As someone who frankly overthinks everything, dietary requirements are pretty high on my list of things to think about (I arrange a lot of events, it happens). You know, there’s always that box on an event sheet that asks about them and I’m always curious about the response; is it just for religious, ethical, moral and health reasons, or should people tell us if they really don’t like mushrooms (true story)? And then when someone tells you they don’t eat wheat, gluten, sugar or processed foods, only to then discover them snacking on a biscuit which has all those things are you allowed to be a bit pissed off?
And as someone with a lactose intolerance, which provides some fairly unpleasant results for me and anyone using the bathroom after me, I tend not to mention it unless I think whatever is being provided is going to lead to DEFCON one. But I’m always really grateful when there are places that I don’t need to worry about it and that’s mainly anywhere that properly caters for vegans. And so I’ve been wandering past Birmingham’s first vegan/vegetarian cafe, 3 Threes in Martineau Place, Birmingham city centre for the last few weeks, wondering when it’ll open. And finally it has.
The cafe itself has plenty of seating and was surprisingly busy on the Friday lunchtime I trundled down, considering they’d only opened that week. The decor is fairly nondescript which is not to say it’s boring…it’s just not that bloody industrial look everyone is going nuts for. It feels functional, but comfortable, like it could be good for working in there off a laptop all day as well as hosting a spoken word night in the evening. It feels like a coffee shop, which is surprisingly becoming a bit rare. Also, the staff are lovely. As one of them dropped off my sandwich, he checked on my drink, then came back with it later, apologising for the (not very long) wait but that the barista wasn’t happy with the first one and started again. I liked his honesty.
Food wise, I suspect it’s in a bit of flux at the moment. They’re doing vegan hot dogs, which looked good, but being it was a working Friday I opted for the British classic; sandwiches and a bag of crisps. Okay sure, a vegan version of a chicken, sweetcorn and mayo sandwich isn’t exactly standard, but there we are. In some sense, I think I ordered this because I wanted to see if chicken-flavoured stuff would taste as such and it does, in fact it tastes exactly like those packaged chicken slices you get in the supermarket. So if you’re vegan and missing these, great, or you’re vegan and want to drag your meat-loving friend somewhere that you can both eat, then this is a good way to distract them from that. Crisps wise, they’ve got a decent selection of Ten Acre crisps, which are vegan-friendly. Sure, you might ask, why is this even A Thing, but for some reason most standard flavoured crisps are full of milk products. Ten Acres aren’t, and their cheese and onion flavoured crisps are great.
I rounded off my lunch with an almond milk latte which was superb (clearly worth making a second time); sweet, creamy and delicious. For that alone, I’ll be back. I also bought a caramel rose cupcake, which was all sorts of animal free and there were several gluten free dessert options available too. I took this back to the office with me and it travelled well, was flavoursome and whilst not as identikit as the sandwich for its usual counterpart, was very tasty.
All in all a large almond milk latte, cupcake, sandwich and bag of crisps came to around £8 which is pretty standard for the less animal friendly versions elsewhere in the city centre. On leaving, the guy who served me asked if I’d be back and I will. Not because it’s vegan friendly place in Birmingham city centre, but because the service was good, the latte was damn tasty and I want to try some of the ice cream I spotted on leaving.
Disclosure: Took myself off on a lunch date and paid for myself. Who needs other people when food is the best company?