Tag Archives: Leamington Spa

Wagamama – Leamington Spa

When we moved to Leamington Spa Wagamama had only just opened and as Mini Gourmand had never visited before I took her for her first meal and she has been hooked on Chicken Katsu since then.  Fast forward 18 months to Mr Gourmand and Baby Gourmand’s first visit to Wagamama.

wagamama bar

When you enter through the revolving doors you are greeted with a fabulous bar area which is the only one outside of London, there are a selection of tables at the window where you can choose to sit or wait for friends which look directly out onto The Parade which is perfect for people watching.  I believe this branch serves a selection of cocktails however we were not provided with a bar menu so I’m unable to comment on those.

deco wagamama

The interior is extremely light, spacious and has a fantastic vibe.  Decor is neutral and there is a lot of beautiful lighting.  My favourite feature is the huge ornate mirror above the fireplace, I imagine that the room that houses the restaurant was originally a ballroom when the building was all a hotel.

wagamama interior

One good thing about Wagamama is that it is extremely family friendly, on our arrival we were asked if we needed a high chair and were supplied with crayons and a colouring sheet, I originally thought Baby Gourmand would be far too young for crayons but he surprised us by doing a little scribble, then trying to munch on the crayon like a carrot stick.

baby gourmand wagamama

Our waitress Laura took our drinks order and left us to peruse the menu. I hate the menu in Wagamama, don’t get me wrong there isn’t actually anything wrong with it. My problem is that I want to eat at least 8-10 things on there during each visit and although I’m a gourmand by name and nature it isn’t actually possible to do so which makes my decision really difficult.

wagamama

After taking time out to laugh at Baby Gourmand pulling faces we were ready to order our food.  We’re a family of sharers so decided on two starters each, a main course each and 1 side which was originally a healthy option for Baby Gourmand to munch on.

Ebi Katsu

Mini Gourmand’s choice for one of the starters was the Ebi Katsu (£6.95) which  is basically deep-fried prawns in panko breadcrumbs. served with a spicy chilli and garlic sauce and garnished with a wedge of lime.  Even Baby Gourmand enjoyed this starter although he did try to shove the whole thing into his mouth including the tail so Mr Gourmand had to extract it and deliver it in smaller portions.  The prawns were delicious, breadcrumbs were crispy and the chilli sauce was perfect in flavour and strength.

Chilli Squid

My choice for a starter was the Chilli Squid (£5.75) which is basically deep-fried squid seasoned with salt and shichimi. served with a chilli and coriander dipping sauce.  Baby Gourmand made sure he tucked into this starter too although he didn’t sample the dipping sauce.  Mini Gourmand commented about how so many restaurants just can’t seem to get squid right meaning it’s either tough or isn’t cooked enough.  The Chilli Squid from Wagamama was perfect, tender, delicately spiced and the dipping sauce added both a sweet and sourness to the dish making it one of those dishes you wish you had ordered two of.

Chicken katsu Curry

A creature of habit, Mini Gourmand ordered the Chicken Katsu Curry (£9.50) chicken breast deep-fried in panko breadcrumbs served with a curry sauce and sticky white rice. garnished with dressed mixed leaves and japanese pickles.  I always wish she would try something else from the menu but I suppose the saying goes if it’s not broken don’t fix it and she always has a satisfied look on her face after cleaning her plate.

Mahi Mahi Curry

Mr Gourmand wanted to try something new and different so went for the Mahi Mahi Curry (£9.95) which was grilled mahi mahi fish in a spicy curry sauce with sweet potato, red and green peppers and mushrooms. served with rice and garnished with coriander cress.  Not wanting to miss out I had a mouthful and was pleasantly surprised because it was so delicious, the sauce had a delicate spice but was also slightly sweet.  Baby Gourmand gave the fish a thumbs up by demanding more of it, the boy has a real love of fish and seafood so it seems!

Teryaki beef soba

I decided to go for something different and picked the Teryaki Soba Beef (£13.95) which was grilled teriyaki beef on a bed of teppan-fried soba noodles with curry oil, mangetout, red and spring onions, beansprouts, bok choi and chillies with yakitori and teriyaki sauce. garnished with coriander and sesame seeds. Steak is another favourite of Baby Gourmand so we shared this dish.  The flavourings worked together so well on this dish and the steak was cooked to perfection, It’s the first time I’ve gone for a noodle dish at Wagamama and I will definitely be back for more after sampling this particular one.

Wok fried greens

I actually ended up eating most of the Wok Fried Greens (£4.25) that we had ordered for Baby Gourmand as he decided that he preferred the meat on this occasion and the green stuff was for wimps.  I actually thought the tender stem broccoli and bok choi, stir-fried in garlic and soy sauce was a delicious if not simple dish and could have quite happily had this as a main course with some steamed rice.

Our total bill including drinks came to £58.90 which is more than acceptable for the amount of food and drinks we consumed.

We left Wagamama with full stomachs and smiles on our faces, mainly because Baby Gourmand had behaved himself impeccably.  The staff at the Leamington Spa branch were attentive and extremely friendly and I would not hesitate to go back again.

If you’re ever in the Warwickshire area and fancy some good food, cooked well which is good value for money you will be very welcome at Wagamama Leamington spa, the old regent hotel, 95 parade royal, leamington spa, CV32 4AY.

*I received vouchers towards part payment of my meal.  All words are my own and as always my review is honest and impartial*

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Bandstand Tea Room – Leamington Spa

Myself and Mr Gourmand recently got caught out by a freak thunderstorm close to the Pump Room gardens in Leamington Spa and decided to jump into the first coffee shop we good which was the Bandstand Tea Room. As you can tell from the photographs, The Bandstand Tea Room, named after the band stand across the road, is a quaint little place with decorative wallpaper and delicate ornamental features fitting for a fine tea room in York or Edinburgh.

interior

There was a great selection of teas all housed in pretty silver jars, I particularly liked the shabby chic cabinet that housed them.

cakes

There wasn’t huge variety of cakes, but the ones on offer were home made, nicely presented and looked delicious.

chocolate cake

I went for the Chocolate Cake as recommended by the waitress which was an incredibly indulgent, rich, chocolaty delight, that truth be told I struggled to finish – at this point Mr Gourmand jumped in to finish what I plainly couldn’t! The ratio of buttercream to cake was good, this is something that some places get so wrong but on this occasion it was perfect.

latte

Mr Gourmand went for a Latte to wash down the chocolate cake he stole from me and his own cake.  Next to the latte you can just see a glimpse of the Victoria Sponge Mr Gourmand ordered. He does order some odd cakes, but I think he chose wisely this time as it was beautifully light and delicious! although it looks like the cake was filled with just a bit too much buttercream it was actually a perfect amount and very light and airy.

arthur coffee

Look at Baby Gourmand’s face, even he was glad to get out of the cold rain!

Overall we had nice cake and coffee which is all you can ask for, however it was a little pricey and certainly fell into one of the most expensive coffee shops in Leamington, but for those special occasions when you really fancy the best cake, I would go again. The chocolate cake was a bit special!

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Sip – Leamington Spa

sip

Sip is a fairly new addition to Regent Street in Leamington Spa, we don’t often venture this far when shopping on a Saturday so it was just by chance that we stumbled upon it.

Sip_inside

With exposed brickwork, fancy lighting, bare wood and glass cabinets the interior is very appealing.  Jazz music played in the background and staff are very friendly.

sip

We ordered a flat white, an americano and two pastries.  The coffee was delicious, the best we had tasted in a while.  We were both served a glass of water which NEVER happens anywhere else! The pastries were good also and overall this is somewhere I would chose to go to again.

I like coming across these little places and wish SIP all the best and look forward to visiting again very soon!

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The Fat Pug – Leamington Spa

The Fat Pug is one of those hip places where all the cool kids go offering a range of real ales and a capsule home cooked menu, of course it’s family friendly and dogs are welcome too.

We’ve passed on numerous occasions but it’s either been too early or late for lunch, but last week when we were on the way home from looking at a new car we were just in time for a spot of lunch.

pepperoni pizza, Fat Pug

Mr Gourmand would probably eat Pepperoni Pizza for every meal. Fact. When he spotted the Margherita Pizza with the optional extra of Pepperoni there was no question that this would be his choice of meal.  The pizza was described by Mr Gourmand as delicious which was quite surprising to me as he usually has some sort of complaint about pizza that hasn’t come from an Italian restaurant, he enjoyed it so much he was talking about what toppings he would have next time we visit!

fish and chips fat pug

I couldn’t resist trying the Tempura battered fish and chips with home made tartar sauce and minted mushy peas.  The fish that I was served was actually more of a whale than a fish as you can see from the picture, the batter was extremely light and superbly crisp on both the outside and inside which I was pleased about as there is nothing worse than cutting through crisp batter on the outside and finding it’s all soggy inside.  The tartar sauce was chunky, tangy and creamy which complemented the fish so well, the picked onion was crispy and sharp just as they should be.  My only criticism was that the minted mushy peas were a little on the watery side and this really is just personal taste, I like my mushy peas to be thick.  This was a mammoth meal and even though I had baby Gourmand helping me with the peas and the fish I still managed to leave food on my plate.

After a couple of real ales and a relaxing chat about how much we liked the pub we decided to make our way home, we were really impressed with the Fat Pug and have made plans to go back again soon for breakfast as the menu sounds delicious so keep a look out for the blog post coming soon.

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Stone Monkey

Stone monkey

The Stone Monkey is what you can only describe as a quirky little place. You know the type, not quite in a town centre, usually alongside a laundrette or under a flat. Well this one is all of the above. Myself and Mr Gourmand were walking by one day and thought we should probably try this place as it had all the hallmarks of being something special. The Stone Monkey itself is actually a yoga studio from what I can tell, with a kind of side business of coffee shop.

The first thing to note is that it only sells vegetarian food, and doesn’t have the biggest menu in the world, but oh boy from what we tasted, I can’t wait to go back!

Stone monkey

I went for the scrambled egg on sourdough toast and Mr Gourmand tried the vegetarian sausage sandwich.  The first thing you will notice from the photographs is the drizzle of cream and little green capers sitting proudly on top of the egg, well believe me, this breakfast was something I would expect to eat the morning after a stay at a luxury spa hotel! The flavours went together perfectly, with the sharp caper cutting through the smooth and creamy scrambled egg – I can hardly write about this without drooling on my screen. Yes it was that good, please go and try it for yourself.

Mr Gourmands vegetarian sausage sandwich was pretty good as well. It was served in a nice roll with delicious spiced chutney and salad on the side. He really enjoyed it but I could see the envy in his eyes after tasting my luxury scrambled eggs. His eyes were as green as the capers sitting proudly on my eggs!

Stone monkey

The Stone Monkey is definitely somewhere I would travel to if I wanted a nice breakfast. It was very smart inside, with the kind of relaxed feel you would expect from a yoga studio/coffee shop. The coffee cold have been a bit hotter if I was being picky, oh well, better try it again to see if they can improve next time!

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Gusto Ricco – Leamington Spa

 

Gusto Ricco is a bit of a tardis, it’s tiny from the outside but there is seating for many people inside although some of the tables are very close together.  There is a very rustic feel to the cafe making it feel very authentic, the decor is very traditional with lots of wood.  We climbed the stairs upstairs which would be a struggle for some people as they are quite tight and found a lovely little table for two in the corner.

 

gusto-ricco

After browsing the menu I decided that I was slightly hungrier than I had anticipated and chose to have the Lasagna, on first glance I thought that the small brown bowl wouldn’t even fill a small gap but boy was I wrong!  The Lasagna was filled with meat and sauce and was so delicious I can still taste the flavours.  The pesto oil on top just added to the flavour and the chunk of bread on the side was fabulous for mopping up the juices left in the bowl.

lasagna1

Mr Gourmand had polished off a huge breakfast a couple of hours earlier so Pizza Bruschetta was all he could manage however it was a much bigger portion than he expected. Layered with pepperoni, tomato and cheese and served with a simple salad and crisps it was definitely not a light lunch.

bruschetta1

 

Mr Gourmand was in a coffee kind of mood and being an Italian cafe the coffee was very good, just as expected and came with an amaretto biscuit which I was quick to steal as they are my favourite kind of biscuit. I had a bog standard Coca Cola which to my delight was served in a glass bottle – why does it always taste better out of a bottle?  We will definitely be visiting this gem of a place again, there is no room for prams or pushchairs so Arthur will have to be worn in a carrier should we visit with him.

drinks

 

Gusto Ricco Cafe can be found at 65 Regent St, Town Centre, Leamington Spa CV32 5DX.

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A Month Without Supermarkets

When I decided to join Liz from Margot and Barbara in her month without supermarket challenge I was under no illusion that it could turn out to be harder than I had initially anticipated, would I be able to resist Waitrose tempting me with flyers through the door?

My reasons for taking part are quite simple really, it’s not just about wanting to feed my family the best possible ingredients it’s also about supporting my local stores, supporting independent retailers, finding out where my produce has come from and taking time to choose what I want rather than just throwing something in my shopping basket because I’ve used it before.

After talking to my family about the challenge Mini Gourmand asked if I would also be boycotting online stores, it would obviously be cheating if I did an Ocado shop as it defeats the point of the challenge but I don’t think there is anything wrong with ordering a veg box online, buying Asian ingredients from an independent online store or ordering welsh cheese from a family website in wales.

I’m lucky because I live in an area that has an excellent butcher, a greengrocer and some great farmers markets so it’s not hard to get your hands on great produce.  I order my bottles of milk, orange juice and yoghurt from my milkman 3 times a week which supports both himself and the local dairy, this is something I started doing a couple of months ago as I think it’s important to keep our milkmen in a job some of them have been doing for years.

I can get locally baked fresh bread from the deli section in my butchers if I need to but I’ve decided that when I have time I will bake my own (my breadmaker has recently gone pop so I’m making it by hand at the moment) I would love to find a great place to order my flour from so if anyone has any ideas I would love to hear them.

There are so many vegetable box schemes and I’m struggling to find one to suit us, I can’t eat certain vegetables so a scheme that doesn’t take allergies into consideration can’t be used by us, do you have any favourite companies that allow amendments to be made?  Companies that can provide both fruit and vegetable boxes would be preferred but I’m happy to purchase separately if needed.

Coventry is only a ten minute drive away and there is an abundance of international food stores featuring Chinese, Thai, Indian, African and Polish produce which is really handy for the type of meals that I cook, it’s also a good excuse to visit one of my favourite Afghan restaurants!

Shopping locally does take up a lot of my time, sourcing products, writing recipes and meal planning take me over 5 times as long as meal planning whilst browsing Ocado or wandering round waitrose, I’m lucky at the moment because I’ve taken maternity leave from university so although I do work from home I can pick and choose my hours which mean I’m not limited to when I shop, I do think this challenge would be very difficult for me if I worked full or even part time in an establishment.

I spend a couple hours on Thursday writing recipes and deciding on ingredients that I will need to purchase for the week, on Friday I purchase 3 days worth of meat from the butcher and 3 days worth of fruit and veg from the green grocer, I pop back into town on a Monday and Wednesday for any extras I need.

Today marks 13 days since the start of the challenge and although I had to pop to Sainsbury’s at the beginning of the moth for a blog post I only spent the giftcard I was provided with and none of my own money so I don’t think this counts.  I’ve had 13 days of supermarket free eating and it’s been really easy so far, meal planning definitely helps with wastage, I’ve hardly had to throw away any food or packaging compared to the usual piles of binbags I would get through when shopping at a supermarket.

I really do hope to continue this challenge past November so if you have any tried and tested retailers that I can add to my selection I would love to hear about them.

 

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The Clarendon – Leamington Spa

Grandma Gourmand recently visited for a few days during the week to catch up and see how we were all getting on, she knows we are doing fine but really loves Leamington Spa so we suspect visiting us was secondary to a nice shopping trip! but hey, it’s still nice to see her and we always take the opportunity to go for nice food when she is around, so, why change this time! Mr Gourmand took an afternoon off work and we went searching for some good local pub food to fill our empty stomachs.

Mr Gourmand has been to The Clarendon on Clarendon Avenue, Leamington, a number of times for a beer with his friends, and on his last visit he came home all excited blabbering about the food he witnessed and how delicious it looked! So, we thought lets take this perfect opportunity to visit The Clarendon and sample it for ourselves.

We visited on a lunch time and my first impression was this looks like a pretty nice place, maybe tries to be a little bit cool, but not overly so, and pubs these days almost have to have a swagger about them to set them apart from their competitors. The place is divided into areas with nice furnishings and a very welcoming feel. We ordered drinks and perused the menu, Mr Gourmand went for a local beer which was really good, so good in fact that he finished it off and got another while placing the food order!

fish and chips

I went for the Cajun Fish and Chips (£10.00) which Mr Gourmand had seen someone get on his last visit, and wildly exaggerated the portion size may I add! The Cajun fish really set this apart from the usual fish and chips you order. The crispy batter was really nice and the fish very meaty, in a good way! The chips, as always in restaurant/bars these days, were home made and seasoned well. My only criticism was the peas, they were minty and had a lot of water in the bottom, and to be honest, mushy peas win the day for me, everyday. But don’t get me wrong, the meal was still very good but home made mushy peas would have made it really special!

chilli

Mr Gourmand went for the Creole Chilli (£9.00) Chunky beef and chorizo chilli served with Cajun rice and home made nachos, wow, was a tasty treat this was. The chilli just spicy enough to hit you in the mouth with a kick that doesn’t burn or feel uncomfortable. Mr Gourmand would have maybe liked it more spicy, but I think it was just right – too spicy would out the majority of people off. The rice was also well cooked but the best part was the home made nachos, we had never had one before and it was awesome, so much better than a packet one. It really lifted the meal with an unusual twist.

veg chilli

Grandma Gourmand decided on the Sweet Potato and mixed bean chilli (£8.50) which also had the beautiful home made nachos. Again, this was similar in flavour to the beef chilli and the sweet potato was exquisite, a really good choice.

Overall the meals were quite pricey, but for a one off I think the Clarendon offers a good menu with excellent variety and I would certainly recommend it if you are in the area.

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Sozzled Sausage – Leamington Spa

The Sozzled Sausage is a bar in Leamington Spa that we have passed on numerous occasions, often when taking Mini Gourmand to Lantern Corner for sweets if she behaves, which is not that often! Anyway, we all decided to pop in for a quick bite to eat not so long ago, and we think this place is something special!

sausage

Mr Goumand had the sausage sandwich (£5.00) which was simple, tasty, excellent bread, nice side salad and amazing onion rings! oh my gosh those onion rings were good, so light and crispy and maybe, dare I say, the nicest onion rings I had ever tried!? tough call but for the moment, and unless my memory tells me otherwise by the time I finish writing this post I’m standing by that statement….the nicest onion rings I have ever had!

fish and chips

Mini Gourmand had the fish and chips (£7.50)! obviously feeling a bit peckish on this occasion. Huge portion and it looked very nice, I must admit I didn’t get a chance to try it because one minute it was there, a full fish almost bigger than her head, and the next, gone, just like magic. I’m not bothered, I’ll have it next time I visit!

chicken burger

I had the Chicken Burger (£7.50) which was amazing. The bread, which I think came from a local shop, and the juicy chicken breast was out of this world, I couldn’t even finish it, it was that big and filling. Another tough call but again I’m going to make it, the best chicken burger I have ever had!!?? Oh and yes, the onion rings are the second nicest I have had, after some I made for Mr Gourmand a year or so ago…..where is that recipe again!?

You can find the Sozzled Sausage at 141 Regent Street, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, United Kingdom CV32 4NX

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Leaf – Leamington Spa

Leaf

Myself and Mr Gourmand love a breakfast in the morning, Mr Gourmand more so than me. He’s got this really annoying habbit of wanting to go out really early for his favourite meal of the day because during his studies he used to meet friends really early for breakfast as a way of motivating them all to start working first thing, and for some reason even now, all these years later, he likes to go out super early for a nice breakfast. Weird guy.

When we first moved to Leamington we popped into Leaf for a cold drink on a super hot saturday afternoon, we really enjoyed it and promised to go back, but for some reason never did. Anyway, during a recent shopping trip into Leamington centre, Mr Gourmand was wandering outside a shop waiting for me and was gormlessley looking through the window of Leaf, the breakfast menu immediately caught his eye, so the following week we went in to try it out.

Leaf is lovely inside, very relaxing and bright. The place has two distinctive parts, a bright and airy entrance with seating near the window looking out onto the shoppers of Leamington, then at the back is an orangery type space with a large roof light where the piano player sits and plonks out tunes……..chopsticks, probably, maybe.

Right, time for the food.

leaf_Breakfast

A Full english breakfast was Mr Gourmands unusual choice, for some reason he always goes for something smaller than a full english, then is gutted if he sees someone else with it and it looks better than what he decided on. So, this time he finally learnt from his mistakes and went for it. Wow was he impressed! Not massive, but the quality was outstanding – he even said it was certainly the best he could remember having. The sausages were quality, just as they should be, the bacon was out of this world, almost smokey like it had been done on a bbq!? Yum, he described it as delicious. As I am writing this he has just looked over my shoulder and has insisted we go again this morning….ok then, why not.

leaf_vegi_breakfast

I went for the Vegetarian Breakfast which was also amazing, the vegie sausages were excellent, so much better than the usual cardboard tasting things, in fact really quite similar to real sausages! As you guys know, I’m not a vegetarian, just don’t eat pork, so unless a place does beef sausages this is my only option, and boy what a good option it was! Everything oozed quality, the bread, the tomatoes, the eggs, even the nice cress touch added something unexpected from what was really an exceptional meal.

baby gourmand

Baby Gourmand even sat watching Top Gear on the tv giving us perfect peace while we finished our yummy food. Mini Gourmand even came to meet us, sadly too late for breakfast though….silly girl, that’ll teach you for being embarrassed to be seen in public with us!

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