I’m a big fan of John Bright Street, it has to be said. Many moons ago, when I worked next to the Mailbox, I used the (then largely derelict) area as a short cut from New Street to the Queensgate building, but now this street is one of the thriving social hubs of the city centre. Having undergone quite the image overhaul in the last few years, this row of bars and restaurants has become one of the go-to places for Brummies seeking a more casual dining experience. And lots of beer.
With the addition of BrewDog and Turtle Bay, John Bright Street has its share of chain bars and eateries, but few compare to the unique charm of Cherry Reds. The all-day cafe/bar has been a staple part of the brunch scene in Birmingham for a long time, serving good quality comfort food with that special ‘homemade’ feel alongside cocktails, craft beers and hot drinks.
As well as serving all day brunches, including huge cooked breakfasts, American-style pancakes, and eggs done 200 ways (exaggerating, obviously, but my point is made) the venue also serves hot and cold lunches and main meals. Cherry Reds is also my favourite place to get cake. Good god do they nail their cake game.
Having eaten at this cute retro-inspired cafe a few times, I know the food is good. It’s more like going round to your mum’s for tea in 1978; the mismatched vintage furniture and loud and proud wallpaper make it a striking place to grab food but it remains a relaxed spot to meet friends for a drink on a Saturday night… or with a hangover on a Sunday morning.
Split over two floors, the second being quieter during the day, Cherry Reds is also an ideal spot for a bit of work/blogging and people watching, as I was reminded of this week when I popped in for lunch. In search of a healthy bite to eat, and an escape from the rain (come back summer, I miss your sweaty face) I decided to pay a weekday visit to the cafe. The last time I popped in it was 25 degrees but grabbing a seat outside was totally out of the question on this occasion – a shame because the little seating area gets all the afternoon sunshine – so I plonked myself on one of the squishy chairs that remind me of my gran’s house.
The menu is varied and includes healthy choices as well as the pure filth one might expect from a brunch place. It’s also a fab go-to joint for vegetarians and vegans, making it a popular dining choice for those foodies largely under catered for in the chain offerings. I’ve eaten here several times with friends and enjoyed the house burgers as well as the naughty platters which can feed an army.
Having spent the weekend in Manchester making all kinds of obese menu choices I decided to opt for a more virtuous (read: less carby) option. Heading to order at the counter, I chose the Salmon fillet brunch (£8) which comes with a nettle and caper pesto, asparagus, spinach and mashed avocado, before being topped with a fried egg from the ‘No Bread Brunches’ part of the menu. One to make The Body Coach aka Joe Wicks proud, that!
Full disclosure: I also did some excellent perving at the cake counter and thanked the lord that there was a pane of glass keeping me from clawing at all of the dreamy looking cakes that were proudly presented at the till. My tastebuds didn’t thank me but my inflated waistline did.
My gorgeous plate of food arrived within 15 minutes and I was delighted with how homely but pretty it looked, with lots of earthy colours and fresh tasting ingredients. A hearty fillet of pink salmon sat on a bed of spinach and smashed avocado, with the vibrant green pesto dripping all over the remaining parts of the dish.
The fish was tender and flavoursome and combined with the nettle and caper sauce was a savoury dream. The veggies were all tasty and I enjoyed the combination of the various textures from the individual parts of the dish. The lemony smashed avocado was also just delicious, as was the soft yolk which once split delicately covered the fish,
A ruddy triumph and the closest to healthy soul food you’ll come across outside of a bread roll.
I really enjoyed the lunch and soaking up the atmosphere inside Cherry Reds. It’s a strange but delightful little spot offering comfort food for everyone. Whether you want a quiet bite to eat with your mum, a boozy night with friends, or a casual date place, this little cafe is small but perfectly formed and offers some retro chic in an often chain-led part of the city. Yes, I’m talking about you, Mailbox…
If you have an Independent Card (I know, I never mention it…cough) you can get a free drink with any main meal. If you don’t have one of these cards just pay the 15 quid and enjoy your life a bit more. Thank me later 😉 There are some great little spaces upstairs for small private parties too.
I’ll be back soon, most likely when the sun is shining and I can drape myself over the terrace with a pint or 5. You can find out more about Cherry Reds or view the menu here.
Cherry Reds Cafe, 88-92 John Bright Street, Birmingham, B1 1BN
*Disclaimer: This post is not affiliated with any company/brand/product. All views and opinions are my own, along with all of the poor quality photos*