Last Updated on July 20, 2021 by Fiona Maclean
Take time out to enjoy Warwick, a quintessential English county town.
A 1970 travel guide described Warwick as being “one of the least spoilt county towns in England”. I’m happy to report that 50 years later this is still the case. By train, taking the frequent service from London’s Marylebone Station, you’ll arrive within 90 minutes, but you may feel that you’ve travelled far further – back in time to a quainter, quieter more peaceful world.
Follow the excellent Town Trail and you’ll discover a charming, easily navigable market town, boasting many historic and architectural gems; a fabulous array of independent shops; lovely parks; a beautiful stretch of the River Avon and let’s not forget Warwick Castle, probably one of the best-preserved fortress-houses in England, if not Europe. This is a place to practice “slow tourism”: take your time and let the town unveil itself to you. Stay the night and enjoy one or two of the very satisfying pubs and restaurants on offer.
Warwick has a good, centrally located, selection of independent hotels and guest houses. In the Market Place, you’ll find the Rose & Crown Hotel. It was the first offering from the Peach Pub Company, an independent network that specialises in attractive and historic properties. A spacious, friendly pub with plenty of outside seating, it’s got a tasty food menu, serves amazing cake and offers a great breakfast – check out the shakshuka!
The Rose & Crown provides comfortable accommodation and a great location for exploring the town. In addition, their Market Place rooms are happily located a staircase away from the not-to-be-missed Tailors Restaurant.
Tailors, owned and run by chefs Dan Cavell and Mark Fry, has been operating for 14 years providing diners from Warwickshire and beyond with top quality tasting menus using locally sourced and foraged ingredients. Operating Wednesday to Saturday guests arrive at 1900 to enjoy a six-course taster or three-course menu accompanied by a carefully chosen full, half or non-alcoholic wine flight. The restaurant was previously a tailor’s shop, and the atmosphere reflects that profession’s calm care and precision. It has the feel of an intimate, relaxed supper club, the focus is the food and the magic woven by the chefs.
The menu reflects our British chefs’ embracing of a global flavour pallet. Starting with a mushroom, truffle and parmesan quiche served with truffle custard and olive oil (a big fave with the regulars) and moving on to a celeriac foam with a caper and chicory jam, caramelised cream, elderflower vinegar foam with some crunchy roasted yeast, the flavours were both light and intense. How do they do that?
Marinated Koji sea trout with wasabi mayo, pickled ginger, nori seaweed, puffed rice and a soy dressing was delicate, succulent and delicious. When the Cotswold rump of lamb arrived, with feta and olives, basil and courgette puree as well as two types of potato, I heard a fellow diner sigh: “I’m running out of compliments”.
Why have one pudding when you can have two? The white chocolate and tofu mousse with cashew nuts and chilli brought the scraping of spoon against empty bowl from across the restaurant. The lemon curd with mascarpone, lemon thyme, pine nuts and sherbet was an intriguing and extremely satisfying way to end this delightful meal. Hopefully, the £60 price tag for the taster menu allows you to indulge in the wine flight, and you really should. The wines chosen are perfectly paired with the food and add a new dimension to the dining experience.
For a less formal dinner check out The Art Kitchen, also situated in the Market Place area, a Thai Restaurant which offers you the opportunity to buy the artwork off its walls. Established by a local couple who, following a train trip on the Singapore to Bangkok Orient Express, decided to bring their experience of fabulous Thai food to Warwick. They were fortunate in that the Head Chef and Maitre D’ from the train thought it was a great idea too, and together they opened the Art Kitchen in 2004.
The idea was clearly well-founded as the restaurant was pleasantly busy on a Tuesday evening. The menu incorporates the principles of Royal Thai Cuisine with a focus on fresh, high-quality ingredients that give exceptional taste. An enticing array of dishes are described, detailing the herbs and spices involved and as food is freshly prepared, diners have the opportunity to dial up or down depending on their taste preference.
We chose the Introductory Set Menu with a plate of starters including delicious soft crab cakes. For the first time in my life, I could see the sense in prawn toast. Totally scrumptious! The main courses were flavoursome with tender chicken and luscious prawns and don’t be fooled by the sad sounding “Fruit roll” for dessert. This was a treat of deep-fried tropical fruit roll served with excellent vanilla ice cream. All very satisfying and leaving me wishing I lived closer.
For a small town, Warwick holds a surprising number of independent bars and cafes. If gin’s your thing, in Swan Street you’ll find the recently opened That Gin & Cocktail Bar, with a wall of home-produced flavoured gins to keep you occupied for some time. Meanwhile, around the corner in Jury Street, Ronnie’s Bar came under new management 18 months ago and has weathered the COVID storm. The team have great plans for themed evenings, music nights and creating an artistic hub of fun, performance and entertainment. In the meantime, you can enjoy a drink and pass the time of day in the cosy interior or pretty garden space.
For the ultimate themed experience why not spend the night in a castle or indeed in a Knight’s Village? Warwick Castle has a long history of entertaining royals and celebrities (some who perhaps were guests under duress!) and now offer mediaeval glamping in tournament style tents, themed wooden lodges in a woodland setting and two fabulous suites in the actual castle’s Caesar’s Tower. Like the castle grounds, the park site is pristine and the facilities are maintained to a very high level. Although clearly targeting the family market, the village will appeal to the child within us all. With the resident Knights on hand to welcome you and maybe provide some training if your sword or bow skills need honing, you’re guaranteed an experience to remember.
You’ll find The Rose & Crown at 30 Market Place, Warwick, CV34 4SH. Tel: 01926 411117. www.roseandcrownwarwick.co.uk
Book a stay in Warwick Castle of The Knights Village through their website: www.warwick-castle.com/short-breaks
The Visitor Information Centre is located at:
The Court House, Jury Street, Warwick, CV34 4EW
Tel: 01926 492212 Email: email@example.com
For more information see:
Looking to explore further? Why not visit nearby Leamington Spa – we recommend Mallory Court Hotel and Spa for a luxurious break!