Saint Kitchen Update

The Saint Kitchen logo, taken from the facade above the windows on St. Paul's Square.Saint Kitchen, on the south-eastern edge of St Paul’s Square in the Jewellery Quarter, has long been a part of Birmingham’s speciality coffee scene, starting life as Saint Caffé. I first visited in 2014, not long after it had undergone the transformation to Saint Kitchen, with the new owner, Will, a chef, combining Saint Caffé’s already excellent coffee with equally great food. Since then, I’ve visited on several occasions, the latest of which was at the start of July when I popped in to catch up on the latest chapter in Saint Kitchen’s adventures.

After more than five years in charge, Will decided to sell up and move on to pastures new. In November 2019, he passed the reins to the owners of Warwick Street Kitchen in Leamington Spa. In many ways, the new owners operated on the principle that if things weren’t broken, then why fix them? They kept the name and the essential offering of great coffee and great food, although the process of winning over Saint Kitchen’s faithful customer base was somewhat disrupted by the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. However, as the COVID-19 restrictions have eased, the customers have come flooding back.

You can see what I found after the gallery.

  • St Paul's Church, in the heart of St Paul's Square, seen here in February 2014.
  • And, looking the other way, this fairly non-descript building is home to Saint Kitchen.
  • This is how it looked in February 2014, but it's since undergone a little bit of a facelift...
  • ... and now looks like this.
  • The new façade over the windows has jazzed things up a bit...
  • ... as has the new sign.
  • Meanwhile, the A-board welcomes everyone back after the enforced COVID-19 closures.
  • If you want to eat outside, there's a choice of three tables in front of the windows.
  • Alternatively, head inside, where this is the view.
  • The seating is all off to the left...
  • ... and looks very different from how it was when I first visited in February 2014.
  • The seating around the counter area has been cleared away due to COVID-19...
  • ... which includes the island bar by the door. Back in February 2014, it was prime seating!
  • The seating starts with a two-person table (in the foreground), followed by more tables...
  • ... which is perhaps more clearly seen from the opposite corner.
  • This is the equivalent view from back in February 2014. It's quite different, isn't it?
  • The first change is there is now a window-bar at the front...
  • ... replacing this large, communal table that was there when I visited in August 2014.
  • Next is a row of tables down the middle, running from windows to the kitchen at the back.
  • The remaining seating is against the left-hand wall. These tables (with Perspex screens)...
  • ... have replaced these four tables from 2014. Everything else has changed too!
  • Finally, in the back corner, there's a solitary four-person table.
  • This spot was occupied by a pair of sofas when I first visited in February 2014...
  • ... but by August that year, it had been replaced by this deli counter.
  • ... which meant moving the sofas to the middle of the room. Of course, they're gone now.
  • A last look at how things used to be in August 2014. Back to 2021 and down to business.
  • During my visit, you had to wait to be seated, although if you were ordering takeaway...
  • ... you could go straight up to the counter to order.
  • This looks very different to how it used to be.
  • The menu above the counter has gone, as has...
  • ... the coffee menu from the back wall.
  • The coffee menu has been replaced by this one on the corner of the counter...
  • ... while the current guest coffee is written up on the Perspex screening...
  • ... which is also used to describe all the cakes (and savouries on the bottom row).
  • Another COVID-19 precaution: ordering is done online by scanning a QR Code.
  • This takes you to the main Saint Kitchen menu.
  • There are plenty of breakfast and lunch options...
  • ... with an emphasis on bagels.
  • There's also a standard espresso-based menu...
  • ... as well as filter and other options.
  • I went for the house filter (black of course)...
  • ... to which I added a halloumi bagel.
  • Off we go! I like that you can track the progress of your order, although it's all brought...
  • ... to your table when it's ready. This was my halloumi (and avocado) bagel...
  • ... while I'll leave you with my house filter, the Santa Elena from El Salvador.
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Saint Kitchen retains the same basic layout that I remember, with a handful of tables outside on the pavement and the counter at the back on the right of the single, open space inside. However, since I last visited (which was over three years ago), the exterior has been spruced up. I always remember Saint Kitchen as occupying a rather non-descript building and, while that hasn’t changed, a new façade over the windows to the left of the door gives it a bit more pizzazz.

Inside, there’s been another facelift, white tiles replacing the brick-style tiling on the counter. The blackboard-style menu boards running along the top have also gone, giving the counter a much more open look. Something else which adds to the open look is the kitchen, once hidden behind a wall to the left of the counter. This has been knocked through, the kitchen now fully visible behind an extension of the counter.

The seating’s also changed, although with the caveat that it’s been constantly evolving for as long as I’ve known Saint Kitchen. Another caveat is that the current layout is dictated by the COVID-19 restrictions, with the tables are more spaced out than they would normally be. Also, the seating between the door and the counter has been cleared away. These days, the seating is predominantly tables, with a window-bar at the front, actually looking more like it did when I first visited in February 2014, although the sofas that used to grace the far corner are long gone.

There’s limited outdoor seating, with three square two-person tables to the left of the door, partially shaded by the building in the morning and by two tall umbrellas in the afternoon. Stepping inside, a sign by the door asks you to wait to be seated, although for takeaway, you can go up the counter to order.

The seating starts with a two-person table in glorious isolation to your left as you enter, followed to the left of that by a row of three tables running front-to-back between the windows and the kitchen. There’s a single four-person table at the front, with a pair of two-person tables behind it. Beyond them, against the left-hand wall, four two-person tables line a padded bench, each separated from its neighbour by a Perspex screen attached to the side of the table. A four-person table rounds things off in the back, left-hand corner. The last of the seating (for now) is provided by the window-bar at the front, reduced by COVID-19 considerations to just two solitary stools.

When I visited at the start of July, COVID-19 restrictions were still a legal requirement and ordering/payment was online, accessed via a QR Code on the table, although there’s also a manual ordering process. The menu has perhaps seen the biggest changes, with Saint Kitchen offering a brunch menu that has a heavy emphasis on bagels, everything made from scratch in the open kitchen. I had the halloumi and avocado bagel, which was excellent, from the bagel itself to the toppings, the halloumi and avocado going particularly well together.

The coffee has also changed, the Warwick Street Kitchen team bringing in Origin, with a standard espresso-based menu backed up by batch brew filter. Saint Kitchen typically uses the Los Altos single-origin espresso from Nicaragua, although while I was there, it had been temporarily replaced by the San Antonio, another single-origin, this time from El Salvador.

There’s also a guest option, also from Origin, which changes weekly, available as either a guest espresso or as batch brew filter. During my visit, this was the Santa Elena, a naturally-processed coffee from El Salvador, which I had as the filter, being reward with a rich, full-bodied cup.

There’s a full write-up of Saint Kitchen, including a complete gallery, in its main entry. You can also see what I made of it in my original write-up, from February and August 2014.

61A ST PAUL’S SQUARE • BIRMINGHAM • B3 1QS +44 (0) 121 236 2940
Monday 08:00 – 16:00 Roaster Origin (espresso + batch brew)
Tuesday 08:00 – 16:00 Seating Tables, Window Bar; Tables (Outside)
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 09:00 – 16:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 10:00 – 16:00 Power Limited
Chain Local Visits Original: 13th February, 6th August 2014
Update: 20th August 2018, 2nd July 2021

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