Cheshire Food Blog

Chilli Banana Thai Street Food, Bramhall, Cheshire

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.

Cheshire Food Blog
One of Chilli Banana’s talented street food chefs, making Pad Thai to order

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!

Cheshire Food Blog
The slow-cooked Thai pork belly ❤

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.

Cheshire Food Blog
Spicy Thai red chicken curry with green beans

We also tried the Thai green curry – much more mellow and coconut focussed but still light and packed full of flavour.

Cheshire Food Blog
Thai Green Chicken Curry with Thai sticky rice and Aubergine curry on the side ❤

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.

Cheshire Food Blog
Pad Thai with tofu ❤

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.

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.

Cheshire Food Blog
Glass Noodle Dish ❤
Cheshire Food Blog
Crazy-good Thai street food makes us pull funny faces… ❤
Cheshire Food Blog
THAT PORK and the Thai Green Curry in all it’s glory…
Advertisements
Cheshire Food Blog

Robert Owen-Brown Supper Club, the Yard, Alderley Edge

Cheshire Food Blog

Last night I attended another Supper Club. I am beginning to get a little obsessed with these types of dining experiences. Not so long ago I went to an authentic home-made Italian food supper club in Manchester and before that another pop-up supper club featuring some amazing Malaysian home-cooking which was also a really special experience. My taste buds concurred.

I find that Supper Clubs are so much more of a food adventure. Everybody eats the same menu and it’s great to meet new, like-minded people and have a good old chat over some really delicious scran. Last night was no exception.

Last night’s event was arranged by Inca Pop Ups (run by Claire Kerkham) who specialise in sourcing, organising and hosting such food events, usually in unassuming but very cool settings which Claire hunts down and hand-picks herself.

The Setting and Host Chef

Last night’s event was at the Yard, Alderley Edge. A really beautiful café, shop and event space that focus on ethical, healthy products and delicious, wholesome foods in their ‘conscious kitchen’ café. Tucked away behind the main high street in this glamorous, Cheshire village, it’s the perfect spot to host an event of this size with it’s large, open kitchen and rustic dining area.

The real star of the show last night was no less than Robert Owen-Brown, ex-head Chef of the famous Mark Addy pub and now seasoned pop-up chef, this man really knows how to cook ‘real’ food. He prides himself on using only the finest quality, locally sourced ingredients and transforms them into hearty, classic dishes that really do blow you away with their simplicity and earthiness. He foraged the wild mushrooms from the beef dish himself from Delamere Forest, and the partridge in the game terrine was sourced just up the road (not far from Dunham Massey). It was fantastic to eat truly local food, cooked by a local chef in a wonderful local setting just 10 minutes away from my house. ❤

We were greeted by the Inca Pop Ups team with a glass of Prosecco and Kombucha with a blackberry which was delightful. We were seated on a large, rustic, wooden table right next to the kitchen where we could see chef hard at work, but still managing to look collected and relaxed. I was with Jo Cooksey from Taste Today, and after acquainting ourselves with the lovely guests on our table (Lucy Hope, aka The Chanteuse and the professional photographer for the evening Simon Brown, aka Travelling Simon) we were ready to eat.

Before we were served, chef said a few words, talking us through his menu choices and why he uses seasonal produce. He also mentioned there might be some butter present in each dish (to keep things healthy) and he might have admitted to eating fish food as a child, a very humble man with a great sense of humour indeed!

Robert also mentioned his new cookbook ‘Crispy Squirrel and Vimto Trifle’ which a few of us bought, and he signed. It was great to hear from him before the feast commenced.

The Food

The first course; Hand dived scallop with celeriac and coral cream (and razor clams).

Cheshire Food Blog

This dish tasted as good as it looked. The delicate orange coloured sauce was perfectly seasoned, and made from the roe of the scallops (the best bit!) which Robert pointed out many restaurants discard. It was great to taste a complete dish that resourcefully uses the whole product with very little wastage. The celeriac also delicious, crunchy and firm.

The next dish was a real contrast; Classic game terrine with hedgerow berry chutney.

Cheshire Food Blog

Succulent, juicy bits of top-quality game snuggly moulded together with the welcomed edition of black pudding which really gave this terrine a lovely other dimension. The seasonal berry chutney was only slightly sweet, which complimented the savouriness of the meat so well.

It was at this point one of the other guests at our table, Margaret, showed us her beautiful bottle of Rioja, which she kindly let us try. The Yard serves alcohol, so you were welcome to buy a bottle from their selection (they also had chilled beers) or pay just £2 corkage to take your own, which is what Margaret did. One of the nicest red wines I’ve had the pleasure to taste. Thank you, Margaret!

After a short rest (and a look around The Yard’s beautiful shop, images below) we were ready for the main course; Lightly smoked fillet of beef, wild mushrooms and good king henry.

The beef was outstanding. It was so tender, seasoned to perfection and melted in your mouth. The gravy was packed full of rich flavour, but still light. The potato fondant was delicate but substantial and the wild mushrooms were earthy and added great texture. The ‘good king henry’ is an edible plant, chef likened it to a mixture between spinach and kale and it really was delicious, as were the sweet, mini, sculpted carrots. A hearty portion size too – an outstanding main course and again, empty plates all round.

On to dessert; Dark chocolate and wild honey ‘Cambridge cream’, orange fudge and vanilla froth.

Cheshire Food Blog

This is honestly one of the nicest chocolate desserts I have eaten. Cambridge cream is the English crème brûlée.  Here, Robert made a dark chocolate and honey version which was somehow light and not at all sickly. The hint of orange flavour from the orange fudge was beautiful and the vanilla froth really topped it off nicely, the presentation looking like a freshly poured Cappuccino. The home-made flapjack on the side was divinely buttery (as expected) and just melted in your mouth. Both flavours and presentation, this pudding was very clever indeed, and not at all pretentious. I loved it.

Last but not least, the final course; Cave aged goats cheese & Camembert with thyme waffle

Cheshire Food Blog

As a lover of all things savoury (and cheese, of course) I was delighted to see this as the final dish of the evening. The thyme waffles were an absolute delight, slightly sweet but a fantastic contrast to the savoury sharpness of the aged goats cheese. A wonderful, creative take on the classic (and now seemingly boring!) ‘cheese and biscuits’. Hats off to the chef.

The Tea Alchemist

To round things off, we got the choice of one of the wonderful Alchemist Tea’s. Each came served in a teapot, teacup and saucer that complimented the nature of the tea. I went for the Dragon Well tea; which came served in this wonderful cast-iron teapot and oriental iron cup. The taste was delicate and refreshing, and it really worked well to cleanse the palette after such a wonderful meal.

Cheshire Food Blog

Cheshire Food Blog

Overall this was an absolutely delightful evening of food, drink and great company in a wonderful setting. It was the ultimate celebration of local produce and down-to-earth, hearty, good food that doesn’t hide behind fancy names. Excellently cooked, seasonal ingredients from our wonderful Cheshire surroundings.

I look forward to attending future events hosted by Inca Pops, you can do so by keeping a close eye on their Facebook page. Many thanks to Claire, Robert and the team for hosting such an outstanding event.

A few other images of the Yard and event can be found below;

Cheshire Food Blog

Cheshire Food Blog

Cheshire Food Blog

Cheshire Food Blog

Cheshire Food Blog

Cheshire Food Blog

Cheshire Food Blog

Cheshire Food Blog

Cheshire Food Blog


I attended this event as a guest of the host and as such received a complimentary meal. However, all my opinions above are my honest interpretations of the evenings offerings.

Cheats Sunday Roast with Hache Steaks & Roast Summer Veg

If you live as a couple, like I do with my boyfriend, Bradley, making a full blown roast dinner for just the 2 of you can be a real faff. There are loads of elements to a well-executed Sunday roast; perfectly roasted joint of meat, the all-important roasties and of course the nation’s favourite, Yorkshire puds.

The point I am trying to make is that sometimes, you want a complete roast but it’s not worth getting sweaty in the kitchen for hours for just the two of you. I’m sure you all have other things you would rather be doing… 😉

So, Brad and I have 3 solutions to this (that we rotate on a regular basis); 1. go to the pub for a roast, The Bulls Head is a stone’s throw down the road and their roasts are great, 2. go to one of our parents’ house for the traditional family Sunday roast with all the trimmings, or 3. make an easier, trimmed down version in the comfort of our own kitchen.

Today I want to share with you just one of my varieties of option 3. An easy, less-fuss-than-your-average Sunday roast that still tastes great, has (most) of the trimmings and is actually a lot less calorific. Using the hache steaks means you still get a big slab of juicy, tender beef, it’s just not from a whole roasted joint. Using instant gravy granules is a great substitute for proper gravy (afterall, you can’t make proper gravy without fat from the roasted meat anyway) which has hardly any calories in comparison. A roast isn’t a roast without Yorkshire puds, so don’t panic – I’ve not left those bad boys out.

I say give this a go one Sunday! Easy peasy. From start to finish this takes about an hour and serves 2, with a few leftovers for a midnight snack if you wish!

What you need:

For the Roasted Summer Veg

  • 4 British carrots
  • 2 large courgettes
  • 5 shallots
  • 2 tbsp Calvia Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil
  • 1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Calvia Honey
  • 1 tsp each of coriander seeds and cumin seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried or fresh Thyme

For the Yorkies

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 large egg

For the rest

  • 2 hache steaks, I use these from Muscle Foods
  • 4 heaped tsp of gravy granules
  • 1 pack of Cheshire Farm Roast Potatoes
  • Choice of greens for steaming (I used fresh broccoli and frozen petits pois)
  • Bisto instant gravy granules (chicken or beef)

What to do

First of all, make your Yorkshire pudding batter. Combine the flour, milk and egg in a bowl and mix well (I use a hand blender). Once fully mixed, cover and set aside in the fridge until later.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Next, prepare your veg. Chop the carrots and courgettes into 3cm chunks and arrange in a single layer in a roasting tray. Peel and halve the shallots and add them to the tray too. Drizzle with the Calvia rapeseed oil and add the thyme, bay leaves and season with freshly ground salt and pepper. Give the pan a good shake so all the veg is evenly coated.  Pop in the middle shelf of the preheated oven, and set the time for 40 minutes.

Cheshire Food Blog

Using a pestle and mortar, grind the cumin and coriander seeds well and set aside.

Prep your greens by washing, chopping and adding to a steamer pan, ready to steam later.

Remove the Cheshire Farm roasties from the packaging and place on a roasting tray. Add to the middle shelf of the oven, alongside the roasted veg. At this point, add a tbsp of rapeseed oil to a yorkshire pudding tray (I use one like this) and add to the top shelf of the oven, to heat the oil before adding the batter.

After 15 minutes, remove the roasted veg from the oven and give it a stir. Add the balsamic vinegar, Calvia honey and spices and return to the oven. Check your roasties and turn them over now – this is your last chance!

At this point, you should have about 25 minutes left on the timer. Perfect for Yorkshire puddings. Carefully remove the yorkshire pudding tray with hot oil from the top shelf, and add 1 ladleful of the batter to each dip in the tray. Return the tray to the top shelf of the oven and don’t open the door until it’s ready (allow at least 20 minutes before opening the door)!

On the hob, heat water to the boil in a steamer saucepan ready for the greens, and also set a heavy-based griddle pan or frying pan over a medium heat ready to cook the steaks

Put the veg on to steam for 10 minutes over a low simmer

Lightly oil the steaks and add to the hot pan, cook for 3.5 mins on each side for medium-rare and if they are done before the veg and the rest of the roast, remove them from the pan and wrap them in tin foil until needed. This will keep them hot and will tenderise them further as the meat rests

Prep your gravy by mixing boiling water (from the steamed veg if you can) with the instant granules as per the packet instructions

Hopefully, everything should come together at around the same time! Plate up your feast, serve with English mustard and creamy Horseradish and voila, your cheats roast is served!

Do you live as a couple, or maybe a house share with friends? What’s your favourite thing to cook and eat on a Sunday? Tweet your pictures to @sophiesscran on Twitter or give me a tag @sophiesscran on Instagram! I would love to see your #happySunday snaps ❤

Yard & Coop, Manchester

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.

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.

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!

Monkey Balls with Bee's Knee's and Bourbon BBQ speciality homemade sauces
Monkey Balls with Bee’s Knee’s and Bourbon BBQ speciality homemade sauces

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.

Mini Jimi Hendrix Cocktails
Mini Jimi Hendrix Cocktails

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!

IMG_2662
Rule the Roost ❤

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!

Visit Yard & Coop’s website and give them a follow on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook by chickin’ these links 😉

37 Edge St, Manchester M4 1HW
0161 710 2570


I was invited to review Yard & Coop on a complimentary basis, however, all opinions are my own and are completely honest.

Urban Burger Bar, Altrincham

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.

IMG_1150
The Wellington

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!

The Firecracker
The Firecracker

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.

30-32 Greenwood St, Altrincham WA14 1RZ

Follow Urban Burger Bar on Facebook and Twitter.

Miyagi’s, Bold St, Liverpool

Liverpool is a place I am very fond of. I lived there for 3 years, in Wavertree, whilst studying a Psychology undergraduate degree at Liverpool Hope University. Many, many memories were made there. But when it came to Graduation (I graduated with a first!) it was time to leave the city as my housemates (all Irish and heading back across the pond) were doing the same. I was too much of a wimp to brave it alone.

Looking back, sometimes I wish I had stayed – but I have no regrets. The life I live now is amazing, and honestly, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I do however keep an eye on the Liverpool food scene as much as I can, and my ‘Liverpool List’ is becoming increasingly longer! And I happen to know a few MCR foodies who’d agree!

So as my Irish best friend was back in lovely Liverpool for a few days this weekend, how could I not go and reminisce with her over food & cocktails. After a bit of Twitter research, I decided it had to be MIYAGI’S.

Hannah & I enjoying our cocktails upstairs in KYO bar
Hannah & I enjoying our cocktails upstairs in KYO bar

MIYAGI’S is set at the top-end of Bold Street (number 77, to be precise). They serve up a wonderful range of sushi, yakitori, hearty bowls (including Laksa), Japanese ‘soul food’ and some impressive sounding ‘big plates’. Their menu is Japanese inspired and it’s honestly stunning – I could have closed my eyes and cast my finger on the menu and literally eaten anything from it. ❤

They don’t take reservations for less than 6 people, so as we arrived just after 7:30pm (on Sunday evening) it was a short 20 minute wait for a table for two. We had the choice of having a drink in the bar downstairs or upstairs, and as we were intrigued by upstairs… up we went. To our surprise, the first floor had a completely different look and feel to downstairs, and we later found out this is KYO, their sister late-night bar serving a smaller food menu (until 1am!) and a load of #GuiltyPleasures which sounded epic. Basically a mix of puddings, cocktails and milkshakes with sweets and chocolates and ice-pops and all sorts. We ordered a cocktail up here and the nice bar lady whipped us up a treat – I chose the Ghetto Geisha: pineapple, coconut water, lychee, Havana 3 year Rum & coconut rum – beautifully garnished with a flower and a pink sugar rim. Honestly the best cocktail I have ever tasted, and it looked gorgeous too. You could certainly taste the rum but it married so well with the other fresh, delicate flavours. Hannah went for the Cho Cho San: fresh mint, grapefruit, cranberry, green tea syrup, Giffard pamplemousse & Finlandia grapefruit vodka. Another absolute cracker.

When our table was ready we were escorted downstairs by (another) lovely member of staff. We were seated on a nice table with a low-hanging light above it, with a stunning Japanese-style lampshade. We decided to order a mix of things to share between us both. Our lovely waitress (also named Sophie) was happy to talk us through the menu and also made some great recommendations.

I was really keen to try the Miyagi Fried Chicken with Kimchi mayo, so we ordered 6 pieces which was great value at £9.95. Also from the ‘Soul Food’ menu we chose the Fried crispy duck gyoza with hoisin,£5.75. Keen to try their sushi offering, we ordered a portion of the Yellowfin tuna Nigiri (£6.95) and the Salmon California Rolls (£5.95). Last, but by no means least, we opted for a portion of Mr M’s Tempura, the vegetable option as recommended by Sophie (asparagus, courgette and broccoli, £6.95).

We were told the food arrived when it was ready, so we got straight to catching up on old-times, when only about 20 minutes later the food started to arrive. First up was the sushi, and Sophie came across to the table and asked if we liked wasabi. Yes, was the definitive answer from both of us, so she proceeded to serve up some freshly grated wasabi using traditional (and stunning) Japanese utensils. She told us that there’s only 1 place in the UK who produce proper wasabi – and that’s where this stuff was from. It was barely green, more so a creamy-beige colour and the taste was hot yet milder than other varieties (which are commonly Horseradish dyed green to imitate real wasabi).

The sushi itself was delightful. It was served, of course, with pickled ginger and soy, and the quality of the tuna was absolutely fantastic. It was so tender and just melted in your mouth.

Next came along the duck gyoza with hoisin. The duck parcels were hot, crispy and packed full of delicious, meaty duck. The sauce was smooth and light and tasted so fruity. Sometimes hoisin can be heavy and sticky but this was neither, it was yum.

Crispy duck gyoza with light hoisin
Crispy duck gyoza with light hoisin

We were able to have a short break after these three dishes, but then shortly after came out the vegetable tempura. I really liked how it was served as long batons, obviously complimenting the natural shape of the tenderstem broccoli and asparagus, but the courgette was cut to match and it just worked really well. It came with a creamy/seasoned/mayo-like sauce which was also delicious.

Mr M's vegetable tempura (asparagus, broccoli & courgette)
Mr M’s vegetable tempura (asparagus, broccoli & courgette)

Next to adorn our table was the Miyagi fried chicken. A great mixture of thigh, (huge) wings and drumsticks. It arrived with a plate of something we had never seen before – pickled watermelon rind! It sounds strange but it was really tasty, it was sweet and sour and went with the spicy chicken surprisingly well. The chicken itself was crispy on the outside and absolutely tender and succulent in the middle, the meat almost fell off the bone. The kimchi mayo was spicy, which was great, and dunking the chicken in it was so satisfying! A really great dish.

Soul Food: Miyagi Fried Chicken with spicy kimchi mayo
Soul Food: Miyagi Fried Chicken with spicy kimchi mayo

Overall, this was a fabulous meal and very reasonably priced in my opinion. The staff were so lovely, chatty and helpful too which was great (especially Sophie!) The only downfall is that the menu is so brilliant I will have to take many trips to Liverpool and back just to try the rest of it! Next time I want to try their amazing sounding steamed hirata buns, one of their big bowls of Ramen or Laksa AND one of their big plates e.g. Teriyaki rib-eye steak! Gonna have to wear my stretchy pants!

Follow Miyagi on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram. And check out their full food menu here. ❤


I paid for my meal in full and Miyagi’s did not know I was going to review the meal.

Mushroom & ‘Smokehouse’ Smoked Streaky Bacon Risotto

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

As some of you may know, I wrote my first article for Taste Today last week, and it was based on the wonderful Cheshire Smokehouse, their history, their food and their amazing shop based just on the outskirts of Wilmslow, Cheshire.

As part of the article, I chose a product off their shelves and with the help of the Smokehouse’s owner Darren Ward, told the readers all about the full life cycle of their wonderful smoked streaky bacon. I then put it in this wonderfully indulgent, satisfying and creamy risotto.

You can read the full article on Taste Today’s website by clicking here, but for now, please enjoy the recipe from it! This scrumptious dish serves 4 people, and takes about 35 minutes.

What you need:

  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 6-8 rashers of The Cheshire Smokehouse Smoked Streaky Bacon, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1L good quality chicken stock
  • 300g risotto rice
  • Handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 100ml dry white wine (plus extra, for sipping whilst stirring, if desired!)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese, grated to serve

What to do:

  1. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan or ceramic casserole dish and cook the onion and Cheshire Smokehouse Smoked Streaky Bacon for 5 minutes until soft.
  2. Add the mushrooms, garlic and bay leaf, and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes – until the mushrooms really start to release their juices.
  3. Stir in the rice and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  4. Add the wine, and continue to cook (and stir) until all the liquid and juices from the mushrooms have been absorbed.
  5. Next, add the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring well and waiting for most of the stock to be absorbed before adding the next ladleful. This process with take about 20 minutes – so I recommend you grab yourself a glass of wine as a reward for all this laborious activity!
  6. Continue until all the stock is added and the rice is cooked.
  7. Once the rice is cooked, removed the risotto from the heat and add the lemon zest, fresh parsley and season to taste with the black pepper.
  8. Serve with a little extra parsley and some grated Parmesan.

Hope you enjoy this one, love Sophie -x-

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

Restaurant One Eighty, Wilmslow

On my recent quest to find out more about the North West / Cheshire based contributors to The Great British Cook Book – I discovered an absolute gem of a restaurant. Situated on Wilmslow Road in Handforth, just a short drive out of Wilmslow town centre – is Restaruant One Eighty – part of the BW Plus Pinewood Hotel. This year the restaurant and kitchen alone have received a £1.5m renovation, and it shows.

The new 85 cover restaurant, opened in April this year, is visible from the hotel reception and is elegantly decorated with a modern, tasteful touch. The staff were very friendly and knowledgeable about the menus and dishes. Our waitress offered to talk us through the options; a Seasonal Menu –  which features Executive Chef Colin Starkey’s enhancement of current seasonal produce, all sourced from local suppliers. From this menu you can select dishes individually or sample a 6 course tasting option which Colin has put together, to give a true feel for all the dishes it has to offer.

The second menu option is their A La Carte Menu – a selection of classic starters, lite bites, mains, grills, sharing plates and desserts – all with a modern twist. We opted to combine choices from each menu, to ensure we sampled the best of what Restaurant One Eighty had to offer – and we were not disappointed.

The Food

To start, Bradley opted for the ‘pigs’ in blankets in a sticky mustard glaze. As you can see from the photo, these came served in a cute silver pot stuffed to the brim with juicy, meaty, morish little bites of sticky goodness. He was reluctant, but he let me try one. Absolutely divine, and with a sort of festive feel to them. Not your average starter – but very satisfying, especially for meat-lovers!

I opted for the smoked garlic king prawns, celeriac & pear ‘slaw with dressed lambs leaf. A great sized portion – the ‘slaw had a creamy, mustard flavour which wasn’t at all overpowering and coated the prawns perfectly. A light, fresh, excellent start to get the taste buds eager for the next course…

Beef & Pork Steak Burger
Brioche beef & pork steak burger with applewood cheese, dry cured bacon, onion marmalade and aspen fries
Pink Beef & Steak Burger - slow cooked for 2 hours
Pink Beef & Steak Burger – slow cooked for 2 hours
Aspen Fries, to with truffle oil and grated Parmesan
Aspen Fries, to with truffle oil and grated Parmesan

On to the mains, Bradley AKA meat-lover of the century, OF COURSE opted for the steak burger. And this one did not disappoint.  A brioche beef and pork steak burger with applewood cheese, dry cured bacon, onion marmalade and aspen fries. To say this was a taste-sensation would be an understatement. As you can see from the image (*drools*), the meat was pink throughout, mouthwateringly succulent and it was perfectly seasoned. We later found out from Colin that the burgers are slow-cooked for 2 hours in a water bath to achieve this amazing ‘melt in your mouth’ taste and texture. A really excellent burger – one that would be tricky to replicate at home, so if you’re in the area I urge you to go and try it.  As for the glossy, soft brioche bun – perfectly glazed for that amazing high-shine finish. It just seemed to ‘hug’ the burger so neatly, which is a breath of fresh air compared to many burgers out there which are served on thick slabs of bread, making it almost impossible to pick up and eat properly. The aspen fries (coated in truffle oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan) were also to die for, crispy, soft and a great sized portion. This was a very impressive main course indeed!

Seared Sea Bass with warm fennel, tapenade and sauce vierge
Seared Sea Bass with warm fennel, tapenade and sauce vierge
Seared Sea Bass - beautifully presented
Seared Sea Bass – beautifully presented

I opted for a more ladylike option of Seared Sea Bass with a warm baby fennel salad & new potatoes, tapenade and sauce vierge. What a delight – the sea bass was crispy, tender in the middle and the potatoes were sauteed and slightly buttery.  The sauce vierge was fragrant with basil, a delicate accompaniment to the fish which was seasoned to perfection with beautiful, floral presentation. Altogether an excellent fresh and satisfying main course, leaving just the right about of room for pudding…. 😉

The above dishes were all from the A La Carte menu – however, when it came to dessert time we decided to switch it up a notch, why ever not?! Both puddings were from Colin’s Season’s Menu – it was rightly noticeable that this menu showcases a more ‘fine dining’ approach, and it was so good to be able to combine the two experiences.

Berry Trifle with Limoncello
Berry Trifle with Limoncello

I chose (after much deliberation, as they all sounded so divine) the Black Berry Trifle with Limoncello. The description didn’t give much away – all I knew was I love trifle, love limoncello and was intrigued by the element of mystery and anticipation – so I went for it, and it’s safe to say it was a great choice. The dish was a deconstruction of the traditional trifle – all the elements were present, just not in a way you would expect, which I loved. The edible dark chocolate pot was filled with a silky fresh cream and topped with a sweet biscotti and flaked almonds. Around the edge of the plate were little drops of sweet limoncello blobs, a sharp berry compote and some crunchy dried berries. All in all a great variety of textures and flavours – hats off to the chef!

Michel Cluizel chocolate & caramel with Maldon sea salt, honeycomb and granola
Michel Cluizel chocolate & caramel with Maldon sea salt, honeycomb and granola

Bradley, once again, chose the richest and most decadent dessert option possible – Michel Cluizel chocolate & caramel with Maldon sea salt, honeycomb and granola. Just wow. The chocolate was divine – smooth, silky and felt very indulgent, a real treat. This was offset perfectly by the salty crunch to the granola sprinkles. An absolutely perfect finish to an excellent dining experience!!

The Great British Cook Book (TGBCB)

Colin Starkey, the Executive Chef at Restaurant One Eighty, has also contributed a fantastic looking dish to The Great British Cook Book., and he was kind enough to share some images with me. The pictures below are of his Galloway-breed Ribeye beef steak served with tempura Oyster, duck fat chips and a rich, clean sauce to accompany. Doesn’t it just look incredible?!

Ribeye beef steak with tempura Oyster, duck fat chips and a rich, clean oyster sauce
Ribeye beef steak with tempura Oyster, duck fat chips and a rich, clean oyster sauce

The recipe is available now in TGBCB, and is adapted to be accessible and easy for people to recreate at home, as with many other dishes in the book.

The Final Dish for TGBCB
The Final Dish for TGBCB

Colin’s restaurant has already been awarded an AA Rosette and has also received excellent reviews since opening in April. If you would like to find out more about Restaurant One Eighty and to see their current menus, click here. Colin also posts regular foodie updates on Twitter, to keep updated follow @ColinStarkey37.

On a final note – if you would like to purchase or download The Great British Cook Book, you can do so here (which is the official site, and also the cheapest place to purchase the online copy!)

With love, Sophie’s Scran -x-

Bistro 1847, Manchester

Bistro 1847, Manchester: Amazing food, super-cool decor, warm & intimate atmosphere
Bistro 1847, Manchester: Amazing food, super-cool decor, warm & intimate atmosphere

To sum it up, Bistro 1847 is a true delight. It’s modern, yet warm, friendly, intimate… and the menu pretty much speaks for itself – culinary vegetarian innovation served in an ambient, super-cool setting. I even took away some decor tips for my new house!

That aside, it’s the menu options that truly are a breath of fresh air. You can either choose a ‘Taste of 1847′ – the perfect introduction to Bistro’s most popular and distinctive dishes, offered as a set menu (there is a 5 course and a 7 course option). This menu showcases the chefs’ pinnacle dishes, and effectively means the ‘foodies’ of Bistro 1847 have done the hard work for you, making this menu choice a ‘tricky decision‘-free dining experience. The most difficult choice you’ll have to make is which scrumptious cocktail to start with 🙂

The second menu option is to ‘Graze, Share and Explore’ – pretty much what it says on the tin. This menu features a range of smaller tapas-style dishes, which are all ordered at once, and arrive when they are ready. In my experience, this is similar to the ‘wagamama’ style of dining, it’s more informal; dishes arrive when ready, so not necessarily all at the same time. I love the element of surprise behind this modern style of dining, and these guys really do it well. I’d say this is the perfect option for a group of friends, who want to wine, dine and chatter – whilst sharing a varied feast of delicious small plates. Just one tip: order extra beer-battered halloumi, as you may not be as inclined to share this one!

His & Hers Cocktails - the Maple & Orange 'Old Fashioned' and the 'Bistro Bastillia'
His & Hers Cocktails – the Maple & Orange ‘Old Fashioned’ and the ‘Bistro Bastillia’

I am a big believer that we eat with our eyes, as well as our taste-buds, and these guys have both presentation and taste down to a fine art. I took some foodie snaps of our dishes from their ‘Taste of 1847’ menu, for you to feast your eyes upon:

Perfectly bite-sized spelt & rye crispbread, baba ghanoush (aubergine dip) with pomegranate seeds
Spelt & rye crisp bread, baba ghanoush with pomegranate seeds

Baba Ghanoush is an aubergine based ‘dip,’ which is served here on perfectly bite-sized pieces of crisp bread. It was nice to start with informal ‘finger-food,’ which tastes amazing and looks great too.

Beer-battered halloumi, seashore herbs & plants, mushy pea emulsion, smoked lemon curd & gin pickled shallots
Beer-battered halloumi, seashore herbs & plants, mushy pea emulsion, smoked
lemon curd & gin pickled shallots

This was the second course, I was told by Manager Rebecca that this is one of their most popular dishes, and I can see why. I have never tasted halloumi like it. Often dubbed ‘the squeaky cheese’ for its rubbery texture (as so many people over-cook it), this version was spongy, yet firm and almost had a meaty-texture to it. I wouldn’t hesitate to say it was cooked to perfection, and accompaniments compliment it so well. Hats off to the chef!

Heritage carrot, farmhouse curds, pearl barley, wilted cavolo nero, herbs, flowers & carrot top oil
Heritage carrot, farmhouse curds, pearl barley, wilted cavolo nero, herbs,
flowers & carrot top oil

This is a risotto style dish using barley instead of rice, which makes it lighter, fitting well with the two different menu options. The flavours are delicate and the presentation super-pretty, a highly seasonal dish using locally sourced heritage carrots. Yummy.

Chocolate, lime & sea salt brownie drizzled with coconut cream
Chocolate, lime & sea salt brownie drizzled with coconut cream

I think this photo speaks volumes to be honest. Chocolate brownie is the ultimate pud, and this one was nothing-short of heavenly.  Tasty, delicate hints of additional flavours from the sea salt, lime and coconut cream give this pud an elegant, more ‘grown-up’ feel, which I liked a lot.

Petit fours and tea or coffee's to finish (these ones were vegan chocolate truffles!)
Petit fours and tea or coffee’s to finish (these ones were vegan chocolate truffles!)

To finish, a choice of tea or coffee with petit fours. A great way to finish this wonderful, distinctive dining experience. I shall definitely be back for more, hopefully next time to Graze & Share with a few close friends, both veggies and non-veggies! If you’re even slightly curious, I urge you to try it as I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. Featured here is just a snippet of their wonderful menu, a full copy of which is here: bistro1847.com/menus/ManchesterAutumn.pdf

If you want to find out more about Bistro 1847, their website is: bistro1847.com, and they are located:

58 Mosley Street
(Entrance on Booth St)
Manchester
M2 3HZ

0161 236 1811
bdm@bistro1847.co.uk