Selly Oak, Birmingham
We’ve all be there. It’s late and you’ve been watching something on the TV that’s given you the craving for icecream. You check the fridge. It’s empty. Despair. Luckily, if you’re in and around Selly Oak, Cheeky Joe's is your fortress of solitude.
Selly Oak has been split down the middle when it comes to food.
On one hand there are a number of eateries that are suitable for the families that live locally and then there are the spots that were once designed for the locals but have been forced overtime to accommodate the undeniably large and persuasive tastes of the thousands of students that live just as close.
Cheeky Joe's falls into the second of those two categories, but does so without shame and carries itself with pride; serving deserts from a space that is no bigger than your local builders Café.But don’t let its friendly neighbourhood status fool you, as if you spend any amount of time here, you’ll quickly realise that Cheeky Joe’s is a local favourite and as such is a hotspot for activity at all hours- whether that is ten in the morning or midnight.
Meaning that if I apply ‘chicken shop rules’; that being a place that is always full of locals must be pretty good- Cheeky Joe’s may just be a contender for Dessert store of the year.
Now at first glance, contention for this award would seem to slip through Joe’s fingertips as the joint seems to teeter on the edge of ‘worn’ and ‘run down’ with some serious need to be be spruced up.
The walls have been sufficiently carved into and the paint on the optimistically joyous looking pieces of food on the walls has begun to fade and the same fate has been dealt to the chairs too.Yet what this dessert shack lacks in presentation, it makes up for in character.
Those scratchings on the walls seem to be shameless carvings of other couples professing their undying love for one another.
Now in the realm of reviewing a date location, that would be like going to Casa di Giulietta and complaining about the letters or the padlocks at Pont de Arts. So whilst they are character building, they aren’t adding any presentation points.
So what is the food like? Well, it’s kind of difficult to describe.Because on one hand you’ve got this beautifully crafted, carefully presented plates of food that is great to look at and is actually okay to eat- but it feels soulless; like it was prepared in a lab by people who are more concerned about measuring down to the last decimal place rather than just following Grandma’s secret recipe.
And this is a theme throughout the range. The Cakes, Sundaes, Waffles, Crepes, Gelatos; are all presented immaculately, yet as you eat you’re never wowed. At best you’re satisfied.
But soulless food doesn’t equal bad tasting food. If anything, the only negative word I would use to describe what you put into your mouth here is ‘uninspiring.’
Because plates at Cheeky Joe’s better resemble how a Desert shop should be run on paper; that its been designed to operate as a business, rather than someone’s big idealistic dream of leaving home to sell cakes.But it’s another oxymoron in this review. My complaint about it being a business that operates to serve customers is unfair. It would be like criticising Cheeky Joe’s for being consistent or for being reliable.
So my angle on its weaknesses is going to be a bit different.
Imagine your local Kebab shop.
Odds are, you know it’s not the best kebab shop in all of the land, yet when it’s a Friday night and you’re at home, hungry or even drunk- there’s no other place you’re thinking of picking up the phone and ordering from.For you, that single Kebab shop is your fortress of solitude and when you need it, it’s not only good- it’s practically the best damn Kebab shop you could wish for.
Cheeky Joe’s is a lot like that.
It’s the dessert shop you don’t change from, even when you know you think you can do better. Yet Cheeky’s never fails you, it never lets you down and you know exactly what you’re about to order and you know exactly what you’re about to get.
So do you take a date here over Creams? Well to do that you’d need to have a very distinct set of criteria.
- Do you both just want to eat?
- Not care too tough about the venue?
Yes, you can go to Creams, but will creams be open when your partner has a craving for a Caramel Milkshake at 1am?
Yes you can head to that cute little Italian place in town for a scoop of Gelato, but can you guarantee they have Banana AND Mint Choc Chip?
Because Cheeky Joe’s will- and if the love of your life wants something as simple as a bit of cookie dough at 11pm, you might as well make it happen.So if the two of you find yourself out and looking for a late night spot to occupy, give Cheeky Joe's a try.
Note: The home delivery is completely amazing. If you live local, everything bad about being in the store is suddenly non-existent.
- Cheap food makes it great value for money.
- Open till late.
- A local favourite.
- Good variety.
- Home delivery available.
- Uninspiring, mass-produced food.
- Hard to justify making the trip when Creams does the exact same thing, only with a bit more glamour.
- Beat down decor.
- Only becomes the 'place to be' if you can't get to creams or once everything else is closed.