Wick at Both Ends

May 22, 2016 at 5:43 pm | Posted in Pub Grub, Restaurants | 1 Comment
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Big changes are afoot at the Wick at Both Ends. Although I’ve been lucky enough to attend a few Wick menu launches, this is probably the most dramatic menu change I’ve ever seen from the Wick at Both Ends.

Not only is their new menu completely different (more on that in a moment) but after chatting to some of the Wick’s staff it became clear that their opening hours and kitchen staff are different, too. The Wick no longer opens during the day Monday-Friday, and as someone who doesn’t work the traditional Monday-Friday, 9-5, that makes me pretty sad. Secondly, they have a completely new kitchen team, which may explain why the new menu is so, well, new.

I didn’t get the chance to look at the Wick’s latest menu in advance, so I was a bit surprised when I arrived and was handed a single-sheet menu divided into Snacks, Bar Bites, Small Plates and Sweets – not a main course in sight!

Since the Wick have done away with main courses completely, this also means that the day has finally come: they’ve taken their goat’s cheese and flat field mushroom burger off the menu, which was my favourite. This makes me sadder than it probably should.  

We decided to start by seeing what the Bar Bites were all about. I went for Spiced Hummus, Sumac and Flatbread (£3.50).

wick at both ends hummus

This is fantastic value for money – just look at all that hummus! If you’re feeling peckish after one too many Wick cocktails, then this would be perfect to order for yourself, or you could even share it with a friend as there’s more than enough hummus to go around.

Despite being described as “spiced hummus,” I didn’t find this particularly spicy, so I do wish the hummus packed more of a punch! Interestingly, the hummus seems to have been made with peanut butter, as it has that thick, smooth and distinctly peanut butter texture. This made it the perfect consistency for spreading on the accompanying slices of bread, which had been toasted to crunchy perfection.

This is a seriously filling, and very tasty snack, with more than enough hummus and bread to share, if you’re feeling generous.

My friend went for Bacon Jam, Apple and Sourdough (£5.00).

wick at both ends bacon jam

The bacon jam was seriously salty, but that worked well with the refreshing, crisp slivers of green apple. Once again, this is great value for money, and for a humble bar snack, it was really nicely presented.

We also wanted to see what the Small Plates were all about, so we ordered a round of these, as well. My friend picked the Blade of Beef, Enoki Mushroom, Onion and Dashi (£7.00), and once again the Wick deserve top marks for presentation!  

wick at both ends blade of beef

Randomly, the onions were the best thing on this plate, which may have something to do with the dashi. Dashi isn’t something I’m familiar with, but according to good old Google it’s a Japanese broth that forms the basis of miso soup (yum, yum) which might explain why these onions were so strong, and so delicious.

For the price, there was a good amount of beef on the plate, although my friend said the beef was a bit more well done than they’d have liked.

For my small plate, I’d gone for the Sea Trout, with Camomile Butter, Sorrel and Leeks (£7.00). Yet again, the Wick put that little extra bit of effort into their presentation.

wick at both ends sea trout

The trout was cooked to perfection; it was tender and juicy and fell apart the second I cut into it. The accompanying camomile butter had melted into an indulgent, flavour-packed sauce. Even better, the trout and leeks had been sat soaking in this sauce, so they’d absorbed all those delicious, buttery flavours. The leeks in particular were melt-in-the-mouth soft and oozing with yummy melted butter. Why can’t all veggies be served in lashings of camomile butter?

My only complaint is that there isn’t an option to have the trout and leeks as a main meal, because I’d devour a full-sized portion of this!

The latest menu from the Wick doesn’t feel so much like a new menu, as it does a new direction for the Wick at Both Ends. The Wick may have been serving tapas-style small plates for a while now, but it’s always been alongside more traditional main meals, and the focus on nibbles and bar snacks is completely new.

This menu seems to be designed to tempt you into ordering some snacks to go with your drinks, rather than getting you to book a table and head to the Wick for dinner. As someone who’s prone to the beer munchies, I can imagine nipping into the Wick for a few drinks and being tempted by a few things off the Snacks and Bar Bites section, particularly since it’s such good value for money.

It’s also nice to see a restaurant being more experimental with their nibbles, because there’s only so many times you can share a bowl of chips, onion rings, or nachos with toppings, before you start craving something a little bit different.

Not going to lie though, I wish they’d kept that burger!

rating-3-star

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Ego

July 1, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Posted in Restaurants | 2 Comments
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Ego’s postman may deliver to ‘88 Surrey Street’ but to make this easy, Ego is essentially a restaurant built into the Winter Gardens. Ego has a unique location and it makes the most of it, with plenty of glass walls offering fantastic views of the tropical plants inside the Winter Gardens.

The interior continues the plant-life theme: the mirrors in the bar area are embossed with a stylised branch print and there’s a very artistic silver tree with copper leaves in the dining area. The restaurant is strictly open plan, with no cubbyholes for those after an intimate meal, but this is part of Ego’s charm, which is all about glass walls and open spaces, and giving everyone a chance to admire the fantastic view. With its exposed faux-rustic beams, artistic decor and shiny glass at every turn, Ego certainly creates an impact.

We were escorted to a table in the corner of the spacious dining room and were immediately brought a jug of ice water, complete with very swanky, blue-tinged water glasses. So far, so good. The menu may have a Mediterranean twist, but there’s dedicated Pizza and Pasta sections so even fussy eaters should find something to their liking. To kick off the evening, we ordered an appetizer of Hummus and Pitta Bread, which came in at a purse-friendly £2.95. When our budget appetizer arrived, we were pleasantly surprised to find there was more than enough to go around. This generous pot of tasty hummus and pile of warm pitta bread is the perfect, value for money pre-dinner nibble. A nice change from the usual bread-and-olive-oil starter, and highly recommended for a party.

After gobbling up the hummus and bread, expectations were high. Could the mains live up to the starter? Our eyes lit up the second we spied the first main meal, a 14 inch Gamberetti pizza (£10.95) Not only was the pizza hanging off the plate (always a good sign!) but it was completely coated in king prawns, green chilies, prosciutto and vibrant rocket. Quite possibly the best-looking pizza we’ve ever clapped eyes on.

Restaurant pizzas can be on the salty side, and we did have our reservations about king prawns on a pizza, but Ego’s offering was the perfect balance of tongue-scalding chilies, salty prosciutto, meaty prawns and peppery rocket, mixed up with a rich tomato sauce and presented on a thin, crispy base. If you’re a pizza lover, then you owe it to yourself to try Ego’s Gamberetti – just do it on an empty stomach, because this is a real waistband-stretcher!

Always up for some seafood, I opted for the White Crab Risotto (£10.95), a brick of perfectly-cooked vialone rice, fiery red chillies, cooling chives and sharp lemon. It was an interesting mix of flavours that was overshadowed by the lashings of parmesan; not only were there flakes on top, but the cheese had melted down into the rice, taking the edge off the lemon, chilli and chives, and making this a seriously stodgy risotto. Very tasty and filling, and packed with big chunks of delicious crab, but a lighter touch with the cheese would have given the other flavours a chance to come through (not to mention left me room for dessert!)

Washed down with a crisp bottle of Marche Bianc (£14.95) and two diet cokes (£2.25 each) we were left completely stuffed, and won over by Ego’s classy ambiance and view.

However, as we finished up paying our bill something strange happened. Throughout the meal the staff had been shifting tables around ready for the arrival of a large party next to us. This party arrived and squeezed into their allotted seats, but then an extra few party-goers arrived and, much to our surprise, two of the late arrivals sat down on the edge of our table, without so much as an explanation or an apology. Cue an awkward few minutes while we waited for our change, before we made a speedy – and rather confused! – exit.

We were loitering outside Ego debating where to go for a nightcap when the manager rushed after us, apologising profusely and explaining that the extra people hadn’t made reservations, and they certainly hadn’t been told by the staff to sit at our table. We were really impressed that the manager had taken the time to apologise, especially since we were already off the premises and the awkward situation was in no way the staff’s fault. More restaurants should take a leaf out of Ego’s book and we’d like to thank the staff for being so conscientious!

All in all, Ego’s food is on par with the other fine city centre restaurants – expect cuisine in the style of the Leopold Square crew, but in a far more striking setting. This is a restaurant that’s out to impress with its decor and views, and can hold its own with the food, too. We left Ego absolutely stuffed and feeling that, for a bottle of wine, two meals and a starter in such a lavish, city centre setting, we’d got our money’s worth.

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