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Love beautiful buildings and tasty, home made food? Barbara Panvel celebrates a Birmingham establishment where you can enjoy both.

Hudsons Cofee House

Hudson’s Coffee House on Colmore Row, an independent business, is the only establishment of its kind in the city. It is described in Pevsner's The Buildings of England as "one of the most important monuments of the Arts and Crafts Free Style in the country".

Hudsons Cofee House

In a charming setting, welcoming and attentive staff prepare and serve snacks and meals from Monday to Saturday until 5.30pm.

All salads and sandwiches are made to order in Hudson’s kitchen: “no packets, no boil in the bag, tasty food made by caring hands”. Good soup, Dundee cake, delicious lemon tarts and cheesecake are also made ‘in-house’. My favourite is a superb club sandwich with avocado, beef tomatoes, seasonal leaves, crème fraiche, mixed peppers and herb mayonnaise.

In addition to several varieties of coffee there is a wine list and 12 varieties of teas on the menu, one intriguingly named Formosa Gunpowder, because each each leaf has been rolled into a small round pellet, like those used in a cannon.

The two owners use local suppliers: excellent bread from BreadCo in Eastside, fresh fruits, vegetables and groceries from Mike Draper on the Hagley Road and high quality meat from Paul Bentley, a butcher near the Swan, Yardley.

I hope that they will take part in Birmingham’s Independents Day on July 4th, which is being planned to celebrate the city’s independent traders.

Hudsons Cofee House

The building was commissioned by Eagle Insurance and completed in 1900. W.R. Lethaby, its architect, co-founded the Design Industries Association and the Art Workers Guild. He had a deep interest in the future of great cities, placing great importance on cleanliness and good design rather than attempting to ‘grandify’ them. What would he have thought of the current desire for ‘iconic’ buildings?

Next week there will be news from another independent business: ‘Mutterings from a metal basher’.


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