Newest Review: ... those few chips are strangely satisfying. The tartare sauce is a bit too creamy and not tart enough for me, but that's personal taste - th... more
A gorgeous country pub
The Peacock Inn (Kings Norton, Birmingham)
Member Name: chrisandmark
The Peacock Inn (Kings Norton, Birmingham)
Date: 05/02/12, updated on 05/02/12 (92 review reads)
Advantages: Delicious food, fantastic surroundings, wonderful staff
Disadvantages: Having to cross a poorly lit road to make your way from the car park to the pub itself
My favourite meal by far is the Surf & Turf which is a delicious steak and king prawn combination, served with chips and a tiny salad. The steak is always cooked perfectly - I have mine medium rare and mum has hers well done, both are always cooked perfectly and taste absolutely delicious with no fat or gristle on the meat. One time there was a problem actually, I've just remembered. My steak was as perfect as usual but as I got to the end of it the meat suddenly went hard and rubbery; I wasn't planning on complaining as I'd already eaten most of my meal, but as I was paying I mentioned it offhand to the guy behind the bar as we'd been chatting for a while while my card was (slowly and worryingly) authorising. I was actually embarrassed at how seriously he took this, having only left three bites of steak on my plate, but pleased in the end as we got the drinks I'd just ordered 'on the house' *and* a delicious pudding each! The prawns are sometimes lightly dusted and sometimes plain, I love them both ways so have never asked if it's possible to choose how you have then - it's always a nice surprise when the meal arrives to see what prawns you're going to get!
Being a kinda 'posh' restaurant (by Birmingham standards) your meal is served on a wooden board, with the chips in a (small) bowl and a section cut out of the board to house a small pot of tartare sauce. I'm not usually keen on these 'no plate' kinda places but you can tell that the board has been styled around this particular meal, the steak and prawns fit perfectly onto the flat section and the recess cut for the bowl of chips is so snug that it had to have been cut especially. The chips, by the way, are always yummy. They're thickly cut and definitely homemade, it's always surprising how filling they are as you really do get a tiny looking portion - but those few chips are strangely satisfying. The tartare sauce is a bit too creamy and not tart enough for me, but that's personal taste - the salad is perfectly small, call me common but I don't get the whole salad-with-a-1000-calorie meal thing and at least I don't feel guilty about leaving the few small scraps on the plate!
I've also eaten Sea Bass here, and one day attempted one of their huge homemade burgers. The fish dish was surprisingly light and sophisticated, served with a delicious herby mash the meal was delicious and perfectly light for the warm summer evening when I ate it. The burger. Blimey, it was a burger. I was STARVING when I ordered this and it defeated me - I was eight months pregnant at the time and had definitely entered the Hungry Trimester, the unassuming (although large) burger was ridiculously filling to the point of me leaving a good third of it on my plate. The burger was just amazing quality; it actually tasted of meat rather than the gunk you normally get, the delicious fresh bun it was served with complimenting it perfectly and making burger and chips seem special! It was a bit dry, I added extra mayo and a sachet of mustard to bring it to life a bit although it would have still been delicious without as it was topped with a tangy fresh dressing (there just wasn't enough of it).
Due to the fact that the main courses are so filling, I rarely have a starter. The soup is always nice; hearty and 'country', served with a rustic chunk of bread and butter. Perfect in the evenings, but a bit heavy for lunchtime for me - mum (who can eat for England sometimes!) has it nearly every time we visit The Peacock. I loved a Country Vegetable soup I had last time I went there - this was a night out with Mark and he had chicken wings, which looked nice enough but there weren't many there! Again, I've only had pudding a few times and although they've all been delicious nothing really stands out. I remember a slice of apple pie I had there that tasted of cherry bakewell, it was absolutely yummy but a too-thick (but very tasty) custard meant the pudding was very dry overall. It was in The Peacock that I first tried the amusingly named Spotted Dick, this isn't on the menu any more and I've never found one as good - although the current Aunt Bessies effort is surprisingly tasty (which is kinda off topic, consider it a micro review within a review).
There's a kids menu available, which Hollie has eaten from a couple of time. The first time she had chicken bites, these are as far removed from nuggets as they could be. Chunks of real chicken breast covered in what is obviously a homemade batter, the chips are the same extra-filling ones as you get on a normal meal and a choice of peas or beans completes the meal. The kids meal includes a drink and an ice cream, I always ask for Hollie's meal to be served at the same time as mums soup as she's such a slow eater that she needs the head start - she loves the chicken and said last time that they were better than the nuggets nanny had bought her from McDonalds at the weekend! Point scored for encouraging the kids on healthy eating! She wasn't happy with a sausage she had recently, and after trying it myself I've got to say it was a crazy choice for a kids meal as the sausage was spicy like a Cumberland. I thought it had made it's way onto her plate by mistake but after checking the kids menu it did say a miniature Cumberland - these country kids must be made from sterner stuff than my Hollie!
The interior itself is gorgeous, it's kitted out perfectly to create character. Dark wooden tables, beams, thick carpet and spotless decor - not to mention the beautiful roaring fire in the dining room. It's just lovely, modernists would without doubt find it heavy and stifling but I think it's a fabulous environment to sit and eat. The toilets are spotless, disabled visitors catered for with slopes and wide doorways and staff are always helpful and knowledgeable. You really can't ask for more. I love the fact that they don't squeeze as many tables in as possible, you can move freely through the pub without risking knocking another diner - the lack of tables means there is sometimes a wait in the evening, but as this is set back slightly into the wilderness it's not really anyones 'local' as such so is never heavingly busy. Summer days and evenings are probably the busiest as not only does The Peacock have a pretty beer garden, but also faces the start of a picturesque walking/cycling path through the countryside on the Birmingham border. It's popular then with families and walkers, sometimes you'll even see a couple of horses standing at the gate while their riders have a quick refreshing shandy (or whatever).
I just think it's a lovely place to visit. There is an extensive (and quite expensive) wine list, although not being a wine drinker I can't comment on the choices available. I'm more of a spirits kinda girl and can confirm everything is available that I'd expect to be, the prices are quite high on spirits although Mark tells me the beers are much more reasonable. There's a distinct lack of alcopop, which is unsurprising as The Peacock aren't really looking to attract young people out for a drink - there are one or two choices (Bacardi Breezer I think) but nothing luridly blue or hot pink. Soft drinks are a choice of juices, Pepsi or lemonade - the prices for these are EXTORTIONATE so I'm glad that Hollie gets one with her meal as it's cheaper for me to have a coffee with mine!
My only criticism about the Peacock is the car park. It's not adjacent to the pub and you have to cross a dangerous country roadway to get into the pub grounds, this is fine during the daytime but a lack of lighting can make it feel treacherous at night. The car park itself is roomy enough, not huge but with adequate spaces to cope with the amount of people likely to be visiting The Peacock - there are no designated disabled spaces, but the car park is shaped into a corner so you can park anywhere and still be able to comfortably reach the pub. As long as you're fast enough on your feet to get across the road!
Silly parking arrangements aside, this is a fantastic place to eat or stop off for a quiet drink. The environment, atmosphere and food make it seem so much more special than nipping into a Toby for lunch and a Sizzler (delightful as they are) seems almost like slumming it in comparison. An hours lunchtime visit will usually cost around £40, which I admit is pricy but the quality of the food makes it worth every penny. You can expect to pay more in the evenings as more dishes are added, plus you will probably drink more later on in the day - Mark and I can easily spend £80 in here if we're both eating and drinking, add in the price of a taxi home (mum lives locally so usually drops us there to save on another taxi fare) and it doesn't work out to be a cheap night. If such a thing still exists.
Summary: A place that has definitely changed for the better over the years