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The Black Horse
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Bristol Road South, Northfield, Birmingham B31 2QT
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Good For Decent Local Food
Birmingham, England, United Kingdom
March 28, 2012
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The Black Horse pub in the Northfield area of Birmingham was built in the 1920s, so it's a reasonably historic building (by Northfield standards). The thing is it's a beautiful black and white timbered building so looks much older - I used to use it ...
The Black Horse pub in the Northfield area of Birmingham was built in the 1920s, so it's a reasonably historic building (by Northfield standards). The thing is it's a beautiful black and white timbered building so looks much older - I used to use it as a pub until it went drastically downhill, but more recently it was taken over by Wetherspoons and has greatly improved in terms of both service and clientele.
I've eaten here many times in the past twelve months, partly because it's my most local pub restaurant but also due to the fact that children are welcomed when an adult is eating. The building itself is huge with a wide variety of seating options from small tables up to wall mounted padded benches which allow larger parties to dine in comfort. The long bar and large number of staff mean you're rarely waiting long to be served to drinks, you also order your food at the bar and this is then brought to your table once it's cooked.
This morning we were out early so decided to nip in for some breakfast after dropping the kids at school, both myself and my partner were starving so opted for the large breakfast - which ended up being so massive that we could have shared it and still been full up afterwards! This humongous meal consisted two fried eggs, two sausages, two rashers of bacon, beans, a grilled tomato, three hash browns, a thick slice of black pudding and two slices of toast. It was a delicious meal with the bacon and eggs being cooked exactly how I'd requested (practically cremated for the bacon and runny yolks for the egg) - it's not a very versatile menu however as I asked if I could exchange one of my sausages for an extra slice of bacon but this was not allowed, although I could have ordered another portion of bacon at extra cost.
Condiments and sauces are of the sachet variety and arranged near to the cutlery for you to help yourself, from experience I know that some meals in here are served with their own sauce so usually tend to wait and see what comes with my food before heading over to the sauce section. Last week I was in the Black Horse and chose a fish and chips meal which was served with a pot of the nicest tartare sauce I've ever eaten - although to be honest the fish wasn't too good and was so thickly battered that I ended up leaving most of it on my plate. The chips were, as always, delicious and plentiful while the side portion of peas tasted fresh and perfectly cooked. My partner had his usual steak that day and commented that it was as good as usual, when ordering steak in the Black Horse you'll be asked how you'd like it cooked and it usually arrives right - my partner eats his medium rare and when served there is the correct amount of blood on the plate for this level of cooking.
I also like the reasonably priced burger menu, particularly the Gourmet Burger which is topped with bacon and an amazing blue cheese sauce. Served with chips and onion rings I can't always finish this meal as it's so large, although I don't waste too much! When our children are eating with us the younger ones will usually go for something from the reasonably varied Children's Menu - generally either a sausage meal or Wetherspoons excellent chicken breast nuggets. Most kids meals give you the option of switching the chips for mashed potato, and children then have the choice of baked beans or peas.
I've never been overly enamoured with dessert in any branch of Wetherspoons, and the Black Horse is no exception. If I really fancy something sweet after my meal I'll go for the pancakes which come with a selection of toppings such as fruity compote, ice cream or maple syrup - these are nice but nothing special really, I'd much rather leave the dessert and grab a nice bar of chocolate on the way home! My four year old loves the Warm Chocolate Brownies with Ice Cream from the kids menu and will occasionally just have a portion of this if she's not hungry enough to manage a full meal.
This branch of Wetherspoons has regular special offers through all of their menus, these change regularly so it's worth keeping an eye on the outside advertising boards if you're looking to save money on your meals and/or drinks.
The staff are pretty good in here, in no way could you say that they bend over backwards to help you but they're always pleasant and helpful when it comes to discussing food options and promotions. As in any other Wetherspoons place, the Black Horse is as much a pub as an eatery so you have to be prepared for a bit of noise and people who have drunk more than they should - the policy of children needing to be out of the building by 9pm helps keep this away from kids, but I've noticed this particular Wetherspoons isn't terribly good at keeping control of the daytime drunks and a couple of times we've taken one look at the state of some of these people and walked out without ordering any food.
The toilets in the Black Horse are spotless and regularly cleaned, this was one aspect I was interested in seeing once I found out that Wetherspoons had taken over the pub as previously they were so vile that when drinking in there I'd walk over to use the loo in the swimming baths across the road rather than risk the ones in the Black Horse! My partner tells me the gents are clean but quite smelly, which goes with the territory I suppose but you'd think they would make an effort to correct this considering it's been a problem for at least twelve months now!
The large beer garden is nicely maintained although I feel they could make more of the area, rather than just filling it with benches. It's not a particularly relaxing place to sit anyway as it backs onto a busy bus stop and constantly smells of traffic fumes - not the pubs fault of course, but I'd rather sit inside! My one criticism is regarding the car park, which is tiny for such a large building. This has always been an issue for this pub but I thought Wetherspoons might have done something about it, the actual car park is small but it would be completely possible for them to change the layout of the parking bays to fit more cars on - and also to make it easier for driving in and out, especially considering sometimes you're forced to reverse onto the main Bristol Road where traffic never calms.
To sum up, this branch of Wetherspoons is somewhere I'm happy to use for a quick meal out either with or without the kids. It's not a place I'd visit for a special meal or if I fancied something a bit 'different', but as a local I suppose I could do worse.