Yorks Bakery Cafe, Birmingham

Ah, Yorks. A staple of Birmingham brunch, the place to get your caffeine fix, and a fixture of Brummie coolness. With a half day off work, I decided a brunch treat was in order.

Yorks Bakery Cafe

I went along to the branch on Stephenson Street and quickly bagged a table. It was busy, but not crowded, which is ideal. I like some background buzz, but I don’t want to fight for a table. I love the interiors at Yorks. The exposed brick, the quirky art on the walls, the unfinished wood tables…all these things tick boxes in my little hipster heart and I love it. It feels relaxed and welcoming, but also makes you feel a bit cool just for being there.

I ordered a latte from the friendly girl at the till, and it arrived really quickly. I like the size of coffee they serve at Yorks. I don’t need a Starbucks style mug the size of my head that I have to lift with both hands. This serving is sensible, just enough to sit and slip it slowly while reading my book, without finding its gone cold before I reach the bottom of the cup.

Yorks Coffee is all roasted on site, so it’s very fresh and full of flavour. I always think it has a liquorice scent to it, with a little hint of that in the flavour. I always end up putting in piles of sugar when I have coffee at Yorks as the roast is a little rich for my tastes. If you like your coffee strong though, it’s a great option. I do think it’s a shame they don’t offer any of the coffee syrups. I understand it’s not really their vibe, but a basic like me needs her caramel syrup and I’d probably go there more often if I could order the coffee I want.

Brunch in Birmingham

Why do I go there if I can’t order my basic bitch Caramel Latte, I hear you ask? THE FOOD. I love Yorks’ brunches. I always spend ages agonising over the menu, trying to choose. Do I want an Eggs Benedict? A cooked breakfast? My usual Avocado Smash that I order everywhere? Arabian Buttered Eggs? I always have to suppress the urge to ask for one of everything. This time, I went for the Shakshuka, which is middle eastern baked eggs with labneh, served with a hunk of sourdough bread. I’ve not tried the Shakshuka at Yorks before, but it’s a dish I love. My first experience of it was having it cooked for me by the lovely Penny from Rats as Big as Cats, on an evening we decided to have a grown-up dinner party with a friend, instead of going out drinking. Eating Shakshuka always makes me think of the first time I had it, sitting round the table with two of my very favourite humans, drinking vats of red wine. Shakshuka should be cosy making.

Yorks Birmingham

The huge chunk of bread was a nice touch. Shakshuka is made for dunking, and this was great. It was beautifully spiced, with just enough kick to show off the middle eastern roots of the dish, without blowing your head off at breakfast time. Served in the pan, the portion made a filling breakfast without making me feel heavy. My only issue would be the egg yolks were just slightly over cooked. I want to dunk the bread into the egg and get delicious golden yolk goodness running all through the dish. It didn’t have quite the ooze factor. I would absolutely order this again though!

All in all, it was a lovely, relaxed start to the morning.

I paid in full at Yorks Bakery Cafe. All opinions are honest and my own. Yorks didn’t know I was a blogger. 

Chiquito, Birmingham

After a long day at a convention, the last thing I want is to go come and cook. After MCM the other week, Dave I decided to head to Chiquito on Hagley Road in Birmingham for some dinner. It’s very close, so we’ve been here a couple of times for nights we don’t feel like cooking.

Chiquito, Birmingham

The restaurant was about half full when we arrived, and we got a comfy booth seat. I ordered a Strawberry Mojito, which was more strawberry than any of the other mojito flavours, but it was tasty. Dave chose an Apple Jack, which is Jack Daniels shaken with cold pressed apple juice, fresh lime juice, and ginger syrup, over ice. The Apple Jack is nice, with a subtle hit of booze.

Street food, Chiquito

We decided to order some dishes from the street food menu. These are small tapas style dishes, which are three for £12.95 or six for £23.95. We went for six, to share, with a side of sweet potato fries. The food arrived in good time and we dug in.

The Quesadilla Bites (folded tortillas, filled with chicken, chorizo, sweetcorn and salsa, and topped with mozzarella) were so full of filling, they were almost tricky to eat. The filling was very tasty though, with plenty of chorizo for some kick. The Crispy Tacos, which are crispy tortillas filled with spicy chicken, melted cheese, and topped with sour cream, were equally well flavoured. The Empanadas were filled with Beef Chilli and were lightly spiced. The pastry was perhaps a touch thick, but we enjoyed them. The Sweet Chorizo Croquettes were a highlight for me. Packed with chorizo, sweetcorn and onion, these come served with sweet jalapeno jelly, which I could have eaten by the spoonful. The pan-fried chorizo is fried in red wine and comes with some little flatbreads to dunk in the sauce. The chorizo itself was very good, in generous sized chunks, but the red wine hadn’t been cooked long enough to burn off the alcohol. It was incredibly strong, even for me as a red wine fan. It just tasted of cheap, rough, boozy red wine, which was a real shame. I did love the Halloumi Bites though, which were crisp on the outside, and soft inside. Delicious.

Cocktails

Unfortunately, this was where things started to go downhill. We’d enjoyed our meal, and our waitress had been great. We didn’t fancy a dessert, but I ordered a Tiramisu Martini, which was the closest thing I could find to an Espresso Martini on the drinks menu. Chiquito’s system means the server takes your order and it is sent to the bar. When the drink is ready, somebody collects it and brings it to you. So, our table was cleared and I waited for my drink. And waited. And waited. And waited. We could see the bar from our table. There were two staff behind the bar. One was messing about with the tv screen, and the other was loading glasses to be washed. We watched them for a while and neither made any move to make a drink. At this point, our waitress had also disappeared into thin air.  We could also see the door to the kitchen from our table. The supervisor had been looking after a table near us, who were clearly a hen party. The service they were getting was certainly attentive, but when they left, he appeared to decide he’d done enough work for the evening, and stood in the kitchen doorway doing nothing. Another member of staff appeared and they stood and chatted for a while, while we sat with an empty table, getting increasingly irritated. I was at the point of just getting up and walking out, I’ll admit, as they didn’t seem to be interested in even bringing us the bill, never mind serving the drink I’d ordered. After several more eons passed, the supervisor noticed our table was empty and came over to ask if we wanted more drinks. When I informed him I’d ordered one a lifetime ago and was still waiting, he then pretended he knew I’d ordered it (why, then, ask if we would like to order drinks?) and would go and chase it up. He came back and assured me it would just be a moment. We watched the barman hastily make a drink, which was brought over. It was badly mixed, but after I’d stirred it myself so all the coffee wasn’t just sitting at the bottom, it was very nice.

I really hate bad service. I worked the floor in restuarants and pubs myself, and it drives me up the wall when I can see staff just standing about when tables need something. Being able to see the supervisor standing around for quarter of an hour made me really angry and spoiled our otherwise nice evening. It’s really not hard to deliver drinks in a timely manner, and even less hard to not ignore a table waiting on service. It was extra disappointing, as we’ve visited this branch a few times, and always liked it. I’ll think twice before going again.

We paid in full for our meal and drinks. All opinions are honest and my own. Chiquito didn’t know I was a blogger. 

 

EDITED TO ADD: After posting this review, Chiquito reached out to me to discuss the issue we had. I had a couple of very friendly tweets assuring me it was being looked into, and very promptly got an equally friendly email apologising for the poor service we received. Chiquito sent me a promise to look into the problem, and as a goodwill gesture, a voucher to spend on my next visit. Thanks Chiquito! That’s how you deal with a customer complaint…promptly, and with friendliness.

Quick Lunch at All Bar One, New Street Station

We’re having a run of team lunches at work at the moment, with birthdays, people leaving and general team-building ‘let’s all eat lunch together’ moments. Getting a group of you out of the office to somewhere that won’t break the bank but still caters to all dietary requirements, fed and watered and back to the office again, all within your lunch hour can be a real challenge, but I think for Birmingham, we’ve found a really good option. It’s All Bar One.

All Bar One

We go to the one at New Street Station, as it’s close to our office, but there are branches in Birmingham on Newhall Street, Brindley Place and two in Birmingham airport.

But why does it work for those high speed team lunches from the office? First off, the menu. For a bar, it has a pretty extensive menu, with some great options. The lunch menu is a bargain, with each dished priced (at the New Street branch at least) at £7. The fixed price menu offers two courses for £10. There’s a good variety of light bites, hefty portions, healthy options, and some good choices for any vegetarians in the group. You’re sure to find something to feed everyone.

Mocktails, Birmingham

I also like their list of Mocktails, so you can have a drink without having a drink and going back to your desk a bit squiffy. Ideal.

The service really lends itself to a quick office lunch too. If you book a table, you can pre-order, which means your food hits the table when you do, and you can save much needed bitching about the office time. The service is quick, and the staff is always more than happy to let you split the bill across a million different debit cards without so much as a frown.

Team Lunch

Last time we visisted, I ordered the Chicken Quesadilla. This is a chargrilled tortilla with pulled chicken, black beans, peppers, lime and mozzarella, which is served with pineapple & habanero ketchup. The is bags of flavour in this, and it’s a perfect sized portion for a lunch that won’t make you sleepy when you’re back at the desk. The ketchup is sweet and spicy, and is a great contrast to the chicken. It’s also good with sweet potato fries dunked in.

What’s your top pick for those ‘let’s go out for lunch’ days in the office?

I paid in full at All Bar One. All opinions are honest and my own. They didn’t know I was a blogger.