Luke’s Eating House, Chester

Last Friday, it was date night. So Bradley and I popped on our best frocks (ok, he was wearing trou’) and off we went to dine in our County’s capital, CHESTER. We dressed up a little more than usual, as we knew it was the weekend of Chester Races, so we didn’t want to appear out of place.

Luke’s Eating House is located on 10 St John St, Chester, opposite the Roman Amphitheatre and just down the road from nightclub Cruise. Head chef is Luke Thomas, a young, ambitious and and successful chef who I believe is only in his early 20’s. Luke is Britain’s youngest head chef, and he and a team of talented young individuals aim to “cook rustic, honest, elegant food that takes your senses from classic, old school and nostalgic flavours to reinvented modern dishes”. Having read this on his website and having drooled over the food photography on the site, I couldn’t wait to try some of his food for myself.

Luke's Eating House, Chester
Luke’s Eating House, Chester

On arrival to the Eating House, the downstairs bar was in full swing (our reservation was for 8:30pm on a Friday evening). Downstairs is Gin Rickey’s – a specialist gin and cocktail bar who serve all the drinks for Luke’s Eating House. We were guided upstairs by the host via a lift to the first floor, and there we arrived at the mezzanine floor restaurant.

The Drinks

We were seated in a lovely half-moon booth, with a great view of the kitchen, which is open for diners to see. We first of all took a look at the drinks & cocktail menu which was impressive in it’s choice, descriptions and well-taken photos of the drinks. You really would find it difficult to make a bad choice from this cocktail menu, as the key flavours, ingredients and key flavours are all cleverly mapped out for you.

Bradley opted for the Dark Passion PunchKraken Spiced Rum, fresh raspberries and strawberries, sugar syrup, lime juice, apple juice and ginger ale.  He said it was one of the best cocktails he’s ever tasted, I had a taste to confirm and it really was delicious. The balance of flavours was so well thought-out, you could still taste the alcohol and the fresh fruit was plentiful and just delicious.

I went for the Ron Zacapa Cuzco – Ron Zacapa Rum, Aperol, lemon juice, grapefruit juice and simple syrup. Again this had a great balance between alcohol and fruit juice, and the same for tangy vs. sweet flavours. It was beautifully served and went really well as a palate cleanser between bites of my delicious starter!

The Food

It was tricky to choose a starter from this menu. And I say this, in all honesty, because I would have happily have ordered any one of them. There are about 8 to choose from, plus an option to go for ‘Sliders,’ which was either Smoked Beef or Seared Tuna served on grilled brioche buns with some amazing-sounding accompaniments.

After a little umming and ahhing, I went for the Pan roast scallops served with Katsu curry, mango, coriander & toasted almonds. I’d never heard of scallops served this way before, with Katsu curry (something I love) so I simply had to try it. Bradley opted for the Salt & pepper fried squid with wasabi aioli.

We both thoroughly enjoyed our starters. My scallops were tender, juicy and the Katsu curry was a light and delicate purée beneath them. It wasn’t until I’d finished the dish I realised it was spicy. That gentle, warming kind of spice that builds up to the end. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Bradley’s squid was a delight too: hot, crispy and perfectly cooked. Presentation was also lovely for both dishes, Brad’s was served with chopsticks and on a piece of brown paper (which reminded me of the street-food element behind this dish) and mine was served on the most elegant plate topped with baby coriander leaves, which was lovely as it kept the coriander flavour at-bay as to not overpower the dish.

Onto the mains, and as we had also finished our cocktails it was time to order more drinks. Bradley opted for the same again (he liked it that much), and as I was having lamb for my main I opted for a glass of red. From memory I chose a Cabernet Sauvignon – which came served in a beautiful huge glass, and was poured at the table even though I only order it by the glass. I thought this was a really nice touch.

For the main course, Bradley went for the Satay  – twice cooked chicken, peanut & honey, satay sauce, golden raisin and tender stem broccoli. I opted for the Welsh Lamb – a 250g Harissa infused rump, grilled fennel, olive oil mashed potato, tapenade and piquillo pepper ketchup. Both dishes were presented beautifully, the satay chicken piled atop the smooth satay sauce with the vegetables neatly placed on the side. Mine was more a work of art, the mash in the middle with the lamb placed around the edges. The plate elaborately decorated with the bright colours of the vibrant red piquillo pepper ketchup, tapenade, fennel and some greenery.

The Welsh lamb was pink all the way through, and it tasted amazing. It literally melted in my mouth. I honestly don’t think I have tasted lamb rump so flavoursome and tender. The Harissa infusion was delicate but more prominent on the edges of the meat, it was mouth-wateringly good. The tapenade was sharp and rich, and the ketchup was sweet with a hint of spice. The olive oil mash was dreamy, so smooth and rich but it carried the other big flavours really well. Overall, one of the best main course dishes I have had recently.

Brad’s chicken was tender and juicy and the satay sauce was really delicious. The raisins added an extra element of sweetness to the dish, which we were not sure it needed (as it already contained honey), so he didn’t eat all of the raisins to avoid this. Another slight downfall to this dish was that is was also served with a large helping of blanched ribbons of cucumber. This was not in the description of the dish on the menu, so came as a surprise. The steamed tenderstem broccoli was delicious however, so more of this would have been welcomed! Overall though, the chicken and satay parts of the dish were fantastic.

To accompany our meals we also had some side orders ‘For the Table’ (as the menu encourages): Lobster Mac & Cheese and Hand Cut Chips with Truffle & Parmesan.

The Mac & Cheese was delicious, it was a hearty serving size and we couldn’t finish it – which shows it would be substantial enough to serve more than 2 as a side. The pasta was well cooked and the lobster pieces were bigger than I had expected, so overall we were impressed.  The dish did contain a lot of mushrooms – which I loved because, I love mushrooms. Mushrooms were not mentioned as part of this dish on the menu, but they did form a substantial element to the dish.

The chips were lovely too, crispy, soft in the middle and seasoned really well. Not sure the Truffle Oil and Parmesan was worth the extra £1 (taking the total cost of this portion of chips up to £4.50!) but they really did taste delicious.

Our final course of the evening… Desserts. After all this decadent food we feeling pretty full, but there’s always room for pudding (especially when they sound this good,) so we were not about to let that stop us! I ordered the Apple Panna Cotta, served with spiced brioche, salted caramel and stem ginger ice cream. It was amazing. Every bite of it. I couldn’t finish the whole thing, because the portion size was so generous, but in hindsight we should have shared this pudding between us and asked for 2 spoons. The ginger stem ice cream was light and not too sweet, the bites of brioche were really sweet and a little chewy which went with the ice cream well. The panna cotta itself was creamy and very indulgent, but the apple flavour was lovely with everything else going on. The popcorn garnish was fab too, this was a really good pud.

Brad opted for the Lemon Meringue which was Posset & Curd, Italian meringue, smashed raspberries and candied lemon. Overall, he found this dessert overly sweet to the point where is was a little sickly. However, the meringue pieces were deliciously chewy which gave the dish some texture. Next time, one pudding – two spoons, for sure!

Overall, we really enjoyed our meals and date night at Luke’s / Gin Rickey’s and it is certainly a food-destination I would recommend and return to in the future. Luke’s menu is vibrant, fresh and full of bold flavours and the setting is trendy and relaxed. The staff were also really friendly and tentative, so overall a great location for friends, family, dates or even colleagues if you work in Chester.

 

Luke’s / Gin Rickey’s, 10 ST JOHN ST, CHESTER, CH1 1DA

Follow them on TwitterInstagram & Facebook.


*I was invited to review Luke’s Eating House and did not pay for my meal. However, my opinions are my own and I have been as honest as possible throughout this review. 

Advertisements

Dine Around the Dome, intu Trafford Centre

Last Thursday evening, I got to stand-in for the wonderful M-Dog at what was honestly one of the best food events I have attended. As M-Dog was off on his jollies, lapping up the sunshine, he was unable to attend, so that’s where Sophie’s Scran stepped in.

We were to ‘dress for dinner,’ and arrive promptly at 6:30 to dine for 7:00, starting in the 360 Champagne & Cocktail Bar for welcome aperitifs (Elderflower Martini’s). And boy were they delicious – the perfect mix of dryness, sweetness and a little sourness from the lemon garnish, they were honestly delightful. It was at this point we could acquaint ourselves with each other; there was about 15 of us in total, all female and all bloggers. This was with the exception of Justin the PR Manager and Jason the photographer! At this point I did wonder if M-Dog would fit in with this fabulous but rather ‘girly’ mixture of Fashion, Beauty, Mummy, Lifestyle and Food bloggers… but then I remembered he’s a dog. When foods on the table, he isn’t fussy in the slightest!

Our first stop was Café Rouge, a lovely little French restaurant on the first floor of intu Trafford Centre’s Orient. On the menu here was Ceviche de Salmon. Atlantic Salmon slices cured in lime and marinated in chilli, red and spring onion, finished with fresh coriander, olive oil and served on baby gem lettuce. This really was a delight – so fresh, clean and a great hit of coriander which I loved. The paired wine was a lovely Saint Etalon Sauvignon Blanc, crisp and tangy which went perfectly well with the fish.

Next port-of-call was the wonderful Carluccio‘s, for a sensational array of anti-pasti style dishes which were all ready laid out on the table, waiting for us to just sit down and dig in. I absolutely love sharing plates – so was in my element here. The dishes on offer were; Pepolata Arancini – crispy fried pepolata (a delicious Italian red pepper sauce) and mozzarella rice balls, served with a (rather addictive) red pepper mayonnaise for dipping. Also served was Caponata, a traditional Sicilian aubergine sweet and sour stew served chilled with toasted focaccia for dipping. And to accompany, a selection of Salumi (thinly sliced meats from Carluccio’s deli), Parma ham, Milano Salami, Napoli Salami, and a delicious herb-roasted ham. The whole selection really was to die for – and went wonderfully well with the selected drink – Aperol Spritz, refreshing and very summery. It felt like we were dining al-fresco.

As if this wasn’t enough, we were only half way through our Dine Around the Dome experience! Just a very short walk across the way to the very vibrant Las Iguanas. Here, we feasted on the following dishes: Mexican spice-dusted corn chips with tomato salsa and the juiciest Peruvian olives. Empanandas in two varieties lamb and mint which was fantastic, and also brie and mango, which I was sceptical about at first but actually really enjoyed it. A lovely Mango and pecan salad which was really fresh and complimented all of the other dishes well. Churrasco Skewers – honey glazed chicken and halloumi served with Manioc root fries. I wasn’t too keen on the fries, I found them heavy and quite oily, but the halloumi and chicken on the skewers were sensational – especially the cheese which was juicy and soft and not rubbery in the slightest! The drink of choice here was the fantastically fruity Mando Collins (Absolut Mango vodka, triple sec, orange & mango juices, topped with lemonade). The most refreshing cocktail I have tasted in a while!

By this point my tummy had stretched a little and was somehow ready for the next and final savoury course of the evening. We were treated to authentic, homemade Japanese and Korean dishes at the lovely Wokooshi – an independent, family-run restaurant in the heart of intu Trafford Centre’s China Town. We started with a Korean dish called ‘Beef Bulgogi’ which was amazing – the Beef is marinated in Korean soy sauce, sugar and black pepper then cooked on a sizzling hot plate. Wrapped in a lettuce leaf and dipped in a hot sauce – this was a seriously tasty dish. Next was the salmon Teppanyaki, which was cooked to perfection. The owner came out to talk to use about the dishes, and told us how they buy the salmon whole, then use the whole fish for the various dishes on the menu (such as the sushi and this Teppanyaki dish). Another Japanese dish served was sizzling Seafood  Udon Noodles, which had lovely scallops and king prawns. The final dish was Korean – Spicy Chicken Bibimbap, made with steamed rice served in a hot stone bowl topped with chicken, carrots, kimchi, mushrooms, bean sprouts and seasonal greens. It is then mixed at the table with chilli paste and a fried egg. I must say, I love spicy food but this was a little on the too-hot side for me! However, as it was the owner who served the dish for us at the table, he did say that other pastes were available so the dish wasn’t always this hot. Served with a stunning Sake (Sho Chiku Bai Nigori Sake), a light Japanese Black Beer (Asahi Premium) and the most delicious sparkling Sake (which was like Japan’s answer to Processo, honestly, this was so delicious. That’s the Processco shortage sorted!!)

After this epic journey from France, Italy, South America, Japan and Korea – it was up to the The Captain’s Lounge for desserts. We picked our desserts at random – and I just so happened to pick one of my favourites – Tiramisu! Homemade by Pesto – yet another of the Trafford Centre’s restaurants. Up in the lounge we all enjoyed our desserts, Nespresso coffees and an Espresso Martini. Absolutely delicious.

Overall this event was fantastic. It was really well organised and the hosts seemed to genuinely want us to have a great time, it was clear in the way that they looked after us so well.  A big thanks to them all for making sure it all ran so smoothly. I will certainly look in at the Trafford Centre’s dining hotspots in a different light going forwards, knowing now that they do have bespoke and original menus. I especially cannot wait to return to Wokooshi with my boyfriend to try out their Sushi and that heavenly sparkling Sake!

View from the Captain's Lounge, Trafford Centre. Photo Credit Jason Lock
View from the Captain’s Lounge, Trafford Centre. Photo Credit Jason Lock

Dine Around the Dome event at the intu Trafford Centre, Manchester. This was a PR and Marketing event and as such all meals and drinks were complimentary.
Picture © Jason Lock Photography, www.jasonlock.co.uk

The Handmade Ice Cream Company

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset

When Steve from The Handmade Ice Cream Company contacted Sophie’s Scran to see if we wanted to sample and review some of their ice creams I must admit, I was rather excited. However, getting the ice cream to me (from Cumbria- where it’s made, to Cheshire) during the week when I am at work in Manchester all day where we don’t have a freezer – did prove a bit of a challenge. So, I roped in my Grandparents to help, as they live in Cheshire, have a large freezer and are generally in the house all day. So Steve dropped it off with them – safe to say, they were more than happy to help, being true Ice Cream connoisseurs themselves…

Steve’s ethos is pretty simple – “the best products require the best ingredients,” so by sourcing the finest ingredients (and if he can’t find them – he makes them himself, having spent 15 years as a professional pastry chef) his ice creams are truly handcrafted. The final products are indulgent, naturally flavoursome and textured. It’s tricky to find a bad word to say…

Let the taste-test begin!

Flavour No. 1: WHITE CHOCOLATE & RASPBERRY

As well as looking absolutely stunning, this flavour tastes fresh, indulgent and not overly sweet. The tangy raspberry balances so well with the white chocolate, cutting through the sweetness – a match made in heaven. My Grandma loved this – and that is saying something, as she is usually averse to raspberries after her mother used to crush up aspirin in raspberry jam when she was a little girl – in an attempt to make her take medicine when she was poorly! Steve and his team have helped her appreciate raspberries again for all their wonderfulness 🙂 The raspberry flavour and texture is there – but it’s delicate and not overpowering, with the white chocolatiness sweet and creamy, as expected.

Flavour No. 2: SALTED CARAMEL

Salted Caramel seems to be an evermore popular flavour nowadays, and this one is creamy, sweet with a sharp salty tinge that really packs a punch. The texture of this one is very smooth – almost more like a sorbet texture, which keeps it light, and rather too easy to have ‘just one more scoop’ – lovely. I would have preferred a slightly firmer texture to this flavour, however, I feel like this would go well with a dark chocolate torte or brownie dessert due to its softness. Perfect for an alternative Christmas day pud!

Flavour No. 3: CHOCOLATE

This is a chocoholics dream. A truly indulgent chocolate fix – it comes served with an extremely generous sprinkle of chunky dark chocolate shavings on top, and then them same laced throughout the ice cream itself. The added chocolate shavings add a wonderful texture – a sharp chocolate crunch every now and again really makes this one special. This was one of my Grandad’s favourites too.

Flavour No. 4: CARAMEL, FUDGE & HONEYCOMB

Another one my Grandad couldn’t get enough of – and it’s the same for me. I love honeycomb ice cream, and this one had plenty of perfectly sized honeycomb pieces throughout. The caramel and fudge add a whole other dimension, making this the sort of ice cream whereby all you need is the tub and a spoon. Very tempting just to polish the whole lot off, without sharing. The texture is creamy, the caramel running smoothly throughout with the odd sticky bit here and there where the flavour lingers for a while afterwards. The fudge pieces are small but add just the right amount of solid texture to compete with the honeycomb. Very yummy indeed.

Flavour No. 5: GINGERBREAD

This flavour is somewhat festive. It has a slight citrusy orange taste in the background, which compliments the small gingerbread pieces really well. The ice cream itself is smooth and light, and although it features tiny cakey pieces, they are so small and evenly distributed they come together perfectly. Much nicer than the brash efforts the likes of Ben & Jerry’s make to incorporate cake/biscuits into their ice creams. I feel like a scoop of this would go well with Christmas pud for a nice little twist on the Christmas day classic!

The full range of The Handmade Ice Cream Company’s flavours can be found here, and the great news is they are willing to create bespoke flavours for you – great if you run a restaurant and need the perfect ice cream to serve alongside your decadent desserts!

The Handmade Ice Cream Company allowed Sophie’s Scran to taste their delicious ice creams  for no cost – the review above is a true representation of how we feel about each of the flavours sampled.

You can also find The Handmade Ice Cream Company on Facebook and Twitter, and for any further information please contact: info@handmadeicecream.co.uk / 015395 31021.

The Handmade Ice Cream Company
The Handmade Ice Cream Company

The Great British Cook Book

The Great British Cook Book

Fellow Foodies, listen up! This is big news, and something I have been waiting to share with you all for a few weeks now, but hence my busy work schedule and holiday to Gran Canaria it’s taken me a while for me to get the chance… I hope after reading you’re as excited as I am about this carefully crafted thing of foodie beauty!

I have received some exclusive information about an innovative new cook book, set for release later this month. It’s been years in the making and is aptly named: The Great British Cook Book.  The makers behind the book have undertaken a nationwide search to find 200 different and diverse dishes from the 10 regions of Great Britain. The book is a celebration of our diversified nation and features a variety of Chefs, styles and foods to please any pallet.

The book will include 20 recipes from each of the 10 areas of the Great British Isles, which include London and the South, the North West,  Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. One thing that really caught my attention, is that the book does not purely feature ‘AA Rosette’ or ‘Michelin Star’ restaurants/Chefs but will cover a range of different venues that are passionate about food, use innovative and inspiring recipes with locally-sourced produce.

Another great element to the book is that it has been joined by some real household names such as; Rick Stein, Michael Caines and Nigella Lawson (to name a few). Adam Simmonds (Great British Menu winner 2014) is the books main ambassador, stated;

“When the guys first came to me a few years ago, I knew nothing of this magnitude had been done before and was instantly hooked on the concept, the support from the Chef world has been truly amazing!”

Gary Allen, Project Director for the book also quoted:

“We wanted to combine our love of food and some of the amazing Chefs and food producers we have come across through the years of working in the industry. The book has a real commitment to raising awareness on using local and sustainable produce where possible, just like some of the reader’s favourite chefs and restaurants. All book sales will be donated to Macmillian Cancer support and Hospitality Action.”

The book will feature 50 starters, 100 mains and 50 desserts as well as 10 in-depth features of unique and traditional trades in the UK. Some areas covered are Butchery, Fishmongers, Baking and Home Growing; offering a rare insight into how these traditional trades work in our modern society.

I really feel this book is going to take us fellow foodies on the ultimate food journey, through a culinary array of cooking techniques, flavours and produce origins. The makers of the book have done all the hard work, so readers just need to kick-back and enjoy the detail presented, and hopefully cook and share the recipes for years to come.

Over the course of the next 2 weeks, I will be posting further information about the North West based contributors to the book, before it’s release on the 20th November, so watch this space!

In the meantime, for more information, please visit www.thegreatbritishcookbook.co.uk or follow on Twitter @gbcookbook.