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City Guide: Birmingham

From a vibrant restaurant scene to emerging design and inventive concept stores, Birmingham has reinvented itself as a hub of diverse talent. So where better for our latest MADE.COM showroom? Opening on Thursday 26th October at Birmingham’s Mailbox Shopping Centre, the space will have 6,000 square feet of MADE interiors to shop in real life. If you’re planning a visit, why not scope out these local haunts recommended by five of the city's movers and shakers.

The Wilderness

Acclaimed food critic Richard McComb has been writing about the Birmingham restaurant scene for more than a decade. Here he shares a few culinary favourites.

“Birmingham has four Michelin star restaurants, so it outshines any major UK city outside London as far as the little red book is concerned. For imaginative flair, Carters in Moseley is the best bet, where old-school wine-lovers can also get an interesting insight into the current vogue for natural, unfiltered vino.

"Want an immersive dining experience? At The Wilderness,former number-cruncher turned chef Alex Claridge revels in storytelling through food, serving up experimental dishes inspired by the natural world (the menu once included ants!). While Original Patty Men isnow the go-to for a thunderingly good burger, with queues the round the block for its outlandish specials."

Original Patty Men

Bloom Café

Heading up a busy communications team at Birmingham’s Hippodrome theatre means Laura Smith treasures her time off. She recommends hidden gems in her neighbourhood, King’s Heath.

“At the weekends, King’s Heath is overtaken with lots of little pop-up food markets and festivals, filling the Village Square with tastes from many different cultures. I’ll happily spend a morning eating delicious brunch at Bloom cafe - go for the pumpkin and almond ravioli, plus fab coffee.

"Another highlight is the beautiful and calming Honest Skincare shop – where you can find cruelty-free soaps and soy candles, born in Brum and now exported all over the world.

"Nearby there’s also the legendary Hare and Hounds pub, often with free live music and DJs upstairs."

Honest Skincare

At the helm of Birmingham’s blossoming Business Network International groups, Pete Higgs is a busy man. He’s forever dashing to meetings and fixing deal across the city. So where does he love to go?  

“The Bartons Arms  pub is brilliant. It has a rich history and Laurel and Hardy are said to have stayed there. In an era of mass-produced pub fayre, this is a breath of fresh air, dating back to Victorian Times.   

"A short walk from the city centre, The Custard Factory has dubbed itself ‘Birmingham’s Creative Quarter’ and its collection of independent and artistic shops are sure to spark your senses. Ghetto Golf is a new addition that combines crazy golf, graffiti and cocktails, while Clink sells craft beer bottles with its own tasting space."

Digbeth Dining Club

James Craig from Oval Real Estate (one of the owners of the Custard Factory) is immersed in the area’s thrilling artistic community. He’s an expert observer and participant in local life.

“How can anyone not love Digbeth Dining Club? This multi-award-winning event happens every Friday and Saturday night, with a wonderful fusion of different cuisines and styles. With caterers big and small, it has genuinely changed the face of the city’s alternative food scene.  

“I’m also inspired by nearby Eastside – an up-and-coming district of Birmingham which has an amazing park just moments from the city centre. It’s also home to the incredible Thinktank science museum and a world-renowned symphony orchestra."

IKON Gallery

Jaanika Okk from Okk Arts  runs a hugely successful online art gallery and matches corporate buyers with fantastic, carefully selected local artists.  

She’s a frequent customer at many of Brum’s creative spaces.

Centrala Gallery focuses mainly on Central and Eastern European art with an intriguing programme organised by the Polish Expats’ Association. I love the cafe for hosting meetings or to grab a bite of traditional Polish pirogi.

IKON Gallery is anotherexcellent contemporary art venue located in a neo-gothic school building. They showcase artworks by artists all around the world, as well as a variety of offsite projects. Look out for educational artist talks, tours and discussions.”

CanEat

Artist manager, chef and record company founder Sophia Carter is set to embark on the adventure of launching a pop-up vegan kitchen and vegan fast-food eatery. Her passion for great cooking means she has an eclectic mix of preferred haunts.

“The Warehouse Cafe is a compulsory place to eat at if you are vegan or vegetarian. It has undergone a renovation and now has a simple, clean layout and extremely well informed staff. The very reasonably-priced menu offers dishes like thali with coconut aloo gobi, sweet and spicy sambar and perfectly cooked sweetcorn fritters (to die for!)

I’ve grown up with Lebanese food and Damascena delivers authentic flavours and a huge range of options for everyone. This gorgeous little place is tucked away in the heart of Moseley, as well as a new branch in the centre of Birmingham by Pigeon Park.”

Loaf

Local photographer Jack Spicer Adams is passionate about his city, and is the man behind the snaps in this city guide. He also gave us the lowdown on the best places to hang out in Birmingham’s up-and-coming Stirchley area.

CanEat is a really cool little cafe serving beautifully-presented food - the dishes here are a pleasure to shoot! They do breakfast, brunch and lunch with simple-yet-interesting dishes like eggs on toast with gochujang mayo.

I also like Loaf - a community bakery and cookery school. They make the best bread in Birmingham and also hold lessons in a wide range of subjects from bread-making to butchery to seafood skills.

MADE's Birmingham showroom

Find out more about our Birmingham showroom, here.

Photography by: Jack Spicer Adams

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