A burst of fresh summer flavours and friendly and welcoming staff at the Almanack in Kenilworth really boosted our spirits on a cloudy and humid July day.
The gastropub in Abbey End has released its new summer menu - and although the day my husband, daughter and I chose to go for lunch did not present us with glorious sunshine, the food we sampled did well to bring back the summer cheer.
Although one side of the pub has tall windows that let in natural light, the majority of the pub is a little dark, but the soft lighting and relaxed and comfortable decor made us feel at home - and I liked that the pub includes a good mix of seating, with large tables suitable for groups, bar stools and cosy booths for couples and smaller parties.
There is also an open kitchen, so diners can feel more a part of the food preparation experience.
We were given a very warm welcome by the staff, who were extremely friendly and attentive. Our waiter seemed to have a good understanding of the needs and desires of people with small children, for example by being careful to place hot food and spillable drinks at a distance from our 22-month-old (most waiting staff we have come across seem oblivious to the potential disasters curious little hands can cause).
The menu is impressively large, with a good choice for vegetarians and pescetarians like myself, and many more items on the specials board than we are used to seeing. For my starter, I chose marinated feta, courgette, broad bean and mint salad. The dish was very light and refreshing, with melt-in-the-mouth and not too salty cheese and an elegant presentation that was very pleasing to the eye. My husband went for ham and Cheddar croquettes with tomato relish. The croquettes were crispy but not greasy and the portion was generous but not too filling for a starter.
For my main course, I opted for pan fried monkfish and scallops with Bombay potatoes, Indian salad and mint yoghurt. The meaty fish was absolutely delicious, full of flavour and perfectly cooked and the scallops were beautifully sweet and delicate, complete with gorgeous bright orange roe. The potatoes were crushed with a good mix of spices and coriander and together with the refreshing yoghurt, went really well with the seafood. It was quite a light meal, which was perfect for me.
My husband chose the market fish mixed grill, which on the day was lemon sole, gunard, king prawns and mussels, served with garlic butter sauce, skinny fries and salad. This was a very generous portion, with a good amount of each fish or seafood and a delicious pool of garlicky juices to dunk them in. Quite a treat.
Although I was full by this point, I was tempted into ordering dessert: strawberries (from Shrewsberry) with Valrhona chocolate sauce, Chantilly cream and shortbread biscuits. The strawberries were delicious, plump and juicy, served with the most amazing deep, dark and distinctively flavoured thin chocolate sauce. The richness, depth of flavour and chocolately hit reminded me of the sauce I had to accompany churros during a trip to Madrid a few years ago. I don’t like cream, but my daughter really enjoyed spooning it into her mouth with gusto! The biscuits were rich and buttery, but not too sweet. I will be sure seek out that chocolate.
My husband went for a childhood favourite - warm treacle tart with clotted cream. It was, as you would expect, a dessert for those who have a sweet tooth, but not sickeningly sweet and the sugar was set off well by the smooth, cold cream.
The pub has a large and well-stocked bar, with a long list of beers, wines, spirits and cocktails to choose from, and it is open all day for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and coffee and cake. There is a private dining room upstairs that seats parties of up to 30.
Would I come back? Most certainly. The food was great, there are many more dishes I am keen to try and the service was excellent.
T: 01926 353637