Hangover Pie and Pint in Birmingham

I awoke with a start the day after Keith’s wedding.

With a glance at my watch I could tell that I’d already missed my train – at this point in time, my immediate worries were more based around my physical predicament rather than my transport home.

My years of drinking usually put me in good stead for a solid session, but apparently I’d been in particularly energetic form the night before. I groaned as my brain pushed at the edge of its skull casing, desperately seeking for a way to seep through my face. Attempting to rally my senses, I stopped to consider what had happened the night before, how had I lost control of my faculties? Should I have not drained a 4-pack of Stella before getting to the wedding? Should I have stopped drinking after the first bottle of Prosecco or the second?

Thankfully, I’d found a bed in the centre of Birmingham and I was just a cab ride away from a solid pie and pint.

Now, I would never go as far to say that I’m an advocate of day-time drinking. I usually hold with the classic ‘6pm rule’ when it comes to drinking, often finding that if I start any earlier then it can be a real challenge to make it out of the gutter the next day. Despite breaking this particular rule the day before (and subsequently paying the price for it) I knew that the only way that I was going to make a quick recovery and return to Truro in one piece was by partaking in the ‘hair of the dog’. I settled up with the smirking receptionist on the ground floor and hailed a taxi, ordering the man to take me to the nearest pie and pint.

A short drive from the centre of town lies The Village, less of a pub and more of a family-friendly bistro, when I arrived there was already a number of patrons there complete with their offspring. Although I usually baulk at any boozer that positions itself in the family-friendly market, I was in no position to be picky and the cabbie informed me that there was no better pie in the city. I pushed my way in, expecting to be assaulted by a wall of screaming children but was surprised to be greeted by a quiet murmur of mothers conversing, the lower rumble of middle-class father timorously discussing the football and the occasional bubble of cherubic laughter.

A sigh of relief later I had sunk myself into a deep leather chair and ordered their Hand-Raised Pie of the Day along with a pint of their weakest ale. I started out cautiously, unsure of what effect these foreign bodies would have on my fragile system. Thankfully, with every sip and mouthful of pie I found myself reinvigorated. Within half an hour I was gamely wolfing down the remnants of the pie and happily quaffing the rest of my pint, half-considering ordering another one for the road…

I decided against staying, knowing full well how a second pint before midday could change the course of my day, opting instead to nurse a bottle of wine on the long train ride back home.

An Expensive But Enjoyable Pie and Pint

Pies, pints and the smell of the sea air near Padstow

I take a trip to The Pickwick Inn to see what all the fuss is about.

I’m often asked what it’s like to live in Cornwall, my first response is usually less of a reply and more of a whimsical smile. I’ve been here for decades now and to say that ‘I’ve grown accustomed’ to my environment would be a bit of an understatement. I believe quite firmly that Cornwall is the perfect place for men of a certain age to retire to.

After all, it has pretty much everything that men aged 40+ need to sustain a base level of happiness:

  1. Mildly exerting country walks
  2. Plenty of benches to stop along the way
  3. An abundance of pubs serving ale and pie

Some may argue that men of a certain age would be better off with the following:

  1. A stable, well paid job
  2. A home with a good mortgage
  3. A loving family to care for

But those who have made this argument are liable to already have been saddled with kids and are therefore excluded from having an opinion.

With my schedule blissfully free of any responsibilities last weekend (as is the case with pretty much every weekend, as a matter of fact) I decided to take a little drive out of Truro to a corner of Cornwall that I’m very much fond of.

The Pickwick Inn is one of those fancy well-to-do pubs that men like me usually scoff at initially. We look at the faux-worn tables, the Laura Ashley textiles and exposed brickwork, and then sigh audibly. ‘Why don’t they make pubs like they used to?’, we usually say. But then we tuck into a hand-made gourmet pie and take a sip of a carefully kept local ale – suddenly all of our doubts disintegrate.

Although I can vouch for the useful anonymity that the gloom of a dark dingy pub offers a solitary drinker, there’s something very liberating about taking this habit out into the bright white light of a middle-class paradise as verdant as the Pickwick Inn. Whilst you’re unlikely to strike up a dour conversation with any drunken miscreants here (yes – that’s something that I actually look forward to doing) there is a very winning wholesomeness that envelopes you as soon as you arrive here.

It’s worth warning the casual drinker that the Pickwick is more of an uber-holiday complex than a simple boozer. As you approach it you’ll see that a bulky extension offers a bed for the night (for those that book ahead, not those who drink too much) and there are even tennis courts for happy campers too. The proximity to the seaside, ample outside seating and abundance of families breathes life into this otherwise utilitarian building making it an ideal spot to unwind in for a few hours.

Be prepared to dig deep into your pockets if you wish to sit down for a full three-courser here. Starters can cost up to £13, their 8oz Fillet Steak is an eye-watering £30 and puddings, although uniformly lovely, are a standard £8 per portion – Wetherspoons this ain’t. However, should you wish to simply pop in for a pie and a pint you’ll only have to part with £20; well worth it, when you consider the quality that’s on offer.