All posts tagged: dinner

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Can cook, but didn’t cook. A venture into (rather lovely) pre-prepared meals.

I think I can pretty much say we never eat “ready meals”. I am not averse to a good steak pie from a farm-shop or similar but ready-meals generally, nope. That is not because I am a food snob necessarily, (although I am, natch) we just generally don’t like the taste and my own food always tastes better. However, I made an exception this weekend, with a complicated Sunday of taxiing and trying to provide food, I decided extreme measures were called for to ensure we all got something decent for Sunday lunch. So I ventured over to “Cook” in West Bridgford. Cook is a frozen food specialist that claims they make “remarkable food for your freezer, made like you would at home” . I know, what you’re thinking  – posh “Iceland”. But you’d be wrong. Cook has a huge range of meals, mains, puddings, party food, even your entire Christmas lunch if you really wanted to push the boat out. The shop in West Bridgford is tidy, friendly and well designed, there is 2 …

Twenty Slices of Bread topped with Liverwurst (oh, and some sardines). Eating out in Dusseldorf.

I don’t speak a word of German. I can muster up a bit of French, and have probably still got some passable Finnish, but German – not a word. So as the daughter planned a week staying with a friend in Dusseldorf, we decided we’d grab the chance of a city break somewhere we’d neither of us been before. Dusseldorf is not the most obvious choice for a short break, I grant you, but if you like museums, art, food, old towns, modern architecture, designer shopping and large rivers, this may be the city for you. Thankfully most Germans have passable to excellent English, and as Dusseldorf is not your typical tourist town, this is really rather useful. We stayed at the Orangery, a modern “boutique” hotel in an old house in a quiet cobbled courtyard, metres from the Rhine and minutes from the heart of the old town, with its alleys of restaurants and bars, and a few minutes more from the fabulous designer shopping streets and malls. A pretty perfect location in fact. …

Fish and Chip Shop Tempura Veg

Anything battered is a hit in our household (the husband is Scottish, I cast no aspersions here but, well, you know..). Over time, my light and hardly noticable Tempura Batter has adapted to meet our domestic tastes, so yes, it is more chip shop than Tokyo but still delicious. Made to a fairly typical recipe, but thicker, just 3oz plain flour, 1 tbsp cornflour, pinch of salt, enough ice-cold sparkling mineral water (or lager beer) with a few ice cubs to form a thick paste like batter (or much thinner if you want to be more authentic) whisk roughly – a few lumps are okay. Fry.

Holborn, History and Tapas

Holborn is not our usual haunt, but, for reasons I won’t bore you with you, we spent a week (with a hiatus in the middle) in this part of London for the first time. It is a fabulous area, particularly if you are a fan of legal history or Charles Dickens – each corner, each building, every nook, cranny, street-name and Church evokes our legal history, Fleet Street casts its long shadow of journalism and print making (visit St Brides Church and be amazed). A stroll down to the River through the Inns of Court, Blackfriars, Chancery, from the Knights Templar to the Pickwick Papers, legal and literary history is all around you. What isn’t all around you, unless you look very hard are too many amazing restaurants (I am ready to be corrected here, of course). Random restaurant picking generally goes two ways for me – “what a wonderful find, aren’t we lucky!” or “Christ, what a waste of money, only ate it because I was starving”. Somehow both are more satisfying than spending …