Review: Skosh, York

I left planning York far too late. We booked trains, booked hotels and then pretty much forgot about the holiday until the week before we left. And that caused panic. We’re both massive foodies so arriving somewhere without any real idea of where we’re eating is a nightmare, not to mention I need several days to look at a menu and decide on what I’m ordering. Not to mention it seemed like a lot of places were closed on Sunday/Monday nights! I panic-asked around (a.k.a tweeted…) and got a few recommendations. Including Skosh.

 photo Skosh_zpsv9pzgchb.jpgA quick glance at the menu and we had to visit. The seasonal menu was just full of things we love to eat, all with innotivate little twists, and the price point was so much lower than anywhere similar in London. Problem? The website showed it was fully-booked. I rang anyway (nothing like the lure of delicious food) and secured their Chef’s Table for Sunday lunch. We were sat on high-stools overlooking the cooking and plating area – and actually it was perfect. The stools were comfortable and we could see all the action. I’m definitely doing to be cooking cabbage on a griddle pan in future! But the food. Oh the food…

 photo Skosh York Review 21_zpsfmuscwpc.jpgSkosh is full of ‘snacks’ and ‘small plates’ – the idea is you order 2-3 each (ideally sharing between you!), they are brought out in the most complementary sequence and you can then order more if you fancy. As the menu is (quite rightly!) seasonal a few bits and bobs have changed since we left, and I can’t remember the exact ingredients of some dishes – but there were no duds at all. Absolutely everything was delicious, it was a dining experience I really didn’t want to end! The style of the food is difficult to describe – they’re taking classic British ingredients and giving them a slight Indian and Middle-Eastern twist. Whatever it is, it works!

We started with bread, served with a smooth and creamy butter and gunpowder spice. This was addictively good. Some swear you can tell the quality of the restaurant by it’s bread, and whilst I’m not completely convinced (I’ve had excellent bread and poor food) it did give high hopes. The star here was the gunpowder spice. I couldn’t tell you what was in it, but it was good. So good. Bread and butter hasn’t been the same since.

 photo Skosh York Review 7_zpsdjls1lye.jpg photo Skosh York Review 8_zpsccrwn1bu.jpgOur first ‘plate’ was cured halibut, wild garlic, watermelon and black sesame. This salad was light, fresh, flavorsome and delicious. Despite the sweetness from the melon, it was also intensely savoury. Yum. I’ve only recently been able to stomach cured/raw fish and this is the best example I’ve tried. It was also a stunningly presented plate of food – everything we ate was beautiful, but watching this be plated up, flowers placed on using tweezers, really showcased the care and attention used by the chefs.

 photo Skosh York Review 10_zpsfbhlmxmv.jpg photo Skosh York Review 14_zps5wx4odu6.jpg photo Skosh York Review 15_zpsuouyekub.jpgSecond was another ‘snack’ – Skosh fried chicken with a brown butter hollandaise. The chicken was extremely crispy whilst remaining juicy, and the hollandaise so good I scooped the leftovers up with a spoon. It had been passed through a siphon gun so it was light and fluffy, almost mousse like. Perfectly seasoned and just delicious.

Next up was something else from the fryer – crispy saddleback pork and rhubarb ketchup. The ketchup is switched up throughout the seasons, but I thought the rhubarb we ate was spectacular. It cut through the pork with a really sutble sweet-sharp flavour. The pork also fell apart with the slight press of a fork, it’s outer crispy and it’s inner so soft and melt-in-the-mouth.

 photo Skosh York Review 18_zpsavfjj8by.jpg photo Skosh York Review 17_zps6ekxgpjq.jpgWhat followed was W’s dish of the day – Skosh’s take on kedgeree. Some more cured fish (smoked haddock this time), mixed with radish and samphire, served with a crisp, spiced rice cracker and a cured egg yolk. Light, tasty and just delicious. Unfortunately I don’t think this is on the menu anymore, but it was a definite highlight of the meal.

 photo Skosh York Review 28_zpsh1rn930r.jpg photo Skosh York Review 24_zpsqej1jgs6.jpgNext was my favourite – and one of the two ‘bigger plates’ we ordered (only really differentiated on the menu by their price point, being around £5 more than the smaller plates). Crisp lamb belly, sumac yoghurt, pickled onion and pomegranate were served with a griddled hispi cabbage. The burnt ends of the cabbage had a bitterness than was perfectly tempered by the sweetness of the pomegranate and richness of the lamb. A kind of summery roast dinner, I loved it!

 photo Skosh York Review 34_zpsglygggmv.jpg photo Skosh York Review 32_zpspgdfsqee.jpgWhilst not hungry by this point, we did decide to add in another big plate to our original order – mainly because it sounded so intriguing we didn’t want to miss out. A large piece of cod was served ‘tandoor style’ with grilled pineapple, fresh coconut and a perfect lentil dhal. I was a bit suspicious of the pineapple combo (it’s not a fruit I particularly like as it is!) but it worked so well with the heavy spices and the delicate fish. This is a plate that could have easily been inedible had the balance not been right, so it really shows the skill level of the chefs.

 photo Skosh York Review 39_zpsankof4wh.jpg photo Skosh York Review 35_zpstckjmj2k.jpg photo Skosh York Review 37_zps6quxw582.jpg photo Skosh York Review 40_zpsiolxs57r.jpgAnd then, of course, it was pudding (we were on holiday after all!). We ordered the Peanut Milkshake with Caramel Donut to kick-start out sweet fix. Both perfectly made, though perhaps the less exciting option…

Much more interesting was the white chocolate sphere with roasted banana and yuzu – a balance of textures, temperatures and flavours that got more delicious and more intriguing as you ate. By far and away one of the best puddings I’ve ever eaten.

We stumbled out, slightly over-full and wishing we could have eaten more. Now if only we had something this good, at this price point, in London…

What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever visited?

Review: Putney Pies

I’m not going to lie, finding out this place existed pretty much sealed the deal for me on where I wanted to live in London. I’m only half joking – we’d narrowed it down to somewhere on the West-end of the District line and then this place came to my attention. Putney it was!

(The cheaper council tax also helped…)

 photo Putney Pies_zps7v1qaahi.jpgWeirdly, I’ve only been twice – and those two visits were shamefully within six days of each other. W is yet to visit (much to his disgust). It’s a shame it’s coming up to summer time now, as pies aren’t exactly going to help me get my summer bod this year!

 photo Putney Pies2_zpskh9mtqa8.jpg photo Putney Pies4_zpspiunzqn8.jpg photo Putney Pies1_zps8qjnhnsa.jpgThe first time I visited I had the Chicken & Ham Hock Pot Pie, whilst my date (the lovely Libby) enjoyed her Steak & Ale Pie. My pie was in a deep, fully-filled bowl topped with buttery short-crust pastry and served with creamy mash. The sauce was light, almost-stock like, but full of flavour. There was plenty of chunky chicken and ham, along with carrots and leeks. The mash was smooth and completely lump-free. All in all delicious!

 photo Putney Pies9_zpsstuyab0o.jpg photo Putney Pies13_zps25ik1b7w.jpgOn my next visit I enjoyed the Pork and Apple Pie. Fully encased in the same perfect pastry, it was packed full of juicy pork, bacon, apple pieces and a delicious cider sauce. The only criticism I have here is that it was a little dry – however as I was unable to have the gravy (damn you, sneaky tomatoes!) this is probably why. My mum enjoyed the Beef Bourguignon Pie with triple cooked chips. I have to say the chips were perfect!

 photo Putney Pies8_zpsxlz1clif.jpg photo Putney Pies14_zpsntobdjyr.jpgBoth times we had a side of Season Veg – normally I wouldn’t bother mentioning something like this, but it was lovely. Everything was perfectly cooked and lightly dressed in butter. Little touches but it made all the difference. On the second visit we also splurged and shared the Brownie with ice-cream – and it was a damn good brownie. Warm and gooey, rich and indulgent tempered with creamy ice-cream and a salted caramel sauce.

Coupled with some of the yummiest prosecco I’ve tried, this was a meal of pie perfection. I’m almost impatient for Autumn when it’s back to pie weather!

Are you a fan of pies? What’s your favourite filling?

Review: Choccywoccydoodah Bar du Chocolat, Brighton

I mentioned in a recent foodie round-up that I’d finally managed to try Choccywoccydoodah in Brighton – and I alluded to the fact that it didn’t disappoint. In fact it far exceeded my expectations.

 photo Choccywoccydoodah_zpsqd1ojbgu.jpgAdmittedly my expectations were low to begin with. I’d always thought of it as a tourist trap. A bit tacky. Too much sugar-craft and poor ingredients. Expensive and tasteless. I’m happy to admit I was wrong on all accounts. Well, maybe it is a bit tacky, but in a good way.

The shop, in particular downstairs, really showcases the cake-decorating talent of the team. From someone who can’t ice to save her life, I was so, so impressed. There is also a range of wedding cakes to browse,perfect for a budding bride – although I’m sure they cost far more than our cake budget! Still, a girl can dream…

We weren’t there to wedding plan though. Nope, for us it was all about the chocolate! We headed up to their little cafe upstairs and surprisingly got seated straight away. There was a queue pretty much throughout our stay though, so go prepared to wait! Service was quick and friendly until we were nearly finished. We got presented with our receipt (without asking – but it felt a bit like a hint), but we waited for a good 10 minutes with our purses out before having to head up to the counter to pay. Still, at least I got to gawp at the massive 6+ layer chocolate cakes!

 photo Choccywoccydoodah Brighton 9_zpsygc7zyk0.jpg photo Choccywoccydoodah Brighton 7_zps9hptap4t.jpg photo Choccywoccydoodah Brighton 4_zpso9yubtie.jpgAll 3 of us ordered a chocolate dipping pot each (a mistake – 2 between 3 would have been plenty!). We all went for milk, though I wish I’d been brave enough to go for dark. Served with marshmallows, honeycomb, rocky road, coconut madeleines, strawberries, shortbread and some kind of fudge cake it was huge. The milk chocolate was delicious, though I think dark would have cut through the sweetness a little better. The only poor point on the plate was the honeycomb, being a little too chewy and lacking crunch.

The chocolate was (surprisingly to me) oh-so-good. Creamy, rich, just the right amount of sweetness and with a lovely deep cocoa taste. By far one of the best milk chocolates I’ve tried in a while!

 photo Choccywoccydoodah Brighton 3_zps7wb2viev.jpgBeing the greedy piglet I am, I also ordered a praline milkshake. I ask for it without chocolate; a good shout as it was light and refreshing. By far and away the best milkshake I’ve had. Next time though? I’m definitely trying the cake!

Have you ever been to Choccywoccydoodah? What did you think?

Review: Peruvian Food & Señor Ceviche, Carnaby Street

With Will spending January in Chile, he came back with a taste for lighter, fresher food. Typically I was used to the cold weather and was craving comfort food and stodgy carbs – so finding a destination for our first date night of the year was difficult! After much too-ing and fro-ing and menu consulting, we decided on Señor Ceviche. Offering both Ceviche and Peruvian Barbecue we thought there would be plenty of choice to keep both of us happy!

 photo Senor Ceviche_zpsi2qthbfj.jpg photo Senor Ceviche 13_zpsmytnvhsm.jpgFirst off, Kingly Court is one of my favourite little pockets of London – a multiple level open area, with around twenty different restaurants offering food from across the globe. Plus Carnaby Street is a bit of shopping-addicts playground! The restaurant carried on the relaxed feel of it’s surroundings – the decor felt authentic and homely, the music was foot-tappingly fun, and the staff super-friendly. I love it when restaurants have an open kitchen too, it gives me more to be nosey at…

Allergy information obtained, having studied the menu over the few days leading up to date night we both quickly ordered. We took the opportunity to catch up properly before our food came out – as this visit was back in February (hence the horribly dark and badly edited photos!) it was our first chance to properly talk about his trip. We were also given some popped corn to nibble on while we waited – insanely addictive stuff!

 photo Senor Ceviche 7_zpsfu5sohu7.jpg photo Senor Ceviche 8_zpscpeuanvk.jpg

Food arrived as and when it was ready – but it arrived quickly and pretty much at the same time anyway. The Pachamanca pork ribs were slathered with a slightly sweet sticky sauce and peanuts. The meat fell right off the bone, the sauce was insanely good – these were very much a favourite of us both. I only wish we had more of them! I absolutely loved the Anticucho De Res of beef heart skewers served with sweet potato mayonnaise, aji panca, botija olives and mint. The heart arrives in big pieces, each one folded onto a skewer, with a good gamey texture. It was rich, satisying and super-flavoursome, though I’m a big fan of offal as it is. Will wasn’t convinced by these, and he was definitely put off by the strong olive flavour of the topping. I have to say, I was massively disappointed with the presentation considering Señor Ceviche’s own Instagram post above!

 photo Senor Ceviche 3_zpsv2fwmztu.jpg photo Senor Ceviche 2_zpszdpltery.jpg photo Senor Ceviche 1_zpsqeqglmde.jpgFrom the ceviche, we went both hot and cold. The hot option was mussels with rocotto & coconut tiger’s milk, chorizo and charred sourdough – it was rich, spicy and intensely savoury, and the mussels well cooked and juicy. I wished we had had more bread to mop up the delicious sauce too…though I may have used the empty mussel shells to ferry most of it down! The sea bass ceviche with aji limo tiger’s milk, sweet potato puree, choclo corn, red onion, coriander & plantain is their classic dish. Beautifully fresh and zesty, full of colour and full of flavour – this was my first time trying ceviche so I was a little nervous, but I definitely enjoyed it!

The only dud of our meal was the quinoa. We both love the stuff, but this was really buttery which clashed with all the other flavours. It was overly rich and cloying – not good at all, in fact completely inedible. If our servers hadn’t been so lovely, we probably would have sent it back…

 photo Senor Ceviche 9_zps29jlj7l2.jpgWhilst W was more self-restrained and ended his meal with a Pisco Sour (too sweet apparently, he preferred the ones he had in South America) I finished with the Dulche de Leche. Tooth-achingly sweet, the warm sauce and crunchy pecans went wonderfully with the smooth ice-cream. It was the perfect end to the meal for me!

Quinoa aside, we both really enjoyed our time at Señor Ceviche. Our issue was the price – whilst not expensive, we both felt for the portion size all of the dishes (with perhaps the exception of the ribs) was overpriced. Considering the two of us can eat a massive meal at Wahaca for less than £25 total, we both felt a little put-off by our bill – and whilst we enjoyed our food, it didn’t absolutely blow us away. Perhaps we’re still not used to London restaurant prices!

Have you been to Señor Ceviche? What’s your favourite restaurant in London?

Review: Brunch at The Dynamo, Putney

One of the other main foodie loves in my life (beside burgers) is eggs. Fried, scrambled, baked, poached and of course the dippy egg. Served with toast, bubble and squeak, chips, or in a bacon sandwich, I just love eggs. As long as it has a runny yolk (I warn you now, never, ever serve me up a non-runny yolk. I will and have sent eggs back for such a crime) you can pretty much guarantee I’ll love it.

 photo Dynamo_zpsqc4v05mt.jpgI almost ruined eggs for me though. My pre-exam meal throughout my final-year exams was two slices of toast, two slices of ham and two poached eggs. Mushrooms if I had them to hand. Now I struggle to stomach the thought of poached eggs, and I haven’t eaten that particular combo since my last exam. In fact, I’ve had poached eggs a grand total of two times since – both whilst out for brunch.

Once was at Cambridge Street Kitchen with some blogging gals – nothing special, toast too crunchy and eggs only just the right side of ‘done’. Another 5 seconds and I’d have sent them back (though considering it took an hour for them to materialise, maybe not…).

Then there were these. The. Best. Eggs. Ever.

 photo Dynamo Putney Brunch 9_zpsxfnekvaa.jpgI’m not even exaggerating. I mean, just look at that yolk.

Dynamo is a strange pizza-brunch-cylist workshop-cafe type place just around the corner from us. It’s dangerously close given it’s menu, though somehow we’ve only eaten there twice since moving in back in August (plus a cheeky Deliveroo order, because it was raining and I needed pizza). I’m not exactly sure what kind of concept and vibe they were aiming for, but it works. It’s the kind of industrial interior that looks good on your Instagram feed. The kind of menu that makes you go ‘oooh’ and have to ponder for a while. Smiley staff. And a bike workshop in the mornings if that takes your fancy… You can even take your dog, which I’m SO doing next time he comes to stay!

 photo Dynamo Putney Brunch 11_zpsgt6olcja.jpg photo Dynamo Putney Brunch 12_zps985di4b8.jpgThe pizzas (I know, this is a brunch review) are some of the best I’ve had. Pillowy, soft sourdough base which some really interesting toppings. There’s a good selection (three!) of white pizzas, including a totally irresistible Pancetta, Fennel & Pomegranate combo. Try it and thank me later.

And now to brunch.

Also a ‘different’ menu. No traditional Full English here. The ‘Full Dynamo’ features sweetcorn fritters, there’s blueberry pancakes with bacon, chorizo hash and all kinds of other egg-based delights.

 photo Dynamo Putney Brunch 5_zps8vly6r1e.jpg photo Dynamo Putney Brunch 4_zpshr3uofj7.jpg photo Dynamo Putney Brunch 2_zpsd5sfii8i.jpgW had the Chilli Scrambled Eggs – “Scrambled Eggs, Nduja Toast, Feta and Zhoug.” Yep, we had to google Zhoug too (it’s a green chilli sauce). The scrambled eggs were some of the best we’d tried, which considering we have very different ideas about what scrambled eggs should be (I’m creamy and barely cooked, he’s firmly set but fluffy) is a pretty tall order to satisfy. The nduja and zhoug added just the right amount of spice, and the feta added a gorgeous fresh tang. Scrambled eggs, but not the nursery supper from your childhood. He certainly had a happy face after eating!

Then there was my order. Eggs Eddy, a spin on my favourite Eggs Benedict – “Poached Eggs, Black Pudding, Citrus Hollandaise and Seven Seeded Sourdough.” Guys, black pudding instead of ham is a revelation. I know not everyone is a fan of it, but I LOVE it and this worked so, so well. It was perfectly cooked (crispy outer, soft and melting inner), topped with perfectly cooked eggs. Gooey yolks, just set whites and no firm yolk in sight. And the colour. And flavour. So good. The citrus hollandaise was delicious, with the zing cutting through the rich meat so I didn’t feel (too much) like waddling out afterwards.

 photo Dynamo Putney Brunch 6_zps7tztzscx.jpg photo Dynamo Putney Brunch 8_zpssa9hiopd.jpgThe only complaint (from both of us) was that we’d have loved an additional bit of toast, or a thicker slice. A little thing, and we could have easily ordered some had we not been off to devour birthday cake!

So yep, this is my local brunch spot. Safe to say I’m not planning on finding a new flat any time soon! I’d highly recommend a trip out to deepest SW15 if you’re looking for a new brunch spot…Now all I need to do is find out who supplies their eggs!

Where’s your favourite brunch spot?

Review: Honest Burgers, Covent Garden

I subtly alluded a few weekends ago that I quite like a burger.

 photo Honest Burger_zpsgd83mpms.jpgScratch that, I pretty much shouted from the rooftops about my love for burgers. This year I’ve made it my mission to find my ultimate burger. I’ve got a meat grinder attachment for the KitchenAid to try and make my own. I have an ever-growing list of places to try (and please, please feel free to add your favourite burger to it!). I even, much as I am ashamed to admit it, day-dream about burgers. Please tell me I’m not the only one?!

When we moved to London Honest Burgers was top on my list of places to visit, but despite my office being literally on top of one, it took me until November to visit. Then I went again in December. And again since. It’s taken me until now to pen up a review, and I’m not entirely sure why. Because, quite simply, I could have summed it up with a simple Instagram post and a “Yum” #thumbsup.

 photo Honest Burger Review 1_zpsgeseavtn.jpg(Fun Fact: my flatlay of Honest burgers was my first Instagram photo to smash through 100 likes).

We visited after a few drinks, and before more drinks, with a small-ish group of friends one Saturday night. Despite going to the small Covent Garden branch, we maybe waited 20 minutes for a table (heading off for more drinks whilst we waiting for the all important phone call!) – definitely not the wait we were expecting!

Between us we probably ordered most of the menu. A couple of cheeseburgers, a couple of “plain Jane’s”, a couple of Tributes, a chicken, the special at the time (some with black sesame seeds and kimchi) and my “Honest” burger. Everything comes with chips (a nice surprise!), and we also grabbed a couple of buckets of onion rings to share.

 photo Honest Burger Review 5_zpsn4fklxkd.jpg photo Honest Burger Review 10_zps7nbor936.jpgI always think that if a restaurant names a burger after themselves, it’s got to be a bloody good burger. Byron made that mistake (it was a bit disapointing), but Honest really nailed it. For one, it didn’t contain tomatoes. At all. It’s rare I can enjoy a relish, or even not have to trust them to not put a sneaky tomato slice in, but this was pure tomato-free goodness. A thick meaty patty cooked just right (plenty of oozy pink, but nothing too slime-ily raw about it), seasoned well and actually tasting of beef. Lots of oozy cheese. A good spoonful of onion relish, but not too much it took over. Crisp but not tooth-shatteringly so bacon. A token bit of salad. Some gorgeous lightly picked cucumber – slightly sharp, still crunchy and adding a gorgeous refreshing element. All held together in one of the best brioche burger buns I’ve tried. Despite the juiciness of the patty it held together pretty damn well. I didn’t get it all down my front at least…

 photo Honest Burger Review 3_zps3wha0un7.jpgOther burgers got similar reviews. W had the kimchi special, which I didn’t try (I’m not a fan of kimchi or sauerkraut flavours at all) but it did look and smell good – and disappeared in super-quick time. The chicken burger also looked damn good, even if I never order them. And whilst the cheeseburger did look good, when you can add bacon and relish I’m just not too sure whether I’ll ever order one…

The chips were also a revelation. I’ve become used to disappointing chips, and nothing is worse than a limp fry – but these were stunning. Chunky, almost chip-shop style, but with lots of crispy bits. Drenched in a rosemary salt, they were incredibly moreish and I hoovered up the massive portion size. On my second visit I went after work in my tightest pencil skirt. Bad decision. I forced the chips down and then couldn’t sit down on the tube to get home.

 photo Honest Burger Review 7_zpscwpzqxr3.jpgIn fact, the only dud were the onion rings. And I was super disappointed. One, because I bloody love onion rings (number one place so far has been Burgers & Cocktails, followed rather closely by Ed’s Diner). Two, because I’m heard so many people raving about Honest’s onion rings. Sure, they were reasonably crispy, but the onions inside were watery, and the batter thick and almost doughy. A raw spice taste to them too – despite only two portions between 7 of us, they were the only thing we failed to polish off…

 photo Honest Burger Review 9_zpshsqynyy2.jpgOnion rings aside, Honest Burgers jumped straight to the top of my ‘favourite burger’ list. Excellent meat, good buns, supremely moreish chips. They’ve recently had a ‘Sunday Roast’ burger special with bacon gravy (!) and roast potatoes that I’m desperate to try, and I’m only gutted I didn’t manage to grab one of their Christmas specials. This year, this year.

Have you ever been to Honest Burgers? What did you think? Where’s your top burger in London?

 

Restaurant Review: Mac & Wild, London

Scotland is somewhere super-close to our heart. And I love burgers. So when we found out about a Scottish restaurant who made London’s best burger of 2015, there was no question about where we were spending our anniversary. We donned some fancy-ish clothes (me bringing out a dress I love, but is too dressy for every-weekend wear, too low-cut for work), I whacked on the date-night makeup (because wearing Mac Diva is great for eating a burger…) and we headed out for a much anticipated evening.

mac-wild photo Mac amp Wild Restaurant Review 1_zpsykqkcpjl.jpgAnd it didn’t disappoint.

I could just finish the review of Mac & Wild here, by telling you to go, to go book a table, eat plenty of meat, drink lots of whisky and feel very merry, very happy and very full. It would sum up exactly how I felt about the place. But obviously I’ll have to tell/show you exactly why you should make the effort to get to this Scottish gem in the heart of London.

It’s small, it’s cozy, it’s ‘trendy’ lighting didn’t make for great photos. Walls were adorned with stag’s heads and rather graphic photos. Staff were outstandingly welcoming and friendly, taking the time to talk us through the menu and ask about our days. And the food was damn good.

 photo Mac amp Wild Restaurant Review 2_zpshnhr7kff.jpgWe started by splitting a ‘lighter’ choice alongside a heavier one. The Bone Broth was deceptively heavy, in a good way. Rich, unctuous, this is the kind of thing you crave when ill. I’d happily bulk buy and store in the freezer. The Scotch Egg was a heavier choice. A perfectly cooked egg (no set yolk here), encased in wonderfully flavourful venison meat, covered in crisp breadcrumbs and served with a mustard so perfect I’m tempted to contact Mac & Wild and find their supplier. I was a little wary that the meat was rare, but it was piping hot, tender and worked well all together. Definitely a filling portion!

 photo Mac amp Wild Restaurant Review 3_zpsenykwgk9.jpgW went ‘date-night suitable’ for his main, choosing the Venison Steak with Bearnaise. The steak arrived pre-sliced, and cooked as it’s meant to be cooked (there was no choice given upon ordered, so be warned if you aren’t a fan of rarer meat!). It was gorgeous – extremely tender and beautifully rich in flavour rendering the silky and buttery Bearnaise unnecessary. I stoke a piece and almost, almost regretted not suggesting sharing a Chateaubriand.

The reason for not regretting? Well, London’s best burger of course…

 photo Mac amp Wild Restaurant Review 5_zpsgn6iiev0.jpg photo Mac amp Wild Restaurant Review 6_zpsz7at3wrc.jpgWhilst I’m not quite sure it deserves that title (more research needed, you see), it was a damn good burger. Both patties were cooked well – tender and moist, a slight hint of pink to the beef. They were well-season whilst remaining a good ‘meat’ flavour; you could tell which was which. The Bearnaise added moistness and richness, the cheese and mustard (more of that addictive mustard!) adding a salty kick. I usually pick the pickles out of a burger, but here they worked perfectly to add a much needed tang. I added the Candied Bacon, but honestly I’d say it’s not really necessary (shock horror!) – I found it got a little lost amongst all the flavours, and wasn’t quite crisp enough to add an extra texture. The bun held it all together, but the big issue with the burger? It was just too big. It was impossible to eat all elements at once and ultimately I felt it suffered. And date-night suitable? Definitely not. My lipstick was down my chin before I was halfway through the burger…

 photo Mac amp Wild Restaurant Review 7_zpspossdcak.jpg photo Mac amp Wild Restaurant Review 4_zps2xqiqurt.jpg photo Mac amp Wild Restaurant Review 8_zpseuo5yvwv.jpgWe both went for sides of Haggis Mac & Cheese. I’m a huge mac’n’cheese fan (if you hadn’t already guessed), and haggis is a major foodie love of mine. The two together was something I’d never considered (though I’m now anxiously awaiting Burn’s Night) – it’s a pretty good combo! The Mac was cheesy and rich, the haggis moist and peppery, and the crispy topping by far the best topping on a restaurant one I’ve tried. My only complaint? It was a little dry, though I saw ones at different tables that looked a lot looser and creamier. I was a bit jealous if I’m honest!

 photo Mac amp Wild Restaurant Review 10_zpsril5vxv3.jpg photo Mac amp Wild Restaurant Review 9_zpscejbwlag.jpgPuddings were also a success. The Cheeseboard came with a good selection, though we were a bit perplexed at the lack of biscuits considered one of them was a softer cheese. My desert, however, was the winner. The “I Shouldn’t But I Will’ was a dark chocolate Nemesis, salted caramel sauce, orange, almonds, & taffy crumble base. I was recommended a side of salted caramel ice-cream; I declined but rather wish I hadn’t as the portion did need something to break it up a little. That said, we both enjoyed it – I just preferred the savoury options and rather wished I’d tried the Haggis Pops instead!

We paired our food courses with whiskies, generally going with their suggestions (apart from my desert; I was recommended a smoky Islay whisky of which I’m not a fan, so went with my favourite tipple). All were deliciously drinkable and did complement the dishes perfectly. We left clutching our stomaches and swaying slightly…

Mac & Wild definitely impressed us, and it’s certainly left us wanting more. I know without a doubt I’ll be back to sample more. Their Sunday Roasts sound rather intriguing, they have a delicious sounding brunch menu, and their Dirty Buttery Mash sounds too good to miss.

Have you ever tried Haggis? What’s your favourite London restaurant?

Lifestyle: Chocolate Afternoon Tea at Whittlebury Hall

I love a good old fashioned Afternoon Tea, I’m a huge fan of chocolate – so it doesn’t get much better than a Chocolate Afternoon Tea. Add in a gorgeous spa hotel, comfy sofas, gossiping with my mummy and some Champagne and you’ve got a perfect way for me to while away a few hours.

 photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 7_zpsz7lz3oyv.jpgWith university and exams getting in the way, I shamefully realised in August that I hadn’t yet treated my mum to the lunch I promised her for Mother’s Day. Way back in March. Whoops! To rectify things I booked the Chocolate Afternoon Tea at Whittlebury Hall – this was the perfect treat to indulge our sweet teeth (tooths?) and spend some quality time together ahead of my move to London.

The afternoon tea setting was gorgeous. A large room full of sofas and comfy chairs, bookings are limited to avoid overcrowding and allowing tables to stay occupied for as long as possible. We were there for approaching three hours and never once felt rushed. We were also able to gossip away without feeling like we were disturbing nearby tables, perfect for a girly afternoon.

 photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 10_zps5dw8s04q.jpg photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 6_zpsvyazvkxa.jpg photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 5_zps0kim67zh.jpg photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 4_zpss5uo8z38.jpgThere was a bit of a mix-up with our afternoon tea – a not very chocolately one arrived, but we assumed it was fine so tucked in. It was only after we’d polished off the scones (me picking out the dried fruit, very classy) that we saw the actual chocolate tea being delivered to another table. We enquired to the most loveliest waiter who promptly refreshed our top layer of cakes and pastries to a chocolate one, offered us the chocolate chip scones (declined for fear of our waistlines) and poured us a complimentary glass of ‘apology’ champagne. Damn good service right there! The standard AT included a peach cream, mini Victoria sponge and many other dainty little bits.

Pots of tea were unlimited, myself having a malty Assam, and mum the good ol’English Breakfast. Both loose leaf, both with plenty of milk and sugar and extra pots of water provided. And very good tea it was too.

 photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 2_zpswxsq5vhj.jpg photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 3_zpsmt2rqjvr.jpgThe sandwiches were obviously made fresh, lovely soft bread and generous fillings. I was pleased to see the cucumber had been deseeded, which made the world of difference to what is usually quite a soggy sandwich. The salmon was fresh, though neither of us are the biggest fans of it. We also weren’t hugely taken with the ham and mustard; a combination I normally love, I found it a little sweet-tasting. And the best part of an Afternoon tea, for me, is the top plate so I didn’t want to fill up too quickly!

Scones were good, though being of the fruit variety I ended up picking at mine. Served warm, the cream melted into the soft inner, and I loved that they were served with a raspberry jam. I much prefer it to strawberry, and for me it compliments rather than clashes with the clotted cream.

 photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 8_zpsai7bxbve.jpg photo Chocolate Afternoon Tea Whittlebury Hall 9_zpslwys8rut.jpgAnd now for the top plate. Once ours was swapped for the chocolate version, we were delighted with our choice. I also found out that dark chocolate and champagne was an unexpectedly enjoyable combination. We had an ‘ice cream’ cone filled with a light chocolate mousse, a chocolate macaroon, a few different ganache covered cakes and a white chocolate and raspberry tart. Everything was gorgeous, though I was most impressed with the macaroon (intensely chocolately despite its pale colour) and the tart which added a burst of freshness. Everything was well prepared, tasted fresh and clearly used good quality chocolate. Not an afternoon tea for the faint-hearted, perhaps, as it was rather rich, but perfect for a girly afternoon.

I’ll just have to head back soon to sample the chocolate-chip scones!

Are you a fan of Afternoon Tea?

 

Review: Burgers & Cocktails, Brighton

Seriously, could there be a more perfect combination? Other than perhaps “tea & cake” I think not!

 photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 5_zpsxez9ugj2.jpgWhilst wandering the North Laines of Brighton we stumbled upon Burgers & Cocktails (part of the Giraffe group). Drawn in by mention of two of my favourite things, we clocked the tummy-rumble-inducing menu, spied the student discount sign and our evening meal was sorted. We strolled up just before 7 to find it virtually empty; a sign that ususally puts us off, but we pererved as I really wanted a good burger. I’m glad we did. A good burger I definitely got.

 photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 1_zpsupvfjljp.jpgStarting with Mojitos (my cocktail of choice, sweet, sharp, strong and yum), we deliberated over burgers and combos of sides for far longer than socially acceptable. Burgers are a serious business, you guys! W eventually went for the Green Chilli Popper Burger, described as a little on the hot side. With a beef patty, green chilli relish, cream cheese stuffed jalapeño poppers & fondue raclette cheese this wasn’t a small burger! We were initially disappointed at the flat ‘McDonalds’ style patties, however it really worked well in both of our burgers. They were definitely good quality despite the thinness, with a good beef flavour coming through – and there’s no way you could eat these with a thick patty!

 photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 3_zpswh5asdg3.jpg photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 4_zpszyta5fwn.jpgFor me, there was only one real choice (though I did have a little food envy at the sight of the fondue raclette cheese!) – the Mac Mountain. A self-confessed mac’n’cheese addict, this one had had my mouth watering all afternoon. Allergy info checked, thanks to our fab waiter who said it had “red bits” he needed to check weren’t tomato, I was soon tucking into “beef patty topped with mac ‘n’ cheese, special sauce, smoky relish, lettuce & pickles” minus the sauce, relish and pickles, plus two rashers of bacon. Because everything needs more bacon. This was perfect, pure carbs-on-carbs indulgence. The bacon was perfectly cooked, crispy without being dry and brittle. The brioche bun squished well around the filling.

The mac’n’cheese deserves a special mention. Spiced up with jalapeño and chilli (the aforementioned red bits) this was lighter than expected, but still wonderfully cheesy and rich. The side portion W ordered came crisp with breadcrumbs, my portion tasted wonderful in my burger.

 photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 2_zpsa5og87zm.jpgAs I was already on double-carbs, I avoided fries on the side. Not for the salad option (we were on holiday) – I demolished a portion of the best onion rings I’ve had the pleasure of eating. I’m a huge fan of them, but they can often be lacking onion flavour, watery, soggy, greasy or (ultimate crime) breadcrumbed. These were great – properly oniony, crisp, a light batter and they stayed crunchy right until the end of the bowl. I’d go back for these alone.

And because we had been greedy enough, we went for Hard Shakes instead of a dessert. I know, we deserve a medal…

 photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 7_zps4nsnlzvm.jpg photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 6_zpsfelerkxz.jpgI highly recommend saving room for these! W’s “Chocolate Monkey” (banana shake, chocolate sauce, chocolate chips, chocolate liqueur & vodka, whipped cream & vanilla ice cream) was a little banana-y for my taste. However my “It’s Not Terry’s It’s Ours” was divine. Triple sec, crème de cacao, delicious brownie pieces, whipped cream & vanilla ice cream made for an amazingly thick shake, chocolatey, orangey and a massive alcoholic kick.

So if you’re in Brighton and in need of a burger, this place is great. Don’t come expect gourmet burgers, mediumly pink. Expect filthy burgers (don’t come on a first date), massive toppings, and a need to lie-down afterwards…

Where’s the best burger you’ve ever had?

 

Review: Handmade Burger Co, Leicester

I have a few major loves in my life. Family and friends, obviously. My dog. Burgers come very close behind.

I’ve talked about my love of burgers before, I’ve moaned about how difficult it is to find a good one. I’ve since made it my mission to try as many burgers as possible (hell, it’s one of the reasons I’m so excited to move to London later this month!), to try and find my ultimate burger.

 photo Handmade Burger Co Leicester 5_zps1hrdwp51.jpgIf I’m honest, my American Cheese from Handmade Burger Co came close. Their beef patty was definitely one of the best flavoured beef patties I’ve eaten. Properly meaty, a good beefy taste, an almost crunchy outer and soft inner – but it was served well-done, with no option for to-order cooking. A medium patty would have had this burger at near perfection for me.

The restaurant itself is huge, and located around the corner from Highcross it needs to be. It has been rammed full on each of our visits, though the service has always been quick and, if not friendly, very efficient. Modern, clean, it’s perfect for a quick pit-stop when shopping. We ordered a lot, making the most of my student discount before (sob) it ended. Luckily W’s will start again relatively soon, and once I begin studying professionally I’ll be back in possession of an NUS. But for now? I’m missing it. On our table we had four very different burgers, and three very different portions of fries.

 photo Handmade Burger Co Leicester 6_zpsowjnnzsk.jpg photo Handmade Burger Co Leicester 3_zpst6h14wwg.jpg photo Handmade Burger Co Leicester 2_zpsgxyhxbxr.jpgMy American Cheese burger was slathered in plenty of cheese, topped with a couple of gloriously crispy onion rings. With the burger being well-done it was a little dry, though nothing that wasn’t solved by a quick drizzle of mustard. I’d recommend adding bacon to this, and certainly will be doing next time. The Peppered Beef (Onion rings, flat mushroom, caramelised red onion relish, peppercorn sauce, mayo, rocket & red onion) was loved by my cheese-hating mum, the first time she’s had plenty of choice from a burger menu. My sister’s chicken burger (I forget whether it was Peri Peri or Cajun) look delicious and certainly disappeared quickly. Dad made short work of his Mexican (Handmade Mexican salsa, hand crushed avocado, fresh tortilla chips, jalapenos, chipotle sauce, lettuce, tomato & red onion) and I have to say, it gave me huge food envy. Damn allergy.

 photo Handmade Burger Co Leicester 4_zpsxb3ebxnb.jpg photo Handmade Burger Co Leicester 1_zpssvmuwpek.jpg photo Handmade Burger Co Leicester 7_zpsxkggapdd.jpgThe fries were also good. Their standard fries come with a moreish and rather addictive rosemary salt. The sweet potato fries, once seasoned to taste, were crispy without being burnt. And the best? The Hipster Chips (handmade chips topped with jalapeño slaw, finished with Sriracha mayo & fresh spring onions). A great combo of spicy, crunchy, salty. Just yum. And so, yep, I highly recommend the Handmade Burger Co. Let’s just hope they offer medium-cooked burgers soon!

Burger time!

A photo posted by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on

UPDATE: We visited a few weekends ago, after penning this post. We found the service to be terribly slow, with a milkshake arriving after the burgers. All five burgers were overcooked and dry, though not inedibly so, but it was definitely a bit more disappointing! Having said that, apparently the Peanut Butter burger was pretty yummy, and I loved the Rosemary Salted Fries…

I do, however, highly recommend the Oreo milkshake. Just don’t order if you have to have a quick meal. Or tell my wedding-dress-maker…

What’s the best burger you’ve ever eaten? What are you favourite burger toppings?