In your Christmas Coventry Food News: stouts, scouts and (inevitably) sprouts.

Gemma at Payne’s, the popular Coventry veg box delivery service, is re-starting under new ownership. The delivery round has been taken over by Sarah, who already runs a box scheme in Leicester and has been looking for an opportunity to expand into Coventy. She’s kicking things off with a limited number of Christmas selection boxes and will get things up and running properly in the new year. The Gemma at Payne’s Facebook page is continuing under the old name for the time being, but will eventually change to something chosen by the new owner.

Congratulations to Spon Street fine dining restaurant Turmeric Gold and Coventry Transport Museum franchise Esquires Coffee, who have reached the finals of the ‘Taste of England’ category in the West Midlands Tourism Awards 2020. The pair are joined in the shortlists by Fargo Village in the ‘Small Visitor Attraction’ category and by Coombe Abbey Hotel in the ‘Large Hotel of the Year’ and ‘Business Events Venue of the Year’ categories. Winners will be announced on 26th February.

Celebrate Christmas with a festive beer from a local brewer! Mashionistas Brewing Company has a brace of Christmas ales to tempt you, starting with Figgy Biggy, a 9% Christmas cake impy, still live at Beer Gonzo as far as I know (but get in quick because there’s only one keg and when it’s gone, it’s gone.) Aged for over a year it’s beautifully smooth drinking. Far Gosford Street more convenient for you? Twisted Barrel Brewery and Tap House is currently serving Mashionistas’ Reese’s 2B Cheerful Part 3 – a 14% chocolate peanut butter coffee impy. Available for warming your cockles at Castle Yard Tap Room meanwhile is Triumph Brewery‘s 1977 Special Christmas Stout. And Dhillon’s Brewery is serenading the season with Limited Edition Fa La La, described as having “a sweet malty backdrop with explosions of banana and vanilla”. Order from the website or enjoy at the Brewery Tap House. (And not forgetting Byatt’s Brewery – Christmas love to them too, but from their FB page, it seems that stocks of their XXXmas Ale have already sold out.)

If you’re visiting Fargo Village, Dandy’s Coffee Shop is now open in the space that was formerly Backhaus&Co. Run by next-door barbershop Dashing Blades, Dandy’s at the moment is quite a simple set-up, but still a great place to chill over hot chocolate, coffee by Stafford’s Hasbean Coffee Company, tea by Cardiff’s Waterloo Tea and delicious cakes from Rugby’s Hatty Bakewell’s. Andy from Spray Station has also contributed some outstanding artwork to the wall outside. Dashing Blades have plans to develop the coffee shop over the coming months, so now is the perfect time to show them your support!

Don’t be put off by the name! It might sound like a 1970s night club, but Smithford Way newcomer The Den is actually rather impressive, at least if my recent scouting-expedition lunch there is anything to go by. Specialising in Lebanese cuisine, including flame-grilled meats and fish, the interior is formal without being stuffy – expect crisp white table cloths, folded linen napkins and spotless cleanliness coupled with otherwise fairly simple decor – and the service is respectful and efficient. My vegetarian platter didn’t contain anything that wouldn’t be very familiar to anyone with even a passing knowledge of Middle Eastern food, but it was well-executed and beautifully presented. Highlights were the baba ganoush that was properly smokey and cleverly enhanced by sweet juicy pomegranite seeds, and the soft fluffy potatoes of the batata hara. At £14.99, it was arguably on the pricey side for a vegetarian meal in Coventry, but overall – an accessible little haven in the heart of the city centre and a good addition to its dining landscape. (Disclosure: I paid for the food I ate at The Den from my own resources.)

And finally…don’t forget that this coming Sunday – yes, SUNDAY (22nd) – wonderful Coventry Market will be OPEN for all your locally-produced Christmas shopping needs (including LOADS of sprouts! Sproutopia!) AND Fargo Village has a twilight market on Friday (20th) with shopping until 9.30pm.

And that, my friends, concludes the final Coventry Food News of 2019. I’ll be back after Christmas with Coventry 2019: The Year in Food. (Whaddaya mean “that’ll be a short read”? There’s loads going on, as I am constantly endeavouring to demonstrate!) In the meantime: Merry Christmas One and All! Have a great time, keep supporting local businesses, and most of all, make sure you grab yourselves some truly memorable food and drink.