Urban Coffee – in the Jewellery Quarter
There are three Urban Coffees in Birmingham, and this is my favourite branch (or ’emporium’ as their website calls them). This one is in the middle of the row of shops in the bottom of the Big Peg – the monstrous white ship of a building right on the main square in the Jewellery Quarter – and has fantastic windows which fill the whole front wall of the cafe. It might be the best cafe for people watching in Birmingham. There are sofas, as well as little wooden table and chair combos for a relaxing coffee and cake. In summer, it has outdoor seating as well.
Judging by the clientele at midday, all kinds of people end up here: an elderly couple were enjoying coffee and cake; some grandparents had brought their small grandchildren for lunch; a well-groomed couple seemed to have stopped in for a break from jewellery shopping; two (separate) young men were sitting on their own drinking coffee, headphones jammed in, on their ipads; a couple in their twenties lounged on the sofas.
Inside, it is beautifully, carefully, craftedly quirky. The walls are covered with humorous and informative chalk-board inscriptions. You can learn a lot about coffee just from reading the walls here. Puns roam unchecked. Partly, this is why I love this cafe:
I am always looking for tea and duly ordered. The tea here is a standard cuppa, no frills added. But Urban Coffee, as the name implies, is really about coffee, so no shade for the boring presentation of the standard English Breakfast tea. They love coffee so much it probably hurts them to serve standard tea. Luckily, a humorous pun was there to distract me from my boring tea:
I ordered eggs Benedict, which here is served with pancetta. Good sauce, nicely toasted muffins, garnish appropriately sized. The pancetta gives a lovely extra flavour. Delicious.
The ‘Urban English brekkie’ gets a solid review. Decent amount of food for the money, good quality ingredients. The bite from the toast wasn’t there when it arrived – I barely had time to get the camera out before this breakfast was being devoured! The only criticisms centred on eggs and beans: while one egg was perfectly cooked, with a nice soft yolk, one was practically hard boiled. And oddly, nowhere on any menu here can you get baked beans, a staple of a full English elsewhere.
The only slightly grim note in Urban Coffee is the toilet. Limited by space, there is one unisex toilet with a basic and functional approach. No attractive touches here. Plain white sink and loo, big plastic fold down nappy change table, open topped bin for paper towels, the cheapest plastic sanitary bin. Today at lunchtime, loo roll and paper towels were on the floor. To distract you, while you sit on the loo there is a giant chalk board so you can read more about coffee.
Price: mid price– ‘Urban English Brekkie’, eggs Benedict, tea, coca cola: £19
Atmosphere and design: welcoming, pun-tastic, urban modern (chalkboards galore)
Food: tasty ingredients, high quality
Toilets: 1 unisex – functional
Enjoyment: relaxed atmosphere, tasty food: great place to hang out