Elements of European café culture have burst onto Birmingham’s drinking and dining scene with the opening of Bar Opus.
Located at the base of Colmore Row’s One Snowhill building, the stylish bar is the latest venture from Ann Tonks, Irene Allen and David Colcombe – the team behind two other Birmingham venues, Opus at Cornwall Street and Café Opus at Ikon contemporary art gallery.
Open from 7am, a range of breakfast, lunch and “after five” dishes are available for those seeking a bite to eat while the Opus team have commissioned their own beer: a 4.2% ABV Bavarian lager made by German brewer Kaltenburg.
The bar also stocks a range of premium spirits including Birmingham-made gin Langley’s No 8, flavoured Stolichnaya and Chase vodkas, Hendrick’s gin, Woodford Reserve bourbon and Courvoisier Exclusif cognac.
Bar manager Sam Cross has opened with a seasonal cocktail menu with drinks such as warming Mulled Cherry made with Jim Beam Maple whiskey, cherry, spices and root beer. Other cocktails, priced from £8.50, include the Spiced Toffee Apple, combining Stolichnaya Salted Karamel with ginger ale and apple.
Laurent-Perrier has been chosen as the house champagne, while European bottled beers, craft ales and ciders complete the drinks line-up.
The centrepiece of the interior is a giant clock – a nod to the iconic Musee d’Orsay timepiece in Paris – which pays homage to the site’s original use as a train station. A trademark diamond-shape wallpaper found across Opus’s venues again covers the walls, only this time in a shade of teal.
Gareth Wayt, formerly sous chef at Opus at Cornwall Street, has become manager of the 120-capacity venue having spent the summer in a similar role at Cafe Opus.
An all-inclusive breakfast table ensures both commuters and city centre workers can start the day with the likes of yoghurt, granola, freshly baked pastries and breads with orange juice, filter coffee and tea, for a set price of £10. Pancakes, fresh fruit, eggs and a full English breakfast are also available.
The buzz of European cafés is reflected in the late-morning and lunch options, with classic favourites, light salads and one-pot warmers. Single-ingredient dishes on the menu include slow-braised free-range pork cheeks at £10.50, Brixham Bay bouillabaisse at £13.50 and lamb hotpot at £14.50.
Sharing plates for groups include Paddock Farm hot dogs and salt and pepper calamari for £14.50 each, with a varied vegetarian platter with fresh tasters such as confit tomato and mozzarella croquettes.
Influenced by the bars of Barcelona and Copenhagen, the after-work food concept involves a selection of taster-style plates with the prices indicated by the colour of the dishes in which they are served.
The 1,700 sq ft venue is the first A3 tenant of the One Snowhill development which was completed in 2009 and is owned by Union Investment Real Estate.
Ann Tonks says: “With the addition of the HS2 headquarters to the building, now is the perfect time to be opening our third venue. Bar Opus was the result of a real light-bulb moment that we had on the way to a business meeting. As we came down the stairs opposite, it just clicked and we knew we had to be a part of it.
“The next step was to think of our concept. As a group, we’ve spent a lot of time on the continent and always felt there was a gap for something that infused the best elements of Europe in Birmingham.
“Our ‘after five’ dishes will give a real feel of the cafés in Barcelona, whilst we’ll be serving beer from Germany and have included a French classic in the interior decor.”
Bar Opus, One Snowhill, Birmingham B4 6GH
Tel: 0121 289 3939