A new pop-up pub has appeared in Birmingham City Centre. Hannah Vernon and Cara-Louise Scott are here to share their review
The Pigeon in the Park is a pop-up pub which recently opened on the 17th of November in Cathedral Square, known to many as Pigeon Park. Cathedral Square is hosting a Christmas Market until the 19th December, and as well as this pub, there are stalls from independent businesses selling crafts and gifts, and plenty of food stalls, as well as the big Helter Skelter. The square has been transformed into a mini wonderland, and has even more variety for food and drink than the German Christmas Markets in Victoria Square.
We initially heard about the pop-up through an online article proclaiming the location ‘disrespectful’. Ire was raised, it seems, by Birmingham City Council having placed a pub in a square populated by gravestones.
Visiting on a recent Saturday afternoon however, it was clear that the pub is very much a temporary structure. The entire bar, queueing area and staircase, rising to the counter itself, are all housed on wooden platforms, hopefully making the structure easy to dismantle when Christmas arrives. Running above the covered bar is a terraced area for customers. A second, larger seating area could be found in a marquee behind.
Peering behind the counter as one does when trying to choose a drink without being difficult, it was easy to see enough available bottles to avoid being socially awkward and agonizing over what to order. In this instance, we arrived shortly before 1pm and walked straight up to the platform. Plastic cups were largely being used to house the drinks; it was not clear whether they were being recycled or not, though additional bins had been placed outside the adjacent pavilions.
We did not have to wait long to order our drinks, and they had a range of drinks to choose from, such as on-tap beer, gin, rum, Baileys, and various soft drinks.
I (Cara) went for my personal favourite, a single Malibu and Coke, costing me £4.50. The cup was a reasonable size and for a single alcoholic drink, I found this an acceptable price to pay, especially around Christmas time. The drink was flavourful with the Malibu being the perfect strength by going for a single, and it was an enjoyable drink to have with the mixture of coke, that satisfied my thirst.
Unfortunately, I (Hannah) am not one to sample festive drinks or stomach a pint and so quite happily ordered a Gordons Pink Gin and Lemonade. There is no expectation to drink alcohol, of course. Having collected our drinks, the two of us made our way to a conservatory and set ourselves up on one of the available tables. Inside, we were sheltered from the wind and duly overheated, our table socially distanced from other drinkers. Children and families were welcome to occupy the area, and guests eating from neighbouring food carts. The other notable presence was a Christmas playlist, festive until morphing into party anthems. Despite the unseasonal switch, nursing our drinks in a cosy marquee made for a rather jolly holiday.
One of the staff members kept coming round the tables picking up empty cups which was great to see because there is a high turn over of customers, it means the pub are keeping up to date with waste and keeping the environment clean by disposing of the plastic cups correctly, or even potentially reusing them.
Overall, selecting gin and Malibu is hardly a revolutionary drink decision and so it is difficult to make a case for the pub serving exceeding spirits. However, the novelty of going to a quaint Christmas market all wooden-panelled and decorated really does lift your spirits on the coldest day. It might be a rickety climb up to the terrace, but sitting down with a drink on a cold day surrounded by spirited customers and infectious Christmas songs – unless you really despise them, of course – hopefully bodes well for a wonderful remainder of this sometimes less than holly-jolly year.
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