The Kings Head- Harborne

Hearty food at pocket friendly prices but lacklustre staff made a ‘quick lunch’ a 2 hour affair.


Sandwiched between Harborne and Bearwood The Kings Head is probably the closest independent pub restaurant in our area, so it’s a little bit ridiculous that we have only been once before, several years ago.

A last-minute change of plans combined with a late night and a busy preceding week led to us stumbling towards The Kings Head in search of something warming, comforting and most of all, speedy. We had somehow got to 4pm without eating and with nothing inspiring in the house. Spotting a board outside for 50% off the Autumn market menu it seemed we had made the right choice, after working out how to get in (via the car park which has no pedestrian area) we made a beeline for the restaurant area and asked for a table, within minutes we had decided upon our dishes and had checked out the options at the bar. After about 10 minutes, we stopped the server who seated us  to query whether we should be ordering at the bar as nobody had arrived at our table – she confirmed it was table service before wandering away… when she returned some minutes later to ask if we would like to order a drink there was a look of dissatisfaction as we asked if we could also order food as well. When I requested that the plate of bread and oil be served while we waited but not as a starter it was like speaking another language, after being told that it would come out as a starter and our main once it had been cleared I again repeated my request, explaining that we were simply hungry and wanted to snack on the bread until our meals arrived not that we wanted a starter. About 15 minutes later it finally arrived and unsurprisingly, it was not until the board had been cleared that there was any sign of our mains. Surely this is not such an uncommon request? Regardless, our board did not last long- 3 slices of garlic baguette and a couple of slices of warmed crusty loaf were served with oils and a small pot of olives. By this point, I was almost delirious with hunger but on reflection I’m not sure I’d class this as a plate worth £4.

Dinner arrived on blocks of wood which the staff could use to slide across the table, Jordan had a Garlic and Chilli Chicken Masala, rice and naan – with a number of good curry houses nearby it held its own and was both rich and full of flavour. In an effort to satiate my hunger I made the unusual move of ordering ‘stodge food’ and had a Lamb and Mint pie, with gravy, chips and greens. The thick pastry crust was worthy of a dunk in the gravy jug and the minted lamb filling oozed out across the board. The chips were crisp, well cooked and tasty, once I had flagged someone down for some much-needed salt. White cabbage and Mangetout was better that the usual carrots and green beans I assumed would be served, the gravy plentiful (although I am a heathen that prefers it thick enough to stand a spoon in normally) and the pie itself full of meat. – whilst it was no more than 25% full it felt that we were an inconvenience, the table next to us departed almost as soon as we arrived yet it took over half an hour for someone to clear up the discarded food from the floor and reset the table.

Our ‘quick lunch’ ended up being 2 hours, despite the pace at which we ate, the staff were slow, inattentive and generally disinterested. Staff were not busy and there was no sense of urgency, our questions or requests were met with a surly attitude and vacant stare, our meals themselves were not only enjoyable but also good value, we spotted a number of items on the menu that looked promising and were tempted by some of the specials (Wing Wednesday sounds like my kind of night) but left disheartened by the lack of harmony between kitchen and front of house. Maybe we were just unlucky, but it makes it difficult to get excited about a return visit.

The King’s Head, Hagley Road, Harborne, Birmingham, B17 8BJ

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