Sometime in my early days of reading the NME back in the mid 70’s I remember there was an article about the first ever McDonald’s fast food joint opening up in London. This sounded quite thrilling, especially since it was around the same time as the American Graffiti movie and Happy Days TV show, both of which featured diners serving the quintessential meal – hamburger and fries. And I remember being quite impressed when I eventually got to try one when I visited London for university interviews later that decade since I’d never tasted anything quite like it before. And through the years I had a lot of burgers at places such as The American Food Factory, TGI Fridays, GBK & Handmade Burger in the UK, and various places on holidays to the USA and probably thought at some, I’d had the best burger I was ever likely to have. And then came Birmingham’s fledgling Street Food scene which, in 2013, became part of the inaugural Birmingham Beer Bash with about half a dozen different vendors. And that’s when I had an OMG moment with Original Patty Men, especially the famous (or should that be infamous) one using a doughnut rather than a burger bundle. And I wasn’t the only one that was impressed as the story of Ryan Witter-Merithew, then with Siren brewery, wandering around the Bash with an armful of burgers reached legendary status. OPM was started by Tom Maher and Scott O’Byrne and had been running a successful stand at Digbeth Dining Club for a couple of years before their appearance at the Bash, and at the next one this partnership with Siren continued. This time they actually ran a fringe event pairing some excellent beer and rather tasty sliders which foreshadowed the development in December 2015 when the guys were able to open their own permanent restaurant underneath the arches behind Moor St Station selling their burgers and Siren beer. Occasionally they have had special events such as when they had a night of beers from the highly acclaimed Brooklyn brewery, Other Half as part of the inaugural Birmingham Beer Week. And now in 2018 they are expanding next door and opening a new bar, called the Kilder Bar, that will also be selling small plates of cheese and charcuterie. The good news for the beer drinkers of Birmingham is the bar is to be managed by Michael Gee who many may remember from his time at Brewdog Birmingham, and also the short lived bar at Peel and Stone in Harborne. I sat down with Mike, who I have known for a long time ever since he worked with me when I was manager of Nostalgia And Comics. First off he explained to me the origin of the name of the bar: apparently a kilderkin, which comes from the Dutch word for “small cask”, is equal to half a barrel or 2 firkins, so that makes a lot more sense than it did when I saw the first tweet about them (it’s @Kilder_Bar in case you were wondering). In designing the bar they have used Digbeth-based Faber Design & Architecture, and for the actual serving area they have turned to Jolly Good Beer to install a cold room and direct-draw keg system. They are starting with 15 lines with the potential to increase to 29, and two of these will be dedicated Siren, one pouring Yulu and one for a lager that is being brewed especially for them and a couple of other bars. There will also be 2 bottles fridges so I don’t think there will be a lack of choice. The wine is also being served on tap and will be all natural wine, and a small selection of spirits and soft drinks will also be available. Part of the reasoning behind opening the bar is to have somewhere for people to go whilst waiting for a table in the restaurant since 45 – 60 minute waits have been known in the past; but the bar will also have its own food offering. This will take the form of small plates of cheese and charcuterie with the vast majority being from British producers, like the Patty Men provenance and sustainability will be key. Mike is hoping that with a good number of taps he will always have a good range of styles, and also be able to support the growing number of Birmingham and West Midlands breweries.
On Monday 16th we had an invite to the “soft” opening of the bar, so a couple of us joined the great and the good of the Birmingham beer and food scene to help them iron out any problems. As mentioned above local breweries were represented by Burning Soul, Dig Brew and Green Duck, and there was a good selection of styles. As well as the usual pales and ipas there was a saison, a sour, a Belgian blonde, and a couple of dark beers that included Kentucky Breakfast Stout by Founders Brewing Co. which was a suitably boozy way to finish what had been an awesome night. Beer choices are laid out on good size boards above the pouring area. As for the space, well what a difference 3 weeks has made…from an empty shell when we chatted with Mike to a clean, stylish interior. It is nicely laid out with seating for couples or larger groups with a long central table and a posh leather banquette in one corner. And there is also seating in the undercover area between the bar and the restaurant. We should also point out that the natural wines seemed to be going down very well with everyone, and although the spirit selection isn’t huge it looked like they’ve put some thought into getting an interesting selection. Finally it goes without saying that the food we had there, especially the cured meats, was of a very high standard. All in all a great addition to the social scene of the city.
The facts you’ll need to know are that the bar will be open Wednesday 5pm – 11pm, Thursday 12pm – 11pm, Friday and Saturday 12pm – 12pm and Sunday 12 – 10pm. In the interest of full disclosure I will point out that a couple of the beers and the meat was free at the soft opening, but we’re really looking forward to handing over our well earned cash on a fairly regular basis once it opens on Friday April 20th.