We can almost taste freedom! It might remind you of a vanilla latte, a pub garden burger, or the tang of a barber’s hairspray. We bet you have a hitlist – all of your favourite places waiting to dust your seat by the window.
What about other businesses though? The ones you may’ve missed before, but fought through the pandemic and are well worth checking out? Birmingham has enough hidden gems to crown anyone’s day back into something close to normal life.
Let them treat you right. We’ve found plenty of great spots to reacquaint yourself with the city.
If bagels are your thing, few names in Birmingham can compete with Saint Kitchen in the Jewellery Quarter. Sounds like a religion – and to some, it is, thanks to miracles with aubergine, halloumi and smoked salmon. We’ve been missing this café for a while as a brunch spot or delicious work lunch. During winter, it did so well with takeout that it’s called for more chefs and baristas, meaning service will be brisk on opening day.
Since the 90s, Jakes has been a cut above most other barbers in the city. Nothing has changed except the décor, which has grown a gorgeous hardwood floor under button-backed sofas in the waiting area. Headed by Colin and Gary, two grooming experts, you’ll choose from an array of 1920s, 30s and 50s-style cuts with a modern twist. The prices aren’t bad too. A wash, cut and finish will set you back less than £20.
Buying clothes online is fine, but we prefer grabbing five things off the rack and mixing them up before we even think of our wallets. Disorder is made for such experimentation. The safe kind, though – an eco-conscious fashion store packed with local fabrics and designs, from Bowie and Prince art to tigers, checked shirts and denim. Find it above Grand Central on Canon Street.
How far can you reinvent fried chicken? Find out at this small, subdued bar and restaurant, where Korean wings rub up against hothead strips on pancakes. BONEHEAD has been doing just fine on Uber Eats, but the sharing platters are much better in person, topped off with craft beer. Their ‘bonenuts’ are a thing of beauty too: double-stacked Oreo doughnuts, the last word in gluttony at the end of the table.
It began as a pop-up in the Great Western Arcade. Now Morridge has bedded firmly into the building with its own café serving oats, fruit, syrups and artisan drinks. Founder Naomi Morris has been a cheerful presence on social media throughout lockdown number three. Take her lead and get some more warmth in your life with poached rhubarb, pistachio granola and a bunch of porridge recipes she’s been sharing online! They’ll taste even sweeter on the Morridge table with a book in hand.
We love seeing more indie opticians spring up around the UK. Why settle for high street eyewear? The Spectacle Emporium has an incredible range to help you look sharp – and look at anything – about town. From angular wooden frames to 60s and goggle-esque picks, there’s no shortage of lenses worth posing with. Take your time. They’re really keen on leaving you to it, or stepping in for considered advice if you just can’t decide.
What have we missed? Tell us about your own independent stars in the city. They need our support and word of mouth. With a move to any of our inner-city apartments, you have an even better home to wander from, minutes away. It’s not just about distance either – local brands are getting closer to our residents with special partnerships in 2021. Get in touch! Let’s see what’s coming up in the months ahead, when we’re breathing a little easier.