New month, new goss! Here’s all the news we’ve truffled out recently across Warwickshire and the West Midlands...
NO FOOLING AROUND! DISHOOM BIRMINGHAM OPENS APRIL 1
A restaurant modelled on traditional Bombay cafes is opening its eighth cafe bar in Birmingham’s Chamberlain Square this spring. Dishoom led by co-founders Shamil and Kavi Thakrar first opened in Covent Garden, London in 2010 and now spans five London branches and another three in Edinburgh and Manchester. The 330-cover bar and restaurant in Brum will include a dining room, Permit Room bar serving Dishoom’s award-winning cocktails, teetotal tipples and house chai, as well as an outdoor terrace. Executive chef Naved Nasir’s Bombay comfort food menu will be served all day, while a new chef’s special will be created just for the restaurant.
Top recommendations include mahi tikka (grilled, marinated fish) and okra fries as part of a sharing-plate meal, the chole poori (puffed, fried bread with chickpea curry). The black daal and breakfast bacon naan have achieved legendary status in the big smoke. Be warned: London peak time dining time queues are long!
And here’s our top tip…before the official April 1 opening, eager foodies can attend a soft launch period where you don’t have to make a reservation but are welcome to walk-in, all day from Saturday March 21 to Tuesday March 31 – and get 50% off the food bill.
FORMER GRADE II BHS STORE TO TURN INTO HOTEL, STRATFORD-UPON-AVON
Ambitious plans to transform Stratford-upon-Avon’s former BHS department store into a luxe hotel have been given the go-ahead. Permission has been granted to remodel the neglected building into a 170-bed hotel with a gym, restaurant and bar as an Ark hotel, part of the Bespoke Hotels group. The store closed in 2016.
NEW SPRING MENU LAUNCH – THE STAR & GARTER, LEAMINGTON SPA
A massive thanks to new manager Hollie Hawkins and Coventry-born Head Chef Stefan Elliott at Leamington gastropub The Star & Garter who laid on a casually delicious spring taster menu evening including a Chase Distillery gin tasting for local journos last week in the gorgeous upstairs private dining room. We were served up some brand new vegan deli dishes, mains, desserts and cheeses. Review to follow…but in the meantime you can check out the new spring menus here.
NEW FESTIVAL ALERT
There’s a new festival on the block too! Bigfoot in the grounds of Ragley Hall, kicks off this summer in Warwickshire from June 19-21. With 60 music acts across five stages, 15 restaurants, 8 chefs and over 50 breweries, this newbie looks to be nipping at the heels of Wilderness and the Also Festival. Fingers crossed the weather’s good so revellers can enjoy the lakeside hot tub, wild swimming and forest yoga.
Headliners so far include: Fat White Family, Little Dragon, a Hot Chip Megamix, Maribou State (DJ), Baxter Dury and George Fitzgerald (DJ). Just over the border in Oxfordshire Supergrass and Foals were recently announced as headliners for this year’s Wilderness Festival at Cornbury Park (Thurs July 30 – Sun Aug 2).
WAR HORSE AUTHOR MICHAEL MORPURGO & CRESSIDA COWELL HEAD UP KID’S LIT FEST
Yay! Sir Michael Morpurgo, the internationally bestselling author of War Horse and Private Peaceful, will kick off Stratford Literary Festival’s packed programme of events for young people this May. The multi award-winning writer will be talking about his latest book, Boy Giant, on May 2 ahead of the main festival which starts on May 9, with nine days of activities for all ages.
And Cressida Cowell, the current Children’s Laureate and creator of the world-wide success, How to Train Your Dragon, will be introducing the latest in her Wizards of Once series to her legion of fans on May 16. Other highlights local BAFTA-winning animators, the Brothers McLeod, award-winning author of I Love You Night and Day, Smriti Prasadam-Halls, Kristina Stephenson, creator of Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and brilliant Festival ambassador and Roald Dahl Funny Prize winner, Philip Ardagh.
The former international Paralympian and TV presenter Ade Adepitan, be sharing his Cyborg Cat, and there’ll be hands-on craft events with the brilliant Aardman modellers and Horrible Histories illustrator, Martin Brown.
WARWICKSHIRE WINS AT THE FIRST EVER WEST MIDLANDS TOURISM AWARD
Many Muddy faves came up trumps in the region’s first tourism awards at the University of Birmingham’s Great Hall hosted by Homes Under The Hammer TV presenter Martin Roberts. The West Midlands’ tourism industry is now worth £12.6 billion, a rise of 6.7% and supports more than 135,000 jobs.
They included independent artisan spirit producer Shakespeare Distillery winner of a Gold award for New Tourism Business. Hotel Indigo Stratford upon Avon, formerly The Falcon Hotel, came runner-up. The Grade 2 listed boutique hotel, which dates to the 16th century, was painstakingly restored over a 22-month period.
- Accessible & Inclusive Tourism Award: Birmingham Hippodrome (gold) & RSC (silver);
- Camping, Glamping, Holiday Park of the Year: Ettie’s Field, Atherstone, (gold) Hill Farm Glamping, Hill Top Farm, Hunningham (4th);
- Experience of the Year: Jaguar Land Rover Experience Solihull (gold), RSC , Stratford-upon-Avon (silver) Positively Birmingham Walking Tours (bronze);
- Large hotel of the year: Coombe Abbey, Binley (gold), Malmaison Birmingham (silver) and Mallory Court Country House Hotel & Spa, Leamington Spa (bronze)
- Small Hotel of the Year: Brokencote Hall, Kidderminster (gold) & Baraset Barn, Stratford-upon-Avon (silver);
- International tourism: Shakespeare’s Birthplace (gold)
- Large Visitor Attraction of the year: Royal Shakespeare Company (gold), Black Country Living Museum (silver), National Sea Life Centre Birmingham (bronze)
- Small Visitor Attraction of the Year: FarGo Village, Coventry (gold); Shakespeare Schoolroom & Guildhall (silver), Jaguar Land Rover Experience Solihull (bronze)
- Pub of the Year: The Howard Arms (gold), Illmington, nr Shipston-on-Stour; The Millstone Hare, Dallas Burston Polo Club, Southam (silver)
RESORTS WORLD GOES DOG-FRIENDLY FOR CRUFTS, MAR 7 & 8
With the arrival of pooches on the NEC campus this week for the annual Crufts showdown, Resorts World is opening its doors to four-legged guests. And if your dog needs a lie-down Birmingham Dogs Home, the local Solihull charity working to rescue and rehome abandoned dogs, will host a pet chill out area in the Atrium between 11am-4pm to chat with guests, complete with dog beds, water bowls and toys for all dogs to enjoy a little R&R too. Guests can also dine with their pet when eating at Vietnamese Street Kitchen and the outside areas of Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Five Guys, Pizza Express & World Bar at Resorts World. Visible ‘dogs welcome’ signs will be displayed in the windows of the obliging venues. resortsworldbirmingham