The 8 Foot Grocer – Caroline Street, Jewellery Quarter
The 8 Foot Grocer is pure indie, artisanal, quirky, hipster heaven. Of all the brunches of Birmingham, if you want to support Independent Birmingham, experience something a bit more unusual, and have a breakfast with the emphasis on quality of food, you should probably try your luck here at least once.
It occupies a space which clearly used to be the driveway through to the rear access between two buildings. The external windows of the building on the right have been whited out, and a false ceiling and back wall turn this surprising space into tiny corridor of a venue that houses possibly the best independent deli and artisan food cafe in Birmingham. Inside, pinterest-friendly crates provide shelving for a whole raft of independent deli produce, including amazing bread from local artisan baker Peel and Stone. There are three rickety tables for two inside, and a few more on the street outside. At 10.30am on a glorious Sunday morning in October, every table was full, a steady stream of people came through to shop in the deli, and as soon as a table was vacated it was instantly filled. The 8 Foot Grocer is clearly a huge hit locally.
Tea comes in a substantial mug, but in line with the emphasis on quality ingredients throughout, the teabags are open to allow a range of loose leaf tea leaves to be used. A plate would have been good to dispose of the tea bags after allowing them to steep for a while, and avoid covering the table with tea bag drips, but otherwise, a great cup of tea.
The menu here changes daily, and a freshly typed A4 sheet on the door tells you what is on offer on the day. Briefly tempted by delicious-sounding pancakes, we ended up with eggs Benedict and eggs Royale. In both cases, the quality of the ingredients was superlative. The ham was excellent, and lots of salmon topped the eggs Royale. The eggs were cooked absolutely perfectly. The biggest difference to the ‘standard’ eggs Benedict you might find elsewhere in the Birmingham was the muffin. Artisan-baked, the muffins were thicker than the usual, and pretty tough to cut through with the normal knives provided. But the taste when you have finally wrestled yourself a small enough bit to fit into your mouth is divine: streets ahead of the nearest competition.
This is such a small venue, there is just one toilet shared by customers and staff. You need to ask at the service counter to go behind the bar to find it. Once inside, be prepared to tread carefully; it is…somewhat full with all the things that there isn’t space for in the main deli space. The toilet was perfectly clean, and soap and towels are in plentiful evidence. The cramped conditions fit the miniature ethos of the 8 Foot Grocer itself.
Price: midrange: £15 for two cups of tea, eggs Benedict and eggs Royale
Atmosphere and design: whitewashed, tiny, rickety, and charming
Food: artisan, updated daily, beautiful quality ingredients, lots of independent products to buy in the deli
Toilets: tiny and full of stuff, but clean and well stocked with soap etc.
Enjoyment: independent through and through, a unique place to enjoy brunch in Brum, and a good place to discover new foods in the deli