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11 Old Oscott Lane, Birmingham, England B44 8TR
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Delicious Food In An Old Haunt
Birmingham, England, United Kingdom
July 28, 2012
Best of IgoUgo
When we lived in North Birmingham my partner and I used The Drakes Drum quite regularly; we'd never really struck up any friendships in there so after we moved to the other side of Brum we didn't make an effort to return, particularly after hearing ...
When we lived in North Birmingham my partner and I used The Drakes Drum quite regularly; we'd never really struck up any friendships in there so after we moved to the other side of Brum we didn't make an effort to return, particularly after hearing talk of the pub going downhill after a change of owner. Recently, however, I found myself in the area with my mum and three of my children so we decided to pop in for a spot of lunch.
The building is huge and really well laid out, the fact that this is the only decent pub for miles being the main attraction - it's located opposite a small college-cum-university campus but surprisingly not many students have ever used the pub so despite its size it has remained very much a 'local' in terms of the people who visit for a drink rather than food. Since rebranding itself as a Sizzling Pub The Drakes Drum does have a slightly different clientele than I remember with more families and young couples eating, but walk around to the bar area and you'll find those who continue to use it as a pub rather than an eatery.
Ordering was straightforward at the Drakes Drum; we'd chosen to eat from a special promotional menu where a main course and dessert cost just £4.95 and this was immediately recognised by the girl who took our order, her asking the questions that made me think she actually knew what she was talking about. I ordered my two youngest children a meal each from the special Kids Menu, where you can swap and change meal components to end up with a plate of food your child will actually eat. In theory.
It didn't take long for our meals to arrive, with the children being served first and us adults waiting an extra couple of minutes. The menu for children is the same as in any Sizzling Pub and I actually think it's rather impressive compared to other local pub restaurants. For the main portion of their meal the children have a choice of scampi, sausages in gravy, chicken nuggets or a beefburger in a bun and they can then choose a potato (chips, mash or a jacket spud) and from a vegetable list of peas, baked beans, corn on the cob or salad. This is by no means a definitive list of what's available for children but gives you an idea of what to expect; my daughter invariably goes for the chicken nuggets, which are six whole chunks of un-messed with chicken breast which have been coated in a light (if a little greasy) batter - much healthier than the not-like-chicken-at-all nuggets from McDonalds and tastier too! With these she opted for her usual chips and peas, her little brother had the same only I asked for his to be served with beans so the sauce would wet the nuggets a little. The portion sizes for the kids meals were spot on, I knew Hollie wouldn't finish hers as she eats like a bird but was surprised to see David completely clear his plate right down to the last bean!
My teenage daughter and I both opted for Smothered Chicken, which was absolutely delicious, while mum went for Tipsy Steak Pie which was a huge meal comprising a large slice of meaty pie with chips and peas, served with the perfect amount of rich beefy gravy. I adore Smothered Chicken but the sight of mum's plate almost made me wish I'd gone for the pie instead! My meal was super, perfect for a hot summers lunch with the perfect amount of chips and generous sized chicken breast topped with BBQ sauce, bacon and cheese - it was absolutely delicious and perfectly cooked, arriving on a mega hot griddle plate for the trademark 'sizzle'. At other Sizzling Pubs I've eaten at this meal is served with a small but tasty side salad, but at The Drakes Drum I was given nothing but a soggy half of grilled tomato - which I swiftly deposited on mums plate as she likes her tomatoes soggy, whereas I don't like them at all!
The best thing about eating the Smothered Chicken, in my opinion, is the fact that you don't feel uncomfortably full after finishing your meal - meaning there's always room for pudding! Ours was from a special selection as we were eating from the promotional menu, but after checking on the menu they can all be purchased separately from the main menu. Charlotte had the biggest slice of chocolate fudge cake I've seen served in a pub, a triple layer of gooey chocolate cake which was so massive she took one of the layers off for her little brother and sister to share! This was served with two large dollops of ice cream which she promptly stirred into the fudge sauce to create a revolting looking (but probably very tasty) mess. My warm chocolate brownie was a much more manageable size and served with a single scoop of rich ice cream on the top - this is a truly wonderful dessert and something that wouldn't be out of place in a more upmarket restaurant, the brownie being of the perfect temperature with a combination crisp/stodgy texture that literally stuck to my spoon after each mouthful! Mum's treacle pudding wasn't what we were expecting, being more of a syrup sponge than the treacle tart type dessert she had hoped for - her fault of course for attempting to read between the lines while looking at the menu, and it was delicious anyway she tells me!
Overall we were all very pleased with our meal and spent a nice couple of hours in The Drakes Drum. Sauces and condiments are served at the beginning of your meal in a wooden 'box' which will also house your cutlery and a few napkins, this is typical of a Sizzling Pub and there was a fairly comprehensive selection of sauces to choose from - bizarrely at The Drakes Drum they add two sachets of each sauce with absolutely no variation depending on what you've ordered, therefore we ended up with unused sachets of mustard and mint sauce and had to ask for more ketchup as we were all eating chips! I do like the sachet approach in a place like this for hygiene reasons, but can't help thinking that a bottle of ketchup and/or brown sauce might be a bit easier.
Although busy at the time of our visit tables were kept clear and were given a wipe down as soon as diners had left, the bar was free of empty glasses and tidily arranged while staff would not only work behind the bar but also wander around the restaurant area checking that things were OK. Incidentally the staff were fine; none of them were particularly outstanding but all were courteous and polite, helpful on the odd occasion we asked advice (which was basically asking for extra sauce sachets!) and conscientious when it came to clearing and cleaning the tables. Which is all you can ask really! The toilets were spacious and very clean, obviously there were no men with us to go and check the gents out but I can confirm the ladies toilet was extremely fresh with a good supply of loo roll and liquid soap.
Disabled access into The Drakes Drum is absolutely fine; while there are a couple of small areas that are up a step or two, the main bulk of the pub is all at one level - wheelchair access would not be a problem, and likewise those with less severe mobility problems wouldn't have any trouble getting in or around the pub. The same is true if you're visiting with a baby in a pushchair, as I was on this occasion, as the interior is laid out with plenty of space between tables and no obstacles to navigate.
One other complaint is the distinct lack of vegetarian options on the menu at The Drakes Drum, with the only dedicated vegetarian meals I spotted available at the time of our visit being the uninspired sounding Quorn Fillets and Fries or Quorn Chilli - things I'm sure most veggies can whip up at home without the need to go out and pay a £5 price tag for! I'm a meat eater so this didn't affect me, but dining with a vegetarian earlier in the week made me appreciate how difficult it can be for people who don't eat meat - while a few of the starters in The Drakes Drum are marked as being suitable for vegetarians it's not idea to make your meal up from a section of starters, not to mention this working out much more expensive in the long run.