Tag Archive: Latest

  • Yorkshire – the Northern Powerhouse – as featured in the Good Food Guide 2019

    Waitrose’s eagerly anticipated Good Food Guide 2019 has just been launched, outlining its top restaurants for 2019. The Guide ranks some of the finest dining establishments in the country and also features high-quality eateries in local areas and neighbourhoods.

    The Good Food Guide still uses reader feedback and anonymous inspections to compile its reviews. First published in hardback in 1951, the Guide originally cost five shillings and listed “600 places throughout Britain where you can rely on a good meal at a reasonable price” within its 224 pages.

    Skosh, York

    In total, 70 restaurants, pubs and cafés across Yorkshire have been recommended in the 2019 guide, with 13 in Leeds. The Moorcock Inn in Sowerby Bridge was singled out for ‘Best Use of Ingredients’ and also picked up a special editor’s award as ‘Best New Entry’. Judges commented: “Food in the must-book restaurant marries localism, foraging and fermentation with an enthusiasm for cooking over fire.”

    Masterchef star Liz Cottam’s Home is one of Leeds’ new entries in the Guide this year, as is stylish Japanese restaurant, Issho. Other new Yorkshire entries include Ashoka in Sheffield, Partisan in York and No Name, also in Sheffield.

    Meanwhile, restaurants including Man Behind The Curtain, The Reliance and Friends of Ham all retain their places. As do these places that I have previously reviewed and recommended for Great Food Club:

    Skosh, York
    Mr P’s Curious Tavern, York
    Rascills, Raskelf
    The Rattle Owl, York
    The Hare Inn, Scawton
    The Black Swan, Oldstead
    The Star Inn, Harome

    I have my own copy of the Guide and will be adding my reviews here for Great Food Club as I eat my way through the best places in God’s Own County! Wish me luck!

    The Star at Harome

  • The White Lion at Knighton in Staffordshire: Revived!

    The historic White Lion at Knighton was on the verge of being redeveloped before it was bought by Julian and Helen Jackson in early 2016. Ever since they’ve been on a journey working with local food suppliers, Tanners Wines and the likes of Forrest Gin to curate a venue that celebrates the Great British Pub and the land and culture of Staffordshire & Great Britain.

    During the past two-and-a-half years, The White Lion at Knighton has been awarded Taste of Staffordshire accreditation, OpenTable’s Diners’ Choice Award, entry into The AA’s Good Pub Guide as well as to The Great Dining Club’s annual publication. With 20-30 pubs closing each week in Britain, The ‘Lion’s story is one of hard work, determination and fabulous customer and community support breeding success.

    Julian previously worked as a consultant in the legal and IT sectors. Working mainly in London but hailing from and living in rural Staffordshire, Julian’s love for The ‘Lion harks back to the 1980’s when he used to visit with his family. In fact, his first “wage” was 20p for washing glasses during an England vs Wales rugby match being aired at the pub! Developing a passion for cooking and food during his teens, Julian experimented with Italian, Indian and Mediterranean cuisines before falling in love with modern British food interpreted by the likes of Glyn Purnell, Tom Kerridge, Rick Stein, Nathan Outlaw and not least, Jamie Oliver, whose passion for simple food done brilliantly, for team work and for community resonates through The ‘Lion.

    Helen, previously head of marketing for an IT company, met Julian through work in 2011 and shares with him a passion for food and hospitality. Her enthusiasm for ethical food production is stamped on the business, and in 2018 Helen is leading the pub’s efforts to work with Food Made Good and The Sustainable Restaurant Association. On a completely different note, her love of music and laughter sets the atmosphere at The ‘Lion, and her focus on customer service and experience ensures every visit is memorable.

    Staffordshire Tamworth Pigs are reared at The ‘Lion

    The pub’s menu changes seasonally, with a focus on British produce and simple, beautiful, flavourful cooking by head chef Dan Bishop, who cut his teeth in AA Rosette kitchens across the North West of England. Dan’s passion for food began as a teenager when he took his first job as kitchen porter in his busy local pub, where he learned his first recipe – haddock fish cakes! An avid collector of recipe books and food journalism, Dan’s repertoire has grown significantly since then – immersing himself in cuisines from around the Mediterranean, Scandinavia and North Africa, Dan has developed his own laid-back, informal style of cooking using excellent British, seasonal ingredients, presented beautifully and pulled together with exquisite sauces!

    Julian says of The White Lion’s culinary offering: “Our food is a reflection of the land and culture of our Great Britain, and this is delivered by working with some of the best food suppliers in the country.”

    Great food relies first and foremost on great ingredients which is why The White Lion works with the following producers and suppliers:

    Perrys of Eccleshall
    Suppliers of Staffordshire beef, lamb, pork, chicken and game to The White Lion. Winners of the Countryside Alliance Champion Butcher of Great Britain, Perrys has a nose-to-tail approach to butchery and Master Butcher Steve Hill works closely with the pub’s chefs. Perrys’ heritage is deeply rooted in farming and the provenance of its products is paramount – as a result all are sourced from within five miles of the butcher.

    Wild Harbour Fish Company
    Suppliers of fish & seafood to The White Lion, as well as many of the best restaurants and hotels nationwide, Wild Harbor takes delivery of its fish daily and directly from the fisherman of Hayle, Cornwall. Its focus on responsible fishing as well as on supreme quality is what sets Wild Harbour apart. It also means that The White Lion’s daily delivery of fresh seafood is second to none. Furthermore, if you want to know how your John Dory or your Haddock was hooked, Julian can tell you right down to the Skipper and the crew!

    Bearstone Fruit Farm
    Seasonal fruit and veg grown on site and within 500 yards of the pub.

    Hungersheath Farm
    Seasonal fruit and veg grown on site and within two miles of the pub.

    Bens Eggs
    Free-range eggs from Chickens roaming a field within two miles of the pub.

    Exmoor Caviar
    The only Caviar Farm in the UK and they’re ethos is simple: to produce outstanding caviar

    Harvey & Brockless
    Suppliers of some of the best British cheeses, charcuterie and condiments available.

    The White Lion also provides excellent drinks options. It is a country pub that delivers brilliant food, not a restaurant that used to be a pub, so drink is at the core of its offering. It offers 10-15 cask beers a month, most brewed within 30 miles of the pub and all brewed to the highest standard! Salopian, Hobson’s, Woods, Lymestone and Slaters breweries all regularly feature. The Coach House Brewing Company – Cheshire’s oldest cask ale producer, is supplier of The White Lion’s “House Ale” – Coach House Farriers.

    The White Lion has been saved from redevelopment thanks to the hard work and philosophy of its owners. What an excellent job they are doing!

    Photos: Rick Barrett of Ambitious Creative Co.

  • Quick review: Out of my Tree by Daniel Clifford of Midsummer House

    This weighty tome stretches to 416 pages – surely making it one of the biggest cookery books of recent times.

    It contains recipes and pictures of stunning dishes – many of which look almost impossible to duplicate. They show the evolution of the restaurant and Daniel’s drive to deliver extraordinary dishes of the highest order.

    The thing that really sets this book apart, however, is Daniel’s honest critique of himself and his personal journey – which is inseparably linked with Cambridge’s two-Michelin-starred Midsummer House.

    Chronicling his 25 years in the hospitality industry – through battles with staff, floods and failed relationships – this book lays bare the industry. But more than that, it provides a window into one man’s obsession to reach the top.

    There are no easy paths in life but that is the fun of it all. It’s the trials and tribulations that make us what we are – and which makes success when it finally comes all the sweeter!

    Out of my Tree by Daniel Clifford is published by Meze Publishing. You can order it here.

  • Nibble, bite, eat, chew: Taste the Difference at Tamworth Food Gusto Food & Drink Festival 2018

    If you are a foodie and love great food and drink, the Tamworth Food Gusto Festival on September 8 and 9 is the place to be!

    Food Gusto have lined up over 70 of the region’s best food & drink producers, all hand picked to set your taste buds on fire. All producers are passionate about what they do – creating exciting products made with care and provenance.

    The two-day event returns to Tamworth Castle Grounds, with gates open 10am-5pm both days. Entry costs £2, with children under 10 going free. Tantalising treats on offer include hog roast, bison and venison burgers, wood-fired pizza baked before your eyes, plus traditional Indian, Caribbean, Thai, Indonesian, Mexican, Indian, vegan and vegetarian dishes, as well as good old English favourites.

    Cheese lovers can sample a wide range of flavours such as oak-smoked, cheddar with port, chilli, garlic and, for the brave, fiery dragon. For those with a sweet tooth, there are handmade chocolates and fudge.

    All these can be washed down with locally brewed beer, real ale, cocktails, English wines, organic wines, prosecco and barista coffees.

    International professional chef Simon Smith will be running the demonstration area. You will be able to get up close and enjoy the live cooking demos in the show kitchen. On Saturday Mat Gothard will demonstrate his butchery skills by holding two demonstrations: how to make sausages and how to cut and prepare a side of beef.

    In addition to the sights, smells and tastes of fine food there will be a full live music line up – easy listening with a glass of wine or beer! On Saturday you can dance and sing along to music from the 1940s and ‘50s with a Cilla Black tribute and mother and daughter duo, Sincerely Yours. On Sunday there will be a group of bands led by talented local artist Rob Lea. Full details can be found on the website.

    Strykers will be offering free outdoor bowling for all children (subject to weather) and there will be kids’ rides, face painting and other activities.

    The event is held in the Castle Pleasure Grounds with easy access from the A5 and surrounding region. There are nine car parks around town with a map available on the Food Gusto website.

    The event gives visitors the chance to find out more about the fantastic businesses they have on their doorstep and to sample some of their exciting creations.

    Food Gusto festivals aren’t just about food – they are about having a good time. The team has worked hard to make sure it includes a range of fun activities for the whole family to enjoy.

    For more information check out the website, call 01530 411337 or email info@foodgusto

  • Transported to Italy at The School of Artisan Food

    What better way to spend a sunny Sunday in July than cooking up some wonderful Italian dishes at the fabulous School of Artisan Food in north Nottinghamshire? Can’t think of many. The School of Artisan Food is a favourite of Great Food Club, located in the former fire stables of the Welbeck Estate in the heart of Sherwood Forest.

    With its outstanding reputation for training, it attracts skilled artisan producers and practitioners from across Europe. The School offers courses in traditional techniques such as baking, cheesemaking, charcuterie, brewing, butchery and preserving. It also provides courses on how to start your own food business and puts on fascinating lectures on food culture and the history of food.

    I was delighted to be invited to attend an “Italian Summer” hosted by Valentina Harris, an acknowledged expert on Italian food with over 30 books published. We were a small group, enabling everyone to get to know each other and allowing time for Valentina to regale us with anecdotes of her time growing up in Italy, as well as clearly explaining the recipes and origins of the dishes we were preparing.

    Our menu for the day included panzenella, a traditional salad with bread, a spaghetti with Trapanese pesto with almonds, a traditional Sicilian baked aubergine dish with tomato and mozzarella, and a superb sea bass baked in a salt crust. We also made both fruit and chocolate semi-freddo. All the recipes were delicious and easily replicated at home.

    Valentina is an engaging and enthusiastic tutor who can happily work with both experienced cooks and those who need a bit more support. She encouraged us to work together in pairs and as a group (never sliced and fried so many aubergines in my life!) and had time to talk to everyone, taste their efforts and offer advice.

    I always comment on the quality of the in-house catering at the School, which is never less than superb. Today we were provided with a simple but delicious feast of home-made breads, local cheeses and salads to keep the wolf from the door, before we concluded our day feasting on dishes we had produced throughout the course.

    Valentina’s “Italian Summer” is great fun and informative, and on sunny day on the Welbeck Estate we were transported to Italy with the smells and ingredients of Naples and Sicily. If you fancy trying your hand at Italian cooking, I would highly recommend this course, which currently costs £185 and includes all your ingredients and a homemade lunch. You can also enjoy some of Valentina’s hand-picked Italian artisan products from her online store, Valentina’s Selection.

  • Harker’s Farm Shop’s impressive refurbishment gives foodies even more reasons to visit this Nottinghamshire gem

    Harker’s Farm Shop in Clipston-on-the-Wolds, Nottinghamshire, has never looked better. A summer refurbishment has resulted in a gleaming new butchery counter packed with Harker’s biggest draw –fresh home-reared meat. There’s also a new maturing fridge and a new deli counter full of local cheeses, patés and cooked meats.

    The new butchery counter.

    These improvements are underpinned by new floors and wall cladding, an improved water system, upgraded electrics and a new production room. The shop feels fresher, brighter and more modern than ever. No wonder its many loyal fans are impressed, and no wonder people who discover Harker’s for the first time feel like they’ve found a precious gem in the Nottinghamshire countryside.

    And a new new deli counter.

    The maturing fridge.

    Sitting at the heart of a 100-acre working family farm, a large part of Harker’s Farm Shop’s appeal comes from the impressive provenance of its food and drink. A great deal of the meat sold in the shop has been raised in fields nearby – including outstanding aged Hereford and Aberdeen Angus beef, wonderful Texel-cross lamb and superb free-range poultry. Most of the rest of the produce on its shelves – from the bread to the beer – is locally sourced.

    A few members of the Harker’s team, with Rupert, Tracy and Samuel Harker in the middle.

    The rest of the shop’s appeal comes from its setting and friendly feel. It has a viewing area where children can look at donkeys, cattle, alpacas, goats, lambs, rabbits and ducks, plus a small park where they can zoom about on toy tractors. This shop is a small, family business with a personal, welcoming approach – although the 14-strong team are always efficient and professional too.

    Over 250 varieties of sausage are made here!

    Apart from its beef and lamb, Harker’s Farm Shop is probably most famous for its sausages. The butchers hand-make an amazing 250 varieties on site using top quality Nottinghamshire pork. Many customers come in for their favourite bangers each week – the likes of Pork, Cider & Apple, Venison & Red Wine, Wild Boar & Orange and Classic Toulouse. Harker’s also delivers its meat and sausages to many local businesses including Langar Hall, Perkins Restaurant in Plumtree, Escabeche in West Bridgford and Edin’s in Nottingham. In fact, Edin’s has commissioned Harker’s to make its own special Italian sausage, which uses pork meat ground courser than normal and then combined with rosemary, garlic and parsley.

    There’s much more than just meat for sale at Harker’s Farm Shop.

    Harker’s bread is from Turner’s Bakery of Cropwell Bishop.

    Plenty of fresh fruit and locally grown veg.

    At a time when many UK retailers are cutting back, Harker’s Farm Shop is on the up. There’s been a shop on the farm in Clipston since 1954 when Tom ‘Dos’ Harker and his wife Margaret opened their farm gates to the public to sell eggs and poultry. Today, Tom’s son Rupert runs the farm and the shop with his wife Tracy and son Samuel. It is now a three-generation business. By investing to refurbish Harker’s Farm Shop so beautifully, it has every chance of becoming a fourth-generation business… and beyond.

    Rupert (left) and Samuel Harker

  • Hart’s of Nottingham to launch September tasting menu

    To mark its 20th anniversary year, Hart’s of Nottingham has so far showcased two tasting menus in 2018. This September it is launching a third, coinciding with the announcement that it has just won two AA rosettes for culinary excellence.

    For September’s tasting menu, the team will present six courses paired with wines carefully selected by owner by Tim Hart. “This tasting menu is a fun way to experience the best from head chef Dan Burridge, with a twist from Michelin Star chef Aaron Patterson from our sister restaurant at Hambleton Hall,” said Hart’s marketing manager Claire Jolliff. “With them running the show, you can expect the food to be divine.”

    The full menu includes six taster-sized courses followed by coffee and petit fours. Here’s the full list, with comments by head chef Dan Burridge:

    Girolle mushroom & smoked bacon, smoked Burrata cheese
    “Discover the exquisite taste and fruity aroma of fresh girolles, bright yellow in colour with a hint of apricot. Perfectly paired with the smokiness of the bacon and soft cream cheese, which is smoked in-house.”

    Girolle mushroom & smoked bacon, smoked Burrata cheese

    Terrine of Mediterranean vegetables, saffron dressing
    “This is a fantastic way to showcase Mediterranean vegetables that are at their best in September. The vegetables are cooked separately and layered in a terrine. A dish packed with of colour and flavour.”

    Terrine of Mediterranean vegetables, saffron dressing

    Chicken liver parfait, kumquats
    “This smooth, rich parfait is one of our classic dishes.”

    Chicken liver parfait, kumquats

    Monkfish, Thai broth, pickled vegetables, lemongrass, ginger, coconut, coriander
    “As chefs we always try to balance our menus, so we have introduced a light dish after the rich parfait, which is refreshing yet full of vibrant flavour.”

    Monkfish, Thai broth, pickled vegetables, lemongrass, ginger, coconut, coriander

    Roast grouse, butternut squash, pickled elderberries
    “Roast grouse is such a treat and we love to have it on the menu when it is in season. Its flavour is delicious and unique, and we have given it a modern twist with adding sharp pickled elderberries with seasonal butternut squash.”

    Roast grouse, butternut squash, pickled elderberries

    Caramelised peach melba
    “Another classic dish, which is fantastic with our own twist.”

    Caramelised peach melba

    Hart’s caters for any food allergies or specific requirements – please let them know in advance. The tasting menu is only available to the whole table and please allow 2.5 hours to fully enjoy the experience. The tasting menu is available for dinner on Sunday to Friday throughout September, priced at £65 per person. Wine pairing will be available for an additional £55 per person. An overnight Gourmet Package is also available from £279 for two people during September. Book on 0115 988 1900.

    Quick Q&A with Hart’s head chef, Dan Burridge

    How would you describe your style of cooking?
    “Seasonal, elegant, classical with a modern twist.”

    You’ve been head chef at Hart’s Restaurant for eight years. How do you continue to keep the menu fresh and exciting?
    “Our menu is always changing to reflect the best of the ingredients available, which always keeps everything fresh and exciting. I also work closely with Aaron Patterson, Michelin Star Chef from Hambleton Hall. He inspires me to experiment with new dishes and ingredients. We are passionate about great food and continually want to innovate with new dishes.”

    How big is your team at Hart’s?
    “We have 10 in our team. They are a very skilled team who love to work with exceptional ingredients.”

    What are your favourite ingredients to work with?
    “My favourite ingredients change with the seasons – that is what makes working in our kitchen so enjoyable. With our ever-changing menus, we can show the best of what local seasonal ingredients are on offer at that time – like Starkey’s strawberries from Southwell, which are perfectly sweet and delicious.”

    What do you enjoy most about showcasing a tasting menu?
    “I do love feeding people things that they may not have chosen for themselves from an a la carte menu. We’re opening up people’s minds and taste buds to new ingredients and flavours.”

  • We visit Fen Farm Venison, Horbling Fen, Lincolnshire

    Driving through the scorched Lincolnshire Fens in late July, we find Fen Farm Venison down a battered farm track. Peter and Jane Wesley, along with Peter’s mother Janet, are in the prep kitchen, where the three-strong team (which becomes four when Janet’s husband Brian gets involved, which he does often) are busy getting their venison ready to sell at farmers’ markets: Market Harborough, Oakham, Stamford, Sleaford, Creake Abbey, Grantham, Ely, Lincoln Bailgate and Sandringham.

    Janet (left), Peter and Jane Wesley

    “It’s hard work but we love it, and it’s great to do it together as a family,” says Peter, whose father introduced the first deer to the previously all-dairy farm in 1994. “At markets when people buy a venison burger or a bit of steak, they don’t see the graft that goes in here on the farm. And it can be frustrating when other traders sell things like supermarket sausages and attract big queues. But that said we have wonderful, loyal customers who appreciate and enjoy our farm venison, and that makes all the work worthwhile. We’re very proud of our venison and love producing it ourselves.”

    We jump into Peter’s John Deere Gator and take a tour of the 200-acre farm, which sits on Crown Estate land. Basking in the Lincolnshire sunshine are 400 red deer, a variety native to the UK. Peter explains: “I shoot the deer between the ages of 12 and 27 months on the farm and then they go to the abattoir. Because they are killed in familiar surroundings while in a relaxed state, they undergo no stress, which means the meat is adrenaline-free and high welfare.”

    The farm stopped dairy production entirely in 2000 but did not become a 100% venison operation. The Wesleys also grow wheat, barley and peas. Some of this crop is fed to the red deer.

    And therein lies the biggest attraction of Fen Farm Venison meat: the deer are free range, well cared for and fed on Fenland grass plus a little homegrown barley. They are slaughtered humanely, and the venison is carefully prepared by a family that’s proud of their produce. You can’t ask for anything more of your meat.

  • 45 West Distillers unveil Leicester Tigers gin

    45 West Distillers, makers of Burleighs Gin, have teamed up with Leicester Tigers to create an exciting new collaboration bottle inspired by the club’s famous red, white and green stripes.

    Burleighs Gin is made with silver birch, dandelion, burdock and elderberry – inspired by the Leicestershire woodland in which the distillery is housed.

    You can pre-order the special-edition bottle here. Customers who purchase the first batch of pre-orders will receive an invitation to collect their gin in person at an exclusive launch event on Saturday September 8, after Tigers’ first home fixture of the season against Newcastle Falcons (3pm). On this date, Leicester Tigers will take over Burleighs’ city centre venues: 45 West, 45 St. Martins and the Distiller’s Kitchen. Accompanied by members of the Tigers squad, this will be the first opportunity to try the new collaboration gin, which will be available at Tigers 25,689-capacity home ground as well as Burleighs associated bars.

    The 10-times English rugby union champions will also host events at Welford Road stadium throughout the season, inviting fans to sample products from 45 West Distillery.

    In addition, Tigers will host a special ‘Meet the New Guys’ cocktail evening on September 25 at Welford Road. Burleighs mixologists will be on hand with demonstrations and lessons for all to get involved. There will be a Q&A with Tigers newest signings, too. Tickets can be purchased here.

    Leicester Tigers Gin will be priced at £35 and joins Burleighs signature collection: London Dry Gin, Export Strength, Distillers Cut Gin, Pink Edition and Leicester Dry Gin.

    Andrea Pinchen, commercial director at Leicester Tigers, said: “Gin has risen in popularity in recent years so it’s hugely exciting to be able to work with a successful local distiller in Burleighs to create our own Leicester Tigers bottle. Having worked closely with Matt Payne and his team, we’re proud to support the Leicestershire business and, with a huge mix of fans around the world, our gin-lovers won’t be disappointed.”

    Matt Payne, Burleighs managing director, added: “It’s a huge honour to partner one of world’s elite sporting teams. 45 West has long been an advocate of supporting local businesses. Teaming up with Leicester Tigers is something for the county to be very proud of.”

    Leicester Tigers and Burleighs will offer exclusive competitions and gin experiences to season-ticket holders and fans throughout the season.

  • Review: Hops & Chops, Northampton

    Hops & Chops opened in March 2018 in the village of St Crispins on the outskirts of Northampton. It describes itself as a ‘modern chophouse’. Chophouses were popular in the 1600s, and brothers James and Matt Ingram have brought this one right into the 21st century.

    As soon as you walk in you are faced with a display fridge containing the most amazing large cuts of marbled meats. The décor can only be described as ‘butcher chic’. The walls are adorned with pictures of cows and butchery equipment.

    We chose the ‘Honey Heat Tomapork’ – bourbon-glazed pork belly and pork popcorn – plus the Steak Frites. Both dishes were cooked to perfection and the portion sizes are generous, so make sure you are hungry when you arrive. Vegetarian options are available.

    As well as the fantastic food menu, there is an extensive drinks list with a large selection of craft beers, plus a gin selection that spans two pages.

    Hops & Chops is open Monday to Thursday 12pm-2.30pm and 6pm–10pm, Friday and Saturday 12pm-10pm and Sunday 11am-9pm. Booking is essential in the evenings as this place can get quite busy, especially at weekends.

  • Review: Cue, Stoneygate, Leicester

    When I were a lad, cafés were places to get a full English. Some were bad, some were good. Nowadays they are more likely to involve avocados and chia seeds – but again, some are just following a trend, others are a real treat. Newly opened Cue is definitely in the latter camp.

    It fits in well to the upmarket surroundings of Leicester’s Stoneygate with a simple, pared-down style. The food offering is pure 2018 – shaksuka, eggs florentine, quinoa and buckwheat granola – but on each visit we’ve seen real care and intelligence put into every dish. Sliced avocado on toasted sourdough soared above hipster cliché, being paired with salty crumbled feta, a spiky chilli and lime dressing and perfectly poached eggs. A lunch dish saw delicate Korean-smoked brisket piled into an excellent brioche bun with a very tasty sesame-rich Asian ‘slaw. It came with “home fries” – in this instance, good and crunchy sautéd new potatoes.

    For old-school café lovers there’s even a fried breakfast – though note this being a halal business there’s beef sausages and beef bacon. There’s a good range of of teas and coffees and the cakes are suitably indulgent – think Eton Mess tiffin or white chocolate and raspberry torte.

    With super-friendly and helpful staff creating a laid-back atmosphere, this is the kind of place every every local shopping street needs.

  • Review: The Church Bar & Restaurant, Northampton

    The Church is a staple of the Northampton restaurant scene. It has been open since 2005 and is a unique and beautiful venue. Previously St John’s Church, it’s now the oldest secular building in Northampton, dating back to the 12th century.

    The Church’s owners have done a brilliant job of using the Grade I-listed building’s original features to create a stunning modern restaurant. This makes for a wonderfully atmospheric venue – perfect for a celebration meal. Fittingly, it’s available for weddings.

    The food lives up to the amazing surroundings. The menu is short but well balanced, and the cooking is accomplished. On our most recent lunch visit we shared the charcuterie board to start, followed by the gnocchi and the lamb koftas. The lamb is sourced from Red Barn Farm in the nearby village of Old. For dessert, the charcoal macaroons with chocolate ganache were delicious. There’s an award-winning vegan menu, which is pre-order only.

    The Church is open Tuesday to Saturday from midday until late. There isn’t any parking at the restaurant itself but if you arrive for a dinner reservation after 6pm you can leave your car in the adjacent British Heart Foundation shop car park.

  • Review: The White Lion, Knighton, Staffordshire

    The White Lion describes its ethos as “excellent as a minimum, local where we can, ethically produced and delivered with passion”. That’s an accurate picture of what you’ll find at this pub, set in the Staffordshire countryside near to its borders with Shropshire and Cheshire.

    Julian and Helen took over the rundown pub and have quickly worked wonders, hitting that sweet spot between traditional country pub and high-quality dining.

    Besides the original characterful 17th century bar and cosy snug, there’s a dining room with conservatory area, plus gardens where you can watch the pub’s chickens and Tamworth pigs doing their thing.

    On the menu you’ll find a great range of small plates, starters and platters – look out for the British cured meats sharing starter with such delights as Cornish coppa and Suffolk chorizo. Mains include pub classics with a twist: fish and chips come with seaweed tartar sauce and charred lemon, the burger with smoked pancetta and caramelised onions. Steaks are dry-aged for up to 35 days and there’s some sensational optional accompaniments such as bone marrow or garlic & truffle butter.

    The White Lion excels at modern British cooking and dishes we’ve enjoyed include chicken stuffed with nduja & goats’ cheese and pork faggots with braised lettuce. Seafood fans will love the spanking fresh specials featuring line-caught seabass, turbot, hand-dived scallops and the like. We were wowed by their grilled Cornish lobster with crab mayo and tempura samphire.

  • Review: Lamplight Restaurant, Ashbourne, Derbyshire

    Lamplight restaurant has been around for around 30 years. Located in Victoria Square, Ashbourne, just off the cobbled market place, the 15th century former coaching inn has retained all its character. It’s a wood-beamed jewel, cosy and atmospheric yet minimalist. It’s run by proprietors, chefs and sisters Pat and Linda, and was formerly managed by their parents.

    My partner and I chose a Saturday evening visit and booked a table in advance (recommended). Friendly waiting staff greeted us as we entered up a small flight of stairs to the first floor. We were shown to our table in one of two rooms separated by a spiral staircase, one overlooking the market place, the other neighbouring the soulful kitchen.

    The menu is seasonal. We chose a three-course option for £23 (£21 Wednesday to Friday). Our starters –asparagus & Parma ham accompanied by a perfect soft-poached egg and balsamic glaze – and poached pear, blue cheese & walnut salad – were faultless. For mains we chose chicken breast in mushroom, leek and tarragon cream sauce, and Mediterranean vegetable & halloumi tagliatelle. Both were excellent and delicious. Although sated, we ordered desserts, which were heavenly: chocolate & raspberry brownie, and peach melba Eton mess, both served with whipped cream.

    Conversations overheard in the kitchen were friendly with lots of laughter. Overall, a lovely dining experience and great value for money. We’ll be visiting Lamplight again.

  • Review: Fields Kitchen, Sherburn-in-Elmet, North Yorkshire

    Fields Kitchen, a new addition to the North Yorkshire food scene, nestles on the outskirts of Sherburn-in-Elmet. It is a culinary celebration of the region and features traditional dishes given a 21st century makeover.

    Open daily, it offers breakfast, lunch and sweet treats, sourcing from local suppliers in York, Leeds and surrounding villages. The new building is welcoming, with cosy seating, rustic tables and chairs, and lots of space and light. This is a super addition to this historic area of North Yorkshire (the Wars of the Roses’ Battle of Towton was fought nearby).

    Pre-lunch options include homemade granola, traditional cooked breakfast with Fields baked beans, or a selection of brunch dishes. On a recent visit we chose eggs Florintine, consisting of two free-range poached eggs, toasted rye bread, buttered spinach and fresh Hollandaise sauce. On another visit occasion we stopped by for lunch and enjoyed excellent sandwiches, which are served on either artisan rye bread with caraway seeds, ciabatta or bloomer bread. They braise their ham hock on site, so it is a truly Yorkshire ham!

    Fields Kitchen has excellent drinks selection, including Brew Tea Co loose-leaf tea in amazing glass tea pots, and Leodois coffee – a small independent company which roasts its beans in Yorkshire.

    There’s a seating area outside surrounded by flowering plants and shrubs – it adjoins a garden centre after all – plus the pretty Yorkshire countryside. The staff are super friendly, eager to help and serve with a smile. You can’t really ask for more than that.

    I couldn’t recommend this café more. It’s lovely to see small independent places like this serving local ingredients and cooking from scratch with care.

  • Four creative ways for indies to boost business this summer

    How do you attract new customers and surprise and delight your loyal fans? Here are a few ideas for boosting business this summer, with some fascinating real-world examples.

    1. Hold quirky events
    You don’t generally need to give people an excuse to get out of the house during summer, but you do need to give them a reason to visit. A good way to do this is to take advantage of outside space (if you have it) and hold events. Patios, gardens, rooftops and even nearby spaces such as parks (pending council approval) can be used to your advantage.

    Canbury Secret, a café in Kingston upon Thames, has started running a series of Riverside Yoga & Brunch events this summer. The ticketed events invite the public to a yoga session followed by brunch, giving customers new and old a chance to interact with like-minded people, get out and enjoy the weather.

    Lesley Muir, who runs the yoga, said: “There was a lovely atmosphere because it was such a spectacular setting, with such a lot of community activity taking place all around – tennis, rowing, kayaking, people enjoying the area with their children and, of course, the café itself is a fantastic reason to visit the space.

    “Yoga is for everyone and there was a real mixture of people at the class of all ages. Quite a few were runners who enjoy yoga to build up strength and flexibility. Others were seasoned yogis looking for a chance to practice outside in a beautiful setting. After the class, we all enjoyed a delicious brunch together; it’s very sociable and a fantastic way to make new friends and start the weekend in a relaxed way.”

    Events give you the opportunity to showcase your food and venue, build your brand in the local community and generate revenue, all at the same time.

    The benefits of ticketing
    By ticketing events you can trial the popularity of the idea: there is no need to invest more marketing budget into a concept that is only attracting a couple of patrons. Offer the tickets and if it doesn’t prove popular you’ll know a new idea is needed next time.

    Ticketing also means you can prepare the right amount of food and allocate an appropriate amount of space.

    Limiting the tickets means the experience won’t be saturated and also inspires urgency. If a person wants to attend and the tickets are limited, they are likelier to buy there and then.

    2. Come up with a way to stand out
    A tip for all year round is to find a way for your establishment to stand out. It is not enough to offer great Italian food, for example, if nine other restaurants within a mile do the same thing. People need a reason to visit your business above others.

    The Courtesan in Brixton is a modern dim-sum restaurant that turns into a late-night cocktail bar. They have recently started hosting free weekly burlesque shows, along with a monthly Sunday Supper Club ‘House of Meihua’ event, which is ticketed. These events draw burlesque fans to a potentially undiscovered venue, which may turn them into regular customers, while also treating dim-sum fans to something a little different with their wontons.
    There is no denying there are quite a few burlesque events in London, and similarly more Chinese restaurants than you can count. But by bringing the two together the restaurant has found a unique point of difference.

    So, how do you find your angle?
    – Look at popular trends. Are there any big films/TV shows coming out soon? You could hold themed evenings that serve food and drinks based on the film/show.
    – Is there a gap in the entertainment market near you? Sure, there is a rock venue down the road but is there a jazz club? Could you hold a monthly jazz night and transform the venue into a prohibition-style speak-easy for the night, for instance?
    – Think of something completely original, eyeing key trends. For example, if you’re a dog-friendly pub, why not create a secret dog-lovers’ menu that customers can specially request when they walk in with their four-legged friend? Dare to be different and creative.

    3. Fill in the blanks
    What do you do if you don’t have an outside space and it is 29°C? It is likely you are going to suffer from empty seats outside peak times anyway but particularly while the sun is shining. How can you secure customers during the summer and compete with beer gardens? The answer is to repurpose unused space.

    WorkClub partners cafés and restaurants to offer a co-working space for mobile workers, such as freelancers. The mobile workers turn up to a venue during off-peak hours and work. This gives the venue a flood of new customers in what would otherwise be a quiet part of the day.

    The establishment offers the workers a space with electrical outlets, wi-fi, perhaps air-conditioning, and toilet facilities without the risk of being told to move on. The community of workers helps the establishment by buying food and drink during their time there, helping cash flow.

    Nick Donnelly, managing director at WorkClub, said: “Our community spends on average 3-4 hours working from a WorkClub venue – which means in most cases our members will buy food or drink. This creates a new revenue stream.

    “We have also negotiated some incredible deals with our venues. Free hot drinks, 2-4-1 on the menu, 30% off breakfast – we do this to encourage our members to spend money while they are in a WorkClub.”

    With the rise of the freelancer economy, repurposing your venue is a way to bring in new people and make some money from a space that would otherwise be empty, offering an alternative to busy coffee-shop chains.

    4. Go mobile
    If you can’t get people to come to your restaurant, perhaps it is time to bring your restaurant to them! Over the summer months there are hundreds of festivals held around the country. These attract thousands of people away from the high streets, but these people will still be looking for food.

    A food truck or a stall will open doors to new business during the summer. While your bricks-and-mortar establishment stays open, you can follow the crowds and grow your business on the road, increasing the size of your customer base.

    Steak & Honour, an indie burger joint in Cambridge, have their own vibrant food trucks that they send out to festivals around the UK, but also park around popular areas in Cambridge. Not only do these vans give access to delicious food in multiple locations without asking the public to sacrifice their time in the sun, but they also increase brand awareness, perhaps collecting a few fans along the way.

    Alternatively, if you do not have the means to run a food truck, or the idea isn’t for you, you could consider partnering another brand to hold a pop-up event at their venue.

    An example of this in action is Honest Burgers, who teamed up with The Robin Hood pub in Bristol and served their burgers in the venue. This widens the reach of their products to customers that may not have visited their eatery, but without the additional costs that go with attending events with a pop-up stall or food truck.

    This article was supplied by small-business finance company Liberis. Liberis may be able to offer loans for ideas such as food trucks or redevelopment projects. For example, their ‘Business Cash Advance’ scheme is repaid based on a percentage of card takings rather than a fixed monthly amount, making it easier during off-peak months.

  • Festival of Food & Drink at Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire, September 15-16

    A new Gin School is one of the many attractions at this year’s Festival of Food & Drink at Clumber Park in north Nottinghamshire. Other crowd pullers are cookery demos from MasterChef winner Jane Devonshire, and BBC Britain’s Best Home Cook’s Dan Doherty and Chris Bavin. There will also be cookery workshops with The School of Artisan Food.

    Present, too, will be a mouthwatering selection of producers in the Food & Drink Marquee, a range of street-food traders and pop-up cafés, and live music throughout the weekend. Tickets start at just £7 in advance with free entry into Clumber Park included.

    More here.

    ‘Eat Well for Less’ presenter Greg Wilson will also be at Clumber Park. Photo: Vicki Couchman

    MasterChef winner Jane Devonshire

  • Review: The Bridge Inn, Calver, Derbyshire

    The Bridge Inn at Calver is situated in the heart of the Peak District. It was beautifully renovated and relaunched in 2016, creating a modern and funky ambience while retaining its authentic appeal. There is a large outside seating area with tables, bean bags, riverside views and kids’ play areas, which adds to the wonderful atmosphere. This is a great pub in the Peaks and best of all, the menu is inspired and the food is fabulous!

    Family owned by partners David and Samantha, who also run the Devonshire Arms in Baslow, combined they have over 50 years’ experience in the hospitality industry. The ethos at The Bridge is inspired by tapas-style dining, in the sense that it’s all about social eating and drinking.

    The former coaching inn has been refurbished to a high standard. The décor is stylish and modern, with olive greens, brick walls, woods, leather, and industrial-style furnishings. On entering the pub, there’s a drinkers bar to the left and tiered dining areas to the right. The former stable units are now dining booths on the middle level, and on the lower level you’ll find the open kitchen offering a view of the chefs.

    We visited on a busy Sunday afternoon in the glorious sunshine, chose our table outside and then ordered at the bar. We went for the ‘Humble Cauliflower’ – a visual delight and taste sensation served with cumin yoghurt, chipotle mayonnaise, pomegranate and almonds. We also tried the belly pork and the Coronation Confit Chicken, which were equally delicious. As well as the tapas options, the pub also serves snacks, sandwiches and desserts.

    The staff were friendly, chatty and efficient, the drinks choice was good and the food was served quickly. All in all, a very enjoyable experience and a venue we will visit every time we’re in the area.

  • Review: The Churchill Arms, Paxford, Gloucestershire

    Walking into this beautifully restored 17th century Cotswolds hostelry near Chipping Campden, I was reminded of the opening line of T.S. Eliot’s poem, Burnt Norton: “Time present and time past. Are both perhaps present in time future?”

    What stories the walls here could tell of love gained and love lost, of friendships, revelries and more! [Very poetic. Did you write this after a glass or two of red? – Ed].

    Chef and proprietor Nick Deverell-Smith has worked with several of London’s best chefs, notably Pierre Marco White, although it’s Eric Chavot who holds a special place in his culinary journey. Now plying his trade in this bucolic Cotswold village, Nick’s passion for food is undimmed.

    Cooking with inspiration and – more importantly – fantastic local produce, he is delivering plates of great flavour. Nick has a strong bond with his suppliers, insuring only the best seasonal ingredients appear on his menu. For example, a T-bone pork chop from Todenham Manor Farm served with a meat jus, sage leaves, spiced apple and crackling was absolutely on the money! A starter of smoked haddock soufflé in a chive velouté also hit the spot. To finish, an indulgent chocolate pudding, perfectly runny inside and topped with glazed bananas and accompanied by ice cream, concluded our meal delightfully.

    I put Nick on the spot and asked if he had to choose one meal to eat, not necessarily something on his menu, what would it be? His answer – a chateaubriand steak with girolles mushrooms and maybe truffle macaroni cheese – was suitably mouthwatering.

    The Churchill Arms has four smartly appointed rooms for those wishing to stop over and explore the countryside. And enjoy a hearty breakfast, of course.

    You will not be disappointed!

  • Review: Bedouin, Cambridge

    There is a north African proverb that says: “They ate our food and forgot our names.”

    Well, I ate the food and do remember the names of the Algerian family who run Bedouin on Mill Road in Cambridge. Brothers Karim and Djamel Rerizani and family serve up wonderfully tasty North African dishes in this atmospheric, enjoyable restaurant.

    We started with bastilla, a super Moroccan dish that combines sweet and savoury. This was a sensational starter – perfectly crisp pastry sprinkled with almonds and icing sugar enclosing subtly spiced chicken, resulting in an explosion of favour.

    Tagine kefte bedaoui

    My main of shtetha laham is a typical Algerian dish of slow-cooked lamb in a tomato sauce with paprika, garlic and chilli with flat-leaf parsley, chick peas and potatoes. This was one of the most satisfying dishes I’ve eaten – wholesome, rustic and packed with flavour. My friend had a tagine kefte bedaoui – lamb meatballs flavoured with cumin, garlic and herbs, and finished with an egg and grated cheese. Again, this was hearty, stomach- and soul-pleasing food – well-cooked home-style fare that’s great to relax with.

    Bedouin serves authentic, tasty and honest North African food. It is family run and has a laid-back, welcoming atmosphere. What more do you want?!

    The Rerizani also has a sister restaurant – Al Casbah – down the road.

    By Philip Seaman, Cambridgeshire editor

    Inside Bedouin

  • Thinking of starting a small food business? Then head to The School of Artisan Food

    I recently had the pleasure of visiting one of my favourite places in Nottinghamshire, The School of Artisan Food on the glorious Welbeck Estate near Sherwood Forest in the north of the county. The School opened in 2006 and has developed an outstanding reputation for its training and courses, from bread-making, cheesemaking, brewing and butchery to preserving, charcuterie, ice-cream-making and patisserie. The School also offers courses on business and entrepreneurship, and has established an annual weekend of foodie lectures, attracting a range of leading speakers from the worlds of food, farming, food policy and research, broadcasting and journalism.

    Many of us dream of working in food and drink, perhaps wishing we could sell enough of our delicious home-made jam to give up the day job, or marketing our home-produced cheese, opening a café, restaurant or deli, or maybe launching a traditional bakery. But starting your own business is a big decision and there is a lot to think about before diving in. The School of Artisan Food is here to help.

    The School runs a two-day course several times a year centred on food start-ups and I was delighted to be invited to go along and listen in. The courses are kept deliberately small (a maximum of 12) so each individual has the opportunity to participate and discuss their specific ideas directly with the course leader, Yvonne O’Donovan. When I visited there were people from all over the country from a range of backgrounds, some with clear and specific ideas about what they wanted to do, others just beginning to explore whether launching a food business was right for them.

    The course is relaxed and participative, taking you from an early exploration of ideas to the nitty gritty practicalities of business planning, financing, accounting and forecasting. The course helps you to profile your “entrepreneurial personality” – how risk averse are you? Is running a business really for you? By the end of the two days the course will have covered almost every aspect of setting up and running your food business, thinking about your customers, financial management, understanding profits and pricing, how to “pitch” and put together a business plan, plus legal and regulatory requirements.

    The course takes place in the library and lecture theatre, providing a supportive, informed and engaging environment. Last but by no means least, students get to sample the (always) excellent catering by the School’s own chefs, which takes “buffet lunch” to a new level! You also have the opportunity to visit other small artisan businesses on the Welbeck Estate, including the award-winning farm shop.

    If you think you might want to start your own artisan food business, attending this course is a must. Courses run throughout the year and currently cost £395 for two full days.

  • Localism in Catalonia highlights what Britain’s missing

    There are lots of good things to be said about a food scene with a wide range of influences. London, especially, has the most diverse set of food cultures anywhere. But at what cost?

    On a recent jaunt through Catalonia, I realised few things are specifically described as “sourced locally”. Because they always have been. Referring to an ingredient as “local” would be like calling the sky blue.

    And yet one can find such an abundance of food that provides a welcoming sense of place. One of Catalans’ favourite specialties is calçots – a Catalan term for spring onion. But there’s more to it than that. Don a bib. Grill spring onions at their season’s peak to within an inch of their lives. Peel away the charred coat. Dredge in romesco. Tilt the head back. Lower the entire thing into the mouth. Off you go.

    What else is there? How about escalivada – a dish of grilled peppers, aubergine, and anchovies. Cap i pota, translating to the ‘head and leg’ of the pig, but generally meaning a stew of everything in between which hasn’t made it into the jamon or chorizo. Suquet de piex, a stew once made with the bits the fishermen couldn’t otherwise sell. Pa amb tomaquet, a pretty much de facto part of any meal, where sliced tomato is rubbed over bread with some olive oil and salt. Like many Catalan dishes, it harks back to peasant grub.

    Oh, I almost forgot the caracoles. Snails, these are, cooked in tomato, garlic, and paprika. They have their own festival for them, where 12 tonnes of gastropods are consumed. But then, the Catalans have a festival or moment of celebration for just about any food. Artichokes, tuna stew, figs, almonds, mushrooms, chestnuts, cured meat, wild boar. And the rest.

    Some of these simple delights can be had in old corners of Barcelona. Like the wonderful Bodega Bartoli, where the servers (quite rightly) swing you incredulous looks if you haven’t tucked away all your tripe soup or grilled octopus. It’s the sort of reaction your mum once gave you when you barely touched the broccoli.

    But speaking more contemporarily, within the past several years the philosophy – if you can even call it a conscious one – of localism has extended to beer, too. Catalonia has only recently been known as a craft beer-producing region/country, but in some instances they’re head and shoulders above everyone else. Lo Vilot, who’re based in the countryside outside the city of Lleida, are one of the very few craft breweries in Europe (if any) to painstakingly plant their own hops, grow and malt their own barley, and cultivate their own yeast. Ales Agullons, an operation run by one man who, inspired by The Wolf Brewery in Norfolk, converted much of his farmhouse into a cask beer bar and brewery with its own, relatively comprehensive, barrel-ageing setup that puts out some of the best lambic between here and Cantillon.

    Then there’s La Pirata – an incredibly versatile brewery found in an industrial estate in a tiny town north of the Sant Antoni reservoir which, despite this, attracts hundreds of locals when its taproom opens each Friday. Maybe it’s no coincidence these guys happen to be the best brewers in the country.

    Sure, we love to shout about localism in the UK. We’re always wanting to feel better connected to Britain, whether our own patch or in its entirety. But when will we get to the real point, where instead of if it being a thing, it just is?

    This post was put out after a trip organised and paid for by the Catalan Tourist Board.

  • Locally sourced last-minute Fathers’ Day gifts from independent businesses

    If you haven’t got anything fixed for Fathers’ Day yet, don’t worry, there’s still time. We’ve rounded up some last-minute dad-pleasing ideas, all from independent businesses in Great Food Club’s recommended network – so you can be sure the quality will be outstanding and that your money will go to local businesses. Included are some superb eating-out options in the East Midlands – our home turf – but also some brilliant gifts you can order online (best order it today to meet the deadline). So there’s something for everyone, no matter where you live.

    Online order: Teetotal GnT – ‘The Driver’s Choice’


    Teetotal GnT from The Temperance Spirit Company (pictured above) has all the flavour of gin and tonic; Teetotal Cuba Libre has all the flavour of rum and cola. These are perfect for all dads anytime and anywhere, especially when he’s driving. Pick up a four-bottle pack for £12.95 here.

    Eat out: The Wheatsheaf Pub & Kitchen in Bingham, Nottinghamshire

    The Wheatsheaf Pub & Kitchen is located in a prominent town centre building in Bingham dating back to 1779. It comes recommended by our Nottinghamshire editor, Abby Brennan. This Sunday they are offering a free pint for dad with their two- or three-course set menu, served 12-8pm. Book on 01949 837430.

    Eat out: Rolls-Royce-standard fish & chips in Leicester

    If dad’s a fish and chip fan, he’ll enjoy the gold-plated chippy experience at The Fish & The Chip in Leicester. With superb fish and chips (jerk-spice batter or plain?), Freedom lager on tap and a fine range of wines and cocktails available too, he’s bound to have a great time. Open 12-8.30pm this Sunday.

    Online order: Cracking brews from Wye Valley Brewery in Herefordshire

    Wye Valley Brewery makes top-quality ales in Herefordshire. Their Faceplant is a pale, naturally hazy saison offering “a tour de force of fruity and spicy flavours, plus a slipstream of citrus and pepper notes”. Definitely worth getting out of your saddle for! From £17.99 for 8x500ml. Order online or call 01885 490505.

    Eat out: Steak & Malbec at The Knight & Garter in Leicester

    The Knight & Garter in Leicester opened in summer 2017 after a perfectionist £1.4m renovation. For Fathers’ Day this Sunday they are offering dads a complementary glass of Malbec with every dry-aged steak ordered. Stunning roasts from award-winning butcher Owen Taylor are available too. Book on 0116 303 3310.

    Collect from the shop or pub: Beautiful beers from Brewsters Brewery

    Brewsters Brewery, run by Sara Barton and team, brews exceptional beers in Grantham, Lincolnshire. You can pick up single cans/bottles, gift packs, six-packs and cases for Dad from the brewery shop: 5-6 Burnside, Turnpike Close, Grantham, Lincs, NG31 7XU. Open Monday to Friday, 10am-4pm. Or you can buy them from Brewsters’ pub, The Marquis of Granby, Granby, Notts, NG13 9PN. Open from 4pm weekdays and from 12pm weekends.

    Online order: Award-winning whisky distilled in Norfolk using local ingredients

    The English Whisky Co of Roundham distils using local Breckland water and Norfolk barley. The result is outstanding. There are plenty of mail-order gift options here.

    Online/phone order: Voucher for a daddy-sized ploughman’s on the gorgeous ‘Pickled Terrace’ in Northamptonshire

    Bulwick Village Shop in Northamptonshire, home of The Pickled Village preserves, is offering vouchers for a daddy-sized ploughman’s lunch with real ale, lager or wine (although you can exchange your voucher for anything on the Terrace Menu). The shop and terrace are open 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Saturday. Price: £10 per dad! To buy, call 01780 450774 or email hello@thepickledshop.com.

    Online order: Craft gin and craft beard kit

    This is a collaboration between two cutting-edge Leicestershire brands, bringing together craft gin and craft beards! The Fathers’ Day package includes a bottle of Burleighs Dry Gin, hand-distilled in the heart of the Charnwood Forest, plus a Bear Grooming Beard Essential Kit, consisting of beard oil & beard wash. £40 per package. Buy here.

    Every business featured in this post is part of GFC’s recommended network and is recommended on merit. However, this post contains some advertisements. GFC has more than 13,000 members. Would you like to work with us? For more info, click here.

  • Everards to open “agile” new brewery, beer hall and distillery

    Everards of Leicestershire is to build an “agile” new brewery, a 200-plus capacity beer hall, and will start distilling its own gin, vodka, rum and saké at its new £20m Everards Meadows brewery site, where building work began this May.

    Everards chief executive Stephen Gould told the Leicester Mercury: “Our new brewery will be more agile than the one we had at Castle Acres, so I suspect we will produce different styles and varieties of beer – alongside our main traditional styles. We will also be working with our partners between now and the end of 2019 to create a range of Everards spirits produced by us, using, I hope, botanicals harvested in Everards Meadows. We are looking into distilling from our own beer – some distillers buy in the raw spirit and some produce from beer mash, so there will be more news on that to follow.”

    Everards Meadows, which is located next to police headquarters in Enderby, will offer almost two miles of cycling and footpaths, mooring points on the Grand Union Canal and a new bridge over the River Soar. A cycle centre – operated by Rutland Cycles and offering bikes to buy or rent – and a cafe will open next May.

    An impression of what Everards Meadows café and cycle centre will look like

    The copper still will be housed in the brewery. The adjacent beer hall will host tasting sessions, brewery tours, food & drink festivals and other events to help establish Everards Meadows as a tourist destination.

    This story was first distributed by Propel Info.

  • Belvoir Castle’s new food and drink development will be an exciting addition to the East Midlands

    Belvoir Castle’s new Engine Yard development is located a few hundred yards from the Castle and will be an exciting addition to the East Midlands’ food and drink scene.

    Scheduled to open in June 2018, The Engine Yard will be home to a café with a pop-up restaurant and upstairs events space, a wine bar, a butchery, a deli and a children’s play area. Luxury shops and a spa will complete the mix.

    This new food and drink hub will also host events throughout the year, such as BBQ evenings, cookery demonstrations, foodie talks, farmers’ markets, craft fairs and children’s activity experiences.

    Created from a cluster of 19th century buildings originally used to service the 15,000-acre Belvoir Estate, the Engine Yard’s sensitive conversion is costing around £2.4m.

    The Engine Yard team would like to talk to food and drink businesses interested in teaming up to run pop-up events. For details, please email marketing@belvoircastle.com.

  • Where to eat in Stamford, Lincolnshire

    Stamford in Lincolnshire was described by Sir Walter Scott as “the finest stone town in England”. Visitors today tend to agree with him, especially after enjoying the town’s many enticing pubs, cafés, restaurants and food shops. It’s a superb place to visit for a day or weekend, so we’ve created a Great Food Club Guide to Stamford to give you a few ideas on where to refuel and stock up next time you’re in town. We hope this features both inspires you to visit this beautiful place and enhances your time while you’re there!

    Lambert’s, Cheyne Lane

    Lambert’s Kitchen, Deli & Coffee Shop is a fabulous place for breakfast, lunch or, on Thursday and Friday evenings, supper – for which it is gaining a superb reputation. It also stocks a wide range of deli products, locally sourced where possible, because Lambert’s loves to support local farmers and producers. Steve Conway opened Lambert’s in February 2016 and delicious food is only to be expected – he was executive head chef at the highly regarded Barnsdale Lodge in Rutland for five years and head chef at Stapleford Park in Leicestershire before that. Try the waffles with dry-cure bacon and maple syrup – complemented by the excellent coffee – it hits the spot nicely!

    Did you know? Great Food Club members get 10% off the food bill at Lambert’s on Thursday & Friday evenings (6.30pm to 8.30pm), with a maximum of four people per Great Food Club card. Please mention you are a Great Food Club member when booking or when ordering your food, and show your membership card.

    The Tobie Norris, St Paul’s Street

    Many pubs have character but few have as much as the Tobie Norris. Parts of the building date back to 1280 and the time-worn flagstones and gnarled beams ooze history. Food ranges from the Tobie’s famous stone-baked pizzas to well-thought-out mains using ingredients from the owner’s farm, plus Sunday roasts from 12-8pm with rib of beef and slow-cooked shoulder of lamb. On offer are five real ales, two real ciders and some fine craft beers, and the wine list is also extensive, with up to 18 available by the glass. Please note than prams and pushchairs cannot be accommodated due to the nature of the building.

    Did you know? Great Food Club members get 10% off the food menu at any time at The Tobie Norris, with a maximum of four people per Great Food Club card. Please mention you are a Great Food Club member when booking or when ordering your food, and show your membership card.

    Café au Chocolat, Ironmonger Street

    Café au Chocolat is not just about crêpes and chocolate (although we can definitely vouch for the hot organic white chocolate with red, white and black peppercorns). It is about coffee, too. Carefully selected speciality coffees and a monthly single-origin variety are made using the “theatrical brew bar technique”, and owner Krystyna is a keen proponent of careful sourcing for this varied and complex bean. Sweet-toothed customers are rewarded with an array of artisan chocolates, available singly or in gift boxes, as well as a fine selection of French-style patisserie handmade by a specialist pâtissier. Smoothies, Belvoir juices and speciality teas are also available.

    Hambleton Bakery, Ironmonger Street

    Hambleton Bakery is one of Britain’s best artisan bakeries. Its Stamford branch on Ironmonger Street is one of six Hambleton Bakery outlets and, like the others, stocks a brilliant array of loaves, cakes and savouries. Favourite loaves include the ‘Hambleton Local’ – made using local beer barm and flour from nearby Whissendine Mill – and ‘Borodinsky’ – based on a Russian rye bread recipe. The Rutland Pippin – a crusty dough filled with ham hock, sausage meat, Colston Bassett Stilton and a Bramley apple puree – is well worth a try. Hambleton Bakery was set up by Hambleton Hall owner Tim Hart in 2008 as an antidote to fast-baked, artificial supermarket bread. Its huge woodfired oven in Exton, Hambleton bakes more than 500 loaves a day.

    Did you know? Great Food Club members get a free small tin loaf or one free Hambleton Bakery jute bag when they spend over £10. Not available in addition to any other offer. Members should present their Great Food Club card at the till before paying.

    The Crown Hotel, All Saints’ Place

    The Crown Hotel has a bustling bar, fabulous courtyard / beer garden, characterful lounge, and informal restaurant. Each area has its own distinct character, introduced by Michael Thurlby when he took on the hotel in November 2014 and added it to his Knead Pubs group. There is attention to detail and quirkiness: original Stamford stone has been uncovered and old signs deck the walls. The menus, created by executive chef Nick Buttress, are local and seasonal. A recent review of The Crown left by a Great Food Club member on our website in April 2018 said: “Excellent service, polite and friendly staff, our lunch was delicious, plentiful and well presented, one could not fault it. The Crown is in the centre of Stamford so perfect when shopping.”

    Did you know? Great Food Club members get 10% off the food menu at any time at The Crown, with a maximum of four people per Great Food Club card. Please mention you are a Great Food Club member when booking or when ordering your food, and show your membership card.

    Paten & Co, All Saints’ Place

    Since opening in November 2017, Paten & Co (so named because of the old sign above the door revealed during renovations) has provided Stamford with a brand new pub to enjoy. Like its sister venue over the road, The Crown, Paten & Co is a bustling place that captures Stamford’s confidence and growing popularity. Set out over three levels and incorporating an industrial look, this unique 18th century pub has an extensive drinks menu, from gins and cocktails to wines and craft beers. Food-wise, there’s a nice selection of small plates, such as grilled Korean chicken skewer with kimchi salad and Rutland Charcuterie bresaola with shaved pecorino and capers. Bigger appetites will appreciate the pub’s charcoal oven, which produces super steaks, pork and fish dishes.

    The George, High Street St Martin’s

    Everyone should visit Stamford’s most historic inn at least once. Situated on the old Great North Road, a hotel has stood here for around 1,000 years. Traditional hospitality and service, plus a commitment to quality, are at the heart of The George’s approach. The lounge areas – perfect for afternoon tea – are more comfortable than a prince’s velvet slippers, the Garden Room Restaurant is a relaxed oasis of greenery, and the cobbled rear courtyard is perfect on a sunny day. There is an air of relaxed formality throughout The George – it is very much in touch with its traditional values.

    Zada, St Mary’s Hill

    Turkish restaurant Zada is the proud holder of a Michelin Plate and is located in one of Stamford’s trademark beautiful old buildings in the town centre. The lovely setting and ancient stonework (parts of the property date back to the 13th century) add a great deal to the atmosphere and overall feel. The menu is packed with authentic Turkish dishes such as lamb kofte, sucuk (charcoal grilled beef sausage), hot mixed meze, chicken shish, izgara balik (grilled fish of the day with potato salad and rice), and sebze moussaka. For dessert you’ll struggle to resist the baklava. The service is friendly and efficient too, adding up to a great night out.

    Did you know? Great Food Club members get 15% off Monday to Friday and 20% off Saturday 12-5pm and Sun 12-10pm at Zada for up to four people per membership card. Note: no offer running Saturday night. Please mention you’re a GFC member when booking and show your card when paying.

    Nelsons Butchers, Broad Street

    Nelsons Butchers has probably been responsible for more Sunday lunches and Christmas dinners in Stamford and Rutland than any other. Read the full story behind this Stamford legend here.

    Stamford Cheese Cellar, St Mary’s Street

    Established in 2010, this town centre shop showcases some 200 cheeses plus a fine range of artisan spirits, especially gins and whiskeys. But the main focus is cheese, and if there’s a variety it doesn’t sell, the team will do their best to get it. Customers come not just for the range but for the advice and insider information. “We visit as many of our suppliers as we can,” says shop owner Karen Brammer. “We meet the farmers, the distillers and even the animals!” Stamford Cheese Cellar is an Aladdin’s cave of goodies.

    About this post: Every business featured above is part of GFC’s recommended network and is recommended on merit. However, this post contains some advertisements.

  • Hart’s of Nottingham celebrates 20 years with limited-edition tasting menu

    Hart’s is celebrating its 20th birthday. The renowned Nottingham independent restaurant has been tantalising tastebuds across the region since 1997!

    This month they are showcasing their culinary skills with a limited-edition tasting menu. The six-course menu will be available from Monday May 21 for one week only (excluding Saturday) for £65 per person. Cooked up by head chef Dan Burridge, who has been at the helm for over seven years, each course is crafted from seasonal, local ingredients, reflecting the ethos of Hart’s.

    To reserve a table to dine, call 0115 988 1900.

    This is a promoted post.

  • Burleighs Gin launches ‘The Gin Voyage’

    Burleighs Gin has launched ‘The Gin Voyage’ – a cocktail and gin tour across some of Leicester’s best bars.

    The Burleighs Gin Voyage is set to depart on Thursday May 24, offering groups of dedicated gin enthusiasts a unique opportunity to venture through the Burleighs range at some of the finest bars Leicester has to offer.

    The on-foot tour gives a new lease of life to the gin masterclass, combining expertly crafted cocktails, gin tastings and informative chat all under the guidance of a Burleighs Gin Distiller!

    The debut event features four bars at the heart of the city’s vibrant cocktail scene: The Orange Tree, The Queen of Bradgate, 45 St Martins and 45 West. Ticket pricing includes four exceptional cocktails, tasting of four gins from the Burleighs range, and a fun and informative gin masterclass along the way!

    Tickets are extremely limited and available here.

  • Recipe: Chocolate Delice by Andi Walker

    800g dark chocolate
    ½ tablespoon salt
    700ml double cream
    150g butter

    1. Place the cream into a saucepan and slowly bring to the boil.

    2. While your cream is warming, place your chocolate, diced butter and salt in a deep mixing bowl.

    3. Once your cream is boiling, pour over the chocolate and butter and tightly clingfilm the bowl (the warm cream will gently melt the chocolate and butter).

    4. After 10 minutes, mix thoroughly and pour into a mould. Place into the fridge to set for two hours.

    5. Remove from the fridge and allow to stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

    Served in the picture (taken at Andi’s restaurant, The Riverside Inn, Chelmsford) with banana and caramel.

  • Barnwell Food Festival in Northamptonshire – Sunday May 20, 2018

    The beautiful Northamptonshire village of Barnwell near Oundle will host a food & craft festival on May 20, 10.30am to 4pm. If you are a food or drink business interested in exhibiting, call Paula from Stanley Street Food on 07857 150803.