Wayland’s Yard, Birmingham (COVID-19 Update)

The new one-way system at Wayland's Yard to keep everyone safe during COVID-19.I revisited Wayland’s Yard in Birmingham at the end of August, almost exactly two years after my first visit, seeking a late lunch one Tuesday afternoon. Looking reassuringly similar from the street, the only obvious differences were the lack of outside benches (there used to be one on either side of the door, underneath the windows) and the presence of the bold “we are open” sign on the door.

Inside, the changes are similarly subtle, with several of them pre-dating the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the additional seating on the left in front of the counter. Of course, there are the COVID-19 precautions themselves, mostly the clearly-marked one-way system on the floor, but otherwise, Wayland’s Yard is much as I remember it.

The coffee, from Herefordshire’s Method Roastery, is as good as ever, with a bespoke house-blend and single-origin on espresso, although for now, there’s just a solitary single-origin on pour-over through the V60 rather than the customary two. The brunch menu has similarly been cut down, but is just as innovative as before.

You can see what else has changed after the gallery.

  • Wayland's Yard in Birmingham, reopened after the COVID-19 shutdown and looking...
  • ... remarkably similar to how it did on my visit almost exactly two years before.
  • Inside, the familiar window-bar is there on the left...
  • ... again looking much as it did in 2018.
  • There's another one on the other side of the door...
  • ... where you'll also find this L-shaped array of sofas.
  • The only difference is the lack of benches, seen here from my first visit in 2018.
  • There have been other changes though. This is what it looked like back in 2018...
  • ... and this is how it looked on my returrn last month.
  • The biggest change is this additional seating on the left, which replaces the grab-and-go...
  • ... fridge that used to be there. Now there is a pair of tables just in front of the counter.
  • There are more changes at the back, with a slim bench forming a barrier down the centre.
  • For comparison, here's the equivalent view from my first visit in 2018.
  • There's been another change in the middle of the space, where...
  • ... this line of four four-person tables...
  • ... has been replaced by this long table with benches either side.
  • The three-person bar at the far end of the counter is still there though...
  • ... as are the tables along the padded bench against the right-hand wall, although...
  • ... these have been thinned/spaced out since my original visit in 2018.
  • A view of the 2020 table configuration from the back...
  • ... which ends with a four-person table up against the book case...
  • Talking of which, the book case has been repurposed as retail shelves...
  • ... joining the set in the middle of the room at the front.
  • Another change is the COVID-19 one-way system, greeting you on the floor as you enter.
  • Follow the arrows, which lead you up the left-hand side, all the way...
  • ... to the counter (to order) and beyond. A similar set guide you out on the right.
  • Other COVID-19 precautions include QR Codes which take you to the menu...
  • ... and the provision of hand sanitiser.
  • Wayland's Yard has also gone contactless when it comes loyal cards, now on an app!
  • To business. You order here, at the start of the counter, which looks like a more...
  • ... cluttered version of the one I saw on my first visit in 2018.
  • The soft drinks (which used to be in the fridge) and cakes come first...
  • ... while the white screen on the wall behind is, in fact, the drinks menu!
  • There's also a paper menu for food if you can't get the QR Code to work.
  • The cakes in more detail. Apparently, this is much depleted compared to the morning!
  • The rest of the counter is the domain of the coffee operation...
  • ... starting with the La Marzocco Linea espresso machine and its twin grinders...
  • ... one for the house blend and one for the monthly single-origin.
  • Further down are the V60s and their grinder.
  • I, however, was having espresso, the single-origin, in fact, served on a little tray...
  • ... which came with the details of the coffee.
  • I also had lunch, which is where I'll leave you, with my wonderful one-pan hash.
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Wayland’s Yard made its name as a coffee/brunch place, so reopening as a takeaway-only operation made little sense. Instead, Wayland’s Yard waited until the COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed in England before opening at the start of July.

There are a few COVID-19 precautions, such as hand sanitiser dispensers and QR Codes which you can scan to get the menu on your phone/tablet, although the most obvious one is the one-way system which greets you as you enter. Long and thin, Wayland’s Yard has made the most of its shape and of its shear size. It always was divided into two in a logical sense, with the counter on the left and the seating down the middle and on the right, so Wayland’s Yard has gone with that basic set-up.

Starting just inside the door, a physical barrier (created using the benches from outside if I’m not mistaken) runs down the centre of the shop, with clear signs on the floor sending you to your left. Following the arrows takes you past the retail shelves on your right and some new (to me) seating on the left, bringing you to the counter. This starts about one-third of the way back and runs the length of the remaining left-hand wall. You order here, at the till, which is behind Perspex screens at the front corner, then take a seat and your food/drinks will be brought to you. When it comes time to leave, again just follow the arrows, which take you down the right-hand side.

When it comes to seating, things are much as they were. The two three-person window-bars to the left and right of the door are still there, as is the L-shaped sofa arrangement on the right, in front of the large bookcase, now converted into a second set of retail shelves. In fact, there’s more seating than there used to be in the front section, with an L-shaped set of high-backed padded benches around a single table, followed by a booth-like structure of two of the benches facing each other across a second table. These are on the left, just before the counter, occupying the space that once housed the grab-and-go fridge.

At the back, there have been a few changes, most notably the line of four four-person square tables, which ran down the centre, has now been replaced with single, long, communal table with five fixed stools on either side. Meanwhile, the long, padded bench against the right-hand wall has six tables, reduced from nine and a lot fewer chairs, so each is now a two-person table. That said, Wayland’s Yard is so big that unless it gets really, really busy, you’ll have no problem finding a spot, well-distanced from your fellow customers.

The coffee is still from Method Roastery, with the seasonal, bespoke house blend joined by a naturally-processed Ethiopian Guji which was also on pour-over. I had this as an espresso, served in a proper cup on a little tray, along with tasting notes and a palate cleanser. This was absolutely gorgeous, rich and fruity, but with a nicely-rounded mouthfeel, lacking the punchiness you sometimes get with naturals.

For my lunch, I had the one-pan hash with halloumi and mushrooms, which was just as good, the hash base consisting of plenty of potatoes, topped by a perfectly-poached egg, all in a rich gravy, served in the pan it was cooked in. All-in-all, the perfect late lunch.

Monday 08:00 – 16:00 Roaster Method (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 16:00 Seating Tables, Window-bars, Sofas, Counter
Wednesday 08:00 – 16:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 08:00 – 16:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 16:00 Payment Cards Only
Saturday 08:00 – 16:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 08:00 – 16:00 Power Limited
Chain Regional Visits Original: 20th August 2018
Update: 25th August 2020

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