Anchorage: Sunday Lunch

March 21, 2015 at 6:14 pm | Posted in Pub Grub, Restaurants | 3 Comments
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I’ve eaten at Anchorage in West One Plaza a few times before and have always enjoyed it, so when I realised they did Sunday dinners too, I knew I had to give them a bash.

Sunday lunch is something I always enjoy, but rarely cook for myself (far too much washing up for my liking) so a city center venue offering Sunday lunch is always something worth getting excited about. I was particularly intrigued by Anchorage’s menu, as it hinted at an American twist on the traditional Sunday roast.

Unfortunately, I had a bit of a mental block and wandered into Anchorage without a reservation on mother’s day. (Just in case you’re wondering, I took my mother out for lunch a few days prior to this, so I didn’t forget about mother’s day completely). Thankfully, I’d been looking forward to my Sunday lunch so much that I’d insisted on getting to Anchorage at 12 o’clock sharp, so we were pretty much the first people there and managed to snag one of the very few tables that weren’t reserved. Phew!

I’ve written about Anchorage before, so I won’t go into detail about the venue here (if you want to read about that, I talk about it my previous Anchorage post). Safe to say it’s a nice place that has some of the Wick at Both Ends‘ quirkiness but with a more polished finish. I feel like you could treat someone to a special meal at Anchorage and it’d go down well  – and judging by all the people celebrating mother’s day there, I’m not the only person who thinks this!

I’d been looking forward to my Sunday lunch all morning, so I didn’t even need to look at the menu – I already knew I’d be ordering the vegetarian Sunday roast. However, my dining companion fancied a starter first, so before I could get my hands on that longed-for Sunday roast, it was time for a glass of white wine and a starter of crispy squid with chipotle mayo (£5.50).

PreviewScreenSnapz001

The batter was light enough that it didn’t overwhelm the squid – always a good thing! The squid was tender and juicy, and the chipotle dip had a tanginess that complimented the squid perfectly. However, the batter did have an unusual, faint flavour that I couldn’t quite put my finger on – and I couldn’t make up my mind whether it was something I liked or not. The jury’s still out on this one!

Then, it was finally time for the Sunday roast I’d been craving.

The menu promised a plateful of nut roast, taters, green beans, squash, lima beans, popovers and veggie gravy (£9.00).

veg Sunday lunch

After some Googling, it became clear that popovers are basically Yorkshire puddings (you learn something everyday). This solved one mystery, but I still wasn’t sure why there were carrots on my plate, when carrots weren’t mentioned on the menu; and the lima beans that had been on the menu, were nowhere to be found.

This wasn’t a big deal for me personally, as given the choice I’d opt for carrots over lima beans anyway, but it would have been nice for the staff to mention this swap when I was placing my order. Who knows, I could have really been looking forward to those lima beans!

Missing lima beans aside, I was really pleased with the size of my roast dinner. For £9.00 this is a big plate of food!

The roast potatoes were fluffy on the inside with a delicious crispy skin, and the Yorkshire pud (or popover, if you prefer) was massive and misshapen – just like all good homemade puds should be.

When it came to the nut roast, I didn’t have high hopes. I love my Sunday dinners, and if you order a vegetarian Sunday dinner then 99% of the time you’re going to end up with a nut roast. It’s just that most of the time, you end up with a dried-out piece of nut roast that tastes like it’s been hanging around the back of the freezer for ages, waiting for the day when someone finally orders a vegetarian roast. Even at its best, to me nut roast just tastes like stuffing – give me an extra helping of roast potatoes or some mash any day!

So I was pleased to discover that Anchorage’s nut roast is actually really good.

This nut roast was far tastier than any stuffing I’ve ever had, and it was perfectly cooked – moist on the inside, with a nicely-roasted exterior. Anchorage were also really generous when it came to portioning out their nut roast, as I got three big patties of the stuff.

I can’t remember ever enjoying a nut roast so much. I even let my meat-loving friend try a forkful of nut roast and they loved the taste, too. Now that’s when you know a nut roast is good!

Anchorage once again nailed the whole vegetarian thing, with their veggie gravy. This kind of gravy can sometimes be a bit thin and anemic-looking, but Anchorage’s was thick and packed with flavour. Good gravy can make everything on a Sunday roast even better, and this gravy certainly did that! The bottom of the Yorkshire pudding/popover was particularly good, as it had been sat soaking in the gravy.

Although we’d originally planned to come to Anchorage for Sunday lunch, my friend opted out of ordering a roast at the last minute, when they spotted a 10oz hanger steak (£14.00) on the menu.

hanger steak

According to the menu, a hanger steak is an unusual cut that butchers traditionally keep for their own table – clearly, butchers have been saving the best for themselves!

hanger steak close up

Anchorage’s hanger steak is an intense and rich cut of meat that’s stronger and far tastier than your average steak. The words “best steak I’ve ever had” were even uttered!

The steak came with a few accompaniments – fries, a rustic slaw that tasted like it was made from celeriac, and a second helping of chipotle mayo. But really, this meal is all about the steak – and Anchorage’s hanger steak was perfection. If you’re the carnivorous sort with a fondness for steak, then you owe it to yourself to try this!

When it comes to Sunday roasts, I really can’t recommend Anchorage enough. They serve big platefuls of pure comfort food that’s seriously filling, and I can see many more Anchorage Sunday dinners in my future. After all, why bother to cook myself a Sunday lunch, when I can just pop to Anchorage and get something this good for £9.00? (And no washing up, either!)

This is easily the best Sunday roast I’ve had in a long time, and the hanger steak looked incredible. I can’t fault Anchorage – and I can’t wait to return!

5-stars

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Sakushi Takeaway

March 17, 2015 at 5:22 pm | Posted in Takeaway | 1 Comment
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It’s safe to say I’m obsessed with sushi, to the point where I’m convinced I could eat it everyday and never get tired of it – although I’d probably go bankrupt in the process.

Sheffield has a couple of Japanese restaurants, but Sakushi is the one I eat at the most. I’ve already written about the dining-in experience at Sakushi’s Campo Lane restaurant, and I reviewed a truly epic Sakushi takeaway I had last year, courtesy of hungryhouse. But, whenever I order anything from Sakushi, it’s always so good that it seems a shame not to write about it. And, since my latest takeaway featured a few items I haven’t tried before, I thought a second review of Sakushi’s takeaway was in order.

I’ve ordered more Sakushi takeaways than I care to count, and the quality has always been every bit as good as the food they serve in their restaurant. Sakushi also put lots of added extras into their takeaway bags, including tonnes of pickled ginger, packets of soy sauce and chopsticks, which is a nice touch. The delivery is always prompt, even when I’ve ordered at peak times like Friday and Saturday nights.

My only complaint about Sakushi’s takeaway, is that occasionally they’ve got an item in my order wrong. This has happened on a couple of occasions (including this order – but more on that later!) and the strange thing is that I always place my takeaway orders online, so it’s not even like they could have misheard me down the phone!

On this particular night, me and a sushi-loving friend decided to order a few things to share. Sakushi’s delivery, as always, was speedy and the takeaway came with lots of added extras, including chopsticks that I can’t use – but it’s the thought that counts, right?

We kicked off our Japanese feast with a few different kinds of sushi that you can order separately from Sakushi’s menu. Our sushi ‘starter’ consisted of spicy tuna gunkan (2 pieces for £3.50) mixed nigiri (3 pieces, £4.00) and steak nigiri (2 pieces for £3.50), plus some surprise shitaki nigiri that neither of us had ordered (normally £2.50 for 2 pieces, according to the menu).

spicy tuna gunkan, steak nigiri, mixed nigir

After checking my email confirmation, it became clear that Sakushi had sent us this mushroom nigiri instead of the squid nigiri we’d ordered. This was annoying, as I’m not a big fan of vegetable-based sushi. To me, the best thing about sushi is the fish and the seafood, so although I do like mushrooms, this shitaki nigiri was never going to go down well.

The shitaki nigiri had a really strong, earthy flavour that I did enjoy, and the mushroom itself didn’t have that wet, slippery texture that cooked mushrooms sometimes have – but I’m still not sold on vegetable sushi. This just isn’t something I’d ever choose to order.

The steak nigiri got a big thumbs up from my friend. The pieces of steak were generous, tender and juicy – basically everything you want from a steak! The meat had also been seasoned well, and sprinkled with fresh spring onions that worked really well with the richness of the steak.

The mixed nigiri gives you the chance to taste three different kinds of nigiri: salmon, prawn and tuna. It’s perfect if you’re feeling indecisive, or if you enjoy trying a few different things.

Of the three, the tuna and salmon were my favourites. Not only were the pieces of fish far bigger and thicker than the prawn nigiri, but they’re also raw, so they have that really strong, distinctive sashimi taste that I love. Next to the raw salmon and tuna, the cooked prawn nigiri just seemed a bit bland and boring.

Still, I love the tuna and salmon nigiri, and I’m a big fan of getting to try a few different things – so for £4.00 I’d definitely order this again.

But, by far the best thing about our sushi ‘starter,’ was the spicy tuna gunkan. This gunkan is a seaweed roll packed with lots of diced raw tuna, and covered in a delicious and unique combination of spices. This is the kind of spice that catches in the back of your throat and makes you cough, but if you can take the heat then it makes for some seriously tasty sushi, and the spices work perfectly with the earthiness of the raw tuna.

I’ve had Sakushi’s spicy tuna gunkan a few times before and have always enjoyed it, so I’d decided to finally branch out and try the other kind of spicy gunkan on Sakushi’s menu – salmon gunkan.

Our second plate of sharing sushi was made up of the spicy sake gunkan (2 pieces, £3.50) that I couldn’t wait to try, plus another helping of spicy tuna gunkan (yep, I’m obsessed with this stuff) and crab gunkan with mayo (2 pieces, £3.50).

spicy tuna gunkan, spicy salmon gunkan, crab meat

The spicy salmon gunkan seemed to have exactly the same mixture of spices as the tuna gunkan. Whatever combination of spices Sakushi use, it’s really hot but also full of flavour. I’m hooked – I just want more of this stuff.

The diced salmon had a much lighter taste than the tuna gunkan. I can’t make up my mind which I prefer. Looks like I’ll just have to order both from now on!

The third and final gunkan was completely different. Sakushi’s crab gunkan has a nice amount of fresh crab meat, but it also has way too much mayo, to the point where it completely overwhelmed the crab. Sorry Sakushi, but this is one gunkan I won’t be ordering again!

Sushi dispatched, it was time for our mains. Since me and my friend are both obsessed with sashimi, we’d ordered two sashimi-based main courses to share.

First up, was a thing of beauty: a Fuji Sashimi platter.

Fuji sashimi platter

This is a whopping 21-piece platter of tuna, salmon, sea bass, ika (squid), tako (boiled octopus), hokkigai (surf clam) and fish roe (£23.85).

Everything on this platter is pretty special, but my personal favourites were the tuna and salmon. This isn’t just because I’m obsessed with the taste of raw salmon and tuna, but also because Sakushi are seriously generous when it comes to how much salmon and tuna they give you. Just look at those wedges!

Fuji sashimi platter 2

These are some seriously thick, juicy cuts of sashimi. I could have eaten 21 pieces of nothing but salmon and tuna sashimi and been perfectly happy.

The cuts of squid, surf clam and sea bass are on the thinner side, but they’re also really light and refreshing, which is a nice contrast to the stronger tastes of the tuna and salmon. My only gripe with this platter is that, next to so much delicious sashimi, the boiled octopus was a bit bland and boring – not unlike the cooked prawn in my mixed nigiri.

If you love sashimi, then Sakushi’s Fuji platter is food heaven. It’s big enough to share, or it makes a truly indulgent treat for one. If 21 pieces of sashimi sounds a bit insane, then it’s worth noting that Sakushi do offer a smaller version of this platter, which includes all the same fish and seafood, but in smaller quantities and without any fish roe (£16.95 for 15 pieces).

For our second main course, I’d ordered one of my all time favourite things from Sakushi: a Chirashi-Don (£13.45).

Chirashi-Don

Sakushi’s Chirashi-Don is a super-sized portion of sticky sushi rice topped with salmon, tuna and squid sashimi, plus lots of colourful fish roe.

The roe gives the Chirashi-Don a really intense, salty flavour and is particularly good mixed into the rice. You also get a good variety of sashimi, although the cuts are a bit on the thin side.

Sashimi on its own is delicious, but it’s not always particularly filling. This is why I love Sakushi’s Chirashi-Don so much – you get to sample some seriously tasty cuts of sashimi, but you also get to stuff your face with a super-sized portion of rice that’s guaranteed to fill you up. I also have a major soft spot for Sakushi’s rice, as it’s always lovely and sticky without being soggy, and it has a subtly vinegary flavour that I’m addicted to. Basically, Sakushi’s Chirashi-Don is pretty much my perfect meal.

While Sakushi’s Campo Lane restaurant is really nice and modern, and has a really fun conveyor belt of sushi, sometimes there’s nothing better than delicious food delivered direct to your door. I’ve always found Sakushi’s takeaway to be every bit as good as the food they serve in their restaurant, and this takeaway was no exception.

Apart from the crab gunkan and mushroom nigiri, everything was delicious and I wouldn’t hesitate to order it again. If you like sashimi, then you need to try the Fuji platter and Chirashi-Don. And, if you have a soft spot for spicy foods, then both the spicy salmon and spicy tuna gunkan should be right up your street.

In fact, the only truly disappointing thing was that Sakushi got one item of my order wrong. If I hadn’t ended up with that mushroom nigiri, this would have been the perfect takeaway.

3 and a half

Ginseng

March 10, 2015 at 7:34 pm | Posted in Restaurants | Leave a comment
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Sometimes, you just want something a bit different from your usual, sit-down-and-order meal out. I’m a big fan of Chinese hot pot restaurants, where you order a pot of stock and then cook your own seafood, meat and veggies by dipping them in the stock – so I can’t believe it took me so long to try Ginseng!

Located in West One Plaza, Ginseng is a Korean BBQ restaurant where you grill your own food. It sounded like a fun night out, so I was excited about my upcoming trip to Ginseng. In fact, I was looking forward to it so much that I downloaded the menu well in advance – and I’m so glad I did!

Ginseng’s menu is a whopping 32 pages long (although that does include lots of photographs) With so much choice, it’s definitely worth taking the time to read the entire menu in advance. The other thing worth knowing about Ginseng, is that it isn’t open all day during the week. From Monday through Thursday, it opens for lunch (12-3pm) and then it’s closed until 5pm.

Inside, Ginseng is bright and modern, and much larger than you’d expect from the outside. Our waitress showed us to an empty table next to one of the eye-catching, super-sized fish tanks that dominate the downstairs dining area, and handed us a copy of that whopping 32 page menu.

sheffield eats gingseng

Obviously, a large part of Ginseng’s menu is dedicated to BBQ food. You can order various platters of meat, seafood or vegetables to BBQ at your table, or you can opt for one of Ginseng’s set dinners, all of which include the option of a BBQ course.

If you’re not in the mood for BBQ, then Ginseng also offers noodle and teriyaki dishes, soups, casseroles, and a selection of “hot stone pots” which look really intriguing.

Basically, this is one of the most impressive menus I’ve ever seen! I can’t imagine anyone struggling to find something they fancy on this mammoth menu.

Since this was my first foray into Korean food, I decided to order one of the set dinners as they seemed to offer a good mix of different Korean delicacies.

I went with set dinner A, which consisted of roasted barley tea, one pickled side dish, soup of the day, boiled rice, a starter, and then either the main course of your choice or a BBQ platter (£14.95).

My friend also opted for a set dinner, but went with the slightly more expensive set dinner B (£19.95). Those few extra pounds bought him one additional pickled side dish, ice cream for dessert, and a wider selection of starters and mains to choose from.

First to arrive was our combined pickled side dishes, plus some dipping sauces.

sheffield eats pickle dishes

The pickles were quickly followed by a pot of roasted barley tea.

sheffield eats roasted barley tea

I’ve never tried roasted barley tea before, but after just a few sips I was hooked. Ginseng’s barley tea was really light and refreshing, with a unique taste. I’m not sure whether the barley tea was unlimited, but our waitress didn’t hesitate to bring us another pot as soon as we’d finished our first, which was an unexpected bonus.

Both our set dinners came with sticky rice, which was the perfect size for a side order.

The soup of the day was seaweed and tofu, which tasted exactly like miso soup. It was strong, salty and delicious. My only complaint is that the portion wasn’t big enough! It was so good, I wanted more.

Next up was our starters. For me, that meant a seafood pancake.

For a starter, this was massive! The pancake had just the right amount of crispiness without being burnt, and was really tasty – although I have to say I didn’t get much seafood in my seafood pancake!

My friend’s starter was something extra special: seasoned sea snails.

sheffield eats sea snails

As you can see, it looked amazing. Apparently, it tasted every bit as good as it looked. This is definitely something I want to try on my next visit.

Now what I’d really come to Ginseng for – the BBQ!

For our first Korean BBQ experience, me and my friend both opted for a platter of marinated squid.

sheffield eats squid

Just so we’re clear, that isn’t a snap of our combined squid – that’s how much we got each!

So, how does this BBQ thing work?

Each table is kitted out with a metal plate, and when it’s time to BBQ the staff remove the plate’s cover and turn the heat on. They then place a grill on top of the plate, brush it with oil, and that’s it – you’re ready to BBQ.

Eating each piece of squid straight off the grill meant it tasted extra fresh, but the best thing about our squid BBQ was the strong, tangy marinade. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was in the marinade – but whatever it was, it was delicious!

The squid was so good, we both polished off our super-sized platters in no time.

The BBQ process does get a bit messy (try as I might, I couldn’t stop bits of burnt squid from sticking to the grill) but Ginseng’s staff kept a close an eye on things. They were always on hand to spread more oil on the grill, and halfway through our BBQ they even swapped our messy grill for a fresh one – without us even having to ask!

My first ever Korean BBQ experience was over, but my friend had one course left to go. The waitress explained he could choose any two flavours of ice cream for pudding. He opted for two of the more unusual-sounding flavours: one scoop of lemongrass, and one scoop of lychee.

sheffield eats ice cream

Ginseng’s ice cream was more like a sorbet, but that made it the perfect, light and refreshing way to end to such a big meal.

So, that was was my first taste of Korean BBQ – and I loved every minute of it! Cooking our own food was lots of fun, and made the meal feel more like an experience, rather than just popping out for a bite to eat. All of the food was delicious, the menu is huge, and the set dinners offer amazing value for money.

I can’t wait to go back!

5-stars

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