All Bar One, 43 Newhall Street, Birmingham, B3 3NY
I am a snob about the Colmore Business District in Birmingham, a reverse snob, bringing judgement to bear on its manicured glass frontages and fancy bars and immaculately restored and maintained Victorian buildings hosting corporate money and corporate love of money.
Simultaneously, I acknowledge you can get a lovely breakfast in the Business Quarter, especially on Saturday or Sunday when the business types have left, and just the lovely buildings and the tasty toast remain. Bar Opus is a delight. The Alchemist has good gimmicks and lovely food. Damascena might be the best of all. But I wasn’t expecting to have a very good time in All Bar One, which I mostly know as a soulless bar with nothing much to recommend it if you fancy a drink out.
Inside, alcohol is still its primary business; the bar is heavily laden with drinks bottles, and a cocktail making class was all set up waiting for a party later in the day. But at 11am on a Saturday it was quiet, with just one other couple also eating breakfast, and staff desultorily getting ready for the main sales focus of the day (drink). All the surfaces are easy to wipe clean, in various leathery finishes, and the walls are painted a hide-the-stains navy, but light streaming through the windows makes it a pleasant place to read the papers, and the decoration is bright and enthusiastically full of fun design touches.
Best of all, it’s unexpectedly cheap and for food which was really quite delicious. It’s mostly standard full English/eggs Benedict type choices, with the sourdough toast and tiny frying pan extra touches that you’s expect probably have to offer round here; these are such signifiers of the ‘slightly nicer’ brunch that I’d expect them to show up in a Grayson Perry pot illustrating middle class city life in the UK.
You can also order sourdough toast with toppings of your choice; I had feta, chorizo and (perfectly) poached eggs, and it was heavenly. Feta was probably a mistake as the chorizo drowned out the taste a bit, but that was my culinary error, not All Bar One’s. The picture wouldn’t load, but trust me, it looked as bright and beautiful as it sounds.
Toilets are clean, standard, plain tiling, black and white theme, a long walk down a twisty corridor with beautiful coloured glass original windows.
Price: what kind of venue publishes their full menu on the website, but without any prices? Crazy place. And I forgot the receipt, but it is very reasonably priced for what you get.
Atmosphere and design: it’s a bar – a corporate, quite swanky, chain bar.
Food: super tasty, sourdough central, chorizo aplenty
Toilets: down a corridor, clean and sensibly designed.
Enjoyment: probably the most cheap, cheerful, and quietest option you’ll find in the Business district on a Saturday morning