Review: Oaka @ The Barton Arms, Birmingham

A few weeks ago after work we headed out to a slightly less salubrious area of Birmingham to try out the Barton Arms. This is a place that had been mentioned several times on social media when I’d been asking for tips on great Thai food. The Barton Arms is a public house, and has been for over 100 years, and remains a great display of Victorian architecture and is a grade 2 listed building. In 2002 it was purchased by Oakham Ales and boasts a huge selection of award winning ales. Part of the restaurant has been converted by the Thai born landlords to house a Thai restaurant, Oaka, also claiming to have some of the best authentic Thai food in Birmingham.

It was quite quiet when we arrived, but filled up nicely during the evening. The decor I loved – dark wood against the opulence of stained glass windows. The service throughout was very attentive and you couldn’t fault it.

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To start we ordered the Oaka sharing platter, which consisted of chicken satay, chicken wings, honeyed ribs and Tod Mun Talay (Fishcakes) along with a selection of dips. The ribs were melt in your mouth, wings huge and juicy and the satay nice and moist. The fishcakes we found a little average and a bit rubbery, but when paired in the dips which were excellent, this became not very significant. The 3 dips all seemed perfectly balanced, and I wished we had ordered some prawn crackers to mop them all up.

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As usual, as with most menus, I had trouble deciding on a main course, but eventually settled on the Tamarind Duck. I’m always wary of ordering duck for fear of it being badly overcooked/rubbery/nasty non rendered fat, but Oaka did really well – the skin had been beautifully rendered down and was crispy and the meat meltingly soft – it wasn’t pink so I wondered if it had been slow cooked at some point, but either way, I wasn’t complaining. And the sauce was perfect.

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Lee went for the Massaman Curry, a favourite of his, and it was certainly up there with the best he’s had.

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All in all, very good food. Definitely a Thai I would recommend and return on many an occasion.

Disclosure: We paid in full for our mealΒ 

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