Bringing the best tastes of autumn to our plates

Bringing the best tastes of autumn to our plates

The Rose and Crown, Warwick, autumn menu

AUTUMN is my favourite time of the year.

It’s also Harvest Festival time – which brings a bounty of flavour and fresh ingredients to our dinner plates.

And the chefs at The Rose and Crown in Warwick are heralding the season in style with their new menu of comforting and satisfying seasonal fare. From new deli plates and mains to puddings and cheese, hunkering down for those winter months in a year quite like no other, is somehow less daunting.

The Rose and Crown, Warwick, autumn menu

A Warwick resident for more than 20 years, The Rose and Crown is not an unfamiliar haunt and I was delighted to be invited back to be among the first to sample the new menu, which again, did not disappoint.

From a choice of eight starters, (ranging in price between £6 and £9.50), I opted for the Baked Somerset Camembert, Truffle Honey, Walnut Crust & Toasted Sourdough (£8) – a tasty opener to proceedings.

The Rose and Crown is not afraid to be bold in its flavour and texture combinations but, while I still devoured it, on this particular occasion, I wasn’t as convinced by the addition of the walnuts to this dish if I’m honest.

My husband had no such qualms with his selection from the Specials Menu however and offered high praise for the Moules Mariniere, Aoli and Sourdough Baguette (£7.50).

He stayed with the specials Menu for his main course and what was a new culinary first for him, Whole Roast Partridge, Bacon, Bread Sauce, Red Cabbage, Game Chips and Juniper Jus (£18). His verdict? Delicious and something he’d definitely return to again.

For someone who appreciates a fine cut of meat, my 8oz Rump Cap Steak (£19.75). sourced from local butchers Aubrey Allen, was mouthwatering and lived up to expectations. A 10oz Rib Eye cut (£27.50) and Steak Diane Fillet Steak Medallions, with Creamy Mushroom and Shallot Sauce, is also available for £25.

The tempting line up of main courses has satisfying British cuisine at its heart, but with some international notes, including Sri Lankan Spinach, Sweet Potato & Chickpea Curry, Cashews, Coconut Sambal, Basmati Rice & Chapati (£14.75); Honey-glazed Merryfield Duck Breast, Savoy Cabbage, Smoked Bacon, Puried Celeriac, Green Peppercorn Jus (£22.50) and 14-Hour Braised Beef & Ale Pie, Buttered Mash, Greens and Gravy. (£15)

Or, interesting new options from the specials include Whole Roast Grouse and Roast Trout.

Do pay close attention to the description of the dishes though as you may wish to order a side of vegetables to accompany some of them. Options include Braised Red Cabbage, Seasonal Green Vegetables and a variety of chips and potato dishes.

For those who want a lighter snack, the deli plates offer a great alternative. Choices include olives, devilled whitebate, hummus and flatbread and beetroot falafel.

The colder weather also gives us a great excuse to indulge in some of our favourite puddings – well, it would be rude not to!

For those still able to make room, highlights include Banoffee Cheesecake, Rum-Soaked Raisins, Bananas & Pecans (£7.50); Lemon and Pistachio Polenta Cake with Black Cherries (£6.75) and Warm Chocolate Fondant and Honeycomb Ice Cream (£8).

There’s also the option of a Mini Pud and Tea or Coffee (£5.95) or a very good cheese board selection to finish in style. (1-5 cheeses from £3.75-£12)

But it was a return to the Specials Menu for me with an irresistible Brioche French Toast, Caramelised Apples and Rum and Raisin Ice Cream (£6.50) that did not disappoint.

Meanwhile hubby’s Crème Brulee and Shortbread (£6) was tasty and plentiful – and a great way to round off this delightful Rose and Crown autumn experience.

For those of us who still want to enjoy the fruits and flavours of autumn, check out The Rose and Crown’s new Dinner and Sunday menus.

The Rose and Crown, Warwick, autumn menu

It’s easy to see why this restaurant, part of the Peach Pubs franchise, is a favourite with the locals. It has a cosy, comfortable and friendly vibe and boasts a clutch of awards to its name. It also feels safe in the current environment without being intrusive on your visit. The art of hospitality and conviviality has certainly not been lost against the backdrop of this horrific virus.

It truly is a jewel in the crown of a town blessed with a not insignificant number of fine eateries – and one we must continue to do our best to support.

Visit it and pre-book at: www.roseandcrownwarwick.co.uk

Enjoying the lap of luxury at Winchcombe Farm (Review)

Enjoying the lap of luxury at Winchcombe Farm (Review)

THE phrase five-star luxury is much overused when it comes to holiday accommodation. But never have I before considered it to be an inadequate description for somewhere I’ve stayed . . .until now.

The newest lodge at Winchcombe Farm Holidays in Upper Tysoe, is quite simply, luxury on another level.

Winchcombe Farm Holidays, Ben's Burrow, Upper Tysoe, glamping retreat, staycation
Photos by Dave Fawbert Photography.

As the paint was literally drying on their newest lodge, I was lucky enough to be among the first to experience the most ambitious project yet, Ben’s Burrow which sleeps up to nine.

Set on two storeys, both indoor and outdoor space is in abundance with a design that makes the very most of its idyllic environment. And we were spoilt for choice for resting spots from which to enjoy the beautiful views – so, over the course of the weekend, we chose them all!

Winchcombe Farm Holidays, Ben's Burrow, Upper Tysoe, glamping retreat, staycation

Luxuriating in a hot tub on raised decking is undoubtedly one of the best possible spots from which to soak up the rolling Warwickshire hills. But, determined to make the most of every inch of the private area exclusively reserved for Ben’s Burrow guests, we also spent time hanging out in the hammocks, and relaxing in the loungers, deck chairs (yes, there’s even a small makeshift beach area!) and geodesic dome. Partly suspended over a duck pond, the dome is the most exquisite spot for peaceful meditation and reflection. I defy anyone not to drift off to sleep on the daybed under the stars if left to their own devices for long enough!

Winchcombe Farm Holidays, Ben's Burrow, Upper Tysoe, glamping retreat, staycation

And for when you can’t sleep – because you’ve been daytime dozing -there’s even a telescope so you can stargaze at the night skies in unrivalled comfort.

Unique to this lodge, you can also enjoy access to your very own fire pit, surrounded by log stump seats. What better way to appreciate the great outdoors than bonding with friends and family over some toasted marshmallows beneath the stars!

Plus there’s also a private patio enclosure to the rear complete with ride-on toys for the littlies.

When indoors the environment’s not too shabby either. The spacious open-plan kitchen and lounge features all the mod-cons including American-style fridge freezer, dishwasher, microwave, SMEG kettle and toaster and oven-grill.

Central feature is a grand dining table as well as plenty of sumptuous seating in which to kick back and enjoy the 55inch Smart TV and DVD player after a busy day out exploring – or, in our case, bubbling in the hot tub.

Winchcombe Farm Holidays, Ben's Burrow, Upper Tysoe, glamping retreat, staycation

If the weather is kind – as it was for us – you can make the most of the alfresco dining area, which even boasts a charcoal pizza over and six-burner gas barbecue.

But it’s owner Jo Carroll’s keen eye for detail and thoughtful touches throughout the property that help really set this place apart. From the welcome basket containing fruit and cake on arrival, to the stylish interior décor statements, you feel like you are guest in her own home – a home that’s been lavished with a great deal of love and attention to ensure ultimate guests satisfaction.

 

But none of it’s at the sacrifice of practicality as Jo has thought of everything. For instance, the downstairs double room, which has been equipped with parents of young children in mind, includes a cot, rocking chair and even a Teasmade, for those disturbed nights.

While the downstairs king-size room affords its own adjoining en suite featuring shower and toilet.

Another corridor reveals a stairway to access the triple bedroom, with its own freestanding bath, double-width power shower and separate toilet.

And there’s the most delightful adjoining self-contained studio flat, fully equipped with twin beds, kitchenette and private bathroom – perfect bolthole for in-laws or teenagers seeking some independent space.

Ben’s Burrow is an absolute triumph and is set to become a hugely popular addition to the Winchcombe property stable

The other properties are:

Will’s Tree House – The only treehouse in Warwickshire, it is ingeniously architect-designed to sit among the canopies of four supporting trees, which rise through the decking and kitchen. It sleeps four people, blissfully combining indoor and outdoor life with every imaginable comfort.

Bob’s Lodge – a two storey house for six but has space for another two in a geodesic dome with a super-king-sized circular bed and stargazing equipment.

Chicken Shed Lodge – Equipped with another geodesic dome and a wrap-around veranda, the third property is a stylishly restored retreat for five people.

George’s Getaway –This sleeps up to eight people in three bedrooms (and a geodesic dome) and boasts twin freestanding bath tubs.

With staycations on the rise, Winchcombe is the perfect destination of choice for a COVID-safe oasis of rest and relaxation.

Winchcombe Farm Holidays, Ben's Burrow, Upper Tysoe, glamping retreat, staycation

If you want to stake your claim I suggest you get in double quick. Check out the website here

Excitement hots up for reinvented bar and grill (Review)

Excitement hots up for reinvented bar and grill (Review)

AMIDST a climate of uncertainty for the hospitality sector, it’s refreshing to find myself writing about a new business that’s emerging from lockdown – or at least a reinvented one.

What originally began life last year as a two-floor coffee shop, has been renovated and transformed into a brand new bar and grill. Whether you’ve been there before or not, there’s plenty to tempt you through their doors – and I don’t just mean the food.

Fratelli's Br & Grill, Coventry, review

Let’s get new of some of the most important changes out of the way first – This is now also a restaurant with a real fun factor – and at affordable prices – in the shape of 2for1 cocktails all day every day! And I’ve been tipped the wink that there are even some cocktail masterclasses on the way!

But if that prospect doesn’t whet your appetite, the food certainly will. There’s something to satisfy all tastes, including a dedicated Gluten-Free Menu.

A choice of eight starters ranges from Chicken Wings and Southern Fried Chicken Strips, to Mozzarella Sticks and Calamari while mains offer a range of burgers, pizza, pasta, meat and fish.

Our selections – the ribeye steak, Mac & Cheese and Chicken Skewers (you can also opt for a steak version) were fresh, tasty and plentiful. A good range of side dishes are also available.

Fratelli's Br & Grill, Coventry, review

I was also tempted by the BBQ Cheese Chicken Wrap or the Club Sandwich – but these may have to be one of many reasons to return.

Service is friendly and efficient and we felt COVID safe at all times. (There was plenty of sanitiser available and the tables were suitably distanced.) We were seated in one of their booths which felt especially private and cocooned.

Prices are of a level you’d expect to see in most restaurants of this type – from £4-£6 for starters and £8.45-£18.25 for entrees and there were no complaints from us on taste, quality or portion size.

Situated on two floors, the emphasis is more on coffee and snacks downstairs and bar and grill upstairs but there’s a comfortable vibe throughout and it all felt clean and well organised.

Fratelli's Br & Grill, Coventry, review

One note for the suggestion box might be an extra veggie option or two (there seems to be more emphasis on catering for those with allergies than vegetarians.

But look out for the 2for1 pizza offer on Thursdays if you’re a student (with valid ID) whispers of a Steak Night soon to be announced and the extension of the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out Scheme, with 25% off valid Sunday-Thursday. What’s not to love?

Fratelli's Br & Grill, Coventry, review

Fratelli’s Bar & Grill in Hertford Street is working hard to find tasty offers to keep us coming back for more. The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating – and with delights such as Cookie Dough Salted Caramel Crunch Pie, New York Cheesecake and Cinnamon Waffle on the desserts menu, the eating doiesn’t come more delicious than that!

Check them out at: https://fratellibarandgrill.co.uk/2020/09/03/grand-opening/

An al fresco feast of comedy, music and food (Review)

An al fresco feast of comedy, music and food (Review)

WE all need something to smile about at the moment, right?

Thanks to the team at Warwick Castle we can laugh our socks off in an outdoor environment suitably socially distanced and safe in the knowledge that no rules are being broken in the pursuit of much-needed live entertainment. What’s not to love?

Warwick Castle, Picnic In The Park, comedy, live music

A new lifestyle festival, which opened yesterday, is one of the castle’s innovative approaches to COVID-friendly music and comedy. Set against a backdrop of one of the UK’s most stunning vistas, one doesn’t sense any form of sacrifice in terms of venue.

In fact, I’d love to see more outdoor festivals such as this become a permanent feature in summers to come as a welcome complement to the theatres.

Picnic At The Castle, which runs for eight days and nights over the next two weeks, offers top tunes, big laughs and delicious locally-sourced food, all enjoyed from your very own fairy-light-clad COVID-compliant pergola.

Warwick Castle, Picnic In The Park, comedy, live music

Situated in the shadow of the magnificent castle on the banks of the River Avon, this natural scene is more beautifully set than any theatrical backdrop you’ll ever see, as we settle back for two hours of our choice of either live stand-up or music.

As one of the comic’s said, if we get bored of the entertainment, we can stare at the view instead!

Groups of up to six can book a pergola, while couples can sit out under a personal parasol and, depending on what time of day you decide to come, there’s a suitable tasty treat to accompany your experience.

Warwick Castle, Picnic In The Park, comedy, live music

Festival Sessions include:

Yoga Session: 8:00-10am – find balance and reconnect with nature, followed by a delicious healthy breakfast.

Graze session: 12:15-2:15pm – Sit back and enjoy two musical performances while sampling a tasty graze box.

Gorge session: 3:15- 5:15pm – Sit back and enjoy two musical performances or stand-up comedy while sampling tasty treats.

Banquet session: 7-9.30pm – Enjoy stand-up comedy shows or live music acts while munching on a delicious hog roast and making use of the caravan bar. Particularly look out for Phil Wang, headlining on Sunday night.

Last night’s feast of comedy, headlined by hysterical sister act Flo & Jo, certainly hit the spot – as did the interval hog roast!

And there was even the bonus of the weather staying kind for us too.

As dusk fell, with our bellies full and our ribs tickled, there were few places we’d rather be at that moment in time.

Warwick Castle, Picnic In The Park, comedy, live music

If I was to add any suggestions for an even more enhanced experience, I would like to see better lighting. It was difficult to make out the comedians when night fell as they chose to perform off-stage. And the ‘sweet treat’ which followed our hog roast did slightly disappoint.

However, these are minor imperfections on what was an otherwise much-welcomed distraction from the issues of the day.

At between £30 and £50 for adults, the price is better value than it might at first seem because it also includes castle entry, either on the same or following day. (In itself worth £22)

With a new emphasis on al fresco entertainment in the present climate, this is one of those I would be inclined to recommend. A truly lovely evening – but bring along your brolly just in case.

Picnic at the Castle is only available via pre-booking online. For line-ups and bookings visit: www.warwick-castle.com/explore/events/picnic-at-the-castle.

Good option for entertaining the family in post-pandemic school holidays

Good option for entertaining the family in post-pandemic school holidays

AS we’re still getting to grips with the realities of a post-pandemic lifestyle – while the rest of the school holidays span ahead of us – there are now fewer ways that we’re comfortable in spending our family time.

So when Go Ape in Coventry recently reopened after lockdown it presented a tempting option in our ‘neck of the woods.’

Go Ape, Coombe Abbey Country Park, COVID-19, safety measures, Coventry

Set in 500 acres of historic woodlands at Coombe Abbey Country Park, there is no shortage of excitement – but also with a choice of courses for different thrill levels.

My teenage sons and three friends took on the Tree Top Challenge which is open to all experience levels (over 1.4 metres). But this doesn’t mean it’s a pushover for the more confident adventurers as there’s a mix of crossings cleverly designed to test everyone’s limits.

If you’re supervising someone younger, you’re not restricted to following in all their footsteps as the crossings do split off in various places offering different challenge levels while reuniting at the other end.

Go Ape, Coombe Abbey Country Park, COVID-19, safety measures, Coventry

And, despite traversing a few of Go Ape’s 35 courses over the years, the boys were delighted by Coombe’s new elements, such as a dual Tarzan swing and the exclusive Alpine zip-to-zip – a series of zip wires. Exclusive to Coventry, this feature soon has you swinging through trees with abandon, culminating in a 200m double zip course landing. Plummet – a vertical drop from a 12-metre-high platform is currently suspended but, from previous experience, I can report, is particularly exhilarating.

 

The zip to zip provides a thrilling finale to a course that, in my opinion, helps Coombe stand out from the others we’ve experienced.

For the younger ‘apes’ there is also The Tree Top Adventure (for all ages over 1 metre) and Tree Top Adventure + (for six plus and over 1.2 metres).

Compared to our first visit just after it opened last spring, the woodland area has matured and now and, more than ever, participants feel like they’re truly swinging in the trees.

But, in a new climate of cautiousness that’s been forced upon us, did we feel reassured by Go Ape’s COVID safety measures?

The equipment is regularly cleaned, there’s a hand sanitisation station, screens at the booking kiosk and distancing is encouraged between groups on the course. Instructors also wear visors.

Even the pens we borrow to sign the waiver form are deposited back into a separate container for wiping down once we’re finished.

But it’s the peace of mind of the open air and sensible, yet unobtrusive, safety measures that left us feeling comfortable on the day.

What better time than post lockdown to appreciate the freedom of the great outdoors – and from what better vantage point than the canopies of beautiful Coombe Abbey Country Park.

So swing on by, you won’t regret it.

Further details at: https://goape.co.uk/locations/coventry