Bakery by day, street food mecca by night; Sutton Coldfield’s newest dining destination is a very welcome addition to the local foodie scene indeed, says Amy Norbury
Sutton Coldfield’s latest restaurant offering is a tale of two halves. By day, you’re greeted by the scent of freshly-baked bread and the sight of patisserie piled high as Bakehouse makes good on its name, while by night it’s burgers, loaded fries and street food bites.
When it opened in August, Bakehouse marked a homecoming for classically-trained chef Lee DeSanges, who grew up in Wylde Green. Founder of award-winning street food favourite Baked In Brick, as well as its namesake restaurant in Digbeth’s Custard Factory, Lee started his culinary journey when he converted a classic Mini into a street food powerhouse by putting a hand-built pizza oven in the back and a barbecue under the bonnet.
And he hasn’t looked back.
After being named ‘Best Street Food Trader’ at the British Street Food Awards in 2016, Lee went one better to be crowned ‘Best of the Best’ at the European Street Food Awards in Berlin a year later.
The Baked In Brick restaurant soon followed, as well as a wholesale bakery in Erdington where Lee and his team craft baguettes, loaves, sweet treats and more. This latest chapter in the Baked In Brick story saw Lee realise his dream of opening a neighbourhood bakery and coffee shop in his hometown.
Set in a former ironmongers’ shop and laid out over three floors, Bakehouse has already garnered rave reviews from locals who have turned up in their droves to enjoy the baked goods, brunches and lunchtime sandwiches.
But it is street food where Lee made his name, so, when J’AIME was invited over to sample some of Bakehouse’s offerings, it was obviously the street food menu which drew our attention.
While Bakehouse is open from Wednesday to Sunday, the restaurant is open for evening service on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only. When we arrived for an early evening Friday booking, there was already a steady stream of customers eager to sample Lee’s street food offerings. Word of Bakehouse’s foodie credentials is already well and truly out, it seems.
We were shown to a table on the ground floor – with a good view of the delicious bakery counter just to whet our appetites – and ordered drinks while we perused the menu. Bakehouse offers a lovely selection of craft beers and ciders, wine and cocktails, and I couldn’t resist the Aperol Spritz, £8.50, which was deliciously zingy and refreshing.
The street food menu is small but perfectly formed, and we could have happily ordered everything on it. But not wanting to appear too gluttonous, we opted for a couple of the small plates to start, before digging into our burgers and loaded fries.
The lemon curry halloumi, £6.50, served with a glorious sticky chilli jam was divine, the fragrant curry spice adding a lovely depth of flavour to the creamy halloumi. Our chorizo bites, £6.50, were another winner; sticky with maple syrup glaze and accompanied by a slice of delicately charred sourdough, they packed a delightful punch.
Moving onto the main event, there was a choice of four burger options; plain, cheese, bacon-cheese, or the vegetarian halloumi option. Now, as much as I love halloumi, when it comes to burgers there’s no beating meat, so it had to be the Bangin’ Bacon Cheese, £10, for both of us.
It was a behemoth of a burger; a sizeable 35-day aged Aubrey Allen beef patty cooked over fire and topped with a generous slab of home cure oak-smoked Tamworth bacon, blow torched Monterey Jack cheese, the obligatory burger veggies and a duo of sauces (sticky BBQ and Baked In Brick’s own burger sauce) all crammed into a homemade (naturally!) brioche bun.
The meat was succulent and well seasoned, the bacon a deliciously smoky treat, the bun a triumph; in short, it was an exceedingly good burger indeed.
Somewhat ambitiously, we’d each ordered a portion of dirty loaded fries; the buffalo fries, £5.95, slathered in homemade hot sauce and adorned with crumbled blue cheese, for him, and the sexy fries, also £5.95, topped with homemade slaw, crispy onions, sexy gochujang sauce and chives for me.
Hot, crisp and generously loaded with tasty toppings, the fries were a worthy accompaniment to the delicious burgers; a word of warning on the buffalo fries, though – that hot sauce was seriously hot, bringing a tear to the eye of even these couple of hardened spice fans.
In hindsight, we could have easily shared a portion of fries; the portions are deceptively generous, and we were left defeated by the final few mouthfuls.
In lieu of a dessert menu to speak of, we finished off with a caffeine hit; a flat white for him and a rather delectable espresso martini, £9, for me. The coffee is good; the cocktails even better.
Lee DeSanges’ dream with Bakehouse was to create a friendly, neighbourhood bakery and eatery, serving great food and great drinks, which would be embraced wholeheartedly by the local community. And if the initial reaction is anything to go by, dreams really do come true.