Built by the Great Western Company in 1876-1877, the gorgeous Birmingham arcade full of Victorian charm has become a key destination when it comes independent retail. Great Western Arcade was built to span a tunnel for the railway line between Moor Street and Snow Hill stations and even managed to sustain bomb damage from World War II. Boasting a beautiful balcony, intricately-crafted archways, ornate chandeliers and lamps, tiled floors, an unbelievable apexed roof as well as an incredible array of independent business to visit- no wonder it has previously been voted Birmingham’s favourite building. So, without further ado, here are the best places to go to for a unique food and drink shopping and dining experience in Birmingham’s Great Western Arcade.
1. Miss Macaroon
For a colourful, eye-popping sweet treat, the only place to go is Miss Macaroon. The social enterprise company is the only patisserie in the world to use a Pantone matching service ensuring your macaroons match your wedding, party or corporate colour scheme to perfection- talk about impressive. You’ll find unbelievable macaroon flavours such as tonka bean; spiced apple; cappuccino white chocolate; champagne; mango and cinnamon; and rhubarb and custard. These delightful bakes make great gifts for special occasions and bring a pop of colour to any event, or for a bit of indulgence whilst lying on the sofa.
2. The Whisky Shop
Love a wee dram or know someone who does? The Whisky Shop in Great Western Arcade offers a huge range of high quality deluxe whiskeys from across the globe and have experts on hand to unlock the secrets of the whiskey world. The shop also stocks whiskies that have been specially selected by The Whisky Shop and bottled by the distillery exclusively for their customers, which are usually single cask and limited. The Whisky Shop constantly has the latest new whiskey releases so be sure to pop in to discover them before they’re gone.
Specialising in all things coffee and oats, Morridge serves freshly ground brews and aesthetically-pleasing bowls of porridge and oat-based dishes. Once you’ve had one of Morridge’s comforting bowls of oats, breakfast won’t be the same again- plus it’s served until 11.30am on weekdays and 12.30pm on Saturdays so late-risers needn’t miss out. The interior of Morridge has a retro 60s vibe about, and if that bowl of porridge oozing with lemon cream, topped with sticky baked peaches, hints of lavender, prune and earl grey jam, and honeycomb pieces doesn’t brighten your day the décor certainly will. You can also tuck into Morridge’s selection of overnight oats, pancakes, salads and soups too, if porridge ain’t your jam.
4. The Pineapple Club
A pink paradise, The Pineapple Club, is a highly-instagrammable Birmingham cocktail bar with a strong bottomless brunch game and refreshing drinks. This cocktail bar has plenty of pink accents to contrast its green features: plush velvet, pink chairs, pink neon lights, pink shelving, pink window frames and pink dado rails. Add a glass of The Pineapple Club’s Poco Baya (The little Berry) cocktail finished with a rainbow lace or sparkling rosé and its pink perfection. The Pineapple Club also serves up a wide selection of small plates which include wild mushroom arancini and Spanish ham croquettes, plus paella and charcuterie boards to share.
5. Anderson and Hill
Calling all cheese fans, get a slice (or wedge) of this! Anderson and Hill supplies top notch cured meats, cheeses, delightful Italian baked goods and a full lunch-menu featuring mouth-watering sandwiches brimming with various meats, cheeses and delicatessen items such as olives, pickles, sunblush tomatoes and more antipasti. If you looking for ingredients for your next charcuterie and cheese board then Anderson and Hill is the place, plus you’ll find a wide selection of crackers, snacks and condiments to give that extra oomph. You’ll also find Italian sweets such as biscotti and cannoli as well as luxuriously-curated hampers.
6. Gup Shup
Fancy a change from your usual lunch? New on the block (or arcade) is Gup Shup, a sandwich shop with a difference. It brings freshly cut sandwiches that are packed with global flavours all in encased in Japanese shokupan bread to the people of Birmingham. Carry one of these fluffy bad boys into work and you’ll be the envy of everyone in the office. Gup Shup’s fillings include the likes of ramen egg sando (marinated eggs in a secret syrup, then smothered in artisan egg mayo, with watercress and togarashi seasoning) , plus Mexican roast beef or smashed samosa.
7. Land Restaurant
This Great Western Arcade restaurant focuses on using seasonal vegetables to create brightly coloured plates where the vegetable is the star of the show, proving meat isn’t the be all and end all. The décor and food are both elegant but in terms of the price tag dishes remain reasonably priced, with a four course meal costing £28, or if you’re feeling peckish, six courses for £36. Each course of Land’s menu has a seasonal fruit or vegetable as the star of the dish, for example, their June menu featured strawberries and hispi cabbage.
8. Sushi Passion
From humble beginnings in Birmingham’s market, Sushi Passion opened their Great Western Arcade restaurant back in 2014 and continue to offer a truly traditional Japanese sushi bar experience. Sushi Passion has both a traditional and relaxing feel to it, with a bar to hang out and watch the sushi being made or tables, both western-style as well as Japanese ‘Tatami’-style of seating for larger groups to enjoy themselves and tuck into copious amounts of sushi at. The dishes here are vibrant, fresh and plated beautifully, plus if you fancy going all out you can enjoy a boat-load (quite literally) of sashimi as it comes served in a miniature wooden boat with sail and all.
9. Mr Simm’s Olde Sweet Shoppe
Step back in time and reminisce your childhood years as you enter this wonderful sweet emporium in Great Western Arcade. Mr Simm’s Olde Sweet Shoppe will have you acting like a kid in a sweet shop as every way you turn you’ll find jars of delicious sweets to choose from. Stocking hard-boiled sweets such as rhubarb and custards and sherbet lemons as well as handmade chocolate bars, American sweet brands like Jolly Rancher and Hershey’s, limited edition flavours and your usual corner shop picks. Plus, Mr Simm’s even serves ice cream with the ultimate toppings, including Jazzies, Flying Saucers, chocolate flakes, gummy sweets, popping candy and Lotus biscuits.
10. The Good Intent
The first of it’s kind in Birmingham, The Good Intent is a not for profit bar which donates all profits to charities. So you can enjoy a good pint and know your money is going to a good cause. Open seven days a week, The Good Intent serves award-winning beers from Craddocks Brewery alongside other brilliant local brewers. It’s the perfect place if you’re looking for a change of scenery from your local or want a quiet pint in the centre of Birmingham since it’s tucked away in this gorgeous arcade.
11. Loki Wine
Loki Wine is one of Birmingham’s most awarded wine merchants and it happens to have a branch in the lovely Great Western Arcade. Whether you want a post-work tipple, a spot to go to for your Saturday day-drinking session or simply pick up a bottle (or six) to take home or to a get together, Loki Wine can provide all. The wine shop and bar stocks a variety of wine- red, white, rosé, sparkling and fortified- from regions such as Argentina, Italy. New Zealand, France and Spain.
12. Bread Collection
When it comes to Bread Collection you may even smell it before you see it down Great Western Arcade. The artisan bakery, with a branch in Knowle, produces beautiful batches of bread such as onion and rosemary focaccia; stoneground sourdough; date, sultana and pecan, sundried tomato; as well as olive and herbs, to name a few. But the bakery doesn’t stop there as it serves up decadent, moreish cakes as well as massive meringues that are crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle. It’ll be hard to resist walking past here without going inside!