Turkish coffee and cakes in Birmingham

coffee2I was coming home on the bus after a mildly boozy lunch that had ended with cheese and then coffee.

We skipped dessert at Opus, in Cornwall Street, Birmingham, because a plate of British cheese seemed like the thing to do.

But somewhere along the route of the No 22 bus, between Colmore Row to Harborne High Street, I acquired a taste for a nibble of something sweet. And more coffee. Such is the life of the commuting critic.

As luck would have it, Cafe Boutique is slap bang by the bus-stop at the city end of the High Street. Despite its very English look, it is Turkish run and it does heavenly, earthy coffee and Turkish sweet treats.

The coffee is served in authentic Turkish silvery cups, so it feels a bit special. The subliminal message is refreshing: sit back, relax, take your time, you’ve earned it.

Now Birmingham has undergone a cafe revolution in recent years and there are a number of great independently-run coffee houses in the city. I have addressed the phenomenon in a previous blog (http://goo.gl/3CLXEa). Harborne is like Birmingham in microcosm, so it has groovy places like a new Urban Coffee at the School Yard development – and err, a new Costa Coffee, which has all the charm of an outlet at Gatwick Airport at 2am on a bank holiday.

Fortunately, Harborne also has Cafe Boutique, a popular haunt with school-run mums and dads, newly arrived Iranians and longer established Turks seeking a belting brew from home. They get it here all right.

cake2 cake1

Propped contentedly at the bar, I fork my way through a tremendously syrupy şekerpare, which, I am told by Serea, one of the waitresses, roughly translates as “sugar piece.” It’s made with semolina, so it can’t possibly be fattening, egg yolks (healthy, proteins, vitamins etc), butter (natural product), lemon (one of your five a day) and something called sugar.

It’s tremendously lovely, perfectly proportioned, and works as a sweet foil to the “oh, my, yowee!” treacly blackness of the coffee. You will need the large shot-style glass of water that comes with the black stuff.

I felt so in love with the whole thing that I got another şekerpare to go – and a couple of triangles of baklava. Bon appétit – or afiyet olsun, as they say on the Bosphorous and Bordesley Green.

  • Cafe Boutique, 26 High Street, Harborne, Birmingham B17 9NF


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