Wayland’s Yard, Birmingham

The city centre is rarely somewhere I venture for breakfast or brunch. On weekdays I’m in too much of a rush, with maybe enough time to grab a coffee before I head into the office for a thrilling day of tax. And on weekends? Why would I, when within walking distance of my front door I have Lewis’s, Damascena, Bloom, Zindiya and more serving up some of the best brunches in the city?

But then I saw two words on the Wayland’s Yard menu that made me reconsider. Those words? Eggy. Crumpets. My other half and I are obsessed with crumpets – we’ve been known to have actual physical fights over the last in the pack – so anywhere that dips them in egg before topping with halloumi, chilli jam, spring onions and fresh chilli is guaranteed to get us through the door.

And did it live up to expectations? In a word, yes. A generous portion full of sweet, salty and chilli flavours that had us immediately planning our next visit. Their signature full English (‘Wayland’s Big Brunch’) is a hit too; I can’t think of many better I’ve had in the City Centre. There’s a couple of missteps on the plate – the sweet potato hash balls are too dense for my taste and avocado hummus is a combination that should never have happened – but the rest more than makes up for it. Smokey heat and garlic runs through the beans, griddled mushrooms have been taken to a perfect level of bite, eggs are runny and the meat is good quality and locally sourced. I also have to shout out to the fact they use Netherend Farm butter, which I stockpile whenever I see it for sale because it’s bloody lovely.

With all this accompanied by great coffee and welcoming staff, it’s a breakfast I’ll definitely be back for. And it’s convenient location on Bull Street means I’ve even found a new stop for my pre-work coffee dash.

The Birmingham branch of Wayland’s Yard is at 42 Bull Street, B4 6AF. Find more details on their website.

My meal was complimentary for review purposes.

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Dishoom, Covent Garden

I love the idea of Dishoom; a place that pays homage to the old school Irani cafés of Mumbai (or Bombay, as it was then). Dining rooms of faded colonial elegance, buzzing with life, where people from all backgrounds gathered, bypassing social barriers or religious differences to unite over their desire for sustenance.

It’s a great concept for an eatery. And although Dishoom is a very Westernised, gentrified version of those Irani cafés, there’s a lot to like here (and the rate at which new outposts are cropping up indicates that people rather do).

The fit out is beautiful, with dark panelled walls, marbled tabletops and sepia tinted photographs on the walls. I’m sure a lot of money has been spent to make this place look as though it’s been untouched for decades. Due to unforeseen circumstances I’m dining alone this morning, so have the luxury of a deep leather booth all for me and my thoughts. For a generously priced £2.50 comes a glass of excellent chai which is refilled regularly, without once having to wave down a waiter. It’s richly spiced and warming, with just enough sweetness; a hug of a drink that more than makes up for the snow flurries I’ve braved on my way here.

I order the bacon naan roll, and it is very good. Admittedly, you can’t go too far wrong with freshly made naan, admirably sourced bacon from the Ginger Pig and smears of cheese and chilli tomato jam. It deserves all the very nice things people say about it, but at £5.50 I’m not sure of it’s value. I guess it all balances out if you get your money’s worth of that chai.

Although my dining companion couldn’t join me this morning, I order an extra dish in his honour. I wish I hadn’t bothered. The Akuri tastes as unappetising as it looks. The egg has collected into flabby little lumps, a result I would guess is due to too much time in the pan with too little fat. There’s a vague suggestion of spice and the occasional bite of soggy onion buried within. It goes mainly uneaten, unsurprisingly. The sweet buns are unremarkable, so I won’t remark, and the tomato was probably my favourite element of the dish.

A game of two halves, then, in regards to the food. The service meanwhile was polished and attentive throughout, without ever giving seeming as though they were trying to rush me out of my prime real-estate booth.

Had I ordered just the bacon naan and a chai, I would have walked out with change from a tenner and a glowing opinion of Dishoom. Damn my gluttony, and damn those rubbery, greying eggs. I may still return – I’ve heard good things about their main menu, particularly the black daal – but perhaps not in too much of a rush.

Dishoom has a number of branches around London, but I ate at the Covent Garden branch at 12 Upper St Martin’s Lane, London, WC2H 9FB. Website.

Dishoom Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Electro Brunch at Gaucho, Birmingham

Daytime drinking is a dangerous pastime. Daytime drinking in the low lit underground Gaucho even more so. You see, despite being bottle fed on gravy and real ale, I’m more Southern Softy that Notorious Northerner when it comes to booze. Give me three drinks and I’m giddy, four and you’ll find me fast asleep in the corner spooning a dog. The latter is not a metaphor for my relationship, my boyfriend would like to point out. The idea of bottomless brunch appeals to me, even more so when it’s the glorious Gaucho offering a two hour spree of unlimited dishes and drinks, but it’s also slightly terrifying.

As it turns out I did find myself tucked up in bed by 2pm sleeping off the Aperol Sptritz, but not before I had a pretty brilliant start to the day at brunch. They really know what they are doing here, with a menu packed with things I want to eat and a team of polished waiting staff happy to replace my empty glass at a seconds notice. Go on, fill me up again please.

Little croissant style pastries greet us at the table, along with an peanut butter dulce de leche which is about as addictive as crack and slightly more calorific. These disappear in seconds. From here it is a free-for-all of food with one rule; finish your plate before ordering the next one. I am ravenous. This is easy work for a pro like me.

Shocker; I eat almost everything, taking in a drinks flight that amounts to an Aperol spritz with every course. Steak and eggs are unsurprisingly brilliant, this being a rather brilliant steak house. The meat blushes pink, the egg oozes with rich yolk. I’m tempted to say I could have eaten twenty of these but I could have if I wanted and I never. I only managed two. Pathetic.

The Eggs Benedict, served with salt beef, is a triumph; the salty meat perfectly balanced against the creamy sauce and crisp muffin. Apologies for the Ainsley Herriot style innuendos. But it really was good. Next is a breaded chunk of gooey Provoleta cheese, with a caramelised onion chutney to cut through the richness. Cheese for breakfast should definitely be more of a thing.

A chorizo sausage sandwich with chimichurri is not that chorizo-y, but I’ll forgive that because it’s delicious. The beans on toast with chorizo is, for me, the only disappointing dish. There’s not enough chorizo and I make a much better version at home.

I’m stuffed by this point, but it would be rude not to try the dessert (and another Aperol Spritz). Banana pancakes don’t quite reach the highs of the ones I devoured daily in Indonesia, but that’s probably not a fair comparison. These did come with another hit of that peanut butter dulce de leche crack though, so let’s call it a draw.

We emerge, blinking, into the sunlight from the dark mouth of Gaucho. I have an exam four days later so it’s home for a nap I go; for others, it’s the perfect start to an all day drinking session. I can’t pretend I’m not jealous.

At £45, the brunch is certainly not cheap, but definitely worth it for a special occasion. The food is brilliant, the drinks free flowing and the service polished. Go hungry and thirsty – preferably with no exams scheduled – and worry about the waistline later.

I was invited to the Gaucho Electro brunch as a guest of Red Kite PR (thank you!). Gaucho‘s Birmingham branch is at 55 Colmore Row, B3 2AA.

Bloom, King’s Heath

Listen up, King’s Heath-le people. A new cafe has sprung from the ground on Poplar Road, bringing with it everyone’s favourite combination – coffee and brunch. 

True to it’s name, inside Bloom abounds with plants and succulents. Set against the minimalist grey, white and wood inferior it’s all very Swedish and swoon-worthy. I love it. 

Coffee takes a while to arrive, but all is forgiven once it appears. I ask for sugar out of habit, but realise upon tasting that it’s good enough not to need it; it’s rich, smooth and perfectly balanced. 

I’m pleased to see the brunch menu doesn’t stray towards standard Instagram-hipster brunch fare; only one dish on the menu features the much loved/loathed avocado. With just six options (not counting toast), it is short, but the choices are varied and interesting and I like the confidence implied. 

Even with a choice of six, I struggle to choose (disclaimer: this may be because I’m an indecisive shit) and would happily have tried every dish. The portobello mushrooms, served with truffle dressing, cashew cream, sourdough and smoked potato broth is a dish I will definitely return for. Today, however, I am sharing with my funghi-hating boyfriend so we opt for duck hash (sweet potato, spring greens, crispy shallots, fried duck egg and duck stock) and pork belly (Boston baked beans, sage aoili and charred polenta). 

I start with Bloom’s riff on pork and beans. Tried and tested flavours, yes, but Bloom absolutely do them justice here; it’s all nicely balanced and seasoned. My only gripe with the dish was that the pork fat doesn’t seem to have been rendered properly, meaning there was an occasional mouthful of mushy fat. Regardless, I was still reluctant to surrender the other half to my other half. 

All the components of the duck hash are things I love, so I was expecting to be blown away by this dish. Sadly, I felt that the execution was slightly lacking; it seemed generally underseasoned and the water given off by the greens and sweet potato meant that the sauce became too diluted. I’ve heard some rave reviews about this dish though, so it could be down to teething problems – our visit was their second Saturday trading. 

At £9 per dish, it’s not the cheapest brunch around, but if they work to get the cooking of these dishes spot on then I’d say it’s £9 absolutely well spent. Will I return? Certainly for the coffee (you should visit for this alone), and probably for the food; I’d like to eat there again once they’ve settled in.

Not quite in full bloom yet, but definitely a budding star; this is exactly the sort of place King’s Heath needs. I hope they do well. 

Visit Bloom at 32 Poplar Road, King’s Heath, B14 7AD.