Many years ago John Bright Street, just behind New St Station, was a Broad Street like area with bars and clubs for drunken revelry by the masses. It fell out of use and in came the homeless people, a cannabis factory, and generally intimidating characters. In the last twelve months though there has been somewhat of a clean up – Brew Dog has arrived with some fanfare, a sheesha lounge has opened (I’m yet to cast judgment on that), and now a Kings Heath stalwart has set up shop. Cherry Reds is an independent cafe bar, open from breakfast to nightcap, serving posh pop, nearly a hundred different beers, and simple food including vegetarian/vegan offerings. Its customer base have more than their fair share of topiary inspired facial hair and 50s vintage dresses (not on the same people, you understand).
Although I think it’s fair to say its on the alternative side of the tracks, it has potential to attract most audiences – it really covers a lot of bases. We ate dinner there on Friday evening when we stumbled upon some friends who were also eating, then more friends joined for drinks, then even more drinks, then we were back next morning for breakfast… They also do take away sandwiches for the lunchtime office crowd.
The drinks offering is very large. There are a dozen draught ales, beers, and cider including Otter Cask Ale (£3.50 a pint), Schneider Weisse wheat beer (£4.40 a pint), and Liefman’s mixed fruit beer (£4.60 a pint), and around 80 different bottles to choose from. There is a short cocktail list (at around £5) and around 25 different wines (from about £11.50 a bottle).
For dinner on the Friday we tried the fish & chips (£8), and the vegetarian stuffed butternut squash (£7). We enjoyed both dishes (although the squash could have had a bit more chilli for my liking). It’s quite a small venue so if you’re going here to dine at a peak time then expect intimate. It’s more like a collection of rooms huddled together for warmth than a coherently laid out restaurant and bar. That definitely adds to the charm though, it isn’t a negative point! I particularly liked the map room and anticipate some drawn out evenings in there with a bottle and good company.
After a 2am finish back home with the Puro Hair party animals (and let me tell you Sarah’s TV remote control throwing arm is not to be messed with), a restorative breakfast was in order. We went back and tried the hearty full English (£6) and the American pancakes with bacon (£5). I loved the pancakes which were suitably large, fluffy, and doused with maple syrup. The fry up was also good – not at all greasy and good flavours from the bacon and sausage. They’re well known for their veggie breakfast in Kings Heath and it looked good when we saw it.
Fingers cross that it gets even better when it gets through this first opening week. Well done to Jen and her team for converting that derelict space in to such a welcoming one, and good luck!