beerfood

Bundobust Birmingham

I finally made it to Bundobust Birmingham. Yay me! Timely as ever, given that it opened in June 2023… But I made it, and I thought I’d share my experience with you.

It’s an interesting one really. Indian street food has become increasingly commonplace over recent years. And is it still street food if you have a bricks and mortar venue? I don’t know, that’s far too deep for me to contemplate at the moment. The point is, Bundobust are operating in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Especially opening in Birmingham, one of the key heartlands of UK Indian cuisine. It is a well-established scene too, if you look at places like Shobha’s who have been offering street food inspired dishes since 2006.


So what makes them stand out? Well, it’s the way beer is integrated into the offer that is the USP. They have their own brewery, with a taproom of course, in Manchester. There is a range of Bundobust beers that I really like. They play to their Indian heritage, but in a way that is subtle and balanced. And, I have to say, the beer does a lot of heavy lifting in really upping your enjoyment of the food.

Eat

The food is really nice, don’t get me wrong. I am a big fan of the okra fries, which are served crisp and warm with a really tasty blend of sweet and earthy spices that makes them a great accompaniment to beer – any beer. I also had the tarka dhal on my visit, which is basically what I order everywhere, every visit, every time. The Bundobust version lacks a bit of punch, in my opinion, neither having the rich, velvety indulgence of too much ghee, nor packing a particularly full or hot punch in terms of spicing. It’s fine, but I’ve enjoyed others more.

Tarka dhal with beers

Stop

But when you taste that food with the beers, the whole is transformed. The Dhania lager is just a really great pilsner. Crisp and slightly sweet, it will give a great little lift to any dish on the menu. That said there is supposed to be a touch of coriander seed in the mix, which I didn’t really pick up on. I suspect it was because it was so cold. But you’re not going to leave your lager to get warm just to find out, are you? The next beer I tried was their cask collaboration with the mighty Thornbridge of Derbyshire. Galaxy & Simcoe does exactly what you expect in terms of hops – it is aromatic and has a full body that fills the mouth. This is a wonderful pale ale to really bring out a new dimension in that dhal – pulling out some sweetness and making the spice blend sing.

Collaborate

I didn’t know that Bundobust did collaborations really, or at least I hadn’t paid much attention. Those were really the standout beers for me. After the Thornbridge, I was delighted to find their sour made with North that I liked equally well. Once again the name says it all – a pineapple and coconut lassi sour that has all the flavours you can now imagine. Beautifully perfumed tropical fruit interplaying with some sweetness and balanced by an overall blast of sour that once again works incredibly well with this style of food.


I also really rated their collab with Northern Monk. I mean obviously, Northern Monk tend to make very few missteps. The mango lassi dazzler is particularly interesting because it has this really textural vanilla sweetness to it. I’d save this pale for pudding if I were you. You might also like to take a taste of Chaitro with your pudding. The rich and milky sweetness of the chai flavoured nitro porter will surely be a winner, even as its roasted coffee bitterness off sets the dish. However, I have to say that I thought it really came into its own with the okra fries, bringing out the taste of that black salt in the seasoning. One for smoky food fans at least.

Listen

Then finally I had a beer that was nothing to do with Bundobust’s own brewery, Splash: White from Funky Fluid. I have to say this Polish brewery is another one that can really seem to do very little wrong, and this was no exception. The gose is properly sour and is flavoured with white guava and lychee. It’s so nicely done, despite the light, hazy appearance perhaps being a little off putting! I can see precisely why Bundobust have chosen to feature this guest on their bar. It fits in so well with the food aesthetic and the flavour profile they are focusing on. Fresh and vibrant.

You can pick up flights of three thirds, which clearly I highly recommend. Taste plenty of beers, try different ones with your dishes to really get the most out of your experience. For me, Bundobust is a really great beer bar, with decent snacks. And perhaps that’s all they need to be. In a city blessed with some phenomenal beer lists, they really earn their place in the higher echelons. But that’s a beer person talking.

I liked the decor, I adored the staff – who were so helpful, so friendly and clearly well clued up on the beers. It must be said that I didn’t like the use of disposable bowls and plates throughout. I know that street food is at the heart of their ethos, but it’s not very sustainable when a plate would suffice and I ain’t going anywhere to eat. But that beer list will keep me popping back, keen to see what the latest guests are. And I’ll be safe in the knowledge that whatever I choose, the bar snacks will only be elevated by them.

Laura

Bestselling author and freelance drinks writer. Champion of pubs and breweries. Occasional printmaker.

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