich good quality latte I could have licked the cup afterwards! Bottles of good quality white wine range in price from £10 to upwards of £25 per bottle, although you can also order wine by the glass. If youre in the mood for a cocktail, definitely try the Passionfruit Cosmopolitan which is made using Passionfruit flavour vodka and a blend of fruit juices and pulp at a fiver a glass it aint cheap, but its worth it.
Theres a good selection of both draught and bottled beers; including Kronenbourg, Carling and Grolsch along with various guest ales and locally sourced lagers. Drinks prices are rather expensive, but everything I drank was fresh and delicious.
The four hours we spent in Ha! Ha! cost us around £60 including all drinks and food, which is on a par with every Saturday night out in an upmarket place. What set Ha! Ha! apart from our usual pub restaurants was the attentiveness of the staff, while eating members of staff would make regular check backs to see if everything was ok and they were quick to clear away dirty plates and empty ashtrays. I really had the feeling that the staff wanted to make sure I went away having had a brilliant night. And I did.
To find Ha! Ha! in Sutton Coldfield is easy. Its located on the very corner of Gracechurch Shopping Centre, and you cant miss it because its the shiny glass walled pub with loads of tables outside. If youre coming by car, head for Sutton Coldfield along the A5127 Victoria Road and follow the ring road until you spot Ha! Ha! on your right hand side, just past the small island which separates the road from Suttons pedestrian area. Parking can be a bit of a pain, so what youll probably need to do is follow the signs past Ha! Ha! to Wyndley Leisure Centre and on this route are several roads where you can park your car for free.
Alternatively, jump on the 107 bus from Birmingham City Centre and this will drop you right inside the Gracechurch Centre so you can take a short two minute walk through to the bar. You can also catch a train from Birmingham New Street Station (the main station in Town) and get off at Sutton Coldfield Station; again a short walk down the A5127 Victoria Road will see you safely to Ha! Ha!
Ha! Ha! Bar & Canteen
Tel 0121 355 5379
Perched on the corner of the Gracechurch shopping complex, weve got a spacious bar area complete with quirky design features. Theres also an extensive Canteen area offering plenty of space for all your dining needs.