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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Popolo

August 10, 2014 at 5:19 pm | Posted in Restaurants | 1 Comment
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Despite nipping into Popolo for post-work cocktails on a number of occasions, I’d actually never got around to eating there. So, when I received an invite to the launch of Popolo’s new ‘Grill House’ menu, I was excited to finally be visiting Popolo for something other than drinks!

For me at least, the term ‘Grill House’ conjures up images of big steaks and whole, grilled fish, and maybe some gourmet burgers, pulled pork, and pancakes served with bacon and maple syrup. But beyond this handful of foodstuffs, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, so I was really intrigued to see what Popolo’s Grill House menu was all about.

If you’ve never eaten at this Leopold Square venue, their upstairs restaurant area is a really nice space, with a cosy and intimate atmosphere thanks to a combination of low lighting, plus candles and glittering glassware on every table. It’s the perfect setting for an evening meal, or even a special occasion.

First on the agenda, was our welcome drink. After a week of hot and humid weather, I was in the mood for a summery cocktail, so I couldn’t resist the the Wild Berry Jam (£5.95), which promised a double-whammy of fresh raspberries and blackberries, muddled with raspberry and blackberry liqueurs, and finished off with a helping of Wild Turkey 101 bourbon whiskey.

Popolo Wild Berry Jam

One sip of this cocktail, and I was hooked. It tasted like concentrated berry juice, served ice cold, with a boozy sting in its tail. The fresh berries gave the drink a tartness that contrasted wonderfully with the sweetness of the raspberry and blackberry liqueurs. Despite the addition of bourbon whiskey, my Wild Berry Jam seemed to be a bit light on the alcohol, but it was so refreshing and tasty, I actually didn’t mind. This Wild Berry Jam is the perfect thirst-quencher on a hot day.

My dining companion opted for a Mint Julep, which Popolo served in a brassy mug, encrusted in ice. This cocktail certainly has the ‘wow’ factor!

Popolo Mint Julep

Unfortunately, after perusing Popolo’s drinks menu online, I’m pretty sure the Mint Julep was a one-off special, which makes me very sad.

Cocktails dispatched, it was time to turn our attention to Popolo’s mysterious Grill House menu.

As I’d suspected, the new menu features lots of steaks, ranging from a sensible 8oz sirloin, to a terrifying 22oz T-Bone steak, as well as pulled pork, burgers, buttermilk chicken, and grilled fish. Up to this point, Popolo were fulfilling my expectations of Grill House grub, but then things got a bit random, as Italian classics started cropping up on the menu – meatballs, lasagna, and three kinds of risotto. There’s also a few dishes I wouldn’t associate with Grill Houses at all, most notably a starter of asparagus, hollandaise sauce, and a poached egg.

It may be an eclectic menu, but it’s also a very tempting one, and I had no trouble finding a couple of dishes I liked the sound of. In the end, I commenced my three course feast with some crab cakes (£6.95).

This photo really doesn’t do my starter justice – the crab cakes were enormous. Add a side salad and a handful of chips, and this would easily be a main meal.

Popolo crab cake

This wasn’t a case of quantity over quality though, as the crab cakes were delicious. The crab meat had a creamy, melt-in-the-mouth consistency, and the light coating didn’t overwhelm the delicate taste of the crab.

The crab cakes came with a chunky mango and avocado salsa that was very simple and fresh, and complimented the crab cakes perfectly.

These are easily the best crab cakes I’ve ever wolfed down – although the sheer size of this starter had me wondering how I was going to find room for my main course, never mind a desert!

Also winging its way to our table, was a starter of grilled asparagus, topped with a poached egg and lashings of hollandaise sauce (£5.95). The whole thing looked mouth-watering.

Popolo's asparagus, egg, and hollandaise sauce

In fact, it was so tempting, I couldn’t resist having a taste! The asparagus and egg were both perfectly cooked, and the hollandaise was creamy with a wonderful silky texture.

Neither of us could fault our starters. Popolo had set the bar high for the rest of the evening!

For my main, I’d gone for the king prawn and chilli risotto (£13.95). First impressions were good; I spied lots of tomato chunks and super-sized king prawns.

Popolo risotto

Bearing in mind I’d just scoffed two massive crab cakes, the sheer amount of risotto was a bit daunting, but I took a deep breath and got stuck in. Unfortunately, what I got stuck into was a king prawn so chewy and tough, it was like eating overcooked squid. However, this turned out to be a weird one-off, as every other prawn in my risotto was lightly cooked, tender, and delicious.

Apart from that solitary, tough-as-boots prawn, I thoroughly enjoyed my risotto.

At the other end of the table, my dining companion had ordered an incredible-looking plate of BBQ pulled pork, served on a sweet waffle, and accompanied by a very rustic apple and fennel slaw, plus skin-on chips.

Popolo pulled pork

The pulled pork was tender and juicy, and fell apart in the mouth – basically, everything you want from pulled pork. The meat also worked really well with the sweet waffle, and the rustic slaw. If you have a soft spot for pancakes, bacon and maple syrup, then you have to try this!

It was time for pudding, and even though I was stuffed from my super-sized crab cakes and big bowl of risotto, I couldn’t resist Popolo’s Oreo cheesecake.

My cheesecake arrived perfectly presented on a wooden board, dusted with icing sugar, and decorated with a few strategically-placed mint leaves.

Popolo Oreo cheesecake

Okay, so it looked good, but how did it taste? The cheesecake was creamy and sweet without being sickly, but my favourite part of the meal was the accompanying ice cream, which was so light and refreshing, it was almost like a sorbet. After a big meal, this was exactly what I needed.

And with that, our evening of Grill House gluttony was done. Popolo’s new menu is a bit of a random one, but what does that matter when they serve such great food?

All our meals were big, tasty and – apart from that single, rubbery prawn – perfectly cooked. Popolo also scores top marks for presentation, and attention to detail. The food may be a tad pricier than many other city center venues, but it’s worth those few extra pounds.

In short, we drank some great cocktails, ate lots of great food, and enjoyed the surroundings and atmosphere at Popolo. The negatives? Really, my only complaint is a solitary overcooked prawn – and, when that’s the only flaw you can find in a three course meal, you know you’ve had a good night.

 5-stars

The Common Room

February 3, 2014 at 5:13 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Over the years, I’ve had some good nights at the Common Room on Devonshire Street, but they’ve all been liquid-based – and to be honest, the menu had never given me that burning desire to order anything more substantial than booze. However, I recently found myself at the Common Room for a work’s do, stomach grumbling at the sight of my co-workers’ burgers, and wishing I’d ordered something for myself (rather just plundering the staff bar). After that, it was only a matter of time before I found myself at the Common Room again, this time with food in mind.

The Common Room is an enormous venue, with a definite sport’s obsession. Take a wrong turn at the bar, and you’ll find yourself in a warren of pool rooms. Sit, well, practically anywhere, and your eyes will naturally come to rest on one of the many television screens that line the walls (and those televisions are always showing – you guessed it, sport). The Common Room has a fantastic atmosphere when there’s a game on, and the sheer size of the place means you stand a chance at getting a seat, even when there’s something popular on the T.V screens.

In addition to the pool rooms, there’s an area around the bar that’s all about the comfy booths, and a separate dining area. The dining area is a contrast to the dark wooden beams and exposed brickwork of the rest of the Common Room; it’s bright, airy and has a canteen feel to it. One look at the menu, and this change of decor makes sense; the Common Room’s grub is pure American diner.

We took our seats in the dining area and were surprised when the waitress came over and requested a debit or credit card, which they kept behind the bar until we’d finished our meal. This isn’t a policy I’ve encountered in Sheffield before! After handing over a card, it was time to take a closer look at the menu. The Common Room is very loyal to its American diner theme, with a focus on burgers, chips, hot dogs, and ribs, not to mention a few nicely authentic touches, such as corn chips, cherry soda, and root beer. There’s also some really innovative sauces on offer that’ll please the adventurous eater – don’t worry, this isn’t a boring ‘chips and a burger’ place!

I opted for a veggie burger (£7.00), more for the accompaniments than anything else. The menu promised a burger filled with salsa, cheese, burger sauce, and a “green chili slaw” that I couldn’t wait to try. When my meal arrived, I was pleased to see they hadn’t been stingy with the slaw – I had an entire tin can full of the stuff, and the slaw itself looked chunky and homemade. There was also a decent portion of fries, served in a little blue and white jug.

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Despite the big portion of fries and slaw, the burger itself didn’t look particularly exciting. The single patty, one lettuce leaf and square slice of cheese, left the burger bun looking a bit sad and empty. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I started chowing down, the veggie patty was chunky and full of identifiable veggies (always better than vegetable mulch!); the square of cheese didn’t have the plastic taste I’d been dreading; and the salsa and burger sauce made this rather plain-looking burger really tasty!

When I finally got around to that rustic-looking slaw, it was every bit as yummy as I’d hoped. Those fresh, crunchy veggies in creamy sauce, turned my run-of-the-mill french fries into a treat, and I piled on the slaw enthusiastically. My only niggling disappointment, was that I’d expected anything called ‘chili slaw’ to pack a punch, and it wasn’t in the least bit spicy.

At the other end of the table, my dining companion decided to treat herself to some equally guilty grub: a feast of Bacon Fries (£4.95) and Starter Wings (£3.50).

Bacon fries are one of those so-wrong-it’s-right dishes; a celebration of everything that’s bad for you, in the form of french fries, piled high with bacon and cheese, and finished off with a winning trio of cheese sauce, baconnaise (that’s bacon flavoured mayo!) and BBQ sauce. When you wake up with a hangover, this is everything you crave, packed into one calorie-laden dish.

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The bacon was thick and grease-free, while the cheese had a good flavour to it, and the combination of cheese sauce and baconnaise sealed the deal. It was thumbs up for the bacon fries!

At £3.50, the Starter Wings turned out to be a value-for-money pile of chicken wings, which were dark and sticky with the Common Room’s Wild Turkey Bourbon glaze. There was even a bonus helping of sauce in the bottom of the bowl, which helped keep the chicken wings moist.

There’s enough interesting flourishes on the Common Room’s menu to lure you back for a repeat visit, and the place definitely has an artistic flair when it comes to sauces (scotch bonnet jam, or banana ketchup, anyone?) This may not be the place to go for a slap up meal, but sometimes you have a hunger that only big burgers, fries, and bacon-flavoured mayonnaise can satisfy.

If you’re in town and want something quick, filling, and a little bit naughty, the Common Room is worth a visit – as long as you’re not on a diet!

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