The Warehouse Cafe is a vegetarian cafe/restaurant in Birmingham, UK. It is located at 54, Allison Street, in Digbeth. Digbeth is one of the older parts of the city, featuring St. Martin's Church. Confusingly enough, there is a road called 'Digbeth', leading from Digbeth itself out of the city centre, towards the south part of Birmingham. Allison street is off Digbeth (the road), on the left as you leave the city centre. The cafe is next to a police station, and above the Friends of the Earth centre. It's run by the Friends of the Earth, so you can go there with a happy conscience if you're the environmentalist type.
The cafe itself, unfortunately, does not have disabled access (as far as I can tell), being up a steep, narrow set of stairs. However, if you can get up the stairs, I promise you it is worth it.
The cafe is small, intimate and informal. It has a lovely atmosphere, with plants, candles and the like. You can have music if you wish; they have a beautiful jazz selection. More on the music later. The menu is up on a blackboard on the wall; it changes daily, but there are some regular features.
The menu is clearly labelled as to whether the food is vegan, vegetarian or contains nuts, and they do not use genetically modified products. Meals are cooked on the premises, in a small kitchen through which you walk when getting from the stairs to the dining room. I cannot praise highly enough the mushroom and butterbean bourgignon, which I have managed to get every time I've been there, or the vegan ice cream. And when they say tomato sauce, they don't mean congealed Heinz ketchup, they mean a delicious sauce made with tomatoes, herbs and spices. Not to mention the fact that, if you are vegetarian or vegan, it is wonderful to actually have a choice on the menu, rather than the faintly disgusting 'cheese and broccoli bake' (whatever that may be) which seems to be the norm in pubs catering for omnivores.
The drinks should get their own mention. They have organic fizzy pop; herbal, specialist and iced teas; fruit juices and milkshakes. They also have the most divine mulled apple juice: apple juice heated with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, served very hot with the spices still in it. Once you try it, you will crave it for the rest of your life, I promise. It should be noted that the cafe is not licensed; if you want to drink alcohol, you will have to bring your own.
Last time I was in there was mine and Sarah's 6-month anniversary. The food was right (Sarah being vegan, she doesn't get much choice, except in balti houses), the atmosphere was right and Goddess, the music was right. They had a Django Reinhardt tape; Django is one of Sarah's favourite musicians, and you need some quiet, beautiful jazz guitar to accompany a romantic meal. Oh, and it's either gay-friendly, or the staff are blind. And they offered to let us sit around after the meal, just listening to the music, even when we said we were too full to buy dessert. Compare that to the places where the waiters hover around like vultures, ready to throw you off the table and shovel some more punters in.
It's open weekday and Saturday daytimes, and will serve evening meals for special functions; the phone number and address can be found in the Birmingham telephone directory. It's often best to book a table in advance, as it's popular and can get very full, despite their having expanded it.
So why should you all jump on a plane right now and visit? Well, it has good food for people who normally don't get much choice, nice staff, a lovely, warm, friendly atmosphere, and beautiful, unobtrusive music. And the dessert fridge is called the Calorie Gallery: can you get much cooler than that? It is the best place to have a romantic meal, or a gathering with friends. There's a tip jar on the counter; if you visit, please give the staff some money, they deserve it.