This place is kind of a dream. I visited late last November with my good friend Becky to celebrate her birthday. We both love adventurous food, gin, cocktails and decent restaurants with a bit of character so we thought this place sounded perfect. We visited on a Saturday taking advantage of their early bird deal: 20% off if you order before 6pm which I thought was a really great offer.
From the outside, the place looks warm, cosy and inviting. You walk in through a dark, curtained porch then straight into the bar and dining space. The place has plenty of character: the dark polished wooden floor has panels of intricately pattered tiles and the general décor is rustic and trendy. When a place gives me ideas for the decoration my own house, I automatically feel at home.
When we arrived, the place was empty, but it was early and the staff were seemingly preparing themselves for a busy evening ahead. They gave us the best seat in the house; a cute table for 4 in the middle of the restaurant, opposite the bar.
We first perused the impressive cocktail menu – a great mix of gin cocktails; some short, some sweet, some with a spicy twist (guess which one I went for?). As it was back in November, and I can’t remember exactly which ones we chose: all I will say is that Becky’s was sweet, mine included chilli. They were both delicious. We drank 2, each.
Ready to eat – we studied the menu. It’s a mixture of snacks/nibbles, small plates, large plates (you can tell roughly by the price of the dish how big in size it is likely to be – advice from the manager who gave us the menus and offered to talk us through them). As we were spoilt for choice we decided on a mixture of small plates to share.
Lamb Sliders mini lamb burgers in a toasted brioche, garlic mayo, cucumber raita and pickled onions
Chilli Imli Chicken Wings ginger-tamarind glaze and cracked black pepper
Super Green & Quinoa Salad with kale, tender stem broccoli, poached pear, asparagus, chilli and candied pistachio
Beetroot & Avocado cumin yoghurt and garlic toasts
Gunpowder Chips hand cut and served with garlic mayonnaise
It was kind of a feast. We could have done without the chips, but they were beautiful, and we thought it’s Becky’s birthday so ‘f*ck it’. No regrets.
The lamb sliders were amazing. The meat was slightly pink in the middle, absolutely packed full of warmth and flavour from a gentle array of seasoning and spices and the accompaniments really complimented and enhanced the flavours. The buns were so, so soft and squidgy too. They were delicious.
The chilli imli wings were also divine. So fresh and steaming hot, they arrived first with finger bowl to-boot. This was going to be messy. Sweet, sticky, meaty morsels of satisfaction. The portion size was impressive too.
The quinoa salad was an explosion of sweet, healthy flavours that did well to cleanse the palate between mouthfuls of the other dishes. In it’s own right, it was a big bowl of goodness that was filling enough to eat with perhaps just one other small plate as a main course for one person.
The beets and avocado were lovely, so many layers of flavour and texture from the crunchy toasts to the sliky texture of the beet/avocado salsa on top. The ‘gunpowder’ chips were chunky, fluffy in the middle, crisp on the outside and seasoned really well with a dusting of chilli and paprika.
Somehow we had room for pudding, but again, we opted to share. We went for this delightful little chocolate and coconut mousse with coconut shavings, strawberries and big shards of thin, dark chocolate that just melted in your mouth. It was light but delicious and a great way to end such an absolute feast.
Overall I was really impressed with the exciting and well-executed menu that The Railway Cafe has to offer. These guys also own two excellent Indian restaurants in the area (Mughli in Knutsford and Rushholme – the latter being my favourite of the two because of it’s more laid-back style). Find details on them both and Railway Cafe at them at www.mughli.com or tweet them @mughli. ❤
Note: We paid for our meals and Railway Cafe did not know I was reviewing their food.
I have been eating Thai food until I pop, again. And this time was even more fun than last time. This time, Chilli Banana Wilmslow were shaking things up at their regular Thai Sunday buffet; introducing more street-food dishes including authentic Thai street carts to serve them up in! I got invited along to sample the whole lot and take some photos of the experience. Here’s how I got on….
We arrived just after 1pm and the place was almost full. Busy across both floors with hungry families, groups of friends and couples (old and young) meandering around the place with full or empty places getting their fill of tasty Thai treats. As we looked at the menu we were amazed at the variety on offer. Our table was upstairs on the terrace (that was covered up, with heaters on) directly opposite a cute Thai cart serving up fresh pork noodle soup… I knew what I was going to try first!
The list of dishes on offer featured an impressive 5 starters, 8 main dishes and 3 desserts plus traditional Thai coffee, all of which were being served up throughout the building. Each serving station had plates and an array of appropriate condiments/seasoning’s to enhance and personalise each dish to your liking.
You guessed correct, we started with noodle soup. Each bowl was made fresh to order by a lovely Thai chef. The dish comprised of a stunningly seasoned broth, pork meat balls, strips of pork, bean sprouts, cabbage and rice noodles.
Once chef had served you a bowl of hot soup, it was then time to top and season. Crushed peanuts and sliced spring onions added lovely texture and even more flavour to the dish. Sugar, fish sauce and chillies added an extra depth of flavour that you could tweak until you got it just how you like it. This was such a stunning dish and I really couldn’t recommend it enough! A great was to whet the appetite!
Downstairs, in front of the kitchen all of the starter dishes were laid out, being readily topped-up by chefs on the busy shift. We sampled the vast majority of them, and there were a few real stand-out dishes. The Kanom Gui Chai was dim sum stuffed with chives and marinated in sweet soy. They were also referred to as ‘chive cakes’ and they really were delicious.
Another great dish from this selection was the Si Ooah – Northern Thai spicy sausage. This was served in chunky slices, and it was spicy. It was packed full of Thai flavours like lemongrass, chilli and spring onions. I’d not tried this before but I really, really enjoyed it.
The marinated pork and chicken skewers were also gorgeous and the peanut sauce served with the chicken was particularly good. There was also salad bits to choose from if you wanted to keep things light. The only disappointing dish I tried was the vegetarian spring rolls, the filling was a little thin on the ground so all you could really taste was the pastry.
By this point, we were starting to get a little full. But there was still sooooo many dishes to taste, so we soldiered on. I wanted to try something a little different so went for the Kow Man Gai – steamed chicken and rice served with cucumber and a rich, fragrant sauce. The chickens were steamed whole on a rotisserie, which made them unbelievably juicy and tender. I’d not tried a Thai dish like this before but I really enjoyed it and it did feel like quite a clean, healthy option that was still packed full of flavour through the sauce.
Back upstairs, and Bradley was getting stuck into ‘the curry shop’. A stall in the upper floor restaurant that was serving up Raan Kow Gaeng – a selection of Thai red, green and a pork stir-fry curry. We tried the Thai red curry and the port stir-fry… The curry was packed full of bamboo shoots and chicken and had a really nice creamy texture and was mild on the spices. The pork was a little on the salty side for me but overall it was a nice dish and the green beans were really crunchy.
Kow Man Gai
Thai red curry and pork stir-fry
As if that wasn’t enough, we still had some more dishes to try. This was one of my favourites, and I think another lighter option for those wanting to watch the calorie intake. The Pad Thai was stunning. This is one of my favourite Thai dishes, but to have it made fresh to order by a Thai chef and to watch him make it in front of your eyes in the middle of the restaurant is really special. I went for the vegetarian (tofu) option, but they also had chicken.
The finished product was stunning, and again you could add bits and season yourself to get the balance just how you like it with crushed peanuts and fresh lime. It was steaming hot, the tofu and egg tasted fresh and the veggies were crisp and delicious. The chef was a really nice chap too 🙂
So after this epic feast, there was just puddings to go. I must admit, Thai puddings don’t really have anything on English, French or American. But we tried all options with an open mind and were in some cases, pleasantly surprised. First up was the Kanom Krok (coconut cakes) which were again being made fresh on a large purpose made hotplate that gently cooked the coconut milk, rice, sugar and spring onion (yes you read that correctly!) and the other dish we tried was the i-teem Kati (coconut ice cream with traditional Thai toppings). The coconut cakes were nice, quite light and sweet. However, I wasn’t keen on spring onion as a topping, I found this a little too savoury for a dessert!
The coconut ice cream however was delicious. The toppings were a little strange (diced sweet potato in a sweet syrup!) but overall this was a lovely way to end traditional Thai feast, particularly when washed down with a cup of kaffee bolan – Thai coffee served with sweet condensed milk. Naughty, but very nice indeed:-)
Overall we thoroughly enjoyed this culinary adventure and enjoyed the vast majority of all the dishes we tried. I think the introduction of street food to the Sunday buffet is fantastic. It adds a new sense of adventure and makes the whole thing a really fun thing to do on a Sunday afternoon.
There were lots of families there with young children, so I’d say the buffet was a great place for families and a good way to introduce kids to the exotic flavours of Thailand by allowing them try little bits that they like the look of.
This epic feast has also got us planning our trip to Thailand! Thanks very much to Steve and Mai for inviting me 🙂
Find out more about Chilli Banana on their website here, and to book a table at the Wilmslow Sunday Buffet, contact below:
The Chilli Banana Thai Restaurant,
71 Water Lane,
T: 01625 539 100
I was invited to the Chilli Banana to sample the new menu and as such the meal was complimentary, However, as with all of my reviews, my thoughts and opinions are as honest and objective as possible.
Before Christmas I ate out at Pho, Manchester, with my little sister Hannah B. We had a bit of a feast. Plus wine. We were catching up, it was a Saturday. It was all very fun indeed. Here’s a little more about the scran…
Pho brings Vietnamese food to Manchester’s Corn Exchange
Set in the newly refurbished and very stunning Corn Exchange, this place is a true delight. Over 3 floors, the ground floor welcomes you to high ceilings, super-cool decor (including trendy neon lights) and a little bar in the corner that serves some great wines, cocktails and beers. We tried their version of a mojito, rather aptly named the ‘Phojito’ and it was sharp, refreshing and delicious. I also highly rated their sauvignon blanc, and Hannah enjoyed the pinot grigio blush as we hungrily scanned the menu…
The starter collection is extensive “dipping, rolling and sharing is what our starters and sides were made for” it reads… Chicken wings, meatballs and summer rolls, to name a few.
We opted for the rather healthy fresh rice paper rolls (aka Gỏi cuốn) – king prawns meticulously wrapped in sticky rice paper with coriander, vermicelli noodles and pickles. You can choose from either ‘nước chấm’ or peanut sauce – we opted for ‘nước chấm’, a sharp, slightly sour chilli sauce that absorbs into the contents of the perfectly stuffed rice paper as you dunk.
Being seafood lovers, we also shared the ‘Muc chiên giòn’ – tender fried baby squid with a salt, pepper & lime dip. The dip arrives separately and you get to mix it up yourself at the table, adding to it as you wish the array of table condiments (Siracha, soy or fish sauce). The squid was piping hot, juicy and fresh. We thoroughly enjoyed it. The portion size was also very generous, so if you’re sharing like we were there is plenty to go around.
For the mains, Hannah went for prawns, again. Yes, there is a theme occurring. She chose the ‘Xào’ which was described on the menu as a ‘stir fry of chilli & greens in a mild gingery sweet sauce’. We both enjoyed it – but I would not, in any way, describe the sauce as ‘mild’. The sauce was in fact rich, light in its consistency (pictured below) and absolutely slapped you in the face with a fist full of tangy ginger and dark soy. It was amazing. But, I fear, possibly slightly misleading when described as mild!
I, of course, decided to go for the Pho. I went all out and chose a house special; Pho dặc biệt: king prawns, tofu & flash fried steak with garlic in beef broth. The broth itself was full of flavour, piping hot and contained loads of fresh herbs and veggies which was delicious. The prawns were also really big, plump and juicy. The flash-fried beef however, was a little on the tough side. And I thought the tofu overtook the dish a little so I had to leave a load of it out. But apart from that the dish was tasty, filling, warming and fresh. Next time I’m going to try one of the spicy seafood broths instead! No tofu!
Overall we really enjoyed our meals and I am looking forward to returning to try more dishes. The staff were very attentive, although it wasn’t too busy as we visited at 4pm on a Saturday, so in between the lunch and dinner rushes.
Have you been to Pho yet? What did you think? Would you recommend any other places to eat in Manchester’s Corn Exchange?
I was invited to Pho to review some options from their menu, as during the launch I didn’t get any food as there wasn’t enough to go around. 🙂 However, all opinions are my own and I have tried to be as objective as possible throughout my visit and review.
This week I got to go to the launch of a really exciting new eatery in Cheshire: Chilli Banana Thai Street Food in Bramhall. It’s the ‘little sister,’ of the already very well established Chilli Banana restaurant in Wilmslow, but this time with a street food twist that’s focussing mainly on take-away dishes complete with delivery service for the surrounding areas.
The launch evening was from 5-8pm, and on offer was a fantastic range of enticing street food dishes inspired by the streets of Bangkok, Thailand. I really couldn’t resist, so Bradley and I rocked up at 7pm (the earliest we could get there due to traffic issues) with empty bellies and open minds towards this new and exciting concept.
We were greeted by the very friendly face of Dawn, who took our coats and immediately fetched us a drink – there was lots on offer but we opted for a glass of red wine each. A stunning, fruity glass of Merlot which we both agreed was delicious (some launches serve nasty tasting wine so even before we tasted the food, we were impressed).
The place was packed which was really great to see. I have been to a fair few restaurant launches now and believe it or not some actually have next to no food on offer, which in my opinion isn’t great for a restaurant launch. It also makes it impossible to blog about… After all, how can I blog if I have no yummy looking content or tasty experiences to report back with?
This – my friends, was not one of those occasions…
From Bangkok to Bramhall…
The first thing that caught our eye was THAT PORK. This baby had been slowed cooked ‘since sometime yesterday’ according to the owner, Steve, basically meaning that this beast had been slow cooking for a serious number of hours. The meat was so succulent, juicy and the flavours were amazing – you could taste soy, star anise, a sweetness too – it was all perfectly balanced and everybody was totally blown away by it. I thought this was a great dish for owners May and Steve to choose for the opening night; it was a show stopper that really showcased May’s culinary skills and ability to transform a simple ingredient into something truly amazing. Hats off to the chef!
Next we tried the Thai red chicken curry – a burst of fresh, spicy, vibrant flavours that really took your breath away and was so moreish. Lots of green beans too so you got a nice amount of veggies to accompany which was a really nice, fresh touch to the dish.
We also tried the Thai green curry – much more mellow and coconut focussed but still light and packed full of flavour.
There was Pad Thai being rustled-up to order too, which was really great to see one of their talented cooks at work. This was a veggie option with tofu, which was lovely and firm and gave the sweet yet spiced dish a nice bit of substance, overall a great veggie option. Their menu includes a great variety of noodle dishes too – meat versions of the Pad Thai with chicken or king prawns, or their famous ‘Drunken Noodles’ which come served with either chicken, pork or beef. I’ve had these from the Wilmslow branch and they are absolutely delicious, so if you love noodles make sure you give one of these dishes a try.
Other dishes freely on offer to sample were the miniature Thai spring rolls with chilli dip, chicken skewer bites and also tempura vegetables. We tried the sweet potato tempura and it was an absolute delight.
Chicken satay pieces
Thai spring rolls
Overall, Steve and May were very welcoming and it was clear to see from the turn out that the people of Bramhall are really buzzing about this place. It seems likes a fantastic addition to a place which is already full of foodies who appreciate exciting food. I just know this place will do really well.
I want to say a big thanks to Natasta for extending the invite to me via Twitter, Dawn for the very warm welcome and of course to May and Steve whom it was great to finally meet. Bradley and I are now seriously considering a move to within 1.5 miles of Bramhall, just so we can eat super amazing take-out food each weekend. But, for now, the Bramhall branch’s older sister in Wilmslow will do just fine as a still-loved alternative!
Follow Chilli Banana That Street Food on Twitter and take a look at their full menu offering on their website, here.
If you live in Manchester, you’ve probably already heard – there’s a new kid in town in the uber cool Northern Quarter. You may already know from my own recipe, I LOVE Buttermilk Fried Chicken, so when I heard about this place I was so clucking eggscited I just had to go see what all the wing flappin’ was about… SORRY, I’m bad at that, I will stop now I promise!
Yard & Coop is the brain-child of Carl and Laura Morris, the co-owners who are actually not married, or even related for that matter! Carl has a background in Sales & Marketing having worked for Revolution for over 10 years, and Laura has formerly worked for Northern Quarter’s Terrace and Simon Rimmer’s Greens in Didsbury. The pair saw the trend of quality fried chicken taking off in America, and wanted to bring the hype back to the wonderful city of Manchester. And boy are we thankful for it.
Carl has spent the past year perfecting the recipes – from the signature seasoned crumb, Buttermilk frying technique and all the homemade speciality sauces and sides that go with it. On the launch night I also met the lovely Clair, Carl’s wife and also front of house manager for the new fried-chicken shack. She’s also in charge of their social media, so chicken-puns-a-plenty: and yep, she’s really clucking good at it 😉
The Food Menu
Let’s waste no time and get straight to it, the chicken. The menu itself is easy to navigate and starts with their main offering – Buttermilk Fried Chicken with their secret crumb recipe. First you chose from Breast or Thigh (£6 and both boneless, yay!) or for veggies you can opt for ‘Not Chicken Nuggets’ – crumb coated nuggets of halloumi cheese which are absolutely delightful. I tried both the thigh and breast varieties and I must say both are super-succulent, although I think the thigh pips the post everso slightly. Next up you chose your ‘style,’ you can keep it simple with the Yard & Coop classic, or chose from their extra seasoned varieties; Chip Shop Curry, Cajun or Afrika Bombaataa which are all seriously good and distinctive in their own ways. Personal fave is the classic, followed by the curry-style for something a bit different. It just works really well (pictured below coating a fat, juicy thigh!)
For the finishing touch – you choose your speciality sauces. On offer is Bourbon BBQ (a surprise favourite for me), The Bee’s Knee’s (which is Cayenne pepper, lime and honey) or the classic Blue Cheese. All the sauces are light, packed full of flavour, shiny as you like but without being sticky. Absolutely nailed it.
Yard & Coop Crust with all the sauces
Chip Shop Curry seasoned Thigh ❤
Nibbles and Cocktail Tasters
‘Not chicken nuggets’ Halloumi bites
Next you pick from ‘Small Plates, Sides, Bits and Things‘ which is a deliciously colourful mix of light and tasty side orders to accompany your chicken. A few noteworthy options we tried were ‘Peas and Love’ (£2.5); garden peas with fresh mint and chilli, ‘Thai Street Salad’ (£3.5); red cabbage, cauliflower, carrot and red chilli, ‘Heritage tomato salad’ (£3); chunky heritage tomatoes, red onion and fresh basil in their home dressing, Chips (£3) which come with a topping choice of Chip shop curry, Monterey Jack cheese or gravy. And finally ‘Battered Salty Jalapeños’ – salty, pickled peppers lighted coated in crispy batter.
I must say, the peas are delicious. My sister and I totally fell in love with them and found them very addictive. They are served cold, the mint is super fresh which is nice between the bites of chicken. The Heritage tomato salad is also deliciously fresh and sweet, and the slaw is crunchy, vibrant and healthy. Really nice to see such fresh sides with such a variety too.
Far our Slaw
Peas and Love
Bourbon BBQ Wings ❤
Another stand-out section of the menu is the Wings and Balls section (personal fave) but don’t be alarmed, it’s not an entire section dedicated to deep fried chicken offal. The Wings come in 2 varieties (both £4.50) Bourbon BBQ and Bee’s Knee’s. The ‘Monkey Balls‘ are in fact one of their bestsellers and are their take on the American ‘monkey fingers’ dish (tender bits of chicken deep fried and apparently popular on Halloween!) Yard & Coop style they are balls of buttermilk fried chicken served with 2 of their speciality sauces for dipping (£6.5). Originally intended as a bar snack, these balls were merely meant to be nothing but a nibble between friends over a pint, but the chicken-lovers of Manchester have insisted they are a firm favourite as a sharing side to accompany main dishes! WHY NOT!
Other offerings are their Large Plates which includes a range of Burgers, Wraps and Salads (£8.5-9.0), all complete meals so no side orders required. But I BET you order the Monkey Balls anyway… it would be rude not to. In true chicken-restaurant style they also have a sharing bucket, complete with beers, which I think it a great option and awesome alternative to a KFC or a Maccies.
The Drinks & Cocktails
As well as a totally epic food offering, these guys have also properly thought out their entire drinks selection. I will soon be returning to sample more of their cocktails – but for now I can tell you that the following ones are awesome;
Jimi Hendrix; invented by Paul the barman and I must note what an absolute GENIUS he is. El Jimador Blanco tequilla, Hendricks Gin, Fevertree Elderflower tonic garnished with cucumber and watermelon. So refreshing and summery and LOVELY.
Rule the Roost; Lychee and rose liqueurs with Lychee Rubicon topped with Prosecco and garnished with rose petal. A very lady-like and pretty tipple. Sweet but not overly so and very pleasing on the eye!
Juice Springsteen; Vodka and Blue Curacao with lemon juice and cherry bitters topped with apple juice. Extreme refreshment and very thirst-quenching which was delicious.
They also have a range of Hard Shakes – alcoholic milkshakes all served in their signature Yard & Coop paper cups with a straw. We tried the Pina Colada and and Salted Karamel, each feature lashings of silky smooth vanilla ice cream, spirits, juice and/or syrups. They are light and fluffy in texture but pack-a-punch in terms of alcohol content which is perfectly balanced to make them very slurpable indeed. Three words: Who needs pudding?!
I haven’t yet tried the wine, but fell in love with the simplicity of the menu and its options. Dependant on your budget, simply choose ‘Great, Better or Best’ and check the board for the most recent wines available. Simple, effective, helping indecisive wine-pickers since 2015. Nice work, guys!
I have now been to this place a few times, and I love it. Their pizzas are so delicious and the vibe in there is just kind of cool. Very laid back, you eat off paper plates, drink outa plastic cups, no table service. It’s that sort of vibe. Everybody is just having a good time. The beers are decent and the cocktails are lush too. Happy days.
So this is going to be a quick and dirty review. Put simply – these guys make awesome pizzas & cocktails and there’s some images below to support this. They have an impressive mexican beverage selection too, including tequilas and mezcals – and have recently been declared “the finest mezcaleria outside of Mexico,” pretty impressive stuff.
Also, DON’T be fooled by the name – these guys are open daily from Midday ‘til 4am serving up their delicious slices of quirky and adventurous Italian-American style pizzas. They are £12.50 for a whole 16″, or just £2.50 a slice. So an absolute bargain too if you ask me. Plus, if you live in Manchester you can order their pizzas via Deliveroo, if you really cannot be arsed to leave the sofa. Winning!
My first visit was (sober) with my family. My Dad, Sister, Brother and I decided to hook-up there one Saturday afternoon for a bite to eat and an overdue catch up. We sat down on the stools and tall tables to the right of the front door and started perusing the menu (which is now new since my last visit and looks even more epic!) it didn’t take us long to decide on 2 large pizzas to share between the 4 of us. We went for a bit of a meat-frenzy: the classic Pedro’s Pepperoni, and one that featured Salami, Ham, pulled chicken, red peppers and onions (the exact name escapes me).
As for drinks, I chose the ‘Freddy Fudpucker’s Revenge’ as recommended by Jo from Taste Today. In fact, she recommended the whole place to me. This cocktail is a mix of El Jimador Bianco, Aperol, Lemon, Vanilla, Blood Orange, Peach & Lemon Sorbet. It comes served in a tall terracotta-type vessel with a straw and a wooden spoon for the sorbet. Absolutely delicious. Hannah went for the Peach and Black Pepper Frozen Margarita. Like a slushy for big kids, she thoroughly enjoyed it and it was very prettily presented with pink peppercorns atop. Delish.
As you can probably see from the photos, these pizzas are f***ing epic. They really are delicious. The bases are thin, a little crisp on the bottom and the ingredients are fresh as they come. The pizzas are also not overtopped (even for some of the big ones, like the Nacho Libre, for example). These guys take their time to ensure each pizza is cooked to perfection, oh and serve it with a smile too, which is a lot more than you can say for some other fast-food pizza establishments!
Here are a few more images for you to drool over from my other visits…
I recently joined a couple of workmates in a local burger bar for dinner. We chose the Urban Burger Bar in Altrincham, as the reviews were pretty good, and of course, we all love burgers.
Photos of our visit are quite limited (to just 2!) as my phone battery was running low and I was driving to Liverpool that evening and needed it as a sat-nav. So, instead of going wild and taking copious amounts of photographs, we sat down, relaxed and got to choosing our burgers from their rather extensive range!
Located on Greenwood Street, they are just a 5 minute walk from Altrincham Station, and very close to Altrincham Market. The place has been decorated well with a rustic, laid-back vibe which I really liked. We didn’t book, so we opted for a window seat where we settled ourselves on high, grey metal stools and high wooden tables. Other seating options included regular tables and chairs and some comfy looking, bright cushioned booths towards the back of the restaurant. The bar is situated in the middle of the dining space.
The staff were very friendly and attentive, offering to talk us through the menu and explaining that all their beef burgers are served pink, unless you wish to have them cooked otherwise.
Having saved ourselves all day, we were hungry. So (2 of us) we went for the double-stack options, which I thought were really reasonable in price. Lucia ordered the “The Wellington” which was a double beef patty, toasted bun, truffle mayo, sautéed mushrooms, maple mustard, spinach, double Jack cheese and dill pickle. I know, right!? A FEAST IN A BUN! She really enjoyed it. Ate every last bite. Little fatty!
Being the spice-lover that I am, I could resist in going for “The Firecracker”. This one was also a double beef patty (also a fatty), toasted bun, jalapeño and chilli’s, Jack cheese, tomato, salad and ‘Urban’ sauce. The meat itself was tender, juicy and absolutely full of flavour. Well seasoned and cooked as described – ‘just through’. The chips were also delicious, freshly cooked and crispy, as well as lightly seasoned with some salt which was nice. The garlic mayo was also a highlight, it came served in mini glass Kilner-style jars, which was a little awkward, but I can see what they were trying to do and it does fit in with the ‘trendy’ theme.
Aimee, my not-so-greedy friend, went for the “Urban Chick” Chicken breast burger, toasted bun, urban sauce, salad Jack cheese, bbq sauce, bacon & salad. She really enjoyed it and went for the grilled chicken option, as opposed to the ‘Urban fried chicken’ version. I know, good on her. She healthy!
As we were nearing the end of our meal (around 7pm), the place started to fill up. To my surprise, the clientele was very mixed in age, which I think is a good sign. There were families with children aged about 10-12 years old, all seemingly enjoying chowing down on a proper beef burger. Goes to show this place is popular with local families, for a reasonably priced treat for the kids after school.
Overall, I would recommend the Urban Burger Bar to anyone who is a fan of a decent burger. Their restaurant is cool and the menu is pretty extensive. They also have an ice-cream bar where you can choose your own sweets and chocolate toppings – probably very popular with the kids (and the big-kids, of course!) The only thing I would say is that with burger’s becoming (and staying) increasingly popular, especially in Manchester, it would be good to see some more adventurous options on the menu, to ensure they keep up with this well-established trend.
I paid full price for my meal at Urban Burger Bar, and they did not know I was going to review their food.
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.
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.
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 Punch – Kraken 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!
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 & toastedalmonds. 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
This weekend I went to my first ever supper club, and what an absolutely delightful experience. I first found out about Pranzo Delitalia on Twitter, they called themselves the Secret Supper Club – very intriguing indeed. I had made contact with Valerio (one of the two fine hosts,) who told me that after their recent trip to Italy to visit family they were coming back to Manchester with new recipes, authentic Italian ingredients and a desire to cook up a storm in the kitchen for some hungry food bloggers. Excited and armed with a bottle of Italian red for the hosts, off I went…
Pranzo Delitalia is run by a cool and trendy young couple, living in Manchester city centre. On arrival we were greeted by Valerio, who met us at the door and escorted us up to their very stylish first floor apartment. Our coats were hung and we were seated. A charming yet modern, open-plan kitchen and living area – with a table in the middle set with beautiful white crockery, fresh flowers and cute little napkins hand-wrapped with strands of wicker. An apt playlist of Italian music was playing through the speakers and we were offered soft drinks to accompany our meal (they don’t have a licence to serve alcohol, but if you do wish to drink it you’re welcome to take along your own.)
Cooking for us on the night was Nadia – Valerio’s other half who’s joined him on his trips back to Italy to attend cooking courses there and pick up all the insider tips from the experts – Valerio’s mother and Grandmother. Nadia does all the cooking for their Supper Clubs, and what a talented lady she is.
We had been sent the menu a few days in advance, so it was clear the hosts were well-prepared to feed us a delightful Italian feast. And so it was. The Food
Antipasto – Melanzane alla Parmigiana
Cooked aubergine and caciocavallo cheese covered in Nonna’s passata
I am a real fan of aubergine because of it’s versatility, so to image it cooked with cheese and tomato passata sounded wonderful. The aubergine itself had more bite than I had expected, but this ‘al dente’ style served the dish really well, as sometimes when overcooked aubergine can by soggy. It was thinly sliced and lightly covered in a rich, beautifully seasoned homemade passata. The cheese was a finely grated dusting on top – a sharpness to it that cut through the rich tomato really well. Portion size was perfect, as there was also a fresh baked loaf, soft butter and olive oil to accompany.
Primo – Tortellini alla Panna
Meat-filled parcels of tender pasta prepared in a rich cream sauce
After a short wait, allowing some time for us to properly acquaint ourselves with the other guests, it was onto the next course. This time we were treated to homemade pasta – light, yet rich in colour and the flavour the pasta itself was absolutely beautiful, as good as I have eaten in some top Italian restaurants. Gently filled with soft Prosciutto, this has got to be the ultimate Italian combination. The rich cream sauce was just a very, very light coating – apparently exactly how it is supposed to be served the authentic Italian way in Emilia-Romagna. And just how Valerio’s mother serves it. So delicious and well executed I could have eaten the whole thing three times over.
Filetto di Maiale – Emilia-Romagna pork fillet cooked in a rosemary and white wine sauce served with potatoes
Our plates were cleared and after another break we were suitably ready for the next delight. Thin and tender pork loin wrapped with the most delicious stuffing, including sage and other herbs. The sage was pungent but went well with the light rosemary and white wine sauce. The sauce itself was a delicate accompaniment and not too heavy at all. The potatoes were served mashed – creamy and buttery and very well seasoned. As a second course I thought this dish was perfectly balanced between the natural saltiness of the meat, the fragrance of the fresh sage and the rich and creamy potatoes. Lovely portion size too.
Dolce – Panna Cotta alla Vaniglia
Vanilla seed and passion fruit panna cotta
After our tastebuds had been relished to a wealth of savoury delights – it was time for something sweet. As my sweet-tooth isn’t as finely tuned as others, I was very pleased to see there was passionfruit involved in the dessert course, as it adds a slightly tart sharpness. Some of the other guests, whom which confirmed their sweet-tooths are well exercised on a regular basis (naming no names), confirmed this dish also hit the spot for the sugar-lovers. Served with a lovely homemade ginger biscuit and a dollop of fresh cream. The Panna Cotta was light, creamy and the vanilla came through nicely which balanced well with the tart of the passion fruit. Five completely empty dishes (and the same can be said for all of the courses) confirmed this was a winning dessert for all. Delicious.
Overall the menu, cooking, setting and ambiance of the whole night was really enjoyable. I would highly recommend Pranzo Delitalia Supper Club to anyone in the area who is looking for a dining experience a little bit different to the usual restaurant dining. Both Nadia and Valerio were welcoming and friendly, making us feel right at home from the outset. I think they did a fantastic job of the whole evening and would certainly consider returning for more Supper Clubs at their place in the future. Thanks very much to them both for all their efforts.
I was invited to Pranzo Delitalia on a complimentary basis as they were looking for a critique on their food from a food blogger’s perspective. I can however honestly say that I would love to return to one of their Supper Clubs in the future as a regular guest.
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!
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.