Review: The Loft, Coventry is back – and with more tasting menus for 2024
January 8, 2024

[Disclosure: We were invited to one of The Loft’s Mistletoe and Wine tasting menu nights to try it. They have more tasting nights coming up in 2024 so check out their website for information]

It’s been an up-and-down journey for The Loft in Coventry. It opened in 2021, closed in 2022, then reopened in 2023. That’s no reflection of the place itself. If anything, it’s a sad indictment of quite how precarious the hospitality industry is right now.

But if we can take anything from the rollercoaster ride that The Loft has been on since it first opened its doors at the Rialto Plaza in Coundon, it’s that there is always hope. Safe to say, a fair few people had mourned its loss when it suddenly closed, so when it suddenly reopened just as suddenly, it was welcome news for many.

The original comeback promised a new focus on breakfast and brunch, as well as Sunday lunch. But they’ve also added tasting menus back into the mix, lending more of a fine dining feel to the venue again. It’s not a new direction – they were crowned ‘Fine dining restaurant of the year’ at the 2022 Foodie Awards – so this is a reminder that as well as hearty comfort food and crowd-pleasers, they can do something a bit more refined.

The tasting menus are one-offs on set dates, usually with some kind of theme. They seem to have taken inspiration from the Six by Nico format and plumped for six courses as a reasonable number. You’ll pay slightly more than the £39 Six by Nico charges (£65 to be precise), but this is an independent restaurant after all, without the benefit of multiple venues nationwide and the volume that brings (see my review for more on this). So I don’t think it’s unreasonable.

When we visited in December, the ‘Six at the Loft’ menu was ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ – six courses inspired by Christmas flavours and favourites, with the optional pairing of a wine flight from local winery Blabers Hall (more than reasonable at £35 for the flight). It was packed, and the atmosphere as I remembered. The right balance of restaurant-feel and relaxation, with energy emanating from the open kitchen without feeling frenetic. The restaurant’s size brings intimacy and a reminder that this isn’t another cavernous chain, but something dreamed up just for Coventry in a pretty unique setting.

The Loft Coventry


On our visit just days before Christmas it’s pretty much full, and from what I’ve seen that’s not unusual for the tasting menus. Long may it last. We start with homemade bread – Caraway on the night in question – with burnt rosemary butter. The butter doesn’t look particularly appetizing, but happily tastes great, and we find ourselves wishing for more of the mini loaves it’s come with.

Alongside it are served some ‘snacks’ – extras on top of the six-course menu and akin to a Christmas party canape. One a combination of whipped, creamy cheese and pink pickled onion on top of a cracker, and the other a sexy piped pile of chicken liver parfait on top of toasted brioche with a sweet, tangy cherry that pushes the richness back into its box just enough so its luxurious without being too much. A promising start, and we’re not even on to the menu yet.

Bread the loft coventry

A celeriac carpaccio course dubbed ‘Chestnuts Roasting’ has us doubting. Mainly because most of us associate carpaccio with meat. But research has shown me that The Loft isn’t the only place offering up a vegetable-focused version. And having tasted it, I bow to their creativity because this is one of the more interesting starters I’ve had recently.

Thinly sliced celeriac teamed with matching slices of crispy pickled pear. Drenched in hazelnut butter sauce with blobs of chestnut puree. If there’s any criticism it’s that the butter sauce is pretty darn rich, and I get more melted butter than nut flavour from it, but that’s not much of a problem when the toasted hazelnuts from it are scattered on top, adding flavour but also crunch. It’s imaginative, it’s different, and it has us both raising our eyebrows more than once (in a good way).


Starter the loft

The loft starter

It’s one of several highlights of the meal. Sadly for me the ‘Mulled wine’ cured salmon course isn’t one. The salmon itself is good quality and the idea of combining it with beetroot works, but somehow the mulled wine reduction is too much. The whole thing is a bit too sweet and sickly, and I find myself thinking in future I’ll have my mulled wine as a drink rather than part of my food – especially when that food would have been delicious served simply in a more classic way.

‘The Christmas Cracker’ is a different story. A deboned chicken wing, stuffed with a chicken mousse and served with a tangy, almost Asian-inspired tangerine jus, it’s more of the imagination and clever creativity that we saw with the celeriac. It might not have the biggest Instagram wow factor, but it packs a punch flavour wise.

Salmon the loft

Chicken the loft

Venison Wellington is so nearly very very good. The meat itself is tender and perfectly cooked, but the pastry is a bit soggy in places. I’ll take that over a tasteless Wellington any day though, and tasteless this definitely isn’t. Neither is the wine and cranberry sauce it’s served with, which is well judged to bring tartness that butts up against the venison perfectly. Pomme souffle – puffed up pillows of fried potato – bring a bit of fun to the plate thanks to their Christmas tree-like resemblance. The whole course is a reminder that The Loft want to impress. They’re not here to play it safe, they want to be remembered.

Venison wellington

We’re too full for the optional extra ‘Cheese on toast’ course but find ourselves being sent home with it. Good job, because the next day when we finally have room to tackle the pile of melted Colston Bassett cheese on top of toasted fruit bread, we declare it a winner. No, it’s not particularly groundbreaking cooking – far from it. But it’s about tried and tested flavours, decent ingredients – and the ability to know when to leave those ingredients alone and let them do the talking.

CHocolate fondant
Caramel tart

There are two desserts on the tasting menu. They’re both pretty generously sized, and although I never thought I’d hear myself say this, could probably do with being a tiny bit smaller. That said, if serving too much pudding is the only criticism of The Loft then I’m sure we’ll all take this over burnt caramel sauces, solid chocolate fondants or cheap ice cream. None of which you’ll see here.

‘Chocolate orange’ – their version of chocolate fondant – is one of the best I’ve had. Perfectly executed with a textbook amount of goo. An orange liquor, gingerbread crumb and ginger ice cream all bring the festive feels – adding warmth and tartness in equal measure. And let’s not forget texture. Because someone here knows its importance, when it can so often be forgotten.

The same goes for ‘Festive Tipple’ – a salted caramel tart that’s so sickly it has me sweating under the eyes, yet I can’t help but keep digging into it.

Caramel tart

By the time we leave we’re full to bursting. So if you are going to be trying to compare Six at the Loft with Six by Nico – which you shouldn’t by the way, because beyond the name they’re entirely different – then you should probably bear this in mind. Yes, The Loft is more pricey, but if you’re a big portion lover and want to leave feeling full, then I reckon you will feel like you’ve had more bang for your buck, aside from all my other arguments as to why I just don’t think this is unreasonably priced.

As we leave, the restaurant is in full swing. Its size and the shared experience of a tasting menu – plus the time of year – mean tables are chatting away happily to one another. More than once I hear people expressing their joy that Coventry has somewhere like this, and I can’t help but agree.

There will always be people who look down their nose at certain cities, certain towns, and certain areas. And yes, they might have a way to go before they catch up to some other destinations. But it’s only by supporting places like this – places that undoubtedly are trying to dish up good food, to raise the bar, and to create venues that are memorable for all the right reasons, that they ever will. Which puts it on us to support them.

The Loft have already announced their next tasting menus – Surf & Turf I believe. And if that’s not your bag, there’s always Sunday lunch, breakfast or brunch to try.