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 https://www.starandgarterleamington.co.uk/

Midlands round-up

I’m spending a relaxing Sunday at home catching up on the week’s news and here are three stories that have caught my eye from Warwick, Hereford and Leamington Spa.

the-saxon-mill

The Saxon Mill outside Warwick is showing off the results of a mini makeover. The former 12th century mill re-opened on 1st February back to serving popular gastropub dishes.

lamb-rump-at-madam-adam

They have only been open a couple of months, but I am reading some good reviews for Hereford’s latest eaterie – Madam and Adam, where owners Beth and Swav focus on fine dining small plates.

birtellis-leamington

Birtelli’s in Leamington are recruiting, so it cannot be long before scooters will be whizzing through the town to deliver their stonebaked pizzas, from their base in Clarendon Avenue.

 

New menu for the New Year

the-almanack-kenilworth-bar

Kenilworth’s popular gastropub The Almanack is serving a new menu that you can tuck into from noon till 10pm.

Head chef Jakub Fijak’s dishes include free-range flat iron chicken and skinny chips, classic smoked haddock fish cakes with soft poached egg, slow roasted Cornish lamb shanks, pan-fried scallops with pork croquettes and the grilled Cornish mackerel with warm potato, red onion and cucumber salad.

parsnip-cheddar-cakes-with-tomato-chutney-at-the-almanack-kenilworth-low-res

He’s also put together a collection of small pots for mixing and matching to make up your own tapas. Think British-style deli pots – smoked mackerel pâté with soused cucumber; sesame-crusted halloumi with peanuts and Blythbrugh pork croquettes with apple sauce.

You can also enjoy £15 off when you dine any weekday before 10th February, just quote ‘New Year’s Treat’ when you book at The Almanac.

How do you describe a gastropub ?

As reported in the Independent on Sunday and Sunday Telegraph, The word “gastropub” has been banned by The Good Food Guide because it is too commonly used.

The much-loved term for a pub serving quality food, used by bars and eateries up and down the country, is out of date and no longer provides an adequate reference to an establishment’s style, it is claimed.

Elizabeth Carter, consultant editor for the guide, said the term had come to define an establishment’s ambitions.

“Our feeling with the gastropub was that it was a bit of a bandwagon that a lot of people have jumped on to. A lot of chains have taken that gastropub style. I think customers are getting bored with it. Pubs have to be socially diverse, they have to offer many things whether you pop in for a drink and a snack or you want a proper meal.”

The 2012 Good Food Guide is published on Thursday 8th September and I’ll be looking for how well the Midlands establishments are represented this year.