It feels a bit lazy writing this all as one blogpost, but having only really dipped my toes into the delights Shirley has to offer it feels right. For years Shirley High St has been a bit, well, rubbish. I remember trips to the Bank of Ireland as a child as my mum once inexplicably held an account there, waiting in the car because there was simply nothing else to do. Fast-forward a few years and other than venturing to the rather delightful Crust, a pizzeria which is really worth a trip, I hadn’t bothered with the high st for years. But the Parkgate development seems to have brought a new lease of life to Shirley, and in the last month or so, I’ve visited twice for lunch.
On my first visit it was lunch at Desco Lounge, part of the Loungers group, which also has venues in Kings Heath and Harborne. Despite having one on my doorstep, I don’t really visit a lot, but my mum wanted to go for lunch and as she was paying I wasn’t arguing. The Loungers venues in Brum have this whole faux-shabby-chic thing going for them, but the high ceilings at Desco give it more grandeur. I went for their Jambalaya, which was a little disappointing. The chorizo was, at points, tougher than I’d like and the inclusion of the chicken on top of the rice mixture meant it lacked flavour. The jamba itself was very spicy, a little too spicy for me, but still pretty tasty. My mum went for a Goat’s Cheese salad, which she said was one of the best she’d had in a long time.
After some errands we stopped for coffee. Shirley has an assortment of chain coffee shops and my health conscious mother had vetoed the idea of trying Shake, Waffle & Roll, but did point out her new favourite place to stop for coffee – a furniture charity shop. No, seriously. Betel has a restored furniture shop on the high st which has some lovely pieces…and also a charming little coffee shop. I asked for a soya milk latte, which given the size of the shop I wasn’t convinced they’d have, and they couldn’t be more accommodating. Also, a Christmas mug…these people know their customers well (I LOVE Christmas). The foam on the latte was luxurious and the coffee delicious. Top marks. I’m looking forward to going back and trying some of their cakes, many of which cater for food intolerances.
Our second visit saw us at Pizza Express. We both went for the Warm Vegetable and Goats Cheese Salad, only I had mine minus the goat’s cheese and with chicken. With aubergine, red & yellow peppers, roasted tomatoes, artichoke, cucumber, Italian lentils, mint and basil this was another of those salads-I-don’t-hate; full of flavour and texture, with plenty of veg and just a little bit of lettuce – very enjoyable.
Just like my mum and her banking, Shirley high st has moved with the times. There are some interesting places to eat and it’s developing a nice buzz.
Well done Shirley, I’ll be back soon.