Lords Cafe, Corporation Street, Birmingham City Centre
Why did I like Lords Cafe so much? I think because of its hidden nature: it was a lovely surprise. Dominated on the street by the Boston Tea Party behemoth on the right, with its offerings of hipster high-end ingredients and craft beer or fancy coffee options on the side, Lords is tucked away inside the building behind it. Only a simple A frame on the street advertises its presence in the Citadel office block. To find it, walk up Corporation Street. Keep going. If you hit Aston University, turn round and go backwards.
Inside, the Citadel office floors rise on either side in a slightly-dated glass and mirrors sweep up to the hexagonal skylight over the middle of the black and white-tiled foyer below. A security guard sits by his desk on the right. Lords Cafe faces you, seats spilling out of the cafe front into the atrium. A huge advert for Boston Tea Party faces you as you sit.
The service today was made of up a lovely man who took our orders, recording everything down to the sauce we chose in a spiral bound notebook, and an equally lovely lady who brought over our food and condiments. The menu is simple, cheap, and unpretentious: a range of breakfast dishes, baked potatoes, sandwiches, baguettes and salads etc, all laid out in detail on the printed boards over the deli bar. On the specials board: quesadillas.
We found a seat easily at 11am. At the next table, a barrister taking a break (or perhaps working over lunch) tucked in, like us enjoying the quiet, the price, and the plentiful portions. The Citadel sits right in the middle of the law courts, and so attracts a more courtly crowd than a similar style cafe in Digbeth or the JQ.
Tea arrived: the mugs are enormous and brightly coloured. My breakfast bap arrived. A £2 offer for sausage, bacon and eggs (I skipped the bacon), served with the ketchup – at my request – already slathered on, it was hot, filling, and quick to arrive. Personally, I prefer a wider, flatter bap, but for £2 you can’t complain! Happily, it looked exactly like the promotional photo, so I got exactly what I ordered, without any M&S-filter-style shenanigans. Maybe that is the influence of all the lawyers in the vicinity.
The mega breakfast lived up to its name, and can be ordered with additional items (80p hash browns ahoy on the right).
The toilets are a bit of a faff: on asking, I was directed through a door (which had to be buzzed – by the cafe? by the security guard? to let me through) and up a flight of stairs. At the top, through a few more doors, onto the internal balcony walkways overlooking the atrium, and there is a single disabled toilet. No hooks anywhere for your handbag, and the hand-dryer is hard to use due to the bar straight below it. However: spacious and clean. On the way back down, a rushing barrister followed me through the maze of doors, his arms filled with paperwork.
Price: cheap eats: £2 for a 3 filling breakfast bap, £4.50 for a mega breakfast, £3.50 for a standard full English
Atmosphere and design: quiet and modest
Food: classic greasy spoon
Toilets: ask for directions to the disabled loo on the first floor
Enjoyment: friendly and welcoming service, a quiet and unpretentious place to take a break