Usually I wait till I get home until I write up a review, think about the experience overall and uh, digest stuff. But I’m sat in the window of Black Lab, a coffee bar and lounge in Kings Heath, where I’ve been waiting for half an hour for a sandwich and if I don’t focus on something then I’m going to start eating the potted plant I’m sat next to.
Frankly I probably should’ve expected this when I tried to go earlier and it was inexplicably closed. And then I went to do some errands and walked past and it was open. So I went in. It’s has this nice shabby chic look to it, a bit grungy and mismatched furniture, exposed brickwork…you know, very Kings Heath.
The drinks menu has some nice inclusions on there, particularly the spirits menu which has about four bottles per category and not just the same old typical ones. Compared to its sister suburb Moseley and a few notable venues aside, Kings Heath feels like more of a daytime place so it seems promising to have somewhere else nice and interesting to go in the evening.
And the coffee menu is fairly to the point, which is what I’d expect from a coffee bar and lounge. But it seems to do it a disservice because whatever they’re doing the coffee is good. I went for a soya latte and it was deliciously sweet and creamy, with a nice head of foam. In hindsight it didn’t need the sugar, but the cube I dropped in suspended nicely. Frankly if I wasn’t so annoyed at having to wait over half an hour for a toastie I’d have ordered another. But I’ll be dammed if I’m going to buy a second drink because it takes so long for my food to arrive.
Initially I’d tried to order the Serrano, mozzarella and spinach toastie, only to be told it wasn’t on the menu…despite being in the actually menu I ordered from. Something about causing too many accidents, so I went for its sister version with chorizo. After an age it finally arrived and whilst it wasn’t worth the half hour wait, it was delicious. The bread had been well toasted but still retained a buoyancy that meant you didn’t fear any accidents biting into it and the ratios of Serrano, mozzarella and spinach were spot on.
Black Lab looks like a great little space and certainly feels a lot more Kings Heath than the odd little cafe there before. What they’re serving is very good, and diversifying a bar/lounge to be useful during the day is a sound idea, but if they’re going to do this they maybe need to rethink their approach. Kings Heath isn’t exactly known for good places for coffee and Black Lab should probably make more of a song and dance about theirs. But they should probably buy another sandwich press too.
Black Lab, 100 High Street, Kings Heath, Birmingham, B14 7JZ
Disclosure: the sandwich, the coffee, me paying for it and the epically long wait were all real. Pretty sure they didn’t know I was writing this up.