Area Guide: Birmingham

Where the trees begin. The nickname of Edgbaston Village, Birmingham’s fastest-growing community and home of The Lansdowne. Expect new delis, co-working spaces and leafy routes to pared-back bottle shops. Plus, Gas Street Basin, Digbeth and the Jewellery Quarter within walking distance.

To Do

Birmingham’s cultural scene needs no introduction. We’re the birthplace of Ozzy Osborne and Duran Duran, Benjamin Zephaniah and Barbara Cartland. Between global names and hyper-local creatives around Digbeth’s Custard Factory, the Ikon Gallery puts on programmes that are world-class but very ‘Birmingham’. A ten-minute power walk from The Lansdowne, browse its contemporary photography, sculpture, film and installations, leaving time to source an art title in Ikon Bookshop. And to eat a tahini brownie at Yorks Café.

To stretch your legs: Edgbaston Reservoir. The circular trail joins up with Summerfield Park and the disused railway line turned Harborne Walkway, so joggers have a few options if they want to make a marathon of it. Add some light strength training at Chamberlain Gardens’ outdoor gym en route home – or make a beeline to The Lansdowne’s fitness studio for a better burn.

To shake up your scene, stop by creative space-cum-café Folk Like These. It’s a cheery walk south through Cannon Hill Park (but quicker if you take the bus from Calthorpe Road). Perch with a laptop, coffee and soft-egg brioche in the morning; hang around to browse its graphic stationery and join a lino-printing workshop with husband-and-wife team Winston and Millie.

To Shop

Sure, there’s a Morrisons opposite The Lansdowne. But for a real taste of Birmingham, stock your kitchen at indie grocery store Roots Market set up by Brummie-born Andrew Goldsby in 2020. Expect local produce, zero-waste pantry staples, feel-good ready meals and flour-dusted loaves from social enterprise The Hive. Bonus points for remembering your own bags and jars.

When it comes to flowers, In Bloom is our pick. For 12 years, owner and florist Jen Bates has supplied Birmingham with wild bouquets and feathery everlasting posies. Make this your go-to for a nailed-it gift and a less-than-usual Christmas wreath. Flower-arranging workshops and parties are also available.

There’s a handful of interiors shops on nearby Harborne Road including Oka and BoConcept. But we say: seek out the independents. In a three-storey red-brick, Neptune is laid out like a real home. Come here for teak chairs, olive-toned sideboards and touch-me linens. Or take the 20-minute bus ride (well worth it) to Scandi-style KIN. Yes, it stocks HAY, Ferm Living and Studio Arhoj, but also local craftspeople and utilitarian homewares that make even mundane chores sing.

To Drink

Life begins after coffee. A great life begins after Quarter Horse Coffee. There are many closer café options (cross to Harborne Road for a flat white in Boston Tea Party’s orangery) but this independent roastery’s beans are next level. Drink in the whitewashed space – all poured concrete, blonde wood and globe pendants – or take a brew and cinnamon bun to-go for a walk in Sunset Park. And don’t forget to pick up a bag of Dark Horse Espresso.

Oenophiles take note: Birmingham’s most-awarded wine merchant is on your doorstep. Sip through Loki’s enomatic dispensers before committing – its mixed cases are an economical way to stock up on bottles for last-minute houseguests. But if words like ‘low-intervention’ and ‘biodynamic’ pique your interest, clink glasses at Wine Freedom’s newly opened space in Digbeth – it’s all hanging plants, stacked pallets and natural plonk.

On a lazy afternoon, drop a pin in craft-beer bar The Paper Duck and trade in the city centre for the smaller shops and time-worn pubs of Harborne. A fuss-free date idea: pair one of its 18 rotating taps (we like the Birmingham-based Attic Brew Co.) with Midlands cheese before following the Harborne Walkway home.

To Eat

Ten minutes from our door, the former home of architect Francis W. B. Yorke has been reimagined as The High Field, a gastropub draped in soft greys and softer velvets. Snag a garden hut with friends and sharing plates while you wait on the Sunday roast. The grass-fed beef from Coventry butcher Aubrey Allen is divine, as is the gin list.

When the clock strikes dinner time, Laghi's is our favourite spot in Edgbaston Village. Owner Luca has cooked Italian fare since making pasta with his mother aged four. Don’t fancy his lemon-ricotta mousse and aubergine-stuffed chicken roulade? Pick up dough from Laghi’s deli to make pizza al Lansdowne. It’s just a five-minute walk if you need to nip back for toppings.

From Five Ways, you’re as close to the Gas Street Basin as Edgbaston’s growing village. Book ahead for Pulperia, the only slightly less-famous restaurant of Opheem’s Michelin-starred chef Aktar Islam. Its regional Argentinian food – morcilla, steamed corn pudding, ribeye from the Pampas – is best walked off on the water’s edge. Or washed down with pints at the Canalside Café.

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