Staffordshires Food and Drink Scene.

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Little Seeds reopens with new Tapas Terrace

The next milestone in England’s roadmap out of lockdown will see restrictions on indoor hospitality ease from 17 May, with six people or two larger households allowed to meet and…

The next milestone in England’s roadmap out of lockdown will see restrictions on indoor hospitality ease from 17 May, with six people or two larger households allowed to meet and dine inside for the first time since last year.

Along with many other independent venues across the county and the Midlands, Little Seeds in Stone will reopen for service on Thursday 20 May. Sauce spoke to cofounders Jake Lowndes and Sophie Hardman to find out all about their exciting new concept and what they’ve been up to since last summer.

Jake, head chef, and Sophie, who manages the front of house, have certainly not been resting on their laurels during the most recent and previous lockdowns.

“We launched Little Seeds at Home at the beginning of November during the second lockdown,” says Jake. “Obviously it was a worry about what we would do over Christmas, but in the end we supplied more customers with our dine at home boxes over the Christmas week than we would ever have been able to serve in the restaurant.”

Little Seeds’ popular dine at home boxes have offered customers a new menu every week, in the same spirit as the monthly theme nights they have hosted in the past. Each box aims to take you away for an evening through the medium of food.

“Our style is modern British using what’s in season, but it would have been fairly boring to have Jerusalem artichokes, cabbage and parsnips on the menu every week throughout the winter,” Jake explains. “So, we tried to lift people’s spirits by taking them with our menu to France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Scotland… For us, it meant we got to try different things and that’s all contributed to the new menu for our reopening. It’s been good creatively and kept us going without only relying on grants.”

So, do they have any plans to carry on with the dine-at-home offering when the restaurant is fully open again?

“We were thinking of bringing it back for special occasions – alongside the theme nights, and then maybe for Christmas,” Sophie tells Sauce. “As we said, we can only fit 30-35 covers in the restaurant so it would be a way for more people to enjoy our food.”

New Tapas Terrace opens

“It’s changing every day at the moment!” Jake laughs when I ask how Little Seeds has changed since the team last welcomed guests through the doors. “We’ve just had a new combination oven fitted, which is a piece of kit I’ve wanted since we started. All of our money went on the front of house and getting set up when we first opened, and then we had the refurb in 2019 to link with our new style. Now we’re at the stage where we can spend on equipment to take us to the next level with food and service, and also to accommodate the fact we’ve got the outside garden.”

The freshly landscaped outdoor courtyard, lined with bay trees and lavender, hopes to capture day time diners with a relaxed, Mediterranean vibe and a whole new tapas and drinks menu. It’s inspired by the likes of Simon Shaw’s El Gato Negro and Brindisa at Borough Market Kitchen.

Served outdoors only at Saturday lunchtime and all-day Sunday, the tapas menu ranges from nibbles like Gordal olives and salted Spanish almonds, to Cobble Lane Cured Meat and a mix of the finest Spanish and British cheeses. There are meat, fish, and veg dishes like pork and chorizo meatballs, pan-seared hake with Romanesco sauce and classic patatas bravas, plus desserts like crema Catalana and Basque cake with blood orange.

Jake has aimed for authentic tapas recipes using the best of British produce, including Cobble Lane meats from London, Cornish fish from Celtic Fish and Game, and Wellocks for seasonal fruit and veg. There are certain ingredients like the olives and almonds that come from Spain, but the spirit of the menu is very much in-keeping with the Little Seeds ethos.

“We’ve also tailored the drinks menu for drinking outside, with some lighter wines for you to relax and enjoy a few glasses of alongside the tapas,” adds Sophie. “And we’ve added some Spanish sherries and now have wine available by the carafe.”

There’s a new bar outside as well, for pre- and post-dinner drinks on sunny evenings. If the weather turns and you want to move inside, there will always be space to do so and the tapas menu available. The outdoor area will likely close in October for the winter, with the menu moving to comforting Sunday roasts.

A Taste of Little Seeds

Evening service will see the à la carte and A Taste of Little Seeds menus available on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. A Taste of Little Seeds was launched back in October and ran for two weeks before lockdown 2 kicked in. It will be available every evening, and although you don’t need to specifically book the tasting menu, Jake and Sophie ask that the whole table partake if you do choose it.

“We love what the team are doing at The Boat Inn, near Lichfield, but there isn’t much in a similar format closer to Stoke or in the Stone area,” Jake tells Sauce. “The dishes on the Taste of Little Seeds menu are similar to the à la carte, but with a few extra special courses and some surprises at the start and end of the meal. Basically we’re running three new menus when we open up!”

The couple are both looking forward to seeing the whole hospitality industry back up and running after an exceptionally tough year.

“I think hospitality will be key to giving people the confidence to come out, because a lot of people are suffering anxiety about it,” says Sophie. But what they are most looking forward to is getting their team back together again. “In our industry, who you work with becomes a massive part of your social life because you work evenings and weekends, so it will be good to have everyone back. And of course we’re lucky to have lots of regular customers, so it will be good to see them and learn how to chat again; you lose the art of conversation during lockdown!”

Jake has a new chef starting in the kitchen, who has recently qualified from Stoke-on-Trent College, and Sophie is happy to have some new additions to the front of house team, too.

“We’re trying to bring some new young people into the mix,” she explains. “It’s been hard for a lot of school and college leavers, with not sitting their exams and teaching being online. We’re trying where we can to help a few young people get onto a new ladder, because they probably haven’t had many opportunities over the last few months.”

One additional change is that the restaurant will open Thursday to Sunday to give the team an extra day off, although Jake and Sophie will still be there on a Wednesday to do paperwork and prep for the week ahead.

“We want to be a progressive company and that’s another reason behind the four-day week,” Jake states. “We’ve got this small, elite team and ideally we want everyone working all the time we’re open, so it feels like everyone is in it together and pushing towards the same goal of making the restaurant the best it can be. That work-life balance is part of showing that it can be a great career, whether you want to stay here or move on eventually.

“It is a lifestyle but if you enjoy food and drink there is no better job.”

You can book your table at Little Seeds online now. The outside Tapas Terrace will be open every weekend, weather-permitting, and guests will have the choice when they arrive of whether to sit indoors or in the courtyard. Drinks on the Terrace are on a walk-in basis, no reservations.

Little Seeds
16-18 Radford Street, Stone, ST15 8DA
littleseedsstone.co.uk

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Fine dining at home

It’s no secret that we are all missing our favourite restaurants. There’s nothing quite like getting all dressed up and heading out to eat amazing food with our family and…

It’s no secret that we are all missing our favourite restaurants. There’s nothing quite like getting all dressed up and heading out to eat amazing food with our family and friends. Although there is certainly light at the end of the tunnel, we aren’t there just yet. So in the meantime, why not bring that restaurant experience right to your doorstep and enjoy quality, fine food at home. Hey, you could even coordinate your deliveries with your family and friends and host a virtual dinner party on Zoom!

 

Sauce Supper Club – Lichfield, Staffordshire

Sauce Supper Club’s Dine at Home food boxes are the epitome of bringing sumptuous food to your doorstep. Each box contains three luxuriously prepared dishes by chef Tom Shepherd, ready for you to stir, bake and re-heat at home. It includes a detailed set of instructions so you can perfectly prepare your dishes in your kitchen. Tom changes his menu weekly and uses only local, seasonal produce.

Plus, you’re in for a treat if you order in time for the 26th and 27th February as Masterchef 2020 Winner, Bart Van Der Lee, takes over the Sauce Supper Club kitchen to create two stunning menus (meat and veggie).

The Dine at Home food boxes are available every Friday and Saturday, and offer local and nationwide delivery. Head over to the website here to order.

 

Aktar at Home – Birmingham

Aktar at Home is the new eat at home service by Michelin-starred chef Aktar Islam, from the renowned Opheem restaurant. Enjoy a choice of Indian traditional curries, a classic British Sunday roast, or even sample a selection of world class ingredients with the brand-new Meat Box.

UK-wide deliveries are taking place every Thursday, so make sure you place your orders by the end of Wednesday to get it in the same week. Visit the website here for more information.

 

Little Seeds at Home – Stone, Staffordshire

Experience flavours from around the globe with Little Seeds at Home. Every week, chef Jake Lowndes and his partner Sophie Hardman develop the most sensational, three-course themed menus to bring the delicious taste of far-away lands right to your doorstep. So far, they’ve done Nordic, Italian and Portuguese cuisine to name a few, so keep an eye on their socials to see where in the world your tastebuds will travel next!

To order, choose your menu (meat or veggie) and order by noon on Wednesdays. Your food box will then be ready to collect on the Friday or Saturday. They also offer local delivery to select postcodes. For more information and to order your next ‘virtual trip’ across the globe, click here.

 

Peel’s on Wheels – Hampton-in-Arden, Solihull

Enjoy the Michelin Star experience from the comfort of your own home. Peel’s Restaurant at Hampton Manor have introduced their new Peel’s on Wheels delivery service, bringing you a three course Michelin-starred experience for you to enjoy in your own kitchen or dining room.

The three-course meal box will arrive on your doorstep on Friday, ready for the weekend. Simply heat up your meal in the oven and warm the sauce in the pan. Nationwide delivery is available, so no matter where you are in the UK, you can enjoy the Peel’s experience at home. Click here to order and finalise your Friday night plans.

 

Docket No. 33 – Whitchurch, Shropshire 

Enjoy a changing, weekly three-course set dinner menu and an impressive selection of wines from Docket at Home. Chef Stuart Collins creates the most sensational menus using only the best local and seasonal produce, to ensure perfect quality in every meal. Docket No. 33’s impeccable dinners are served chilled, along with simple instructions, ready for you to re-heat or cook, to ensure the best possible quality.

As well as wine and food, cocktail lovers needn’t be disappointed as their stunning pre-made cocktails are available to order too!

Docket at Home is available for collection from their premises in Whitchurch every Friday and Saturday. Place your orders online here.

 

Lighthouse Restaurant – Ashbourne, Staffordshire

Chef Proprietor, Jon Hardy, continues to produce incredible three-course ‘heat at home’ meals for you to enjoy in the comfort of your own kitchen at just £25 per person. Meals must be pre-ordered and can be collected at a later date that suits you. Kept under wraps for the ultimate suspense, the Lighthouse Restaurant releases their exclusive menus each week via email, so join their exclusive mailing list here for a delightful surprise in your inbox: https://bit.ly/2N8NII8

Give Jon a call on 07545 565496 to order and arrange your pick-up date.

 

Elite at Home – Chester, Cheshire 

Elite Bistros have recently launched their brand new ‘Elite Bistros at Home’ experience, meaning you can sit back, relax and enjoy luxurious fine food from your favourite restaurants. The Elite Bistros brand encompasses restaurants across Cheshire, including the Sticky Walnut in Chester, Wreckfish in Liverpool and just slightly further afield, Kala in Manchester, to name a few.

Elite Bistros deliver every Friday via courier throughout the UK. Orders are open every week from 9am on Fridays until 10am on Tuesdays, with all orders being delivered on the following Friday. Browse the menu and place your order here.

 

Antona at Home – Birmingham

Enjoy the full Michelin experience at home with the Antona at Home dining experience, brought to you by chef Andreas Antona, from the renowned Simpsons Restaurant in Birmingham. Using only seasonal and sustainably sourced ingredients, the dishes on offer are the true definition of quality fine food. You can also order exclusive wine to pair with your meal to make your experience extra special.

To browse the menu and place your orders, click here.

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Slow-braised shin of beef

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Slow-braised shin of beef

Little Seeds Chef, Jake Lowndes, shared this sensational dish for the autumn/winter 2018 edition of Sauce magazine. The slow-braised shin of beef with carrot puree, crispy kale and truffle & chive chips is the perfect winter warmer dish.

  • Author: Jennifer Darby

Ingredients

Scale

For the beef
6 prepped rings of shin from your local butcher
1 stick of celery
2 carrots
1 leek
2 sprigs of thyme
500ml of red wine
500ml water

For the carrot puree
6 carrots, peeled & diced
60g butter
Water
Salt

For the kale
300g kale
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper

For the chips
Potatoes
Truffle oil
Salt
Chives

Instructions

For the beef

  1. Chop roughly into pieces the celery, carrot, onion and leek.
  2. Sear off the shins on both sides in a hot pan, then place into a deep tray.
  3. Sear off the vegetables and place into the tray with the meat.
  4. Put the red wine, water and thyme and veg then cover the tray with foil.
  5. Cook in the oven on a low heat (around 125 degrees) for six hours.
  6. After six hours carefully remove the shins and pass the remaining liquid through a sieve into a saucepan.
  7. Reduce the liquid and skim any impurities off the top then put to one side.

For the carrot puree

  1. Place the carrots and butter into a pan, cover with water and bring to the boil.
  2. Simmer until soft then drain off.
  3. Place into a blender and blend until smooth.
  4. Add salt to taste.

For the crispy kale

  1. Prep the kale by removing the middle stalk.
  2. Lightly coat the kale with oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Place into a tray and cook in a very low oven at 90 degrees for three hours.

For the chips

  1. Cut the potatoes lengthwise.
  2. Fry or oven bake until crispy, transfer into a bowl and coat with truffle oil, salt and chives to your individual taste.

Bring the dish together

  1. Add a spoon of your carrot puree to the plate first.
  2. Next add a shin.
  3. Spoon over the sauce you made earlier.
  4. Serve with green beans and crispy kale.

Notes

If you enjoyed this recipe, head over to littleseedsathome.com and discover their brand new range of Food Boxes, where you can enjoy the Little Seeds experience from the comfort of your own home.

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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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