A deli board, being the first thing which we ate, seems an obvious place to start. A collection of meats; some cooked, others sourced, designed to share and graze. To feed with variety. All this food leaves the question of where to start. We do by draping slithers of air dried ham over of toast. The ham thinly sliced and almost opaque, with ribbons of fat that dissolve on the tongue. We move on to slices of rare roast beef that come alive with the liberal application of a tart pickle and piping hot croquettes which ooze with cheese and tangles of ham hock. Thick cuts of brioche are filled with pulled chicken and drizzled with sriracha sauce that instantly becomes the best sub that Subway never made. There are leaves for those that seek reassurance in their diet, but this is a protein heavy board with comfort and delight at every twist and turn.
And so to The Almanack, Kenilworth’s arm of the mighty Peach Pubs empire. I like this group, for they are equally individual and familiar. At first glance menus look the same, though have subtle differences. They source ingredients carefully and seasonally. Meat is supplied from Aubrey Allen, which is a statement of intent in itself. Whilst The Alamanack may not have the physical presence of The Highfield or Rose & Crown’s exterior frontage, it makes up with a luscious interior of deep blue booths, an imposing bar and a contemporary feel that suits the building. Its a buzzy atmosphere with a more relaxed approach to service, which was fine with us. We order a bottle of good Cote du Rhone and declare ourselves as in no rush.
A salad of scallops and monkish is given an Indian touch with deftly spiced brinjal potatoes, raita, and little poppadum’s for texture. Slightly overcooked monkfish aside, everything was accurately seasoned and timed; the queenie scallops in particular with a lovely crust and only just cooked through. A well dressed salad provided the required acidity to cut through the seafood. Every bit as good was a lamb main ordered straight off the specials board. The cannon cooked accurately to the requested medium with courgettes, tomatoes and aubergine which all add a freshness counteracted by a smokey puree of the aubergine at the base of the plate. Crisps of the aubergine work in the same way as the poppadoms on the fish main. This is a kitchen which understands the need for touch as well as taste.
Desserts stayed on familiar territory. A lemon posset leant nicely towards the sharper side of the spectrum, with stewed summers that added another profile of flavour and pistachio biscotti for the much needed crunch element.
The high note was a perfectly made treacle tart, dense and sticky and sweet, with ice cream that punched heavily with vanilla notes. It has wobble in its filling and snap at the base. It characterises everything that is right about The Almanack; dishes that you think you could muster at home, but could never execute this well. It takes considerable skill to cook food to this level and still make it look simple on the plate. With starters just over a fiver, that deli board fifteen quid, and mains in mid-teens, it’s a wise idea to put down the knife, book a table here and leave it to the professionals.
My meal at The Almanack was complimentary