The Floating Coffee Company: The canal, Brindley Place
When you live in a city with #morecanalsthanVenice, eventually, lunch on a canal boat beckons. When the sun is out, the glass fronts of the Barclaycard Arena and the ICC are gleaming blue, and the canal is gently humming with holiday boats and water shuttles, the Floating Coffee Company is a good place to head.
The bright red and blue boat is mostly moored underneath the bridge which links the ICC to Brindley Place, and is thus a familiar sight to locals, tourists, and business visitors. Today, it was busy, but not full. Two women with a small child looking for tea and cake, a lady taking her parents out for brunch, a family group of four, and us. A narrow boat is an unsurprisingly physically intimate place to eat. Even with empty tables, you are sat close together in a cramped space, and avoiding listening in to other people’s conversations is impossible. Not the place to choose if you need to have an important private conversation!
The boat-ness of the experience is very pleasant though; it gently rocks side to side, especially as other boats pass, and the views out of both windows, although limited, are pleasantly different to anything you can experience elsewhere, being lower and narrower, offering snapshots of familiar views.
The lack of space on the tables makes breakfast an exercise in logistics. At a table for two there was definitely not enough room for two teapots, two milk jugs, two cups, a coke can, a glass, two side plates for toast, and two main plates. Even when we had decanted the toast onto the main plates and put the unneeded toast bowl on the floor, a passing waitress knocked one lot of toast from plate to floor. They rapidly brought over replacement toast, but this is not the place to go for brunch with you morning newspaper.
The food itself might be described as high end greasy spoon. Nothing fancy about the ingredients, but it was quick, hot, and plentiful. The sausage baguette comes with three sausages, so you get your money’s worth.
The boat itself has no toilets, and you are directed to the public toilets in the ICC. This could be a problem if you have children, as the ladies behind us were forced to cut their tea very rapidly short to head off in search of a toilet. The ICC toilets are many, clean, but very uninspiring for such an important venue in Birmingham. Dodgy low level lighting and plastic cheap toilet units are fine, but very very ordinary,
Price: low-mid: full English £7, sausage baguette with egg £4.45
Atmosphere and design: canal boat
Food: standard ingredients, plentiful plates, quickly cooked
Toilets: non. But the ICC toilets are a short walk away.
Enjoyment: friendly service, cramped conditions, fun for a one off