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Tag Archives: Kenilworth
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
*Meal was provided in return for an honest, impartial review
After our disastrous visit to the Zizzi branch in Leamington Spa we decided to use the £20 voucher we had been sent at the branch in Kenilworth which is the next town to where we live.
If I’m being completely honest I wasn’t expecting a great deal, I was praying that the food would be of a higher standard as it was nothing more than diabolical during our last visit and I knew it couldn’t really be any worse.
We had booked a table for 12 and when we arrived we were the first ones there and were given a choice of where we wanted to sit, the restaurant was extremely light and airy and we picked a table next to a window and close to the door should we need to take Baby Gourmand outside when he became cranky which does happen often.
After having a good read of the menu we ordered our starters, Bread sticks, Carrot and Cucumber for Baby Gourmand as part of his children’s menu. He was more interested in the colouring pencils at first but soon got stuck in to the breadsticks which he devoured with gusto.
Mr Gourmand picked the Arancini (£5.45) which he had previously eaten at a hotel in London, Arancini are risotto balls with mozzarella, peas & a breadcrumb coating which was served with a chunky tomato pepperonata dip. The risotto balls needed the chunky dip as they were lacking something but that didn’t stop Mr Gourmand polishing them off.
I really liked the sound of the Garlic bread with Mozzarella (£4.95) I was surprised when the dish arrived at how big it was, I had expected a really small bread but this was enough for two people. The caramalised balsamic onion was delicious, really sweet and decedent, I would order this again if I saw it on a menu.
Once the starts were out of the way our main courses arrived, I had ordered Baby Gourmand the Bolognese again, it wasn’t as thick as I would have liked but it was a lot better than the portion we received at the Leamington Spa branch which was the consistency of a thin soup.
Mr Gourmand hadn’t enjoyed the pizza he got during our last visit to Zizzi but decided to give them another try and ordered the Classic Fiery Nduja pizza (£9.95) which contained pepperoni, spicy Nduja sausage, green chillies, Fior di Latte mozzarella, riserva cheese & basil. Mr Gourmand really enjoyed this, the base was good and although the toppings were a little sparse they were very tasty and had a good amount of spice.
Mr Gourmand thought my choice of main course was a little risky but I really liked the sound of the Classic king prawn diavola (£10.75) so ordered it any way. I must admit that I was a little disappointed when the dish arrived, I had expected butterfly king prawns as the menu suggested which when I have had them many times before are more of a flat prawn with the tail on, the prawns on my pizza just looked like regular supermarket king prawns, deveined straight out of the packet. Putting the appearance of the prawns aside, the base was cooked to perfection, it does look like there was quite a lot of chilli on the pizza but it was just the right amount without being too hot.
Surprisingly we all had room for dessert, Baby Gourmand had vanilla ice-cream with popping candy and three mini cones. He hasn’t really had ice-cream before but seemed to enjoy it however I think the popping candy experience was a little lost on him.
Mr Gourmand didn’t want anything too heavy so picked an ice-cream or Gelato if you want to be specific. Not wanting to be boring he went for the honey, sea salt and mascarpone (£4.45) which was a little bit special, it was sweet, salty and incredibly creamy.
It was a no brainer for me when it came to picking a dessert, Tiramisu every time. The Tiramisu (£5.25)which is an espresso & liqueur-soaked sponge with layers of mascarpone & cocoa.
Has my opinion of Zizzi changed? Yes it has, I was in two minds about returning and I’m really glad that I did. It’s good to know that the standard of food isn’t always as bad as it was during our visit to the Leamington Spa branch, the space issue we encountered during my last post was not an issue during this visit, in fact there was so much room we could have had three prams round our table. The staff could not have been more attentive at Kenilworth and I would not hesitate to return.