Table Talk – Friday 15th June

A new craft beer pub in Birmingham, a Leamington pub opening for breakfast and brunch, plus the return of Coventry City Centre’s Food and Drink Festival all feature in this week’s news.

Full Head of Steam Birmingham burger

Ale drinkers have a new craft beer pub to sup in. Opened on Temple Street last week,  The Head of Steam  offers more than 100 types of craft beer, real ale, and world beer from its 43 keg lines, bottles and cans as well as being a dog-friendly venue.

Breakfast at the Royal Pug Leamington

The Royal Pug in Leamington is now open for breakfast and brunch, every Tuesday to Sunday. From 9am until noon you can tuck into English back bacon in a toasted sourdough bun, American style pancakes, hash, veggie flatbreads and of course a full English.

Sophie Hyam chef

If you are heading over to Coventry for the city centre’s Food and Drink Festival next weekend, look out for a demo by local chef Sophie Hyam, a stall from the Castle Yard Tea Rooms (which is due to open on Thursday 28th June) and Heritage Bakehouse who will be selling their authentic Godcakes, Corporation Custards and Warwickshire Pies.

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Table Talk – Friday 1st June

Temperance, Leamington

An interesting new venue has opened in Leamington. Temperance offers pastries from Haddie and Trilby and coffee from Monsoon Estates, this café bar is a great supporter of quality local produce.

Based in Bath Street, their building began life as a drapers and around 1880 became the Westminster Temperance Hotel and Coffee Tavern. It was badly damaged by the floods of 1998, but has now been extensively and sympathetically restored. By day, it will be a community cafe and, at night, become an art cinema, sports bar, a music venue and an event space .

Rose wine The Square Warwick

On the first Wednesday of the month, Warwick’s wine merchant The Square will be cracking open a couple of bottles of new wine for you to try. Between 7 – 8pm, just pop in and make the most of the sale prices.

Greenway Hall restaurnat Stoke on Trent

Tune into BBC Radio Stoke at 7pm on Thursday for a new food and drink programme The Takeaway. Paula White will be chewing the fat with culinary experts,  chefs, local producers and farmers.

 

My top tips for June events

JUNE 2018

There is a jamboree  of gin, wine and cocktail tastings, very special dinners and food festivals packed with local producers to look forward to in June.

For Juniper fans, I have picked out a day of tastings at Bedworth Civic Hall, the Lichfield Gin, Cheese and Ale Festival plus a World Gin Day Gala Dinner with Edinburgh Gin in the Birmingham  Museum and Art Gallery, as my top tips for you.

Three unusual  and special meals have caught my eye this month. At Lemore Manor in Herefordshire you can lunch with 2016 Masterchef finalists Billy Wright and Jack Layer. As part of a series of dining experiences, the National Trust property Upton Park  is hosting a tasting menu with a French Riviera theme. Ryton Organic Gardens near Coventry is the setting for a six course menu of delicious seafood with wine pairings at The Stock Pot Café’s ‘Under The Sea’ dinner.

Worcester, Shrewsbuty and Shobdon will all be getting ready for their annual food festivals and turning their towns into a smorgasbord of the finest local produce.

You can learn about the history of American cocktails with the Birmingham Whisky Club and Sam Boulton from The Vanguard Bar; learn how to brew your own ale with the Birmingham Brewing Company or just relax and sample over 50 wines at Vin Neuf’s  Summer Wine Tasting at Hiller’s Garden Bistro.

Check the Events page for details and wherever your epicurean journey takes you to in June, I hope that you have a great time!

Table Talk – Friday 25th May

Dough & Brew pizza Warwick

Congratulations to Dough and Brew for winning Best Restaurant in the local Muddy Stiletto Awards 2018. As the pizza boys get ready to celebrate the restaurant’s second birthday, the Warwick restaurant also reached the final 13 National Pizza Awards for best in the UK with their delicious sourdough bases and fresh toppings.

The Drawing Board

As Newbold Street in Leamington will be closed  for The Women’s Tour Of Britain cycling race, The Drawing Board pub has decided to throw a street party! The Newbold Pitstop on Friday 15th June will feature a few bands and local street food vendors, including burger boys Flying Cows, as well as pop-up bars from Cotswolds Distillery and Purity Ales.

Rotisserie chicken at Rebel Chicken Birmingham

Birmingham’s newest chicken joint, The Rebel Chicken has a pre-opening offer of 10% discount off food, from Friday 25th – Sunday 27th May during their soft launch.  Expect chicken, steamed, marinaded and finished on a bespoke built charcoal rotisserie, on coal imported from Cuba and Sweet Cherry wood for succulent and charred to perfection meat. The Jewellery Quarter venue opens on Pitsford Street on Friday 1st June.

The Fab Four

There has been a glut of new restaurant openings in Birmingham over the last few weeks, with more on the way, so I thought that  now would be a good time to take a look at four of some of the exciting  new eateries.

Maribel Restaurnat Birmigham dessert

Maribel  quietly took over the space formerly occupied by Edmunds and now has chef Richard Turner at the helm. This Brindley Place restaurant offers “French influenced modern British cooking”. Birmingham food writer Paul Fulford visited on their opening night and you can read Paul’s review here

Baked in Brick

Street food fans are counting down the days until Baked in Brick opens a restaurant  in the Custard Factory (opposite Kanteen).  Owner Lee is swapping his converted Mini for a woodfired oven to cook his BBQ chicken wraps and Neopolitan style pizzas in the venue that will seat 60 diners.

Opheem restaurant Birmingham

Opheem is Aktar Islam’s new solo restaurant, which has been welcoming diners during a soft launch this week. From the beginning of June, diners can expect Dorset Cross hoggat cutlet, with date and sultana puree and green cardamom; slow braised ox cheek, with millet kichdi, girole mushroom and desserts including curd dumpling, with milk sorbet, milk skin, granite and yoghurt shard. It is on Summer Row, next door to his second new eaterie Mi Amore, which serves Italian dishes.

The Rebel Chicken Birmingham

Social media is clucking about  Rebel Chicken  Hot on the heel of Bonehead, this chicken joint in the Jewellery Quarter will be serving rotissetie cooked birds, with all the sweetcorn and slaw sides you’d expect when it opens on Friday 1st June. (Look out for tomorrow’s Table Talk with details of a 10% discount off food).

 

So four fab new venues for you to try in Birmingham!

Table Talk – Friday 18th May

Stratford Gin by Sjhakespeare Distillery

News hot off the press from Shakespeare Distillery – a new artisan food village will be opening on the outskirts of Stratford this Autumn and they will be moving their distilling operations to a glass-fronted showpiece unit there.  The Farm will be a collection of local artisan food producers, farm shop, deli and whole-food cafe on a site just off the A46 near Snitterfield, on the site of an old fruit farm.
The Slamwich Club

Why have an ordinary sandwich when you can have a pimped up ‘Slamwich’ instead? Friends Stephanie Franklin and Nicole Williamson have opened a new bar and diner The Slamwich Club, in Hanley, Stoke on Trent. One of their best sellers is the buttermilk fried chicken, avocado smash, fresh red onion, sweet sweet streaky bacon, house salad mix and lashings of honey sriracha sauce.

Unami Indian Kitchen Harborne

Umami restaurant in Birmingham suburb Harborne is celebrating their third anniversary with a brand new Supper Club. The AWADH Supper Club will embrace the culinary excellence of Moghul cuisine, starting on 20th June, for £24.95 per person. Menu details will be available on their website soon.

Holy Moly Macaroni

Holy Moly macaroni dish Birmingham

The next time you hanker for an authentic  mac ‘n’ cheese, head to Grand Central in Birmingham. From June this will be the home of Anthony Duffy’s debut restaurant Holy Moly Macaroni, which will be serving authentic Harlem soul food inspired by his trips Stateside.

You may have seen Anthony in his Mac Shack at Digbeth Dining Club, or street food events up and down the country, as he has spent the last couple of years perfecting his recipes.

Get ready for dishes including The Fun Guy – mac and cheese with smoked pancetta and wild mushrooms – and The Vampire Slayer – macaroni with roasted garlic oil and Parmesan. As well as their four cheese macaroni double dipped fried chicken in a ginger beer batter , baby back eight-hour smoked ribs and New York cheesecakes will feature on the menu.

Anthony Duffy owner Holy Moly Birmingham

Anthony says: “I am so excited for the opening of the restaurant. It gives me such pride to open an independent restaurant in Birmingham that has it individuality and personality. It’s not a corporate and never will be.”

Opening towards the end of June, Holy Moly Macaroni will be open every day from 11 am to 10 pm. More details on their FB page  www.facebook.com/holymolymac.

Table Talk – Friday 11th May

All about new openings in this week’s Table Talk – from a restaurant in Worcester  and  a cake shop in Shrewsbury to a wine merchant and micropub in Rugby.

Planet Doughnut Shrewsbury

Local bakers Duncan and Sam McGregor are opening their first shop in Shrewsbury this weekend. Planet Doughnut will offer fresh doughnuts, featuring classic and internationally inspired flavours with American inspired designs, in their coffee shop on Claremont Hill.

TJ's Kitchen Worcester

In Worcester, local chefs and childhood friends, Tom Dalley and James Shepherd have opened their first restaurant together. TJ’s Kitchen, located in the Conservatory, serves classic pub favourites with a modern twist and caters for a quick bite to eat at lunchtime, a hearty evening meal or a celebration for a special occasion.

 The Crafty Banker micro pub Rugby

In my home town of Rugby there are also two new shiny independent venues. Good luck to wine merchant Gallachers of Rugby (which opens today) and hello to micro-pub The Crafty Banker which has been selling craft beer, ciders and gin for a couple of weeks now.

Review – The Star & Garter, Leamington Spa

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Even though I had been to The Star & Garter in Leamington plenty of times before I had never had lunch there, so over the Bank Holiday weekend my partner and I took the opportunity to try the new Spring menu.

Booth at The Star and Garter Leamington

Taking over a comfy booth, we sought shade from the burning sun outside and settled down to ice cold beers and gin cocktails in an airy, relaxing dining area at the back of the pub.

On a Saturday lunchtime, the bar was buzzing and even with a private party upstairs to look after, the team were friendly, helpful and perfectly paced our meal. We didn’t go off menu, but when we made teeny tweaks to our choices we were happily and easily accommodated.

Asparagus and smoked slamon starter The Star & Garter

Purple, white or green, I love all types of asparagus, so my starter was an easy choice –asparagus with a poached egg and smoked salmon (£9.50). Everything was cooked to perfection, the egg yolk burst out onto asparagus that was neither rock hard or mushy (I so wish I could get this right when I do this at home!)

Ham hock croquets The Star & Garter

My partner chose crispy, golden croquets that were packed with shredded ham hock (£7.25). A side garnish of rocket and apple with mustard mayonnaise added texture and zest to his moreish mouthfuls. He said that he could have easily eaten another portion, but he was saving himself for a main course  which he had spotted on the specials board.

Salt beef hash with fried egg The Star & Garter

The salt beef dish came with hash browns, pickled veg and charred corn, but he asked for the veg and corn to be left off and a fried egg to be added instead. He said that this generous slab of meat had everything– taste, texture and smell so he was very happy with his £17 choice.

Sea bass with samphire The Star & Garter

Being a creature of habit I nearly always have fish for my main course. I wasn’t sold on the cider cream that came with the sea bream option, so instead went for a sea bass. Served whole, the silky fish was delightful alongside the saltiness of the samphire. I also liked the nutty, nobbly ratte potatoes that made a change from run of the mill new potatoes (£16).

Warm ginger sponge dessert The Star & Garter

He doesn’t have a sweet tooth, so I was surprised when my partner asked for the warm ginger sponge and custard for dessert. The generously spiced pud had a lovely warm after burn, that was so much nicer than the bland desserts that only have a glazed ginger topping, but might be a bit too spicy for some. His single dinky pot of custard was quickly emptied and replenished to be more of a man-sized portion.

Warm raspberry and pistachio tart The Star & Garter

I by-passed the chocolate and peanut butter cheesecake, as I had fallen for the raspberry and pistachio frangipane tart and swapped the clotted cream with raspberry sorbet. Cherry seeds had been baked into the short pastry base for added crunch, which was a great base for the succulent pistachio filing in this warm tart (£6).

After three courses each we had absolutely no room at all for any cheese, which I intend to rectify at one of the pub’s future wine and cheese nights. Like with the rest of the menu there are seasonal highlights and locally produced varieties to try, with the Wookey Hole Aged Cheddar in particular piquing my interest.

For me it’s the quality of ingredients that shine through at the Star & Garter. There is an obvious care of cooking and preparation, dishes are executed well, and sometimes with unexpected twists, making it a cut above your average gastro pub.

If you are after just a light bite, the fixed priced lunch menu is very good value. With four of five choices for each course, with a more substantial range of sandwiches and burgers along with tasty sides, you can enjoy two courses for £13.25 or three for £15.75.

Not your run of the mill choices either. The garlic and rosemary-studded camembert with rustic bread and spiced lamb koftas starter and mac n cheese with maple cured bacon lardons, stood out to us straight away as dishes to try on our next visit.

  • I was invited to review the Star & Garter’s Spring menu and received a complimentary three course meal. My opinions are unbiased.

The Star & Garter, 4- 6 Warwick Street, Leamington Spa https://www.starandgarterleamington.co.uk/