The Jewellery Quarter (JQ) has always been my favourite part of Birmingham, ever since I moved there from London back in 2005. At the weekend we found ourselves back and strolling around in the sunshine which inadvertently turned into a mini pub crawl.
First stop on Frederick Street was craft beer bar 1,000 Trades all exposed brickwork with a tiny well-stocked bar and micro kitchen for @chillidogdogs. I liked the look of their Lashford sausages in brioche buns which started at £6.
As a day of Open Studios and JQ Festival taking place there were plenty of hipster beards, as well as happy tourists cooling down with a Creamed Pops lolly, who had a mini fridge in the doorway to tempt passersby (including me who couldn’t resist a salted caramel!)
The JQ is crammed with stunning historic buildings, some of which have had been ripped apart to form soulless flats, others fared better if they are used as creative hubs or part of the hospitality sector.
Thankfully The Button Factory further along Frederick Street falls into the latter category (as it used to be Vertu Bar). The exposed brickwork, high ceilings and open kitchen downstairs, with booth seating along the sides of the walls open up the ground floor into a good airy space.
The kitchen closes at 3pm to re-open again at 5pm, so unfortunately we were not able to try any food while we were there. Stephen Gadd is Executive Chefand says; “Our menu focuses on seasonal ingredients cooked over the open flame of a Robata grill, taking influences from Argentina to the Middle East.” Maybe that is how they justify charging £12 for a burger!
Go upstairs for the real gem. My Hendricks with a sliver of cucumber and his chilled pint of Lawless went down a treat on the astro-turfed roof terrace, which has with plenty of seats to soak up the rays.
Despite being so land-locked, bizarrely the JQ is a haven for seagulls. My old flat in Wexler Lofts overlooked the derelict George and Dragon pub where the noisy birds used to congregate. I wanted to see how the owners of the Pickled Piglet had transformed the space into a new pub The Pig and Tail so that was our next stop.
The powder blue exterior perches on the edge of Albion Street and Legge Street with a long narrow room. Beautiful windows flood the ground floor room with light, picking up the lovingly restored room, tiled bar and plush mustard and turquoise seating.
We skipped the craft been menu for food and were quickly drooling over a great choice of small plates – sweet pea and mint risotto balls, panko breaded plaice goujons, rare breed pork and chicken pastry alongside cheese, fish and cured meat platters were sating a lot of appetites around us.
We didn’t have time to visit Upstairs Downstairs or the Ana Rocha Gallery and Bar, which would have ticked off the recent flurry of new openings in the JQ. A quick pint in my old local The Rose Villa Tavern and we were back into the city centre for dinner.
It won’t be long before we are back though, as there will be two new venues coming soon to the JQ to check out.
The Indian Brewery is taking over what used to be Brewsmiths coffee shop to open an Indian street food café and bar. Dishes such as breakfast naan, stuffed parantha, roti rolls will be on their all day menu. Due to open later in the year in Livery Street.
And finally, just a few doors along from Connolly’s wine merchant, Arch 24 in Livery Street has been given planning permission to transform into a new café and jazz club.