Sunday, 15 March 2015

Veggie Sunday Roasts at The Plough Harborne (Birmingham)

I have to say, I was very thrilled to receive an invitation to visit The Plough Harborne.  It had been on my ‘hit list’ for some time, with so many plaudits surrounding it, I was excited to be finally going there.

Set in leafy Harborne, a Birmingham suburb about 3 miles from the city centre, Harborne has always enjoyed a good reputation for food and drink with many of the city's celebrated restaurants and pubs clustered within.  The Plough is being one of them.

Nestled at the bottom of the High Street nudging the Edgbaston border, it stands quite dominantly against its neighbours in contemporary grey and looked a lot bigger than I imagined.

Walking through the entrance, I saw it had been decorated with babushka doll wallpaper which made me smile, with my Eastern European heritage I kind of took it as a personal welcome – coincidence of course, but a good omen nevertheless!

We were met by the Manager James and his team and were warmly greeted.  It was Sunday 1pm and the pub was packed – all tables full with some even braving the inclement weather outside. 

Taking a cursory glance around, I noted the contemporary, eclectic décor.  It is more of an eatery than a pub (by The Plough's own admission).  A marker their success are their future plans to move into the property next door to provide more covers and also to accommodate a private dining area.
I witnessed a very mixed crowd of people – young professionals, young families, parents with their adult children etc.  Some were enjoying the casual country kitchen style bar, relaxing with a big teapot and pastries, with room to spreadout the Sunday papers.  But the majority from what I could see were there for The Plough’s Sunday lunch.  And indeed, that was our purpose too.
Condiments with Pip's Sauce
The Plough’s Sunday lunches have won not only local plaudits with media and customers alike, but also national awards including being named by the Independent as ‘Best Coffee Shop’, celebrated by The Times for the 'Best Sunday Lunch in the Region' and awarded the ‘Best Restaurant / Bar Design’ at the Northern Design Awards.  In addition, award-winning local hot sauce purveyor Pip's Sauces began life after being inspired by a visit to The Plough and bottles of which are available as part of the condiment range.


When offered some garlic bread as an appetiser, we gladly accepted and anticipated a couple of slices of a garlic smothered baguette as you may typically get as a side order in some places.  However, we were very impressed with what we received.  It was a large pizza-style garlic bread, fresh and topped with cheese and herbs.  Garlicky enough without being overpowering.  James later explained that it is made on site, even down to the dough itself.  Very delicious.  This came with a small ramekin of green olives, capers and sun-dried tomatoes as an anti-pasti accompaniment which worked really well.


Dining with My Carnivorous Husband (MCH), he had the Sunday roast option with roast beef.  Cooked to order as he wanted it, it was succulent and he stated it he could tell it was high quality meat.  A good portion size, it came with all the extras that mine did (see below).

My vegetarian option in lieu of the meat came with stuffing.  Now, I have to admit I thought that the meal would’ve come with stuffing anyway as part of a standard roast package, but after seeing and trying it, I can see that it is very different to how it sounds.  Expecting a token couple of rolled balls as you might expect at a carvery pub, I was delighted to see that the stuffing came as a thick sliced wedge looking like a Mr Kipling almond slice cake.   I chose to have a little of the two options available (apple & cranberry and apricot).  Cutting in to the apple & cranberry one, it was soft with a layer in the middle of cranberry (like you’d have jam in an almond slice) with a sprinkling of flaked almonds on top.  As stuffings go, it was the best I’d ever had!  Moist, packed with flavour and I wanted the recipe for myself!

The other roast elements were braised red cabbage (delicious and sweet), roast potatoes (crispy and fluffy), mashed smooth swede, Yorkshire pudding with peas plus gravy (flavoursome but not overpowering).

I was informed that all the ingredients were vegetarian and that the gravy was home-made as well.  Bravo The Plough!

Always making room for dessert,  MCH decided to try the Grasshopper Pie which looked amazing (and something different from your average menu).  Only issue was it contains marshmallows which aren’t veggie friendly so I couldn’t partake sadly and I did have a little food envy when it arrived I have to say.  But he said it was dessert-heaven, the chocolate was dense with a minty aftertaste and the ice cream that came with it was almost clotted cream-esque.

I opted for the White Chocolate Raspberry Tart.  For me it resembled the taste of frangipane on a crumbly pastry base with the tartness of raspberry coming through.  Served with a good quality raspberry swirl ice cream it was pleasant but I would it have been nice to have some fresh raspberries to accompany it to really bring the flavour out of it. 

As our meal drew to an end, taking the last few sips of my sauivignon blanc, we reflected on what a fabulous roast lunch we had had and we agreed that we could see why it had won the awards.  Earmarked in  MCH’s mind as a meet up point with friends in the future, we are looking forward to returning very soon.

All in all a wonderful gastro venue, with echoes of a trendy London suburb, a cool hangout, excellent food with a good vegetarian bias and something for everyone.

To read about what food trends The Plough are predicting for 2015, click here.

Disclosure:    This post has been written following a kind invitation from The Plough Harborne to sample their Sunday Lunch Menu.    This review was conducted honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website. 



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