This past Wednesday, I drove up to Birmingham for a counseling workshop at the Doubletree. Normally I’d pack myself a peanut butter sandwich, but this hotel is on the edge of the Five Points South neighborhood so instead I eagerly researched my lunch options. I considered sushi, French food, and trying to speedwalk 11 or 12 questionable blocks across railroad tracks to Trattoria Centrale, but settled instead on Lucy’s Coffee and Tea. And I’m glad I did.
Lucy’s was across the street and around the corner from the Doubletree, not even half a block away. Surprisingly, I did not get lost or make any wrong turns on the drive up, so I had time to pop over and get a tea in the morning before the seminar started. Lucy herself was cheerful and welcoming, and the tea selection was fantastic. It was like everything you’d ever wanted to order from the Republic of Tea website, and then some. I spotted Raspberry Quince black tea, Chocolate Matcha, Spring Cherry green tea, and tin after tin of other tempting varieties.
The atmosphere was inviting and immediately comfortable- warm light and painted walls, big windows, large couches, quirky art, small mismatched tables full of people chatting before work, instrumental background music, and a Saveur magazine waiting to be paged through.
Okay, it was the BBQ issue. But still. I wished I could have lingered and rummaged through the magazine rack on the floor near the sofa instead of walking back to the workshop.
I was glad to slip back in for lunch. Distracted as I was by the impressive tea offerings, I (doh!) totally missed the chalkboard proclaiming vegetarian chili as one of the soups of the day. Instead I ordered the veggie panini with roasted red peppers, spring mix, tomatoes, portabella mushrooms, havarti, provolone, and basil aioli.
It was good (but really ,when have I ever tasted anything with havarti that wasn’t?) and a cute little spicy pickled okra was hiding underneath it. A unique, delightful Southern touch.
There was different music (more energetic contemporary rock) and new staff members (still friendly, attentive, and efficient with a personal touch), but the vibe was the same: warm, welcoming, casual, social, and neighborhoody.
I splurged on an iced decaf latte made with soy milk to make the last few hours of the seminar more enjoyable. It tasted better than average and was ready quickly. I also noticed that they offer soy sausages on their breakfast sandwich, the Egg MacLucy.
You’ll find Lucy’s Coffee and Tea at 2007 University Blvd. in Birmingham, on the edge of the UAB campus and the Five Points South area. Call (205) 328-2007. They’re open Monday – Friday, 7:00 am – 5:00 pm. Don’t miss it! It’s pretty small, and there is a big leafy tree covering the name on the maroon awning. I walked past it puzzled and had to backtrack before I realized my mistake.