A new chapter for Hampton Manor

Hampton Manor Solihull

James and Fjona Hill have revealed the changes to Hampton Manor, designed to make guests’ experiences there even more luxurious.

James and Fiona Hampton Manor

James says: “We’ve come a long way since Mum and Dad opened the doors of our first English pub in 1986. Many years later they let us loose on developing the Manor. Fjona and I were just 26 and it was a daunting task to take on. We have made so many wonderful friends through the business and grown as a family in our vision to steward Hampton Manor for generations to come.

“Our conviction is that the house really sparks into life when people gather around the table. Meaningful moments need memorable places. With this in mind, we have taken the decision to make your time around the table our singular focus. Whether you’re coming to enjoy a foodie experience with friends, a landmark celebration, or bringing your innovative company to plan for the future, we’re making some changes to ensure that we deliver the very best hospitality.

“Over the last year we have been quietly refurbishing the bedrooms, developing the in-room experience and refining our food and drink offering. Last month we brought together the finishing touches by re-imagining the dining room and lobby spaces of the house.  At last it feels like home and the relaxed, creative space that we’ve been working towards.

“To make the most of this next chapter our family has reflected on how we can best redesign the business. Our goal has been to give our team the time needed to prepare well and ensure that everything we do enriches your time around the table.  The changes we’re sharing below are the small steps we’re taking to do that.”

From 1st October Hampton Manor will only be open to guests with a reservation, or an appointment to view our private event spaces. This means that they will no longer be open to walk-in guests for lunch or coffee during the day time.

Head Chef Rob Palmer has been busy creating new dishes for the four or seven course tasting menu, which will replace the a la carte menu.

Hampton Manor

Plus a new afternoon tea will be available from 11 October. Guests will be invited in at 3pm for a garden-led cocktail, followed by a procession of savoury and sweet creations served in the Parlour, from Tuesday to Saturday at £40 per person.


Table Talk 15 September

The latest news from Lasan, The Steamhouse Company, Restaurant 23 and Patina in this week’s table talk.

Lasan restaurant Birmingham

Lasan in Birmingham has closed its doors  – but don’t worry its only temporary! The restaurant is being refurbished and a more spacious interior plus new menu will be revealed in October.

The Steamhouse

Steamhouse, the  coffee and bagels café in Leamington, has expanded and opened a new branch in Stratford upon Avon on the High Street.

Restaurant 23 Leamington Spa

Restaurant 23 in Leamington has welcomed  Abigail Connolly to the team. Abigail is taking over from  Eduardo Neto  as Restaurant Manager and Sommelier.

Patina Bakery wedding cake

A new bakery has opened in Kenilworth. Patina is owned by Amy Clarke, who was previously pastry chef at The Cross. Ingredients used for her wedding and celebration cakes come from fair-trade sources and often local ones too – with flour from nearby Charlcotte Mill.

Meet the chef – James Sherwin

James Sherwin

James Sherwin describes himself as an experimental chef and keen forager. As the chef behind jamesinaspace pop-up restaurant nights and Wild Shropshire concepts, you may recognise him from his appearances on the Channel 4 show The Taste and Masterchef.

The 38-year-old father of four from Whitchurch was previously a paediatric nurse before following his passion for cooking and he has evolved from a home cook to a professional chef who is not afraid to push the boundaries.

As he prepares for his next tasting dinners, at Alderford Lake on Friday 6th and Saturday 28th October, I got to ask him a few questions for this month’s Meet the Chef feature.

Have you always wanted to be a chef?

I didn’t want to be a chef until I hit my 30’s, I think it was a midlife crisis 😉

Who taught you to cook?

This is a difficult one, ultimately I think I’ve taught myself, there were certainly people that helped along the way (my first head chef etc). However in terms of my style and what I do, a lot of it has been self-discovery. I’ve always had a very clear idea of what I’d like my food to be, so I’ve always pushed my learning in that direction.

Which chef has been the biggest inspiration for you?

I think the answer to this is two fold, ultimately (and I’ll sound very uncool saying this) but Jamie Oliver inspired me to cook, without his tv shows then i doubt that I’d have started at all. From a professional point of view and what I’m doing now then it would be Magnus Nillson of Faviken. His whole approach just spoke to me, the first time i read his book it was like a switch had been turned on in me. The hard part is taking that inspiration but turning it into your own thing. Other than that then I’d say Simon Rogan of L’enclume or Christian Puglisi of Relae.

Where have you eaten your best ever meal?

I know the cool answer would be some obscure street food stall (I hate street food, completely bored of it!) however it would be a toss up between L’enclume or Relae. L’enclume was brilliant across all 19 courses and I got engaged there, however Relae was like nothing else, the plates were so minimal in design that the amount of flavour they contained was shocking……I’ll never forget the carrot dish I had there!

What are your favourite ingredients to cook with?

I started an allotment this year so that I could be sure of the quality and freshness of what I use (if you’re food is minimal then the ingredients have to be banging). So it’s not one ingredient but basically anything that I can pick myself. It does mean though that I’m doing a lot less cooking now, I’m enjoying the ingredients in their natural raw state as they have so much flavour.

How would you describe your style of cooking?

 James Sherwin plating up

This is hard without sounding like every other chef, ultimately it’s modern British food. As I came into this older I missed the Marco Pierre White/Gordon Ramsey heyday so I’ve come in and been influenced my Magnus of Faviken, James of Biota or Christain of Relae, so very natural, vegetable based cuisine delivered in a minimal way.

I hate that people feel the need to fill a plate with things that aren’t needed for the sake of making my the dish look bigger.  Everything is hyper seasonal  – we don’t have seasons anymore in the UK  and hyper local.

What can diners expect from your Wild Shropshire events?

James Sherwin hare fillet

My guests will get a multi course surprise menu. It’s a surprise firstly so that I can come up with it at the very last moment based completely on what is perfect at that time and also to bypass any pre-conceived ideas anyone may have about any of the courses.

I feel that people can quite often decide whether they like a dish before they’ve even put it in their mouth based on previous experiences with ingredients. By having a secret menu that is revealed at the end of the evening, guests can eat each course without past experiences colouring their opinion of what is in front of them.

Find out more about James at https://www.jamesinaspace.com

5 things you must eat at Leamington Food and Drink Festival

Leamington Food and Drink Festival 2017.jpg

Now in its 10th year, the Leamington Food and Drink Festival will have more than 100 exhibitors taking over the Royal Pump Gardens this weekend.

To help you navigate through all the stalls, here are my top five things to eat while you are there.

The Jabberwocky chorizo mozerella crayfish toastie

Local residents Flic & Barney will be serving street food fans gourmet toasties from their big, green Jabberwocky van. We can’t get enough of the classic Tuna Melt. The chorizo, mozzarella, crayfish, pesto and watercress.is pretty good too though.

Sweet As cake jars

Slightly easier to fit into your pocket or bag than one of the a-mazing cakes, head to the Sweet As stall for a cake jar. All that sweet goodness of salted caramel, rocky road and chocolate orange in miniature. Look out for new flavours this year.

Lobster mac n cheese

If it’s a little nippy, then a comforting bowl of unctuous mac n cheese from the Star & Garter’s Mac Shack should warm you right up. Spoil yourself with a choice of lobster, crab, pulled ham or pesto topping.


Stock up on mushrooms and truffles, where Antonio Carluccio himself will be revealing the best way to cook them at the Carluccio’s mushroom pop-up market stall between 11am – 1pm.

Dulci Bella marshmallows

With flavours including hazelnut and butterscotch, caramel and distinctively Darjeeling, the Dulci Bella award-winning marshmallows are a sweet treat not be missed.

Festival Fever

With a lovely mellowness, September gives us a bumper crop of food festivals.

Ludlow Food Festival 2017

From the original and bar-setting  Ludow  Food Festival (8th – 10th) to newbies like Independent Birmingham (17th) celebrating individual businesses, there is a food festival for everyone’s appetite this month.

Sparkenhoe cheese

Leamington Food & Drink Festival will be celebrating its 10th anniversary ((9th & 10th) with a kids cookery school and plentry of tastings. Set in the castle grounds, Tamworth’s Food Gusto will offer local and regional produce over the same weekend.

Birmingham Chili Festival Brindleyplace

The popular Birmingham Extreme Chili Festival  will be turning up the heat in Brindleyplace (15th & 16th) while beer and cider lovers will be quenching their thirst at the Leamington Beer and Music Festival  (15th – 17th).

The week after, Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh will be launching their new book Sweet as a prelude to the Stratford Town Centre Food Festival (23rd -24th).

All the details are on the September events page so enjoy!

Birmingham Flavour Flav

Birmingham Flavour Fortnight

If you are eating out in Birmingham over the next two weeks, check out the
Birmingham Flavour Fortnight site first, for a feast of special menus and promotions available in dozens of city venues.

Purnells restaurant cherry clafoutis

Among those is Michelin-starred Purnell’s on Cornwall Street, which is offering four courses for £40 per person during Flavour Fortnight.

The Old Joint Stock Birmingham pies

The Old Joint Stock, voted one of the UK’s top 25 pubs by the Observer newspaper, is offering any speciality pie for £10 during Flavour Fortnight.

Buffalo & Rye Birmingham spicy prawn pops

Over in Bennetts Hill,  Buffalo and Rye is offering a free cocktail when you spend £10 on food.

Tom's Kitchen beetroot cured salmon.jpg

And Tom’s Kitchen at the Mailbox is offering 20% off the food bill for the duration of Flavour Fortnight.

Running from today (Friday 1st September) to the 17th these are just a small selection of the treats on offer, find out how to book and the conditions of each offer online.

Table Talk

A boozy table talk this week, with news of new bar openings in Coventry, Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon for you.

The Botanist Birmingham cocktail

The Botanist bar and restaurant has submitted an application for an alcohol license, which if approved could see them opening up in Unit 4 of the Broadgate Centre in the heart of Coventry. How the city will fare with hanging kebabs, watering cans of cocktails and even mini wheelbarrows to serve food remains to be seen.

The Canal House Birmingham craft beer

I missed the launch party due to train woes (maybe I should have taken a barge instead!) so I am keen to get inside the newly opened Canal House and try some of their home distilled gin. The former home of 18th century engineer James Brindley has been transformed into two levels serving food, premium craft beers and cocktails, alongside live music.

Limoncello at Veeno

Italian wine café Veeno has become the first restaurant to open at the Bell Court complex in Stratford-upon-Avon. The 90-seat venue serves wines from the family vineyard back in Sicily and Spuntini – platters of meats, cheeses and other appetisers imported from selected Italian producers.

Table Talk

Table Talk 14.08.17

Beer of champions is – Goats Milk!

Congratulations to Warwickshire’s Church End Brewery for winning CAMRA’s gold award at the  Great British Beer Festival in London. Goat’s Milk is a blend of pale barley, crystal malt oats and  aromatic hops, that is the brewery’s best selling beer. Church End sales manager Paul Hamblett said: “We originally brewed and named it for a festival taking place in the Goat pub, and the beer just caught on.”

New Indian eaterie

Fans of The Indian Rasoi street food at Digbeth Dining Club (DDC) will be pleased to hear that the owners have taken over the former site of Adam’s restaurant in Birmingham. The new restaurant and cocktail bar, called Indian Streatery, is due to open on 17 August on Bennett Hill, with lunch and evening menus.

Birthday celebrations

While we are talking about DDC I need to wish them many happy returns! Celebrating their fifth birthday, the team have some exciting plans up their sleeve – including expanding into Nuneaton in September – but before then they are having a party on Friday 18 August.

With events across the Midlands DDC will be celebrating their roots in our original home — Lower Trinity Street, Digbeth where it all started. Lineup for the night includes:

Original Patty Men
Spectacular Goat
Low ‘n’ Slow
Baked In Brick
Flying Cows
Buddha Belly
English Indian
Fancy Fries
Bournville Waffle Company
Holy Moly Macaroni
Indian Rasoi
Platinum Pancakes
Street Souvlaki

(Tickets are available for the event now at £1.50 with entry on the door £2.50).

Time for tea

Afternoon and Gentleman’s Tea will be available from tomorrow (Wednesday) at The Lost & Found bar in Birmingham.

L&F Afternoon Tea

Fans of the traditional afternoon tea can sample delicate sandwiches of smoked salmon, Hendrick’s-infused cucumber and cream cheese, feta, red onion and honey pastries, Earl Grey panna cotta, raspberry trifle and a bittersweet popcorn tiffin, all served alongside warm fruit scones with clotted cream and jam for £18.95.

The Gentleman’s Tea also offers small baguettes bursting with crispy chicken and chorizo and a warm Scotch egg before the sweet section for the same price.

With National Afternoon Tea Week coming up I’ve been looking at different menus and venues to tempt you with so watch this space…