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

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

Table Talk – Friday 4th May

The George Townhouse Royal Wedding hamper

The George Townhouse in Shipston on Stour and The Townhouse in Stratford upon Avon will be helping customers to celebrate the Royal Wedding on 19th May in style. The pubs are offering a regal collection of Hendrick’s gin teapot cocktails ‘Wedding Cake’ and ‘The Ginger Prince’, plus a limited edition beer Hooray Harry to toast the happy couple. Also on offer will be a ‘Right Royal Toast’ tea offering British and American themed food specials and ‘Harry’s Hampers’ which blend traditional British teatime favourites with treats inspired by the bride’s homeland.

The Nest Ledbury cheeses

The historic Royal Porcelain Works in Worcester is being redeveloped to create a new home for locally-sourced Artisan food. Owners of local café The Nest will be using the newly created space to open their new café. During the opening weekend of Saturday 30th June they will also host the first in a series of markets showcasing artisan producers, brewers and distillers, roasters and bakers.

The Little Rum Company

Emma and Nicola, the ladies behind the Little Gin Company in Stratford, are turning their attention to another spirit. They have converted a horse box into a mobile rum bar and are now seeking support to launch a new, premium, spiced blend. Queen Cleo Spiced Rum begins its journey as a smooth, dark rum in the Caribbean, before being fearlessly spiced in the UK, using a bold mix of botanicals. If you would like to find out more, or help, check out their crowdfunder page.


A feast of food festivals

May is a fantastic month as it is the start of the food festival season and here is just a taste of what you can expect in the West Midlands.

A feast of food festivals

Starting with a new street food festival in Lichfield to the return of the Great Food Festival in Weston Park over the Bank Holiday weekend, get ready for a feast of food festivals!

 Cafe International Lichfield

Lichfield Street Food Festival, Saturday 5th May

A local couple who own Cathedral Crepes has organised a new celebration of street food. From 10am Beacon Park will be filled with the aromas of French crepes, Sicilian cannoli and Japanese hirata buns. There will also be a fully licensed bar in the central marquee and two gin and Prosecco bars.

Beacon Park, Swan Road, Lichfield
10am – 10pm

street food trader

Feast Street Food & Drink Festival, Ironbridge Saturday 5th May

On the same day, if you are in Ironbridge, you could enjoy the first  Feast Street Food & Drink Festival. From paella to poppadums and churros to chips there will be a great variety of tasty street food, all washed down with local craft beer and Prosecco from the different pop-up vendors.

Engine Shop at Enginuity, near Ironbridge
11am to 8pm
Entry £1 (children under 16 free accompanied by an adult)

Shropshire Salumi Ludlow Spring Food Festival

Ludlow Spring Food Festival Friday 11th– Sunday 13th May

This is the little sister of the September event – with a focus on food, beer and classic cars. There will be around 50 of the very best micro and small breweries from Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Wales at the Meet The Brewer evening on Friday. Followed by a weekend of tastings, demos, Pie Trails, Pudding Trails and Cocktail Masterclasses.

Castle Square, Ludlow
Friday evening 5 – 9pm £5 adults only
Saturday 10am – 9pm £9 adult £2 child
Sunday 10am – 5pm £9 adult £2 child

Alcester Food Festival

Alcester Spring Food Festival, Saturday 19th May

The first of this Warwickshire town’s two annual food festivals. Expect cheeses, pies, breads, cakes, fresh and cured meats and sausages, fruit and vegetables, a pig roast, award-winning street food, handmade chocolates, local beers, ciders and wines and as many local food products as they can squeeze on to the 100 or so stalls.

High Street, Church Street and Henley Street in the town centre
9am – 5pm

Warwick Food Festival

Warwick Food Festival, Sunday 27th May

Now in its fourth year, the festival is expanding taking over the Old Square and surrounding streets. You can expect around 80 different traders, alongside local chefs who will showcase the very best of the town’s culinary offer in the Live Cookery Theatre.

Warwick town centre
10am – 6pm

Great British Food Festival Weston Park

Saturday 26th – Monday 28th May
Great British Food Festival
Weston Park, Shifnall, Staffordshire

An annual food market with more than 70 stalls, food challenges and competitions, taking place in the grounds of Weston Park.  Demonstrations include local chefs James Sherwin from Wild Shropshire, Marcus Bean from The Brompton Cookery School  and Chris Burt from The Mytton and Mermaid, as well as familiar faces from Great British Bake Off tv show.

Weston Park, Shifnall, Staffordshire
10am – 5pm
Adults £9
Kids (5 – 16 years) £5

Marvellous events for May

Themed dinners, tastings and food festivals are all on the menu for May.

May 2018

This month you could dine at The Butchers Social pop-up at Harvey Nichols , take a tour of Asia in the Colmore Food Festival fringe event, or indulge at a Sauce Supper Club with Simpson’s chef director Luke Tipping.

Want to improve your BBQ skills or learn more about gin? Then head over to Webbs for the Weber masterclass and meet Ely Gin in Alcester.

Beer fans should have the annual Rossbeerfest in Ross on Wye in their diaries, as well the regular brewery tours at Lynestone Brewery in Stone.

In Leamington, Slurp wine merchant is hosting an evening with the winemaker Larry Cherubino from Margaret River, Australia and gin fans will be able to sample more than 50 different blends at Burton on Trent’s first Gin & Rum Festival.

The hottest ticket in May is the Eastnor Chilli Festival held in the castle’s ground – who will be brave enough to take on the Chilli Eating Challenge?

All the details are over on the Events page but please check with venues to book, as tickets sell out fast.

Table Talk – Friday 27th April

Waters Restaurnat Birmigham

Waters Restaurant in Resorts World is launching monthly Gourmet Evenings on the first Thursday of each month at 7.30pm. Diners can enjoy a five course meal and relax to the sounds of Rat Pack and swing classics from ‘The Goodfella’. The cost is £45 per head with an optional wine pairing of £20 per person. Click here to preview the menu. The first three dates for the Gourmet Evenings are Thursday 3rd May, 7th June and 5th July.

Sonal Clare, sommelier Purnell's Restaurant

And the GQ magazine award for Best Sommelier goes to…. Sonal Clare at Purnell’s Restaurant in Birmingham. Judges thought that Sonal is “A wonderful representative of everything that a true sommelier should be.” Cheers Sonal!

Hotel du Vin Stratford upon Avon dish

Hotel du Vin opens in Stratford upon Avon on Tuesday 1st May. The conversion of two townhouses has created a luxury boutique hotel  of 46 rooms, a bar, courtyard and bistro serving home-style French dishes.