Christmas markets and fairs (November)

Most towns are switching their Christmas lights on in the countdown to Christmas, so for some festive fun and inspiration here are the diary dates of local Christmas markets and fairs taking place in November.

Worcester Victorian Christmas Fayre

17 November Leamington Spa Christmas Market

23 – 24 November Ludlow Medieval Christmas Fayre

24 November Warwick Winter Food Festival

28 November Warwick Victorian Evening

28 November – 1 December Worcester Victorian Christmas Fair

30 November Bewdley Christmas Fayre

30 November – 1 December Heart of England Christmas Fair.

Table Talk – shiny and new

With new openings in Coventry, Birmingham, Worcester and Stourbridge there are several dates for your diary for November.

The Funky Monkey cocktail

Head to 26 Warwick Row in Cov and you’ll find the new Indian restaurant The Lazy Monkey. Due to open on Wednesday 6 November, the venue promises Indian street food and cocktails.

Indico Street Kitchen

Indico Street Kitchen is opening a sister restaurant in the Mailbox on 28 November. The 110 seater restaurant opposite Bar Estilo will be offering dishes like the Punjabi Murgh Thali  – of a tandoori chicken leg and three Bombay chicken wings marinated overnight in Indico special spices. Served with naan,curry sauce and house salad.

Thai Gallery Worcester

Worcester-based Thai restaurant operator Thai Gallery has bought The Maltster in Cornmarket for its third site. The grade-II listed pub will be refurbished before reopening in December as a Thai bar called Buddha Bar @ Thai Gallery.

Black Country Ales

The Dudley-based brewery Black Country Ales has purchased The Seven Stars in Stourbridge. Expected to open in time for Christmas, the pub will feature 15 hand pumps, serving a range of Black Country Ales’ own beers, including BFG, Pig on the Wall and Fireside, which are crafted five miles away at its brewery.

Going for gold


There has been Michelin stars, food industry awards and accolades aplenty for our West Midlands pubs and restaurants to celebrate this month.

Congratulations to Warwick’s Tasca Dali who has been awarded Best Spanish Restaurant of the year at the first Restaurant Awards 2019 – Midlands Edition. Owner Alex Gidon Clayton told the Warwick Courier: “I decided to open a restaurant in Warwick because I thought it was an amazing town with a good sense of community and history and place where I could take a risk to do something different. At Tasca Dali we try and give people the traditional way of Spanish cooking. We work with what is in season, what dishes are appropriate for the weather and what is good value.”

The Drawing Board in Leamington has been named the UK’s Best Beer Pub in Great British Pub Awards.The Leamington venue opened in 2015 and has created a beer selection including their own beer, Elephant Wash brewed with Old Pie Factory in Warwick. The team also own the DB Bottle Shop  at 3 Court Street,  which specialises in craft beer and Japanese whisky.

Monsoon Estates Coffee Company  has won nine (yes nine!)  gold stars at the national Great Taste Awards. The family-run business specialises in hand-roasted, small batch coffees and their  Ethiopian Guji Derikocha coffee was one of only six coffees in the UK to be awarded the top rated three stars.

When the Michelin awards were announced last week, there was good news for the West Midlands. Lee Westcott from Pensons restaurant   and Aktar Islam’s Opheem were awarded their first stars.

Still in Birmingham congratulations to The High Field  for scooping the Best Gastropub in the Midlands in the Food Awards England ceremony.

Drink pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and our local food and drink businesses are helping raising awareness and funds to help life-saving research for cancer charities.

British Cassis cocktail

The creators of the award-winning British Cassis based in Herefordshire White Heron Drinks are teaming up with Breast Cancer Haven Hereford and will be contributing 3% of all sales to the charity this October.

Hillside Brewery has created a limited edition Pale Ale called ‘Hillside Haven’. For every bottle of Hillside Haven sold, 50p will be donated to Breast Cancer Haven, Hereford during the month of October.

Leamington’s  Star and Garter will be holding a jazz breakfast on Sunday 30th October. From 9.30am enjoy unlimited tea, herbal teas and filter coffee for £2 per person, with all proceeds going to the charity. There’ll be a charity auction and live music too.

My family has been affected by cancer twice, so If you know of any more food-related fundraising activities that are taking place please let me know as I’m happy to help spread the word.

“I would give all of my fame for a pot of ale”

So said the King in Shakespeare’s Henry V, as he expresses that being famous is nothing without food and drink in the belly, accompanied by a sense of personal safety, as the very foundation of life.

Will's Kitchen Head Chef, Mark Hands

This theatrical introduction is for  Will’s Kitchen  – the new café by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust which is scheduled to open at the end of October.

Head chef Mark Hands will lead the brigade with a culinary CV gained at Cox’s Yard, The Lazy Cow and The Cross in Kenilworth.

Commenting on the menu Mark said, “The focus at Will’s Kitchen is firmly on locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients, and this is something I am passionate about. We’ll be taking advantage of the fantastic local produce available to us, working with our trusted suppliers and using organic meat from Mary Arden’s Farm as part of our Soil Association Food for Life Gold standard. I am looking forward to working with the team, creating delicious, honest food that will offer a fresh perspective to casual dining here in Stratford.”

Serving breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, the menu will offer an inventive twist on classic dishes such as treacle-cured bacon breakfast melt, grass-pastured chuck burger on a charcoal bun, salmon, kale and quinoa fishcake and cauliflower and cheddar arancini with truffle mayo.

October events

I’ve set myself a bit of a challenge for October to see how many food and drink events I can get to.


Why not join me at the Stone Food & Drink Festival,  Jay Rayner’s My Last Meal, Warwick’s  Chocolate Festival, The Pod Café’s Supper Club,  A Taste of Leamington, Fiesta del Asado’s Malbec wine tasting and Slurp and the Meat Room’s first wine and charcuterie evening?

All the details as usual are over on the Events page and will feature on a swanky new calendar feature too (when I sort out the wordpress gremlins!)

Table Talk – Friday 20 September

This week we are talking about beer, asparagus gin and three courses at different restaurants.

Sadlers Brewery pint

First the bad news – Sadler’s Brewing Co has closed their pop-up on Harborn High Street. The good news is that a permanent bar Brewer’s Social will open on Friday 27 September!  Alongside Sadler’s award-winning ales and spirits, the all-day venue will offer collaborative and special edition brews,  craft spirits and cocktails – and great food like Mud City Baby Back Ribs, Smoked Brisket in Sadler’s Ale Sauce and Truffle Mac and Cheese.

RHS Malvern Autumn Show

The Malvern Autumn Show will be celebrating its 25th anniversary next weekend  (Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 September). From one of the country’s biggest ever food bank donations, to world record breaking giant vegetables, a new gin festival will see weird and wonderful gins from asparagus to fruits, go head to head in a competition.

The Drawing Board Leamington interior

Looking ahead to 15 October, The Rotary Club of Royal Leamington Spa is once again partnering with Parkinson’s UK to host a fundraising dinner. A Taste of Leamington starts with  a drinks reception at Leamington Town Hall, diners then take a different  course at three restaurants  which includes a choice of Oscar’s, Valles at 44, Momenti, Eleven, The Drawing Board (pictured) Emperors, Sabai Sabai and Paprika Club. Tickets are £38 and available on Eventbrite

Table Talk – Friday 6 September

As I’ve spent all week at work thinking about a Real Ale Trail promotion for Rugby’s Food & Drink Festival, it is fitting that that this issue of Table Talk is all about pubs and bars!

The Plough & Harrow Malvern

The Plough & Harrow in Guarlford, Worcestershire, is to re-open on Wednesday 18 September. After a year long refurb, this historic pub now features a garden room that will look out on to a stone patio, lawns and a wildflower meadow beyond. There will also be a 20-cover private dining room upstairs with a private balcony offering views across the Malvern Hills.

Bloom cocktail bar Hanley.jpg

New cocktail bar Bloom will shortly be joining the thriving food and drink scene in Hanley. The owners are planning to offer a full array of cocktails, gins, cask beers and ales and are taking their inspiration from nature for the décor with a pastel palette and florals. Look out for the opening next month in Piccadilly.

Thornbridge Brewery

Derbyshire business Thornbridge Brewery will be opening its first pub in Birmingham this Autumn. Based on Colmore Row in a former branch of Lloyds Bank, the owners say that the Birmingham Tap will be a traditional take on the modern craft beer pub, incorporating the Thornbridge brand values and making the most of the history of the building.