Back down to earth after Dulwich, with a night out in Worcestershire. This did give us the chance to visit some more exciting suburbs of south Birmingham, with Barnt Greens’s attractive roadworks meaning a half hour journey to a pub two miles off the M42. I know Mrs RM had been looking forward to a hike up the Lickey Hills in the rain, but sadly that will have to wait for the next time there’s a new GBG entry here. Probably in 2025.
Of course, there is no sight to lift the heart of the weary traveller like this one;
I haven’t been kind to Ember on this blog, but that changes (a bit) here. The Hare & Hounds, on the exact border between Brum and Worcestershire, has several merits, not least being open on Monday lunchtime, and filling the gap in a large Beer Guide desert. Southern Birmingham is where I first saw the Ember places emerge in the early 2000s, and they continue to be frequent Beer Guide entries in Solihull and Sutton.
My main gripe with Ember is that you always know exactly what, and who, you’re going to get. You can’t say that about Wetherspoons, whose clientele in, say, Dartford and St Neots are at polar extremes. And they’ve all got different carpets.
The word “generic” might have been invented for Ember.
Like Chef & Brewers or Toby Carvery, these are rarely places you’ll see dedicated drinkers, though they’re certainly not unwelcome. The Hare & Hounds is typical. Half a dozen diners, a few lager drinkers.
If that ale range at the top looks exciting, calm down. Most of it wasn’t on, even the Pedi. No-one else was drinking ale, so I went for the cheapest one. The house Pale (NBSS 3.5)from Black Sheep was cellar cool, tasty, and seemingly priced near Sam Smiths levels, at least on Mondays. Two meals, a pint and a coke for £11.42 beat you-know-who.
And the staff were fantastic.
I asked for the “Chip Tank”.
“Ooo. The chip tank. No-one’s ever asked for that malarkey before“
“Are you sharing ? Aaah, that’s nice“(No -Mrs RM just nicks whatever I have).
There was much banter between staff and regular diners (“Don’t incinerate the salmon“) shouted into the kitchen. It felt like a proper community local.
A group of grannies were clearly regulars, and not too distraught at the lack of Pedi on the cask menu, as they shared videos of their respective grandchildren and barked directions down their I-phones.
The chip tank with calamari was proper pub grub, though I wouldn’t drink my cask out of their monstrosity.
Craft weddings and pubby Embers, what a year 2017 is shaping up to be.