I don’t like the Birmingham German Market anymore. Humbug, etc.
Over the years I’ve come to dislike the annual tat fest, but this was cemented entirely as loathing when I moved to the city centre last year. Not to give it more publicity than it already gets, and to each their own, but I find the Christmas markets to be little more than a cynical waste of space and money these days. Alongside the seemingly relentless building and tram works, the set up couldn’t really come at a more inconvenient time if, like me, you live in this area of town.
Landing earlier than ever, the sprawling huts of naff gifts and cheap food and drink (marked up to insane prices this year) means locals are forced to avoid central areas, or risk being arrested for punching slow walkers and out of towners that can’t handle their beer. Try walking through that area on a Saturday early evening – you’ll need a battering ram.
On the day the hell mouth opened I decided to head into town to co-work with some friends, choosing to spend money just yards away at some venues that offer much better value for money – and don’t involve being surrounded by zombies or being cold. It inspired me to pop a quick post together with ideas of where to go in central Brum (specifically around New Street) if you want to enjoy the festive period without being shafted for a (rented) mug of cheap mulled wine and a sausage made of shame and sadness.
Medicine Bakery & Gallery
This gorgeous space is located on New Street itself, just off Victoria Square. As well as breakfast and brunch, this gallery space is open for lunch and hot drinks all day until 6pm. The cronuts are delicious and the toasted sandwiches are all kinds of joyful.
Don’t forget the arcades when you’re in central Brum. Piccadilly Arcade links New Street and Grand Central and includes gems like Faculty. Awesome coffee and lovely baked goods that won’t give you diabetes just by looking at them.
Chung Ying Central
Sitting on Colmore Row, this Chinese restaurant is less than 5 seconds walk from the markets and doesn’t mean standing under a singing moose. There’s a cracking happy hour deal on 4-7pm (weekdays) that gets you a small plate and a nice glass of booze for under £9. Go for the crispy salt and chilli wings and thank me later.
Right in the middle of the market, there’s a little alleyway to the left of what was Primark – take that and on your left you’ll quickly find a mini arcade with a little bar in it called Tilt. The beer selection is much better than the swill you’ll find a few metres away, there’s excellent coffee available, and you can play pinball.
Tiger Bites Pig
Sexy bao galore and you know full well no out of towners will know about this absolute babe of an independent. It’s ideal for a quick lunch or after work bite to eat if you don’t want to end up stuck in the rush hour periods of the market.
Within the walls of Birmingham Museum hides a truly underrated and very lovely cafe. The high ceilings and decor are gorgeous but more importantly there’s booths with ‘press for champagne’ buttons. Escape the market crowds and enjoy both the sanctuary of the museum and the tearoom.
New bar that overlooks Victoria Square. Good value lunch deals and a happy hour that offers £16 bottles of fizz. A warm space to people watch and laugh at cold people pretending to enjoy their garlic mushrooms.
Did you know this restaurant offers £1 oysters between 3-6pm every day? For the price of one pretzel stuffed with cheap ham you could have 6 quality oysters in a classy, relaxing setting.
Purecraft Bar & Kitchen
Beer and bar snacks for the win. The homemade pork scratchings are tasty and the small plates menu has plenty to offer. Also opposite Pieminister if you feel like gravy would improve your life.
Despite the fact that the garlic bread stand sounds like it’s called nob rot, I can’t find much joy anymore in a frozen slice of indigestion. If you’re after a dough fix head to Rudy’s. It’s just off New Street and won’t make your breath stink for 3 days.
Head up Bennett’s Hill, sit in the pub’s downstairs bar and enjoy snacks like freshly baked sausage rolls and scotch eggs. The dirty burger is also a good shout, just make sure you don’t get the juices and sauces all down your face like, well, me.
That’s just a few of the venues you can eat and drink at without having to rent a glass or drop £30 in 10 minutes. Feel free to tell me your thoughts (you usually do, even if I’m not interested) over on Twitter. Don’t forget City Social is running again this year down by Mailbox. This is a smaller market full of independent food and drink traders as well as a place for live music.
Spend your money wisely over the next 6 weeks, guys – your city’s small businesses need you.
Not sponsored or any of that jive. Anything pictured was paid for by me.