Fine dining delivered to your door!

Fine dining delivered to your door!

By the time we reached lockdown part III we had become more accustomed to takeaways as the go-to alternative for those special occasions.

But for those of us who still occasionally hanker after something that cut above – and whose mastery in the kitchen falls seriously short – it’s refreshing to see a rise in the trend of fine dining deliveries.

Bramble Dining, fine dining, Richard Bramble, chef
Richard Bramble. Photo by Dave Fawbert Photography.

One such business on hand to step in and salvage my birthday and Valentine’s Day plans (same weekend!) was Bramble Dining, based in Radford Semele.

Chef Richard Bramble, who has over 19 years’ experience of working in professional kitchens and the catering industry, launched the business with his wife Claudia just one year ago.

They offer a bespoke menu, catering for all tastes as well as a personal chef service where you can be waited on in your own home.

Bramble Dining, fine dining, Richard Bramble, chef
Photo by Dave Fawbert Photography.

But while the business never really had the chance to get going – and we find ourselves still waiting for the COVID restrictions to ease up, Bramble has been innovative in its approach, by offering banquet boxes for home delivery.

My husband and I pre-selected from a Valentine’s menu which arrived at the advised time with every ingredient clearly labelled.

Accompanied by simple-to-follow instructions for final food prep and plating up, it proved even simpler than I had imagined to complete the culinary process to the required standards. Brushing the Beef Wellington with egg and warming it in the oven and heating some jus on the hob. Even I couldn’t come unstuck with that!

The biggest challenge I found – and I’ll never underestimate the artistic skills of a top chef ever again – is the final presentation of the dishes.

With a desire to do the food justice, I thought I’d done a decent job – only to later see the photos Richard sent me of how he plates up the food! My slight failings in the finesse department, happily did not, detract from the overall dining experience.

The stunning flavours and textures in Richard’s menu made this, far from a forgettable lockdown Valentine’s celebration. In fact it is one of the most delicious meals we’ve enjoyed a in a very long time.

Our banquet box (you have to choose the same meals for ease) contained four courses consisting of. . .

Appetiser: Roasted figs wrapped in prosciutto and finished with Warwick honey, crumbled feta cheese and red amaranth micro herb. (Warmed up for just a few minutes in the oven)

 No alternative.

Starter: Smoked duck breast with celeriac puree, cubed beetroot, pickled radish and popped broad beans, finished with pea shoots. (Slice and serve cold)

Alternatives were: Roasted scallops with roe velouté and Provencal breadcrumbs finished with dill oil and pea shoots or Roasted beetroot with goat’s curd, apple jelly and roasted walnuts, finished with red wine vinaigrette and red aramanth micro herb.

Classic Beef Wellington

Main: Classic Beef Wellington with parsnip puree, purple sprouting broccoli and crispy parsnips, finished with red wine jus. (Heat the beef in the oven for 15 minutes, warm the broccoli and parsnip puree in the microwave and heat the jus on the stove.)

Alternatives were: Classic half lobster with garlic herb butter, mussels Provencal, watercress salad and buttered new potatoes finished with a side of light truffle mayonnaise or Tomato consume and popped broad bean risotto with tomato salsa infused with garlic and basil finished with rocket salad.

Dessert: Chilli and chocolate tray bake with fresh raspberries and cardamon Chantilly cream. (Just serve!)

Alternatives were: Lemon drizzle sponge with crème Anglaise finished with pistachio crumb and rose petals or Vanilla-infused baked yoghurt with rhubarb, confit orange, caramelised crushed pecan nuts and rose petals.

Then chocolate truffles to share.

These are just some mouthwatering examples and three more menu options – at varying price points – can be found on their website at: https://brambledining.com/

We are all looking forward to a return to the restaurants, hopefully soon – but in the meantime, Richard’s fine dining brought to our doorstep is doing a great job in filling that void, especially on birthdays and anniversaries.

Even afterwards, Bramble’s services also extend to events and weddings.

And for the summer there are plans to provide BBQ packs too.

So, if you have a special occasion coming up – or you’re a foodie just looking to lift your spirits in lockdown, you won’t go wrong here.

Fine food, Bramble Dining, Richard Bramble

A fine dining experience in almost every sense. – I say ‘almost’ because unfortunately I still had to do the washing up!

But make a booking post-pandemic and the team will even do that for you too! – For a small extra fee, the waiter service is also provided – the promise is they will leave the dining area and kitchen exactly as they had found it – maybe even better!

So if, like me, your love of good food does not match up to your own culinary ambition – or you’re just yearning for a bit of luxury at home – give Bramble a call.

You’ll quickly remember what it is you’ve been missing! A genuinely ‘fine’ dining experience.

  • Bramble Dining also last year teamed up with Winchcombe Farm in Upper Tysoe to offer the additional service of a private chef for guests staying in any of their lodges.
Locked and loaded: Young entrepreneurs have a keen ‘ear’ for business!

Locked and loaded: Young entrepreneurs have a keen ‘ear’ for business!

Locket Down Jewellery owners Sara and Cherry

WAS there ever a better tale of adapting your circumstances to a pandemic than a business that has even named itself after it!

Locket Down Jewellery was born out of lockdown and is the passion project-come-enterprise of two best friends from Bath.

Sara and Cherry design and make unique ceramic jewellery that is quirky and different to most of what’s already out there, so perfect gift inspiration for a friend, relative or even yourself!

And with both Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day on the horizon, it could be the perfect opportunity to support another new small business on its journey to growth.

After Cherry was furloughed from her catering job and Sara spent three months shielding, the pair sought solace in a hobby around their love of jewellery.

Cherry said: “What started out as a hobby soon turned into a passion and all we could talk about was new designs and techniques. We pour our heart and soul into every pair of earrings! After sharing all we could with our friends and families, we decided it was time to share it with the world, so Locket Down Jewellery was born. We are, possibly, the crazy girls who decided to start a small business in a pandemic!”

“There have been some lows, there have been moments where quitting seems like a great idea, in fact where it has seemed like the only option, but whenever these moments arise something happens, not always significant, but always positive! I’m not sure I believe in fate but something is definitely on our side, telling us to carry on, pushing us forward and giving us the drive to succeed.”

It’s an inspiring message that I hope will see them drive their business to the success they deserve. Check out their Etsy shop here:

Review:

Locket Down Jewellery

I fell in love with the girls’ designs and am now the proud owner of two pairs of Locket Down Jewellery originals!

These bright and breezy styles can’t fail to brighten up any lockdown day and are flexible in that they can equally complement both smart and casual forms of dress.

Locket Down Jewellery

They feel like excellent quality and I look forward to being able to show them off properly to friends as soon as I’m allowed.

In the meantime, Zoom meetings will seem that little bit cheerier thanks to my new Locket Down friends Cherry and Sara.

Here’s wishing them the very best of luck in locking down an entrepreneurial success story for 2021.

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/