I recently found myself in Birmingham for a night, and decided it was finally time to visit some of the vegan hotspots I have heard so much about, namely 1847.
1847 is a vegetarian restaurant in the heart of the city that opened in September 2013 and was named after the year the Vegetarian Society was was founded. I had heard many good things, so I really looked forward to dinner as we arrived on a chilly and rainy Saturday night.
We booked a table for 7pm for two people, and arrived into the little, half-empty bistro and were seated immediately at a small table near the bar and stairs. Normally I would loathe the location of this table, but the restaurant wasn’t that busy so I didn’t find many people distractingly walking past us. The restaurant itself is cute, but small, and located in the Great Western Arcade. It has more of a bistro feel than a fancy restaurant – with pale wooden floors, gray panelled walls, a very small bar area and simple white tables. There is additional seating upstairs as well it seems for larger parties.
We started off by ordering a bottle of organic viognier wine, which was promptly placed on the table, but not poured into our glasses which I found a bit strange. Surely that is part of the server’s job – to ensure the first glass is presented to us. It’s not a huge deal – but just one of many small things that make a dinner special. Regardless, the wine was delicious – light, crisp, cool and overall a lovely summery wine.
The menu has several vegan-optional starters and mains, and I decided to go for a crispy polenta starter with mushrooms and pepper puree. The dish was exquisite. It was beautifully presented and the flavors were just bursting and were perfectly married together. I wish it had been a main course. Andrew’s starter was baked baby aubergine with tomatoes in a vegan yogurt dressing, and again the flavors in this dish were lovely and so complex. My only small complaint was that the starters were tiny, especially the salad.
For our mains we both went for the “fish and chips” – his was the vegetarian option made with halloumi, while I went for the vegan option made with tofu. Both were served with a side of chips and pea puree. My tofu was really lovely – the batter was light and crispy and went nicely with the slightly sweet pea puree. The chips were also delicious, but again, it would have been nice to have a bit more of everything or perhaps some extra veg on the plate.
For dessert Andrew ordered the carrot cake with ice cream. I had a bite of the cake as it’s vegan without the ice cream, and enjoyed the fluffy, cinnamony flavors, but I don’t think I could have eaten a full slice.
Overall we really enjoyed our dinner, but felt the price was a bit high for what we had. However, we will certainly go back for lunch if we find ourselves in Birmingham city center again in the future.
Cherry Reds review
The next morning we were ready for some good breakfast grub before heading back to Leicester on the train. Based on recommendations from the good folk of Twitter, we settled on Cherry Reds for breakfast which is right near the New Street train station, so a very convenient location for us.
Cherry Reds is a bar/pub that serves food all day. The interior is a cool mish mash of vintage looking chairs and tables, squashy couches and industrial lights. We took a seat by the window and after a bit of deliberation I decided I had to have the “hearty vegan” which is basically the vegan version of a full English breakfast. The only sub I made was extra mushrooms in place of beans (not a fan), and I was ready to go.
What came out was massive and slightly intimidating, but I brought my A-game and dug straight in. Every element of the dish was delicious – the tofu was soft and lightly fried, the mushrooms chunky and beautifully seasoned, the tomatoes nicely cooked and bursting with flavors… and of course you can’t go wrong with a hot, crunchy hash brown and Linda McCartney sausage. I am not ashamed to say I was able to polish off the entire dish apart from one slice of toast.
Andrew went for the hearty vegetarian which had a fried egg in place of the tofu, and came with a few slices of griddled halloumi. He said it was the best veggie breakfast he’s ever had.
Appetites sufficiently satiated, we headed back to Leicester with warm feelings towards Birmingham. It was lovely to get out of Leicester for a short trip, and try new vegan offerings nearby.
You can follow 1847 on Twitter here
You can follow Cherry Reds on Twitter here