We visit the upmarket Birmingham neighbourhood with some of the best independent restaurants in the city

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We paid a visit to the affluent Birmingham suburb that’s home to some of the city’s best restaurants

Edgbaston is known as being one of Birmingham’s more affluent areas with its range of high end restaurants and pricey homes.

The suburb is also home to some of the city’s most esteemed restaurants - including one with a Michelin star. I decided to pay a visit to the neighbourhood to speak with some of the restaurant owners and chefs about Edgbaston’s food scene.

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Much of the area is operated by Calthorpe Estates, the family property management company that has helped develop Edgbaston Village over the last 20 years. Today, the area boasts a range of high-quality retail, leisure, and dining locations.

Homes in Edgbaston's affluent Calthorpe Estate are certainly eye-catching. Residents pay an annual maintenance charge to live on the estate, and also have to abide by the Residents Handbook to maintain the suburb’s charm.

Some of the white Georgian homes on Calthorpe Road and Highfield Road are stunning, but the heavy traffic that runs through the neighbourhood may be a frustration for residents.

Located just outside the city centre, Edgbaston offers a range of lovely restaurants away but away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre’s streets. But what’s it like working here?

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Firstly, I popped into Simpsons, the fine dining restaurant on Highfield Road that is one of just four Birmingham restaurants with a Michelin star - alongside Purnells, Opheem, and Adam’s. Head chef Luke Tipping opened the restaurant 20 years ago, when he was approached by the Calthorpe Estate.

Luke, head chef at SimpsonsLuke, head chef at Simpsons
Luke, head chef at Simpsons | BW

He told BirminghamWorld: “When we came here, Birmingham was just sort of coming into its own. The Bullring had just been refurbished and with Edgbatson the proposal to go forward was to create Edgbaston Village with independent restaurants and shops.

“Edgbaston is a very affluent area of the city but the aim was to give the area a community and we were the catalyst that started it off really. It’s become a nice out of town foodie shopping area really.”

Luke is also used to serving big names; Kylie Minogue and Simon Cowell to name a couple, as well as many of the city’s footballers.

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He added: “Edgbaston is a lovely little spot, you’re only a mile-and-a-half from the city - It’s a nice place to be, without the hustle and bustle of the city centre.”

What’s the secret to maintaining a Michelin star for more than 20 years? Luke said: “Michelin is about consistency, quality of ingredients, and value for money, but it’s a travel guide. It’s a guide for every city that helps you know where to go to know you’re going to get that quality.”

I then went across the road to The Highfield, which is run by Peach Pubs. It’s just opposite Simpsons, so I was interested to know what it’s like operating opposite a Michelin star venue and whether there’s competition.

The Highfield is a lovely gastropub serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, using local produce, including free-range meat and sustainable fish.

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The deputy manager is Maria Martin-Ruiz. She told me: “Edgbaston is very close to the city centre, but at the same time it’s nice as it’s just outside and that’s what a lot of our guests say when they come here.

“Many of our team members also work at the university here so they have university accommodation close to work.”

The Highfield, EdgbastonThe Highfield, Edgbaston
The Highfield, Edgbaston | BirminghamWorld

She added: “Overall, it’s a lovely area and the people are very kind here as well. We have great guests and regulars who come back to us.”

She also said that there’s a strong community spirit among the restaurants: “We have a very good relationship with others in the area, including Simpsons and The Physician.”

But what would she like to see change in Edgbaston?

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“It would be nice to see more people in the area,” she said. “A little more traffic would be great. But we’re very happy here and with our guests.”

Chapter opened its doors on Greenfield Crescent in 2021. The independent is the latest venture of established city restaurateurs Ann Tonks, Irene Allan and Ben Ternent.

The dining room at Chapter, EdgbastonThe dining room at Chapter, Edgbaston
The dining room at Chapter, Edgbaston | Birmingham World

I spoke to Irene about business in the neighbourhood.

“We used to run Opus In the city centre,” she said. “But with the pandemic it didn’t work out for us. But What was clear was that there was going to be a big shift between what you could call locality and community based.

“Calthorpe then approached us and asked us if they would be interested and they’ve been phenomenal landlords.”

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“In all honesty we get a great mix of guests,” she added. “The street is absolutely beautiful. I think the main thing for Calthorpe was that they wanted to appeal to all. There’s the artisan market that they have and all of these things help greatly.”

She added: “It’s a beautiful neighbourhood, very safe and there’s a real community base to it. We all [the restaurants] work together and talk and support each other as well.”

Calthorpe RoadCalthorpe Road
Calthorpe Road | BW

Irene did say that the overall trade in the neighbourhood could improve. “But apart from that it's pretty good,” she said.

There’s no denying Edgbaston’s appeal. There’s a range of high-end independents where everyone is welcome. It’s certainly a great option if you fancy eating out, but I think it could do with more variety in terms of independent shops which would increase trade in the neighbourhood.

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