JQ Coffee Cafe – Frederick Street, Jewellery Quarter
It seems mildly ridiculous to talk about regrets in a brunch blog, but even in the world of having your breakfast decadently cooked for you, it is possible to find that disappointment in an opportunity missed, a moment not taken: I will clearly always regret not having breakfast in the JQ Coffee Cafe back when it did business under the superb moniker of the Gordon Blue Cafe.
But times change, business moves on, and when we finally made it to the third greasy spoon that marks the triangle of the Jewellery Quarter jewellers, it has become simply the JQ Coffee Cafe. The other two, if you are ever interested in a JQ greasy spoon crawl, are the Hylton Cafe, at the far end by the station, and Niche Cafe, towards Caroline Street.
Only open on weekdays, the JQ Coffee Cafe was doing a reasonably busy trade when we popped in, with a couple of tables of workmen sitting in, and two individuals popping in to pick up takeaway. We ordered the full English and a sausage sandwich at the bar and sat down. It has a nice brick bar at the far end, with blackboard lists of food choices and a chocolate selection on the side. The floor is filled with a sit up bar down one side, and tables for four people down the main space. It was nice and clean, feeling reasonably spacious for its size.
The lady behind the counter was very efficient and soon brought over our tea (typical while mugs), served on a tray with all the necessary sugars etc. Big fan of her manner. Less banter than you would get in the Hylton, but quick, business-like service.
Classic greasy spoon: the full English was enormous. Whisked over to our table with commendable speed, an absolute mountain of food.
Sausage sandwiches are always a nice way to start the day. This version came buttered, and while there is nothing fancy about while sliced bread and a greasy spoon sausage, sometimes that is exactly what you want. Voila!
The toilets here aren’t outside (upsettingly, as I love a random outside loo in the Victorian outhouses of Birmingham), but it is up a rickety-rackety flight of stairs:
Only one room, and apparently the clientele aren’t very good at using the toilet. Above the loo itself, a beautifully presented sign provides a really-quite-detailed set of instructions about how to use a toilet for both men and women. In a nice touch, it appears to have been designed on one of those wedding-invitation hipster font designs.
A nice view above the loo (if, like me, you like this sort of historical view of the city) looks out onto the factory buildings behind and is lightened by some enterprising putty-graffiti on the fuse box outside the window.
Price: cheap eats: £2.20 for a 1 filling sandwich (£3.60 for 5+ fillings)
Atmosphere and design: clean and practical, everything easy to wipe down. Nice brick bar. Chalkboards.
Food: classic greasy spoon
Toilets: up the steep stairs and please follow the instructions you disgusting animal
Enjoyment: efficient service, mountains of food, super cheap, what’s not to love