I have a confession to make; I have a total weakness for a certain fried-chicken fast food chain – I can’t help it, I just really like their hot wings! So when I heard that the newly refurbished Sunflower Lounge was now playing host to street and soul food vendors Big Papa’s Beautiful South, whose menu included some buttermilk-fried chicken, I knew I had to go down and check it out, and so I did.
The Sunflower Lounge has had a much needed refurb – and my gosh did it need it. Don’t get me wrong, I love a grubby live music venue, but the tired old little venue was feeling a little unloved. The £100,000 refurb has breathed new life into the bar, improved the drinks selection and added some important features like new lighting, flooring and improved the decor. It’s also made it somewhere that you might actually want to eat…which is handy as street food vendors Big Papa’s Beautiful South have taken over the kitchen (who knew there was even a kitchen there before).
I glanced at the kitchen but as Big Papas had been teasing their offerings on social media I knew I wanted the buttermilk-fried chicken and so that’s what I ordered. What arrived was a big old hunk of meat which had a lovely crisp coating and despite its size the meat inside had been cooked well but was still juicy and delicious. It was a meal in and of itself.
Given it was a Sunday afternoon I fancied trying to convince myself that this was a twist on a Sunday Roast, so I tried two of the selection of sides on offer at the time, the greens and yam mash. The yam mash had a nice, simple flavour but gave the carb portion of the meal a bit more of a healthier feel. Sadly this has disappeared from the new menu, which doesn’t really surprise me as I think I’m the only person in the world who doesn’t get the obsession for sweet potato fries but I suspect they are very popular. Perhaps it’s listening to the Die Hard soundtrack too much but I would’ve liked collard greens and what was presented felt a bit uninspired. I suspect (hope) that this was the result of a busy trading and that when I return they might have improved as it was nice to see a vegetable side that was a bit different.
By this point I was feeling pretty stuffed, but Anthony, aka one half of Big Papas, had spotted me tweeting about my meal and came out to say hello, bringing with him some Mississippi mud pie with whisky sauce. If I’d thought the buttermilk-friend chicken was a generous portion, then it had nothing on the pie which could’ve easily satisfied two (if you were feeling nice enough to share). The biscuit base and whisky cream really complimented the richness of the chocolate cake but equally provided a contrast that stopped it being too sickly. Despite a really good effort from me I wasn’t able to finish it, but I’m determined not to let it beat me next time!
After two courses I waddled off the the cinema, well and truly full to the brim. Whilst they might have started off as a street food outfit, it’s great to see Big Papas find a home at the Sunflower Lounge. Their food is generously portioned, well cooked and with its roots firmly in soul food, it feels like Big Papas is the perfect fit for the Sunflower Lounge. Along with the refurb, Big Papa’s have brought the place back to being somewhere to make the effort to go to. Check out their Facebook and Twitter account for the menus – they post regular too but be warned this will make you have food envy.
Sunflower Lounge, 76 Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham, B5 4EG
Disclosure: I paid for my my own main meal, although I was given free pudding which was very nice of them and I felt super guilty for not finishing it. As usual I wasn’t obliged to say anything nice and I think that should be pretty obvious. And in case you were wondering I saw It Follows which was a terrible choice given how full I was feeling and how bloody creepy that film was.