Much like Forrest Gump and his box of chocolates-like life, these days you never quite know what you’re going to get on this blog. Sometimes it’s a bit of news, it might be a review of a wonderful eating experience, or it could just be me having a bit of a rant about something food-related.
But in a stroke of luck, this piece manages to cross two of those areas in one fell swoop. I’m long overdue telling you about Warwick Street Kitchen in Leamington Spa and fortunately, me writing this happens to coincide with some rather big news from this fabulous independent.
WSK has been open in Leamington since July 2017 and has become a firm fixture in Leamington since then. They’re all about quality, homemade, locally-sourced food and great coffee.
In a world where there’s a coffee shop every way you turn, it’s a breath of fresh air. Forget bogstandard cakes and carbon-copy sandwiches or predictable ‘avo smash’ brunches. On the menu are homemade donuts – sweet and savoury – flatbreads with saliva-inducing toppings and other seasonal dishes.
Breakfast and brunch includes homemade granola, locally-sourced bacon and sausage, homemade baked beans and more. Yes, the smashed avo is there but on top of decent sourdough with showstopping elements like bacon and harissa poached eggs.
Then there’s the coffee, of course. Owner Lydia is a Speciality Coffee Association accredited barista so the coffee is definitely not secondary to the food. They even do evening tapas night that consistently sell out. Oh, and did I mention they’re dog-friendly too? If this is a box-ticking exercise, WSK wins.
On a lunch trip last year, I had my socks knocked off by a one of Warwick Street Kitchen’s savoury sourdough brioche donuts. I went for pulled pork with a contrasting mustard slaw that offered the crunchy, piquant yin to the sweet richness of the pork.
Jamie and I returned for brunch more than a year after my first visit. I couldn’t resist Shakshuka. If you have had Shakshuka in establishments far inferior to Warwick Street Kitchen, you may think they’re a bowl of tomatoes with some eggs in them. You’ve been let down. For me the dish should be as it comes in this little gem in lovely Leamington.
A rich tomato sauce, the product of love, care, attention and time with the kind of spice and heat that takes you in its arms and cuddles you on a cold morning. Spinach is stirred through to add colour and another element of texture, while the eggs nestle in their warm blankety sauce, their golden yolks peeping out as they wait to be burst into a golden lava flow through the sauce.
On top is rich, buttered sourdough toast – the kind of toast that makes up dipping dreams. But for me its the dukka that wins. Sprinkled liberally over the whole dish, this Egyptian condiment of herbs, nuts, and spices brings crunch, spice and seasoning all in one go. A triumph.
Jamie had hickory hot-smoked salmon, harissa hollandaise and poached egg. Imagine someone who really loves food looking at 90% of the menus at aspiring cafes that include things like Eggs Benedict and Eggs Royale and thinks, ‘oh wouldn’t it be good to do something a bit different?’. The result? Something like this.
A soft, toasted muffin piled high with delicately hot-smoked salmon devoid of the acrid taste that comes with bad smoking. On top, a perfectly-poached egg draped in a silky covering of harissa hollandaise that’s pristine in every way – flavour, colour, consistency.
Much like the Shakshuka, if you think hollandaise is that insipid-looking stuff you’ve had slopped on top of cheap ‘smoked salmon’ and a substandard egg, you’re missing out. Come and try WSK’s hollandaise – you won’t look back.
So yeah, Warwick Street Kitchen is great. And here’s the news. They’re opening another one in Birmingham! Some time ago I told you about Saint Kitchen in Birmingham where I enjoyed a breakfast we’d had (some others apparently hadn’t had such a good experience).
Well, WSK has just announced that it’s taking over Saint Kitchen, so you’ll be able to get all of these goodies listed above and all the other amazing stuff they do right in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter as well as in Leamington.
Whichever of the two you choose, make sure you go, and go soon. You won’t regret it.
I paid in full both times I went to Warwick Street Kitchen. They didn’t know I was a blogger.