Yorks Bakery Cafe just off Colmore Row in the City Centre
Yorks Bakery Cafe hits every current independent decor and design trope to perfection. The yellow and white Eames-style chairs, retro lab stools at the high tables, chalk boards for the menus, ‘filament’ globe lightbulbs, and heavy slabs of wood for the table tops all contribute to the retro-industrial-yet-modern-chic design. Although it lacks a sense of fun, it is beautifully designed and an enjoyable space to hang out in. Like all the best cafes, if you are sat near the huge picture windows you can enjoy a lovely bit of people watching. There is even a token attempt at outside seating. I’d recommend sitting inside though; the cafe is on a busy pavement by a solidly parked and busy road. Not the most romantic outside spot for a coffee.
The cafe itself sits just off Colmore Row, the business district in Birmingham city centre, and is within an easy walk of the main shops as well. As a result, at midday it was full. Single men with their laptops and tablets, lots of couples, pairs of work colleagues wearing their work passes out for coffee, pairs of friends sharing the gossip, a group of five ladies who lunch enjoying the window sofa, the seemingly inevitable group of four OAPs double-dating for brunch, a man with a baby in a pram: every table was full by lunchtime.
A pot of tea in Yorks is fun. I love these glass teapots with loose leaf tea in a glass infuser as part of the design. The miniature milk bottles are a quirky touch, and the whole is brought to your table on a little tray perfectly sized to hold teapot, milk (which arrives sitting tucked inside the empty cup) and cup. The cups are surprisingly dainty.
The house breakfast could not have got a better review. The sausages are some of the highest quality you will find anywhere in Birmingham, the fried eggs cooked to perfection, the giant mushroom super tasty. Slightly underdone sourdough toast if you are reaching for a criticism. As in the Cosy Club, the beans are helpfully separated from the main meal, this time in a tin bowl that matches the rough-styled tin plates all the food comes on. You have to go a long way to find a better example of a full English breakfast.
Unfortunately, the eggs Benedict didn’t quite hit the mark so perfectly, disappointing as they cost £8, one of the priciest versions of the dish in the city. To start with the positives, the bacon was high quality and cut from the centre of the rasher: stringy fat bits not in evidence here. The hollandaise was perfect: tasty and the perfect amount. Sadly though, one of the poached eggs was hard-boiled and one of the sourdough muffins was burnt. This was half a perfect dish. With two perfect muffins and two soft eggs it would have been heaven.
The toilets were having a bad day today, suffering from the same malaise that a few cafes in Birmingham demonstrate: all style, comfort and thought out front, and dingy and not very nice in the loos. Of two toilets, one was out of order today, and the hand-dryer was also not working. Handtowels had been provided, but inevitably some had missed the bin and littered the floor. Some lights appeared to also be broken; the ladies was bathed in a strange gloom. On the plus side, they do have a nice Bayliss and Harding soap, and the sinks and toilets were clean.
Yorks has invented their own rating system based on coffee beans and online reviewing. We gave it an ‘9’ for the wonderful house breakfast and the style, and a ‘7’, for the disappointing eggs Benedict and the poor toilets.
Price: pricey end – eggs Benedict, house breakfast, tea and coca cola total: £21.80
Atmosphere and design: stylish industrial retro
Food: great quality individual ingredients, some under/over-cooked
Toilets: out of order toilet, dryer, lights on the day we visited
Enjoyment: social and busy: Birmingham’s Central Perk