The abrupt closure of Drapers Bar on Monday stunned Coventry and, coming so soon after the loss of both Inspire Bar and The Squirrel, capped a disastrous few weeks for food and drink venues in the city centre. Here at Food Covolution, our heart goes out to the staff, who worked so hard to make Drapers a great place to be, and (in a foodie context) to Chef Sarah in particular because we know how much she was doing to bring truly exciting food to the heart of the city, and how much more she still had to give. As a long-term champion of independent food and drink, it’s very tempting for me to blame the establishment of a large bloc of chain restaurants a stone’s throw away at Cathedral Lanes for the demise of Drapers; and if I’m honest, I can’t help but suspect that they are in the mix somewhere. On the other hand, cause and effect is rarely that straightforward, and realistically, the failure of the business was almost certainly down to a number of different factors, some of which you could probably guess at, and some of which you probably couldn’t. Enquiries about Drapers are currently being referred to a firm of insolvency specialists; so despite the catastropohic signals sent out about the viability of the city centre by news that even the coolest crib in Cov couldn’t cut it, I think it’s reasonable to expect that this iconic building, in its prime location, will eventually re-open as some sort of food/drink/entertainment space under new management. All we can hope is that when that happens, it will retain the artsy, free-spirited, community hub vibe that made our Drapers so loved. RIP Drapers. You will be missed.

But…even without Drapers, life goes on, and it’s not helping other brilliant independent local businesses if I’m sitting around moping. So let’s start with Fargo’s Gourmet Food Kitchen, who have released the menu for their February Fine Dining Nights. Next month’s six-course meal will give you a chance to sample Crispy duck egg with mushroom, truffle puree and hazelnut dressing; Cannon of beef with cauliflower, spiced carrot, Bordelaise Sauce; Egg custard with nutmeg ice cream and more. Message Chef Tony via Facebook to book. (And for those of you who are more chocolate egg than crispy duck egg, Chef Tony has something for you too: his annual Easter Egg making classes will be starting again soon. Phone 07860203839 to book.)

Chinese New Year is coming up at the weekend, and Coventry chef Sophie Hyam can help you celebrate in style with a delicious Chinese-inspired menu that you can either pick up from Scotts Butchers in Earlsdon or have delivered direct to your home (Coventry area only; delivery charge: £3) – but get your skates on, as orders close at midday tomorrow (24th). Choose from starters including authentic wonton soup, and mains including stir-fried pork with spring onions. Vegetarian alternatives. Full menu and prices here. Email to order.

After a successful trial a couple of weeks back, Fargo Vegan restaurant Dirty Kitch will now be serving brunch every Sunday, starting next weekend (26th). And the word is – the menu just *might* include some extremely delicious-looking pancakes!

Coventry Market plastic-free stall COGS now has a website! You can find a full current stock list for the stall with pricing and also details on how to use the new click-and-collect service!

Byatt’s Brewery has released its third and final new beer for #Tryanuary (your chance to try new beers in January) and it’s a 5.2% IPA called Mystic Wolf, brewed with Mystic and Wolf hops, known for their big juicy flavour and aroma. On the brewhouse bar this week – and if you’d like to learn more about Byatt’s, they will be featured in the first of a new series of ‘Meet the Brewer’ talks starting in February at the Old Windmill on Spon Street. The Byatt’s event is on February 27th at 7pm and must be booked in advance. Tickets cost £8 per person and are available at the pub. (Pssst! Byatt’s also have a brewery tour coming up on Saturday (25th). Starts 12.30pm. £15 per person. Call 02476 637996 to book!)

And finally…Two Tone Village Caribbean stalwarts Simmer Down are re-launching as a party venue, and are now taking group bookings only. Posting on Facebook, Simmer Down said “we are inviting your party to our place. Groups of six to twenty eight can come dine and party. We will offer you a family style table buffet; tuck in to your favorite Jamaican dishes in our relaxed and friendly restaurant and not forgetting the newly opened cocktail bar. Minimum 48 hours notice required for bookings.”