13
Aug

The Wedge Cafe, 13 High Street, Coventry CV1 5RE

The Wedge Bookshop and Cafe in Coventry closed a long time ago but while it was open it served good, wholesome, vegetarian food. When I worked in the city centre I used to have lunch there regularly and I miss the variety of food that was always available. This was all before the Internet and there doesn’t seem to be a mention of The Wedge anywhere on the Web, so here’s my shout out to it.

Both the bookshop upstairs and the cafe downstairs were run by a group of ex-students of “The Lanch” (now Coventry University) and The Wedge had that rough-floorboards and knockabout-style reminiscent of the late 70′s, radical students, political activism and alternative lifestyles.

A hot main dish was served each day, changing every day on a regular repeating cycle. My two favourites were the Kidney Bean Chilli Soup with cous cous that was so chilli-hot you had to eat it in stages; and the Spicy Spinach and Chickpea Soup that was actually a Saag Chana Curry. There was also a warming Leek and Potato Soup (never referred to as Vichyssoise) and a voluminous Red Lentil and Tomato Soup spiced up with ground black peppercorns.

If you didn’t fancy the main then you could have a large, steaming, baked potato with cheese or baked beans or a selection of salads such as: raw mushrooms, tomatoes and beansprouts in oil and balsamic vinegar; potato and tuna; a dry, acrid rice, radish, and leeks mix with some powdery brown spice in it; and a wet, soft and sweet butterbean, nayonnaise and fresh coriander salad.

Each day there was also at least one large kidney bean flan with a topping of thick, strong, acidic cheddar as well as a large variety of home-made sandwiches. And if you had any room left you could try a slice of one of their cakes or a big slab of homemade flapjack …”enough to keep you going for a fortnight” as one of the guys there once said.

The Wedge was a thin wedge of a building with barely enough room for the lunchtime que’s of people waiting to get served, the people trying to get a seat in the two lines of fixed tables, or the staff bustling around. The atmosphere was invariable steamy from the bubbling cauldrons of soup, the baking potatoes and the big hot water heater, always on the go for the teas and coffee.

There was a good mix of customers at The Wedge from students from the University and Colleges to office staff popping in for sandwiches or a coffee and it was always good to see Dave Nellist in there, who was a regular visitor even when he was an MP.

It was good food and cheap and it’s a shame that The Wedge is no more. When The Wedge was open it was easy to be a vegetarian.

If you have any photos of The Wedge then I’d be delighted to hear from you… just leave a reply and I’ll get back to you, Mark.

[MP. August 2009.]

12 Responses to “The Wedge”

  1. Paul Says:

    I was in Coventry 1976-84 and remember The Wedge with fondness. Great baked potatoes but my favourite was the egg mayo and cress sandwiches on gorgeous wholemeal bread. A different world.

  2. Simon Says:

    I used to love the Wedge when I was a student in Cov. If anyone from the staff back then is looking at this then I’d love some of the recipes, esp the kidney bean flan mentioned above.

  3. Jon Says:

    This is Jon, who used to work in the Wedge! In answer to Tina’s post, I did move north, back to my South Yorkshire roots to be exact, and ever since I’ve been working as a ticket clerk on the railway.

    However, I’m reminded of working there every day, as in 1982 I met an Exchange student from Germany who was one of our customers. We drifted apart as young people separated by distance often do, but by the wonders of google I managed to contact her again in 2007. Ingrid and I were married a year later.

    If I could have moved that shop with me up to Sheffield I would have done.

  4. CovOx Says:

    Thanks for uploading my posts. I can see how the Wedge would have had a niche in the 80′s, as it had a ‘radical’ bookshop upstairs didn’t it? When I first strolled into it in 1995, the menu wasn’t even predominanty vegetarian and because the place was so small then you couldn’t escape the cigarette smoke. Most vegetarian cafes, at the time, if they weren’t fully non-smoking, tried to cater for non-smokers by setting certain tables aside (though granted the smoke would waft over).

    I suppose people get nostalgic for the Wedge in the same way as they do other independent businesses that no longer exist. In the mid/late 90′s there were two independent record shops in town weren’t there, one of which was Spinadisc, the other of which I’ve forgotten the name?

  5. veggieopolis Says:

    Thanks for the comments CovOx.

    Yes, you’re right, The Wedge wasn’t fully vegetarian: they served the Tuna and Potato salad, Ham Sandwiches and Tuna and Cucumber Sandwiches – but it was predominantly vegetarian. …and wasn’t everywhere smoky in the 90′s : – )

  6. CovOx Says:

    The Wedge was open when I first moved to Cov back in the mid-90′s but it was neither vegetarian nor non-smoking. It was a smoky omnivorous cafe that was only one step up from a greasy spoon!

  7. Bob Brown Says:

    I spent many my formative (student) years in Coventry, and the wedge was always good for a hot soup with crusty bread on a cold winters day between lectures.

    Because it was so small inevitably lunch would be accompanied by a conversation with whoever was sharing your table. From Sport to Philosophy, History to Maths.

    The Monty Python line ” Would you like a conversation with that?..” was always true at “The Wedge”.

    Whatever happened to reactionary restaurants?

  8. Elisse Says:

    I used to love the Wedge! :)

  9. veggieopolis Says:

    Tina,

    Thanks for the comment – I didn’t even remember the mushroom pate sandwiches. Yes, it’s a shame that The Wedge is no longer there.

    If you are still in Coventry then Browns is worth a try. Good food, good selection, lots of vegetarian.

    Mark,

  10. Tina Says:

    I visited Coventry yesterday, for the first time in over 10 years and was upset to see The Wedge had gone.

    I lived in Coventry for 8 years and was always in The Wedge. My favourite was their mushroon pate sandwich, – must have consumed hundreds.

    You describe the atmosphere well. The staff were all friendly. I remember John who I think moved north and Mike, and I think the chubby guy upstairs was Mike too.(not sure).

    So many fond memories. Where has everyone gone?

  11. veggieopolis Says:

    Hi Andrea,
    Good to hear from you and thanks for the comment : – )
    I think it was Herbs Vegetarian Restaurant in Coventry that eventually became Brooklands Grange.
    Mark.

  12. Andrea Says:

    Hey Mark: It’s Andrea from Vegetarian Lifestyle Guide. I vaguely remember The Wedge, I think I may be a bit young!! I do remember a veggie place I used to go to that I think finally became ‘The Brooklands Grange’ hotel or am I imagining that? Great blog by the way! Will be following from now on!

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