My ‘list’ when it comes to food and drink places I want to try is pretty much neverending. It includes swanky Michelin-starred places and famous restaurants recommended by the best of the best (Ynyshir, The Man Behind The Curtain, and Paul Ainsworth at No 6, I’m looking at you).
There are places abroad, like Bar Nestor in San Sebastian which I’ve failed to make it to despite TWO visits there. There are restaurants across the Midlands, beach cafes on the coast, food-focused events and festivals pretty much everywhere and loads more.
But most importantly, there are a whole loads of places in Coventry and Warwickshire that I’m determined to make it to this year. We may not have the bright lights of London or the buzz of Birmingham, we might not be a coastal county with beaches and cute fishing villages, or the south-east with all its gentrified turmeric latte, poke bowl wokeness. But we have just as much – in abundance.
In Coventry we have a city that has spent decades being the poor relative and now is finally getting the investment and passion it deserves. No, I’m not being paid to write this, but my work with Coventry BID has opened my eyes to just how much is going on in Coventry and how many passionate people there are when it comes to food and drink. And lucky for us, it’s only going to get better as we head towards City of Culture 2021.
Elsewhere, the county is full of towns heaving with their own thriving food scenes. Each of them has its fair share of chains, but they also boast their own bustling independent food and drink scene from cocktails bars and cafes to restaurants, festivals, street food vendors and supper clubs.
And so in 2020 a lot of my list will focus on some of these guys. I’m sure for each one I try another 10 will crop up, and I’d love for you guys to send me your recommendations, but it’s about time we shouted about what we’ve got right on our doorstep. So here we go – my hit list for 2020 in Coventry and Warwickshire. What have I missed?
Eat all the food at The Neighbourhood, Leamington
The Neighbourhood opened just before Christmas and I haven’t made it there yet but have heard nothing but good things. A street food market, craft beer brewery and event space, it hosts great traders and means that no, you don’t have to traipse across the Midlands for great street food anymore.
The Neighbourhood, 44 Warwick St, Leamington Spa CV32 5JS
Breakfast at Inside the 22, Rugby
I know, I’ve spoken a lot about Inside the 22. It’s one of my favourite places in Rugby and I started 2020 at their epic NYE shindig with what is likely to be the first of many visits this year. Late in 2019 they started doing breakfasts at weekends and they certainly look worth trying. They do day time food as well, so don’t worry if you miss brekkie.
Inside the 22, 2 Lawrence Sheriff St, Rugby CV22 5EJ
Relax with tea and cake at Gloria & Lil’s Parkside, Coventry
Once upon a time Gloria & Lil’s had a home in Rugby. The Tool Shed in Caldecott Park, serving up epic sandwiches, cakes, and coffees, as well as hosting music evenings, poetry, films and more. Now they’ve moved to Coventry which is a huge loss to us in Rugby but still close enough to sneak off for coffee and cake. Which is what I intend to do.
Gloria & Lil’s, 33 Parkside, Coventry CV1 2NE
Go game crazy at The Woodsman, Stratford-upon-Avon
The Woodsman is a venture from chef Mike Robinson, known as one of the country’s top game chefs. Inside Stratford’s Hotel Indigo, the Woodsman is (unsurprisingly) all about game. Venison, wild boar, beef, lamb – it’s all there, plus plenty of other sustainably sourced, local, seasonal produce. So now I’ve told you that, it’s pretty obvious why I want to go, right?
The Woodsman, Hotel Indigo, 4 Chapel St, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6HA
Try a FishFryDay at Leave it to Esmie, Coventry
Leave it to Esmie, also known as Esmie’s Caribbean Kitchen, is based at Fargo Village and turns out amazing-sounding Caribbean food. Curried mutton, ackee and saltfish, jerk chicken – it’s all there. On Fridays they do #FISHFRYDAY with a DJ and seafood specials so that’s on my list, but failing that I’ll settle for getting my chops round some curried goat.
Leave it to Esmie, Unit 13a Fargos Village, Far Gosford Street, Coventry, CV1 5ED
Make it to one of Earlsdon Supper Club’s evenings
You’ve seen some of Earlsdon Supper Club’s events over on the calendar and unfortunately I haven’t made it to one yet but that’s all going to change in 2020. At the back end of last year they were doing some great collaborations with other passionate food producers and businesses from Coventry and their events sound like a great night.
You get the address when you sign up to one of the supper clubs
Try the salad bowls at Coffee Architects, Leamington
Coffee Architects has flown under my radar a bit but I spotted a photo on their Instagram recently that made me take a proper look. Not only do they do coffee, but it turns out they have a lovely looking brunch and lunch offering as well as some salad bowls that caught my eye as I try to stop the neverending growth of my waistband. Here it is!
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It’s 2020 and planning starts now for the future… colours, tastes, textures, treats and balance are where it’s at…. #coffeearchitects2020 #coffeearchitectsleamingtonspa #rainbowcolours #plantbased #cake #coffee #tea #people #lifebalance #togotoo #saladbowls #madebyus #glutenfree #vegan #dairyfree #gatherwithfamilyandfriends #warwickstreet #independent
Coffee Architects, 39 Warwick Street, Leamington Spa, CV32 5JX
Get sizzling at The Farmhouse, Coventry
What do you do when one of you wants curry and the other one wants steak? Go to The Farmhouse in Coventry. I’m fascinated by this place. They call themselves a British Kashmiri kitchen and literally have a whole Indian menu and a whole English menu. Steaks feature heavily on the English side, along with burgers and other classics. And on the Indian side it’s all about sizzling platters. I’ve also got my eye on the Lahori lamb chops and Punjabi pizza.
The Farmhouse, 215 Beechwood Ave, Coventry CV5 6HB
Imagine I’m on holiday at Selminas, Coventry
Another place that’s been recommended to me, Selminas is a Hawaiian and Mexican restaurant in Coventry. I can’t say I’m any expert when it comes to Hawaiian food which is why I’m attracted to it, so here’s to pretending I’m on holiday and devouring some food from the other side of the world right here on my doorstep.
Selminas, 16 Spon Street, Coventry CV1 3BA
Bottomless Lunch at Gallachers of Rugby
Gallachers is a great addition to the independent scene in Rugby. Much more than a wine shop, its wine dispenser allows you to quaff different wines by the glass, and many a Friday evening has been wiled away enjoying Deb and Russ’s ‘wine bar Fridays’. They’ve now introduced Bottomless Lunch on Saturdays which allows you endless supplies of Prosecco for a set time, plus a whole load of nibbles. I just need an occasion and I’m there…
Gallachers of Rugby, 37 Regent St, Rugby CV21 2PE
Indian street food and cocktails at The Lazy Monkey, Coventry
I’ve had my eye on the Lazy Monkey in Coventry since it opened at the back end of last year. It offers Indian street food, speciality burgers, wraps and what they call ‘Indo-Chinese meals’ as well as cocktails. Rumour also has it that some cocktails are actually ON TAP. What’s not to like?
The Lazy Monkey Bar & Kitchen, 26 Warwick Row, Coventry CV1 1EY
Eat barbecue at Jinseon Korean Barbecue, Coventry
I’ve never had Korean barbecue and I’m rather disappointed in myself that I didn’t make it to Jinseon last year. They specialise in barbecue, as well as other drool-inducing dishes from Korean fried chicken to korean hot pot and bibimbap. I’ve got no excuse this year – 2020 is the year I finally get there.
Jinseon Korean BBQ Restaurant & Bar, Priory Place, 5, Fairfax St, Coventry CV1 5SQ
Try a workshop at The Farm, Snitterfield
After regularly putting events at The Farm on the calendar, I’ve had a growing level of FOMO at not having actually gone to one. They do everything from butchery and sushi to breadmaking, pasta and ramen – all with local talent. Who’s in?
The Farm, Kings Lane, Snitterfield, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 0QA
Feast at Fargo Dining Club, Coventry
For ages I wished that Digbeth Dining Club was closer to home – then they opened one in Coventry and I’m ashamed to say I couldn’t make a single Fargo Dining Club in 2019. Visiting Fargo is a treat at any time, but when there’s a bunch of wonderful visiting street food traders it’s unforgivable not to try. Hence in 2020 I’ll be there!
FarGo Village, Far Gosford Street, Coventry, CV1 5ED
Dog-friendly dinner at The Old Lion, Harborough Magna
Given that The Old Lion is only just outside Rugby, I haven’t been anywhere near enough and I think it may even have changed hands since I last went. Their menus always look great, with some tempting offers, but most importantly they’re super dog-friendly and I think they even have a dedicated doggie menu so it’s on Brandy and Bruce’s hit list as well as mine.
The Old Lion, Pailton Rd, Rugby CV23 0HQ
Pay a visit to Coventry Market
I’ll have to credit Sophie Hyam, chef and writer of Sophie’s Tasty Tweets, with reminding me that just stone’s throw from where I live is a market where we could get pretty much everything we needed for the most epic of dinner parties, or indeed just a lovely night in. My mission this year is to make it there on a semi-regular basis and spend my money with some of the great meat, veg and fish traders there rather than at the supermarket.
Coventry Market, 14 Market Way, Coventry CV1 1DL