I’ve been meaning to go to ‘The Hive’ for a while now
Wifey and I have been enjoying a break from regular life for Chinese New Year. After a stroll along Birmingham’s canal network, we were getting peckish. I decided it was high time for a coffee there.
The only small problem was I couldn’t remember exactly where it was. The JQ, as it’s colloquially known, has a bit of a warren effect to it. Roads seem to merge into others and there’s little nooks and crannies everywhere, each with their own particular character.
After about half an hour of meandering, we found it. It’s on Vittoria Street by the way, just up from the Ramgarhia Sikh Temple. The frontage of the building has recently been restored; the Argent College, which owns The Hive, looks marvellous since its face lift.
About The Hive
For a cafe and bakery that’s been open 18 months, they’ve had their coffee praised by the Sunday Times, and reviewed by The Express & Star. I’ve not seen not much about it online or in the online ‘food-o-sphere’. It’s received great, but very few, reviews on everyone’s favourite moan-fest destination TripAdvisor so I really can’t work out why I’ve not heard more about it?
The inside has been kept simple, with painted walls and art by Fem Sorcell along with a selection of arts and crafts made by the students of Argent College.
It was also tranquil. Having no music in a cafe made a lovely change and gave the place a peaceful and undisturbed feel. It drowned out the hubbub of daily life going on outside. A place to unwind, or to focus, depending on mood. Whilst we were there, one corner was taken up by a creative class whilst another table were having a business meeting.
Sustainability and Ethos
The kitchen is on full display, as are its social and ethical qualities. Their food is made using ingredients from their roof top garden, cutting down on the food miles. Their food scraps head in the opposite direct down to the basement to a wormery, making compost to return back up to the roof. Staffing is supplied by the students, who take on cooking and prepping and customer service.
All in all, very warming and good to know that this is a cafe built on an ethos of caring and giving back. It’s also been host to multiple crafting events and there’s plans for a multiple heritage displays from my research.
The menu is not vegan, or vegetarian, but does cater for all. Wifey and I are making a conscious effort to reduce our meat consumption down, having a few meat free days during the week. It’s nice to see more venues offering more than just soup or a nut roast for our plant-based friends.
Food & Service
And dear reader, I know what you’re thinking: this all sounds very lovely but is the grub any good? To test that, Wifey and I decided to share a portion of the homemade hummus with accompanying coffees. I had a latte, Wifey a Flat White.
Service was quick and pleasant. We helped ourselves to the free water on offer whilst we had our short wait for our choices to be prepared. What was served was an artfully arranged plate and our two beverages (each accompanied by a biscotti).
The hummus was delicious, everything tasted as fresh as you’d expect. The hummus was almost buttery smooth with a faint hint of spice. The olives plump and with no trace of bitterness. A quinoa and date salad with mixed leaf added a nice balance to the overall mix. There was plenty for the two of us to share as a light snack.
My only slight disappointment was the homemade oregano bread sticks. The flavour was balanced, the oregano was subtle, but they were just too soft. I wasn’t expecting them to be like the bread sticks of my childhood, served with a blue cheese sauce. A minute or two under the grill would have made a world of difference here, adding a touch of crunch and variety to a very smooth dish. It would have lifted what was, overall, a very good plate of food to a great one.
My latte, was great: smooth, little bitterness and disappeared at a rapid clip, the foam was velvety. The biscotti was on a completely different end of the mohs scale of baked goods. My incisors had a difficult job with piercing through the biscuit, even after a dunk or two, but it was worth persevering with. Wifey’s flat white was also greatly appreciated. The only negative was there was more foam than she expected for a flat white, and was encroaching on latte territory.
Is it worth a buzz?
All in all, ours was a pleasant visit. The food was good, the coffee lovely and the ambience was peaceful. I can imagine this being a place where I’d be happy to while away many hours, with a coffee and a good book.
Opening weekdays only from 7:30am, a breakfast service between 8am and 10am, with a lunch service between 12pm and 2pm. Their doors shut at 3:30pm so it’s definitely a daytime venue, more than likely to match Argent College’s running hours.
If you’re in the JQ one morning or an early afternoon in need of nourishment, I’d heartily recommend a visit. We’ll be back soon for a croissant or two ourselves.
Where: the Hive Cafe & Bakery – 45 Vittoria Street, B1 3PE