Bar Opus – One Snow Hill
Bar Opus sits just behind the monstrosity of a building that is Snow Hill station, tucked into the bottom of One Snow Hill, a beautiful glass building that looks like a cruise liner sliced in half from the back. To approach from Snow Hill, you have to cross the tramlines, and pink-striped trams run regularly across the green grass plateau which fronts the building. Its location in the middle of the business district of Birmingham might explain why on a Saturday morning it was empty of other customers when we arrived to sample the brunch.
It is part of the Opus group of three venues: Bar, Cafe, and simply Opus. Brunch in Cafe Opus has already been reviewed (search ‘Cafe Opus’ to read), and it was wonderful, but in an entirely different way. Where Cafe Opus is arty, quirky, and fun, Bar Opus is sophisticated, polished, and corporate. Both are fantastic venues: Bar Opus may have the edge as the best brunch in Birmingham.
We were seated in the corner window seat, with a great view of the trams and the rain pouring down on the other glassy business buildings which surround One Snow Hill. Inside, comfortable chairs and benches with a sensible number of cushions are framed by the floor-to-ceiling windows and, today, tasteful Christmas decorations. The service was marvellous, and our attentive waiter, having dealt with our coats and umbrellas, was quick to bring us tea. It came with glass mugs, and a two-cup teapot in a plain but shapely teapot. I used to think you couldn’t mess up English breakfast tea, but after the Carluccio’s debacle, it was a relief to get back to a proper, tasty cup of tea.
The dishes we tried were all sensational. On food alone, one of the best brunches in Birmingham. The dedicated brunch menu is varied, including such varied choices as omelette, a burger, steak, spinach and feta eggs, or granola. On the advice of our waiter, I tried the ‘boney m’, described on the menu as ‘baked beans bone marrow butter, merguez sausage, and sourdough toast’. Sausage cassoulet on toast duly appeared, and was heavenly in every way. The individual ingredients were tasty, the sauce was perfection, the toast was delicious, and even the handmade styling of the plate added to the effect.
The ‘english’ got an equally glowing review. The bacon came with the ends cut off, so only the round part of the rasher remained. To me, that is a point in favour of this breakfast, although others were mourning their loss. The baked beans were the same style as in the ‘boney m’ dish: an especially delicious ingredient choice.
So far, the only concern was the brutal disregard for capital letters shown on the menu: ‘Saturday’ and the names of the couple who provide Bar Opus with its personal herb garden, are honoured with capital letters, but everything else is faux-stylishly denied.
Critique forgotten: after breakfast was finished, beautiful mini-mince pies arrived, each only an inch across, as a complementary post-brunch treat. Back in heaven!
The toilets topped of a wonderful all-round experience. Futuristic Dyson taps which integrate the water and dryer functions through the three arms take centre stage in the individual-room toilets. Even more excitingly, the soap and moisturiser are from The White Company: an exceptionally luxurious choice for the bathrooms of Birmingham.
Price: pricey end: ‘english’ £9.50, ‘boney m’ £9
Atmosphere and design: light, modern, corporate, polished
Food: sensationally delicious
Toilets: enjoy high end features like Dyson taps and The White Company soaps
Enjoyment: fabulous service, great views, quiet and relaxing on a Saturday morning