The Butchers’ Social : Part 2

The Butchers' Social logo

How far would you travel for the best chicken wings you have ever tasted?

For fans of the much-loved Butchers’ Social, all they need to do is put Henely in Arden into their satnav, or like me jump on a train to find the former pop-up’s permanent new home.

Butchers' Social Henley in Arden exterior

In what used to be the Italian restaurant Matricardis, slap bang in the middle of the High Street, I found Mike Bullard juggling a deep clean of the kitchen, overseeing building work and proudly showing people round his new restaurant. He had only had the keys to the property for only a few days and was planning to quietly open over the Bank Holiday weekend.

His former business partner Jamie Desogu is working on creating the Harborne Kitchen, which is due to open in the Autumn. This means that Mike has been able to take the winning combo of craft beer and chicken wings and have some fun in adding new dishes to the menu.

Mike Bullard chef and owner the Butchers' Social

Mike said; “We’re going to keep it simple, cook some great food and really enjoy the service.”

Butchers' Social chicken wings Birmingham Mail

The initial menus feature four different types of chicken wings – salted caramel, honeycomb and bacon, Frank’s hot sauce, beer and honey plus buttermilk and BBQ sauce in half or full kilo portions.Brunch and dinner choices include monkfish cheek, fennel and cumin pork belly and who can resist truffle and parmesan fries!

Fixed Wheel beer

Drinks wise there are craft beers from the Birmingham breweries that Mike knows – Fixed Wheel, Sadlers, Two Towers, his favourite gin from Costswolds Distillery and English wines including Nyetimber.

Service times have been tweaked too, open Tuesday to Sunday 9am to 3pm for brunch and dinner 6 to 9pm (9.30pm at the weekends).

With circa 60 covers and a big garden space there is plenty of room. Look out in the New Year for more news as Mike is looking to completely overhaul the interior and open a couple of B&B rooms upstairs.

The Butchers’ Social 97 Stratford Road, Henley in Arden.Birmingham B95 5AT

What’s on in September

September events

This is my favourite blog post to write, where we can look ahead at some of the great food and drink events that are coming up.

The Great Leamington Bake Off

September is the start of the food festival season, so book trips to Leamington Spa and Stratford upon Avon and for tastings, chef demos and food and ale trails.

The Gin Festival

Gin fans should brace themselves for the Gin Festival where more than 100 different gins will be showcased including the new and exclusive Tarquins “Single Estate Tea” Gin.

Rachel Barnett St Paul's Club wine tasting

Wine buffs can enjoy the launch of the first Wine Club by Bar Opus or an Australian wine and gourmet evening hosted by wine expert, Rachel Barnett. Real ale lovers can mix craft beer with history on the Tolkien Tour  with the Jewellery Quarter’s Two Towers  brewers.

Birmingham is hosting two very special events in September.

British Street Food Festival 2016 logo

Live music, beer buckets, food quizzes, fire pits, retro gaming and street art  will provide the backdrop to the British Street Food Awards, hosted by the Digbeth Dining Club. After four regional heats the public gets to vote for the winner. Michelin-starred chef Simon Hulstone and The Telegraph’s food writer Xanthe Clay will decide the judges’ favourites live on Sunday.

Itihaas Birmingham

At the Curry & Comedy dinner broadcaster, comedian and chef Hardeep Singh Kohli is teaming  up with Itihaas’ head chef, Updesh Shrivastava, to create a bespoke menu for 200 guests  in the Botanical Gardens.

Valrhona Chocolate & Peanut Butter Brownie, Jude's Vanilla Ice Cream The High Field

Give the diet a miss on Thursday 29 September for the first Pudding Club at The High Field, where guests will tuck into six desserts  – including a Valrhona chocolate and peanut butter brownie with Jude’s vanilla ice cream.

Please check the venues’ websites for ticket details and availability and let me know me if you are going to any of these fab events.


From riverside to rooftops – have an alfresco Bank Holiday

For the last long weekend of the summer let’s make the most of it and get outdoors! From riverside to roof terraces, here are five places to enjoy eating and drinking alfresco over the Bank Holiday weekend.

The Saxon Mill Warwick

At The Saxon Mill in Warwick you can watch barges and ducks glide past on the river whilst you dine outside.

The Lord Clifden beer garden

For a more urban outlook, the beer garden at The Lord Clifden contains a BBBQ and you can also play table football and ping pong.

Simpsons restaurnat Birmingham patio

Simpson’s Restaurant has a delightful garden and decked patio for 30 guests, complete with a new water feature in Birmingham.

Jephson Gardens Leamington Spa

In Leamington grab a snack from Aubrey Allez, Coffee Architect or The Larder 23 to enjoy in genteel Jephson Gardens – a park complete with boating lake.


The Jewellery Quarter’s Button Factory has a large roof terrace complete with astro turf and parasols where you can also reserve tables.

Cook. Eat. Stay.

Mousley House Farm Cookery School building

In the Warwickshire village of Hatton, you’ll find a new cookery school which is quietly encouraging adults and kids to get stuck into good food.

George MHF Cookery School

Run by George (pictured) his wife Charlie and chef Nick, the picturesque countryside is a tranquil setting to brush up on culinary skills at Mousley House Farm Cookery School.

Mousley House Farm Cokery School Warwickshire

As the name suggests, the cookery school is housed in a welcoming farmhouse, with five workstations, including a lower height unit for wheelchair access and a central island for Nick to demo.

MHF Cookery School veg patch

The kitchen is flooded with light and is airy thanks to the patio doors that open out onto a fruit orchard, vegetable patch and herb garden to pick fresh ingredients. Guests can even collect freshly laid eggs from the resident chickens!

MHF Cookery School interior

Nick’s extensive career as a chef has taken him from ski chalets to the private dining rooms of Stratford upon Avon via festivals in Oxfordshire, where he has honed his teaching skills.

MHF Cookery School aprons

The School offers day courses that run from 10am – 3pm and three hour evening classes in cuisines ranging from Spanish to Thai as well as specialised classes. I wish that the pre-uni course had been around when I was packed off to study!

Prices start from £69pp for two sharing a work station. You can read about their upcoming Spanish Tapas class over on my September events page, or check their website for more details.

Dining room MHF Cookery School

Guests can also use the dining room, which is waiting for delivery of a huge farmhouse kitchen table, that can be hired out for team building events, meetings and such like. Plus there are three holiday lets for up to 14 people to enjoy the tranquil setting even more.

Charlotte Pike’s mini takeover

Charlotte Pike, Harborne Food School

Executive Chef at Harborne Food School, Charlotte Pike will be taking over the Food School exclusively for two weeks from Monday 22 August to Saturday 3rd September.

Charlotte will be bringing you some great new classes, a pop-up café and two new supper clubs.

The cooking masterclass feature speedy suppers, ice cream, afternoon tea and Persian feasts.

Whereas the two supper clubs will be serving guests a three-course meal using the very best ingredients sourced from within a 20 mile radius. Friday 26th August has a Modern British menu and Friday 2nd September will be Southern Italian.

Sweets for my sweet


Coventry is welcoming two new confectioners to the city  – Choc N Roll and The Treat Kitchen.

Choc N Roll Coventry

Tony Davies has set up shop in container 8 at Fargo Village with his handmade chocolates and  macarons.  Choc ‘N’ Roll  is a family business in Warwickshire that Tony started in 2014 after several years as a chef. He can also teach you the tricks of the trade in his chocolate making workshops.

The Treat Kitchen Coventry

On Saturday 27 August, The Treat Kitchen will open at West Orchards shopping centre with hundreds of sweets, chocolates, fudge and mini baking kits in a jar. Owner and founder of the company Martin Barnett is a member of the Barnett family, who have been making sweets in Nottinghamshire since the 1890’s.

Three things that you didn’t know about Ben Tesh

Ben Tesh chef plating up

This week I caught up with Ben Tesh and found out that he would like to throw a mean pot, Chinese food is his weakness and he might have followed a career in medicine if he hadn’t become a chef.

Read on to the end to find out what exclusive news he is sharing with Midlands Gourmet Girl readers!

Ben why did you become a chef?

“I initially pursued a career in medicine- studying clinical science at university. My interest in cooking only really began seriously when I took a part time job at a restaurant  as a way of finding myself through university. It’s only when I graduated, I realised that it was something I really enjoyed.

“It was then, that I decided if it was something I wanted to pursue, I could only do it working at the highest level, or what was the point, right?. I applied to a serious kitchen at this point therefore, which happened to be with Colin Mcgurran at Winteringham Fields in the north east. The rest is history I guess.”

What do you eat at home?

“Love this question. People think chefs eat extravagantly at home for some reason. It’s quite the opposite. I eat the day to day things everyone else does. It doesn’t get better than going out to the little cafes in the Chinese quarter though. That’s my weak spot.”

If you were not a chef what would you be?

Pop-up dish by Ben Tesh

“Maybe I would have pursued the medicine thing. I’m not sure. I’m working with ceramics with a local potter at the moment, creating bespoke pieces for the restaurant- that’s certainly something I could get into!”

EXCLUSIVE Yes you are hearing it here first readers, Ben’s Summer residency at the Urban Coffee Company has been so successful they have asked him to stay on!

Instead of ending at the end of August, Ben’s fine dining pop-up will continue through the Autumn. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, six courses for £40 and wine flight for £20 book via it would be rude not to.

Rib Ticklers & Choux-Ins

Glynn Purnell by Johnathan Hipkiss

You are going to have to make a space on your bookshelves as Glynn Purnell’s second book Rib Ticklers & Choux-Ins is published on 15 September.

Featuring 110 sensational recipes, from steaks and bakes to cheesecakes, Glynn is following up his debut tome Cracking Yolks & Pig Tales with an inventive selection of recipes inspired by the success of the more down-to-earth, ‘rustic with an eclectic twist’ dishes served at his Bistro.

Chapters range from ‘Is it Breakfast, Lunch or Brunch?’ ‘This little piggy went to market’, ‘A moment on the lips’ and ‘Bits + Stuff + Cheeky Tricks’ provide recipes for breakfast, brunch and snacks, as well as fish, meat, desserts and breads and even cocktails.

Try exploding Egg Yolk and Salmon Tartlets for breakfast, Crispy Scallop and Prawn Balls with Sticky Aromatic Sauce or Salt-Baked Potatoes with Chorizo Mayonnaise for a sumptuous lunch. Baked Cod with a Secret Green Crust is perfect for serving up to impressed pals, or the unctuous Ox Cheek Cobbler brings comfort food a touch of sophistication. The perfect 50/50 Burger (half beef, half pork) is a triumph, and knockout desserts such as White and Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Banana ‘Non’ Ice Cream and Tiramisu Purnell’s Way will round off any meal with Purnell panache.

There are some glowing reviews from his cheffy mates too!

‘Glynn is one of the trailblazers of new British cooking. Brilliant, creative and very funny too. – Heston Blumenthal

 ‘Few have got this guy’s enthusiasm for food. A great collection of recipes from a top-class cook.’ – James Martin

Published by Kyle Books priced £19.99 on 15 September.

Ditch dinner for dessert

Sweet As Cakes chocolate cake

I have a massive sweet tooth and always look at the desserts first on menus, so news that there is a new dessert parlour in Leamington Spa is music to my ears!

Sweet As chocolate cakes

Sweet As is already famed throughout Warwickshire for being the wedding, chocolate and special occasion cakes specialist. Now owner Jenny Hudson is opening later on Fridays and Saturdays for sweet-toothed fans to indulge in more than 20 different desserts.

At Sweet As you can immerse yourself in the most wonderful aromas of freshly baked brownies, cookies and crispy golden waffles floating from the kitchen.

SweetAsCakes  Salted caramel and dark chocolate tart with milk chocolate and hazelnut ice cream

The luxurious salted caramel and dark chocolate tart, warm toffee and walnut tart and lemon meringue pie are just some of the signature desserts that are also served with award-winning ice creams from another great Leamington foodie  – Queans Restaurant.

Spoons at the ready for the Sweet As  freakshakes – I don’t know which one to wolf down first!

Sweet As range of freakshakes

These pimped up milkshakes include ‘I’m a millionaire’ of caramel milkshake, caramel cream, dark chocolate and shortbread.

‘Brownie heaven’ is a chocolate milkshake with cream, dark chocolate and brownie pieces.

‘It’s a rocky road’ has Oreo milkshake, cream, oreos, Maltesers, marshmallows, Mars bar and milk chocolate.

The ‘Oh so berry’ is a mixed berry milkshake with cream, meringue, marshmallows, strawberry.

In August Sweet As is also running a promotion on Freakshakes to buy one and get one free on Freak of the Week.

Afternoon tea with a twist

The Balcony Birminghanm afternoon tea

The dinky sandwiches, mini cakes and fruit scones with lashings of clotted cream are the staples of a traditional afternoon tea, but for Afternoon Tea Week here are some treats with a twist:

 Chai tea

At Birmingham’s first Indian Afternoon Tea, savoury treats are given a star billing at Praza with bhajis, samosas and a beetroot, chickpea and goat’s cheese cup. Scones are spiced with cumin and orange scones and lashings of Chai tea from £15.95 per person available on the last Sunday of the month.

Hallmark Hotel summer-garden-gin-tea-stratford-upon-avon

In Stratford upon Avon swap your tea for Hendricks gin and tonic served in a china teapot alongside luxe sandwiches, miniature open rolls, freshly baked scones and the prerequisite delicate pastries. The Welcombe Hotel is offering the Summer Garden Gin Tea daily throughout the summer, served overlooking the hotel’s landscaped gardens from £29.50

Robata Bar & Grill first wave high tea

Robata Bar and Grill has given some Asian refinery to the English tradition of afternoon tea with two waves of small bites. Their menu includes shredded Cantonese duck leg with hoisin wrapped in a soft steamed bun and avocado maki roll. Followed by yuzu and lime curd tartlet and orange scone with orange curd and orange blossom.  Complimented by mandarin and kumquat bellini and Thai basil cooler drinks or Asahi and Nikka whisky in the Gentleman’s High Tea version from £19.50.