THERE’S a gastropub just a few moments from the shopping heart of Leamington Spa which is fast developing a reputation as one of the best foodie pubs.
A stalwart of the Warwickshire dining scene, The Star & Garter has everything you’d expect to find in a great gastropub – a warm welcome, relaxed surroundings, friendly service and of course, delicious food and drink.
The duo behind all of this are manager Hollie Hawkins and head chef Stefan Elliott, who between them and their teams front and back of house, strive to make the pub the perfect place to unwind and enjoy top quality fresh food and drink.
Hollie took over the reins at the pub in September 2019 and has lost no time in making the place even more welcoming and comfortable. She’s brought some nice touches to the bar, with new high tables and chairs for more informal grazing or a relaxed bite to eat, and a sense of style to the eatery with smart new place settings and tableware.
Hollie has fantastic food and wine knowledge from her days working at the Compass Group and Greene King pubs and loves making guests feel completely at home.
She said: “This is a gorgeous pub that already had a great reputation for the quality of its food, drink and service, so all I’ve really had to do are a few tweaks to make it lovelier than ever.
“Whenever I have a dinner party at home, I like to infuse the evening with good food, drink, friends and conversation, and that’s exactly what I try to do here too. I’ll often open a bottle or two of something special – I want people to share our passion for serving the good stuff – and look after guests really well so they feel right at home. There’s nothing better for me than looking round the pub seeing everyone chatting and having a fantastic time,” she says.
Head chef Stefan Elliott, pictured right, has also made a big impact since joining the pub last autumn. He used to work with Michelin-starred Warrick Dodds of Northcote Manor and under the watchful eye of Sergi Arola in Madrid, before spending time in Marbella cooking with fantastic local produce from wild fish to caviar. Lots of those incredible influences have brushed off on his food and inspired some of the dishes on his new menu.
Stefan only cooks with the good stuff, too – free-range chicken, eggs, pork, ice cream and sustainable fish, native where possible. All the beef and lamb he uses are British, reared by farmers who share the same ethics and with whom the business has long-term relationships. All the pub’s 28 day dry-aged steaks and its steak burgers come from Leamington’s Aubrey Allen, who only supply slow and ethically reared beef.
New for spring are mains of wild mushroom and pea tart with truffle Hollandaise, rocket, radish and beetroot salad and roast Cornish lamb with broad beans, peas, button onions and new potatoes.
Stefan has also created a good range of veggie dishes, including creamy garlic mushrooms on sourdough toast and a daily changing spring soup of the day, and vegan options, like baba ghanoush with pomegranate and flatbread plus beetroot falafel and coconut yoghurt. When only a steak will do, there’s 28 day dry-aged 8oz rump cap steak or 28 day dry-aged 10oz rib rye, served with chips and watercress and Béarnaise or peppercorn sauce on the side.
Above the pub, there’s a sophisticated private dining room which overlooks the delightfully secluded Dell gardens opposite. A grand, elegantly proportioned room with full length sash windows that let the light flood in and its own balcony, it’s ideal for dinner and drinks parties, business meetings and conferences for up to 26 guests.
All of this makes The Star & Garter exactly the right place to hole up for something delicious to eat and drink. So whether you need a quick pit-stop for lunch, a leisurely weekend brunch, a delectable three-course dinner or a feast fit for any celebration, the pub offers it all.
The Star & Garter is open from 9am to 11pm Monday-Thursday, 9am to 12am Friday and Saturday and 9am to 10.30pm on Sunday. Good food is served all day, every day, with lunch and dinner plus a fixed price lunch every Monday to Saturday, with two courses at £14.75 or three for £17.75.
Find them at 4-6 Warwick Street, Leamington Spa CV32 5LL. Tel: 01926 359 960. www.starandgarterleamington.co.uk.