I hate a love/hate relationship with lunchtime. My office is based just meters away from countless places to grab take out and eat, which can be both a bless and a curse. Some days overflow with possibilities and sometimes I’ve overwhelmed by choices and end up with a soggy sandwich from a supermarket.
So when my friend Ruth suggested lunch on a day when the sun was blazing in the sky and Brum Yum Yum’s Lunch Market was in session, it seemed like an easy choice. Located in The Square, an area of the city poised for redevelopment (or so we keep being told), the Lunch Market sits around an area of Astroturf and picnic benches, which is really quite delightful – and unusual to find in the city.
On our visit there were four vans (and the Beer Market) of which we ended up visiting to two of them; 63 Island and the Cake Doctor.
Described as ‘streetfood from Caribbean Islands’, 63 Island offered a choice of three different island dishes served in a tortilla with coconut infused rice & peas and Caribbean ‘slaw. With three options on sale, including the Cuban Frijoles Negros for vegetarians and Keshi Yena – Curacao-inspired and amazing according to a mutual friend, I went for third option, Trinidad-inspired Chicken Pelau. It’s described on the postcard menu as “chicken caramelised in ‘burnt sugar’ alongside pigeon peas, carrots, peppers and rice. All simmered in coconut milk and stock with scotch bonnet pepper undertones”.
I was asked what kind of sauce I wanted with it and let the stallholder decide (I was feeling brave), who added a delicious mango chutney and hot sauce. Usually I’m not a big fan of burritos as I’ve had such mediocre ones, but this was delightful. Each of the flavours was able to come through individually, from the moist chicken to the delicately creamy, yet fluffy coconut rice, the sweetness of the mango and the spice of the hot sauce which danced on the tip of the tongue rather than overpowering. The burrito was moist yet not swimming in sauce and a delight to eat. Definitely something I’d be more than happy to try again.
Intending to finish lunch with an almond-milk cafe latte, I was a little disappointed to find out that the Cake Doctor was not allowed to administer coffee due to nearby shops selling similar. Though I was very impressed to see almond milk being offered at the same price as regular milk – good work, Doctor. However the cakes on sale looked so good I threw caution to the wind and went for a slice of the Victoria Sandwich cake, with lashings of cream, strawberries and jam holding the sponge together.
I’m a firm believer that sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to get right and the Victoria Sponge is a prime example. Too often the sponge can be too dense or soggy. Thankfully this was neither; light enough yet with a buttery firmness, the cream and strawberries neither weighed down the sponge nor were lost in it. And for £2.50 it was a very good, decent slice of cake.
On our way back to work we stopped in at the Beer Market. I’m not a beer drinker and though they had cider, wine and Aperol Spritz’s I prefer soft drinks if I’m heading back to the office. But if you fancy a lunchtime tipple the beer selection is decent with offerings from Purity and Flying Dog.
Both 63 Island and the Cake Doctor were fantastic choices for lunch, vastly superior to a soggy supermarket sandwich and I’d be happy to visit both again. Brum Yum Yum’s Lunch Market is in The Square every Friday until the 1st August. Visit http://www.brumyumyum.com/ for more details.