I tried a 'vintage' cafe in Birmingham with a £4 breakfast and one strict rule (2024)

Goldilocks walks into a porridge shop and browses the breakfast menu after tearing along New Street, avoiding religious preachers and salespeople, overstimulated by a busking saxophonist competing for earhole space with a guy banging a drum. "This one looks too sweet," says the girl (played by me, journalist Kirsty Bosley), considering the honey, sultana and cinnamon option, £4.80.

Instead I ordered the blackcurrant cream and elderflower bowl, topped with rhubarb compote, blackcurrant powder, honeycomb and apple, £7.95. "This one looks just..."

"The breakfast menu ended at half 11," staff told me, ending the fairytale. This is real life, a Tuesday at 11:40am, and the lunch rush was on the horizon.

Read more: Sweet little 'breath of fresh air' independent shop shares 'biggest enemy' in Birmingham

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I was in Morridge, the little Great Western Arcade porridge shop that everyone tells me I need to visit. A family-run cafe, Morridge is known for its porridge but, judging by the menu, there's much more going on than that.

Sandwiches featuring fillings of goats cheese and grape, tuna and spring onion, chicken and bacon or Korean aubergine are £6.85, salads 25p more and then, mercifully, there's an all-day breakfast selection of granolas, overnight oats, pancakes and a portion of two toasted crumpets with real butter and homemade berry jam for £3.95. Bargain, but not as exciting as that elderflower option I'd so narrowly missed out on.

I settled on the banoffee overnight oats instead, a latte to go with it, and took a look around the tiny space for room to settle down. "There's more seating upstairs," staff said, among the very few words they uttered to me the entire time I was there.

I headed up the pretty steep stairs (worth keeping that in mind if accessibility is a concern for you) and it was a total surprise. I thought I'd stepped back in time to the 1970s.

I didn't make it further than the landing because a little sofa covered in a crocheted blanket in mustard, orange and green stripes and a floral crocheted cushion that reminded me of the crockery my nan used to have in the old days called out to me. All of that yarn work was illuminated by two lava lamp sconces, orange against the matching printed wallpaper and I sat there and bathed in it.

There's a curtain you can draw if you'd rather not look at the toilet door and I might have drawn it, but my brunch had already arrived. The oats were in a big glass bowl, served with a similarly vintage-looking spoon. One of those ornate ones that I can barely fit even in my massive mouth.

I tried a 'vintage' cafe in Birmingham with a £4 breakfast and one strict rule (2)

"This porridge is too cold," said my inner Goldilocks, still dreaming of that elderflower option, but I was won over as I worked my way around the dish.

The toffee sauce tasted golden, rich and distinctly high quality. It wasn't served with simply banana, it was served with textures of banana, fresh slices as well as crunchy dried medallions. Why? Because it's a brilliant idea, that's why. I love this kind of attention to detail, it took me back to fairyland.

Chewy nuggets of dates were dusted with cocoa powder like lovely, decadent little treats on a chocolatiers counter. Pair that with the crunch of the walnuts and the seed mix scatter? It was brilliant.

And then the oats! They're not too salty, not too sweet, not too thick and not too watery. "This porridge is just right!" said Goldilocks to her cup of coffee, which was also excellent.

After I'd eaten, full to the brim, I wanted to settle down on the blanket and nap. Instead, I ventured into the rest of the seating area to see what it's like.

I tried a 'vintage' cafe in Birmingham with a £4 breakfast and one strict rule (3)

There's not much room and they've made the most of it, with a big rug, trailing plants and, in the window, a couple of egg chairs, one hanging and one standing for people like me that can't trust the chain on account of all the porridge they eat.

I was starting to think that the staff's quiet approach was by design. What with all of the soft furnishings, Morridge is a peaceful place, offering calming respite from the city. I could have stayed there all day, but a sign said they have a no laptop rule during busy times so I hit the road.

Outside, I noticed yet more seating outside on Temple Row but I turned back to walk through Great Western Arcade, because I think it's one of the best places in all of Birmingham. And now I've tried this place? I'm more sure of that than ever.

Go to Morridge, enjoy your porridge. But if you order that elderflower option? You'd better not take your eyes off it because I can't promise that I won't come and dunk my spoon in.

You think bears are your biggest worry? You haven't met me when I'm hungry.

This review is independent, conducted at random and the reporter paid for all food and drink. Morridge can be found at Great Western Arcade, Temple Row, B2 5HG.

I tried a 'vintage' cafe in Birmingham with a £4 breakfast and one strict rule (2024)
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