Issue 290
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You're right, there aren't enough independents in Birmingham. But there are rather more than you'd think and they need you! So as it's Independent Month in our town right now, we're taking a gallop through a whole bunch of chain-free options in the city centre to keep you fed, watered, clothed and maybe even entertained. If you can, switch out a regular stop off for an indie today?
Breakfast, lunch, tea and every other inbetweeny food iteration is covered off wherever you are in the month on budget. From old school all day breakfasting at the ever so cheery Grand Central Kitchen (consistently rated in Brum's Top 3 on Trip Advisor) to Yorks' tip-top brunch menu which runs right through until 4pm at weekends, to overnight oats from Great Western Arcade's new kid, Morridge, the AM's looking almost rudely bright. Talking of new kids, we're rather taken with Kuula Poke's bowls of summery goodness for lunch right now. From £6.85, whatever protein you pick (salmon, tuna, chicken or tofu) be sure to go very big on toppings. For quick feeds, the hothead burger (chicken thigh in Nashville hot seasoning, £8.50) at Bonehead gets our dimpled chad. Or for very quick feeds, it's all about Tiger Bites Pig. Red braised pork belly bao with stir fried pickled mustard greens, peanuts and coriander (£4.50) will fix pretty much everything. At the other end of the gastronomic spectrum is the tasting menu at Mich-starred Adam's. Get dishes like the Creedy Carver chicken with leek, mushroom and proper crispy skin as part of the seven-course tasting carte (£95). 
When you say the names Faculty, Urban, Java and Yorks, there really isn't much excuse to be going any way other than independent for your morning cup of Joe. As for the rest of the day, you can try all the wines, in taster measures at Loki. If you're out out, it would seem remiss not to have Nocturnal Animals on your must-hit list. And your must-hit drink? Their N.A.F.O.F. (or Not Another F**king Old Fashioned) which uses Wood Reserve bourbon and some spicy aromatics to give the classic just enough of a twist to keep things all new fangled and interesting. If you're in a laid-back place, don't forget Cherry Reds, which is a crowd-pleaser for a reason. And if you're looking for the next bit of newness in terms of drinksy happenings, the fit out for The Good Intent, a not for profit real ale bar, is most conspicuously happening in the Great Western Arcade. The team are looking at an Autumn launch.
Ping pong, shoot 'em up or Pac-Man with intent at Kongs, where table football and plenty of live music are the order of the day and the night. Though you'll find pinball machines at the Hill Street giant, if those little metal balls of joy are your poison, coffee house and craft beer joint, Tilt, is where you're going to want to be. For a bit of useful, how's about Shepherds barber, Piccadilly Arcade's cobblers, jewellers or tailors. And on culture, it's always worth putting your head in at Medicine, a bakery, a cafe, a gallery and an event space. We wrote words about Fraser McGee's current photographic exhibition, which is free and continues until August 5.
Buy less and buy better is a mantra we've been having a whirl at. From Bare Bones chocolate at Hedge, to properly excellent Vinylize glasses from Glimpse Opticians, to top-shelf sort of balsamic from Anderson & Hill, it's going rather well so far. Now if only we could keep a pair of sunglasses long enough to justify a further investment in eyewear this summer. In terms of sartorial statements, a giant ASOS order ain't really going to cut it. But maybe keep Autograph or Clements and Church in mind the next time you're looking for a long-term wardrobe addition. Go get 'em, tiger.


Louis Balfour would have you believe that his fictitious Fast Show Jazz Club was 'Nice!', sometimes even 'Grrrrreat'. For a truly great musical interlude, may we point you in the direction of the 35th Birmingham Jazz Festival, which starts tomorrow. More than 230 performances, workshops and film showings are taking place across 116 Midlands venues and most of them are the best price (so, free). Catch near-nightly 7.30pm performances at The Blue Piano, which has a walled garden pretty much dedicated to live music and libations. Our pick is BBC Introducing fave James Sayer, who'll be on original and classic rhythm, blues and soul music on July 24. If you like your music more afternoony, the Botanical Gardens have 2pm performances on the next two Sundays, with John Hemming this weekend. Til' July 28. Full programme


If you missed the Mostly Jazz Festival last weekend and are more bitter than a divorced lemon about it, please accept this as your annual reminder that Moseley's private park will be filled with festival feels for a second time this summer as Moseley Folk opens, August 30. The three-day singalong always sells out, so this is your cue to book now. Public Service Broadcasting headline the first night, while Jake Bugg and Don Maclean top bills on Saturday and Sunday respectively. None of them has us quite as keen as the appearance of Peggy Seeger – singer, songwriter, feminist, icon. She's the undisputed queen of folk and political song and her chilled Sunday session will warrant an ice-filled glass of cider and, ideally, someone's hand to hold. Someone you know. Not a stranger. Day tickets are £48, weekend tickets are £115. Book 
Venue: Sadler's Tap Room, 490 Hagley Road West, Quinton, B68 0DJ; website
Choice: Grilled cheese sandwich (£6) Chooser: Bhav, manager

Did you know Sadler's Ales had a tap room in Quinton? We're going to put both our hands up and say it was only this year we learnt about the Hagley Road outpost to the Black Country beer makers. And though labelled a tap room, dispel any outdated thoughts of ill-advised carpets or fustiness. This is a smart neighbourhood spot, banging out as much gin as it was ale when we stopped by, with an even mix of both the fairer sex, and the other one. The food is simple, sensibly priced sort of stuff. Think proper scotch eggs (including a veggie haggis option, £4), bar plates like mojito chicken wings (£4), plus burgers (£10) and sarnies capitalising on the joy that is Peel & Stone bread, still doing a roarer of a commercial trade without it's public-facing bakeries. Sadler's grilled cheese sandwich is a great way to get Peel & Stone’s 'city white' sourdough back in your life. Using an oozy mix of Monterey Jack and mature cheddar, try it with the brewery's Dakota American IPA. The classic West Coast style ale uses a lot of citra hops to give it mango and apricot sort of notes, with some bitterness to cut through all that cheese. There are also a number of opportunities to get your beer fix directly through the
food menu. The team's loaded fries (£3.50) come with a beer cheese sauce that majors on Sadler’s Citrus Tide dry-hopped lager. It sounds so wrong but tastes so right


What does half a mill get you? Well, Paul Pogba for seven days if recent reports are to be believed. Wisely, The Spa at The Cube rejected a week's worth of the wantaway Man U midfielder, instead spending the sum on the mother of all refurbs. To mark the unveiling, they've got you lot a right good deal, including a rasul mud treatment in one of The Spa's new Arabian feeling steam rooms. Coat yourself in muds with health benefits, then steam it out. The experience, which usually costs £160 for two, includes access to all spa facilities (pool, gym, sauna, swim, classes), the rasul and a light lunch at Bardolino's, which has its own internal entrance, so, yes, you can keep that robe on. Mention us and you'll get it all for £69 (Mon to Fri), or add £20 to get it over the weekend. To nab your spot, contact The Spa and mention us. 


Perhaps the greatest comedic endorsement you can give the brilliant Michelle Wolf is that Donald Trump doesn’t like her. The comedian, writer and presenter performed at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2018 and, as was her remit, gave the US President both barrels. Unlike thicker-skinned previous incumbents who enjoy the traditional roasting, Trump opted to steer clear, tweeting his displeasure after the event. So it’s a real coup that Glee has landed Wolf – the charismatic comic plays seriously bigger venues in her homeland — making this the perfect opportunity to capitalise on the fact her profile isn’t as big in Blighty. That will change: Wolf is whip-smart and a fiery and fearless comic presence. And anyone who upsets Trump so much is certainly worth a watch. On Tuesday July 23, a few tickets remain, at £25.


What animal are you most scared of? Portuguese Man O' War for us, thanks for asking. They weren't messing about when they named that badboy, were they? But pretty much everything about the ocean unsettles us, not just the jellyfish. Maybe it's part of being a Brummie — we're just not cut-out for the Big Blue. But that fear brings with it total fascination, a fascination we are going to fuel on September 25 when the Ocean Film Festival arrives at the Crescent Theatre, bringing with it a selection of short films telling seafaring stories from both above and below the briny deep. Essentially it's all just a huge excuse to watch mind-blowing marine life and surfers caught on cinematic size screens. One of the movies is called Emocean (pictured). It started out as a surf film but quickly turned into a salty blend of stories by a raft of people sharing tales of their relationship with the big drink. Tickets are £15. Jellyfish are extra. 
It's almost exactly three years until we show the world how to Commonwealth. On July 27, food, drink and plenty of sporty happenings are taking over Centenary Square to mark the countdown. From midday, the Digbeth Dining Club-catered social is free to attend.
Scoot through the city’s transport collection complete with classic cars, motorbikes and everything in between. The cacophonous Museum Collection Centre is open on September 22 for Brum Brum (geddit?), a one-off and a freebie. 
Birmingham Beer Week begins tomorrow and as well as a seven-way brewery collab to produce Zwillinge, Kilder's got beer-braised brisket toasties, plus there's this little lot.
This weekend's Aston Hall-bound IB Fest looks even more juicilicious than the last one. To leave with a Buddha(-sized) Belly after enjoying the best the city's indies have, get your tickets (£10) before someone (Fat) Snags the last one.
There's no regular issue of ICB for you to enjoy with your Cornflakes next Thursday. But never fear, we'll be back and suitably tanned for our date on August 1.
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WORDS: Katy Drohan Tom Cullen, James Gill, Lola Sherwin
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