Anchorage: Sunday Lunch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

veg Sunday lunch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

hanger steak

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

hanger steak close up

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

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

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

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

5-stars

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The Lescar

November 29, 2014 at 2:06 pm | Posted in Pub Grub | Leave a comment
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Do you find that yourself drawn to certain pubs, when the weather starts to change?

To me, the Lescar on Sharrow Vale road is an autumnal pub. It’s just one of those places that seems to get more cosy and inviting, the colder it gets outside. The Lescar is all about the real ale, comfort food, and Sunday roasts – a winning combination on a cold autumn day!

The other thing I love about the Lescar, is its ‘friendly local pub’ vibe – right down to the books they provide for customers to browse and borrow. It’s hard to believe this place is just a few minutes walk away from busy Ecclesall Road!

The Lescar is one of those places that’s much bigger than it looks from the outside. It also has a very interesting layout, with different areas that almost feel like they were separate rooms at one point. Just when you think you’ve seen everything the Lescar has to offer, you turn a corner and find a massive function room, complete with second bar.

The Lescar’s menu has a very rustic, pub rub grub feel. All the classics are present and accounted for: cottage pie, burgers, fish and chips, sausage and mash, and steak. However, the Lescar put a little twist on these comfort food classics – here, the fish is done in tarragon batter, and the mash is made from celeriac.

In addition to the pub grub mains, the Lescar also offers a variety of sharing platters, plus a good selection of small dishes ‘to start, snack or share.’ I’ve ordered a few things from the ‘start, snack, share’ menu when I’m suffering from the beer munchies, and I’ve always been impressed. I can highly recommend the salt and pepper squid, which the Lescar serves with a tangy and delicious lime mayonnaise (£5.25).

The Lescar also have a Saturday brunch menu, which I’m desperate to try. Again, it’s classic comfort food with a gastro pub twist – the boiled egg soldiers are served with bacon jam, and the Lescar’s version of mushrooms on toast is Paris Brown, Flat and Oyster mushrooms served on rye with stilton cream.

The Lescar have a lot to offer, but on this particular day it was all about the Sunday lunch. This is something I never really cook for myself, so Sunday lunch out always feels like a special treat.

The Lescar offers the usual trio of meats (pork beef, and chicken) plus the obligatory nut roast vegetarian option. I opted for the veggie nut roast (£9.75) which according to the menu is made from cashews, peanuts, almonds, walnuts, cheddar, veggies and herbs.

My nut roast Sunday dinner came with veggies, stuffing, roasties, Yorkshire pud, and gravy. Don’t you just love the sight of a big plateful of Sunday dinner?

lescar sunday lunch

It’s amazing the difference good gravy makes to a Sunday dinner. The Lescar’s gravy had the perfect consistency, not too thick and not too thin, and it was really tasty. If I could make gravy half as good as this, I wouldn’t have to go out for my Sunday lunch!

The vegetables were perfectly cooked, and I loved the combination of leeks, carrots and courgettes. The roast potatoes were crispy and salty on the outside, but light and fluffy on the inside – exactly what you want from a roastie. The Yorkshire pudding was big, misshapen and ugly, the surefire sign of a homemade Yorkshire pud. It also tasted even better for having been sat soaking in that delicious gravy.

The nut roast had a nice, herby taste that reminded me of stuffing, and it was packed with nuts. The portion was also very generous, but it’s a good job because the nut roast had been overcooked to the point where I could only get my knife through the bit in the middle!

Luckily, this was such a big plateful that after eating the middle of my nut roast, plus all the trimmings, I was pleasantly full and still felt like I’d got good value for money.

I’d recommend this Sunday roast to all the veggies out there – although hopefully your nut roast won’t have spent quite so much time in the oven as mine!

At the other end of the table, it was a less traditional Sunday lunch: a West Country beef burger, sesame seed brioche bun, melted Taw valley cheddar and fries (£9.25) with smoked bacon (an extra £1.25).

the lescar burger

This is more of a gourmet burger, as oppose to the weird-combination-of-toppings burger that places like the Harley and Bungalows and Bears specialise in. The brioche bun was tasty, the meat was nicely cooked, and the smoked bacon lived up to its name, packing a really strong, smoky flavour. My Sunday lunch buddy was also impressed by how much bacon he got for £1.25.

It may not be your traditional Sunday lunch, but this burger got a big thumbs up nevertheless!

We left the Lescar pleasantly full, and plotting return visits so we could sample the Saturday brunch menu, plus an afternoon drinking session with added bar snacks. You know a place is doing something right, when you’re planning the next visit on your way home!

The Lescar serve up filling, tasty comfort food in a warm and welcoming environment that’s perfect for this time of year. If you’re craving pub grub, real ale, and relaxed surroundings, then it’s well worth paying the Lescar a visit.

three-and-a-half

Wick At Both Ends: Sunday Lunch

October 27, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Posted in Pub Grub, Restaurants | 2 Comments
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There are few things in life as comforting as a Sunday lunch, and The Wick at Both Ends on West Street really big theirs up, with the claim that they do a Sunday roast “as good as your Nan’s.”

For those not already in the know, The Wick at Both Ends is a quirky West Street venue kitted out with mismatched armchairs and some of the comfiest corner booths you’re likely to find in a pub. The bar is decked out with fairy lights the whole year round, there’s plenty of arty graffiti on the walls, and table decorations fashioned out of peacock feathers, flowers and old liquor bottles. There’s also a stash of oldschool board games, if you fancy whiling away an afternoon playing Bizzy Bizzy Bumble Bees or Connect Four. This cosy West Street venue clearly has bags of character, but are the food and drink up to scratch?

The Wick’s menu is a three-headed beast of main courses, tapas and Sunday roasts. The main meals and tapas in particular offer a quirky take on standard pub fare; tapas-lovers can enjoy a Carpaccio of Smoked Venison, soup served in teacups or Bloody Mary Stuffed Mushrooms, while the main courses include a fresh take on that old classic Ham, Egg and Chips. However, we visited on a Sunday, so it only seemed fitting to give their roasts a whirl.

At £7.95 for the meat option and £6.95 for the vegetarian alternative, the Wick are pitching at the upper end of what you’d be willing to pay for Sunday lunch, but with a menu that boasts “real” Yorkshire puddings, lashings of gravy and locally sourced meat, it promises to deliver. Carnivores get a choice of meats, whereas veggies have just one option for their Sunday roast. This is pretty standard, but is worth bearing in mind if your party includes a fussy non-meat eater.

In addition to its offerings of tapas, roasts and main courses, the Wick at Both Ends has an exhaustive cocktail menu. Even cocktail experts should be able to find something new and exciting on the menu (a tipple made from thyme, apricot liqueur, gin, lemon juice and egg white, anyone?)

Cocktails may not be the traditional Sunday dinner aperitifs, but I couldn’t resist and ordered myself a Tow The Lime (£6.00)

This refreshing cocktail puts a fresh slant on the Moscow mule by adding homemade lime liqueur and freshly-squeezed kiwi juice. A Dark and Stormy (£5.00) was also on the cards, which was topped off with plenty of fiery ginger beer. Just what the doctor ordered on a gloomy Sunday afternoon!

The Wick at Both Ends has an enviable cocktail menu, and many of the cocktails utilize a long list of fresh fruits and herbs. If you’re a cocktail fan, you’ll be happy to spend whole afternoons and evenings working your way through the Wick’s menu. However, it is worth noting that many of the cocktails – especially the fruity ones – aren’t particularly strong. If you’re used to getting headspin from a single cocktail, then you’re better off sticking to the less extravagant options, such as the Dark and Stormy.

Halfway through our cocktails, the Sunday dinners arrived at the table. Initial impressions were mixed, for the price we’d been hoping for a belly-busting mountain of food. Both meals came with carrots and spinach, a couple of roasties, a homemade Yorkshire pud and gravy, but we agreed that the plate was missing another Yorkshire pudding, or even a few more roasties. Still, you can’t knock the Wick’s Sunday dinner for taste: the carrots in particular were delicious, tasting as though they’d been cooked in butter (you need a little fat in your Sunday lunch when it’s cold outside!) then rubbed with cracked black pepper and sea salt. Possibly the most unhealthy veggies in the world, but they were gobbled up in no time.

Now, it’s clear from the photo that the Yorkshire pudding didn’t look particularly appetizing. I was expecting a puffed-up, lumpy homemade Yorkie, but what I got was a deflated curl of batter with a suspiciously dark crust. But, never judge a Yorkshire pud by its sad, deflated cover, because the Wick’s Yorkies are delicious. A little on the burnt side, and not the prettiest of puddings, but when soaked in a little gravy the batter melted in the mouth and had that satisfying, homemade taste.

But onto the real star of my Sunday dinner – the veggie wellington. I’m not a massive pastry fan, but the Wick’s pastry was light and crispy, and soaked up oodles of flavour from the gravy. The filling was a stodgy, gut-busting blend of cheese, spinach and mushrooms. It looked a little grey and unappetizing, but the filling was actually chock full of flavour and settled in my stomach, a warm wodge of calorie-laden comfort food. I usually avoid pastry dishes, but I scraped up every last bit of gravy-sodden veggie wellington. Even if you’re a carnivore, I can heartily recommend the Wick’s vegetarian wellington.

If you’re craving some animal protein you’re in for a treat too, as the meat-eaters’ Sunday roast comes with the same buttery carrots, spinach, crispy roasties and homemade Yorkshire pudding plus, of course, hearty slices of meat (in this instance beef.) The roast beef had been cut in thick, generous slabs, and arrived at the table tender and tasty. Although a little pinker than some diners would like, there were no complaints from our table.

The Wick is a fun, distinctive venue with friendly staff and plenty of atmosphere. There’s always a few people in the cosy corner booths even on weekday afternoons, and it’s easy to see why. The cocktail menu is one of the most diverse in the city and, with three different menus to choose from, it’s not just on the cocktail-front where you’re spoilt for choice. The Sunday roasts are a little pricey, but that’s understandable when you take into account the clear quality of the grub. Hearty, tasty, and satisfying comfort food – perfect for the long winter months.

A Sunday roast where even the carrots and spinach are delicious, who’d have thought it possible?

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