To quote the line from cheers, “Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name”. When I feel like that, it’s often Ju Ju’s Cafe I choose to dine in. The wonderfully warm Julia, her affable daughter Bea, and long time waiter Richard make everyone feel right at home. I’d equate the experience as dining at your favourite aunt’s house, with stories of foreign travel and tipsy antics to boot. Some friends and family have dietary issues which mean they can be difficult to take anywhere, nothing is too much trouble for Julia and the team and they’ve been happy for people to share mains and swap out sides.
In winter the snug canal side eatery in the Watermarque development, just 5 minutes on foot from Brindley Place and accessed either from Browning Street or Sheepcote Street (walk over the footbridge by the side of Liberty Place), offers cheery respite from the cold, and in summer a waterside terrace for brunch with a Bloody Mary or two, or perhaps supper with a chilled bottle of prosecco.
The food is hearty. When occasionally we go for Friday night fish and chips we must ensure we do not eat for at least 12 hours before. Firm white fleshy hake in golden crisp batter with perfect chips, pea purée, tartare sauce, and bread and butter – for that essential chip butty – is sure to fill you to the gunnels. Other dishes are equally as generous. A dish of haggis and oxtail provides a mound of creamy mashed potato with rich gravy and tasty seasoned meat. For starters we often share the sunburst of crisp nachos with beef chilli which are the best nachos in Brum in my opinion.
If comfort food isn’t your thing, you can have a lighter all day breakfast, a burger, and the usual restaurant fair, or at the end of the week you can indulge in JuJu’s Fishy Fridays. Let Julia know in advance what fish you’d like and she’ll source it for you and cook it as the special.
We challenged her to find us some Mahi Mahi, sometimes known as Dolphin fish with a texture similar to shark, which we had a couple of times on honeymoon in the Florida keys. Chef did a great job. Our Mahi Mahi was served perfectly cooked with an Asian style dressing and slightly spicy mango salsa, spinach and a lemon wedge. It can be tricky to get decent fish in Birmingham restaurants but this place is a real contender of the few places that offer fish dishes not just as an afterthought. On Mother’s Day we ate at JuJu’s and I had the Hake which was sautéed and served under a spicy chilli ratatouille with crispy roast potatoes – a really successful dish. There are often fish specials on the menu plus dishes like creamy cullen skink.
For dinner, two courses with wine here is likely to set you back around £30 a head, and you’ll get a plentiful brunch for around £20 with (non-alcoholic) drinks.
More than that though you’ll be treated to sincere hospitality, something that’s so often lacking in many venues. So next time you’re thinking of nipping out for a bite in a Brindley Place generic restaurant, go be looked after at JuJu’s instead.