I have two major philosophical quandaries about food; one is what defines cake, the other is what counts as ‘lunch food’? If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then I’m going to come out and say that lunch is the most difficult. Think about it, there’s a whole pile of food designated to be ‘breakfast food’ and at dinner anything goes, but what’s lunch got? Sandwiches, salads?
In this unending quest to find out what is considered proper lunch food the question of timing always comes up. Going out for lunch gives it pseudo-dinner qualities, but if you’re stuck in that not really going out for dinner but wanting to either a) escape the office or b) go for lunch but not Go For Lunch then things get tricky.
Enter Friska Foods.
Friska have joined the Brummie indie food scene from Bristol. Frankly I’m a more the merrier when it comes to places to eat, but the fact that Bristol are letting some of their indies come play in Birmingham is a Good Thing. Friska do lots of things I like; namely they don’t go too overboard on this pseudo-industrial look that I’m getting really bored of, they have a variety of food and also, non-dairy milk choices. CHOICE! And their staff are super friendly, in a way that makes you think you’ve met them loads of times before and somehow forgotten, rather than that false enthusiasm. In fact they have a nice ethos of generally being nice – each month they have a dish which helps support Deki, a microfinance charity that allows people to lend to an entrepreneur in the developing world – you know in that ‘give a man a fish…’ ethos.
After getting over the initial confusion that I didn’t know the barista, she was just disarmingly lovely, I ordered an almond milk latte. Now anyone that reads this blog regularly (I think that’s just my mum) will know I am a fan of disco coffee – AKA a latte, usually, flavoured with some sort of sugary syrup. This almond latte was sweet, warm and everything I want in a disco coffee without me requesting sugary syrups. Also, to substitute to almond milk is free, whereas the soya version is charged at 50p extra, which is fine by me because I’m pretty sure soya and I don’t get on too well (just better than milk). Oh and they do Yorkshire Tea, which will make several people I know very happy, and a hazelnut hot chocolate which I didn’t try but I want someone to because I need to know if it’s like melted Nutella.
Food wise, they do hot boxed meals, warm soup, wraps, burritos, salads and also Vietnamese pho noodles dishes, plus cold salads and sandwiches. There are eight types of salad, which I think might be my mum’s idea of heaven. There’s also a bunch of cake things, because who has afternoon meetings without the promise of cake?
I did what I always do when I get invited along to these things, I palm off the decision on someone else – their PR person chose the beef chilli hot box meal. This has plenty of positives; four different things in one box means I don’t get bored and each of them were lovely. And the beef chilli was too, but it’s not what I’d call beef chilli…it was more beef stew. And the good thing about this is the honesty with which the staff spoke. They’d had a few other comments similar to mine and they’d said that they had noticed that us Brummies like things a bit spicier…which I think is them being polite. Maybe its just my sense of Brummie-patriotism but when I go elsewhere in the country I ask how spicy stuff is I point out that I’m from Birmingham and our idea of spice may be a bit different. I suspect this dish might have a name change, and that’s no bad thing, because I liked this as it was…it felt hearty and nourishing and sort of tasty-but-good-for-you lunch food without feeling like it was pretending to be anything else (well, except chilli). It’s also pretty filling without going overboard and £5.50 which feels like a good price.
And that brownie in the first photo was lovely, but I didn’t eat it til I got home. Although, as someone who generally goes for the non-chocolate options, I enjoyed slicing it up and having a nibble.
It was only a quick visit to Friska for me, but first impressions were good, I liked the place, the people and the food. And when there feels like there’s a bunch of places opening in the city, somewhere that delivers on all three feels like the promise of something good. In the few short weeks it has been open its obviously become a place for nearby office workers to have informal meetings, but the number of plug sockets means that it could well be a good place for freelancers too.
In the words of Arnie, I’ll be back.
Disclosure: I was invited down by Friska for a complimentary meal, which didn’t affect my opinions of the place. More importantly, what ARE the necessary and sufficient conditions of cake?! Seriously, this is a five year discussion two philosophy graduates have been having and neither of us are any clearer.