Yorks Cafe, The Ikon Gallery, Oozells Square, Birmingham City Centre
Yet again, the cafe in the Ikon Gallery has new tenants. Farewell Cafe Opus, and hello Yorks Bakery, the fourth iteration of the popular Birmingham independent brand. The original Yorks has now closed, and has been replaced in popular affection with the venue closer to Grand Central (read our reviews of both by clicking the links), with a mini sized espresso version opposite Snow Hill. And now, opening in the Ikon Gallery, Yorks expands its operation further.
This can only be good news, as Yorks is generally delightful, if a little consciously hipster for some people’s tastes. The decoration of this version seems to skew a bit more wealthy, with solid woods, fancier lighting, and complicated overhead greenery all brought into what was previously quite a simple white and block colour space. The paintwork has been stripped back to reveal on-trend brickwork, and heavy black now outlines the windows, echoing the industrial design of windows you might find in the Jewellery Quarter. It seems consciously to be more grown up that Opus. Check out the before and after below to contrast:
The thing I most associate with Yorks is all present and correct: the glass teapots and the tiny bottles of milk are a signature of the brand at this point.
The menu is full of classic breakfast dishes with a hipster twist; if you want to guarantee the presence of avocado or sourdough, definitely head to Yorks. The full English comes in a frying pan, with sourdough toast , sweetened beans (not Heinz if you are a breakfast purist), and (requested) extra avocado (when going hipster you might as well go all the way). The avocado was particularly delicious, perfectly ripe and tasty. Frying pan aside – its never going to be better to eat out of a frying pan than off a plate – this was a very tasty dish. Places really need to stop with the pretentious touches when they actively stop you eating your breakfast easily.
Wanting to be adventurous, I had the Arabian buttered eggs, according to the menu, ‘poached eggs, cumin and butter sauce, fresh herbs, labneh, citrus red onions and sumac, served on sourdough toast’. Slightly greasy, slightly spicy, a very nice alternative to the more traditional eggs Benedict dishes also on the menu.
The toilets are not associated with the cafe, but with the gallery. They are exactly the same as they always have been: plentiful, tiled, and filled with slightly depressing stainless steel fixtures and fittings which feel much less design-y than the rest of the Ikon.
Price: pricey: £12 for the Ikon breakfast, £7.50 for buttered eggs, £8.70 eggs Benedict
Atmosphere and design: money hipster, all exposed brick and heavy wood, industrial luxury
Food: fancy-pants touches abound in a classic memu of breakfsat dishes
Toilets: in the Ikon gallery on the other side of the shop
Enjoyment: a lovely place to breakfast in a picturesque setting with the attractions of the variable art in the Ikon to extend your breakfast afterwards