Salt Dining is coming soon….

After an initial setback with a property falling through, keep your fingers crossed that it is good news at last for chef Paul Foster regarding his new restaurant Salt Dining.

605 fans of the former Mallory Court head chef backed his Kickstarter campaign earlier in the year, pledging more than £100,000 to help Paul realise his dream of opening his own restaurant in Warwickshire.


Paul says; “Out of nowhere a stunning property fell onto my lap, I acted quick and had an offer accepted before it went on the market and into the hands of agents. Things are now moving forward well and Rhiain and I are very hopeful for an opening early in the New Year.

“Unfortunately at present I can’t give away more details like location etc as we haven’t signed yet and I suppose I feel like it is a case of once bitten twice shy. All I can say is that I fell in love with this place straight away, it is in good condition for us to have a relatively quick turn around and something where we can start small and humble and grow the business into something special.”

Here’s hoping that in 2017 everything will come together for Paul and he will finally be able to open  Salt Dining in Warwickshire.

Bye bye Bar Hygge

I heard mixed reports about Bar Hygge  Northampton locals either found the Danish inspired bar’s drinks list intriguing and unusual or not to their taste at all.

But before we had chance to try it for ourselves, it has changed hands and is now John Franklins.


Local food entrepreneur Tom Hewer (owner of Frank’s Steakhouse) is behind the new bar which is open from 8am serving cakes, pastries and coffee, a deli counter with a selection of cheese and cured meat plus toasted sandwiches from a daily changing menu alongside craft beers.

So next time we are at the Royal and Derngate Theatre we look forward to popping in.

Winter Warmers

Now that there are morning frosts and a nip in the air, here are five winter warmers to help keep the chill at bay.


As a change from mulled wine how about mulled cider? The Bitters n Twisted bars in Brum are splashing Rekoorderling spiced plum cider into two new cocktails – a Rum n Plum with Brugal spiced rum and a Whiskey Wonderland, with Jim Beam Double Oak and Aztec gold tequila and lime.


There aren’t many times that you can say that you are drinking inside an igloo, so book up one of the new pods sitting outside Gas Street Social in the Mailbox. The room with a view seats up to ten people. There will be a minimum spend, but guests will be get waiter service while relaxing in the stylish igloos, furnished with blankets, (fake) wolf skins and lanterns. On offer is the Finlandia Vodka package for £10, including a bottle of vodka, jugs of mixers and a platter of Aspen fries.


The Park Regis festive afternoon tea includes ‘Snow White’ marshmallow and coconut knot, lemon frangipane drizzle, clementine mousse, ‘Nut-Crackers’ dark chocolate macarons, scones with jam and clotted cream, and a glazed ‘Egg-Nog’ brulee tart. Alongside this are a delicious assortment of savoury snacks, including British roast turkey sandwiches with cranberry and apple chutney, Warwickshire truckle cheese with red onion chutney sandwiches and ‘Sleigh’ roasted sirloin of beef on a toasted brioche bun. To kick the whole thing off are a duo of festive amuse bouches.


As an alternative to the Frankfurt Christmas Market, local DJ Dean Brennan has organised a new Winter market featuring Birmingham food, drink and musicians. Running from noon to 10pm Tuesday to Sunday, expect to see Baked in Brick among the street food traders and warm yourself up on mulled wine, hot chestnuts and warmed mince pies at the Winter Social.


The High Field in Edgbason has opened a heated terrace with a warm, cosy area with heaters and fleecy blankets to fend off those sub zero temperatures. Tucked under a canvas roof, The Yard also has its own outdoor bar, the Peroni Retro Rocket, serving chilled beers from an American style aluminium trailer.


Whats on in December

Sprinkled with glitter and wrapped in tinsel the December Events page  is now bursting with tastings and festive fairs to enjoy.


Start the month by raising a glass of Ruinart champagne at the gourmet dinner held at The Cross in Kenilworth.

Wrap up warm and sip mulled wine at a host of festive fairs at the new Winter Social in Birmingham

Ragley Hall by Candlelight, Festive Food Fair at Compton Verney or Festive Fayre at Stoneleigh Park.

Over in Coventry, street food fans should head over to the Festive Dining Club at Coventry Cathedral and indulge their sweet tooth at the Winter Chocolate Festival.

As a break from all of the Chrsitmas re-runs on TV head over to the Birmingham Rep theatre for a different dining experience courtesy of Faulty Towers and if you can squeeze in any more booze then a beer tasting and food matching at Purecraft Bar & Kitchen might be just the thing.

All change at Restaurant 23


I am sad to hear that one of my favourite local chefs is on the move.  After ten years as Chef Proprietor of Restaurant 23, Peter Knibb will be leaving the Leamington Spa restaurant and handing over the kitchen to new Executive Chef Curtis Stewart.

Peter has not yet said what he is going to do next, but commented  “Since founding the business in 2006 the team and I have worked extremely hard to establish our reputation for offering the highest quality food, refreshment and relaxation. I am immensely grateful for our customers’ loyal support and I am confident that you will continue to be delighted as I hand over to Curtis.”


Curtis hales from Bury in Manchester, and has spent the bulk of his career in award-winning kitchens at The Vineyard, Whatley Manor, Cowarth Park, The Feathered Nest, The Painswick Hotel and most recently at Quill.  His vision is to produce modern, innovative food that tests and delights the senses.

Curtis said: “After spending time in and around Warwickshire ahead of my start, I know just how special Restaurant 23 is to our clients.  We have always strived to deliver excellence and innovation and it is in this tradition that we will continue. I very much look forward to leading Restaurant 23 through its next chapter of development and would like to thank Peter and Richard Steeves for this incredible opportunity.”


The Georgian townhouse at 34 Hamilton Terrace is home to a dining room, two private rooms, Morgan’s cocktail bar and patio terrace. Restaurant 23 is open Tuesday to Saturday for lunch, afternoon tea, pre-theatre supper and a la carte dinner.

If you haven’t already tried this three AA rosette restaurant add it to your list now!

Feeling festive yet?

As a preview to the new December events page, here are my top three places to visit in Warwickshire, to help get you into the festive spirit next month.


Saturday 3 & Saturday 10 December
Ragley by Candlelight
Ragley Hall, Warwickshire

Experience Ragley Hall this festive season under candlelight. Be greeted in the Great Hall with festive music from a local choir, mulled wine and minced pies prior to a guided walk around the candlelit State Rooms. Follow your walk with a candlelit three course dinner in the Terrace Cafe from £48 per person, or in the Red Saloon from £85 per person.


Sunday 4 December
Festive Food Fair
Compton Verney, Warwickshire

The independent national art gallery and ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped park of Compton Verney  is the beautiful setting for this Festive Food Fair.  It promises to be a day of tasty treats and delicious indulgences as well as a fantastic opportunity for Christmas gift shopping from the local creators and makers stalls.  Open from 10.30am – 4pm, admission to the Festive Food Fair is included in the gallery and park charge of £8 for adults and £3 for children.


Thursday 8 December
Festive Fayre
Farmers Fayre, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire

Meet a whole host of suppliers and taste their range of goodies. Whether it’s turkey or a tipple, don’t miss out on the AGA cookery demonstration, festive choir and entertainment, fabulous raffle prizes raising funds for Myton Hospice, free hamper wrapping, mulled wine and mince pies. From 5 – 9pm. The shop is bursting to the seams with Christmas decorations and always looks wonderful at this time of year.

New new new openings


Just in time for Christmas parties, there has been a flurry of new bar and restaurant openings this month.

House bar Leamington Spa.jpg

With a motto of ‘Feast, quaff and cut shapes’ House cocktail bar has opened on Leamington’s Parade serving  breakfast, lunch, dinner and whole joints for the table to share as Sunday roasts.


Warwick diners can now tuck into ‘Starving Squid’ (chicken red curry, Thai pork dumplings, Thai spring rolls and jasmine rice) for £10.95 at Thai restaurant Giggling Squid.


First to visit the long-awaited restaurant from Jamie Desogus, bloggers Out in Brum report that  Harborne Kitchen is “a top class restaurant. The service and food is simply too good to pass up, and it promises to offer a lot of possibilities – pints, cocktails, bar food, celebratory dinners, romantic meals, coffee, and everything in between.”


Lobster Peninsular has transformed the Futurist Cinema in Birmingham’s John Bright Street into a seafood restaurant, bar and secret nightclub.


Over in the Great Western Arcade patisserie chef Rosie Grindlay has opened her first shop. Miss Macaroon sells gift boxes or single flavours from pistachio and strawberries and cream to spiced toffee apple  mandarin and clove. Boxes of six macaroons are £12.50.

Coming soon: In Coventry, the Byatts Brewery is set to open their new brewhouse and bar on 26th November and Caribbean street food Leave it To Esme is launching their new restaurant in Fargo Village in December.

How restaurants are helping StreetSmart


During November and December StreetSmart and over 500 participating restaurants across the UK are asking diners to donate £1 at the end of their meal and in turn have a dramatic impact on the lives of homeless people nearby.

Some of the UK’s best restaurateurs are staunch supporters of the project, because every single £1 donated to StreetSmart goes to help homeless and vulnerable people.

Last year restaurants in Birmingham raised £5,000 for the charity in conjunction with St Basil’s. Local restaurants taking part this year include: –

  • Adams
  • Atrium & Brasserie Restaurants, UCB
  • Birmingham Dining, Harvey Nichols
  • Simpsons
  • The Butlers Arms, Sutton Coldfield
  • The Red Lion, Hunningham.

If you would like your restaurant to get involved, please contact Anne Morton on


Warwick wine merchant re-opens


The new owners of Square Wine in Warwick have a message for customers old and new:

“Hello all, we’re Richard and Joanna Constantinou, brother and sister, and we’re going to be taking over Square Wine from Tom and Hannah.

“To say we’re excited to be carrying on from the excellent work they have done over the last two  years is an understatement.  Richard has worked in bars including Square Wine as well as enjoying many evenings there as a customer too.  Joanna is an extremely successful pub manager in London.  The plan is that this experience should translate into an extremely good thing for all of us!

“To give you a little idea about our vision for ‘The Square’ (hope you like the name change, we feel it broadens our horizons) we want to build on its current guise and bring in different elements. Our plan is simple really, to serve you good drinks (both hot and cold), some nice nibbles (small food platters) and to give you the option to be able to a take all of that home too.  We love Gin Club as well as the tasting evenings and these are both still essential to our plans.

“All we ask is that we share enjoyment and laughter and that you give us a chance to get it right. Be honest with us and let us work with you (probably getting things wrong sometimes). We both enjoyed Square Wine in its original guise and really don’t want to lose any of the charm that it has. What we do want is to bring our enthusiasm and passion and to share what we enjoy with you all.”

Stocking up on Christmas cheer


I’ve held out until now from mentioning the ‘C’ word, but those of you who like to start shopping early for Christmas then there are three great wine tastings that should be in your diaries.

Let The Wine Connection in Northampton, Wine Poole in Warwick and Loki Wine in Birmingham help you to stock up on the festive spirit.


Saturday 19 November
Christmas Wine Tasting
The Royal & Derngate theatre, Northampton

Join The Wine Connection  from 5 – 9pm as they open the doors to a Christmas shopping event. This independent wine and spirits merchant, based in Northampton town centre, prides itself on focusing on wine from traditional, family-run vineyards and passionate wine makers around the world. Tickets are £20 and available instore.


Friday 25 November
Wine Poole Christmas Tasting
Lord Leycester Hospital, Warwick

Following their successful Autumn Tasting, online wine retailer Wine Poole has put together an exciting selection of wines from all over the world to suit all tastes and pockets. There will be plenty of wines from Europe and the New World including some new ones from Uruguay, California, Spain, Italy, Chile, Australia and New Zealand. Experts will be on hand to guide you through their wines.  Plus fizz, dessert wines, sherries and ports to try before you buy. The evening runs from 6 – 8.30pm and tickets are £12.50 each available from the Wine Poole website


Friday 25 November
Loki Christmas Wine Fair
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

This is the first time that Loki Wine has done a big Christmas tasting and they going all out with 140 different wines and spirits on offer. This will be a free pour session rather than tutored tasting, but each table will be manned by an expert to guide you through the ranges.  Tickets are expected to sell out quickly, priced at £20 they are available from the Loki website.