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We were in Birmingham a few weeks ago, and loathe to pay £7.50 each for the travelodge breakfast, we set out to find somewhere else to get our morning fill. We ended up in EAT, not a chain I've ever come across in the North East, but I had heard of them. The shop I visited in Birmingham is within the Bullring, and was very busy by about 10am, and remained packed through until dinnertime. The restaurant was modern inside, in natural, cooling shades, and had several serve yourself fridges of pre-packed foods on the shelves. These ranged from sort of up market ready meals, through the usual sandwiches and panninis, to some very unusual sounding soups. On the payment counter are lots of root vegetable crisps, muffins, cookies, pastries and the like. Some of the muffins looked lovely, however at £1.50 each I thought this was absolutely extortionate, and didn't purchase one. We got a steak pannini, a cheese and ham panini, a cappuccino and a peach and mint iced drink, and it came to a little over £12. I did find this really expensive for what we had. The food was all decent quality, although the steak panini was impossible to eat as it was one piece of uncut steak, and it just all came out in the first mouthfull! The peach and mint drink was lovely, although came straight from a carton and ice was just added, which made me feel decidedly ripped off. Overall while the food is good, the price is just too high, and I wouldn't return.
EAT is a privately owned growing chain of sandwich shops which serve a very wide range of generally high quality food. Branches are spring up all over the city of London, and they've modelled themsleves on upmarket successes like Pret a Manger. What are they best at? ......... SOUP! They serve a choice of 2 soups daily which are imaginative, and taste very home-made. Examples this week have been savoy cabbage with bean & chorizo; tomato & basil; and clam chowder. They also do a wide variety of bread (including several wheat-free varieties) to go with the bread (you have to pay for these). They also do good toasted sandwiches on interesting breads, and weekly specials in their sandwich range. They do good french sticks, sushi, and cakes like brownies & muffins, as well as a small range of healthy and not-so-healthy desserts. All their branches seem to save on rent by being small, although there are a few cramped tables in most of them. They have a range of coffees and cold drinks which are all high quality as well. What are they bad at?........ Their salads look interesting and tasty, but have several weaknesses. They do several noodle based salads - with Thai vegetables or seafood for example, but the noodles are SOGGY and overcooked! I did e-mail them about this via their website, but no change, so I guess they think that's how noodles should be. Also, I'm not altogether sure about their service. They've obviously all been trained to be HAPPY and ENERGETIC ..... ALL THE TIME!!!! But it grates a bit on me when they're boogying behind the counter, and quite frankly, I don't share the joke when their friendliness doesn't really extend entirely genuinely to the customer. It's a concept copied from Pret which despite not serving great soup, is overall a better-run organization.