Culinary delights in Stratford upon Avon

Last week was a culinary delight, I was lucky enough to win a brilliant competition for a tour, lunch and voice workshop at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Shakespeare’s birth place, Stratford Upon Avon as well as two tickets to Much Ado About Nothing.  So on Thursday afternoon, my friend Lisa and I took ourselves off to Stratford by train, booked into the Legacy Falcon hotel and off we went!  Woohoo!  It was a lovely relaxing journey and we had a gossip on the way.  What we were not not expecting when we got there was an absolute gem of a restaurant; No.9 Church Street, it was like being in a well designed home with modern yet comfortable decor (I especially liked the decorative wallpaper), making diners feel comfortable and assured so you could relax and enjoy the food!

With two tickets to Much Ado burning a hole in our pocket, we were in a rush and to make it worse we got carried away chatting at the hotel and arrived ten minutes late at c. 17.55 for dinner prior to our show at the RSC only five minutes walk away.  The restaurant was absolutely packed and the staff were rushed off their feet; however they were efficient whilst remaining friendly and welcoming.

We had the pre-theatre menu which was £12.50 for two courses or £16.50 for three courses; an absolute steal and we would have had three courses if we had the time.

We both ordered the Flaked Tuna & Basil Mayonnaise on Sun-Dried Tomato Bruschetta, Niçoise Garnish for starter and the Pan-Fried Cornish Hake, Parsley Risotto, Creamed Mussels, Crispy Parsley.  Both dishes were out of this world, utterly delicious and completely filling.  Prior to the food arriving we were given some lovely seeded and white bread but it was the butters which were the star of the show; one was salted with Rock Salt, while the other was seasoned with caramelised onions.  The onion did it for me (I am a huge onion fan!), it was amazingly good!

I can only apologise for the lack of photographs of this amazing food, we were simply too hungry and in such a rush there wasn’t a moment for instagram!  Next time I visit (and there will be a next time) I will take as many as I dare!

Off we went to see the play, the only sorrow in our hearts was that we hadn’t the time for a pudding and had to settle for ice cream in the interval, which while lovely wasn’t quite what the sumptuous puddings would have been at No.9!

The following day the culinary delights kept coming… breakfast was an unexpected treat as we opted out of the hotel breakfast, as we had only a couple of hours to explore the town before our tour, lunch and voice workshop.

We found this lovely little cafe called Quicklys and felt rather Parisian sitting outside as the sunshine warmed our skin and reminded us that contrary to the English weather of late, it is actually August!

We both started with a hot chocolate (as we were on holiday after all!) Lisa ordered what turned out to be an enormous vegetarian brunch, with two large flat mushrooms, three hash browns, eggs and toast.  Whilst I had my heart set on an omelette and as not disappointed with the mushroom and bacon omelette which arrived.  It was absolutely delicious and (contrary to my thoughts on its first arrival at the table) completely filling.  It was a perfect start to a perfect day in Stratford Upon Avon.

We celebrated by visiting Shakespeare’s birth place (on the same street as Quicklys) and then hot footed it off to the Royal Shakespeare Company to tour the hire spaces and to sample the lovely Rooftop Restaurant.

There were many spaced available at the RSC, due to the history of the buildings (both Victorian (post-19th Century fire), 1920s and brand new) they varied in size and style but all were very beautiful, well maintained and often featured stunning views of the Avon and Stratford itself.

The Rooftop restaurant was very well proportioned and offered the most spectacular views.  We had ordered from a set menu and hand a limited choice, I had gone for the smoke salmon roulade with crab mousse, which was amazing.  Followed by the beef (left) with a celeriac puree, polenta and carrot and a lovely jus.  It was a very nice main course, very modern-british cuisine to showcase the best of british food (as is extremely fashionable in this year of the Jubilympics) and it was done very well, though honestly I’m more a fan of French or Italian if it isn’t quite sacrilege to say so?  I fear in this most patriotic of years it might be…  I think this would have been more to my taste were the beef not well done.  Not to worry, there was pudding to come, Lisa and I were most intrigued to discover what a ‘white pot’ really was, I had guessed something along the posset line.. and it seemed to be a cross between t.hat and a panacotta with a light sweet sauce on the top which remained me in appearance to a lemon drizzle glaze which you might put on a cake but without it’s zinging flavour or stickiness.  I’m still not sure what was in it.  It was topped by crunchy biscuit crumbs and two slices of flapjacks.  This was just not my pudding, it had the appearance of something light and delicate but in reality was a heavy, dense ending to the meal.  But as the only other option had been a cheeseboard, I think I made the right decision (I have to confess, I do not eat cheese.. I know, I know… but why make yourself like something you don’t when it is so calorie laden? I’d rather save the calories for chocolate!).

We had such a wonderful time in Stratford and felt like we were on holiday indeed, not only was it an absolute pleasure and a joy to be invited to the RSC, the play was very good, the voice workshop was amazing – and the food?  Some was good, some was great; some had greatness thrust upon it.

Do go and eat your way around Stratford!  Another place I was dying to try for tea (being a huge tea drinker and enthusiast), but ran out of time.. was The Real Tea Cafe!  Looks divine and has an enormous selection of teas!

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