If you’re looking for a Christmas celebration meal in Coventry that’s got all the elements, look no further than Drapers Bar and Kitchen! Food Covolution and a non-vegetarian friend were invited to a preview event earlier this week, and found loads to love in a clever, modern British festive menu that showcases all the care and attention to detail that chef Sarah Jenkins always pours into her food.
Launching on 25th November, the Christmas menu will offer evening diners a choice of four starters, four mains and four desserts, including vegetarian and vegan options. But whichever way you go, this is food that sums up the season on a plate: warm, earthy and comforting, but also thoughtful, pretty and studded with delightful surprises.
Our entree was the vanilla spiced roast celeriac soup with crispy salted celery leaves, truffle oil and home made wholegrain bread. Cool and chic, tropical vanilla might seem an unlikely pairing for a hoary old northern European root vegetable; but the nuttiness of the one balanced perfectly with the sweetness of the other in a velvet-smooth soup served with springy home made bread. My friend also enjoyed dainty smoked mackerel and horseradish paté with soused cucumber and toast, delivered extra-sweetly in a replica sardine tin. She loved the delayed kick of horseradish – crispier toast might have given more textural variety.
Mains for my friend were slow braised blade of beef – which had her reaching for words like “tender”, “rich”, “succulent” and “melts in the mouth” – served with peppery root vegetable, garlic and rosemary mash and crackly blades of parsnip crisps; and pancetta wrapped turkey, clementine and chestnut-stuffed puff pastry wellington served with creamed leeks. The wellington was, I think, possibly her winner for the evening. She said being able to taste all the different elements quite distinctly made it super-Christmassy and the leeks were a delight – rich and creamy without being mushy.
For vegetarian and vegan diners, Sarah has created a home made seasonal nut loaf with walnuts and cranberries, and a field mushroom gravy. Nut loaf gets a bad name partly for its tendency to dryness – but not this one. This one was moist but still firm, and packed with complex seasonal flavours from the nuts, berries and what I guessed was parsnip, it felt like real care and skill had gone into getting it just right.
Sarah tells me desserts are not her speciality – but you’d never know it. Opulent, supremely chocolate-y dark chocolate mousse, served with Liefman’s Cherry Beer-soaked winter berries – for added seasonal luxuriating – and almond brittle will leave you feeling seriously pampered and indulged, just like the best possible Christmas treat.
Haven’t got room for dessert? Think again. Light and refreshing, orange blossom and cardamom panna cotta with Christmas shortbread crumble, candied rosemary and a shot of limoncello is both silky smooth and intriguingly subtle. But on the other hand: what’s Christmas even for if not a blowout? I think by this stage, both my friend and I had got sufficiently into the festive spirit to covert the panettone doused in brandy, finished with Christmas pudding ice cream, which sounded much more of a barnstormer. Unfortunately, it wasn’t included in the tasting event – which means there’s all the more reason to go back another time and do it all over again! Yay! Christmas!
Beers from Warwickshire’s own Purity Brewing Company make the perfect accompaniment to Sarah’s Christmas menu.
Drapers Bar and Kitchen Christmas Evening Menu is available from November 25th until Christmas Eve, but bookings are being taken now. Two courses £20 per person, three courses £24 per person.
Disclosure: Both my friend and I attended the tasting event as guests of Drapers Bar.