Birmingham has three Michelin Star restaurants. I’ve been to one of them. It was nice. Pleasant. Agreeable. There were an absurd amount of courses but I was still hungry when I left. It was an oddly unsatisfying experience. It also clarified that comfort food is probably my default setting. Maybe it’s everyone’s default setting.
Last weekend, after a feckless ramble around the city centre trying to avoid the mercilessly bloated Saturday afternoon incarnation of the German Market I needed something more satiating than one of those comically oversized hot dogs. Bonehead is a fried chicken joint located just off John Bright Street with a modest black and white entrance which doesn’t really look like anything else in the area. On entering I initially felt like I’d be transported to a dark Brooklyn dive bar but the staff were way too friendly to fully complete the deception.
The restaurant area is upstairs and I took a place in the corner next to the window. I’d already decided that if they had anything resembling a Buffalo chicken burger on the menu then I’d take it with no questions asked. I’ve been rather infatuated with fried chicken lately and with the Buffalo-style in particular after I visited the city itself last year (the famous Anchor Bar – “Home of the original”).
Generally I have no time for people who spend an eternity perusing a menu and yet I felt like a raging hypocrite when the waitress asked me what I wanted to drink and I gave an excruciatingly wishy-washy answer about whether it was too early in the day to order a beer (1pm). She reminded me that it was a Saturday after all so I decided that as an adult male with free will and nothing better to do that I should indeed order a beer. The chalkboard was full of reassuringly expensive craft beers with odd names so I chose a session ale called House Party.
The lunchtime crowd at Bonehead was largely couples in their 20’s and 30’s. One lady sat near to me was enthusiastically showing her partner glossy photos of various chicken burgers on her phone, presumably just in case he wasn’t aware what a chicken burger was while sat in a place known for serving chicken burgers. The restaurant area is upstairs and keeps the same minimal black and white décor as the bar area downstairs does which I liked a lot. The Strokes buzzed over the stereo in keeping with the NYC vibe.
As much as I love the interior here there’s sadly not much they can do about the view out of the window which is taken up almost entirely by the egregious sight of an enormous brown brick Soviet-esque monstrosity. At street level it isn’t much better with Lower Severn Street being largely populated by rubbish bins and birdshit. At least I know that Bonehead is infinitely better than whatever was here before.
Thankfully the view outside has got absolutely nothing to do with what’s on the menu which ticked all my comfort food boxes. I ordered plain fries and was presented with a box of waffle fries (I didn’t read the small print on the menu close enough where they did actually say waffle fries) that were perfectly golden and crispy on the outside. I found myself in the unlikely position of thinking how good it would be to be hungover right now and how heavenly these waffles would taste. The Buffalo Soldier burger was cooked with chicken thighs which made the whole thing soft and tender and it blended with the blue cheese sauce beautifully. This is how you do perfect comfort food.
Down at the bar later on I was serenaded by Joy Division and Pixies. You won’t get that at a Michelin Star restaurant either. That would just be weird.