Food review: The Sunflower Lounge

Best known as one of Brum’s finest underground music venues (literally…the gigs all happen in the cellar), perhaps The Sunflower Lounge isn’t the first place you think of if you fancy a nibble. But after a swanky £100,000 refit and with soul food aficionados Big Papa doing their ‘thang’ in the kitchen that might be about to change.
After a particularly friendly welcome (it has to be said all the staff here seemed genuinely, authentically, not just ‘doing it for the money’ nice) we were recommended a couple of bottles of Blind Pig cider, a newish brand infused with a variety of spirits and flavours, in this case whiskey and honey and rum and poached pear. Well worth snuffling out.
The menu itself is a love letter to the Deep South with some classic starters, mains and sides. We plumped for the Pulled Cola Brisket Bun with Cajun Sweet Potato Fries, Mac and Cheese and Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Greens and – heck it had to be done – some more of them Fries.
Served up on wooden trays just a few minutes later there’s just a touch more elegance than you’d get in the Deep South with neat little tin pots of garlic and paprika mayo and habanero sauce with a heat that creeps up on you gently before smacking you round the chops with a quick burst of fire. A great excuse to order another bottle or three of Blind Pig.
The Fries were little slices of heaven. Hallelujah brothers and sisters! Clearly hand-cut, they were crispy on the outside, soft and squidgy on the inside and sweet enough to hold their own against the main dish. Having spent 12 hours or so cooking low and slow, the Brisket was tender but pleasingly still retained a little meaty chew. The cola marinade adds a rich sweetness with hints of caramel on the outer layer, fresh slaw provides the crunch and a warmed brioche bun bravely battled to keep the whole mouthwatering mix in place. Mac and cheese can be a bit of a hit and miss affair but this version’s just about right, perhaps a little more cheese is needed to balance out the richness of the pork, but then again you’d probably need a whole dairy to do that.
The Buttermilk Fried Chicken was equally as good as the pork. A crispy and lightly spiced coating yields to marvellously moist meat (try saying that after several bottles of Blind Pig). It’s enough to make Colonel Sanders hang his head in shame. The Greens were, well, green but pleasant enough and tasted freshly cooked.
Screw Lent, the puddings sounded too tempting to resist. The Blueberry Pancakes lived up to expectations with a neat little trio of the beauties stacked on top of each other, smothered in maple syrup and vanilla butter, with a generous fistful of berries on top. The Mississippi Mud Pie was warm and gooey in places but a touch cold in other spots. Not sure if there were chunks of chocolate in there or whether the mixture hadn’t quite baked right…by this point the taste buds were a little overwhelmed. That might have been why the Bourbon Cream lacked much of a punch, if you bill something as Bourbon Cream hell, you want a lip-zinging hit of spirit in there. These are minor quibbles though, this was a mighty fine meal all round, cooked and served by people who, frankly my dears, do give a damn.


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