Bill’s brunch

August 16, 2015 at 3:37 pm | Posted in Restaurants | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Who doesn’t love brunch? After a full working week where breakfast never gets more exciting than a bowl of cereal and a hastily-gulped cup of tea, it’s nice to finally dedicate some real time to the first meal of the day.

The only downside? You have to get up early(ish) on your day off, to make sure you don’t miss out on brunch completely. Last weekend, I made sure I was up and in town at a reasonable hour, just so I could sample the breakfast menu at the recently-opened Bill’s restaurant at St Paul’s Place.

When I first looked at their website, I’d been surprised by the sheer number of Bill’s restaurants there are in cities all over the country. Somehow, I’d managed to avoid Bill’s completely, to the point where the Sheffield restaurant was the first time I’d even heard of them, so I was interested to find out what makes Bill’s so popular!

Bill’s Sheffield restaurant is smart, shiny and clearly brand spanking new, with a few characterful flourishes in the form of exposed metal pipes and walls lined with assorted bottles and jars. This is a massive venue with a pristine finish, but these quirky touches prevent it from feeling sterile.

By the time I’d dragged myself out of bed and into town, Bill’s had already been open for a few hours. Despite this, it was still on the quiet side when we arrived. The fact that the staff outnumbered the customers (at least initially) had its benefits, and its downsides. While we did enjoy lightning-fast service, we also had at least three waitresses popping by our table to ask whether our food was okay, did we want to order anything else, how were we for drinks….and so on.

Although the staff were very polite and friendly, the service was on the verge of becoming overbearing. Thankfully, Bill’s did start to fill up shortly after we arrived, so the staff had more customers to keep them occupied and we could enjoy the last part of our brunch in peace.

Onto the food and drink, and breakfast just isn’t breakfast without caffeine, so we kicked things off with a round of tea and coffee.

I went for a pot of tea and was offered a choice of English Breakfast, Earl Grey or Rooibos (£2.10). My tea arrived very nicely presented in a quaint tin teapot that contained enough tea to refill my cup four times – bargain!

My brunch buddy opted for an Americano (£2.00) plus the mysterious-sounding Bill’s Green Smoothie (£3.35).

11831821_611220919031_2322751076044411090_n

Although green smoothies immediately make me think of health drinks made from things like raw kale and spinach, Bill’s green smoothie tastes fruitier than your typical health drink. Whatever’s in this stuff, it doesn’t taste as sugary as plain fruit juices such as orange or apple juice, but it still has a distinctly fruity tang. Bill’s green smoothie is the perfect light and refreshing fruit smoothie to have before breakfast.

Bill’s breakfast menu is pretty big and features the usual cooked breakfasts, things-on-toast, and healthier options like granola and porridge, or you can treat yourself to eggs Benedict, Royale or Florentine.

On this particular day there was only thing on my mind: Bill’s blueberry and buttermilk pancakes with banana, strawberries and maple syrup (£5.95).

These pancakes sound incredible on the menu, so I was expecting great things – but when they arrived they were even better than I’d been expecting. Just look at them!

11822279_10153176824648802_9188384020168561257_n

Bill’s pancakes are nice and thick, and the generous helping of strawberries, blueberries and sliced bananas add a burst of juicy freshness that prevents the pancakes from feeling stodgy and heavy going. The banana slices in particular were delicious, and had gained a sweet stickiness from the accompanying maple syrup.

My only complaint is that Bill’s were a bit tight with the maple syrup, and they didn’t provide a jug of additional syrup so I could rectify the situation. This was a shame as a few extra glugs of syrup and these pancakes would have been sweet, comfort food perfection. They were still good, but halfway through I did begin to really notice the dryness and doughiness of the pancakes – at this point I’d have normally added more syrup to break up the taste, and continued eating. Instead, the taste of plain pancakes got a bit too much and I decided to call it a day.

My brunch buddy had also been tempted by just how amazing Bill’s pancakes sound on the menu, but they’d chosen to add some bacon to their pancakes (an extra £1.50).

11836804_611220938991_4475103841445019322_n

They raved about how well the sweet pancakes and maple syrup went with the saltiness and smokiness of the bacon – although they agreed that Bill’s had been a bit mean with the maple syrup.

Impressively, they managed to polish off all their pancakes and bacon, whereas I was completely defeated by my third and final pancake. This is a lot of stodgy food, especially so early in the morning. In fact, by the time I’d walked home all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed and take a nap (I resisted, but it wasn’t easy!)

I also ended up skipping lunch because I was still too full to contemplate eating anything. I usually live by three meals a day, so skipping a meal isn’t something I do lightly – but Bill’s breakfast pancakes kept me full until tea time.

If you want to give breakfast the time and attention it deserves, then Bill’s is a great place to do so. It’s a lovely venue with a varied breakfast menu, and if you love pancakes then you need to sample Bill’s take on this breakfast treat.

In short, Bill’s serve a breakfast that’s worth getting out of bed early for – even on your day off!

Three and a half stars

Advertisements

The Great Gatsby

August 11, 2015 at 3:51 pm | Posted in Restaurants | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Great Gatsby may not be the first place that springs to mind when you have a street food craving, but this is exactly the kind of food the Gatsby serve at their ‘Shy Boy cantina.’

If you haven’t visited the Great Gatsby in a while, you may have missed their recent makeover. This Division Street venue is now all shiny copper surfaces and contrasting blue walls. It’s a quirky look, and one that suits the Gatsby down to a T.

Great Gatsby

When it comes to food, the Great Gatsby keep things simple with a concise menu that’s split into four sections: burritos, tacos, large plates, and small plates, which are perfect for a snack or as a side to have alongside your main. And, if you have room for dessert the Great Gatsby also serve several flavours of Yee Kwan ice cream.

The Great Gatsby’s menu is on the smaller side (particularly compared to the mammoth menu on offer at fellow Sheffield cantina Revolucion De Cuba), but all the Mexican street food classics are present and accounted for, and there’s a good variety of vegetarian food too.

Case in point, my veggie chilli burrito (£7.50).

Great Gatsby veg burrito

This massive burrito is stuffed with so much good stuff, that it’s actually a challenge to try and eat it without the sauce and veggie filling dripping onto your plate. After a few awkward bites I had to resort to cutting my burrito into more manageable chunks, just to make it less messy to eat.

This is a mammoth portion of food that’s well worth the £7.50 price tag.

Great Gatsby stuff all their burritos with red rice, black beans, cheese, guacamole and sour cream, plus your choice of veggies or chicken, beef or pork. My veggie filling consisted of tomatoes, onions and peppers, which added a refreshing edge to the stodgy, comfort food flavours of the cheese, rice and thick sour cream.

My only niggle is that the Great Gatsby’s burritos aren’t particularly spicy. My veg burrito did come with a green chilli dip that had a hum of heat to it (not to mention a really unique sour note) but even after dunking my burrito into this sauce I still didn’t get that fiery kick I’d been craving.

Thankfully, if you’re like me and prefer your spicy food to verge on the side of painful, then Gatsby do provide a good selection of additional condiments that you can use to give your burrito that extra kick.

Despite the spice being on the milder side, the Gatsby’s veg burrito is a jumbo portion of pure comfort food that left me completely stuffed and very, very happy.  

Also arriving at our table was something a little bit different; courgette and quinoa fritters (£5) from the ‘Small plates’ section of Great Gatsby’s menu.

Great Gatsby courgette and quinoa fritters

These fritters reminded me of the black bean bombers that cropped up on a previous incarnation of the Gatsby’s menu, and they’re every bit as good.

Beneath their crispy coating, these fritters have a light and crumbly texture that’s clearly quinoa-based. Their unusual texture makes these tasty, savoury bites well worth trying – particularly if you have a soft spot for quinoa.

The final meal arriving at our table was a plate of wild mushroom quesadillas (£7.50).

Great Gatsby wild mushroom quesadillas

These quesadillas looked incredible to start with, but when my friend cut into them they somehow managed to look even better.

Great Gatsby close up quesadillas

The tortillas themselves were light and fluffy, and the filling was a delicious mix of wilted spinach and perfectly seasoned mushrooms, with just enough melted cheese to give this light filling a feel of creaminess and indulgence.

If you’re not feeling hungry enough for one of Gatsby’s super-sized burritos, then these quesadillas deliver all those quintessential Mexican street food flavours without making you feel like you need to have a lie down after you’ve finished eating.

I loved everything about our Mexican street food lunch, and if you have a soft spot for this sort of cuisine then the Great Gatsby should be high on your list of places to check out.

Even though the venue may not scream Mexican street food, don’t let that fool you – the Great Gatsby really do make a mean burrito!

3 and a half

Fanoush

August 1, 2015 at 8:49 pm | Posted in Takeaway | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Fanoush is one of those places I went to once, enjoyed, vowed to go back to soon…..and then just never got around to it.

Fast-forward two years (seriously, how did that happen?!) and I was browsing the World Wide Web for some takeaway inspiration when I noticed that at some point during the last few years, Fanoush has started doing home deliveries. Instantly, I vowed to forgo my usual greasy Chinese takeout in favour of a healthy Fanoush falafel wrap.

If you’re not familiar with Fanoush, then it’s a vegetarian falafel salad bar that you can find both on London Road and in the city center on Pinstone street. The menu is deceptively simple, offering a choice of salad boxes or a falafel, halloumi or feta wrap – and that’s it.

Okay, so this may sound like the most boring takeaway on the face of the Earth, but things get much more exciting once you’ve chosen your wrap, as you then get to choose exactly what combination of sauce, veggies, pickles and other assorted bits and pieces you want to add to said wrap. And to sweeten the deal, most of these extras won’t cost you a penny! Even if you do opt for one of the very few items with a price tag attached, these will only set you back 50p, or 75p at the most.

The one time I actually visited Fanoush in person, I loved the experience of working my way down their salad bar, pointing out exactly what I wanted adding to my wrap. Since I was ordering online, I was unsure whether I’d get the same level of choice, but Fanoush do a really good job of replicating their in-store experience.

When you place an order online, the first step is choosing what kind of wrap you want (I opted for falafel and houmous, £3.75), followed by the size of your wrap (I went for 10 inches, but if you’re feeling more restrained you can go with 6 inches), the type of houmous (Jalapeno houmous) and sauce (chilli sauce).

Then comes the fun part: choosing all the added extras!

After much deliberation I went with cucumber, gherkin pickle, mixed peppers, onions and tomato, with halloumi (75p) and aubergine (50p).

Ordering takeaway from somewhere new always feels like a bit of a gamble. Are they going to deliver on time? What if they get lost and can’t find my house?

Turns out the driver did get a bit lost, but even though I had to give him directions over the phone for the last leg of the journey, he still managed to deliver the food on time, so Fanoush are certainly prompt with their delivery!

When I took my falafel wrap out of the bag, first impressions were good as it felt pretty heavy, but only when I cut my wrap in half and took a peek inside did I realise just how much good stuff Fanoush had crammed into my sarnie.

fanoush falafel chilli

There’s lots going on here, but since Fanoush bills itself as a falafel bar, I’ll start with the falafel.

Falafel is one of those things that’s deceptively simple, but can actually go really wrong. There’s nothing worse than crunchy, over-cooked falafel – except perhaps wet falafel, or greasy falafel that’s been cooked in too much oil. Blergh! But I’m happy to report that this falafel bar got their falafel just right.

All the veggies I’d added to my wrap were fresh and crunchy and the halloumi had a nice texture, although I do prefer my halloumi on the stronger, saltier side. Fanoush’s milder halloumi ended up getting a bit lost amongst all the other flavours that were going on in my wrap.

And speaking of the other flavours – wow! The dual heat from the chilli sauce and jalapeno houmous was intense. I love spicy foods and have built up quite a tolerance over the years, but this combination of chilli sauce and jalapeno houmous had me breaking out in a sweat. The chilli sauce in particular had me reaching for a big gulp of water inbetween each bite – and I loved every minute of it.

If you love your spice, then give Fanoush’s chilli sauce and jalapeno houmous a whirl. It’s guaranteed to satisfy even the most hardened chilli enthusiast.

And the big bold flavours just kept on coming, as Fanouh’s pickled gherkin turned out to be incredibly, eye-wateringly sour. Who said healthy vegetarian takeaway had to be boring? My Fanoush creation was bursting with flavour, thanks to those super-sour pickles and punishing chilli sauce.

I wasn’t dining alone, as my friend had ordered Fanoush too. They’d opted for an equally super-sized 10 inch falafel wrap, with halloumi and coriander houmous (£5.00) plus tzatziki sauce and an assortment of veggies (onions, red cabbage and olives) and pickles (jalapeno and gherkin pickle).

fanoush falafel tzatziki

The houmous and falafel were every bit as good as in the first wrap, and all the veggies were fresh and crunchy. The only sticking point was that hardly any of the requested tzatziki sauce had found its way into the wrap, which meant the whole thing was a bit on the dry side.

The lack of sauce was really strange considering how the first wrap was practically dripping with chilli sauce. Maybe on this particular day Fanoush were just running low on tzatziki? This wrap was still very tasty and filling, I just wish they’d been a bit more generous with the sauce.

Since I’d waited so long before repeating my one and only Fanoush experience, I hadn’t been too sure what to expect. Would their falafel be as good as I remembered?

Fanoush didn’t disappoint. Although the menu is simple, the freedom to pick and choose every ingredient that goes into your wrap more than makes up for that initial lack of choice.

And there’s another major plus to getting your Friday night takeaway fix from Fanoush – it’s just so cheap! Fanoush’s wraps start at a very reasonable £3, which is less than you’d pay for some pre-packaged sarnies.

In the end a pair of 10 inch, freshly-made wraps with our choice of sauce, houmous, veggies and pickles came in at exactly £10 – and Fanoush didn’t even charge for delivery! I’ve ordered a fair few takeaways in my time, and Fanoush’s takeaway is incredible value for money.

If you want a takeout treat without the guilt, then I can highly recommend some Fanoush falafel action.

four-stars

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.