The Button Factory, Frederick Street, The Jewellery Quarter
The Button Factory’s website developer is on holiday, and thus we arrived at 10am to find a shuttered restaurant, not a light to be seen at any window, in defiance of the website advert for breakfast starting at 9.30. Luckily for us, The Button Factory social media presence is a bit more alert. Only 15 minutes after I Instagrammed that we couldn’t get in, they had DM’d back, explaining the situation, and inviting us back for complimentary breakfast.
On a gorgeously bright and crisp September morning, The Button Factory has one feature which makes it stand out from the crowd as a place to head for food: the spacious and comfortable roof terrace, one of only a few in Birmingham. Although not usually opened until lunchtime, when we asked, we were allowed to upstairs to sit in the booth-style wooden seating and make the most of the sunshine. The Button Factory sits near the centre of the Jewellery Quarter, overlooked by a mash up of historic Victorian buildings on one side, and more modern and more blocky bullion trading shops on the other. It’s a lovely feeling to perch high above the street and watch the passers by.
The inside of The Button Factory is enormous: the ground floor is split into a more relaxed bar-style front room, with more formal restaurant dining towards the open kitchen at the back. The first floor is one enormous room, with big screen TV for sporting events. Each section has been beautifully renovated for the reopening 9 weeks ago, with lots of exposed brick, nicely-finished wooden surfaces, leather seating, and smart paintwork. It can feel a bit cavernous inside if you arrive – as we did – at a quiet time of day. On the plus side: whenever you arrive, you are almost definitely going to find a seat somewhere!
We ordered tea and cola, and tea arrived in the classic modern ceramic teapot with stainless steel lid. Yorks Bakery Cafe use the same cups; they are chunky and you have lots of small cups of tea rather than one enormous mug. You decide whether that is good or bad! I shall note here that the service throughout our meal was exceptional; the staff were mortified about the website info mix up, and were super attentive throughout to make up for it.
The full English arrived. Each individual ingredient was well-cooked, but it was the sausages which come in for particular praise. The Button Factory get their sausages from Walter Rose and Son, a Wiltshire butcher who have won all kinds of butchery awards; the sausages were easily the best we have had in Birmingham. This is a lovely breakfast, and very high quality, but it is pricey at £10.50, making it one of the most expensive you can have in Birmingham. Not sure if the sausage alone justifies such a steep price.
I ordered the baked eggs, full title: “Shakshuka baked eggs, spiced tomatoes, peppers, labneh & sourdough, with optional merguez”. I am a foodie ignoramus, so research was required: after asking what labneh was (a type of Middle Eastern cheese), and discovering that “shakshuka baked eggs” is almost a tautology, I decided to add “merguez” (North African sausage) and waited for my breakfast. It turned out to be delicious. The eggs were perfectly baked, the sausage was tasty, and the tomato/pepper/labneh mix was slightly spicy, so full of flavour and heat. I had to fight Mr Full English to keep it all for myself, as it looked so good.
Finally, the toilets. In a previous life, the Button Factory was Vertu, slightly unappealing bar/club venue. The toilets are definitely a throwback to this past life. Every single surface is painted matt black, which is slightly eerie, slightly tatty, and suggests something to hide (dirt? worse?). However, loo roll and soap (Carex, no Elemis this week) were plentiful, and all the white surfaces looked spotlessly clean, so although not as nicely refurbished as the rest of the place, they get the job done.
Price: high end: £10.50 for a full English, £8 for baked eggs (£2 extra for sausage)
Atmosphere and design: exposed brick, wood and leather inside, but it is the fantastic roof terrace that makes this place
Food: very classy ingredients
Toilets: functional, good hand-dryer, but a bit basic
Enjoyment: marvellous service, and if you can sit on the roof, a unique place in Birmingham to sit and watch the world go by