This article first appeared on the Dine Birmingham website in an edited format.
This once tired, tatty tearoom has had a makeover. It had become a convenient place for refreshments, appealing only to those who needed a cup of tea while they rested their legs. Not somewhere to linger. Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery have given this tearoom much more than a lick of paint. Would the food and service do the surroundings justice?
Previously this stunning room had been lost in a sea of ancient brown, wobbly tables and chairs that not even Kirsty would try to flog as vintage.
The decor is now a seamless blend of Ikea functionality and Lee Longlands lushness. Cosy armchairs and sofas are pooled in light from oversized lampshades. These, with communal refectory style tables, booths with industrial lighting and barstools around smaller tables meet the seating requirements of young and old, families and friends, grannies and grandchildren. While the room is huge, with a glass ceiling, it feels more like a well designed New York loft apartment.
I was a solo diner and ordered Flat Mushroom, Asparagus, with Poached Egg and Hollandaise from the all day brunch menu.
My poached egg was cooked to perfection with a soft, runny yolk. The asparagus was crisp, and the mushroom tasted as if it had been picked from a field that morning. I am no expert on hollandaise sauce, yet, if this was out of a jar; I want to know what jar. It was perfectly seasoned and glossy. This meal was cooked by someone who knows what they are doing. The portion was just right for a light lunch.
I ordered a pot of loose leaf tea. The milk is served in a dinky milk bottle, the tea in a enamel pot.
Flat mushrooms with poached egg and asparagus £5.95
Pot of Suki loose leaf Tea £2.80
Prices ranged from £3.90 for homemade soup with artisan bread to £9.50 for the Slow Cooked Lamb Shank. The children’s menu included soup and bread at £2.50 and pasta with fresh tomato soup at £3.00.
A regular flat white is £2.10
Soft drinks, including Fentimons traditional lemonade were £1.70
Every dish I saw brought out was well presented. In addition to the main menu there is a specials board. Afternoon tea is very tempting for a special occasion.
Efficient and friendly staff, kept tables clear and took time to talk to customers. It was clear from the chat I had that they wanted to get it right. They have only been open a few weeks and I told me that they were still on a learning curve and looking to continually improve.
There is free WiFi with numerous power sockets dotted around the room. This is a good thing. However, on this Saturday lunch time I did not see one person tapping away on a smart phone. This is a good thing too.
The only downside? I would have liked a pot of hot water with my tea.
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is a trust and not part of the local authority. Spending your money here contributes to keeping this gallery open to all and free to visit.