Originality and truth becomes lost in the desire for success in the business world, especially in the ruthless cafe and drinks industry. Holding on to what you feel is right and ethical, thus pails in comparison the successful mass market companies who churn out the same stuff day in day out. The Warehouse Cafe is one of those places who have managed to hold on tight to what they believe in, and supply vegetarians and gluten free eaters with delicious home made food cooked by the owners themselves.
Awarded the best vegetarian restaurant in the Midlands, as well as being the most green The Warehouse Cafe does the best (truly), vegetarian fare in town. I'm a happy carnivore, but their grub is good.
I visited The Warehouse Cafe on a not-so-busy Friday afternoon alone, in need of a cafe I could sit, enjoy lunch in, and get on with a bit of work. It doesn't look up to much on the outside, with it's red bricks and rather plain, green door, but much like a flower, it opens up once inside to reveal a beautiful bloom coupled with an incredibly fresh aroma. Senses awake, I took my seat in the window and sipped on a mug of loose leaf tea.
Loose leaf green tea
Notably, the cafe isn't a cafe, but a restaurant - a proper, professional restaurant, but you'd be forgiven for thinking the latter because of it's titles, and the less than impressive outside. However, the bare bricks and stripped back approach to decor become a rather charming feature of the restaurant as you get comfortable, and sip on your chosen beverage.
The cafe, isn't trying to be a restaurant, however, nor is it trying to be a cafe, it's both. Owner Anthony confided that himself and his chef business partner have tried to keep The Warehouse as a cafe in the daytime, and turn it into a restaurant by night, which is reflected in the two menus. The evening menu is slightly more refined than the cafe menu; gone are the burgers, and in their place are millet salads, butternut squash risotto, and the popular halloumi cheese 'fish and chips' dish.
I was presented with a lunch menu by Anthony, who didn't rush my order, but talked shop about which burgers and wraps might take my fancy. It was an unusually candid experience, where Anthony told me the 'original' burger is a little basic for many tastes', but it depends what mood I'm in because the desserts are pretty good too. I opted for the 'American burger'.
My main was definitely an usual, but he surprisingly delicious combination of a nut and bean burger with home made mayonnaise, tomato sauce, topped with a banana and peanut butter spread on the top bun.
My side of fries were pretty standard, but the little salad of the side was a delicious and light few mouthfuls which worked well alongside the starchy burger.
They even have a handful of of publications from Time magazine to classic literature, neatly piled up on the nearby side table, should you care to have a browse, or a deep read if you manage to tear yourself away from your plate.
Seeing I was alone, Anthony gave me a bit of history about the company, and interestingly they're not a limited company, but co-operative and social enterprise. By that he meant that The Warehouse Cafe are a not-for-profit eatery and all the money they make is reinvested in the community. Notably they only use local produce from the market which is a five minute walk from the restaurant. and they work with Edible Eastside, which is also in Digbeth.
The menu changes on a daily basis purely because "we use what's fresh", and they cater for somewhat unusual dietary requirements like onion-avoiders'. Anthony told me that those who follow an ISKCON lifestyle (Hare Krishna), avoid onions, and foods in the onion family like celery and leeks. Because The Warehouse Cafe offer a select menu it means they can cater to such customers and thus they make a batch of burgers free from onions and garlic.
Speaking of investing in the community, to the left of the till is a select amount of cordials and preserves by local company Cuffufle. The jams, chutneys, and drinks are all organic, home-made, and range from spiced tayberry chutney to rhubarb and vanilla cordial.