All posts filed under: Latest News – a little bit of foodie serendipity

Eating (and drinking) at Nottingham’s most anticipated new opening – Alex Bond’s Alchemilla

There has been much fevered anticipation of the opening of this new restaurant on Nottingham’s Derby Road over the last year. It has been a project of gargantuan proportions by Alex Bond and his backers. Alex (Chef Director) has been overseeing the complete renovation of a former carriage building and stables at the front of a what used to be the grand townhouse of a local lace merchant. The building has been unused and standing empty for around 200 years. I interviewed Alex last year for Great Food magazine and was astonished to the see the scale of his vision. The building was in a state of significant disrepair with tree roots growing through the roof and centuries (quite literally) of dirt, dust and damp to dig out.    And now he has done it. The former semi -derelict Coach House is now an amazing space, retaining the wonderful brick walls and archways, with new sky lights bringing lots of natural light in. Nottingham can probably boast one of the most architecturally interesting and atmospheric …

A super lunch at the Staunton Arms, Vale of Belvoir.

Just had a fabulous pub lunch and felt the need to share the joy. This is a not a Sunday Lunch you understand – as that’s a whole other kettle of fish, as you know. In fact it was a Wednesday lunch and bloody good too. We drove out to the delightful Staunton Arms in the beautiful Vale of Belvoir, we drove out because I can’t imagine there is really any other way to get there, I didn’t spot a bus, but one might exist. The Staunton Arms is certainly rural. I was recommended to try this – always a risk I find – but I was not disappointed. It is a 200 year old pub in a listed building in a small, what would you call it? probably hamlet rather than village, surrounded by rolling countryside. The weather was kind to us and we sat outside. It was busy, we only just found a parking space so full was it and I am glad we made reservations as the place was bustling (in a good …

On taking Mother to a very unlikely spot for Teppanyaki

Taking the FWM out for lunch is always a bit of a challenge as she lives in a village in Lincolnshire that is a virtual desert when it comes to local pubs (at least that sell decent food) and restaurants. In fact such a dearth is there that unless one is prepared to drive into Lincoln and take your chance on finding a parking space anywhere near where you want to be, or settle for a sandwich at the local garden centre, there is pretty much nowhere to go. So when I spotted a Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi bar existed on the Doddington Road  (the Lincoln Bypass, essentially) that also had parking, we decided to give it a go. If one is to imagine a setting (or even a name – Ethan’s) that looks less likely to host a Japanese restaurant I can’t think you could conjure up anything quite as unlikely as this. It is essentially on a garage forecourt abutting the ring road located in a rather odd (or quirky if you prefer) circular building with exposed iron scaffolding on the roof, which it shares with a BBQ grill …

Sicilian Stories, sweat and bruschetta

Love Italy, love Italian food (except gnocchi – just cannot get that stuff) and have had some amazing food on some fabulous holidays. I think I have visited probably 10 times, from the lakes in the North, to Rome, Tuscany and Venice, to Sorrento, Capri and Positano in the South, but never yet ventured to Sicily. So this year’s holiday was a first. Before Sicily though we have Birmingham airport, and I just wanted to share this gem with you. This beaut is a “sausage bloomer sandwich” and it cost £7. Yep. I will leave that with you…. Taormina is perched halfway up a cliff and is truly beautiful, a wonderful old town with meandering ginnels, alleyways and streets, with ancient artefacts (the odd 2000 year old amphitheatre or mosaic) around every corner, mingling with characterful old buildings and all human life, particularly Italians, for whom this is favourite holiday resort. The streets are packed with shops, restaurants and bars and the views from the cliff side over the med are stunning. Alongside the smaller antiquities there is also a truly fabulous Greek amphitheatre which …

Eating out in London – random musings on the great, the okay and the rest

We had some fabulous food on our recent stay to London, Adam Handling’s The Frog in Spitalfields, Smoking Goat in Soho and the Oystermen in Covent Garden were the highlights. We had some pretty good sushi (I am no expert on this, has to be said) at Eat Tokyo in Camden and a fabulous pizza in Neal’s Yard. All these have their own posts on the blog if you have the time. We had some not so good stuff – my taco at Greenwich Market was a particular low-light, soggy, gritty and taste free (see separate post).  and I had a not unpleasant but distinctly underwhelming salt beef brioche in Convent Garden Market. Popped to a couple of nearby café for breakfasts, I didn’t record the names for posterity and mostly I watched the rest of the FWF eat the food, but we had some decent fry-ups, and I discovered that a  “Liver Breakfast” is a thing. I think this is a fry-up with liver (I’m hazarding a guess here, but for sure most of the cafes in …

Street Food in Greenwich – not everything I ate recently was wonderful.

I didn’t actually know there was a market in Greenwich, so you live and learn. I haven’t been to Greenwich since I was a kid but it still seemed so familiar. I guess those old naval buildings appear in so many films, that you feel you know them, even though I think I was about 10 when I was last there. The Clipper from Bank was fast and with great views of the city in the sunshine, you have to wonder why people don’t commute this way more often.        Anyway, I was here to see a friend, so no time to admire the Cutty Sark apart from a fleeting glance through the glass dome that surrounds the ship’s hull. Great idea – tried hard to convince Plymouth they should so something similar with a copy of the Mayflower once upon a time….anyway enough of that. Greenwich Market, where I met said friend is a sort of artsy crafty affair, very pretty, lovely atmosphere. Good pub. It also, I discovered, has the ubiquitous street food …

Passing through Neal’s Yard? Homeslice Pizza- perfection.

So you know, you just wander around a small bit of London and the history and stories of the town never cease to take you by surprise. I know Seven Dials quite well, but not as well as I thought. I mean, how come I had never actually wandered into Neals Yard and Monty Python’s old gaff? Well with a bit of time to spare before a hair appointment, we popped in for some lunch. The sun was shining, the crowd was mingling and the smell of freshly cooked pizza was just that bit too much to resist. It was ages until dinner, in any event. Homeslice Pizza was buzzing, the place was rammed, queues were out the door, the woodfired oven was on full and the pizza smelled divine. Homeslice is rooted in streetfood, starting as precisely that (as so many do now, and it’s fab) and now has 3 permanent sites in Covent Garden, Fitzrovia and Shoreditch, so not a chain and I think it shows in the sheer quality of the pizza. Do something simply …

The Smoking Goat, Soho

So, here’s another gem, this time in Soho. Nestled between any number of guitar and musical instrument shops that stretch the whole length of Denmark Street is the entirely unassuming Smoking Goat. The ‘Goat describes itself as “Thai Barbecue” but it is as far from the usual fare that this implies as I’ve seen. Moreover, they specialise in using rare-breed British meat. Again, with much owed to Thai street food, (the guys behind this place travelled extensively in the northern regions of Thailand) this amazing food has transitioned perfectly. The Smoking Goat is small with around 20 covers at the front (if you include eating at the bar) and some more space at the rear (10 maybe?). The food is to die for, honestly, the flavours, textures and execution were just fabulous. Like The Oystermen in Covent Garden and, indeed, Rok in Shoreditch, I love the intimacy of these little places, each having a distinctive vibe and located in interesting places and characterful old buildings. I am pretty much done with stuffy formality and reverence when I’m …

There is no “r” in the month. But what the hell. The Oystermen, Covent Garden.

As you know, I’m an ostreophile. I love a good oyster (and, no, no chewing, just a push up against the roof of the mouth and a swallow, see earlier posts and please God, don’t cook them), so the opening of “The Oystermen” in Covent Garden just the week before our most recent visit to London put this squarely on the “hit list”. The Oystermen is small, like the Smoking Goat (more of that superb place later), located on Henrietta St just beside Covent Garden Market. Small, as in, maybe 20ish covers? but perfectly formed. Simple, fresh, seafood, trendy, bearded owner and chief shucker.  Not only am I a fan of oysters, I love a fresh boiled crab. I can dissect one with alarming alacrity, even if I do say so myself. Keep your boring, expensive lobsters and give me a good old fashioned brown crab.  I was at home the moment we walked in. I started with the oysters, (natch). Half a dozen, 2 of each type (the FWD can’t cope with the texture *rolls eyes* so she passed). Maldon Rock, Blackwater …

Adam Handling’s Frog in E1

As you may know (check out my blog post from 2015) I have been a fan of the lovely Adam Handling since the evening before the first airing of Masterchef, the Professionals (in which he featured) when I tweeted my view that he looked like a winner (he didn’t win, but still emerged the star of the show). The FWD would almost certainly dispute that I am a fan, and would probably suggest I am more of a rather embarrassing, aging groupie, with an inappropriate crush on a late 20 something year old chef… and this is probably fair.  We first ate Adam’s food at the Caxton and it was amazing even then, and we tried again when he opened the Frog last year but events intervened and we couldn’t make it. However, last week we rocked up to the rather cool The Frog in Spitalfields.  It feels like a pop-up but isn’t. It’s not what you’d necessarily expect  – after the slightly stuffy formality of the Caxton – with it’s graffiti-style logo and scribbled billet doux to Adam (and his food) on the walls. It’s kind …