Battle of the bars Gas Street Social v The Botanist

Two shiny new bars and restaurants have recently opened in Birmingham – in the Mailbox Gas Street Social and on Temple Street The Botanist. You can’t have missed the tweets and blog posts on these flying around!

I’ve visited both to bring you my knockout guide to which one packs the biggest punch for food and drink lovers in Brum.

ROUND ONE : LOCATION

round one

Canalside views from the decked terrace, next to The Everyman cinema

V

An airy oasis in the heart of the city centre, just off Colmore Row.

WINNER – GAS STREET SOCIAL

ROUND TWO: FOOD

round two

Menu split into Boards and Social Plates packed with fish, meat and veg dishes from arancini balls at £5.95 to a charchuterie board with meats from the Forest Pig for £15.95. Locally sourced where possible. Classic dishes of fish and chips, duck breast and rib-eye steak options for main courses. Six classic desserts including brownies and cheesecake.

V

16 starters including pan-fried garlic mushrooms served in a mini trowel for £4.95 and chicken liver paté hidden in a plant pot with the chutney in a wheelbarrow. Make your own deli board with four dishes for £9.95, more imaginative main dishes including chicken and chorizo pie, lamb tagine and hake fillet. The show-stopping hanging kebabs are popular (make sure you ask your server to pour the hot butter over your kebab the first time you visit). Again only a small choice for desserts, but rocking trifle and rum baba in vintage style glasses.

WINNER: THE BOTANIST

ROUND THREE: TO PLATE OR NOT TO PLATE

round three

The odd wooden board makes an appearance, but plate purists can rest easy with how their meals are served on white porcelain.

V

Plant pots, watering jugs, trowels and mini wheelbarrows are some of the gardening tools used to serve food, but there are some dainty painted plates as well.

WINNER – GAS STREET SOCIAL

ROUND FOUR : DRINKS

round four

Fun cocktails with The Socialite, Lunar Society Punch and Gas Street Cobbler topping my favourites. Thoughtful non-alcoholic drinks too. The drinks list is let down by over-priced wines and lack of premium spirits other than gin.

V

A huge list of inventive cocktails, mixing herbs and botanicals with premium spirits from a Watermelon and Sage Sling to a Rose Mai Tai all around £8.  Thirsty drinkers, and those with deeper pockets, could share a watering can for £24.95 or punchbowl for £100. Also 16 gins and more than 70 different beers to choose from.

WINNER: THE BOTANIST

ROUND FIVE : DÉCOR

round five

Industrial glamour of a loft apartment with wood and metal, softened with pops of cobalt blue paint and squashy upholstery in the wooden booths and long tables.

V

Shabby country chic in pale green and white. Distressed wood, cabinets of nick nacks and painted floral tiles in the open kitchen brighten up the comfortable eating and drinking areas.

WINNER: THE BOTANIST

ROUND SIX : OWNERSHIP

round six

Independently owned by Midlands couple Adam Freeth and his wife, Adam has been shaking cocktails for more than a decade.

V

Part of the Living Ventures Group, which started in Manchester and has extended to London. The Botanist Birmingham is run by a well known local face Julian Rose-Gibbs (ex The Victoria).

 WINNER – GAS STREET SOCIAL

So in the battle of best new bar in Birmingham with three each IT’S A DRAW!

Gas Street Social scores well for the canalside location, locally sourced produce and independent ownership , whereas The Botanist gets the thumbs up for its mahoosive choice of drinks and stylish décor.

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