The Early Bird, Kings Heath

If I look back to the early days of this blog I can clearly see the areas that improved the most in this city. Four years ago we had the Michelin stars, the high-end and low-end Indian restaurants, the street food resurgence, and the cheap eats in China Town. We never had the burger joints, the sushi bars, the craft beer pubs that take grub seriously, or many places to go for breakfast. Seriously, the last point is a big one. If breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, we have neglected it to the point that the authorities should have got involved. There were a couple of coffee shops in the city centre doing a very average job and receiving far more praise than they deserved, whilst the best happened to be found in a pub in Harborne and a delicatessen in Moseley. How times have changed. We have an abundance of choice now; an assortment of cuisines and cultures delivering great food in every area. I have my favourites and you probably already have yours. Mine may be different to yours and that is perfectly fine, you are allowed to be wrong sometimes. It’s why I have the awards and you don’t.

Whatever your position on this subject may be, please add The Early Bird to your lists of ‘must visits’ with immediate effect. I could, but won’t, harp on about how they turn yesterday’s leftover produce into some of today’s cakes, and how sustainability and zero-waste is at the forefront of what they do. Instead I’ll focus on the dishes we ate, which puts it straight to the top of those within walking distance of my gaff. A bacon bap is a good starting point given the effort it demonstrates. The meat has been marinated in ginger beer and fried so that the thick ribbons of fat have browned and turned crispy. The brioche bun is delicate, with a little sweet chilli jam that has little in the way of heat but plenty of sweetness. It is British in notion though conjures up the use of sweetness, texture, and spice of Hong Kong side streets. At less than a fiver I can see this becoming a regular fixture in my life. Another brunch dish has sourdough with scrambled eggs, chorizo, peppers, and almonds. The eggs could do with a little more salt, but that aside it’s another example of taking a familar dish and tweaking it to add contrast and bite.

Whatever you order, do not attempt to leave without ordering the french toast made from yesterdays cinnamon roll. It’s sweet and unrelenting and naughty, but so very good. The toast is stodgy in the best possible way, with charred orange, mascarpone, and a pecan praline so dangerously addictive they could sell it for forty pound a gram. I end up sharing it against my will and very nearly order another. Instead I go to the cake counter and order a rhubarb and custard brioche to takeaway. Later that evening we cut it in half to reveal a set custard encased in what I think is yesterday’s brioche. There is a hint of orange blossom that works with the rhubarb. It’s rather brilliant.

The bill for all of this with two good coffees is less than thirty pound, and that could be shaved by a third if you’re half as greedy as we are. We both really enjoyed it, agreeing that right here is our new local go-to. Some places feel like they’re trying too hard, pushing ingredients on to plates because trend dictates they do so. Not here. The Early Bird is completely at ease with itself, putting flavour and technique ahead of everything else. Exactly my kind of place.

8/10

Can’t walk there? A2B it like the pro traveller you are

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