Please note: this post is in collaboration with Point And Perceive, a brilliant photographer specialising in landscape and portrait shots. You can find him on Instagram or on his website – please go show him some love!
Hidden at the top of New Street, Birmingham; Medicine is an urban version of The Secret Garden– albeit with more food and modern art. Through large wooden doors and up a set of shining stairs, find yourself in an artisan cafe and art gallery, the perfect space to find inspiration as well as a delectable cronut.
Medicine: a space for art, culture and outstanding catering. Originally created in the streets of Digbeth, this café was built within an old Victorian space once belonging to the Royal Society of Birmingham Artists. Since the renovations in 2017, the venue became home to unique bakery products, modern art and somewhere to bring the people of Brum together.
Contrary to popular belief, this establishment offers more than just tea and cupcakes. With artisan culinary classes, yoga sessions and occasional music performances, this café has something for everyone.
In addition, Medicine is also popular for its catering. With over 15 years of catering experience, they cover many occasions, including small parties to large scale events. However, if you’re not in town for long, you’re also able to pick up a takeaway muffin or two for the journey home. Moreover, with the establishment being less than a minute away from Grand Central and around the corner from Birmingham Library, it’s the perfect place for a pit stop.
Medicine has always stuck out to me. After walking up and down New Street hundreds of times, the sight of fresh bread always stunned me. Surely this was an easy way for people to steal a fresh loaf of sourdough? Were they put out for the homeless? Were they free? Of course, you can find dozens of Greggs or Subway’s scattered across Birmingham, but compared to Medicine, they certainly don’t have the same sense of home baked goodness.
Apart from their shelves of bread, I knew very little about this café. For the year I worked on New Street, all I thought I knew about Medicine was based on the signs they stood up outside. I used to think this establishment was super prestigious; a place for suits and ties and sparkling high heels. Only those with some sort of social rank could enter to taste their bakery delights and view their art displays. One evening at work, I had even seen a long queue waiting outside its huge wooden doors, waiting patiently for an event. This somehow confirmed what I had thought previously- until I went in myself.
In truth, to say ‘I was wrong’, is an understatement. Although I didn’t realise I was until my friend and I had sat down…
Daniel and I walk up marble stairs to find a small landing presenting a whole range of freshly made bakery goods. From vegan cupcakes to kruffins and cronuts, the display is a colourful contrast to the minimalist interior design. At first, we’re unsure of what to do- we’re the only customers in and neither of us have been before. Luckily one of the staff noticed us fairly quickly and introduced us to how things work.
To begin with, we can first pick what food we want- either from the heavenly display or from their extensive menu- and then choose a drink from the next room along. Here, a coffee bar stands against white tiled wall, different plants stretching down their leaves from their hanging baskets. It’s in this small area that we can then wait for our order or choose to sit in. The café runs like this throughout the day, a member of staff placed by the entrance ready to explain their system countless times over. It’s impressive
Just standing by the coffee bar made me feel as though I was in some elegant, five-star-venue in London, with staf ready to serve thousands of city goers a day. The white walls made everything feel very spacious and open, especially in the main sitting area: the art gallery.
Wooden benches line the majority of the art gallery, other smaller seats alongside the walls. Potted plants stand tall in the middle of large benches, almost highlighting how pristine and stunning the cafe is. Although the seating stops almost halfway through the huge room, the rest of the space is dedicated to art from the IKON Gallery*. With masterpieces hanging off walls, other sections of the room are kept for specific pieces. It was definitely a struggle to keep my mouth from dropping open!
And that is without tasting the food!
After careful consideration, we both sit down and order our breakfast for the day. Daniel decided on a hazelnut brownie, salted caramel brioche doughnut and a peppermint tea. Whilst we eat and got to know each other, he described the hazelnut brownie as perfectly baked, a perfect balance between gooey insides and hard, nutty sprinkles. The doughnut, on the other hand, was supple, syrupy and crumbly, and paired with the refreshing taste of peppermint tea, completed a unique breakfast.
Meanwhile, I decided on an Oreo cupcake and honeybush and rooibos tea. Personally, I believe I managed to pick the best combination to enhance the taste of both my crumbly cupcake and bland tea. On one hand, the cupcake was a mix of delicate chocolatey crumbs, both rich and soft in flavour at the same time. The icing was even better: it melts in your mouth and heightens in sweetness with the oreo on top. On the other hand, the tea was the complete opposite. In contrast to the tooth-aching sweetness of the cupcake, the tea was just the right amount of honey to offer some stability in flavour. Fresh and herbal-y, it’s a recovery for your tastebuds!
During the time we spent here, it was interesting to see the wide variety of people who came in after us. In black boots and a hoodie, I felt slightly out of place in a café so intricate and graceful. Yet in came families with their toddlers; others our own age wandering around the art, businessmen picking up their lunches… Over time, as more people settled in, it was obvious that my previous conceptions were completely wrong. In fact, it made me feel more at home. Amongst a gallery of strange, colourful art, anyone could fit in.
Alike the article I published a few weeks ago, I will leave the following pictures of the art in Medicine for your own reflection. Please bear in mind that not all of the art displayed is included. If you want to see more, head over to Point and Perceive’s website! Enjoy! 😀
*The art at Medicine changes every so often. At the time of visiting (March 2019), the art shown was from ‘Forward: New Art From Birmingham’, in partnership with IKON Gallery.
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