Kenilworth is the next town over from us, it’s not somewhere we visit often but it has some great restaurants and I can now include The Almanck in my list of favourite eateries outside of Leamington Spa.
If you’re a fan of gastro pubs that offer something for everyone and are also child friendly then The Almanack in Kenilworth is the sort of place for you. We didn’t have children with us during our visit but some of the other diners did and they did not look out of place.
I love a restaurant where you can dress up or down and you won’t feel uncomfortable in occasion wear, straight from the office or in jeans.
Staff are incredibly friendly without being too overbearing and there is a fabulous open kitchen so you can see the chefs at work. We had a great seat which was right in front of the kitchen so I could see all of the delicious dishes going past, in hindsight it might not have been the best choice of seating as it made my course choice all the harder as I wanted everything off the menu.
While we perused the menu (it took a long time) and sampled some of the red wine and real ale we enjoyed the warm mini loaf with roasted garlic butter (£3.00) which was incredibly delicious and I’d recommend ordering 2 if your dining partner wishes to share and orders something that you can’t eat.
Mr Gourmands eyes lit up when he saw the pot of crackling and apple sauce (£2.75) on the menu, he would probably have also ordered the sausage roll with piccalilli (£2.75) too but I had to remind him that we were out for dinner and not just dining on snacks.
Deciding what starter to have is difficult when your usual go-to options are not on the menu, as you know if you’re a regular reader we are creatures of habit and if there is Chicken liver pate or prawn cocktail it’s a no brainer that we will order those. It’s probably a good thing that the Almanack don’t sell either of those so we had to think outside the box when deciding what to eat.
Mr Gourmand rarely gets any pork based products at home and his crackling had given him a taste for something of the pork variety so it was obvious to me that he would go for the free-range ham & cheddar croquettes (£6.75) which were served with a tomato relish.
Mr Gourmand was suitably impressed with his choice, I on the other hand was not happy that I had to share a taste of my dish and got nothing back in return – you win some you lose some I guess.
When it came to choosing my own starter I was faced with a conundrum, if I was going to have fish/seafood for my main course did I want to have it for my starter in the form of the Devon crab gratin (£8.75) or if I opted for the rack of lamb with minted peas (£21.50) for my main did I want a meaty starter? In the end I decided to try the free-range Duck and crunchy vegetable salad (£7.75) and boy was I glad I did.
The salad was delicious and everything worked so well together, there was crunch, sweetness, nutty flavours and super soft duck all mixed together – perfection.
Mr Gourmand really struggled to pick his main course but after a quick chat with our waitress decided to try the market fish mixed grill, which on this occasion consisted of huge prawns, fish, squid and mussels served with skinny fries and salad. The dish was delicious and must have caught the eye of some other diners as we saw quite a few going to other tables after ours arrived.
Torn between two dishes I decided to order the Pan-fried monkfish and scallops (£18.50) which was served with bombay potatoes, Indian salad and mint yoghurt.
The scallops were huge, sweet and cooked to perfection, the bombay potatoes had just the right amount of spice and the nigella seeds on the salad really finished it off.
I’m always a little dubious when I eat Indian spiced food outside of an Indian restaurant but if I’m being completely honest I could have happily ordered this from my local Indian restaurant and I would have been very happy with the flavorings. (I tried to recreate this at home but the least said about that the better, stick to The Almanack).
Mr Gourmand likes his sweet desserts and I can take or leave them, I don’t mind a bite or two but that’s usually all I can manage so we always share when it comes to dessert time.
The dessert menu at The Almanack was really good and there were more than a couple of things that I would have liked to order but we settled for warm treacle tart (£5.75) served with clotted cream.
Treacle tart is probably Mr Gourmand’s favourite dessert so I did have to be quick with my spoon. The tart wasn’t heavy like some I’ve eaten before, it had a lightness to it, the pastry was thin and buttery and the filling didn’t taste like your teeth were about to drop out which sometimes can happen with this type of tart.
A cheese plate is always a winner with me and as they are usually quite large we went for the individual cheese plate (£7.75) where we could choose 3 of the 5 cheeses available which was served with apples, celery, chutney and crackers.
We picked the Camembert Gillot AOC which I’ve had before, it’s incredibly creamy and doesn’t give you that nasal ache from the strength (it can’t only be me who gets that?), the Double Barrel Poacher is another favourite of mine, it’s like a really, really strong cheddar and can give you a lip tingle (again surely it’s not just me who this happens to?) and finally we had the Tor which is a goats cheese and one that I’d never tried before, it was really light and fresh tasting and one that I would definitely try again. I don’t usually eat chutney with my cheese as I like to savour the cheese flavour but this chutney was really yummy and nice to scoop up with the celery.
We don’t eat out in Kenilworth very often but this needs to change as gastro pubs like The Almanack really are worth driving to the next town for.
If you’re in Warwickshire or passing through and need a great place for food, The Almanack can be found at Abbey End North, Kenilworth, CV8 1QJ