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chicken wings

    Restaurant reviews, Reviews

    Butchers Social, Henley-in-Arden


    I’m totally going to blame jet lag for not remembering Butchers Social when my mum suggested lunch in Henley-in-Arden recently. Not the sort of jet lag that makes you wake up at 4am; I mean the jet lag that affects those of us with a love of good food, whose circadian rhythm may be back on track but whose stomach still yearns for the food of their holiday destination. My head knew it was lunchtime, but my heart wanted the glorious burgers of Melbourne or £3.50 plates of Michelin-starred noodles from Singapore.  Failing that, Mum lured me to Henley with the promise of ice cream, but then we found Butchers Social.

    For those that missed the first iteration, Butchers Social began as a pop-up in an old butcher’s shop on Harborne High St, which stuck around longer than I think anyone expected but everyone was thankful that they did.  Whilst a fairly extensive refurb has happened and in its place, reopening as Harborne Kitchen, the dream of Butchers Social and those wings didn’t go away…it just moved to the town of Henley-in-Arden.  Which is technically a small town in Warwickshire, and on the way to Stratford-upon-Avon, but with its B95 postcode, it totally counts as one of ours still.

    Henley-in-Arden always seems like the kind of place that’s build for proper english summers, perhaps because the only time I seem to go is for ice cream and there is precious little on what I expect is the high street. There are, though, lots of places to eat; a collection of cafes, the well-respected though relatively new Cheal’s and a bunch of pubs I never remember then name of but are pleasant.  Having exhausted the charity shops, including one that seemed to be selling clothes at full retail value, Mum and I went in search of lunch.  For anyone that ever doubted the legitimacy of A-boards as advertising, let me tell you, it was the one outside Butchers Social that made me realise where we were.  Okay sure I was trying to take a photo of the funny sign about coffee, but it worked and we went in.


    I’d be lying if I told you I had any plans to order from the main menu because it was clearly always going to be about the chicken wings, after all it’s what Butchers Social is famous for, round these parts.  Because my tastebuds beat my sense of reasoning I ordered the soy, ginger and spring onion chicken wings, and of course had to have the salted caramel wings too.  Two portions of wings totalling 1kg is a bit extreme, this was clear madness on my part and why I ended up going home with a doggy bag.  I know everyone bangs on about the salted caramel wings and they were delicious, but I found them kinda sickly after a while – I would totally order them again but with someone who would help me out by sharing the dish, although having them cold the next day was a winner.  The soy, ginger and spring onion chicken wings are probably the best wings I think I’ve ever eaten and I really like fried chicken.  The salty yet slightly sour earthiness of the soy sauce and crispness of the skin was superb.  I am struggling to convey how much I enjoyed those wings, just know they were fantastic.

    My mum had the lobster salad which was on the specials too, and her exact words were “well, this is delightful” which I take to be a very good sign because, for as much as my mum likes salads, I’ve never heard her call one delightful before.  I tried a bit and I can see why.  Lobster rarely appeals to me because it always seems like an unnecessary faff and whilst playing with your food can be fun, if I wanted to work this hard for my dinner I’d bother to cook, but this was indeed delightful, light and not at all messy. Unlike my wings, though thankfully a bowl of wet wipes are provided so you can make a mess safe in the knowledge you’ll be able to clean up after.

    soya_ginger_chicken_wings_butchers_socialA final note about the service, which was attentive and friendly.  I’d totally missed the bit about chicken wings being half-price on Saturdays in January, but we were reminded and this was after I’d ordered myself two portions, so probably good they didn’t tell me before.  That said, they would’ve been a good deal at full price…and certainly enough to lure me back to Henley-in-Arden, which is turns out is only about a half hour train ride away from Birmingham city centre.  Which is nothing, not for wings like these. Go, go now, and take me with you.  Or bring me some wings back.

    And I still got my ice cream.

    Butchers Social, 97 High St, Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire, B95 5AT

    Disclaimer: Food was provided by the venue which my mother paid, in full, for everything because she is awesome. I left a tip, because I try. Also, that lack of apostrophe, I’m just going with what they do.

    Guest Posts, Pub grub, Reviews

    One Trick Pony Club, Moseley

    I love writing the blog, but occasionally I like going for dinner and not having to try and formulate a blogpost in my mind whilst eating.  Recently I was invited down to One Trick Pony Club, Moseley’s latest hot spot, which has replaced O’Neills but remains in the M&B family.  The venue is retro-meets-industrial decor with lots of exposed brickwork and seating booths, with a focus on American diner style food – in particular burgers.  Given that it was burgers there was one person I knew I had to take with me to check out the place, my friend Andrew, who also agreed to write the review this time.  Over to Andrew…IMG_1024.JPG

    We started with a portion of chicken wings in BBQ sauce. The wings had a generous amount of tender meat and the sauce lived up to its name with a clear smokiness in a tomato base providing the right amount of non-sickly sweetness.

    Our Mains had to be burgers. Laura naturally came up with a customised option our server hadnt heard of before. The Wafkin is normally a chicken with smoked bacon and maple syrup in a waffle bun, but Laura went off-menu with the Beef Wafkin. The waffle was a toasted, making it harder than one would want as a bun.IMG_1032.JPG

    I chose the pulled pork & chipotle jam burger, and for the sake of nostalgia I added some pickled onion Monster Munch. The pulled pork was just that – tender pieces of deep pink pork, unlike the pork mush in sauce found in many establishments. The chipotle jam was a disappointing, just as a slightly sweet sticky mesh around the base of the burger. The Monster Munch was a unique combination, but the nature of the product means it lost its crunchy. The dishes were nice overall, but we both found the beef to be a bit dry, more well-done than we would expect.IMG_1027.JPG

    On the side we had fries, in addition to two dipping sauces – a moreish Louisiana Hot Sauce and the rather hot (but not the hottest) Rubys Hot Lips – and a portion of fried pickles. The fries were spot on, the right textures and flavour, especially when teamed up with the Louisiana Hot Sauce. The fried pickles were crunchy strips coated in light Tempura style batter that was not overly greasy. An excellent dish, I think someone will have to remind me I cannot deep fry all my vegetables this year.

    A meal is not complete without a pudding. To make it easier we asked our server to bring us whatever he recommended. Shortly after we were presented with a Chocolate Brownie Sundae and a trio of cookies & ice cream, salted caramel & chocolate cheesecake and a brownie.

    Laura dug right in to the Sundae, the ice-cream was flavoursome and not overly sweet, and Laura enjoyed with brownie cold with a slightly firm texture. This worked out well for me as I enjoyed the soft warm brownie more, crisp on the outer with slightly sticky in texture in the middle without being claggy. The cheesecake had a nice caramel note and perfect for those who want a chocolate cheesecake with a twist, but it was a bit on the rich side. Lastly the cookie and ice cream probably worked better as a separate dish, however it was a bit on the crunchy side for my liking.

    We would both definitely return, but would go for different main meal options; something we can put down to going off-menu rather than the dish itself.

    And there you have it.  I’m looking forward to checking out more burgers at One Trick Pony, and definitely more of those delicious chicken wings!

    Disclosure: Our dinner was complimentary and I’d like to thank the PR lady for recommending the friend chicken – she was absolutely right.  I wasn’t obliged to say anything nice and I didn’t even tell them Andrew was going to be writing the review, so he definitely wasn’t either.  All our views remain honest, although this is massively edited because Andrew likes to talk about food a lot.