Hidden Gems of Birmingham - The Victoria

Scratch beneath the surface of our city and you'll find some real hidden gems. So we have set out to explore the best-kept secrets and unsung heroes of Birmingham. This week, Julie ventures to the buzzing John Bright Street to explore The Victoria...

The Victoria at John Bright Street looks from the outside very traditional  and every inch a classic British pub. The beautiful victorian architecture hides a massive secret. Inside this classic British pub is completely crazy and in keeping with British eccentricity it is loveablely crazy in a wonderful way. 

We accompanied  our meals with some of the Victorias lovely cocktails. The Victoria is part of the Bitters&Twisted chain of pubs and Bitters & Twisted do do a fine cocktail. Starting with one of the cutest cocktail menus I know of (it looks like an old pelican book)I plumped for a Dark & Stormy, served tall and over ice this delicious  rum based drink with a good dash of lime is a perfect summers day drink and it certainly hit the spot for me on one of the sunniest days of this summer. A tall glass of cloudy apple juice for one companion and a passion fruit based cocktail Apple & Passionfruit Daiquiri. Strong in both flavour and fragrance , served in an old fashioned champagne  saucer and garnished with half a Passionfruit this daiquiri  is very feminine and moreish. 

Located less than 60 seconds.walk from New Street train station if you exit via the John Lewis side The Victoria  is suprisingly quiet during the daytimes and is usually very busy in the evenings, to the point of 'standing room only' on my previous visits. 

But for this visit it was empty, OK we were the first customers of the day and a group of  office workers did arrive for lunch as we were on the verge of leaving, so The Victoria  is a great choice if you're looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city without having to move very far from the centre of Birmingham. Being for a while the only customers the background music was welcomed by us. 

For our early lunch we decided to try the Victorias  famous and delicious pizzas. Hand made on site these lovely,thin and crispy pizzas are very reminiscent  of some fresh home made pizzas I had in Italy, so very authentic and unadulterated. The Vickys Margaritta pizza is cheese,tomato and a drizzle of fresh pesto. Served super fast considering it is made to order, our lovely pizzas were on our table within less than 15 minutes of us placing our order. We also tried a Auntie Pasty pizza, which was cheese, tomato,  pepperoni, chorizo, ham, capers and dressed with a few rocket leaves. Yet another great example of how a good pizza should be. A serving of sweet potato fries and coleslaw on the table for us to share made for a meal that was just a bit too big for the three of us. These are good sized pizzas that arrive to the table whole and with a pizza cutting wheel. The side of sweet potato fries seemed to be freshly cooked frozen chips and the red cabbage coleslaw may well have been home made on site as it was chunky and rustic. The only disappointment with the food was the serving container for both the fries and the coleslaw was a disposable foil container. Not very pretty but it took nothing away from our tasty meal. 

Upstairs at The Victoria sees live entertainment, usually live music. Check out their website for full details of upcoming events, but live events upstairs are also accompanied by special offers on drinks too. Thus making for a great value night out in the heart of Birmingham. It's on live event nights that The Victoria is really busy and this gives a great atmosphere. As well as live music there is also a weekly quiz night, I have attended the quiz nights and have to say they are a lot of fun. Taking place in the rear of the pub in the cartoon and tattoo decorated back bar, this is the more eccentric area of this lovely pub. I did enquire as to whether the quiz nights were still on and unfortunately the member of staff I asked had no idea, luckily there is a poster up advertising them. So Tuesday nights is pub quiz night and it still costs £1.00 per person to enter. It was just disappointing  that the staff do not seem fully aware of it. 

Being part of the Bitters & Twisted chain of pubs you can get a loyalty card to use at The Victoria that is also valid at all the other Bitters & Twisted pubs in town. The Victoria also accepts Independent  Birmingham cards, should you be a card holder you can get some deals. 

Don't be put off by the scruffy exterior, this pub has loads of character and serves a splendid pizza. It also has a great atmosphere  and is a perfect choice for a night out with a crowd of friends. The only thing I don't like is the somewhat overpowering smell of toilet cleaner, but at least the toilets are clean. 

The Victoria serve a fantastic choice of real ales and ciders as well as the superb cocktail menu, it is a proper drinkers pub serving some unusual  beers. If you're into your beers and ales you could do a whole lot worse than to pay The Victoria a visit. It is also the obvious choice for pre or post  theatre drinks or a bite to eat if you are visiting the The New Alexander Theatre.

Review written by SWOOPE content partner Julie Wallis

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