Warwickshire pop-up restaurant Inspirado at The Hollybush, Priors Marston
July 17, 2022

[Disclosure: My meal at Inspirado was complimentary but I paid for Jamie’s and we paid for all our drinks]

It’s no secret that times are difficult in hospitality – increasingly we’re seeing restaurants having to close thanks to rising costs or staffing issues, or pubs ditching their food offering for the same reasons, and no doubt we’ll see it more and more. With a tough backdrop, it’s no surprise that some alternative solutions are popping up.

I’ve long been a fan of the pop-up – it seems to make sense in certain locations and certain situations where a venue might not be able to commit to its own food offering, but knows it’s the kind of thing that gets customers in. And so to Inspirado, created by Simon, who taught himself to cook and is keen to offer something a bit different in Warwickshire.

Inspirado’s current home is the Hollybush in Priors Marston, where every Tuesday night Simon offers a different three-course menu, priced at anywhere between £17.50 and £30 per person and usually themed in some way.

Hollybush Priors Marston

It’s a lovely setting, tucked away in a village pub that I’ll admit I probably wouldn’t have visited if it wasn’t for this blog. The pop-up is in a dedicated room, where Simon finishes off dishes prepped ahead of time in front of you using the most basic of equipment. A brave move, but far from impossible given the right prep and the right choice of dish.

Inspirado pop-up
Inspirado pop-up

We visit on the very first week and it’s a full house. A promising start and proof there is an appetite – in so many ways – for something like this in the area. The drinks are flowing and there’s a lovely buzz about the occasion that’s always heartening for a new venture.

Our start is `Bloody Mary’ prawn blinis. Too simple for some people, perhaps, but a safe move for a first night. The blinis are good, and the prawns nice and big. The Bloody Mary sauce comes in a pretty little bottle on the side and while it’s tasty I would have liked more zing. A move to please a whole range of ages and tastes perhaps, but a bit more punch would have lifted what could have been a simple but lip-smacking starter.

Inspirado pop-up

Inspirado

Main course is ‘Japanese hanger steak’ – Japanese thanks to a mirin marinade that helps to tender what isn’t the most tender cut of beef. It works a treat – the steak is well cooked, full of flavour and an umami kick thanks to the mirin, and while it has bite, it’s exactly as it should be.

An Asian-inspired salad is crunchy, fresh and light, with a moreish sesame dressing. The dish is also served with a backed potato and soured cream which seems a slightly leftfield choice but I imagine is driven by facilities, logistics and ease. It might not be my accompaniment of choice, but it works and everyone in the room seems happy.

Inspirado pop-up

Inspirado

Inspirado

Dessert is another simple affair. Excellent French macarons from Madamemoiselle Macaron, plated nicely on the same sustainable plates we’ve enjoyed the entire meal on – another nice touch from Simon. Again, a safe choice perhaps but a wise one for the first night.

Inspirado

We leave happy and full – always a good sign. Simon is clearly passionate about what he’s doing and keen to grow in what he offers. Menus on offer since our first visit have shown him experimenting with his offering, from Indian-themed nights to Italian, and others inspired by everything from Mamma Mia to the 80s. It may not be some of the highest end food around, but it’s accessible – both in price and style.

For me that’s what’s important. Creating an experience that won’t just appeal to a broad range of customers across a fairly rural area, but one that they can – and want to – enjoy. Simon’s working hard to do that, and I’m looking forward to seeing where Inspirado goes.

[Disclosure: My meal at Inspirado was complimentary but I paid for Jamie’s and we paid for all our drinks]

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