Wednesday 27 November 2013

“Best of the rest” – November

I’m extra busy with work these days and no longer have as much time to commit to the blog. Whilst I have considered quitting altogether, I have also been trialling ways of cutting down the workload.

Many recent posts have not been as detailed as my early efforts. Even so, over the last few months I have had a number of meals out that I have not got around to blogging – some of these are places that I have tried for the first time; others have been revisits.

My latest idea, which will enable me to still cover the majority of meals out, should result in more time to focus on higher quality meals and places

For this, I have devised a simple system:
Dishes in bold are ones I loved & would definitely order again.
Dishes in my standard formatting are ones I enjoyed & may order again.
Dishes in red are ones I would be unlikely to order again.

Parkers Arms, Newton in Bowland, Clitheroe

We have visited Parkers Arms on a number of occasions and it remains a favourite place for excellent quality, locally sourced, properly cooked pub grub.

Black pudding sausage rolls with Parker’s piccalilli
Crab parfait, lemon jelly, Duerden’s watercress
Creamed game livers on toast
Parkers crumpet, Morecambe bay brown shrimp butter, Duerden’s watercress
Wild Bowland Duck Breast with Pickled Cherries

Peppered roast Dutton hare loin, pickled Chanterelles, celeriac puree
Hand raised venison & pork pasty with triple cooked chips
Ballotine of pheasant, creamed mash, roast quince & seasonal greens

Freemasons at Wiswell, Clitheroe
Freemasons is a gastropub with serious ambition. Service is slick and dishes are well presented and cooked to a high standard.

Foraged mushrooms – ragout, Madeira, crispy hen’s egg, truffle
Tandoori scallops – gammon, pineapple, pork pie sauce
Quail – spatchcock poached and roast, mushroom risotto, verjus, tuffle
Velouté of pumpkin and parmesan

Hake – roast loin, cassoulet of white beans, smoked haddock & leek / 
Treacle tart, double cream ice cream / Selection of artisan cheeses

Mughli, Manchester
Mughli has established itself as one of the best (if not the best) Indian restaurant in Manchester. Recent celebrity guests have included International sports stars, pop stars and the Prime Minister... plus anyone who like a good curry, friendly service and great cocktails. The "street food" menu is the star draw 

Pani Puri / Tava Roll / Chilli Okra Fries / Far Far / Halloumi Menander

Lamb Chops from the Charcoal Pit / Tamarind Mushroom Rice /
Dhaba Chicken / Masala Lamb & Potato Biryani / Chennai Curry

Aubergine mash / Lamb Nihari / Ruby Murray

Dogs ‘n’ Dough, Manchester
Having recently been to Bubbledogs in London, perhaps my expectations were unfairly high, foodwise. We liked the venue though and would consider returning if in a doggy mood.

Sides: BBQ Beans, Dog Bites, Onion Rings

No Way Jose – Salsa, Guacamole, Doritos, Sour Cream
The ADB – BBQ Beans, crispy bacon, poached egg
Gluttony fries with hot dog & cheese

Hunan, Manchester
A recent recommendation to us, our first experience of Hunan was a good one on the whole but, like many of the Chinese restaurants in Manchester, we come away feeling we should have learnt the Mandarin for, “Please can you cook the dished the authentic Chinese way and not the gloopy Anglicised way?

Aromatic crispy pigs intestines
Streamed & deep fried northern buns
Hand torn cabbage in vinegar

Mao’s pork / Sizzling aubergine in garlic sauce /
Tender lamb belly clay pot / Wings in OK sauce

Yuzu, Manchester
Yuzu remains one of my favourite places to eat in Manchester. Authentic Japanese food – I don’t get to eat there half as much as I would like!

Agedashi tofu / Kaisen don / Calpis

Bo Lang, London
Bo Lang is a shiny, new, pricey dim sum restaurant and teahouse in South Ken. I wasn’t good enough to challenge Yauatcha and A Wong as my favourites but I would return.

Forest mushroom, water chestnut and goji berry
Chicken, black truffle shui mai
Fried turnip cake with XO sauce

Short rib puff / Charsui bun / Hot & sour soup / Jasmine rice
Har Gau served with blackberry reduction

Bibendum, London
Bibendum in the fabulous former Michelin building used to be a regular haunt. A full meal there of just a drink, some oysters and quails eggs with spiced sea salt is a must for all foodies.

Quail eggs with spiced sea salt


Monday 25 November 2013

Berners Tavern, London

Back in April I was sat in my stepson’s cocktail bar, The Cufflink Club in Singapore, and I got chatting to a jovial chap who turned out to be a chef. He was telling me how, when he got back to the UK, he would be working on an exciting “new project” - I promised that I would swing by when his new place opened.

The chap’s name was Phil Carmichael. He was in Asia to represent his employer, Jason Atherton, at the Savour event and visit the Atherton group’s Keong Saik Snacks and Esquina restaurants.

Another Ramsay old boy, Phil has been working with Jason since they decided to quit the Maze operations and take on the world.

With a couple of Michelin stars to his name, Jason now operates: Pollen, Esquina and ‘Snacks’ in Singapore; 22 Ships in HK; The Commune Social and Table No.1 in Shanghai and, in London, Pollen St Social, Little Social, Social Eating House and their latest, Phil’s baby, Berners Tavern.

Berners Tavern is a grand high ceilinged room with ornate plasterwork and imposing chandeliers. If this isn’t enough grandeur, the walls are wreathed with traditional and quirky artworks of all shapes and sizes in gilt frames – a stunning space. I went for a breakfast and retuned for a late dinner.

Both times offered a completely different, yet similarly, Gatsbyesque vibe. At breakfast, Machito & His Afro-Cubans provided a chilled big band jazz sound. Berners provided a paper but I just sat, relaxed and enjoyed the room until my food arrived.

Eggs Royale

Brioche French toast, smoked streaky bacon, maple syrup

Grapefruit juice & a cappuccino

At dinner, the lights are turned down low and the music’s BPM and volume are cranked up. If only the candles strewn between the central booths could be replaced by flapper girls.

My wife and I shared our starters and opted for a ‘To share’ main.

Oysters (2 x Native Rock, West Mersea, Fine de Claire)
with pickled shallot & a Vietnamese dressing

Iceberg lettuce, avocado, Shropshire blue, garlic and yoghurt – a delicious combination that we have since replicated at home.

Whole slow cooked Irish ox, tongue ‘n’ cheek, whole roast carrots and onions, bone marrow & horseradish mash
– a delicious dish… luckily my ‘share’ was larger than my wife’s!

Verdict (Would I return?): I’ll definitely swing by for breakfast again and would be keen to go back in the evening with friends to enjoy more of the jazz age atmosphere.

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