It’s not very often I’ve ventured outside of Birmingham for this blog. That’s something I aim to change in 2016. So when I was invited to visit Leamington Spa to experience The Star & Garter’s Ultimate Grill Night with Aubrey Allen. It was the perfect opportunity to kick off the new year.
Just outside the town centre (about 10 minutes from the station), The Star & Garter has been part of the Peach Pubs family for the past 3 1/2 years. You can read about my visit to another Peach Pub, The High Field in Edgbaston here. Now run by Colin Barber, formerly owner of Mixology in London in between living in Verbier, he’s been tempted by the team at Peach to bring a gastropub star to Leamington.
With a recent refurbishment in November, it has been transformed giving the venue a calm and relaxed feel with muted tones.
The main reason for tonight’s visit was to be introduced to their Grill night menu, with fish and pork options and a range of steaks, all supplied via Aubrey Allen. Every Thursday, there will be Grill Night with a selection of meats and fish fresh from the griddle, cooked by Head Chef Jakub Fijak and his team. Jakub has worked in a few of the Peach Pubs, after a period in Jersey and including spells at The Fishes in Oxford and The Almanack in Kenilworth.
With the meat option comes a selection of potatoes and sauce; ranging from triple cooked chips to baby jackets on the spuds side, and peppercorn to blue cheese on the saucy side. A well chosen pick of sides are available too, which include onion rings and garlic prawns:
Whilst we perused the menu, Russell Allen, Managing Director of Aubrey Allen came over and talked us through the range of cuts available. Aubrey Allen have an illustrious history; family run since 1933 and by appointment to Her Majesty, they provide meat to some of the best restaurants in the UK including Simpsons, the Manoir, The Waterside Inn and Opus, (as well as being available through their own deli bar). With a pedigree like this, you know you’re in for some quality:
Tonight’s selection of meat consisted of:
- Spider Steak – cut from the rump and also referred to as the Oyster Steak. A little muscle that looks almost like a spider web due to the striations of fat within the roundish muscle. It sits on the hip and because cows only have 2 hips, there are only 2 per animal. This had been matured using their 28 Day dry-aging method which you can watch here.
- Onglet Steak – variously known as the ‘Hanger’ and ‘Butcher’s’ steaks. Cut from the diaphragm and famed for its intense flavour, the onglet earned the title of butcher’s steak as it would often be kept back from sale. Traditionally used for casseroles, the steak is best served up to medium to keep its flavour.
- Rump Cap Steak – a speciality in Brazil known as the ‘Picanha’, the cap sits on top of the ‘heart’ of the rump. It also traditionally ends up on the BBQ in South Africa too!
- Fillet Steak – perhaps the quintessential steak, sourced from the tenderloin. It is the least used muscle and therefore, tender every time it is cooked.
- Free Range Iberico Pork Cutlet – sourced from the legendary Jimmy Butler, these acorn fed pigs give a pork cutlet marbled throughout, like some of the best steaks.
It was difficult to choose but I went for a medium-rare Onglet steak partnered with triple cooked chips and blue sauce.
Whilst we waited for our steaks to be cooked, I investigated the other sauces provided, Tracklements covered the mustard and horseradish and a pot of their own BBQ sauce. The BBQ sauce was a thing of wonder with an almost smoked pork flavour. It was delicious with just about everything we ate.
My companion, not a fan of myoglobin (which most people confuse with blood), was convinced to swap from his usual well done steak to a medium Spider steak with baby jacket potatoes and peppercorn sauce and a side of onion rings.
The onion rings were delightfully crispy, with a nice light batter and sweet well cooked onion interior.
The spider steak was a thing of beauty. Freshly griddled, there were no complaints from the other side of the table and it was quickly demolished. The accompanied mini jackets matched their bigger cousins, with a lovely soft and floury texture. The peppercorn sauce provided a low even tempered heat.
My onglet steak was delicious. Cooked to medium, perfectly in my eyes, with a deep pink centre. The meat was moist, tender and perfectly complemented by the crispy triple cooked chips. My blue cheese sauce started out with an Gruyere type smokiness which then subsumed into the sharpness of the blue cheese.
To finish (even though I don’t know we had any room left), we went for a coffee and dessert. I chose a blood orange sorbet whilst my companion went for a banana and salted caramel, all from Jude’s free range ice creams.
My blood orange sorbet was a rich orange flavour. It was a scrumptious like eating a chilled orange.
The banana and salted caramel ice cream both had a nice natural flavour, with none of the artificial taste that you usually get with banana flavouring.
And with that, we were done, sated after a great meal. For me, it definitely won’t be long until I’ll return to a Peach Pubs again and the Star & Garter especially.
If you’d like to try out the steak night yourself, this takes place every Thursday at the Star & Garter you can book by calling 01926 359 960 or through their website here
Disclaimer: For this event, I was a guest of The Star & Garter who provided all food and drinks; this provides no bias to the post. This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.
Where: The Star & Garter, 4-6 Warwick Street, Leamington Spa, CV32 5LL