Dubella Lounge – Canalside on the old NIA
Dubella Lounge opened a few weeks ago on the side of the NIA furthest from the main entrance. Last weekend we tried to go, but the chef had run away, so it was empty and foodless. Today we did slightly better. Although many issues remained.
On Saturday, in driving rain, about four tables were taken, mostly by parents with princess-dress clad children: Disney On Ice was about to begin in the newly revamped Barclaycard Arena (National Indoor Arena of yore). We were seated at a table for four where we could get a good view of the trendily industrial-themed decor. Brightly-coloured tiling and coloured panelling forms a backdrop to some impressively cliched admonishments to ‘dance like no one is watching’, or, inappropriately for the dreadful weather, ‘wear flipflops and pretend it is summer’. It is a standard version of the industrial trend sweeping cafes and bars in Birmingham at the moment.
Five people were working behind the bar, and only four tables or so were occupied, but still we waited a long time for our orders to be taken and our drinks to arrive. I’m still not sure what to make of my cup of English breakfast tea. I understand that there is pressure on cafes to differentiate themselves, now that there are so many many quality places to eat in Birmingham, but I am still baffled by the choice of service for a cup of tea: hot water in the cup, tea bag on the side, hot milk in the milk jug.
Everyone thought the meal was delicious, and we would all go back again, but this comes with the caveat that almost no one was given what we ordered. Service problems persisted throughout the meal. When we queried the issues with each dish, they seemed to be the result of staff mix ups with new staff; we were given 25% off the bill as an apology, which was very kind of them.
I ordered eggs Benedict, which were advertised as a classic version of the dish, but it unfortunately came on toast rather than an English muffin, and as you can see, the hollandaise was so sparsely applied as to be unnoticeable.
The full English came without either white or black pudding, which were both advertised on the menu. However, for the money, the ingredients were good quality,a huge amount of food, with especially well-reviewed bacon.
One thing we all enjoyed was the choice of bread. Hopes were not high, but both the toast and the bread for a bacon butty, were a cut above the expected bog standard white sliced. And a choice of scrumptious Tipton jam or marmalade was provided with the toast.
The toilets, as befits a brand new venue, were sparkling clean and freshly decorated in a bold colour scheme of black, white and bright yellow. Clean, a good number of cubicles, and nicely lit mirrors above the sinks made the toilets a welcoming and positive experience.
Price: midrange: £6.95 for the full works, £4.95 for eggs Benedict
Atmosphere and design: industrial, bright and happy
Food: good quality ingredients for the money, and hopefully when they’ve smoothed the service issues you might get what you order
Toilets: clean, freshly decorated, bright
Enjoyment: good place to drop in before a trip to the Barclaycard Arena