Over here at Dark, we're quite proud of our blog but we're making a conscious to put things on here that would interest even if you weren't here just here to look at clothes. We came up the idea of inviting guest bloggers to feature. The first of which is a good friend of ours Charlotte Morris, enjoy a monday afternoon read.
As a lover of great food, perpetual boycotter of chains and supporter of the local, mealtimes can be a bit of a ball ache for me. I’d happily spend an hour wandering through back alleys and trawling through TripAdvisor just to get a latte that would take me two minutes to drink. For me, it’s all about the experience (and, I admit, the Instagram snaps).
The good people at Dark accordingly got in touch with me to see what I could bring to the hypothetical table when it comes to showing off the cultural side of Birmingham. Over a series of posts I’ll be highlighting lesser-known parts of town, restaurants, coffee joints and more in a bid to get you out of Miller & Carter and into a homemade food-induced coma. Today, the Great Western Arcade is my focus; a place that’s perfect for the working lunch hour, the shopping trip pauses or just the lazy weekend afternoons.
For the caffeine: Yorks Espresso Bar
Home to a great number of Edison bulbs, exposed pipes and bearded baristas, Yorks focuses on grab-and-go food. Everything is freshly made and brought down from their big brother, Yorks Bakery, which is just up the road (and does pretty cool jazz nights on a Monday). So what of the coffee? The roasters, Caravan Coffee of London, only ever supply Yorks with a specially selected “microlot” of single origin blend, which means our beloved caffeine connoisseurs are the only coffee house to serve that blend at any one time.
I insist on: the Jewish apple cake, which I wanted to shove my whole face in. Also – the exceedingly fabulous cold brew coffee, which is essentially what frappucinos have always wanted to be.
For the sandwich: Anderson & Hill
Walking into this place is like walking into a giant picnic hamper, so heavily are the shelves laden with all manner of culinary curiosities. Whilst it’s a haven for those of us who like to have our cupboards stocked with goodies fresh from the continent, Anderson & Hill is also a deli, providing gut-busting sandwiches packed with tasty local and imported produce. The owners have one rule when it comes to their stock: they only take the best of the best. So you can rest easy in the knowledge that your taste buds are about to have a party.
I insist on: the cannoli, which is freshly imported from Sicily and will change your life.
For Fridays: Loki
Whilst I understand that a wine merchant’s is hardly the usual haunt for people in their early twenties, Loki is different. You get the same warm welcome from the extremely knowledgeable staff whether you’re a complete amateur looking to spend £15 or a connoisseur with an unlimited budget.
But Loki’s USP is the enomatic wine fridges, which basically turn the shop into a bar: by way of a tasting card, you can go in and try as many vinous delights as your alcohol tolerance allows. Team this with a meat or cheese platter, graciously supplied by Anderson & Hill, and Loki is a great socialising spot for those of you who want to up your cultural ante.
I insist on: just talking to the staff, who know alllll the bars when it comes to grapevines.
For payday: Liquor Store
No, I’m not trying to send you on some kind of Alcoholics Anonymous Tour of the West Midlands: Liquor Store is an alcohol-free zone, as far as I’m aware. What they do provide is a quality selection of heritage and next generation clothing brands, with a particular focus on denim. Not surprisingly, the staff are again some of the nicest around – keen to chat, and happy to spend a copious amount of time making sure that each client goes away with a perfect purchase. Labels include Red Wing, Levi’s and, amazingly, Brooks England, the legendary Smethwick brand that specialise in quality leather bike saddles, of all things.
I insist on: the Jason Markk shoe cleaner, a must-have for the discerning sneaker head.
So that’s it for now. I’ve posted a more comprehensive breakdown of the Great Western Arcade and its residents on my site, for the eager reader, so feel free to head over and browse. www.themorrisonline.co.uk