Vegan Advegtures: Birmingham, UK

*Some of the meals in this review were provided on a complimentary basis but my reviews are honest and unbiased

A whole lotta yum up here in Brum.

I’ve recently decided that it’s about time I explore more of the UK. Birmingham is a city I’ve never been to before so when I was invited to speak on a panel there, I decided it was a perfect time to spend some time exploring.

I’m very aware that we are completely and utterly spoilt for choice when it comes to vegan food in London so I’m always curious to see how the vegan movement is expanding outside of the capital. It’s sad to see that a couple of vegan spots in Birmingham have closed down over the last year, so I hope everyone can help support the ones which are still killing it!

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Here’s the list of places we visited in the order we visited them:

🌱 CHERRY RED’S

🌱 WAREHOUSE CAFE

🌱 DAMASCENA

🌱 MR SINGH’S

🌱 NATURAL BAR & KITCHEN

🌱 BA-HA

🌱 3 THREES

🌱 CAFE SOYA

Here’s a map showing the location of all of the restaurants:


So, down to the nitty gritty. Here’s what we ate and what we thought:

 

1. Cherry Red’s

Where is it?

88-92 John Bright St, Birmingham, B1 1BN

What’s it like?

This is a cute bar / restaurant / pub with a lovely feel to it. I popped in here for lunch and ended up staying for drinks into the early evening, watching the world go by. The decor is purposefully old fashioned and it’t got a very homely feel to it. There’s a huge upstairs section which I didn’t get the chance to visit but I sensed that it gets a lot livelier there as the night goes on. This isn’t a 100% vegan spot but their vegan menu is very impressive with lots of options to choose from. They’re mainly “junk” food and hearty options. The staff here were really friendly and it had a ‘local’ feel to it without making newbies feel unwelcome.

What did you eat?

  • Fish-like finger sandwich with mayo on granary bread – £5
  • Loaded chips with vegan cheese and a red onion chutney – £5

What did you think of the food?

  • Fish-like finger sandwich – I love that the bread was thick yet soft. The mayo was heavenly and there was a good amount in there. I think the fish fingers are quorn which I’ve had before and think they’re very realistic. They’re just how I remember them. The breading is nice – crunchy, light and not too thick. The mayo has a slightly vinegary taste – perhaps Hellmann’s? – but it works. A solid sandwich!
  • Chips – These were a bit too salty for me but I absolutely loved the dish overall. The cheese melted very well and was more like a gooey, melted cheese sauce. The chutney was absolutely delightful and the chips were proper chunky, skin on, almost wedge-like. This is proper comforting pub grub!

More information:

Check out their Instagram


2. Warehouse Cafe

Where is it?

54-57 Allison St, Birmingham B5 5TH

What’s it like?

This is said to be Birmingham’s oldest vegetarian cafe which has closed and reopened a number of times over the years. Situated in an old warehouse (hence the name), this is now run as aa workers cooperative, owned and operated by its workers. It’s got a homely feel to it but it was lacking a little in atmosphere. The service wasn’t super welcoming and there was a half hour wait for food despite it not being very busy, but it was a comfortable space to chill out in. There’s a variety of food here ranging from kebabs and toasties to pho and “fish” & chips.

What did you eat?

  • Seitan doner kebab – Wholemeal pita stuffed with seitan, pickles and fresh veg salad, coated in sriracha mayo and basil sauce with chips – £10.95
  • Pho – Vietnamese noodle soup with assorted mushrooms and a vegan egg with a runny yolk – £7.50

What did you think of the food?

  • Seitan doner kebab – The seitan had a realistic, meaty texture but there wasn’t much flavour in the kebab and I was a bit disappointed by it. The portion size was alright but could’ve been more generous for the price
  • Pho – The egg is kind of clever presentation wise although it doesn’t really taste anything like an egg. It’s very salty on its own but worked better once mixed into the dish. I did find the dish quite flavourless sadly. The portion was also extremely small. It was a shallow bowl and only had a few noodles in it. This had a deep flavour with a bit of spice. The spring onions were the only strong flavour that really stood out though. It needed more depth of flavour. I wouldn’t order this again, sadly.

More information:

Check out their Instagram


3. Damascena

*this meal was complimentary

Where is it?

Unit 1 Heritage Court, 17-21 Warstone Lane, B18 6JE

Portman Building, 5-7 Temple Row West, Birmingham, B2 5NY

133 Alcester Road, Moseley, Birmingham, B13 8JP

High Street, Birmingham, B17 9NR

What’s it like?

Word on the street is that Damascena has a bit of a dedicated following in Birmingham, and I can see why. The Middle Eastern food here is bursting with flavour, the decor is intricate and beautiful and the staff are incredibly friendly and helpful. This isn’t a fully vegan restaurant but there are lots of vegan options. The only disappointment was that they still use plastic straws.

What did you eat?

  • Damascena breakfast mezze with crisp falafel balls, baba ghanuuj, damascena fuul (slow cooked fava beans with tomatoes, onions, garlic & fresh chillies, topped with extra virgin olive oil), fuul mahroos (fava beans with sweet bell peppers, fresh chillies, tomatoes and garlic, topped with extra virgin olive oil), served with two flatbreads – £11.95
  • Vine leaves stuffed with herbaceous rice – £3.45
  • Batata Hara – Chilli potatoes with a hint of paprika, served with flatbread – £4.25

What did you think of the food?

  • Mezze – The falafel have a nice, light, crunchy coating but are soft on the inside. The baba was super creamy with a tang to it, without being too bitter. It was really tasty, a little oily but it looked more oily than it tasted. The fuul mahros was ok but a bit too watery for me.  The damascena fuul was beautiful – A bit thicker and creamier which is more my thing. You definitely noticed the onion flavour more and the sweet juicy tomatoes came through too
  • Vine leaves – I really enjoyed these. The rice inside was gloopy but it worked. they weren’t slimy or oily which I liked
  • Batata Hara – These were “I could eat these all day” level of great. I absolutely loved then. The chilli added a nice kick, the garlic flavour was strong and there was a subtle hint of paprika. The heat kind of sat on your tongue – it wasn’t too much, it was just right. They also paired well with the pickled veg

More information:

Check out their Instagram


4. Mr Singh’s

*this meal was complimentary

Where is it?

103 Cornwall Rd, Handsworth Wood, Birmingham B20 2HY

What’s it like?

This is a super casual restaurant specialising in vegetarian and vegan pizza. They’re located slightly outside of Birmingham city centre (15 min cab drive) and they’ve got a huge menu with dishes including burgers, wraps and a variety of pizzas from margheritas to vegan meat feasts! Sizes range from small to extra large for the super hungry. I would love it if they used an alternative to plastic water bottles and cups.

What did you eat?

  • Curly fries (large) – £2.50
  • Mr Singh’s spicy soya sticks – £3.50
  • Vegan meat feast – XL – £11.95

What did you think of the food?

  • Curly fries (large) – I mean, who doesn’t love a curly fry, right?
  • Mr Singh’s spicy soya sticks – These were nice. They had a moist, juicy texture, a light coating and they went well with the BBQ sauce. They also had a mild heat. Tasty!
  • Vegan meat feast – XL – This was a fully loaded pizza and they weren’t stingy with the amount of fake meat you got which I thought was reasonable for the price. However, I did find that the fake meat tasted quite a lot like soy and didn’t much flavour other than that. I really liked that the base was soft, fluffy and thick and it had a nice crust too. I thought that the tomato sauce could have had more of a punchy flavour and the vegan cheese didn’t really add anything. I’d suggest using a different vegan cheese to elevate this pizza! The accompanying dips were delicious. I think perhaps if I went here again, I’d try one of the more natural pizzas.

More information:

Check out their Instagram


5. Natural Bar & Kitchen

*this meal was complimentary

Where is it?

1 Sirius (The Orion Building), 24 Suffolk Street Queensway, Birmingham B1 1LT

What’s it like?

This was probably my favourite spot of the whole trip! I thought the food was great, the decor was modern and trendy, the Friday night atmosphere was buzzy and lively, the staff were super lovely and the cocktails were beautiful. What more could you want?!

What did you eat?

  • Nacho plate with homemade tortilla crisps, cheeze, pico de Gallo salad, pickled jalapeños, spring onions, sweetcorn, black beans & guacamole – £7.95
  • Buffalo cauliflower bites with crudités and buffalo sauce – £6.45
  • Tofu ‘fish’ and chips with minted peas, tartar sauce and a fresh lemon wedge – £10.95
  • Curry of the month – Indian curry – £11.95

What did you think of the food?

  • Nachos – The nachos were like pita bread and were delicious, the toppings were generous and also beautiful. A great sharing starter!
  • Cauliflower bites – These were so good. They had a nice batter which had a crunch to it but it was also soggy at the same time and I mean that in a good way as it soaked up all of the flavour. The sriracha mayo was beautiful too and overall the dish wasn’t shy of a bit of heat!
  • “Fish” and chips – This was so tasty! The tartare had a strong taste of dill and also a pickled, vinegary flavour from the gherkins which I liked. The batter was like a southern fried batter and it really worked, it was much less greasy than others I’ve tried. The mushy peas were nice, they still tasted like peas but had a nice minted flavour to them
  • Curry – This was so beautiful, I loved the flavours. You could really taste the cardamom and aniseed. It wasn’t a super creamy curry but the flavours were on point. I loved the flavoured rice which was kind of sticky. The veg inside (mainly the potatoes) was cooked perfectly.

More information:

Check out their Instagram


6. Ba-Ha

 

Where is it?

Churchill’s Bar, 171-172 Wharfside St, Birmingham B1 1RL

What’s it like?

Churchill’s bar itself is a casual All Bar One style pub / restaurant overlooking the canal. We had a bit of trouble when we first arrived as the staff told us that they didn’t open until 11:20 despite the signs saying 11. Then, we were told that the food wasn’t served until 12 so we went away and then came back later. Once we came back, they told us that the food had started at 11 and that I had been misinformed. So, this was a bit frustrating but nothing to do with the Ba-Ha team! The team from Ba-ha were really friendly and accommodating, their food was creative and unique, and the location was perfect.

What did you eat?

  • Brunch of champions – Homemade cheese loaf slices, sausage patty, scrambled tofu, garlic & herb parmentier, mushrooms, onions, cheery tomatoes, spinach & baked beans. We also added a fried egg for £3  which made the total £16.50
  • “Snickers” dessert – Price unknown

What did you think of the food?

  • Brunch – Firstly, the vegan fried egg was very clever and one of the more realistic ones I’ve tried. The yolk really did have an eggy flavour although it was very salty. The “egg whites” also had a very convincing texture. It was a bit thinner than a normal egg and also slightly chewier but a clever creation nonetheless. The tofu scramble had an unusual, deep flavour which I quite liked but Chris wasn’t keen on. Again, it was quite salty. The beans also had a unique flavour as they were heavily seasoned. The sausage patty had a nice texture but was perhaps a little grainy and sadly lacking in flavour. The potatoes were delicious but far too oily. The cheesy loaf had a nice texture – quite moist and juicy – but the flavour needed to be stronger. I really like the mushrooms and the onions. I would’ve preferred the shredded spinach to be sautéed. The tomatoes were cooked well. I think this dish has real potential but needs a few tweaks! Everything was just a bit too oily for me.
  • “Snickers” – This was so delicious. It was very chocolatey and had a nice hint of caramel in it, just like I remember Snickers bars but a bit lighter. The presentation was also amazing. Highly recommend!

More information:

Check out their Instagram


7. 3 Threes

*this cake was complimentary

Where is it?

17 – 19 Martineau Way, Birmingham B2 4UW

What’s it like?

This is a fully vegan coffee lounge in the middle of town offering cabinets full of sandwiches, cakes and ice creams.

What did you eat?

  • Orange chocolate cupcake – £3.00

What did you think of the food?

  • Cupcake – Sadly we didn’t get to try much of a range of food but the cupcake was absolutely delicious and had a clever gooey middle to it.

More information:

Check out their Instagram


8. Cafe Soya

Where is it?

B106 Cathay Street Arcadian Centre B5 4TD

What’s it like?

This is an omni restaurant offering a fusion of traditional Vietnamese and Chinese dishes. There’s a huge variety of vegan options on the menu and if I’d had more space in my stomach, I’d have loved to choose them all. The space is very casual and a little too small for the level of demand they have. We were sat by the door on a cold day and it kept opening every few seconds which did ruin the experience a little for us.  It was constantly busy and there was always a queue for takeaway too so which is testament to the food.

What did you eat?

  • Veggie fruity ribs – £6.80
  • Veggie chilli prawns – £7.50
  • Veggie chicken noodles – £8.50
  • Mock chicken spicy satay with broccoli and seasonal vegetables – £7.50

What did you think of the food?

  • Veggie fruity ribs – Love the sauce but not keen on the “meat” which tasted a lot like soy. I love the pineapple chunks and the generous amount of sauce. I also like the thick texture of the ribs which were moist and not dry at all. They were like sweet and sour ribs but a little less tangy
  • Veggie chilli prawns – The texture is so realistic, soft and squiggly but they have some bite to them. They’re very salty and not bursting with flavour – the sauce does that job. Good portion, I’d probably get these again
  • Veggie chicken noodles – This was my favourite dish – I loved it. The texture of the chicken was insanely good. It had a slightly charred flavour too. The noodles had a nice flavour and weren’t too oily. Loved it!
  • Mock chicken spicy satay – I didn’t think this was very similar to satay at all, it certainly didn’t have much of a peanut flavour to it. It tasted more like a chow mien. Either way though, I enjoyed it. There was a good amount of sauce, the veg was cooked well – the broccoli had a nice crunch to it and the texture and flavour of the chicken was nice.

More information:

Check out their Instagram


I hope that this blog post has helped you understand the vegan scene in Birmingham a little better.

These are just some of the places we visited. Obviously there are lots of other places offering vegan options. We’d also have loved to visit The Veggie Chippy, Vegan Munch, Earth’s Kitchen and Digbeth Dining Club, as well as others, but we could only fit so much into our two day trip!

If you want any tips or just want to have a chat about any of the places we visited, head over to my Instagram page: @thelittlelondonvegan.

TLLV

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