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Birmingham

Thanks to a huge regeneration programme, Britain's second city is shaking off its less-than-glamorous image of old and now has a vibrant, globally-influenced food scene.

With a population of more than one million, Birmingham is regarded as Britain’s second city and is one of the most ethnically rich in the world. But its traditionally less-than-glamorous image (think Rotunda and Spaghetti Junction) is fast disappearing thanks to a massive regeneration programme that has transformed the centre. This has seen the return of trams and multi-million pound refits of the landmark Selfridges store and The Mailbox, the slick base for BBC Birmingham and Harvey Nichols. There are plenty of reasons to love life in the city right now.

Birmingham boasts more canals than Venice, the world’s largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite art, a world-famous symphony orchestra and its own Royal Ballet. Food and drink have always featured large in Birmingham’s history – this is the city that gave us custard powder, Cadbury’s chocolate and HP Sauce, and takes credit for introducing the balti.

There’s a thriving Chinatown, plenty of authentic Caribbean food and enough noteworthy pubs to keep you eating out every night of the week. Expect atmosphere, sharing plates (this is the home of the ‘family naan’, almost as large as a table), and grassroots food at its best.

There’s never been a better time to sample the city’s most exciting independent venues, like the Jekyll & Hyde gin bar in Steelhouse Lane. The top of the scale is now equally well served by high-end restaurants including the sensational Adam’s, Turners in Harborne, Purnell’s in the commercial district and Simpsons in Edgbaston. And filling in the mid-budget gap, Carters of Moseley fought off stiff competition to scoop the top prize in The Good Food Guide’s Readers’ Restaurant Of The Year awards 2016.

With so much on offer, Birmingham should be firmly in your dining diary.

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