The Shaker Groups springs into Redditch

Old Rectory House Worcestershire

With only a month until they open, work is well underway on The Orangery Restaurant  and cocktail lounge at Old Rectory House in Redditch.

After investing £500K into the makeover, the Shaker Group is transforming the The Old Rectory Hotel into a restaurant and cocktail bar with outside seating and private dining areas.

The Orangery Restaurant Redditch

The new Orangery Restaurant will create a 90 seater dining room overlooking the impressive terrace and gardens. To eat you can expect a great value lunchtime set menu, afternoon tea, sharing plates, bottomless brunch and a Sunday family roast lunch, featuring locally sourced selected cuts of prime rare breed 28 day dry aged steaks.

On the drinks side, the team behind The Kenilworth Hotel and Gas Street Social are creating signature cocktails for the 30 seater cocktail lounge.  A rotating selection of craft beers will also be available on tap and in bottles, as well an extensive international wine menu.

Lindsey Turner, General Manager said: “Old Rectory House has stood on the Ipsley site for several hundreds of years and is one the most significant historical buildings within the region, having played host to lords and ladies in years gone by.  Most of the people we speak to in Redditch don’t even know this hidden gem exists, you really will feel like you are being transported into the middle of the Warwickshire countryside or the Cotswolds for that matter.”

 

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Winter Warmers

Now that there are morning frosts and a nip in the air, here are five winter warmers to help keep the chill at bay.

rekorderlig-spiced-plum-cider

As a change from mulled wine how about mulled cider? The Bitters n Twisted bars in Brum are splashing Rekoorderling spiced plum cider into two new cocktails – a Rum n Plum with Brugal spiced rum and a Whiskey Wonderland, with Jim Beam Double Oak and Aztec gold tequila and lime.

gas-street-social-igloo

There aren’t many times that you can say that you are drinking inside an igloo, so book up one of the new pods sitting outside Gas Street Social in the Mailbox. The room with a view seats up to ten people. There will be a minimum spend, but guests will be get waiter service while relaxing in the stylish igloos, furnished with blankets, (fake) wolf skins and lanterns. On offer is the Finlandia Vodka package for £10, including a bottle of vodka, jugs of mixers and a platter of Aspen fries.

park-regis-xmas-afternoon-tea-pic

The Park Regis festive afternoon tea includes ‘Snow White’ marshmallow and coconut knot, lemon frangipane drizzle, clementine mousse, ‘Nut-Crackers’ dark chocolate macarons, scones with jam and clotted cream, and a glazed ‘Egg-Nog’ brulee tart. Alongside this are a delicious assortment of savoury snacks, including British roast turkey sandwiches with cranberry and apple chutney, Warwickshire truckle cheese with red onion chutney sandwiches and ‘Sleigh’ roasted sirloin of beef on a toasted brioche bun. To kick the whole thing off are a duo of festive amuse bouches.

the-chocolate-bar-hot-chocolate

As an alternative to the Frankfurt Christmas Market, local DJ Dean Brennan has organised a new Winter market featuring Birmingham food, drink and musicians. Running from noon to 10pm Tuesday to Sunday, expect to see Baked in Brick among the street food traders and warm yourself up on mulled wine, hot chestnuts and warmed mince pies at the Winter Social.

the-yard-at-the-high-field-egdbaston

The High Field in Edgbason has opened a heated terrace with a warm, cosy area with heaters and fleecy blankets to fend off those sub zero temperatures. Tucked under a canvas roof, The Yard also has its own outdoor bar, the Peroni Retro Rocket, serving chilled beers from an American style aluminium trailer.

 

Battle of the bars Gas Street Social v The Botanist

Two shiny new bars and restaurants have recently opened in Birmingham – in the Mailbox Gas Street Social and on Temple Street The Botanist. You can’t have missed the tweets and blog posts on these flying around!

I’ve visited both to bring you my knockout guide to which one packs the biggest punch for food and drink lovers in Brum.

ROUND ONE : LOCATION

round one

Canalside views from the decked terrace, next to The Everyman cinema

V

An airy oasis in the heart of the city centre, just off Colmore Row.

WINNER – GAS STREET SOCIAL

ROUND TWO: FOOD

round two

Menu split into Boards and Social Plates packed with fish, meat and veg dishes from arancini balls at £5.95 to a charchuterie board with meats from the Forest Pig for £15.95. Locally sourced where possible. Classic dishes of fish and chips, duck breast and rib-eye steak options for main courses. Six classic desserts including brownies and cheesecake.

V

16 starters including pan-fried garlic mushrooms served in a mini trowel for £4.95 and chicken liver paté hidden in a plant pot with the chutney in a wheelbarrow. Make your own deli board with four dishes for £9.95, more imaginative main dishes including chicken and chorizo pie, lamb tagine and hake fillet. The show-stopping hanging kebabs are popular (make sure you ask your server to pour the hot butter over your kebab the first time you visit). Again only a small choice for desserts, but rocking trifle and rum baba in vintage style glasses.

WINNER: THE BOTANIST

ROUND THREE: TO PLATE OR NOT TO PLATE

round three

The odd wooden board makes an appearance, but plate purists can rest easy with how their meals are served on white porcelain.

V

Plant pots, watering jugs, trowels and mini wheelbarrows are some of the gardening tools used to serve food, but there are some dainty painted plates as well.

WINNER – GAS STREET SOCIAL

ROUND FOUR : DRINKS

round four

Fun cocktails with The Socialite, Lunar Society Punch and Gas Street Cobbler topping my favourites. Thoughtful non-alcoholic drinks too. The drinks list is let down by over-priced wines and lack of premium spirits other than gin.

V

A huge list of inventive cocktails, mixing herbs and botanicals with premium spirits from a Watermelon and Sage Sling to a Rose Mai Tai all around £8.  Thirsty drinkers, and those with deeper pockets, could share a watering can for £24.95 or punchbowl for £100. Also 16 gins and more than 70 different beers to choose from.

WINNER: THE BOTANIST

ROUND FIVE : DÉCOR

round five

Industrial glamour of a loft apartment with wood and metal, softened with pops of cobalt blue paint and squashy upholstery in the wooden booths and long tables.

V

Shabby country chic in pale green and white. Distressed wood, cabinets of nick nacks and painted floral tiles in the open kitchen brighten up the comfortable eating and drinking areas.

WINNER: THE BOTANIST

ROUND SIX : OWNERSHIP

round six

Independently owned by Midlands couple Adam Freeth and his wife, Adam has been shaking cocktails for more than a decade.

V

Part of the Living Ventures Group, which started in Manchester and has extended to London. The Botanist Birmingham is run by a well known local face Julian Rose-Gibbs (ex The Victoria).

 WINNER – GAS STREET SOCIAL

So in the battle of best new bar in Birmingham with three each IT’S A DRAW!

Gas Street Social scores well for the canalside location, locally sourced produce and independent ownership , whereas The Botanist gets the thumbs up for its mahoosive choice of drinks and stylish décor.

1st look Gas Street Social

Gas Street Social montage

WHAT:

Press dinner  Wednesday 18 March

WE ATE:              

Starters of beetroot and goats cheese tart, slow cooked ox cheek, scallops and arancini

Mains of Tidenham duck breast, seabass and mushroom gnocchi

Puds chocolate brownie, popping berry parfait and pistachio crème brulee.

WE DRANK:

Socialite cocktails, chunky tumblers of ‘Negrognie’  – a house speciality based on the smokey Negroni, Old Fashioned dispensed from a dinky table top barrel and mocktails topped with shavings of freeze dried raspberry shavings.

WHO WAS THERE:

Brum’s foodereatti – Ale Mary, Bella and Robot, Dine Birmingham, Dr Roz The Foodie Couple, Emily Etc, Independent Birmingham, Midlands Gourmet Girl, Out in Brum, Taylah Catlow, Vicky and Adam from Gas Street Social plus Natalie and Lisa from Rewired PR.

ETHOS:

European dishes ranging in size from small plates and individual dishes to sharing boards featuring  local suppliers  like Peel & Stone Bakery.

TEAM:

Independently owned by husband and wife team Adam and Theresa Freeth, with UCB graduates in the kitchen brigade.

DESIGN:

An open plan room zoned into sociable groups of tables and booths, all with views of the open kitchen or canal side. References to the city’s rich industrial history from bar hand pulls fashioned from jewellery making tools to vintage posters as well as swanky loos. The exposed steel and wooden materials broken up with shots of cobalt blue and lots of squashy multi-coloured soft furnishings for an urban meets industrial feel.

166 – 168 Wharfside The Mailbox

@GasStSocial