Soul Food Project unleash new menu

soulfoodprojectI was excited last week, to be invited to attend the ‘gastro evening’ launch of Soul Food Project’s new menu, the cheffy equivalent of an album launch if you like. Soul Food project occupy the kitchen upstairs at The Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath, and serve up southern-style food to discerning eaters, and drinkers with an appetite. That’s the essence of proper pub food I suppose, you have to attract a few people that would normally head to a restaurant, but maybe want to save a quid or two, but also feed the tipsy reveller who suddenly gets the munchies. The question then, I suppose, is does the Soul Food Project’s new menu hit the mark?

During an enjoyable evening comparing oven temperatures and bakery start times with the smiley Sarah Frost, we were given samples of 7 or 8 dishes off the new menu as we washed it all down with pints of Purity’s finest. The first, and finest of them all, was the Sierra Nevada hush puppies, a moorish deep-fired savoury doughnut made with corn and Sierra Nevada pale ale. Next out came the burgers, chunky locally made beef patties in a sturdy bun with a punchy soul sauce, good stuff. We sampled the consistently good Jambalaya, a great sunburst salad with halloumi and sweet potato, veggie gumbo (I thought gumbo had to have peanuts in it – am I thinking of somehting else?), and SFP’s SFC (southern fried chicken), of course.  The thirty-strong crowd were visibly stuffed by this point, but when chef’s Carl and Matt emerge with trays of the famous brownies and stunning churro’s to finish us off, who can turn that down?!

Their repertoire has massively expanded and now fills a glossy A3 menu (complete with photos!), and there are many intriguing dishes that I still want to sample (pork crackling with a bourbon sauce for a starter? yes please!). So have they managed to hit the hungry-boozer/gourmet-diner-on-a-budget balance? I think they pretty much have. The dishes are certainly good value – starters are £3-4 and mains just £5-7. The dishes aren’t refined and showy like a flashy restaurant, they’re hearty, which is how soul food should be, and perfect for fuelling-up for a night out. The resounding thing that struck me though is that there’s no one else really doing this kind of food in Birmingham, so although there’s no smears of chestnut puree or embellishments of pea shoots on the plates, I urge foodies, gourmands, and anyone wanting some honest, original pub grub, to head down and check out the new menu. I know i’ll be returning soon…

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