Tapas Revolution

April 13, 2016 at 5:23 pm | Posted in Restaurants | Leave a comment
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Hands up if you remember the La Tasca that used to be in Meadowhall? I spent many a happy afternoon there back in the day, using their legendary ‘Tapas for a Tenner’ offer as an excuse to eat as much patatas bravas as I could get my hands on, washed down with a few cheeky glasses of sangria.

So when I got an invite to check out the new Tapas Revolution restaurant that’s just opened in Meadowhall’s food court, it made me feel pretty nostalgic and excited to relive my Meadowhall-and-tapas years.

Now I’m not much of a Meadowhall fan – I wouldn’t even hazard a guess when I last paid a visit to everyone’s favourite Sheffield shopping centre, but the food court isn’t how I remembered it at all. My memories of the Oasis are all plastic McDonald’s trays and jacket potatoes in squeaky styrofoam containers, so I was surprised to see so many new restaurants in the Oasis, including a few I’d have been tempted to pop into if we didn’t already have a table booked at Tapas Revolution.

After wandering around for a bit, we discovered Tapas Revolution on the second floor of the Oasis. It’s a nice, modern looking eatery with an enclosed seating area that makes it feel separate from the rest of the food court, so it has more of a ‘restaurant’ vibe.

Despite the fact that we were visiting Tapas Revolution during their opening week and at an odd time (2.30pm on a Monday afternoon, to be exact) there were quite a few people eating there, which is always a good sign.

Taking a look at the drinks menu, I saw that Tapas Revolution offer the usual vino, cider and sparkling wine – plus, what would any self-respecting tapas restaurant be without sangria? Tapas Revolution also serve a very tempting-sounding homemade saffron lemonade that you can order with your choice of gin or vodka, which sounds like the perfect thirst-quencher if you’ve had a particularly tough day of shopping.

In the end, we went with a bottle of house white wine at £15.95, which is pretty reasonable considering you’re always going to pay a premium for food and drink in Meadowhall.

But our Tapas Revolution trip wasn’t just an excuse to drink at lunchtime (although that was an added bonus) we were here to try some tapas as well! There’s really only one way to enjoy tapas: order a bunch of dishes and then share them between the table, so that’s exactly what we did.

I barely had the chance to tuck into my pre-tapas nibbles of bread and alioli dip (£1.95) before the tapas started to arrive. First up was something that no Spanish feast should be without: patatas bravas (£3.95).

patatas bravas

Patatas bravas is my favourite tapas so I was really looking forward to this one, and Tapas Revolution didn’t disappoint. The potatoes were on the al dente side, which gave them some nice added crispiness and bite, served in a rich and fiery tomato sauce topped with lashings of cooling aioli.

I feel like patatas bravas is the thing everyone orders when they go out for tapas, but sometimes patas bravas can be a bit boring, to the point where it’s really just potato wedges served in a terracotta dish. This definitely wasn’t the case here, as Tapas Revolution served up the best patatas bravas I’ve eaten in ages. I’ll definitely be ordering this again!

The second tapas to make its way to our table was gambas al ajillo (£6.50), aka juicy tiger prawns dressed in garlic and chilli oil.

gambas al ajillo

The oil was very light but packed with flavour. I was glad I hadn’t had the chance to finish off my pre-tapas bread, as it was just the thing for polishing off every last drop of this delicious chilli and garlic oil.

Continuing the seafood theme, next up was some very exotic-sounding Buñuelos de marisco (£4.75) also known as prawn, cod, mussel and potato fritters.

bunuelos de marisco

Tapas Revolution didn’t skimp on the seafood, which was a pleasant surprise considering things like potato are sometimes used as a cheaper, filler ingredient. Although I loved the strong seafood taste, I wasn’t overly keen on the texture so out of everything this is the one thing I probably wouldn’t order again.

Things quickly got back on track with another tapas from the ‘Seafood’ section of the menu, this time a portion of steamed octopus with potatoes and pimentón paprika (Pulpo a la Gallega, £6.95).

pulpo a la gallega

The potato and octopus were covered in that light, flavour-packed oil that Tapas Revolution do so well, but this time with the addition of lots of smoky paprika.

Like the patatas bravas, the potatoes were on the al dente side, but the best thing about this dish was the steamed octopus which was served complete with skin and suckers. While this might be a little unnerving for some, it did give the octopus a unique texture and consistency, not to mention a much stronger taste, which I loved. This is a must-try if you’re a seafood fan who isn’t squeamish about the thought of eating octopus that still looks like octopus.

We did order some meat inbetween all the seafood, in the form of Chorizo a la sidra (£5.50).

chorizo a la sidra

This is spicy sausage roasted in cider – doesn’t that just sound like the perfect winter warmer? I don’t eat meat, but my dining companion confirmed that both the chorizo and the cider sauce were seriously spicy, so this isn’t food for the faint-hearted.

We finished things off with some lightly-battered, peppery calamari (£5.50).

calamares fritos

For tapas, this is a large portion that’s perfect for sharing. The calamari came with a lemon wedge plus another helping of Tapas Revolution’s creamy aioli sauce. These were the perfect accompaniments, and there was more than enough calamari to put both the lemon and sauce to good use.

But the feast didn’t end just because we’d polished off the final helping of tapas. Throughout the meal, I’d been eyeing up the second part of the Tapas Revolution experience: a takeaway churro bar on the other side of the food court.

This is a genius idea, as not every Meadowhall shopper is going to be in the mood for a sit-down tapas feast, but surely a cone full of churros and chocolate dipping sauce is something everyone can enjoy?

So after we’d eaten all the tapas and drunk all the wine, we nipped across the walkway to grab a cheeky portion of churros and sauce. I’d completely demolished mine before I’d even made it out of the food court!

churro

These churros were grease-free and crunchy on the outside, but light and fluffy on the inside – just as all good churros should be! The accompanying chocolate sauce had a lovely, silky texture and actually tasted like freshly-melted milk chocolate, rather than heated up chocolate spread or sauce from a packet (yuck!)

If you’ve had a hard day of shopping and fancy a sweet treat, then definitely stop by Tapas Revolution’s churro bar. It’s quick, tasty and something a little bit different from the donuts and super-sized cookies every other vendor seems to be selling in Meadowhall.

And if you’re in the mood for something a bit more substantial, then Tapas Revolution serve up some pretty tasty tapas, including the best patatas bravas I’ve ever eaten and delicious (if a little frightening) steamed octopus.

The only downside for someone who isn’t really a big Meadowhall fan is that I wish Tapas Revolution were based in the city center, so I didn’t have to catch the train for my tapas/churro fix!

four-stars

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Marco’s

March 3, 2016 at 7:00 pm | Posted in Restaurants | Leave a comment
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A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to get an invite to try the new menu at Marco Pierre White’s Sheffield restaurant.

Marco’s West Bar Green location looks pretty random on the map, but it makes perfect sense once you realise that it’s next door to Sheffield’s Hampton by Hilton hotel. Marco’s definitely feels like the kind of place where you’d treat yourself to a nice cocktail or an evening meal if you were visiting our city on an overnight trip, especially since Marco’s is pretty much built into the Hilton – it doesn’t get anymore convenient than that!

This was my first visit to any Marco’s restaurant and after browsing their website I’d been anticipating a ‘nice restaurant’ vibe. But Marco’s turned out to be even nicer than I was expecting, to the point where I was actually glad I’d booked in for lunch, because if I’d visited in the evening I’d have felt a bit underdressed.

The glossy interior, immaculately laid-out tables, smartly-dressed staff and light piano music tinkling away in the background all come together to create a very suave and sophisticated atmosphere, which would make this the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion. 
Marco's interior

Marco’s new menu is a pretty decent size, with the standard ‘Main courses’ section plus separate sections for steaks, pizzas, pasta and salads. The food is on the pricier side, but when you’re sat in such nice surroundings, spotting a £30 steak on the menu doesn’t come as a shock.

For my starter, I opted for the calamari with spring onions and chilli (£7.50).

marco's calamari

This starter is a nicely-sized portion of juicy squid in a lovely light batter. I particularly liked the sprinkling of spring onions and chilli, which gave this starter a burst of freshness and heat that made this much tastier than your typical calamari.

My dining companion went for the New York buffalo wings with blue cheese dip (£7.50).

marco's buffalo wings

The buffalo wings were tasty and not in the least bit greasy, but the best part of this starter was the accompanying blue cheese dip, which was insanely strong. If you love your blue cheese, then you need to try Marco’s blue cheese dip – you won’t be disappointed!

Onto the mains and I couldn’t resist the incredible-sounding yellow fin tuna steak alla Sicilian, which came with lemon, black olives, spinach, capers and fresh coriander (£18.25).

marco's tuna

Just looking at this photo is making me crave this tuna steak all over again – no mean feat, considering it’s currently 7.30am!

Marco’s tuna steak is pretty much happiness on a plate. It was lightly cooked so the insides were pink and juicy, and all-around melt-in-the-mouth perfection. This tuna is served with seriously sweet, juicy tomatoes and moreish creamed spinach (who knew spinach could ever be described as moreish?)

My only gripe is that the tuna also comes with capers, and although the capers do add an extra vinegary dimension to the dish, this just didn’t work for me as I hate capers.

But capers aside, this tuna steak is incredible and I can’t recommend it enough to anyone who loves fish in general, or tuna in particular. My only problem is that after eating tuna this good, my home-cooked tuna steak (which I’d previously been pretty proud of) tastes like the most boring thing imaginable. So, cheers for ruining that for me, Marco’s!

My buddy went for the Hickory smoked baby back ribs, which come on a bed of fries with a crunchy, tangy Russian coleslaw (£17.25).

It looked downright terrifying.

marco's ribs

The plate itself was enormous – and the rack of ribs was still hanging off the sides! My friend said this was the only plate of food that had ever scared them, and it’s easy to see why.

Even after they’d gnawed their way through this super-sized portion of delicious smoky ribs, they still had to contend with an equally ridiculous amount of fries. Despite being described on the menu as a ‘bed’ of chips, this was more like a meal in itself.

Only order Marco’s ribs if you have a serious appetite, because this is a truly daunting amount of food.

So what do you do after tackling a mountain of ribs and chips? Order hot Italian donuts with chocolate sauce (£5.75), of course!

marco's donuts

These donuts were fresh and tasty, although a tad doughy in the middle. The accompanying chocolate dipping sauce was perfect though, rich, dark and silky – basically everything you could ever want from chocolate sauce.

After initially telling the waitress that I didn’t have any room for pudding, she somehow managed to twist my arm into ordering the Sicilian lemon sorbet with frozen limoncello (£5.95) by promising me a light and refreshing dessert.

And she was absolutely right, as the lemon sorbet delivered exactly the blend of icy, citrusy goodness I needed after so much rich and filling food.

marco's lemon sorbet

The sorbet itself was eye-wateringly sour (yum!) and soaked in lots and lots of limoncello, so this was basically a dessert and an after-dinner cocktail rolled into one. And really, who doesn’t want that?

The whole thing was topped off with a few curls of sweet-and-sour candied lemon that added a nice bit of crunch to this otherwise smooth dessert.

Despite being light and refreshing, this lemon sorbet was packed with flavour, and I’m so glad the waitress recommended it to me – especially since this isn’t something I’d normally order.

And so concluded our experience of Marco’s new menu.

Despite putting away a whopping 6 courses between us (!) we left Marco’s with very little to nit-pick about. The only thing I wouldn’t order again was the calamari, because although it was good it wasn’t quite as good as the tuna steak and sorbet. And “I liked the starter, but I liked the main and dessert so much more” isn’t much of a criticism!

True, Marco’s is a bit more expensive than your typical restaurant so it’s not the kind of place I’d eat at every week, but the quality of the food and general loveliness of the surroundings means that it feels well worth those extra few pounds.

If you have a special occasion coming up, or you just feel like you deserve a treat then I can highly recommend a trip to Marco’s Sheffield.
four stars

Boxed Brownies

December 30, 2015 at 2:55 pm | Posted in Made Locally | Leave a comment

Due to Christmas and general life-related craziness, this review is long overdue, so apologies to Boxed Brownies for just how long it’s taken me to turn my scribbled notes into a legible blog post.

I was recently lucky enough to receive a package of goodies from Boxed Brownies, a Sheffield-based duo who not only make delicious brownies, but have that kind of special, homemade vibe you only get from local and independent businesses.  

Just flicking through their website left me with a smile on my face, as I read about Clive and Hayley baking batches of brownies in their cottage kitchen and then heading out to sell them from their renovated vintage horse box, not to mention their tales of the time Clive almost made it through to the Great British Bake Off.

Just to top it off, the website also reveals that all the eggs used in Boxed Brownies come from Clive and Hayley’s free range chickens, who go by the names of Tilly-the-Hen, Jessica Hennis (haha!) Rocky Rhode and Cabbage. A big part of shopping locally is knowing where your food comes from, but knowing the names of the chickens who laid the eggs definitely takes this to a whole new level!

But are their brownies any good? Well, shortly before Christmas I had the chance to find out, as on a dark, rainy night Clive hand-delivered a box of homemade brownies direct to my door.

The package was beautifully presented, wrapped in brown paper, tied up with string and sealed with a “Proudly made in Sheffield” sticker. Inside were 6 brownies, wrapped in greaseproof paper that was printed with lots of different words relating to Sheffield, and sealed with another “Proudly made in Sheffield” sticker. I don’t think I’ve ever raved about cardboard and greaseproof paper before, but this whole box was so beautifully presented, I just had to take a photo of it.  

boxed brownies sheffield eats

At this point, I realised we had a big problem. Since the package had been delivered at night, the lighting was all wrong for taking photos. I spent a good 10 minutes running around the house with my box of brownies and camera phone, but eventually I had to admit defeat: I was going to have to wait until tomorrow so I could take photos in natural light. Which meant no brownie supper for me. Disaster.

Fast forward to the next day, and as soon as I got home from work I made myself a brew and got settled on the sofa for some serious brownie-eating action.

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All 6 flavours looked delicious, so I decided to kick things off with the one I didn’t think think I’d be so keen on (the stollen) and then work my way up from there. It wasn’t that the stollen didn’t look good, because it did, I’m just not that crazy about stollen in general. So I was pretty surprised to find that I loved Boxed Brownie’s take on this festive favourite.

stollen sheffield eats.jpeg

Boxed Brownie’s stollen was packed full of juicy raisins and big chunks of sweet and zesty candied lemon, which also gave the stollen a satisfying crunch. My only niggle is that the stollen was a bit on the dry side on its own – but it was perfect with a cup of tea.

all the brownies sheffield eats.jpeg

Boxed Brownies were off to a strong start by making me fall in love with something I didn’t think I even liked, so now I was really looking forward to the other 5 flavours. Next up, was cranberry and pistachio.

cranberry brownie sheffield eats.jpeg

This was my first taste of the dense, rich dark chocolate brownie that seems to form the base of most of Boxed Brownie’s culinary creations. The crunchy pistachios contrasted nicely with the velvety texture of the brownie, and the cranberries added a burst of tartness to this otherwise incredibly rich chocolate treat. Another hit!

Next up was the cardamom and ginger brownie.

ginger brownie sheffield eats.jpeg

The crystallised ginger gave this brownie a unique sandy texture, and although the ginger wasn’t particularly strong it did add a nice background hum of warmth to this very seasonal brownie.

And speaking of seasonal treats, it doesn’t get more autumnal than Boxed Brownie’s bonfire toffee and marshmallow creation. This brownie caught my eye the second I opened the box – I mean, just look at it!

toffee brownie sheffield eats.jpeg

Basically, I love everything about this brownie. The marshmallows genuinely do taste toasted, which just screams fireworks, sparklers, candied apples and all that autumn/winter goodness. This was easily my favourite brownie of the bunch.

After polishing off the wonderful bonfire toffee brownie, it was time to move onto the amaretto and rosemary flavoured brownie.

rosemary brownie sheffield eats.jpeg

This was a much less chocolatey brownie, and the rosemary gave it a subtle savoury taste. After so many rich chocolate brownies this was a very welcome change.

Finally, it was time to tuck into what I anticipated would be my favourite of them all: the salted caramel.

salted caramel brownie sheffield eats.jpeg

I love anything salted caramel flavoured, and Boxed Brownie’s salted caramel brownie didn’t disappoint. It was visibly sticky and incredibly moreish, so even though I was full from scoffing the previous 5 brownies, the salted caramel vanished in no time. It was just too good to put down!

And so concluded my Boxed Brownies feast. I loved everything in the box, including the stollen (to my surprise), but what really sealed the deal was Boxed Brownie’s attention to detail, right down to the Sheffield-themed greaseproof paper they wrap their brownies in. This would make a lovely present for a foodie friend, or anyone who loves goodies from boutique, independent companies.

You can order your own box of 6 brownies for £15 from the Boxed Brownies website. If you do decide to treat yourself, I’d definitely go for the mixed box so you can try lots of different flavours at once.

four-stars

Sakushi lunch

September 21, 2015 at 4:26 pm | Posted in Restaurants | Leave a comment
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I feel like maybe I should just go ahead and create a dedicated ‘Sushi’ section on this blog, considering how often I post about sushi in general, and Sakushi in particular.

Just in case it isn’t already blatantly obvious, Sakushi is one of my favourite places to eat in the whole of Sheffield. This Campo Lane restaurant serves fantastic sushi, sashimi and other Japanese treats, is conveniently located in the city center, and has a conveyer belt of sushi. All of these things make it the perfect place to grab a speedy lunch during the working week.

But when I visited Sakushi last week it wasn’t to grab a quick bite during my lunch break, it was for a long and lazy lunch with friends (i.e the good kind of lunch). We ended up ordering a mixture of different sushi, sashimi and cooked food and then just shared everything, so I got to try a few things I’d never ordered from Sakushi before.

I even tried a new drink!

jasmine tea

Sakushi’s jasmine tea is very light and refreshing, and is served in a very traditional-looking teapot with matching tea bowls. Sipping fragrant herbal tea out of a Japanese tea bowl just felt more fun and authentic, as opposed to the glass of vino or pint of cola I usually wash my sushi down with. I’ll definitely be taking my Sakushi sushi with a bowl of jasmine tea from now on!

Sakushi’s menu features the disclaimer that your food will come out as and when it’s ready, rather than as the defined starters, mains and sides you’d normally expect in a restaurant. Due to this policy, our dining experience was a bit random so I’m just going to run through the food as it came out of the kitchen. 

First up was the miso soup.

miso soup

Sakushi’s miso soup (£2.50) has a strong, salty, almost stock-like flavour and contains a decent amount of seaweed and spring onions, as well as a few teeny weeny cubes of tofu.

Although the bowl was a bit on the small side, Sakushi do offer unlimited refills so if you’re left craving more miso, all you need to do is ask for a refill. Considering this soup only costs £2.50, this is good value for money.

Although I did get to try lots of new things from Sakushi’s menu, a few old favourites did make an appearance, because I don’t think I can physically set foot in Sakushi anymore without ordering a Chirashi-Don (£13.45).

chirashi don

Sakushi’s chirashi-don is a big bowl of sushi rice topped with slices of sashimi and colourful fish roe. It’s my favourite thing to order from Sakushi, as I love sashimi but feel like slices of raw fish just isn’t a filling meal. I love how the chirashi-don combines sashimi with a massive portion of sticky, filling sushi rice.

I’ve eaten more chirashi-dons than I care to count and have never been disappointed, and this chirashi-don was no different. I particularly loved the raw salmon, which had a really buttery, melt-in-the-mouth consistency I hadn’t encountered with raw salmon before.

Another dish I’ve enjoyed many times before, is the Sakura Sashimi platter (£16.95 for 16 pieces). This is a platter of tuna, salmon, seabass, ika/squid, tako/octopus and hokkigai/surf clam sashimi.

sashimi platter

Since we were going all out, we ordered two sashimi platters to share. Both platters looked incredible.

sashimi platter 2

I love the thick wedges of salmon and tuna that come with this platter, although I’m not a massive fan of the tako, as I always find boiled octopus chewy and bland. But even with the boiled octopus, this makes a great sharing platter for a group of people, or a seriously indulgent meal for one.

Of course, no trip to Sakushi would be complete without sushi – lots and lots of sushi!

Sakushi serve their sushi as small plates containing two pieces of your chosen sushi, which range in price from £2.00 to £4.00. You can either order sushi from the menu, or if you like the look of something on the conveyor belt, you can just grab it as it sails past your table.

The first sushi plate of the afternoon was some Spicy Tuna Gunkan (£4.00).

spicy tuna gunkan

This gunkan consists of diced sashimi generously flavoured with shichimi. According to Google shichimi is a traditional Japanese spice mix made from 7 ingredients, which explains why the tuna gunkan has such a complex heat.

Shichimi is a hot spice, but it isn’t just hot for the sake of inflicting pain, it also adds a unique flavour and depth to the tuna gunkan (while also inflicting a little pain). The earthiness of the tuna and the deep, dark and satisfying heat of the shichimi is a winning combination.

Shichimi also makes an appearance in the Spicy Sake Gunkan (£3.00).

spicy salmon gunkan

This gunkan is made from raw salmon rather than tuna, and the lighter, brighter flavour of the raw salmon works with the shichimi spices in a completely different, but still very tasty way.

The third and final gunkan of the afternoon was Fresh Crab Gunkan (£3.00).

fresh crab gunkan

This gunkan is completely different to the shichimi-spiked salmon and tuna, as it’s made from light, fresh shredded crab meat and cooling mayo. While mayo may not be the most traditional sushi ingredient, it does add a creaminess that works really well with the fresh crab.

Also winging its way to our table was some Unagi Nigiri (£4.00).

unagi nigiri

This grilled eel sushi has a very distinctive flavour that you’ll either love or hate. Personally, I’m not a fan of this one!

Another plate, another kind of sushi. This time it was Sakushi’s own maki roll.

sakushi roll

This Sakushi Roll (£4.00) is less opinion-dividing than the eel sushi and much nicer to look at. Each roll is made from a combination of crunchy tempura prawn and melt-in-the-mouth avocado, wrapped in the obligatory rice and seaweed, and topped with a generous piece of raw salmon.

I love all the different flavours and textures that are going on in these rolls, and the sashimi topping gives the Sakushi Roll a burst of that intensely fishy flavour you can only get from sashimi. Plus, these rolls look fantastic.

Not quite so easy-on-the-eyes was the Ebi Tempura Inari (£4.00).

ebi tempura inari

Personally I find this one of the stranger types of sushi on Sakushi’s menu. When you order the Ebi Tempura Inari, you get two parcels of sweet, marinated tofu filled with rice and tempura prawns.

I’ve tried Sakushi’s Ebi Tempura Inari before and I’m simply not a fan (in my mind, tofu is savoury and the concept of sweet tofu is just plain wrong) so I knew to give this one a wide berth. However, a few people at the table did try some of the sweet tofu, and one of them enjoyed it so much they said they’d order it again.

Now, the main misconception surrounding Japanese restaurants like Sakushi, is that it’s all raw fish and seafood. True, Sakushi do serve fantastic sashimi, but they also offer a selection of cooked mains and meat dishes too. A few people at the table weren’t massive sushi fans, so they decided to order a couple of Sakushi’s cooked mains.

First up was the Peppered Ika (£5.25).

peppered ika

This peppered squid was perfectly cooked, and covered in a light and crumbly, almost tempura-like batter that was seasoned with lots and lots of black pepper. Even though I love my sushi and sashimi, the peppered ika was so good that I might end up ordering it for myself at some point.

Next up, was Tori-karage (£5.25). Despite the exotic-sounding name, this is actually Sakushi’s take on breaded chicken.

Tori-karage

The chicken was very tender and expertly cooked, and came with a lemon wedge and accompanying mayo dip, both of which worked really well with the Tori-karage.

While I wouldn’t order this for myself, the chicken did get a big thumb’s up from my non-seafood-loving friend, so it’s worth bearing in mind if you’re eating out with someone who isn’t wild about fish and seafood.

Thus concluded our Sakushi sharing experience. I love Sakushi and have eaten there many times before, but recently I’ve fallen into the bad habit of ordering the same thing everytime, so it was nice to try lots of different things, including one or two dishes I wouldn’t normally order.

From the slices of fresh sashimi to the breaded chicken with mayo, everything was nicely cooked, fresh and tasty. Even if I wasn’t keen on a few things (like the sweet tofu parcels) other people at the table enjoyed them.

Sakushi is still one of my favourite places to eat in the whole of Sheffield, and based on my latest trip I can’t see this changing anytime soon!

four-stars

Bill’s brunch

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

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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!

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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).

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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

The Great Gatsby

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

Revolucion De Cuba

July 21, 2015 at 5:12 pm | Posted in Cocktail Bar, Restaurants | 1 Comment
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Revolucion De Cuba is one of those places I used to be obsessed with, to the point where I discovered that you really can have too much of a good thing. Consequently, I had to take a bit of a break from the Mappin Street venue formerly known as Buddha Bar/Bai Hoi.

But after stuffing my face with a tonne of tacos courtesy of Revolucion De Cuba’s all-you-can-eat Taco Tuesday, I’ve rediscovered why I liked Revolucion De Cuba so much in the first place. So I was really excited to attend the launch of their new menu, together with some other Sheffield bloggers and newsy types.

Right off the bat, I’ve got to say that Revolucion De Cuba know how to make a special occasion fun, as we arrived to find our table decked out with funky pineapple glasses and straw hats. Cheesy it may be, but I love this kind of stuff.

Revolucion de Cuba hats and glasses

Glasses donned and selfies snapped, it was time to kick things off with a cocktail from Revolucion De Cuba’s ginormous drinks menu. Even though I had every intention of branching out and trying something new, after reading the menu from front to back I still couldn’t resist ordering the exact same thing I always go for.

Revolucion de Cuba pornstar rumtini

I just love the tartness of this Pornstar Rumtini, as it’s fruity without being too sweet, plus it comes with a shot of sparkling wine on the side, which can only be a good thing.

Since we’re smack bang in the middle of a heatwave, my dining companion opted for a frozen Banana Daiquiri (£7.25). This cocktail comes with a chocolate flake, and the daiquiri itself is so thick and icy that it can support said flake without any issues.

Revolucion De Cuba Banana Daiquiri

This banana daiquiri is pretty much a dream for anyone with a sweet tooth, and it’d make the perfect, refreshing pudding after you’ve finished stuffing yourself with spicy Cuban grub.

As we sipped our cocktails, we were treated to a trio of moreish nibbles: banana chips (£1.50), pork crackling, (£1.50) and spicy mixed nuts (£1.50).

Revolucion De Cuba nibbles

These nibbles are great if you fancy something to crunch on while you peruse the main menu, particularly the pork crackling which is something a bit different from your bog-standard bar snacks.

Onto the hot food, and Revolucion De Cuba brought out lots of tapas, sides and mains for the whole table to share, so brace yourselves because we have lots to cover.

First up was a plate of Smoky Aubergine Quesadillas (£5.00). These quesadillas were packed with lots of yummy melted cheese, and came with a very fresh and homemade-looking tomato and onion salsa.

Revolucion de Cuba quesadillas

For £5.00 this is a filling tapas dish that I can imagine eating on its own as a snack or even as a starter when I’m feeling particularly hungry.

For the meat eaters, there was a main course of Havana Chicken Salad (£9.50). The chicken was tender, juicy and nicely-seasoned but what really caught my eye was the colourful side salad.

Revolucion de Cuba havana chicken salad

This vibrant salad consisted of quinoa, green lentils, peppers, carrots, tomato, cucumber, black beans, edamame beans, yellow beetroot and leaves, finished off with a homemade spinach and kale dressing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a salad that looks quite this good!

Sometimes I feel like restaurants use side salads just to fill up the plate. Not so with Revolucion De Cuba! They’ve clearly gone all out to create a side salad you’ll actually be excited to eat.

This side salad appears in several other main courses and you can even order a ‘Cuban Salad’ on its own, which might just be one of the few occasions I’d actually consider ordering a salad in a restaurant.

This Cuban salad made a repeat appearance at our table, as part of a Baked Halloumi (£11) main course.

Revolucion de Cuba baked halloumi

This main is essentially a super-sized portion of halloumi, marinated in soy and ginger, and then served in a banana leaf with a helping of that awesome Cuban salad.

I’m mad about halloumi anyway, so I was always going to enjoy a main that’s mostly just a massive piece of halloumi, but the soy and ginger marinade gave this particular piece of halloumi a powerful, salty and very distinctive taste. This is easily the best halloumi I’ve ever had.

If you’ve got a soft spot for halloumi or you just love strong, salty flavours, then you need to try Revolucion De Cuba’s baked halloumi. You won’t be disappointed!

Next up was everyone’s favourite Tex-Mex snack: nachos. These Nachos Del Sol (£5.50) take crunchy tortilla chips and cover them in black beans, guacamole, homemade Roquito and Manchego cheese sauce, and chunks of mango.

Revolucion de Cuba nachos

I can’t remember ever having fruit on nachos before, but the mango added a welcome sweetness to this otherwise very savoury snack. I might just have to try sprinkling some mango on top of my own nachos in the future.

The nachos were followed by yet more tapas, in the form of some Iberico Ham Croquettes (£5.50).

Revolucion de Cuba Iberico Ham Croquettes

Apparently Iberico is a special kind of Spanish ham that’s salted and air dried for 12 months (thanks, Google) which explains why these croquettes had such a strong, salty flavour. The Iberico croquettes are particularly nice with a dollop of the accompanying garlic aioli dip.

I was already feeling pretty stuffed, but it turned out there was even more food for us to sample. An entire platter of it, in fact.

Revolucion de Cuba mojo chicken

This was roughly the point where I started to wish I’d been more restrained around that baked halloumi.

The first plate on our platter was sticky glazed Chorizo in a rich red wine and honey sauce (£6.00). This is hearty, comforting tapas with a slight kick to it, and I can imagine this really hitting the spot during the colder months.

Also on our super-sized platter was a side of sweet potato fries (£3.00). Like the halloumi, sweet potato fries are something I love anyway, so I knew I was going to enjoy these – but they were even better than I was expecting!

These sweet potato fries were perfectly cooked: crispy and nicely-salted on the outside, but fluffy and sweet on the inside. They also went really well with Revolucion De Cuba’s homemade rum sauce, which has a nice kick to it, not to mention the kind of freshness you simply can’t get from a supermarket-bought bottle.

Revolucion De Cuba rum sauce

The final side on our mega-platter was House Rice (£2.50). This is something I loved the last time I visited Revolucion De Cuba and it was every bit as good as I remembered, particularly the topping of finely-chopped, crispy fried onions, which were incredibly moreish.

At £2.50 this is another fantastic side dish. Revolucion De Cuba are really getting their sides spot on at the moment.

But the main event was an enormous Half Chicken in Mojo Sauce (£11, with two side dishes). This is a massive portion of nicely-cooked chicken, but if you’re seriously hungry then apparently you can go one step further and order an entire chicken!

This was when the lovely Revolucion De Cuba staff broke the news that there was even more food to come. In fact, we hadn’t even had our main course yet (!) as everyone would be getting the chance to prepare their own burrito.

But what’s the perfect thing to do before trying your hand at a new culinary skill?

Shots, of course!

Revolucion de Cuba rum tasting

Okay so this isn’t as heinous as it looks. This was actually a quick rum tasting session where we got to sample three different rums from Revolucion De Cuba’s extensive collection.

Despite the fact that I’m not a massive fan of drinking anything neat, this turned out to be lots of fun. This is the second rum tasting I’ve attended, and both times I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the range of rum that’s out there, from the painful-to-drink, to the dangerously easy drinking.

Speaking of painful, the first rum (Matusalem Platino) was so harsh that finishing a single measure felt like a major accomplishment. Thankfully it was all uphill from here as the second rum (Ron de Jeremy) was smoother, and the third rum (Gosling’s Black Seal) had a faintly butterscotch aftertaste that I enjoyed so much, I could actually see myself drinking this again!

If you’re interested in checking out what rums Revolucion De Cuba have to offer, you’ll find a complete list at the end of their drinks menu.

Okay, so three measures of rum dispatched and obviously the time was right to try and roll the perfect burrito. This went predictably…..wrong, but at least all the ingredients that went into my sloppily-rolled burrito were good!

Revolucion de Cuba burrito ingredients

In the end, my burrito consisted of refried beans, garlic mushrooms, fried veggies and spring onions, plus generous helpings of sour cream, grated cheese and house rice, so it wasn’t a million miles away from Revolucion De Cuba’s own Mushroom, Bean and Spinach Burrito (£9).

When it came to wrapping my concoction, I discovered that it’s much harder to roll the perfect burrito than you might think, which is why I’m not going to show you a photo of my handiwork. Instead, here’s a photo of my dining companion’s chicken burrito, for the simple reason that they did a much better job than me.

Revolucion De Cuba burrito

And thus concluded our Revolucion De Cuba feast. I left feeling like I’d eaten Revolucion De Cuba’s entire menu, but after consulting their website I realise that I’d barely even scratched the surface.

Revolucion De Cuba’s mammoth menu features tapas, sides, burritos, half and full chickens cooked in a variety of spices, hamburgers, a “fast and fresh” Rapido Lunch menu, a Fiesta Cubana three-course set menu, all-you-can-eat Taco Tuesday, plus a tonne of other main courses that don’t fit neatly into any of the above categories.

With so much choice, you might think that this is a case of quantity over quality, but everything I sampled from Revolucion De Cuba’s new menu was delicious, and there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t order again.

Revolucion De Cuba serve great food and great cocktails, in a lovely venue with some amazing special offers – if you love a bargain then you’ve got to visit them on a Sunday, when it’s 2-4-1 on all tapas and the majority of cocktails.

I can’t think of anything negative to say about this place, so if you have a soft spot for this kind of Cuban-inspired food, or you just love great cocktails, then you should make a point of paying Revolucion De Cuba a visit!

four-stars

The Wick at Both Ends: Spring/Summer 2015

May 4, 2015 at 5:24 pm | Posted in Pub Grub, Restaurants | Leave a comment
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This review is long overdue, due to my phone going whappy and losing all my photos – including those I took at the Wick at Both Ends’ new menu launch.

Thankfully my phone is now back up and running, so I can (finally) share my thoughts on the Wick’s new spring/summer menu!

The new menu has the same rustic, gastro pub feel of previous Wick menus, although there does seem to be more meat and fish this time around. The Wick at Both Ends haven’t completely forgotten about vegetarians, though – there are a couple of veggie-friendly mains inbetween all the ox tail and kidney pies, sausage and mash, and butter roasted plaice. There’s also a selection of meat-free sandwiches, plus the Wick’s trusty flat field mushroom and goat’s cheese burger, which has been my favourite thing to order there for years. If the Wick ever get rid of their mushroom burger, I’ll be very sad.

One thing I’ve noticed about the Wick’s menus, is that the starters tend to be more adventurous than the mains. The spring/summer menu is no exception, featuring unusual starters such as pan fried calves liver, pickled mackerel, and pistachio and prune terrine.

One starter that really caught my eye was the warm potted crab (£5.50). I love potted shrimp but I’ve never tried potted crab before, so I knew I had to give this a go.

This is a big starter!

the wick at both ends potted crab

My ramekin was jam-packed with lots of fresh and tasty crab meat that had a lovely, velvety texture. If you’re not a fan of strong seafood then you should probably give this one a miss, as the crab is seriously strong.

My only issue with the potted crab is that it’s just so filling! After I’d used the accompanying slices of bread and butter to scrape up every last morsel of delicious crab, I was left wondering how I was going to find room for my main course.

This is such a generous portion that I think the potted crab would work really well as a stand alone snack – possibly after one too many Wick cocktails have given you a case of the beer munchies!

For a seafood fanatic like myself, this potted crab starter felt like the ultimate treat. In fact, I have a few seafood-loving friends who I’m going to drag to the Wick at the earliest opportunity, because I know they’ll love this starter every bit as much as I did.

For my main course, I continued the fish and seafood theme with some Smoked Haddock Kedgeree (£8.95).

This wasn’t just the first time I’d had kedgeree at the Wick, it was the first time I’d had kedgeree ever, so I was really looking forward to trying something completely new.

The Wick’s vibrant yellow kedgeree is certainly nice to look at.

wick at both ends kedgeree

I’d found the potted crab a bit heavy going, but this kedgeree was even richer. This is another massive portion, and the rice is really rich and creamy. Like the potted crab, this is food strictly for those who enjoy strong, fishy flavours.

Even though I was getting uncomfortably full, I just couldn’t stop eating this. The Wick’s kedgeree really is too good to waste.

Meanwhile, my friend had opted for the 8oz Onglet Steak (£11.50), which was another new addition to the Wick’s menu.

After some Googling it became clear that onglet steak is the same as hanger steak, which they’ve also just started serving at the Wick’s sister venue, Anchorage (if you’re interested, Anchorage’s hanger steak is amazing and you can read about it here).

The Wick’s onglet steak has a really intense, rich flavour. If you like your steak, then you need to try this onglet/hanger cut, as it’s stronger and tastier than your average steak.

wick at both ends onglet

The onglet steak came with a stack of chubby, perfectly-seasoned chips, a super-sized serving of parsley butter, and a token bit of greenery in the form of some grilled baby gem lettuce. These are all pretty standard sides when you order a steak, but then the Wick throw a curveball by adding a single battered oyster to the plate.

The oyster was nicely cooked and had a really intense flavour (this seems to be a theme with the Wick’s new menu!) but there’s no getting around the fact that this is more batter than oyster.

Now, I know that for £11.50 you can’t expect such a fantastic steak, fat chips and a pile of oysters, and yes oysters are always going to look smaller with the shell removed – but this single battered oyster did look a bit odd on its own.

wick at both ends battered oyster

Despite mixed feelings about the battered oyster, the onglet steak was well received, and for the price you do get a big plateful of grub and a superb cut of meat.

The Wick’s latest menu continues the tradition of big portions of quality food at reasonable prices, with a few quirky ingredients thrown into the mix. The starters are on the pricier side, but my potted crab starter was worth every penny.

The Wick is one of my favourite places to grab a bite to eat in the city centre, and judging by how much I loved their kedgeree and potted crab starter, this isn’t about to change anytime soon.

If you haven’t already, you can check out the Wick’s new menu online.

four stars

Anchorage: Spring/Summer Menu

April 18, 2015 at 2:44 pm | Posted in Restaurants | 1 Comment
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I’ve pretty much fallen in love with Anchorage over the last couple of weeks following a string of amazing meals there.

On my last visit, I had one of the best vegetarian Sunday lunches I’ve ever eaten, and my friend had a hanger steak they’re still talking about weeks later. So when I heard Anchorage were releasing a new spring/summer menu, I had high hopes.

Anchorage’s menu is “East Coast” inspired, so the food has an American feel. They also offer a “build it yourself” meat and cheese platter, where you get to choose exactly which cured meats and cheeses you want. Doesn’t a bottle of wine and a build your own cheese platter sound like the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon? Yet another reason to look forward to summer!

But today wasn’t the day to eat cheese and drink wine, I was here to sample Anchorage’s new menu – and drink wine.

anchorage wine

Since it was early on a Wednesday afternoon, I was sensible and resisted Anchorage’s cocktail menu, but if you’re in the mood for a cocktail then I highly recommend their dirty martini (£8).

I’m not usually a fan of martinis as I always feel like they’re burning my taste buds off, but Anchorage’s martinis are smooth and dangerously easy drinking. Plus each dirty martini comes with a side of strong blue cheese, so it’s a drink and a snack!

anchorage martini

After taking a look through Anchorage’s new menu, I opted for the 6oz Tuna Nicoise steak, which came with green beans, egg, olive, anchovy and tomatoes (£15).

anchorage tuna steak

The 6oz tuna steak looked incredible – and it tasted every bit as good as it looked. The tuna was delicately cooked, so it was still juicy and pink on the inside, and it was heavily seasoned with lots of salt, so every bite was packed with flavour.

Just how good was the tuna steak? Well, since my visit to Anchorage I’ve found myself craving tuna and cooking it at home at least a couple of times a week. Anchorage has single-handedly got me hooked on tuna steaks!

The tuna came with a long list of added extras, including sun dried tomatoes and a breadcrumb-covered egg. Beneath the light breadcrumb coating, the egg yolk had just the right amount of runniness. I wish I could cook eggs this perfectly!

My tuna also came with a salad of lettuce, green apple, and pear. The pear slices were melt-in-the-mouth ripe, and were a nice contrast to the crispness of the green apple. This isn’t your typical boring salad of iceberg lettuce and tomatoes! Why can’t all salads be this good?

The tuna also came with a handful of walnuts, which turned out to be the most unusual and interesting part of the meal. Some of the walnuts had a tart, vinegary flavour, as though they’d been pickled, while others were crunchy and sweet. Whenever I picked up a walnut, I had no idea whether I was going to get sweet or sour.

The whole thing was finished off with fancy swirls and dollops of different purees and mousses, which brought even more flavours into the mix.

If you have a passion for new and interesting flavours, then Anchorage’s tuna steak is your perfect meal. After wolfing down the delicious steak, I thought the best part was over – but then I moved onto the different accompaniments, and every forkful was something new and interesting.

At £15, this tuna steak is at the top end of Anchorage’s menu, but it’s worth every penny. I can’t think of one negative thing to say about my meal – it was perfect.

Also arriving at our table was the Amish Chicken (£13) which promised half a chicken served with cream sauce, whipped potatoes and green beans.

When Anchorage say half a chicken, they mean half a chicken.

amish chicken

Even the photo doesn’t do justice to just how much chicken was on the plate. This is one of those mountains of food where no matter how much you eat, you never really seem to make a dent in it.

As if half of the world’s biggest chicken wasn’t enough, this meal comes with a super-sized portion of rich and creamy mashed potato.

Only order Anchorage’s Amish chicken if you’re seriously hungry – you’ve been warned!

After our massive main meals, we didn’t have room for pudding, so we wrapped up our Anchorage experience with a round of lattes.

anchorage coffee

Anchorage’s coffees are beautifully presented, with a few sugar cubes and a bourbon biscuit on the side. If you don’t have room for pudding, then this is the perfect way to end your meal.

I’ve never had a bad meal at Anchorage, and their new menu continues this tradition. The tuna steak is perfect for an adventurous eater, and the Amish chicken is guaranteed to leave you stuffed.

While looking through the new menu, I spotted a few more things I’m eager to try, so I’ll definitely be returning to Anchorage again soon. And of course, as soon as the sun comes out I’ll be treating myself to that long-awaited Anchorage cheese platter and glass (bottle…) of wine!

5-stars

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