Tag Archives: Leamington Spa

Top 3 places to eat in Leamington Spa

Hands up who loves to eat out in the town where they live *holds up hand*

I’m really lucky that I live in a town with some great independent eateries and a few tried and tested chains thrown in for good measure.  I would be lying if I said I was loyal to one or even two places to eat because I’m not.  If I can’t get a seat or if a restaurant or cafe is closed when it’s advertised to be open I’ll just find somewhere else (I’ve found some favourites this way).

I read this piece by The Tame Hare about local businesses struggling and I do really feel for them, it must be really difficult for chefs who have a real passion for food and local fresh ingredients to make a living in our current climate.  I need to be honest at this point and say that we have not got round to visiting The Tame Hare, we tasted some of their food at the Leamington Food festival one year before they had opened and it was delicious so we really should make a point of visiting.

Should we all be making an effort to visit more independents? I think if your wallet can afford to do so then yes.  We’re really tightening our purse strings at the moment as we’ve just bought a new house aka the money pit so our days of eating out several times a month will be reduced to one or two meaning I get to put my numerous gadgets and expensive knives to good use again and I’ll be making use of loyalty cards and early evening specials at the local chains.

Anyway I digress, eating local is great if you can afford to do so but there isn’t anything wrong with a chain now and again.  If you’re visiting the fabulous Royal Leamington Spa you will be spoilt for choice with all of the eating establishments.  We have chains, independents and a Michelin star bistro so if your time is limited do choose wisely.

In no particular order my current top 3 places to eat….

1. Procaffinate

Procaffinate

We used to visit this venue when the previous owners had it before it became Procaffeinate  for amazing tapas.  We were really sad when it closed down but from the ashes a new favourite was born.  Situated canalside, Procaffinate is a Coffee Shop with a difference.  You will find a SMEG fridge just beside the entrance, go through the fridge and you enter Ape Hangers which is home to over 100 beers including one of my favourites – Lucky Buddah beer.

Procaffinate is child friendly, they even have a box of toys for your little ones to entertain themselves with whilst you get your coffee fix.  Did I mention how amazing the cakes are? Prices are purse friendly and the food is delicious, it’s also open until 11pm so if you fancy a late night caffeine hit this is the place to go.

2. Warwick Street Kitchen

Warwick Street Kitchen

Situated as the name suggests on Warwick street, this cafe is the place to go if you’re looking for locally sourced, homemade products.  I’ve never actually visited for lunch yet only breakfast and I think we’ve tried all of the breakfast dishes on the menu.  I love the ethics of this place and they make a cracking cup of coffee.

The Shakshuka is incredible but my favourite is the Avocado smash experience (pictured above), I have it without the bacon and replace them with mushrooms.

 

3.  Basement Browns

Basement Browns

Basement Browns has probably been in our favourites list since it opened in Leamington Spa.  You can find them on Warwick Street but do book ahead if you can as this place fills up fast.

Our order is always the same, Margarita, half with olives and onions and when it comes to the table it’s doused in herbs.  £13.50 will get you a family sized pizza and you can add up to 6 toppings free of charge.

If you’ve visited Leamington Spa or if you live here, I’d love to know your favourite places to eat.



Bistrot Pierre – Leamington Spa

Leamington Spa is such a great place for eating out, with a wide range of countries to choose from you’re spoilt for choice. We tend to eat out a lot for Breakfast and Lunch which means when we do go out for dinner it’s nice to go somewhere special where the food is great and good value for money.

France is one of our most favourite places to visit, not just for the skiing but also for the food, Moules Marinieres, Cassoulet and pissaladiere are some of my favourites.  I find french food so flavourful and layered making you want to savour every bite.  Bistrot Pierre is surprisingly one of our favourite places to visit for breakfast and the one place that Baby Gourmand asks to go to when we pop into town as the scrambled eggs and pancakes are incredible.

bistrot pierre

If you’re eating at Bistrot Pierre on an evening, there are a wide range of menus to choose from and on this particular visit we ate from the Fin de Weekend which runs Sunday – Monday evening and offers two courses and a carafe of wine for £21.50 each.

olives and bread bistros pierre

Starting with the Olives marinées (£2.95) we perused the menu which had some delicious offerings like Crispy Squid, Ricotta and Truffle ravioli, 21 day aged rump steak and french style pizza.

French bread with good butter is always a winner in my book and there is no better way to start a meal.  I’ve always loved the bread at Bistrot Pierre, it’s crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, what more could you ask for?

Chicken liver parfait

A creature of habit, I started with the Parfait au foie de volaille which was the Chicken liver parfait with sourdough toast and red onion confiture.  It was a big old chunk of parfait with deliciously warm toast. The red onion confiture was a great accompaniment to the parfait which was light in texture and incredibly rich in flavour.

mackerel pate

Mrs Larger was torn between the starters but made a good choice in the Pâté au maquereau which was the Smoked, sustainable mackerel pâté with crème fraîche, lemon and paprika.  Again this was a very generous portion and delicious in taste.  There is no skimping on portion sizes at Bistrot Pierre and although very light in texture the pate was incredibly filling.

Poulet chasseur

The Poulet chasseur, Pan-fried chicken breast in a classic chasseur sauce of red wine, mushroom and concassé tomato was my choice of main course.  There were several different mushrooms in the sauce which added great texture to the dish.  The chicken was seasoned to perfection and was so moist and juicy inside.

Boeuf bourguignon

Mrs Larger went for a classic Boeuf bourguignon, Slow-braised beef with shallots, red wine, mushrooms and bacon.  It’s difficult to tell from the picture but the piece of beef was huge and just melted in the mouth, perfection on a plate is how this was described by Mrs Larger.

The mains were served with roasted potatoes, parsnips, buttered carrots and broccoli which would have been more than enough but we saw that there was creamed spinach (£3.25) on the menu and couldn’t resist ordering.  There is more than enough in the accompanying side dishes so you really don’t need to order extras unless you’re greedy like us.

Creamed spinach

Creamed spinach is such an amazing dish and I could have quite easily ate a bowl of this as my meal and left happy.  Velvety smooth, creamy with so much flavour – this was the winner of the evening.

The meals were so delicious and filling that there was no room left for dessert, if you do have a sweet tooth there are some lovely offerings such as Lemon tart, chocolate brownie, ice-cream and Creme Brûlée.

The restaurant is the perfect place for an intimate meal or a relaxed get together with friends, it’s spacious and since the recent refurb the upstairs is really light and airy.

You can find Bistrot Pierre Leamington Spa at 28 Park Street, Leamington Spa, CV32 4QN.



Basement Browns – Leamington Spa

Hands up if you love pizza

Here in the Gourmand household Pizza is a must, we love it. We even have our own President of the Pizza fan club.

Basement Browns

If you live in / visit / drive through Warwickshire and you don’t take a trip to Basement Browns you need to sort your life out. Seriously.

Basement Browns

The first time we ate here it reminded us of ordering pizza in America where you can’t eat it alone, it must be shared.  It might surprise you to hear that when it comes to pizza we are NOT creatures of habit. Sometimes we like to keep it simple, sometimes we like meat and sometimes we like to mix it up with a half and half and thankfully Basement Browns is always happy to oblige.

Basement Browns Pizza

The youngest member of the Gourmand Household usually manages one slice before his disco feet start moving and he feels the need to leave his seat for a dance (true story) which is music to mine and Mini Gourmands ears because we get the rest for ourselves.

Basement Browns pizza

Now I won’t like, i do like a sprinkling of herbs on my slices and Mini Gourmand likes a sprinkle of chilli flakes on hers, it adds to the flavour you see. Whatever your tastes it’s probably worth me mentioning the price at this point. £12 will get you a Margherita in the size shown above and flavoured pizza such as pulled chicken, pepperoni, chargrilled vegetables will cost you between £14 – £16.  Toppings such as olives, peppers, onions, sweetcorn and mushrooms are free and you can add any of them to the pizza when you order. Bargain right?

Basement Browns Pizza

One of my favourite things has got to be the garlic bread. Oh my it’s so good. Soft, buttery, garlic laced – I hate sharing it!

Nutella Pizza

Now you’re probably wondering where the desserts are? Wonder no more as I present to you Sweet Nutella Pizza, £3.50 will get you the delight you can see above and believe me it’s worth every penny.

Basement Browns Takeaway

Stuck in the house and craving Basement Browns? No need to panic, they also do takeaway via Deliveroo so you never need to go without again!

If you fancy good pizza, a beer or glass of wine and really chilled surroundings make your way to Basement Browns 77-79 Warwick Street, Leamington Spa.

* I wasn’t paid to or asked to write this, I just love the pizza!



Altoria Bar & Grill Leamington Spa

It probably comes as no surprise that birthday celebrations in the Gourmand household usually involve food of some sort, the most recent birthday celebration consisted of several meals out one of which took place at Altoria Bar & Grill in Leamington Spa.

Originally we had our hearts set on some American style grilled meat from the Bourbon Smokehouse (Altoria Bar & Grill’s previous name) but we were told they had changed hands the day before.  My dining partner Mama L is a bit like me, she likes decent food at a reasonable price so we were happy to stay and see what it had to offer and I’m pleased to say that Altoria Bar & Grill did not disappoint.

Altoria Leamington Spa

I don’t think we could have picked a better night to visit the restaurant, it was quiet which not only gave us a good opportunity to take some pictures but we got to gossip in peace.

The menu at Altoria Bar & Grill is simplistic, it’s broken down into sections like small dishes, salads, sliders, burgers, classics and sharers and there is nothing over £10 on the menu.  As much as I love gourmet food, there are nights when I just want something simple that wont break the bank and that’s what Altoria Bar & Grill offers.

The small dishes could be eaten as Tapas or starters and there is something for everyone ranging from chicken wings to breaded Goats cheese.  Prices are £3.50 unless you opt for a larger portion of chicken wings and at that price we couldn’t refuse a small dish as a starter.

Starters Altoria

Mama L went for the grilled tiger prawns in garlic and lemon which were served on a bed of spinach and I had the salt and pepper squid which was served with a garlic mayo.  I’d be really interested to try the mac & cheese as it’s one of my favourites but I have to admit I am quite particular about it and I like it to be cooked from fresh rather than out of a packet.

Burgers Altoria

Two 4oz beef burgers are served in a brioche bun with a homemade relish, salad and a choice of original or sweet potato fries.  You can add a range of toppings to your burger for £1 and both Mama L and myself went for the onion rings.

The cost of a burger really perplexes me as you can pay anything from £5 up to £15 in some local eateries.  The burgers at Altoria bar & grill were a purse friendly £5.95 and in my opinion were worth every penny, I couldn’t finish mine it was so filling.

Altoria Dessert

My only criticism came at dessert time.  I have a strawberry allergy and wasn’t expecting my brownie to come with the lovely juicy strawberry garnish.  Mama L helped me out by eating the offending strawberry along with some of the brownie it was touching.  Desserts are £3.95 and the brownie was incredibly rich, gooey and decadent – I would have this each and everytime.

Altoria Cocktails

Drinks are reasonably priced and the drinks menu is vast. At the time of our visit the cocktails were on 2 for 1 which is a huge bonus.

 

If you’re in the Leamington Spa area and fancy some good food at reasonable prices you can find Altoria Bar and Grill at 45 Warwick Street, Leamington, on the ground floor of Altoria.



Yo! Sushi Leamington Spa

Sushi is a favourite of the Gourmands, even Baby Gourmand likes to get in on the action so when we were invited to try some of the new Tokyo menu items we jumped at the chance (literally).  To be perfectly honest you don’t have to love raw fish to enjoy Yo! Sushi which may surprise some people, there is so much more on offer and hopefully this post will make fish-o-phobes realise that there’s more to Yo! Sushi than sushi.

Yo Sushi Leamington Spa

The Leamington Spa branch is situated in Regents Court which is the perfect place to grab lunch or dinner and is one of my favourite places to eat as there is so much on offer.  The Leamington branch of Yo! Sushi isn’t huge so booking is probably a good idea if you have plans to visit.

Yo Sushi, Tokyo menu

The Hoisin duck rolls (£4.45) are filled to brim with duck and cucumber with a delicious spring onion, hoisin and orange sauce for dipping it’s new to the menu and both of my children would love these. (117 calories)

I must admit that I love some of the names on the new menu like the fish no chip roll (£4.45) which is basically Japanese seabass tempura, onion, cucumber and wasabi sauce filled rice, this was a particular favourite of mine because it’s incredibly simple but so tasty. (139 calories)

kimchi ika

Now the first two dishes were good but it wasn’t until I tasted the Kimchi Ika (£4.00) that the new menu really stood out for me.  I’ve tried to make Kimchi at home as it’s basically the same process as making sauerkraut but my version is pretty rubbish compared to this.  (71 calories)

Some of our other favourites included the Potato Salad (£2.00) which may seem like a bit of an odd dish but it does really need to be tasted to be appreciated (210 calories), the Dynamite Rolls (£4.00)  which are super hot but super delicious (168 calories), the Teriyaki salmon (£4.45 which is simple, sweet and tasty (222 calories) and the Chicken Chahan (£4.00) which is an incredibly tasty fried rice (411 calories)

The new menu is a great accompaniment to the range of dishes already produced by Yo! Sushi, the flavours are fresh and flavourful and there is something for everyone whether you’re a sushi lover or not.

Have you tried any of the new dishes yet? Which ones appeal to you?



Cote Brasserie Leamington Spa

Cote Brasserie is the newest addition to Regent Court which is becoming Leamington’s go to place when you want a catch up with friends, cocktails or a great family meal.  We’re great fans of French food so when we had the opportunity to spend a rare child free evening chatting over a glass or two of wine accompanied by some great food we decided to spend it at Cote Brasserie.

An evening at Cote Brasserie Leamington Spa

The interior reminds me of some of the lovely little restaurants I’ve visited in Paris, simple comfortable furniture, traditional décor featuring lots of wood and mirrors, low lighting and beautiful glazed tiles.  Even though this is a chain you quickly forget this as soon as you step through the door.

Some little touches really stood out for us during our visit, for me I liked having two hooks on the back of the toilet door so you could hang a jacket or cardigan and your handbag, the toilets were spacious with good lighting which is always needed when you have a restaurant that can take a lot of covers.

The tables were spaced very well, you know they can be moved together if you’re with a large party but they are far enough apart so you’re not imposing on anyone.  If you’re celebrating a special occasion there are some lovely little booths for a more intimate dining experience.

One thing that stood out for both of us was that Cote Brasserie had one member of staff who carried the food from the kitchen to the waiting staff, placed the food down then walked away leaving the front of house member of staff to go through the dish and answer any questions.  Both Mr Gourmand and I have worked in restaurants before and we know how difficult it can be to be out front and in the kitchen, you don’t want food standing but you don’t want customers to be waiting on tables for dishes to be moved so having this member of staff who acts as a go-between is a genius idea.

The interior of Cote Brasserie Leamington Spa

The restaurant had a great atmosphere and even though it was a Monday night when we visited which is usually a quiet night there were families, work colleagues, friends and couples all enjoying a meal in this vibrant eatery.

Kir Royal at Cote Brasserie

We were given a complementary glass of Kir Royal £4.95 to drink while we perused the menu which of late has become a task taking well over 15 minutes as I’ve become incredibly indecisive when faced with a menu which has several dishes I would like to eat.

Mixed olives at Cote Brasserie

As I had ordered duck for my main course I decided to have a glass of Cotes Du Rhone £5.75 and Mr Gourmand went for the Sauvignon Blanc £5.45 to accompany his fish.  While we waited for our starters to arrive we tucked in to some of the mixed olives marinated in garlic, olive oil and herbs £2.50 which were incredibly delicious and highly recommended.  The green olives had a mild garlicky flavour to them and the black olives had the most incredible woody/earthy flavour that I’ve never tasted before.

Chicken liver parfait at Cote Brasserie

It’s probably no surprise to regular readers that my choice of starter was the Chicken liver parfait £5.95 which was served with toasted brioche and spiced apple chutney.

Chicken Liver Parfait at Cote Brasserie

I say this all the time but there is nothing worse than ordering a pate or parfait and finding you have run out of bread/toast/crackers before you have finished.  There was a really good sized portion of parfait in the glass jar and thankfully there was the perfect amount of brioche to go with it.  Having said that I would have been more than happy with the pot of parfait and a spoon on this occasion, it was so incredibly delicious that I wasn’t really happy about offering a taste to Mr Gourmand.

Mr Gourmand didn’t surprise me with his choice of starter, torn between the Boudin Noir £6.50 and the Prawn Gratinee £7.50 the Boudin Noir prevailed.

Boudin Noir at cote brasserie

Sautéed French black pudding served with caramelised apples, a frisee salad and topped with a poached egg, this was food heaven for Mr Gourmand.

Both starters were incredibly good value for money unlike some restaurants where they believe less is more (it isn’t).

Roast Duck breast with gratin potato and griotinne cherry sauce

I very rarely order duck from a menu but while we were chatting we were talking about this blog in it’s current form and I spoke about one of the first dishes I ever published which was Duck in a port and cherry sauce I remembered that it had been a long time since I’ve had duck cooked really well and couldn’t resist the opportunity to order it.

My Roast Duck breast £14.50 was served pink and accompanied by gratin potato which is one of my all time favourite ways to serve potato.  The cherry sauce worked incredibly well with the duck which was cooked to perfection.

Roast seabass with braised fennel and a champagne beurre blanc

Whenever there is fish on the menu there is an 85% chance that Mr Gourmand will order it so you can imagine my surprise when he mentioned that he quite fancied a salad. Say what? A salad? You have all of these delicious meals on the menu and you want to order a salad? Not that there is anything wrong with salad and I’m sure the salad that Cote Brasserie serves is delicious but we have salad at home 3-4 nights a week.

Thankfully Mr Gourmand saw the error of his ways and decided to order the Roast Seabass £13.95 which was served with braised fennel and a champagne beurre blanc.  Mr Gourmand isn’t the biggest fan of fennel as it’s flavour is usually very overpowering but on this occasion the flavour was just right, not too strong and went incredibly well with the fish.

Cheese board at Cote Brasserie

I’m a savoury girl and to be honest would much rather have another starter at dessert time which is a bit odd I know but that’s just how my taste buds work.  Don’t get me wrong I do like sweet puddings but I prefer to eat them hours after a main course or just have a mouthful of someone else’s dish.  After explaining to the staff about my blue cheese allergy I was presented with the most delicious looking cheese board £6.50 which was served with French bread, grapes, Reblochon and Comte cheese.  Like the starter I would have been happy to sit with a plate of Reblochon and a knife and I would have been in my element, it’s one of my favourite cheeses, so mild, creamy and nutty – Delicious.

Creme Caramel at Cote Brasserie

There was only one contender on the menu for Mr Gourmand, Crème Caramel £5.50 is his favourite and it wasn’t surprising to see that it was also the Cote Brasserie speciality dessert.  I did have a little spoonful and the dessert was spectacular, no guesses that it didn’t last long on the plate!

Pear Digestif cote brasserie

Mr Gourmand and I have been on a bit of a health kick since December and we have changed the way we eat alongside incorporating fitness into our lifestyle so we can lose weight, eating rich food like this can make you feel incredibly full very quickly so when the Manager of the restaurant Joe offered us a complementary pear digestif it was most welcomed.

Madame Gourmand

I think this picture says it all about our visit! Mouth-watering delicious.

If you’re thinking of paying the Leamington Spa branch of Cote Brasserie a visit you can find them at 3 Regent Court, Livery Street, Leamington Spa, CV32 4NG.

*Meal and drinks were complementary


The Ultimate Grill Night At The Star and Garter

I love steak and for me there is nothing better than an Aubrey Allen steak, I’ve waxed lyrical about my love for Aubrey Allen butchers time and time again to the point that my parents who live in Newcastle upon Tyne stock up on their meat when they come to visit me so you can imagine my delight when I heard that the Star & Garter pub in Leamington Spa were going to hold a grill night every Thursday evening.

Grill Night

I went to the opening night with my friend Ms Teacher as Mr Gourmand was babysitting Mini and Baby Gourmand. I hadn’t seen Ms Teacher since last Summer so was looking forward to a catch up alongside some delicious food.

The Star & Garter has had a refurbishment since my last visit and although I liked the décor before it really is a lot more stylish and has a cosier, informal feel to it.

I briefly met Colin Barber who is the manager at the Star & Garter and it was apparent that he is a super friendly and welcoming man which is exactly what you want when you walk into a pub, there is nothing worse than feeling out of place and thankfully the vibe at the Star & Garter couldn’t have been more friendly.

Russell Allen

Russell Allen is a bit of an expert when it comes to butchery, after all Aubrey Allen are butchers to the Queen.  Learning about the different cuts of meat was incredibly interesting and just made our decision about which cut to have all the more harder.

After a lot of deliberating we finally made our steak choices.  I went for the 28 day dry-aged 10oz Onglet steak and Ms Teacher decided to try the 28 day dry-aged 8oz Spider steaks which was a steak neither of us were familiar with.  First things first though, we wanted to try the starters.

Dorset Smoked Duck Salad

Ms Teacher ordered the Dorset smoked duck, orange and almond salad (£7.50) which tasted like nothing we had ever tasted before.  The duck had the most beautiful flavour and it’s something I would definitely order on my next visit.

potted crab and prawns

A creature of habit, I went for the Potted crab & prawns with toasted sourdough (£6.75) which tasted just as delicious as it looks.  It’s always nice to get a decent chuck of bread when you order a dish like this and it didn’t disappoint.  The rocket added a lovely peppery kick to the dish and I was pleased that Ms Teacher had more table manners than Mr Gourmand and only took a small taste rather than half my dish!

Neither myself or Ms Teacher were expecting our steaks to look quite so delicious.  It was one of those moments when you have ultimate envy at the other persons dish even though your own looks amazing in its own right.

Spider Steak

Ms Teacher ordered sweet potato fries and blue cheese sauce on the side of her spider steaks.  She had only expected one of the steaks we were shown and was pleasantly surprised with the sheer amount of meat on her plate.  As steak goes this was delicious, so tender and flavourful and I was told that the blue cheese sauce was one of the nicest she has had.

Star and garter steak

Greed took over when I ordered my sides and I went for triple cooked chips, they don’t call me a gourmand for nothing!  Peppercorn sauce was my accompaniment and I always take a bit of a risk when I order this as I’m always looking for the perfect peppercorn sauce, believe me so many places get it so wrong.  Not on this occasion thankfully.

star and garter steak

There is so much I could say about the steak, I’m not actually going to though because the pictures really do speak for themselves.

onion rings

We ordered a side of beer battered onion rings (£3.50) as I have a bit of a thing for onion rings, we really didn’t need these as we had so much delicious food to munch through and I’m blaming these rings of deliciousness for the fact I couldn’t manage a dessert.

I do want to mention the desserts even though I didn’t actually eat one.  There is an incredible selection of cheese for the cheese board which contains two of my favourites baked golden Cenarth and Brie de Nangis.

When I go out for dinner at a pub or restaurant I look for a couple of things, these things are what makes me want to go back time and time again.  My first request is that the food is fresh and home cooked, the second is that the atmosphere is friendly and welcoming and the third is that the establishment is family friendly.  The Star & Garter ticked all three of my boxes and I can’t wait until my next visit.

If you happen to be in the Leamington Spa area and are looking for a friendly pub that serves delicious home cooked food I really do recommend Grill Night at the Star & Garter which can be found at 4-6 Warwick Street, Leamington Spa, CV32 5LL.

*Meal was provided in return for an honest, impartial review


Café Rouge Leamington Spa

We love eating out as a family, it’s something we do most weekends and if Baby Gourmand is lucky he gets taken out for lunch during the week too.  What usually puts me off about most places when we go to eat out is the amount of places that don’t cater for children.  I’ve lived in both a big city and a medium sized town and both have a huge number of restaurants who don’t have high chairs, small cups, smaller cutlery or a children’s menu.

We recently visited Café Rouge to sample their new children’s menu, we have visited before when Baby Gourmand was much younger and it’s the perfect place for a family to visit for lunch or dinner.  Our local Café Rouge is very spacious so people with a pram wouldn’t have a problem getting a table, there are high chairs available, staff are incredibly child friendly and best of all they have a great children’s menu.

Colouring pencils cafe rouge

For £6.95 children can have a starter, main course, dessert and a drink, there were quite a few main courses that Baby Gourmand would have loved so I found choosing a dish for him almost as difficult as deciding what to have myself!

childs starter cafe rouge

Baby Gourmand’s starter was artisan bread with d’Isigny butter, cucumber, carrot and tomato with a tomato dip which he proceeded to get all over his fingers ready to lick off.

bread basket cafe rouge Olives cafe rouge

Instead of ordering a started each, Mr Gourmand and I thought we would just order some bread and olives so we ordered the Rouge Olives (£3.25) and the Plateau de Pain (£4.95) The Rouge olives were delicious and the caper berries added a sweetness which cut through the heat of the Roquito chillies perfectly, for such a small little chilli they really can pack a punch.  The bread was all warm and I particularly liked the rye & caraway bread.  Baby Gourmand was convinced that the black olive tapenade was chocolate and didn’t look too impressed when I popped some into his mouth, I thought it was delicious and could have happily ate it with a spoon – I’m such a glutton.

Croque Monsoir Cafe Rouge

I was torn between ordering the Poulet Ooh La La and the Petite Croque for Baby Gourmand and went for the latter.  I had ordered the cheese and ham one but the ham seemed to have taken a holiday from the toastie as it was missing, this didn’t seem to bother Baby Gourmand though as he thought it was rather tasty.

Rouge burger cafe rouge

Mr Gourmand is a little predictable so I knew even before he did that he would be ordering the Rouge Burger (£10.95) I’ve just actually realised whilst writing this that the greedy man didn’t even offer me a bite so I’ll just have to take his word that it was delicious, it didn’t stay on his plate for very long so I assume it was just as good as he said it was.

mussels cafe rouge

I was torn between a couple of dishes, I thought since we were in a French restaurant I should really go for a typically French dish and something that I’ve never had whilst on holiday in France, The Moules (£11.95). I wasn’t expecting to receive such a huge pan of mussels, I wasn’t complaining though as I ploughed my way through the mussels which were steamed in a cream, garlic & wine broth, my favourite part of the meal was dipping my French fries or frites into the salty broth. Yum.

Ice Cream Cafe Rouge Vanilla Ice Cream Cafe Rouge

Surprisingly both myself and Mr Gourmand were too full for dessert but Baby Gourmand still had room so we ordered him Vanilla Ice-Cream which came with a choice of toppings.

The above food plus a diet coke, glass of milk and large bottle of water came to £39 I was incredibly impressed with the choice of food especially the food on the children’s menu.

The restaurant was full during our visit, we were there for 1 hour and 45 minutes which is an awfully long time to sit with a toddler, our main course took around 50 minutes for our main course to arrive from the point of ordering this had nothing at all to do with the waiting staff who were great it’s just something to think about if you’re visiting with small children.

* I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet.  I have not paid for the product or to attend an event.  I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.

 

 



Royal Pug Leamington Spa

The Royal Pug serves such delicious food it’s surprising we don’t visit there more often but with an abundance of delicious eateries in town you can be forgiven for forgetting about old favourites.

We had eaten an early breakfast so thought it would be a good idea to have an early lunch, well not too early it was 12pm. just.

Neither myself or Mr Gourmand were hungry enough for what we consider to be a proper meal so we decided to just have a sandwich however we hadn’t anticipated that a sandwich at the Royal Pug would not be a small affair.

royal pug

 

Mr Gourmand couldn’t resist the Pulled Pork sandwich with a side of purple slaw.  Served in a brioche bun and cooked with sautéed apple, the pulled pork was most delicious and certainly hit a spot.

Fishfinger Sandwich, Royal Pug

I had the fish finger sandwich which was also served with the purple slaw.  It was around the time the chopping board was placed in front of me that I regretted ordering side dishes.  There was no way I was going to finish the inch thick bread and giant fish fingers.

Chips, royal pug

In true Gourmand style we ordered sides of sweet potato and skin on fries. The sweet potato fries were hands down the winner in the side dish stakes. It was a case of eyes too big for belly for me however Mr Gourmand did manage to polish them off without breaking a sweat.

The only downside about the visit for me had nothing to do with the food it was the serving dishes.  I like plates. I like plates of different sizes and shapes as long as it’s a plate of the china variety.  Chopping boards are as the name suggests for chopping, I don’t have anything against the little dipping pots but the little mini fryers and chopping boards are just a no no in my humble opinion.

 

The Royal Pug can be found at 141 Regent Stree, Lemington Spa, make sure you’re wearing your elasticated pants before visiting though.

 



The Mock Turtle Leamington Spa

If you’re local to Warwickshire you probably know all about The Jabberwocky which supplies awesome street food to the region in the form of gourmet toasted sandwiches.  Toasted sandwiches I hear you say, but there isn’t anything special about them!  You would be wrong if that’s what you think because when I think of The Jabberwocky and the sandwiches they offer, the words special, awesome and out of this world have all come out of my mouth after eating them.  Anyone who knows me will know that The Reuben would be my last meal whether it be a sandwich, burger or hotdog and The Reuben toastie from the Jabberwocky is my favourite – I can taste it now. Delicious.

So you may be wondering why the title of this post is The Mock Turtle when I’ve been talking about The Jabberwocky? Well The Mock Turtle is the younger sibling of The Jabberwocky, Leamington Spa’s newest street food restaurant and café.  I’m so lucky to live here in Leamington, we have some fabulous cafes and restaurants and it’s nice to see a good one out of the town centre.

queensway court

You can find The Mock Turtle on the ground floor of Queensway Court on The Queensway which is a new independent living apartment complex however it’s open to the public and isn’t exclusive to the residents.

I was invited to pop down and sample The Mock Turtle for myself, It’s actually a perfect space for families to visit especially in the café area which is extremely spacious and could fit a lot of pushchairs if you were popping down with an NCT birth group or nursery friend meet ups.

Mock Turtle space

Baby Gourmand loved using the space to roam around in although if the café was full of older residents I’m not sure how they would react to my whirlwind as he does sometimes give the impression of being a caged animal when he is let loose.

Mock Turtle dining room

If you’re after something a bit more substantial than a toastie or piece of cake The Mock Turtle also have a restaurant where you can order a more substantial meal and I’ve heard they do an awesome Sunday roast.

We opted for a late lunch so decided to eat in the café rather than the restaurant, Baby Gourmand was enjoying himself too much for formal dining.

mock turtle

Mock Turtle Board

I love the comfy chairs in the café which are incredibly inviting and surprisingly comfortable, I could quite happily have sat there nursing a baby.  The modern look of the counter area is sleek and a little industrial looking which I love, you can see everything happening, the menu is easy to read and the cakes and sweet treats are well displayed.

 

chicken parm Italian summer

 

We decided to share two toasties, the Italian Summer (£3.50) which was mozzarella, roast peppers and basil pesto and the Chicken Parm (£4) which was chicken, mozzarella, garlic, slow roasted tomatoes and parmesan.  Both sandwiches were incredibly delicious and neither myself or Mr Gourmand could decide which one we liked best.  Baby Gourmand was partial to the Italian Summer which surprised me as he is a garlic fiend so I assumed he would prefer the chicken.

I love the caramelised taste of the bread, it’s like eating sweetened fried bread which I love.  The fillings complemented each other so well and each component inside of the toastie could be tasted.

chips

The chips (£2.50) Where do I start? They were delicious.  Utterly delicious, hot, sweet and seasoned perfectly.  They reminded us of chips we used to get from Roberto’s Italian restaurant in Newcastle evoking fond memories of home.  It’s funny how food can do that sometimes isn’t it?

Coffee cake mock turtle

We had to finish off with a piece of the delicious coffee cake (£2.50). Moist, flavourful and the perfect ratio of cake to buttercream.

You can’t get more child friendly than The Mock Turtle, I can see it becoming incredibly popular with parents meeting up and families in the school holidays and at weekends.  There are high chairs available but if your children are anything like Baby Gourmand they will prefer to play on the floor with their toys or sit on the comfy chairs like a ‘big person’.  I’m looking forward to our next visit to The Mock Turtle which won’t be long as I’m craving the toasties already!

queensway court

There is plenty of parking as shown.  It is a little confusing when you first arrive in the car park as to where the café actually is, we saw the chalkboard as we turned in but couldn’t see any signage from the carpark.  You actually just walk through the entrance doors and you’re in the café foyer so don’t be put off if you’re passing and can’t see where to go.

Disclaimer: I received a gift voucher to use as part payment.  All words, opinions and experiences are my own.