A very pleasant surprise @Hogarths Stone Manor

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If you’ve been around my blog for a while, you know that I love writing about things that make me smile.

Well, the very beautiful Hogarth’s Stone Manor was such a delightful experience, it certainly caused me to smile when we visited recently.

We are regulars at Hogarths Solihull (read about their amazing fish finger sandwich here) and so I knew a little about Stone Manor and had even glimpsed a few photographs in a brochure. However, nothing had prepared me for just how beautiful this hotel actually is.

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Set in 27 acres of picturesque landscaped grounds and unspoilt woodland…

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…you feel as if you’ve just walked onto the set of a period drama.

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Which is unsurprising as the original Stone Manor dates back to the Doomsday Book. It was rebuilt in 1926 after a fire, became a private members club in  the 1960’s and eventually became a hotel in the 1970’s. The Hogarths became the new owners in 2015 and the refurbishment began.

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Inside, the hotel has been furnished to an extremely high standard with some of the rooms having four poster beds and spa baths. It is a popular venue for diners, fairytale weddings and conferences.

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The restaurant too, is beautifully designed – the perfect mix of classic with a modern touch.

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They serve 2 or 3 course fixed price menus as well as a seasonal A La Carte menu which includes their speciality flambé dishes. On this occasion, as it was a gloriously sunny day we decided to opt for afternoon tea on the terrace.

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Served between 2pm and 6pm, afternoon tea starts at £5.95 with options including traditional afternoon tea at £18.00, with a cocktail at £23.00 and sparkling afternoon tea priced at £28.00. They also serve a monthly themed afternoon teas for £23.50 – which is what we decided to have.

Behold…the Best of British.

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The afternoon tea was served in two parts, with the savoury selection first. This was a tasty selection of ‘British’ classics; a BLT, cheese and pineapple on a stick, a variation on a fish finger sandwich and the most delicious homemade pork pie EVER.

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Then after a suitable breather (and a glass of wine!) a delightful collection of desserts arrived.

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This carnival of confection included a rich fruit cake and a light and creamy Pimms Cheesecake.

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The most incredibly refreshing gin jelly.

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And sugar topped scones complete with the usual jam and clotted cream but with the added delight of Stone Manors very own lemon curd.

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I’ve written before about how afternoon tea will always make it on my ‘perfect day‘ list, but I honestly can’t think of a nicer way to spend an afternoon than enjoying wonderful food in such a beautiful setting.

Hogarths Stone Manor was a beautiful surprise that deserves to be discovered by everyone in search of a hidden gem.

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Hogarths Stone Manor Hotel

Stone

Kidderminster

Worcestershire

DY10 4PJ

This meal was not complimentary and I did not receive any reward for this review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own and all photographs were taken by me unless otherwise stated.

The Beech House Arrives in Style

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And it’s an arrival that has caused some excitement in the area.

On entering The Beech House it’s hard to believe this modern meeting place in the heart of Solihull only opened its doors a couple of weeks ago.

It was mid afternoon when we visited and there was already a hum of activity from inside where many were enjoying food and drink. There were even a few brave souls on the front terrace – enjoying our British Summer…ahem!

Our table was booked for early evening but we decided to make an afternoon of it; giving us chance to sample the cocktail menu…don’t judge me!

I started light, with a glass of Prosecco and hubby had an espresso martini after challenging them via Twitter to impress him with his all time favourite.

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They were certainly up for the challenge, and it was good. I then moved onto this pink little number – if you follow me on Instagram you know I cannot resist a Cosmo! Which was lovely, and more than a little boozy!

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The bar area was pretty full of people checking out what The Beech House has to offer. They have an extensive nibbles, light bites and sandwiches selection to eat in the bar and having eaten lunch here earlier in the week I can confirm that they certainly are tasty. I  highly recommend the smashed sweet potato.

The restaurant has a related atmosphere and pleasant lighting – you will see that some of my photographs certainly have a ‘soft glow’ to them.

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The menu has everything you would expect; including pasta dishes, burgers and home comforts. But it also offers Antipasto Misto and Greek Mezze sharing platters, thirteen different types of Forno Vivo Wood Fired Pizza

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…and a selection of dishes cooked on an Oakman Inns speciality – the Josper oven. It’s a charcoal fired grill which allows food to be smoked, slow cooked and roasted resulting in deliciously tasty and tender meats and vegetables.

Speaking of food…I ordered the chicken liver parfait from the specials menu to start. Which was divine – chunky, fresh and so tasty. It came with a red onion chutney and toasted brioche.

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Hubby had the saltimbocca scotch egg with prosciutto, Lincolnshire sausagemeat and hollandaise.

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The egg was so soft inside when he cut into it – just perfect.

For our mains, we both ordered from the specials menu. I had the smoked salmon, cod and spring onion risotto.

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This was deliciously tasty, with just the right amount of spring onions and without being too fishy.

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I have to admit, it was so filling I did not finish it all.

Hubby had the fish pie, which is something he would not usually choose. But boy were we glad he did – this baby was a.ma.zing!

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I don’t know whether it was the cheddar mash potato lid, the creamy sauce or the fish itself but there was a little something something in there that my tastebuds went crazy for! Hubby described it as “fantasmagorical” – mind you by this point he had consumed a cocktail, a pint of Guinness and was now on the rosé!

I asked three different members of staff but they did not reveal what secrets the pie held – I’m sure the chef would have told me had I asked, but then he’d probably have to kill me…

After a much needed breather we moved onto desserts. I had the blueberry cantucci biscuit meringue mess which was a mix of vanilla, lemon, meringue, mascarpone, smashed Italian biscuits, blueberries, toasted hazelnuts and lemon jelly.

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It was an impressive medley of textures and flavours rather than a mush that eton mess type desserts sometimes are.

Hubby had the yoghurt and vanilla cheesecake with raspberry sorbet. Which was a pretty substantial slice when delivered and I’m afraid to say I had to help him finish it.

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The desserts menu is a lovely one – a final mix of both traditional and seasonal puddings. They are clearly all worthy of a taste as I asked five members of staff what their favourites were and they all gave different answers!

We finished our meal with two of the nicest coffees – and they were hot. Not lukewarm like some, but hot.

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Our meal at The Beech House was absolutely lovely and this was enhanced by the atmosphere and the staff. They were professional, thoughtful and attentive without being over fussy. They brought extra cutlery (in case I needed a spoon for my risotto) and offered to take our photograph.

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Judging by how busy it was when we left, I believe The Beech House has made its arrival known. And as they say, if you’re going to arrive…arrive in style!

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The Beech House

727 Warwick Road

Solihull

B91 3DA

On this occasion we dined as guests of The Beech House. However we had previously eaten lunch there ourselves and as always, all thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own and all photographs were taken by us unless otherwise stated.

 

Not your average afternoon tea @Robata

We were enticed to Robata, a restaurant that prides itself on combining Pan-Asian styled cuisines with a modern approach, by images of a high tea the likes I’ve never seen before. Both the Head Chef and Head Pastry Chef have previously worked in award winning restaurants and hotels and their expertise and experience was evident in all courses of our lunch.

I’m always intrigued by any experience that is a little different; food, drink or otherwise and this was certainly ‘not your average’.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

With a wall of windows that let in an incredible amount of natural light and delicate background music the restaurant atmosphere was relaxed and calm. This mellow feeling continued throughout our lunch as we were leisurely, but efficiently served by a team of cheery staff.

High Tea is priced at £19.50. Other options available include a Champagne and a  Gentleman’s version both priced at £27.50. We opted for the Cocktail High Tea priced at £24.50 as I cannot resist a pretty little alcoholic number.

First we had a Ginger and Lemon Iced Tea; complete with flowers. We were informed that it was to cleanse your palate and prepare your taste buds for what was to come. It was surprisingly enjoyable and very refreshing.

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High Tea is served in two waves with complimenting drinks. This helps set the pace for the experience, in fact we were advised not to rush but take our time, as it’s more filling than you might imagine.

Our hot food was delivered in a bamboo steamer basket. When the lid was lifted, the smell was divine.

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It was tasty too; the Duck Leg Long Bao was soft and tender; the Chicken Yakatori and the Breaded Prawn and Tofu Ball were both full of flavour.

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After a short while, an extravaganza was brought to the table. Both Hubby and I said “Wow” in unison! They say you eat with your eyes first and this certainly fulfilled. The photograph doesn’t do it justice, it was so beautiful.

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We started with the Avocado Maki Roll – my favourite type of sushi. Dipped in a little soy sauce, I popped the whole thing in my mouth (quite a feat as it was pretty big!) and it was really good.

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The Beetroot Cured Salmon and Squid Ink Cracker was an amazing sight. To me, it resembled the bottom of the ocean or a coral reef. It tasted as good as it looked too, although I ate this a little more delicately!

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Our cocktails arrived at the same time and if you follow me on Instagram you know I’m always on the lookout for a pretty one. I had the Mandarin and Kumquat Bellini.

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And Hubby had a non alcoholic English Garden.

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First shelf devoured, we moved onto the desserts. They all looked so amazing we both said we didn’t know where to start. However I quickly decided it had to be the Yuzu and Lime Tartlet which was a myriad of textures and flavours that ticked all the boxes for a sensory gal such as myself – crunchy base, soft filling, chewy meringue…mouth-wateringly yummy.

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The Orange Scone with Orange Curd had a subtle zing and the filling was a refreshing alternative to clotted cream and jam. It had a lovely softness that only just baked cakes have.

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The piece de resistance for us both though was the Hazelnut and Chocolate Delice. The sponge was moist, with an almost mousse like texture, soft, gooey and totally chocolatey.

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After devouring the chocolate delight, a much needed breather came in the shape of our tea. Hubby opted for traditional English Breakfast, but I went for a mellow Jasmine Blossom.

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After our pause, all that was left was the Spiced Strawberry Trifle. Thankfully this was a light affair and not too much to handle.

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I am no stranger to afternoon teas and although they all have their own signature element – nothing has come close to this unique dining experience.

Carefully crafted, perfectly presented and delightfully delicious. High praise for the Robata High Tea.

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Robata Bar & Grill

Resorts World Birmingham
Pendigo Way
Birmingham B40 1PU
United Kingdom

This meal was not complimentary and I did not receive any reward for this review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own and all photographs were taken by me unless otherwise stated.

 

Not Your Average Fish fingers @ Hogarths

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Spontaneous lunches are always a fabulous idea in my book. After an hour in the gym, Hubby and I were suitably famished so set off in search of local food.

Hogarths is situated just outside Solihull, West Midlands and sits in 30 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds and woodlands (it even has a secret private island for weddings!)

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When you arrive, after following the long driveway to the entrance, you are greeted by Mr Gilroy. This steel sculpture by Ray Lonsdale is breathtakingly beautiful and placed as a stark reminder of how the horrors of war changed young people forever. I’m told it’s one of Hogarths most photographed features.

Mr Gilroy isn’t Hogarths only sculpture; in fact there are many contemporary pieces of art throughout the hotel and grounds. I noticed that apples are a common theme, with each piece as individual as the next.

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The staff are welcoming and quietly attentive giving the whole place a relaxed, yet proficient atmosphere.

The hotel itself has a fresh, vibrant feel to it with a bright colour scheme incorporating purples, pinks and lime green. Trust me – it works.

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The restaurant (Bar8 brasserie) and hotel have won a number of awards over the years including Good Hotel in 2015 and Midlands winner of hotel restaurant of the year.

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We sat in the champagne bar, with fabulous lighting (which was needed as it was a grey and miserable wet day) and started with a coffee.

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The restaurant has a full A la Carte menu whilst the bar boasts a great selection of sandwiches, hot things, light bites and afternoon teas. Hubby and I both settled for a fish finger with tartar sauce sandwich…

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…and the most amazing triple cooked, not to mention enormous chips that were perfectly crispy on the outside whilst light and fluffy inside.

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I can recommend Hogarths if you’re in the neighbourhood –  we fully enjoyed our impromptu lunch and have even been back in the last week to partake of the fish fingers again!

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Hogarths

Four Ashes Road
Dorridge, Solihull
West Midlands
B93 8QE

This meal was not complimentary and I did not receive any reward for this review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own and all photographs were taken by me unless otherwise stated.

 

Not your average breakfast @The HighField

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The minute you step through their door you are embraced by The High Field’s warm and friendly atmosphere.

This modern gastropub situated in Edgbaston is a mere 5 minutes away from Birmingham city centre and known for serving brasserie dishes and top quality pub food. I’ve eaten here a few times recently and always left feeling the same – relaxed and well looked after. On this occasion we decided to join them for Jazz and Breakfast. Self explanatory – eat breakfast whilst listening to jazz!

The bar is the first thing you see on entering and it’s the heart and soul of this establishment. Well stocked and ready for action; it has a great atmosphere, not too noisy but there’s definitely a good vibe about the place. With a choice of seating areas it’s also the perfect place to relax with a coffee or sample a cocktail or two.

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The restaurant’s split into two parts – one has an area that’s bright, light and perfect for soaking up some Vitamin D whilst having a bite to eat. There’s also outside seating but I’ll save that ’til the warmer weather!

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Just around the corner is the main restaurant – with a mixture of seating, tables and chairs and booths. It’s not too crowded but well spaced and can cater for large groups and children too.

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We escaped the hustle and bustle of the previous week by leisurely sipping Bucks Fizz and  listening to Keli and Jay who eased us slowly into the weekend with some jazz. It was a lovely way to relax whilst contemplating  the breakfast menu.

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There was plenty to choose from, but Hubby finally settled for the devilled beans and poached eggs on toasted sourdough –  with added mushrooms and sausage. He said it was lovely – and he certainly ate every morsel!

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I was slightly more awkward as I wanted something I had sampled on a previous occasion – BBQ brisket and sweet potato hash with a fried egg. Despite it not being on the menu, Head chef Ian went above and beyond and rustled one up for me.

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It was magnificent.

In fact the whole morning was divine. It was that fabulous combination of good food, attentive staff and the right atmosphere that you wish you could bottle and take home. Some places just seem to get it so right – and The High Field has…and then some. It has you looking forward to your next visit before you’ve even said “Bye” to the pig!

So tell me, what’s your favourite way to start the weekend?

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The High Field

22 Highfield Road

Edgbaston

B15 3DP

This was my first ever review – let me know in the comments below if you have any suggestions of other places or events you think I should check out! 

This meal was not complimentary and I did not receive any reward for this review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own and all photographs were taken by me unless otherwise stated.