Entropy comes to an end

June 26, 2013

More sad news for Leicester in that Entropy is set to close on 19 July. Tom Cockerill (below, having prepared a South Devon steak and smoked oyster pie just for me – smug grin) said earlier this year that the restaurant was on the market but he has now confirmed the closure.  He wants to find a suitable Leicestershire pub to take on but at the moment is still looking.

It’s a great shame for Leicester to lose such a highly regarded and characterful independent, one that had earlier spawned a very high achieving restaurant in the city centre, and as a bar had helped kickstart the Braunstone Gate scene.  But nothing lasts for ever, or rather everything moves to a state of inert uniformity (attempted out-of-my-depth physics joke there).  Would it be too much to hope that not only will Tom find the ideal place to cook  – not too far from LE2 – but that someone else will be along to fill the space left by Entropy?  

Tom Cockerill

So its official. Leicester people aren’t too bothered about good food. That at least would seem to be the view of the Peach Pub company. After three and a half years they have now closed The Almanack, their pub in the city’s Highcross Centre,  prompting the heading on industry website Propel of “Peach exits city unsuited to gastro pubs.”

What they actually said was  “Peach has thought for a while that Leicester wasn’t the right site for a Peach gastro-pub offer”.  I don’t want to come across all defensive, in fact in a way I kind of agree with them. But what I would say is that it might have been the right place if that offer had been a bit better.

Welcome-1

I liked the place – staff were great, it was nicely done out and was a good, welcoming place to go in the daytime. It made all the  right noises about “honest and ethically sourced” food, and I remember one rather good lunch when it first opened. But on subsequent visits, the food just wasn’t quite good enough, and most other feedback I received wasn’t over-enthusiastic.. There was poor cooking on occasions and dishes that just left you thinking they didn’t measure up to their promise.

Peach say they never lost money on the place but couldn’t “make it work”.  They took the chance to get out when they had an offer from Turtle Bay, the Caribbean chain that opened last year in Nottingham. Peach meanwhile is carrying on expanding in its core environment of well-heeled  market towns.

A shame then.  It could have been a beautiful relationship, but I suspect both sides are left thinking “It wasn’t me, it was you”.

During the noughties when I was reviewing restaurants for Metro there was no problem in finding a new, interesting, non-chain venue to visit every week.   I’d really struggle for that now –  maybe there’s been a recession or something?

So it’s with a real sense of “ooh look!” that I note and welcome the arrival of 34 Windsor Street in Burbage, near Hinckley.  Sited in what used to the Butler’s House, this totally refurbished place is an initiative of former Dubai restaurateur Zeffy Thompson, with head chef Sam Owen, who made something of a name for himself at the Lincoln Hotel in Lincoln.  It had a soft launch at the end of May and looks a classy effort with gutsy, eclectic, modern British dishes.  Daytime menu includes salads such as grilled chicken, mango and watercress with cherry reduction and hearty mains such as braised rabbit in mustard with spinach and mash or beetroot risotto with marinated Stilton (marinated Stilton?).

Then there’s various  fancy afternoon tea options before an evening a la carte menu kicks in.  Immediately raising my interest are starters such pigeon breast with sherry and caramelised shallot and mains including pork “head to tail” with apple flavours (I’m assuming this is the dish pictured below from their website) and seabass fillet with langoustine bisque.

home-2 (2)

They seem to have good local links and this looks like a real boost to west Leicestershire diners. Hopefully I’ll a manage a review before too long.

Pubs and pizzas

June 10, 2013

Further to last week’s post about the launch of It’s better down the pub, it’s good to see Everards has opened its third Project Artisan pub:  The Stamford Arms in Groby. The scheme links up pubs with small scale food producers  to the benefit of both. The refurbished Stamford has a stone-baked pizza oven and a new deli, working with very local artisan producers. Deli food is available to buy and take home, but also features in dishes on the pub’s main menu.  If you want to read a tale about how projects like this can revive pubs  – see this  inspiring piece from Matt Wright of the Great Food Club – Project Artisan and Project William. (While you are on there, you might like to watch a beautiful little film about local bread made by Britain’s Best Bakery – Hambleton – made for Great Food by Nutmeg 3d.)

While on the subject of pizzas, which we kind of were, Leicester’s  Queen’s Rd looks to be getting a new Italian restaurant. Don’t know any more about it yet [Edit 15 June – It’s Leone’s, relocating from further up Queen’s Rd)  but it will be adjacent to tapas bar Barceloneta in what is now Sansome’s bar.  It’s a regular topic for Clarendon Park’s chattering classes why no-one has ever created a bar or restaurant in this space that the community has taken to its heart.  There’s always scope for a good restaurant on Queen’s Rd and hopefully this will be a good independent operator. That said, I went to Pizza Express, (Kings St branch)at the weekend and was pretty pleased. My chicken and pesto pizza from their romana range was great, big and inviting, but thin and crispy.  And well done to them for catering properly for coeliacs. I know some people are convinced wheat allergy is some kind of middle-class fad  but to see my friend – who would be seriously poorly with one bite of regular bread –  tucking into the very rare treat of a pizza and a beer was a real pleasure.

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