Thursday 23 May 2013

Chorlton Green Brasserie - Manchester

Chorlton Green Brasserie is a brasserie on the Chorlton Green end of Beech Road in Chorlton, hence the name.

Having been open for less than a year, the brasserie was initially brought to my attention through the ‘Bacon On The Beech’ blog (here). My wife and I eventually made it along on a recent Sunday lunchtime.

‘Pros’ (based on our experience): excellent produce (much of it organic, sustainable and locally sourced from the region’s best producers and suppliers); great service (especially from the East European/Polish girl – sorry I didn’t ask her name); great atmosphere (very much a ‘Chorltonesque’ vibe); good range of wines, beers, teas and coffees.

Potted Crab Custard (£6.95) served with a celeriac & red chard salad with warm crusty bread – my wife was very happy with her choice of starter, and from the mouthful I tasted, I could see why.

Eggs & Bacon (£6.25) poached duck egg on a pea & bacon potato cake, buttered kale and a hollandaise sauce. Quite a lot of the albumen on the egg remained uncooked but schoolboy error aside, the dish was well conceived and tasty.

Roast Strip Loin of Beef (£11.50) served with twice roasted potatoes, proper gravy, roasted veg and a Yorkie pud. The meat (supplied by L.H. Frost) was the star of the show. The twice roasted potatoes though were nothing special, despite their supposed double roasting. The roasted roots and Yorkies were perfectly good.

Bubble & Squeak Pie (£13.50) with coconut, mustard, beetroot cream and a side of roasted roots. My wife loved her pie – the Barbie pink beetroot cream working well in classic partnership with mustard and coconut.

Death by Chocolate Pot (£4.75) a wonderfully rich chocolate pot served with short bread.

‘Sunday dessert of the day’ Banoffee Pie (£3.95) despite the overly arty smears, splatters and sprinkles, it was an enjoyable and keenly priced dessert.

‘Cons’ (based on our experience): home style cooking not faultless; waiting time for food was a tad too long; doll’s house furniture; some lessons needed in how to serve and prepare teas.

To explain the these points further: I appreciate the restaurant is small but the doll’s house furniture was definitely a disadvantage to a six footer like myself… unable to fit my legs under the table, I spent the duration of the meal teetering on the edge of my seat, imagining the chair splintering scene from Goldilocks when she sat on Baby Bear’s.

With regards to the tea – I was pleased to see Jeeves & Jericho teas on the menu and selected their high grade ‘Temple of Heaven’ Gunpowder Green Tea only for the leaves to be scorched to bitterness with boiling water straight from the coffee machine. As a keen tea drinker this is something that annoys be time and time again, often in even the finest restaurants (see my post about the 3 Michelin star Jean Georges post for a similar, yet more technically detailed, rant.)
It was definitely good enough for me to want to return – the breakfast menu with its Full English and Eggs Benedict has certainly piqued my interest. 

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Long Beach Seafood Restaurant, Singapore

Having opened in 1946 and responsible for the creation of the Singaporean dish ‘Black Pepper Crab’ Long Beach ‘Premium’ Seafood Restaurant is widely considered something of an ‘institution’ amongst locals. From their humble beginnings, the popularity of Long Beach now means there are several large outlets dotted throughout Singapore (we visited the branch at Dempsey).

Large tanks, more reminiscent of a Sea Life Centre than a restaurant, stocked with a wonderful array of seafood and fishes dominate the main dining space. The pick of the bunch included: Live Sea Mantis, air flown French Turbots, King Crabs, Lobsters, Sea Bass and the phallically endowed Geoduck.

Long Beach is the type of place large family groups will gather on a Sunday afternoon – on the one had it all seemed a bit ‘Harvester’ whilst on the other, the freshness and quality of the seafood cannot be denied.

Whilst the whole place, from décor to service to food presentation is a bit dated* compared to newer, swankier ‘celebrity restaurants’ in Singapore, the quality of seafood and the sense of tradition is enough, in my opinion, for a meal at Long Beach to warrant a position on the list of ‘must do’ places when in town.

*Their promotional material, even features ‘Ms Kimberley Anne Byers’ who, as I’m sure you’ll remember with great clarity, was crowned ‘Ms Intercontinental’ in 1991 – the packets of wet wipes depict her proudly showing off her crabs.

To share between four people, we ordered two prawn dishes: the House Speciality Live Prawn and Live Prawn with Japanese Sake and Goji Berries.  ‘Live’ obviously does not refer to how they arrive at the table but signifies that they are fished out of a tank just prior to cooking. As such, both dishes featured fresh plump prawns but it was the sweet sticky glaze of the sake prawns that got my vote.  

For our clam dishes, we ordered Steamed Live Scottish Bamboo Clam with Minced Garlic Fried and Live Geoduck with XO Sauce and Broccoli – with its phallic shaped ‘siphon’, geoduck meat is unsurprisingly considered an aphrodisiac (I cannot confirm this belief) -  I can however assert that the taste lies somewhere between scallops and abalone with a good crunchy texture.

It’s the Famous Live Black Pepper Crab that really draws the crowds at Long Beach. As with most seafood places of this type, you pay a seasonal price per gram; a large Sri Lankan Mud Crab can weigh in at a few kg – whatever the cost, it’s worth it for such spicy, messy goodness!

It’s not all about the seafood, the Dong Po’ Ribs with Honey Sauce and vegetable dishes of Baby Kailan with Minced Garlic and Asparagus with Minced Garlic were also excellent. 

Tuesday 21 May 2013

San Carlo Cicchetti – Breakfast

As the San Carlo Cicchetti states, ‘Italians are great at many things but the English still serve the best breakfast in the world.’ – and who am I to argue?

What I like about breakfast at Cicchetti (apart from the plush surroundings, slick service and great coffee) is that, thanks to the double yellow lines outside, there is usually plenty of space for my driver to pull up and wait.

Arriving on a large oval plate (almost as long as ‘my’ limo), the ‘pros’ for the ‘The Great Cicchetti Breakfast’ (£7.95) included: two decent pork and herb sausages; good quality bacon; a hearty roundel of black pudding; the hash brown and nicely scrambled eggs.

The ‘cons’ for me were the strange little wafer-thin semi circular toasts; mushrooms that I’d have liked to have been a little more ‘al dente’ and a tomato that I’d have like to have been grilled.

Disclaimer: some details above may not be entirely true (it’s not the bit about the good coffee or tasty breakfast.)

San Carlo Cicchetti on Urbanspoon

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