Utopia, Birmingham / Cafe Rouge, Birmingham

Utopia

Facade: It looks quite upmarket from the outside.

Decor: A countryside theme (e.g. pictures of hounds and foxes) with a contemporary twist.

Dress Code: Utopia is right in the middle of the business district so when we were there, we were surrounded bu suity types talking bollocks over their laptops. My bright yellow Sex Pistols T-shirt did look a little out of place. But fuck ’em, that’s anarchy!

Snap: We had moules mariniere and fries. The meal was presented in two big, metal pots which looked impressive…until you took the top off to find not very many mussels floating in a centimetre thick puddle of creamy, garlic sauce. The mussels weren’t the best I’ve ever had (but what did I expect? I was in Birmingham – probably the furthest point from the sea in the UK). The fries were good though; really thin, crisp and salty.

Good For: The sandwich menu was extensive so I imagine this is the area in which they excel. I’d go again but I’d avoid the mussels.

Facade: Parisian, continental, inviting. What is it with being desperate to sit outside a cafe even in freezing March winds?

Decor: More Paris chic, cosy, old-fashioned, a bit twee but cute.

Dress Code: We went for breakfast so we were very casual. I’ve never been to a Cafe Rouge at nighttime but I would imagine, from the uniforms of the waiters, that they would expect you to make a bit of an effort.

Snap: Ahh, the joy of eggs. Is there any better hangover cure? We always come here for breakfast when we’re in Birmingham to have the eggs Benedict which come with a side order of fried Lyonnaise potatoes and a good, strong pot of tea. Delish.

Good For: Nursing your hangover – even better in the summer when you can sit outside and hide your tired eyes behind shades.

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