On a drizzly early summer morning in Birmingham I had some time to kill and wandered the streets looking for an interesting place for breakfast. I fancied something a little different, away from the chains. My usual approach is to head for a market or a bus station as these tend to be a magnet for well-priced, good basic English breakfasts.
On a Saturday I made the mistake of heading through the business district and finding closed cafes. My final destination was Birmingham’s People’s Palace and so I walked a long way round to avoid the ongoing demolition of the old Library – in all my time in Birmingham it was always a pretty unloved concrete monstrosity – and ended up in Brindley Place. I’ve already reviewed the excellent Ikon Gallery cafe and wanted something different… And found it with the Floating Coffee Company.
One of the facts surrounding Birmingham is that it has more miles of canal than Venice. The miles running through the heart of Brum are now pretty shopping trolley-free and make a really nice way of getting around the city. And where there are canals there are canal boats.
The Floating Coffee company looked a jolly little venue alongside the chains in Brindley Place and so I hopped aboard. There was a slightly startled welcome because the crew don’t get line of sight of you until you are aboard. They may get a good look at your shoes but not a lot else. Inside was nice and bright and clean.
The menu is like the boat itself – fairly narrow – presumably to satisfy the demands of a small galley and limited storage space. No problem – I wanted breakfast and they have the usual breakfast baguettes, a full English and scrambled egg on toast. I ordered a bacon and egg baguette with cheese as a special request.
The coffee is produced by machine but I mistakenly ordered just a black filter coffee and so I can’t vouch for the barista skills on board. The breakfast came deconstructed. Everything was there that I had ordered but the job seemed oddly unfinished. I always think that with breakfast sandwiches one of the jobs for the preparer is to make it ready for eating – stable so that the table and the fingers are safe. Adding cheese to the mix is tricky because if you are going to melt it there can be extra washing up. I prefer my bacon cooked a little more if there is a significant amount of fat on it but the egg was perfect and the baguette was beautifully fresh. Nice that the ketchup and the brown sauce was provided without asking.
All in all it was tasty and it was a fun venue without being kitsch. I should have had a takeaway because somehow my sit-in bill came to over £8 – probably average for this touristy area and it a miracle the galley can service the number of tables there but it really wasn’t worth that price. I would have been happy paying up to £6. A lot of the evening venues are finding ways of getting people in during the daytime with cheaper breakfasts and so it’s probably a one-off experience for me.