In the space of just two weeks Birmingham has managed to seriously up its fried chicken game. At the start of the month we had the Digbeth burger gods, Original Patty Men, kick off their immensely popular Wing Wednesdays, and then the following week we saw the grand opening of the heavily anticipated chicken & beer establishment, Bonehead. Promising to bring mouth-watering fried goodness and a strong craft outing, our expectations of the new independent were set extremely high. On Thursday we popped down to see if the new kids on the block could live up to the hype.
Knocking on New Street’s door
Bonehead is ideally located just off John Bright Street, which happens to be stumbling distance from New Street Station. You will be off your train and at the bar ordering a pint of Neck Oil in 5 minutes flat. The chicken & liquor joint is in good company, joining Cherry Reds and Brewdog to form a powerful tipple triangle that I’m sure will become the routine of many. It doesn’t stop there, with the Victoria just down the road, The Stable across the way for pizza & cider, and then Tamatanga round the corner for Indian delights. Basically, Bonehead couldn’t have picked a better location.
Bonehead has a cool ‘dive bar’ aesthetic that Rob said reminded him of some of the neighbourhood bars he’d been to in New York and Washington DC. The walls are plastered with posters and graffiti, including the awesome illustration you see above. Furniture consists of simple metal bar stools and tables to perch at on the groundfloor and eqully minimalist chairs and tables upstairs. The place seems born to be busy and given it’s location, this will most likely be the case for the majority of the time. Bonehead is the kind of bar where a couple of after-work beers before the train could very easily develop into several drinks, a serving of fried chicken and the last train home.
Beavertown and beyond
Despite chicken being the name of their game, Bonehead are also out to make themselves a notable addition to the Birmingham beer scene. The bar features 8 lines, with two being reserved for Beavertown specifically, and a well-stocked fridge, containing beers from the likes of Cloudwater, Amundsen Bryggeri, Magic Rock, and Lervig. The shelves in the bar were stocked with a decent selection of spirits, including the much-celebrated Sleeping Lemons & Schnoodlepip gins. Although I did not peruse the full drinks menu, I believe that whatever your taste buds, these guys have got you covered.
The night prior happened to be Bonehead’s first tap takeover, featuring a cavalcade of Beavertown delights. The event had gone down a storm and (unsurprisingly) a number of specials did not make it overnight. Still though, Double Chin, Beavertown’s anniversary DIPA, continued to pour, which brought me an abundance of merriment. I am curious to see what beers Bonehead will have on on a more regular basis. With 3 lines being reserved for pales (Big Wave, Neck Oil, Gamma Ray), that still gives 5 taps of freedom. Here’s hoping they take inspiration from The Wolf and try to always have on at least one dark beer and one sour. It’s good to have options.
“What? No burgers?!”
Not long after arriving I noticed a member of staff perched by the stairs dishing out raffle tickets. Putting 2 and 2 together, I realised that there wasn’t a tombola and that this was rather Bonehead’s table reservation system. I got my name against number 134 and had my expectations set at 45 minutes.
Now we all know that expectations can sometimes be a let down. Rob and I were personally still reeling from a painful Just Eat catastrophe, resulting in our order being cancelled after two and a half hours. We were starting to worry at Bonehead when we still hadn’t been called way after our expected time. I don’t know if this is due to an underestimation of the expected wait, or a raffle ticket based mishap, but we weren’t seated until an hour past our originally quoted time.
We felt that standing towards the door did not help, and that maybe we had been forgotten. I won’t hold this against Bonehead though, the bar was absolutely heaving and this was still their first week of opening. We were also given the extremely kind option of free wings if we were happy to eat in the bar area. A generous offer that I’m sure we would have taken in other circumstances, but we were here to sample the full menu.
The most painful part of the night was when the extremely polite ticket master came to speak to us about the wait and happened to drop the bombshell that they were also out of burgers. Sadly this was not a poultry joke and so the Hothead burger, which had been bigged up to us not 5 minutes ago, would have to wait for another day.
Winner, winner, chicken dinner
Let’s cut to the chase. The chicken is damn good. This is what Bonehead pride themselves on and I can certainly say I was not disappointed. Now don’t be coming here expecting an expansive menu – You’ve got your choice of wings, your choice of fried chicken, a couple of burger variations, and then waffle fries. It’s understandable that they want to keep their menu small and grounded; it allows them to focus on the quality of each offering.
With wings on my mind, I opted for a portion of the Hothead’s with comeback sauce, and a greedy second portion of buffalo with blue ranch. My compadre Rob chowed down on fried chicken and loaded waffle fries, and our poor vegan friend Laura was thankfully contempt with a portion of criss-cross potatoes (yes, we cruelly took a vegan to a fried chicken joint – please do not judge).
The service was quick and the food all went down a treat. The wings were perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy on the inner. They were also a beastly size – I am very glad I had the foresight not to top up my order with sides. My favourite of the two types were the Hothead’s, although I would prefer to have them a tad spicier. If I was to give one piece of advice to Bonehead, PLEASE serve wings with wet-wipes or a reel of kitchen roll. There is no way to gracefully eat them – fingers and faces will be smothered!
The casual dive bar setting may not be for everyone, but I greatly enjoyed my time at Bonehead. The atmosphere was buzzing, the staff were incredibly friendly, and my ears were constantly being graced with the likes of Bowie, Pearl Jam and Led Zeppelin. The chicken was delectable and of course the beers went down well. Be sure to stop by and show Bonehead some love – it will be well worth your time.
Bonehead, 8 Lower Severn Street, Birmingham, B1 1PU
Have you made it to Bonehead yet? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments.