Smoking Bagels has opened a permanent Birmingham store, and celebrated the launch with an all day event at the end of July.
Starting life as a mobile food van, Smoking Bagels has been growing and evolving in recent months, resulting in the opening of a full time shop. Most recently you might have spotted the SB logo in the Bullring, where the guys had a small pop-up stand in May, but the new shop has seating and plenty of space for customers. The bright white and red signage ensures you can’t miss the shop.
Sadly, however, I have to report the whole experience was quite disappointing. Having arrived at 1pm we found the shop in a state of chaos and no food available. The place was due to be open at 11am so I’m not sure how that’s possible. After standing around aimlessly we offered to go away and come back in an hour; hardly ideal on launch day. When we came back 60 minutes later we grabbed a spare table (which was covered in bits of food – I wiped it down myself) and after a brief chat with someone from the FOH team I ordered the Jerk Chicken Bagel. After waiting 10 minutes for the bagel to arrive it was a shame to find it lacking in filling and the chicken itself was chewy/gristly. It also looked nothing like the same bagel I’d been drooling over on Instagram. The second item we tried was the Pizza Bagel which was half a bagel sparsely coated in luke warm, bland cheese and a tomato base that had no flavour; I suspect it’s just a basic pre-made jar sauce. There didn’t appear to be any attention to detail or presentation for the food itself, although the branded takeaway box it comes in is a nice touch.
No one asked us how the food was, the venue itself didn’t seem ready for the opening (e.g. the drinks machine wasn’t working, the blank chalkboards didn’t show the menu items or price list), and it just all felt a bit shambolic. Most of the staff were delightful – especially those behind the counter – although one seemed more interested in eating the food than offering it to guests. The whole ‘BBQ party’ we’d been expecting didn’t seem to actually be happening; perhaps we just got unlucky with the time of our visit. I believe there was a second event the day after which may have gone better.
I’m genuinely really sad to report it wasn’t all that great, as I’m a huge advocate of local and independent restaurants, cafe and shops. I do wish the SB guys well and I sincerely hope the shop thrives once the venue/team is running on all cylinders, but I won’t be back.
You can find out more information about Smoking Bagels online and the shop officially opens in the first week of August.
Smoking Bagels, 413 Rocky Lane, B42 1NL
*Disclosure: Thankfully I didn’t have to pay for anything. I’m not affiliated with any brand mentioned in this blog*