Review of 2012

As this is my last post for 2012, I thought I’d look back on some of the highlights of the food and restaurant scene in Birmingham and Warwickshire.

Scooping awards and accolades – The Malt Shovel in Barstoncelebrated being named Warwickshire Dining Pub of the Year in the 2013 Good Pub Guide.  Pub Restaurant Chef of the Year was Rob Hartwell from Rose & Crown in Warwick. The Bluebell Henley in Arden won Good Food Guide Readers’ Restaurant of the year for the Midlands. Blue Bistro in Coventry was awarded Best Newcomer in the Warwickshire Life Food and Drink Award and Peel’s in Hampton Manor were awarded Best Restaurant of the Year. Restaurant Bosquet in Kenilworth (with chef Bernard Linier pictured below) impressed Birmingham Post’s Richard McComb to pick up a McComb Award for Dining (MAD).

Bernard Lingier

 

 

 

 

 

Birmingham’s reputation as a fine dining city continued with Purnell’s named the BMW Squaremeal Best UK Restaurant. Lasan and Simpsons were included in the Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants of the Year, as voted by Harden’s readers. In Restaurant magazine’s Top 100 Restaurants in the UK Loves featured. Purnell’s, Simpsons and Turners all retained their Michelin stars.

Purnell's

 

 

 

 

 

 

The region’s hotels saw significant investment and heavyweight chefs drafted in to support new openings. Marcus Wearing consulted on the menu for Hotel La Tour’s Aalto restaurant, where I became a fan of their afternoon tea.  Hogarth’s completed a £4m make-over and chef Martin Blunos was appointed as Culinary Director.

Hotel La Tour scones and afternoon fancies

 

 

 

 

 

 

The popularity of single ingredient restaurants spread from London to the Midlands. High quality steak and chicken cooked well won new customers for the New Inn in Harborne and The Flat Chicken in Stratford. Barbecuing meats was the hottest cooking trend of the year, with the openings of Argentinian Fiesta del Asadoon the Hagley Road and Brazillian Rodizio Rico in The Mailbox.

The competition for the most glamorous makeover was a tie between The Warwickin Hockley Heath and The Star & Garter in Leamington, which was given a £500K make-over by the Peach Pub Co.

The Warwick

 

 

 

 

In the culinary Olympics it was a cook-off between the French and Italians. Funky brasserie Le Truc Café and Purnell’s Bistro opened to give Brummies a Gallic twist to their dining. While the award-winning San Carlo Group launched Fumo in Waterloo Street. The cocktail bar, restaurant and late lounge serves small dishes of Venetian tapas known as Cicchetti (pronounced chi-KET-tee).

Fumo appetisers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chefs on the move included Solihull chef Mathew Ebdon joining The Beeches in Hampton in Arden and it was all change at Edmunds in Brindleyplace, who welcomed Dider Philipot to head up the French fine dining restaurant as Andy Waters left to run the restaurant at The Queens at Belbroughton Worcester.

Didier Philipot Edmunds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sunglasses and crowds came out for food festivals. Kenilworth followed the successful Stratford and Leamington food festivals by launching their first Foodie Fortnight promoting local restaurants and food producers. I went to the Chilli Festival in Brindley Place for the first time and admired how the contestants kept their cool, as the torture of hotter and hotter chillies were administered. The Colmore Row Food Festival returned for a second year and filled Victoria Square with tasters from local restaurants including Saffron and Opus.

Birmingham Chilli Festival stall

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Leamington Spa Restaurant 23 moved to bigger premises in Holly Walk and the bar/ restaurant / club Altoria opened its three floors to diners. High Pavement in Warwick and The Lazy Cow in Stratford were welcome additions to the towns’ dining offers.

High Pavement Warwick

 

 

 

 

 

Going to events meant that I was able to meet lots of local producers. I met the Mini Jar Company and Napton Water Buffalo Company at the BBC Good Food Show Winter, Tan Rosie and cheesemaker David Jowett at the Stratford Food Festival and  Jabberwocky at the Leamington Food Festival.

David Jowett

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artisan food producers saw the benefits of collaboration in Kings Heath Birmingham. Lucky13 Bakehouse, Change Kitchen, Cuffufle Chutney, Wanton & Furious and Capeling & Co joined forces to form B14 collective. Delish Deli in Rugby moved to bigger premises and Summersaults opened their new deli next to their vegetarian restaurant.

Summersaults deli counter

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our regional food sector is thriving and I hope that my blog has highlighted how easy it is to shop local, eat local and support Warwickshire’s food heroes.

 


 

December food events

 

 

 

 

A trip to the ballet, a wine ‘walkabout’, Food & Film Club, Festive afternoon tea, Christmas Carol service and a fine food fayre are new food events for December. Now on the Events page.

New Food Features

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m currently working on some new features – a foodie  guide to Leamington Spa, a review of Purnell’s Bistro and Le Truc Café, a new chef profile  plus a guest post for British Cheese Week. I’ll be adding these to the blog over the next two weeks. Oh and pictures from the Statford Food Festival next weekend too.

Table Talk

 

 

 

 

 

 

For music lovers going to  Popfest, the Aylesford Hotel is offering a pre-concert meal from midday – 5pm for £14.95 per person on 25th and 26th August. Or make a night of it with the £45 per person for dinner, accommodation and full English breakfast offer.  http://www.aylesfordhotel.co.uk

Mallory Court Hotel has a Monster Supper offer of a roast beef sandwich and a glass of wine supper for £10.50 from 6.30 – 8.30 pm on Sunday 26th August. http://www.mallory.co.uk

As a soft opening offer, Le Truc Café in Birmingham’s Arcadian centre is offering 50% off their dinner menu from 6 – 10pm on Tuesday 21st and Wednesday 22nd August, before their official opening on Friday 24th August. info@LeTruc.co.uk

To win a three course evening meal for two people, including a bottle of house wine in Kenilworth, simply enter Harringtons on the Hill prize draw online before 30th August . http://www.harringtonsonthehill.com

Restaurant News

 

 

 

 

 

 

Le Truc Café is hosting its second pop-up event in Birmingham for Bastille Day (14th). Judging by the photos and tweets, for their last event, La Soiree Popette, it should be great fun. www.letruc.co.uk

In Southam, The Butcher’s Arms is hosting a four course dinner with Warwickshire ales to the sounds of a local jazz band on Thursday 12th July for £30. www.thebutchersarms.com

Vermillion head chef Paul Ayres is demonstrating smoking and sugar work as part of the Rugby Food Fayre on Thursday 12th. (I’ll add photos from the day to the Midlands Gourmet Girl Facebook page.)  http://rugbyfestivalofculture.co.uk

Restaurant News

 

 

 

 

 

 

Le Truc Café’s first pop-up at Six Eight Kafe in Birmingham on Saturday 9th June promises du pain, du vin and beaucoup de fromage. www.letruc.co.uk. The new Summer  menu from Petit Gourmand includes Corn fed chicken supreme, crushed olive potato with green bean and tomato provencale and Chilled lemon and lavender souffle with raspberry granita.http://www.petit-gourmand.co.uk/kenilworth/downloads/Summer%20A%20la%20Carte%20(2)%202012.pdf The Chefs Dozen in Alcester is on an early summer break, open again on 13th June. www.thechefsdozen.co.uk