All posts filed under: Restaurant Stories

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 …

Sunday Lunch at The “Old Vol”, Caythorpe

Well, well, another great pub. Thinking I am on a bit of a roll here and it must all go horribly wrong before much longer. Still for now, we visited the lovely Old Volunteer in Caythorpe with the FWH for Father’s Day. The pub is set in the pretty village of Caythorpe in the heart of the Nottinghamshire Countryside and within striking distance of some great walks along the Trent. As it was Father’s Day it was extremely busy, inside and out (weather was good) and the service was a masterclass in organisation (with the aid of technology – earpieces for the staff and communications with the kitchen – pretty impressive operation for a village pub). Jo, the landlady greeted every guest individually whilst simultaneously coordinating the food and the staff as well as noticing any slip in service (and making known she had spotted it…..), and even when I began to make a move on ordering my gravy on the side (as I had forgotten to ask when I first ordered) she was on it without a blink. In …

The Black Bull at Blidworth (Blid’uth)

Sometimes you just find a find, don’t you? The Black Bull is one of them. I had a stunning breakfast at the Black Bull a few months back in the company of Master Butcher, Johnny Pusztsai but this time we went for dinner. Got to be honest, from my side of Nottingham, Blidworth is a bit of a hike – around 30 minutes in a cab, but it is worth every penny. A traditional village pub, stylish and friendly, with absolutely superb food, an imaginative menu brilliantly executed and a great gantry. This may be my spiritual home in the coalfields… The Tasting Menu was very tempting but the dinner menu was just too hard to resist. We started with home-made bread and beef butter with puffed barley – put me in mind of Adam Handling’s chicken butter and crispy skin starter, and it was just as good. I was particularly tempted by the Lobster/Oyster/Cucumber/Caviar combination. I’m a sucker for oysters and caviar (cheap date, I am not) and the FWH went for the lamb …

The Railway, Lowdham

The Railway (formerly the Railway Inn) has had some serious money thrown at it and it shows.  A once tired local pub is now a really rather cool, contemporary pub/restaurant with some great nods in the decor to its railway heritage, a wood burning stove and an open pass to the kitchen as well as some brilliant space outside, including a raised deck. And, it feels great when you walk in. On my continued quest for a decent pub Sunday lunch it seemed worth a punt. I know I get a bit tiresome on the old Sunday Lunch theme, but as I hadn’t eat a Sunday roast in a pub for about 20 years as they had become so bloody awful and my own were so much better, I am now on something of a mission, and I always have the beef – even if the non-traditional Sunday menu looks more inviting, because beef is the hardest to cook well and keep and because its a fairer comparison (I know there is no real science …

Quite curious, but damn good. Mr P’s.

On a day out in York a few weeks ago, I decided to take up a recommendation from a fellow Great Food Club editor in Yorkshire and try out Mr P’s Curious Tavern (no relationship so far as I can tell to any “Curious” parlours, taverns, townhouses or manors in Nottingham). I am very glad indeed that I did. I’ m getting a bit weary of the parade of tapas, world tapas, cuban tapas, small plates thing there seems to be one popping up every few weeks, so few really do them well and honestly please don’t present me with another bowl of square chips puroporting to be patatas bravas and charging me a fiver for the privelege. No, I am becoming a little jaded with the whole tapas thing. But Mr P (the eponymous Mr Perkins is Andrew Pern, executive chef and chef owner at Michelin starred Star Inn at Harome and The Star Inn the City) is in another league though, offering a range (and I mean a range) of small plates with …

The Flying Childers at Chatsworth House

The Flying Childers Restaurant at the glorious Chatsworth House in Derbyshire is the latest foodie option to open on the Estate and it is not what you might expect. The Flying Childers (named after a prize winning stallion acquired by the 2nd Duke of Devonshire in 1719) offers only Afternoon Tea (and I use the word “only” advisedly here) and now brunch. That’s it, a brunch and afternoon tea restaurant. I recently visited for the Great Food Club  – check out the website greatfoodclub.co.uk Open for only 4 weeks when we visited, the Flying Childers is tucked away in the corner of the House’s magnificent stable block. I say tucked away as, although there is seating outside (as there is in much of the stable yard) when we visited the signage was so low key as to be almost invisible. Don’t let that put you off though, once inside the large glass doors you are greeted by a portrait of the eponymous Childers and find yourself in an elegant, refined and relaxed space which combines …

Eating out in Shoreditch – Pitt Cue, Rök & Som Saa, and breakfast at Ruby’s

So, I pretty much ate my way round around Shoreditch over a couple of days last week. In order to justify such excess, I offer this as my recommendations should you find yourself kicking your heels in the City of London and in need of sustenance. My hit list had included Pitt Cue, Fish (at Borough Market) and Som Saa. Two of these feature, Fish was replaced with the sublime Rök, which I stumbled upon when heading somewhere else and there were a couple of random additions. First up  (and a random addition) Busaba Thai, on Old Street, this is a chain, it seems there are 16 of them. This might explain the service. This was a “we’re tired and starving, what’s close?” choice, rarely a good basis for a restaurant decision, but needs must and all that. Spacious and dimly lit, with large shared tables, the interior is clean and modern with the odd nod to Oriental style, (paper lanterns) but it is subtle and not in your face. As there was barely anyone …

Spare me your side of despair. Sunday Lunch in Shelford.

The Earl of Chesterfield in Shelford is an odd sort of pub. For a start it doesn’t look like a pub, it looks like a house with bits added. Secondly, it has had an odd couple of years, being a pub then closing then being bought by the village as a community owned asset and then latterly by a partnership that includes the ex England cricketer Chris Board. It is a fairly popular place – particularly good for dog walking and horse-riding types who can get straight to the door from the surrounding fields and down a quick half before ambling, or trotting, off. But how is its Sunday Lunch? I wish you hadn’t asked, because I really, really wanted to like this odd little place. I’ll keep it brief. Service was fine, although there seemed to be too many staff for the number of customers and we were asked perhaps 5 times by different people if wanted a bottle of wine with our meal – even while we examined the wine menu. One poor …

This sexy mamma and that Sexy Mamma…

It takes a lot to impress me. This may be because I am old, cynical and jaded, it may be because I have very high standards or perhaps a bit of both, or maybe I’m just picky and difficult, I’ll let others decide. But just occasionally something comes along that surprises and delights and reminds you why it’s good to be alive. And it is. And Sexy Mamma Love Spaghetti is one of those things. Nothing is perfect of course, and I can find a few grumbles  – we were right by the door and it blew open several times and there was sharp wind on that corner, and perhaps, well, no, actually, I’m not even going to bother because this place is absolutely superb and it would be churlish to mention such issues in the scheme of things. SMLS is the third opening in about a 100 yard space in Nottingham’s trendy and bohemian creative quarter, Hockley, by Bosnian chef Edin Gondzic (him of the cool Patisserie, see my earlier blog post ). It …