Staffordshires Food and Drink Scene.

Category: What’s New

Stone welcomes BEAR

The latest exciting addition to Stone’s thriving food and drink scene is BEAR’s new branch on the High Street. Sauce was invited to one of the pre-launch events to get…

The latest exciting addition to Stone’s thriving food and drink scene is BEAR’s new branch on the High Street.

Sauce was invited to one of the pre-launch events to get a taste of what’s going to be on offer when the store opens to the public on Thursday 1 November.

The first striking feature when you walk through the heavy, draught-fighting curtain, is the beautiful decor. Craig and Michael, the local duo behind BEAR, have kept the original parquet floor while making the most of the old bank’s fantastic high ceiling by installing a mezzanine with comfortable seating. With huge windows making the most of the natural light on even the grimmest of days, it manages to be light and airy but also cosy, with a palette of deep blues, greens and pinks complemented by modern furniture and lots of greenery.

First and foremost, this is a speciality coffee house. You can choose between the chocolatey house coffee from Myanmar, the current guest – a fruity Ethiopian coffee – and there’s also the option of a citrusy Peruvian decaf. If coffee isn’t your bag, there are plenty of teas and soft drinks to choose from too.

Although great coffee is at BEAR’s core, you can’t miss the fact that it’s also a kitchen and bar. As we went along to the brunch event we were able to sample the delicious food, but even on a Friday it was a bit too early for gin, cocktails or craft beer (served from 10am in case you’re interested). In addition, there’s a retail section where you can buy coffee brewing essentials like Chemix and Aeropress or keep cups if you need to take your drink away.

There is no shortage of knowledgable, friendly staff who are able to talk you confidently through the menu. We went for the smashed avocado toast with eggs and the baked eggs with feta, served with flatbread. You can see right into the kitchen, filled with the smiling faces of the team that will prepare you some fresh, super-tasty food – including perfectly poached eggs.

There’s an ‘All Day’ menu that takes over from breakfast, with some brunch items and a small but thoughtfully formed list of sandwiches, salads and mains. In the evening the food offering switches up with a focus on the social. There’s a selection of small plates and pizzas designed for sharing, with a very Mediterranean feel – you’ll find sampadori olives, caprese salad and chorizo on there, to name just a few.

As far as we can see, the team behind BEAR certainly seem to have found their recipe for success with speciality coffee, fuss-free dining and a relaxed atmosphere. Check it out for yourself from next week and let us know what you think.

BEAR Coffee House, Kitchen & Bar
57 High Street, Stone, ST15 8AH
www.bearcoffeecompany.com

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BURR by RAWR: New direction for Trentham café

In the last couple of weeks, BURR Speciality Food + Coffee has been unveiled as the new face of RAWR at its Trentham Shopping Village location. A lick of paint…

In the last couple of weeks, BURR Speciality Food + Coffee has been unveiled as the new face of RAWR at its Trentham Shopping Village location.

A lick of paint has given the café a lighter look, with fresh pink and wood veneer signage that is modern and welcoming. The RAWR spirit of warm hospitality matched by great real food and drink is very much alive in BURR, but the transition to focus on coffee gives director Gemma Bloor a little more flexibility and hopefully will cater more effectively to daytrippers and tourists as well as locals.

Working incredibly hard to operate at two locations, Gemma and her partner Steve have seen the brand evolve in different directions in Hanley and Trentham. The smaller kitchen at the Trentham site means the menu has never been as extensive and experimental as it is at RAWR Hanley. And the health food and coffee industries increasingly appear to be poles apart to Gemma.

“We’re passionate about coffee – we always have been – but we’re limited in how far we can take our exploration of real food and coffee under the RAWR brand, because of how it’s perceived,” she told Sauce.

“A simplified food offering here means we can focus on quality, evolving our coffee offering in a location where we attract quite a different customer base than the Hanley site.”

The menu at BURR has been stripped back to tasty brunch and sandwich staples, with some tactical additions (hello, bacon bun). But many of the dishes you’ll find on there are old favourites like avo toast or eggs Florentine, and you can still get Gemma’s famous grain bowl. The menu remains as inclusive as ever with options for vegetarians and vegans, and there’s a wide choice of milks to take your ‘not coffee’ or hot chocolate to the next level.

BURR is also home to a new giftware section where you can pick up the Bird & Blend Tea and Climpson and Sons coffee that are served in-house, as well as an array of brewing paraphernalia from Aeropresses to V60s, whisks and measuring spoons. While they’ve been serving Climpson and Sons for a good long time, Gemma recently switched tea suppliers to Bird & Blend, with eight different blends currently stocked and Spiced Pumpkin Pie as the current guest tea.

The café recently received its alcohol license, so there will soon be a selection of gins available and craft beer to take away or drink in. The space is also available for private hire, as is RAWR Hanley, where you can now book a Christmas party package from £25pp.

BURR by RAWR
Unit 318, Trentham Shopping Village, Stone Road, ST4 8AX
www.thisisburr.co.uk

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The Bank House Hixon reopens after refurb

During World War II, Hixon was famously a base for RAF Bomber Command. The village, east of Stafford and south west of Uttoxeter, is much quieter these days, but a…

During World War II, Hixon was famously a base for RAF Bomber Command. The village, east of Stafford and south west of Uttoxeter, is much quieter these days, but a little less so this evening as the local pub celebrates its grand reopening.

The Bank House opens its doors to the public once again on Friday 28 September after being partially and then fully closed over an eight week period for refurbishment. The older original part of the building as well as the newer extension have had a makeover and are looking fabulous ready to welcome guests.

If you’re looking for a cosy place to while away your afternoons or evenings now that the weather has turned cooler, this is it. There are no fewer than two huge log burners casting out their warming glow, plenty of sumptuously upholstered seating, and beautiful wooden beams galore. There’s also a gallery wall of fascinating photos illustrating some of the history of the local area. 

The decor is classic and refined, retaining the feel of a true country pub without feeling fussy or cluttered. And the courtyard at the back has been transformed into an outdoor room featuring a custom-built wood fired pizza oven and more wooden beams decked out in fairy lights.

The Lewis Partnership pub has a new main menu alongside the delicious wood fired pizza that’s now on offer, freshly made to order and available to take away. We were big fans of the Three Little Pigs, featuring chorizo, pulled pork, bacon and red onion on a BBQ base, but for vegetarians the Fun-Guy (mushroom, ricotta, pumpkin seeds and chilli flakes on a garlic butter base) is delicious too.

If you’re looking for a cosy, friendly pub in the heart of Staffordshire, be sure to pay The Bank House Hixon a visit this autumn.

The Bank House Hixon
High St, Hixon, Stafford ST18 0QF
www.bankhousehixon.co.uk

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Countdown to Stone Food & Drink Festival

With only one week to go until Stone holds its 13th annual food and drink festival, excitement is starting to build in the town. Every year during the first weekend…

With only one week to go until Stone holds its 13th annual food and drink festival, excitement is starting to build in the town.

Every year during the first weekend in October, the Festival draws thousands of local residents as well as visitors out onto Westbridge Park come rain or shine to enjoy great food and drink, live music, kids’ cookery classes, circus workshops and shows, face painting and craft activities.

The gates will open at 12 noon on Friday 5 October, but there are events and offers on at venues across town from Friday 28 September – check out the Festival programme for details. There will be a park and ride service operating from Aston Marina, with the site open from 10am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday and the regular monthly farmer’s market taking place on Saturday too. 

If you’re quick you might still be able to join one of the masterclasses that are running: knife skills for fish with Stafford College lecturers Richard and Tom, cupcake decorating with Beth Lauren Cakes, or food for health with RAWR’s Gemma Bloor.

The Demonstration Kitchen will play host to a variety of chefs, from Little Seeds’ Jake Lowndes and No. 26 at Aston Marina’s Mark Rawlinson to Robert Didier, founder of Orchard Pigs, and Zalena Vandrewala of Rose Petals & Rice. Meanwhile there will be plenty of talks and tasting sessions going on, as well as street food, a pop-up tea room, the Staffordshire Beer Garden and champagne and cocktails to enjoy.

If you’re visiting, don’t forget to pop by Sauce’s stand to say hello or pick up your free copy of the magazine.

In it you’ll find our full interview with Richard Stevens, Chairman of the Festival and all-round champion of the Staffordshire food and drink scene, who explained how the event is put together and why it’s so important to the town.

Concentrating on local producers wherever possible, encouraging them and watching them go from strength to strength is one of the great pleasures of being involved as far as Richard is concerned.

“Lymestone Brewery is a great example,” he says. “We’ve been there from the very beginning supporting them and they’ve supported us. Seeing people like Lymestone grow and grow is very pleasing for us. I could name half a dozen others, but Beth Lauren Cakes is another perfect example. She started trading with us having been baking cakes at home, and that gave her the confidence to think she could make a living out of it. Now she’s got a fabulous shop in Radford Street and the café next door.

“Jake Lowndes was sous chef at La Dolce Vita eight or nine years ago when he watched his two bosses perform at the Festival. Now he’s got a restaurant [Little Seeds] of his own in town and will be on stage himself doing a demo in 2018. This is what we love.”

A whole roster of celebrity chefs have graced the cookery stage at the Festival over the years, from Gino d’Acampo to Anthony Worrall-Thompson and Paul Rankin, but there’s one in particular that Richard recalls with pride.

“In years one and two we invited a lady I had never heard of before. I had never read any of her books, never seen her. She loved the festival and we loved her. Her name was Mary Berry. After her second appearance in October 2006, she launched quite a well-known cookery programme…”

Although Mary isn’t likely to be in attendance, there will be plenty to see, do, buy, eat and drink at this year’s Festival – we look forward to seeing you there!

Stone Food & Drink Festival
Westbridge Park, Stafford St, Stone, ST15 8
www.stonefooddrink.org.uk

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Sauce Autumn/Winter 2018 out now

If you haven’t already laid hands on one, make your way to one of our stockists pronto to pick up Sauce Autumn/Winter 2018. Yes, the second edition of Sauce magazine…

If you haven’t already laid hands on one, make your way to one of our stockists pronto to pick up Sauce Autumn/Winter 2018.

Yes, the second edition of Sauce magazine is now out and available at cafés, restaurants, pubs and shops across Staffordshire. This time around, you need to look out for the lobster!

To give you an idea of what to expect, this issue is even bigger and – some might say – better than the first. Of course we have our regular reviews and recipes, along with introductions to some award-winning Staffordshire-based producers, from Seed Chocolate to The Good Life Meat Co.

The spotlight is very much on the Stone Food & Drink Festival (5-7 October) in our interview with chairman Richard Stevens, while our Town Focus takes us up to Leek, a thriving little market town in the northern reaches of the county.

We had the pleasure of speaking to some fantastic foodies for this edition, from MasterChef finalist Louisa Ellis to Andy Watts, executive chef at Weston Hall. We’re whetting appetites with features on the glorious seafood being served up at The White Lion in Knighton, the American-inspired delights on offer at Smoke & Rye in Stone, and the Indian culinary wizardry of the Viceroy at Milford. Plus there’s an exclusive behind the scenes look at The Moat House at Acton Trussell as the venue celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this year.

As ever, we hope you’ll buy a little something when you pick up your copy of the magazine to support our fantastic local food and drink scene. And, once you’ve read the magazine, we heartily encourage you to get out there and try the dishes and destinations for yourself, let them know you saw them in Sauce, and even post a quick photo tagging in @staffordshiresauce.

If you’re interested in stocking Sauce or featuring in the Spring/Summer 2019 edition, contact team@staffordshiresauce.co.uk. We’d love to hear from you.

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Help #raisethesmoke for Smoke & Rye

Smoke & Rye need your help to fund an exciting move to new premises with outdoor areas, event spaces and a separate bar for guests to enjoy. If you’ve picked…

Smoke & Rye need your help to fund an exciting move to new premises with outdoor areas, event spaces and a separate bar for guests to enjoy.

If you’ve picked up a copy of the latest edition of Sauce, you’ll have seen our feature interview with entrepreneur, chef, founder and owner of Smoke & Rye, Stoke-born Rich James.

In it, we told you to keep your eyes peeled as Rich announces plans for the next chapter in the story of Stone’s favourite American restaurant, which has been serving up mouthwatering meals inspired by the varied cuisine of the States for just over two years now.

Food fanatic Rich paid to set up the restaurant in its current location above Oatcakes & Milkshakes on Stafford Street from his own pocket. Now he’s looking for help from the public to enable the transition to a new premises where he and his team can take the business to the next level and expand the Smoke & Rye offering. The campaign is aiming to raise £50,000 by 27 October 2018.

Smoke & Rye’s Kickstarter page explains more about what Rich is hoping to achieve and what the funds will go towards. But you’re not being expected to part with your hard-earned cash for nothing. If seeing Rich realise his dreams isn’t enough, for £15 you can get your hands on a limited edition recipe book with a selection of house favourites. Pledging just £35 will get you into an exclusive masterclass to learn cooking techniques, cocktail making or butchery with a professional – with lunch included to boot.

There are plenty more options to choose from, including private club membership for £1000, which grants exclusive use of the new events space and VIP lounge every Tuesday evening, free room hire for meetings, networking, seminars and presentations, 12 member-only events throughout the year, and 10% off for yourself and a guest for the duration of your membership.

And if you’re planning to get hitched next year, take a look at the ‘Outlaw Wedding Breakfast’. For a pledge of £6000, you and up to 70 guests can enjoy a mouthwatering meal and take over the whole events space for your celebrations.

Make your pledge on Kickstarter now or contact smokeandrye@gmail.com for more information.

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Opening this autumn

It’s time to get excited, because the opening of these new Staffordshire food and drink destinations has recently been confirmed. Bod Stoke Work is underway at this very moment to…

It’s time to get excited, because the opening of these new Staffordshire food and drink destinations has recently been confirmed.

Bod Stoke

Work is underway at this very moment to transform what used to be the first class lounge at Stoke train station into the newest ‘bod’, with access from both Platform One and the pavement on Winton Square.

Due to open its doors to the public on Monday 8 October, the café and craft ale bar will open early in the morning serving breakfast and coffee. From lunchtime until late in the evening commuters and locals will be able to enjoy award-winning ales along with their food.

Burslem-based Titanic Brewery, who also own seven pubs across the county, opened their first bod in Weeping Cross near Stafford in a former Co-op store earlier this year.

Titanic are also looking to create a third branch of bod at Trentham in the former NatWest Bank premises on Longton Road. Their planning application has been submitted to Stoke-on-Trent City Council, so watch this space.

www.facebook.com/bodstoke/

Blanc NRI

A new fine dining Indian restaurant, Blanc NRI, is set to take over the former Bengal Lodge building on the A34 near Tittensor.

Blanc NRI will be the second restaurant from Husban Ahmed, the 31-year-old chef behind the award-winning James Dahl restaurant in Birmingham’s China Town. Ahmed worked at the Bengal Lodge as a teenager and has described how taken he was by the “love and support of the customers who came in and used the restaurant”.

Now he’s opening his own sleek and modern new restaurant in the space, which has undergone extensive interior and exterior renovation over the last few months. In terms of cuisine, Blanc NRI is promising vibrant and flavoursome Indian dishes blended with the fine dining ambience of France or Dubai.  

www.blancnri.co.uk

BEAR Stone

BEAR announced earlier this month that an opening date for their new Stone location has been set for Thursday 1 November.

As we noted in the autumn/winter edition of Sauce (available now – see our list of stockists for details of where to get your copy), local entrepreneurs Craig Bunting and Michael Thorley opened the first branch of BEAR on Uttoxeter High Street in January 2016, followed by a second in Derby at the end of 2017.

The team are now busy converting the former HSBC bank at 57 High Street, Stone, into a new coffee house, kitchen and bar after their change of use planning application was approved. They’ll be serving up a heady mix of sustainably sourced coffee, seasonal fresh food, cocktails and craft beer from the freshly refurbished premises.

And they say they have “loads of exciting things planned for Stone throughout October, so keep your peepers peeping towards our Facebook page to stay up-to-date on all the fun.”

www.bemorebear.co

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You can now Forage at Coppice

A peaceful lane just outside Middleton in the southeastern corner of Staffordshire is where you’ll find Forage at Coppice. Founded in 2012 by the Smith family, Coppice has grown to…

A peaceful lane just outside Middleton in the southeastern corner of Staffordshire is where you’ll find Forage at Coppice.

Founded in 2012 by the Smith family, Coppice has grown to become home to The Fig & Olive restaurant, a florist, a spa and a homeware shop. The newest addition to the Coppice offering is the Forage Food Hall.

While the doors to Forage opened for the first time on Wednesday 6 June, Sauce went along to join the team for their grand opening on Saturday 30 June.

Born from a passion for great food and drink – one which we very much share here at Sauce – Forage has been set up with the aim of assembling under one roof some of the finest fresh produce from across Britain.  

With plenty of fabulous suppliers in store, you will be able to taste some delicious produce and learn the perfect accompaniments to dishes. There were over 20 suppliers in attendance from both Coppice and Forage, offering samples of everything from artisan baked goods to free range meats, unusual cheeses and seasonal fruits. There was also a butchery demonstration in front of the in-store dry-ageing cabinet.

Visitors to Forage can take home fine food and drink from passionate local producers and enjoy freshly made goods from the Butchery, Bakery and Deli counters. As well as a vast array of wines, spirits and ales, fresh fruit and vegetables, cheeses and cut meats, there’s also beautiful patisserie from The Patisserie Box of Cheltenham, and freshly baked artisan bread from The Bread Collection at Knowle.

Representing Staffordshire in the food hall are producers including R W Leedham & Son at Syerscote Manor. Their flock of 200 Lleyn x Suffolk sheep are crossed with Charolais rams and fed a home-grown mix of oats, barley and beans before being put out to pasture to produce excellent lamb, available from Forage.

You’ll also find great quality meat from Packington Free Range at Barton-under-Needwood on the butchery counter. The Mercer family’s low density, environmentally conscious approach to farming and high welfare standards have earned their products a reputation for quality that extends well beyond Staffordshire’s borders.

Well worth a visit if you are a fan of fresh produce and fine dining, Forage at Coppice is open Monday to Friday 9am to 7pm, Saturdays 9am to 5.30pm and Sundays from 10am to 4.30pm.

Forage at Coppice Garden Centre
Coppice Lane
Middleton, B78 2BU
www.facebook.com/pg/ForageatCoppice

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Mart’s Brewhouse & Tap opens its doors

The latest independent business to join Hanley’s burgeoning food and drink scene is Mart’s Brewhouse & Tap on Piccadilly. Right in the heart of the Cultural Quarter and directly opposite…

The latest independent business to join Hanley’s burgeoning food and drink scene is Mart’s Brewhouse & Tap on Piccadilly.

Right in the heart of the Cultural Quarter and directly opposite The Slamwich Club, which opened just a couple of months ago, Mart’s Brewhouse welcomed us with floor-length windows and a great atmosphere for its launch night on 22 June.

Sauce grabbed a few minutes from a very busy evening with Holly, who launched Mart’s Craft Beer with husband and head brewer Will back in January 2017. Originally a venture between Will and his brother, the name is in memory of their late dad.

Inspired by a trip to New York six years ago, where the craft beer scene had recently exploded, Will and Holly couldn’t find anything similar back home in Stoke-on-Trent, and so began to brew their own ales at home. They later graduated to a 1000 litre kit in an industrial unit in Knutton, selling at makers’ markets and local outlets like BottleCraft, Klay and The Hopwater Cellar while still working full time.

“The Brewhouse and Tap was just a tiny idea we had that we thought we’d do eventually – it’s happened quite a lot quicker than we thought it would!” says Holly.

Holly and Will brought Jason Barlow and Sue Grocott on board with the new venture, bringing an invaluable 20 years of experience in running bars and keeping a good cellar. Call in and you’ll be faced with a choice of 8 cask ales as well as craft and continental beers – not to mention a selection of gins and wines.

With a fresh but traditional pub feel and windows directly onto the gleaming brewery in the downstairs bar area, it’s taken a great deal of hard work to transform the building, which was empty for around four years. Most recently it housed Club International, but it seems the bold colour scheme was inherited from one of its previous incarnations as a tapas restaurant.

Going from a one barrel to a barrel brewery means the team will be able to keep the five core brews on the go – a pale ale, an IPA, a marzipan stout, a porter and an IPA brewed with tea – while also allowing room to be more adventurous.

“The good thing about us having the bigger brewery is we can start to experiment a lot more with different hops and other ingredients,” Holly explains. “The craft beer market is driven by choice – people want lots of choice and you have to be constantly changing.”

Although a kitchen is not on the cards in the near future, customers are welcome to order from neighbours like Klay and Slamwich Club and eat while they drink – a great example of local businesses supporting each other.

“I’ve lived in Hanley for nearly 10 years now,” Holly adds. “In the last 18 months or so this stretch has really opened up. The more little businesses come, the more people it will bring to the area.”

Plan are in the works to build a stage on the spacious first floor to host live bands, comedy nights, acoustic sets and so on. Brewery tours and brew-your-own masterclasses are also in the pipeline.

While Will’s looking forward to brewing on the new kit for the first time this week, the team are also keen to support other budding home brewers having fun with their own creations. The winner of a Potteries Home Brew Club competition will be along in August to brew his winning beer on the Mart’s kit.

Mart’s Brewhouse & Tap
66-68 Piccadilly
Hanley, ST1 1HX
www.facebook.com/martscraftbeer/

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