Fazeley Social at 191 Fazeley Street, Digbeth
To reach Fazeley Social, you either need to drive into Digbeth or walk down from the Bullring, past Moor Street and down through the industrial landscape of Digbeth. If you do drive, parking is super cheap: despite being only 500m from the Bullring, the car park next to Fazeley Studios is only £1.80 all day.
The walk down isn’t auspicious; you are surrounded by warehouses, cars crowded on every available space, wired-off car parks on gravelled-over spaces where old factories used to stand. The seemingly-grim surroundings are deceptive though. On the walk down Fazeley Street, hidden behind the Victorian industrial frontages, you will pass the Edible Eastside project for urban gardening; Minerva Works, which houses art galleries, artist projects, and the RoguePlay Theatre where you can take trapeze lessons; the Bond, a canalside complex of renovated Victorian buildings with their own cafe, which hosts beer festivals, gin festivals, craft events and more.
And having passed all of these wonderful places, you reach Fazeley Studios, easy to spot with its bright blue doors.
The entrance to Fazeley Social is around the side of the main Studios, which function as an event space. If you get married here (as we did), the cafe becomes your bar for the day! The cafe is a beautiful light space, decorated in wood and white, clean and bright. The seemingly-everywhere-at-the-moment Eames-style chairs are out in force, as well as American-diner style booths.
We arrived at 10.45am, and the cafe was mostly empty, but when the clock hit 11, it began to fill up. The target market here is people who work locally; by 11.30, five other tables had filled up, all armed with notebooks or laptops for a working coffee break (or hot water with lemon break in one case). They offer full takeaway services on the menu and drinks, and three different workmen popped in on an coffee/coke run in the 45 minutes we were there. One woman, meeting the Fazeley Studios event co-ordinator, was having a drink while unpacking her centrepieces for a party (perhaps her wedding?): lots of decorative ceramic pineapples in evidence.
The Fazeley Full English was fantastic, especially at only £5.50. Delicious ingredients, well-cooked, an overwhelmingly large quantity of baked beans. The hash brown was somehow missed off, but there was so much food, and it looked and tasted so delicious, we didn’t even notice before the waitress brought it over in a bowl with an apology for the mix-up. This breakfast is one of the best cooked in Birmingham, especially impressive given that other similar quality contenders are easily £3-4 more expensive.
The eggs Benedict were perfectly cooked, with bacon of exceptional quality, a perfect volume of hollandaise. Possibly the muffins were slightly underdone, but when both eggs are perfectly soft – a very rare feat – it seems churlish to complain. I also tried the toast (buttered for you), and the brown bread was tasty enough to deserve its own mention.
There are three toilets at Fazeley Social, two ladies and one for the men. The are compact, but not basic. Lovely tiling, powerful driers, superior tap and sink design, the bins noticeably shiny and sparkly: there aren’t any quirks here, but everything is nice quality and spotless.
We left through the other side of the cafe and out the front blue doors, purely for the pleasure of walking through this beautiful venue, revamped in pre-Raphelite style from an old church.
And out onto the streets of Digbeth again…
Price: cheap eats– eggs Benedict, Fazeley Full English, toast, tea and coca cola total: £13.50. £1.80 car park next door.
Atmosphere and design: clean, bright, light; on trend but restrained
Food: fantastic quality, especially for the money
Toilets: compact but stylish details and very clean
Enjoyment: a social place to work away from the office; quiet and welcoming as a leisure visitor