For many years the Jewellery Quarter, or JQ to the initiated, has been described as “up and coming”. With the recent additions to the drinking and dining scene I think it’s more “up and come”, and is now a real hotspot for a classy night out for drinks and dinner. Last Saturday, purely in the interests of research of course, we spent the day bar hopping in the JQ’s newest venues.
It’s nice to see some new bars opening away from St. Paul’s Square. The first of our stops was on Water Street at the very well hidden “Downstairs”, accessed from the single seat coffee shop called “Upstairs”. The bar is dimly lit with candles and is an ideal spot for a romantic tête-à-tête, or discrete liaison. Walls are wood panelled and the cocktail menu comes as a bookmark in an antique book. I had a spot-on aromatic and bitter Downstairs Negroni, made with Aperol, Bulldog London Dry Gin, and L’Antica Formula (£8). We also tried the Budapest G&T, with G’Vine Floraison Gin, Pisco ABA, tonic, and dressed with red grapes and basil – also very tasty (£10). The bar is surprisingly capacious and could easily fit large groups of friends. Book a table on facebook here.
Onwards, we stopped off for a pint at Thousand Trades, which is still in the throes of being finished, but very welcoming. Furniture is eclectic and perfect for an afternoon with mates and a few beers. The name comes from the Victorian era when Birmingham was called the “city of a thousand trades” and “the workshop of the world” – still now around town you can take a look round museums of various crafts such as pencil making, glass-eye making (honestly!), and of course jewellery and metalwork. I had a cool pint of Austrian Pilsner and we sat upstairs and caught some of the football. There will be food available at this place very soon, but details are yet to be announced, keep an eye on it.
We then went to The Pig & Tail on Dayus Square, a new venue from husband and wife team Mark and Chrissy Rafferty who’ve already set up the very successful Pickled Piglet restaurant on Gas Street. They’ve converted the beautiful old George & Dragon pub by the old fire station in to a smart gastro pub. We’ll review this separately but in short they’ve done a wonderful job rennovating a completely dilapidated building in to a warm and comfortable space with a great walled beer garden. Food here is small tapas style plates at around £4-£8 each.
From here, we wended our way to our final stop – Ana Rocha bar and gallery. It’s a spanish tapas bar, in an art gallery. Around your table you’ll find fine art, antique furniture, and vintage Rolex watches. You’ll be met at the velvet rope and walked through to the restaurant. On the Saturday evening we were in, there was a DJ playing chilled music. It’s unusual but not unwelcoming. We’ll go back to try the tapas, and I’m hoping as people get to understand it’s a nice place for a drink that the clientele will normalise – it was a bit of a random crowd when we were in.
One final new place to mention – The Button Factory is in the process of being refurbished and will be open soon.
If you’re not a JQ regular, you should also check out these great venues: Peel & Stone Bakery, The Lord Clifden pub and its cool beer garden, The Church and its roof garden, The Red Lion and its chalk murder victim outline, Rajdoot Indian, Vittoria Chinese, and Rose Villa Tavern. To name but a few…