Sunday lunch in our region
by Jayne Howarth
Apparently, we Brits eat fewer Sunday roasts nowadays. They may be time-consuming to prepare at home, but local pubs and restaurant are seeing more customers enjoying this most traditional of meals, says Jayne Howarth.
What is your perfect Sunday lunch?
Perhaps roast beef and Yorkshire pudding? Or roast chicken with sage and onion stuffing? What about a fantastic pork joint with crunchy crackling? And would you prefer to have roast potatoes, mash, or both?
We Rosbifs – as the French like to call us – might be well known for our lavish Sunday roasts with all the trimmings, but this most British of traditions is apparently on the decline.
According to a survey last year, carried out by Red Tractor – the not‐for‐profit quality food assurance mark –there has been a 20 per cent decline in the number of Brits who make a Sunday roast at home over the past ten years ago.
There has also been a 15 per cent decrease in the number of Sunday lunches eaten since 2008, it claimed.
Although the origin of the Sunday lunch isn’t clear, it is thought it has its roots in the north of England. It is believed it began during the Industrial Revolution, when a joint of meat was left in the oven on Sunday morning to cook while the family went to church.
Families whose ovens were too small to accommodate a large cut of meat were said to use the local baker’s brick oven, as bread wasn’t baked on Sundays, and pick up the cooked joint on the way back from church.
This mainstay became a firm fixture in our weekly calendar, with the leftover meat being used throughout the week in bubble and squeak, pies and hash.
While Sunday lunch at home may be on the decline, if reports from restaurants and pubs in our region are anything to go by, it is still very much a firm favourite among Midlanders.
Chefs and restaurateurs are reporting healthy numbers of diners at their premises every Sunday as families and friends get together to enjoy a relaxed lunch with a well-cooked roast with all the trimmings.
It seems that while we might not want to go to the trouble of preparing the vegetables and making the gravy – or cleaning up the dishes and pans afterwards – we still want to enjoy the meal that is at the centre our culinary heritage.
We’ve found some of the region’s favourite Sunday lunch haunts – somewhere where you can anticipate mouthwatering food in fabulous surroundings.
The Oak Room at Nailcote Hall in Berkswell is a great place to dine for Sunday lunch. This gorgeous restaurant is formal and richly decorated, but the ambience is welcoming and friendly, making it a fantastic venue for couples and families alike.
The King’s Hotel, Chipping Campden is a lovely 18th century town house is definitely in the 21st century when it comes to dining and the food in the beamed Restaurant, the more relaxed Brasserie, or Garden Room for private parties, or is to die for.
The King’s Hotel is part of the Eden Hotel Collection and another in the group that serves a sublime Sunday lunch is The Brasserie at the beautiful Mallory Court Hotel, near Leamington Spa. This two AA Rosette restaurant is known for its relaxed dining, so enjoy your traditional Sunday lunch in the wonderful Art Deco dining room and take a walk around the gorgeous grounds afterwards.
For another fabulous two AA Rosette venue, how about the Malt Shovel in Barston. Run by Caroline Furby, this award-winning restaurant near Solihull should be on everyone’s destination list, thanks to the superlative work by head chef Max Murphy.
We also love The Ferry, a stylish pub located in Alveston village, where dining is relaxed and customers can expect fresh home cooked dishes that use the best seasonal, locally produced ingredients.
The Durham Ox in Shrewley, Warwickshire, is fast becoming known for its excellent Sunday lunches, thanks to its locally-sourced meat from Warwick-based Rumps the Butcher and the freshest seasonal vegetables from Sidwell Ltd in Leamington Spa.
Another restaurant/pub that provides Sunday diners with fabulous local food is The Bell, in the picturesque village of Alderminster, near Stratford-upon-Avon. Try its superb roast Warwickshire sirloin of beef or its Alscot-reared leg of lamb with its meltingly good roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables and follow it with a pudding platter - a range of puds, chosen by chef, to share. It guarantees a smile every time.
The White Horse at Balsall Common also offers fantastic roasts every Sunday alongside its full à la carte menu. Herefordshire beef and Staffordshire pork are always available with roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables and real gravy.
Proving the region is spoiled for choice when it comes to excellent Sunday lunches is another of our favourites: The Granville Arms in Barford, which serves a delicious set menu, with a selection of starters and desserts. Main dishes include roasts, a fish dish and vegetarian option.
The Bell at Welford upon Avon is one of the most popular dining pubs in the region and that is testament to the quality of the food and ale on offer. An advocate of local suppliers – who are acknowledged on its menu – the Bell serves Sunday lunch all day for diners looking for a choice of roasts, potatoes and seasonal vegetables.
Close to Lichfield, Staffs, is the Old School House at Weeford, which serves an extensive Sunday lunch in its restaurant. Choose from pheasant, belly pork or roast beef or even marinated lamb shank or fish.
The two AA Rosette award-winning Lamb Restaurant at The Lamb Inn, in Burford, Oxfordshire, is an elegant place to eat in one of the most charming Cotswold villages. Its “Cotswold Sunday Delight” offers diners six starters, including spiced potted fish with toasted bread, and a choice of mains, which include Birkstead beef topside; honey and clove roasted ham; and roast leg of Welsh lamb with garlic and rosemary. Complete the experience with five indulgent desserts or cheese.
For a friendly welcome and hearty lunch, head to The Beeches, in Hampton in Arden, where chef/owner Iain George offers top quality dining at bistro prices. Renowned for its British/Mediterranean cuisine, The Beeches’ pièce de résistance is its unrivalled Sunday lunch.
Hampton Manor, also in Hampton in Arden, is another hotel that is seeing people flock for its Sunday lunches. Roasted Black Angus beef sirloin, creamed horseradish, and Yorkshire pudding is on the April menu, as is brine soaked Cotswold white chicken roasted, bread sauce, thyme and lemon scented jus. Tempted?
The Church St Town House is a small boutique hotel in the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon that serves a great Sunday lunch. Chef Nick Rowberry has created a superb menu using produce from local suppliers, whenever he can. We love the relaxed atmosphere here, the perfect place for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
For one of the biggest choices of dishes in the area, head to Becketts Farm in Wythall, which is famous for its four-meat carvery and 15 different vegetable options. It’s no wonder the restaurant is so popular with diners who love a choice of roast potatoes and parsnips, mash and Dauphinoise potatoes, cauliflower cheese, peas and mixed vegetables.
If you prefer lunch with an Italian flavour, then seek out La Scala in Sutton Coldfield. The Tuscan-born head chef will whisk you away to his homeland with melanzane alla parmigiana; chicken breast with roast ham and fontina cheese, or even the Italian style roast of the day.
For something completely different, how about enjoying a traditional roast beef dinner and all the trimmings on a steam locomotive? Vintage Trains offers a superb three-course Sunday lunch to diners on its Stratford-upon-Avon to Birmingham train, prepared and cooked by on board by chef Ben Mason. Diners sit at beautifully decorated tables in vintage ex-British Rail Mk 1 Pullman Cars.
Whether you are dine at a top hotel, gastro pub, or vintage locomotive, you are spoiled for choice when it comes to dining out in style every Sunday.
What could be more relaxing than enjoying the perfect Sunday lunch out, where friendly staff are there to look after you? Choose your favourite dish and pudding (there has to be a pudding), sit back and relax, knowing there will be no argument about washing up afterwards.
It sounds like the ideal Sunday, doesn’t it?