You may remember that one of my new year’s resolutions was to spend a leisurely afternoon in a different Digbeth pub each month and write about it here on Digbeth is Good. This January I decided to treat myself to the perfect winter warmer – a meal in The Big Bull’s Head.
The Big Bull’s Head, a traditional Irish pub and bed and breakfast, stands on the corner of Bradford Street and Milk Street opposite the advert for Melox Marvel’s Dog Food. I would have taken a photo of its exterior but the above painting by artist Steven Roy Brown, which hangs on its lounge wall, does the job much better.
The Big Bull’s Head is not really a pub for real ale connoisseurs, as the bar has just Ansells Dark Mild and the usual small selection of lagers, bitters, ciders, wines and spirits. But it is the place to go for a warm welcome, a good game of pool and an incredibly hearty meal. It has two rooms – a large front bar where the drinkers tend hang out and chat or play pool and a cosy back lounge for the hardcore diners. There’s also a nicely decked-out back yard for the smokers, where there is a bar but the service here is a bit slow.
We headed to the back lounge to look at their selection of meals – a lot of traditional Irish fare (Irish stew, beef and Guinness pie, etc.), a three course Sunday dinner for those really wanting to make a meal of it and their Pièce de résistance - The He Man’s Grill. The He Man’s Grill consists of ‘Lamb Chop, Pork Chop, Rump Steak, 2 Sausages, 2 rashers of Bacon, Fried Onions, Egg, Chips & Beans’ on a large silver platter.
I first came across this years ago when I watched a bouncer from The Dubliner, who had been up all night and was after a big breakfast, devour one in mere minutes. It took us a little while longer (about half an hour according to my Twitter), after which we fell into a food-induced lull, gazing at the old black and white photos of Ireland that decorate the lounge’s walls whilst our bodies concentrated on the mammoth task of digesting. There are smaller meals available on the menu suitable for children (who are welcome) and people who want to be capable of conversation after eating.
The front bar is a slightly livelier affair than the lounge with a good crowd of regulars who make strangers feel more than welcome. But be sure to take your sense of humour with you as they seem fond of a bit of banter and practical joking – being incredibly gullible, I well and truly fell for one guy’s fake Irish Lottery ticket that told me he’d won £6 million. Also watch out for Birmingham’s best peddlar Mr Ralph whilst you’re in there – The Big Bull’s Head seems to be one of his regular haunts and I saw him entertaining the crowd with a song once.
If Mr Ralph isn’t around to provide the music try the Emerald Ice jukebox, which has a good selection of traditional Irish, country and western and pop music. When we walked in Tammy Wynette’s Stand By Your Man was on at full volume.
So that was the January pub of the month – which one should I visit for February? Comment if there’s a particular one you’d like to me to go to, otherwise I’ll just choose one on a whim.