Archive of ‘Reviews’ category

The Hinds Head, Bray

All I really need to tell you is, go to The Hinds Head. Go go go. Especially if, like me, you can’t afford The Fat Duck. We dined from the A La Carte but the Set Menu is good value at £27.50 for 3 courses.
Now here are some pictures that will make you hungry.

‘Hash of Snails’ – garlic pan fried snails on sourdough with pistachio puree and shaved fennel.
Snails are surprisingly like mushrooms, except a bit more meaty. I was not freaked out about eating them, which was good.
Shaved lemon salad with goats curd and salad leaves and walnuts. Mr Giraffe’s starter, the really thinly sliced lemons were excellent and the goats curd so good –  I need to find out where to buy goats curd.
My main course; Shepherds Pie with Sweetbreads
totally amazing, so meaty and the mash with the crispy top was beautiful.
Bubble and squeak cake with mushroom parfait, crispy quails egg and leek & potato sauce. Despite there being a lot of meaty dishes vegetarians are well catered for, this was lovely and featured the same kind of crisp crust as the shepherds pie.
Triple cooked chips , obviously we had to order these.
My lemon tart, I love lemon tarts that come with crispy creme brulee like tops, it came with a syrupy hazelnut syrup, nuts go well with lemon surprisingly.
Quaking Pudding (c 1700.) with shaved apple. This may sound odd but it tasted really traditional flavours and quite rustic. It came with a little bit of paper explaining what the history of the pudding was too.

We really enjoyed our meal at the Hinds Head. Definitely a place that will always impress you. I’d love to go back. Any place that can serve snails like that wins with me. The menu felt quite similar to Dinner, which we are yet to try. I think the famous meat fruit features at the Hinds Head sometimes too.

Little Chef, Kettering

I think that has to be the least glamorous sounding blog title I’ve ever written.

But some of you may know that Little Chef has been undergoing something of  makeover. I watched Heston’s Little Chef back in 2009 and from the looks of it there didn’t seem to be much hope for Little Chef changing beyond the few restaurants they made over, but now there are 10 new Little Chefs with the updated menu and new diner style decor.

We visited the Kettering West branch just off the A14 on our way down to Shropshire a couple of weeks ago, something I’ve been meaning to do after Ino at Kitchen 22 blogged about it. The interior is fantastic, booths and diner style furniture with the famous ‘blue sky’ on the ceiling. Service was fast and friendly and the menu had so much choice. Breakfasts, little light bites, proper mains, puds and a great selection of tea and coffee with reasonable prices.

We were just stopping for a light lunch so I ordered the starter scampi, Mr Giraffe had a mushroom and pepper cheese toastie and we also got a side of chips to share. Oh my were we glad we got chips. If you don’t get anything else here, make sure you get the chips. They are the triple cooked affair which Heston Blumenthal has made famous, ridiculously crispy on the outside and fluffy inside. I want to go back now and get some.

The scampi was brilliant, under the batter was proper crayfish instead of the reconstituted seafood mush you normally find, I think this is the first time I’ve had proper scampi. The toastie was filled with proper mature cheese and a rich mushroom and pepper rattoutile with a tomato base.

This is good food, done properly – everything tastes very fresh and it is clearly made onsite. It is very simple to get food right if you make it right. Well done Little Chef!

For 2 light lunches, a coke, cappucino and a side of chips it was £17, probably more than you’d spend on a motorway lunch but much nicer than anything else you can get off the A14.

If you love chips, go. I think that is my main message.

The Hole in the Wall, Little Wilbraham, Cambridge

I think Cambridge maybe in danger of becoming a good place to find good food. Slowly, very slowly new places are opening up which are inventive, yummy and good value. The opening of The Hole in the Wall Cambridge by Masterchef finalist Alex Rushmer has been much anticipated by foodies in Cambridge, especially me!

We went along for Sunday lunch on the most beautiful sunny day. The pub is set in a very pretty Cambridgeshire village, lots of cute cottages, well-kept gardens and scenic countryside.
The pub itself is also very nice-  a 16th century building with beams and low ceilings. Inside it still has quite a pub feel, I don’t think a great deal has been done to the decor since they moved in, maybe something they are working on? Some of the fixtures are a little dated and the carpet is the extremely 1970s, but it doesn’t really matter once you start reading the menu.

The menu comprises of 3 starters, 3 mains and much to my glee FOUR puddings. This is a good start. Often so many restaurants stick a couple of puds on, ice cream and cheese. Ice cream is not pudding! Vegetarians are catered for here too, only one dish on the starters and mains but both were fantastic and well thought out.

For starters I had the pea & ham soup which came with toasted brown bread. It was sweet and fresh with lovely smokey pieces of ham in the soup, I could have done with a bit more bread though, only one small piece for a large bowl of soup. My husband had the tomato and mozzarella salad which combined at least 4 different kinds of tomatoes in an olive oil and basil dressing with creamy mozzarella. The green tomatoes were my favourite, crisp on the outside and very soft in the middle, perfect.

For main I had the confit duck with pork cassoulet and very creamy mash. The duck was done to perfection, fall off the bone and the cassoulet had huge chunks of slow cooked pork inside. My only complaint would be that it was quite under seasoned, though salt and pepper were provided.

The vegetarian main which my husband had was really really well thought out. The peppers had been pre roasted til smokey and soft then stuffed with cous cous studded with aubergine, courgette and deep fried cheese, yes deep fried. It was then covered with goats cheese and cooked til bubbly.

The choice of puds was, as already mentioned, excellent. On the menu was a honeycomb cheesecake (my choice), lemon tart with blackberry sorbet, mirabelle plum charlotte and chocolate peppermint pots. My cheesecake was fluffy and rich at the same time, with a gingery based and a creamy top with chunks of honeycomb inside and on top.

My husband had the plum charlotte, we’d previously had the excellent apple charlotte at Le Gavroche so it had a lot to live up to. Whilst it wasn’t as good as Le Gav it was brilliant, the bread was so crispy and the inside very soft and full of plummy goodness.

We will definitely be going again soon, the food was excellent and the menu varied. The service was a little shakey but they’ve only been open for 2 weeks. I think now is an excellent time to go because so much seasonal produce is on show.

The Hole in the Wall Cambridge
Primrose Farm Road,
Little Wilbraham,
Cambridge,
CB21 5JY

http://holeinthewallcambridge.co.uk/

Byron Hamburgers, Wardour St, London

I am by no means the first or the last person to review Byron but I am going to anyway!

The smell of meat is the first thing that hits you when you walk into Byron, and instantly makes you hungry. There are lots of burger joints all over the country but mostly they aren’t very inventive, tasty or interesting.

I was most looking forward to the sides, which is probably an odd thing to say. We ordered the skin on fries and the much talked about courgette fries. The courgette fries were just brilliant, lightly battered and really fresh tasting.

The other highlight of the meal was my amazingly big pickle, something which seems to be much more popular in the USA but you don’t get much here. Unfortunately my burger was a little underseasoned but otherwise it was very tasty once I added some seasoning.

I also ordered the Oreo Milkshake, which was a bit like cookies and cream ice cream but melted, it was a lovely, and quite filling, so much so that I uncharacteristically didn’t have any room for pudding.

We booked for Saturday night at Wardour Street, but arrived half an hour earlier which I was glad of because by the time we left about 7.30 there was a huge queue out of the door. I’d recommend booking or going at a quieter time in the weekdays to secure a table.

Byron Hamburgers

Wardour St
London
http://www.byronhamburgers.com/

The Eight Bells, Saffron Walden

Saffron Walden is a brilliant little town, about 15-20 minutes from Cambridge, full of lots of independent shops, delis and restaurants and seems to be a well kept secret! We live only 5 minutes drive away now so we shop and eat there often, the Saturday market is fantastic (go to the bread stall and the olive stall but for the tapenade) and there is a wool shop opening soon! We have also tried Dish Restaurant  and Cafe CouCou (for the puddings) there and both are a must, fantastic food.

But now onto the Eight Bells. We went about 6 months ago when it was under different ownership, the food was only okay, but the pub was taken over just before Christmas by new owners. The old chef from way back when the pub was better is back and the interior of this 15th century (?) building has been transformed in to a nice cosy place with big leather sofas and huge woodburners.

Lit with candles and dim lights it wasn’t best for photography but it was very romantic!

We went one Saturday afternoon for one of the ‘grazing boards’ – we tried the Greek meze board – which was fantastic and really good value, £9 which fed both of us a nice lunch. They also have local cider on tap, yay!

Keen to go back we treated ourselves to an evening meal one weekday. The food was just as good as before, there is lots of choice on the menu and if you go for anything, go for the puddings. I had fishcakes with green beans and a lovely lemon butter sauce for main, oh and I had to order some onion rings because I love them – they were great and obviously made from scratch.

The real star was the enormous sticky toffee pudding with cinder toffee- drenched in caramel sauce and with a scoop of locally produced vanilla ice cream. Yum! I think I could have just had that and gone home happy. My hubby had the vegetable tagine which was really flavoursome for a vegetarian dish, followed by an immensely chocolatey chocolate brownie.

The pub is open all day, they do light bites, sandwiches along with their main meals. We will be going back soon, it is also a lovely place to stop off for a drink after shopping.

The website is here but you will find the menu on their facebook page

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