Set back from the twinkly lights of Brindleyplace canal in Birmingham, Gas St. Social is the new hangout to go halves on sharing boards, celebrate special occasions or a sip on cheeky cocktail or two. As the name suggests, the restaurant is all about meeting up with pals and mixing and matching their platters over one too many Brambles. But if sharing isn't your thing (me neither - sharing platter for one please!) they also have a contemporary menu packed with modern meals to suit your mood. The decor is modern and eccentric; think old typewriters, exposed natural wood grain and retro prints with a nod to the Birmingham roots of Cadbury and the original Typhoo tea factory.
I headed over to sample a taster of their latest menu with a few other Brummie foodie types, including Roz of The Foodie Couple, Birmingham Mail's Mary Griffin and the boys from Out in Brum. I started out the evening as it meant to go on - sober. Rock 'n' roll me went for a Social Swizzle. A non alcoholic mix of elderflower and lime it's certainly a mocktail that you'd enjoy slurping on as a designated driver. Set at a table with warm macadamia nuts and the largest olives I've ever laid my hands on, we tucked in and browsed the menu. When I'm talking large olives, I mean, the stone was bigger than the average olive. De-licious.
Out came a charcuterie board full of locally sourced delights to whet our appetite, featuring Peel & Stone bread and top notch meat from Forest Pig. This was all before a three course dinner mind. Oh yes, they looked after us pretty well.
To begin, I opted for the Seared Scallops, amongst choices of Wood Smoked Loch Duart Salmon and Crispy Arancini. These were well cooked to my liking, with a charred outer and buttery texture. The scallops were laced with a sweet garlicky lemon sauce and the tartness of capers that left me wanting to mop it up had there been any bread left.
My main was Slow Cooked Pork Belly simply with cider and sage. After seeing the starters and other mains, I think there could have been more effort made with presentation here. Granted those chips aren't usually on the plate and that was just so we could try the sides, but some kind of seasonal green veg, apple sauce or mustard would have gone down well. Not the salad garnish though, as let's be honest who ever really eats that?
The pork belly itself was delicious; succulent and juicy with a slightly crispy and sticky exterior. The sauce was a deep flavour which felt very rich and naughty. What the pork did go really well with was the creamy kale side, which would have been the perfect addition to the dish as a whole. The creamy and peppery sauce with the kale melted away the bitterness and left a moreish and inviting side dish. I really enjoyed the mash too; which was creamy and almost stringy, just how I like it. I definitely think these should either come with the dish, or suggested by the staff. Who, by the way, were very attentive and enthusiastic.
Whilst I waited, I sated my appetite for one of their awesome sounding cocktails, with their Rhubarb and Raspberry offering. Totally Instagram-able and totally refreshing too.
For dessert (yes, dessert!) I went for what was billed as basically my dream pudding, aside from a Bakewell tart. Three words and I was sold: Pistachio. Crème. Brûlée. For starters, it passed the all important "tap and crack" test. The accompanying sweet biscuits reminded me of bread and butter pudding, except as you can see crispy and perfect for dipping. The flavours were all you'd expect in a classic CB, and the crunchy pistachio topping married well. However I think the chef could have been more daring and added more pistachio essence, perhaps nuts running through or more in the sugary top layer. It was a delicious dessert that I would pick again though - and was worth almost getting a parking ticket for!
In all Gas St. Social is definitely somewhere to explore for your next get together with friends, a work night out or birthday. It's definitely got that effortlessly cool, quirky and chilled atmosphere that you want for a relaxed meal with your mates, and you'd struggle not to find something you fancied on the menu. When the sun finally comes back with his hat on, this place is sure to be buzzing.
gas st, social
Wondering how to get there? Park in either The Mailbox car park or Navigation Street (B5 4AD), walk through The Mailbox and you'll see it on your left. Easily accessible to walk from Birmingham New St. Station too.
Note: I was invited for a complimentary taster of the menu. As always, all opinions are honest and my own.