Cheshire Food Blogger

The Fenwick, Lancashire, Seafood Pub Co.

The Fenwick is set in the quaint, Lune Valley village of Claughton which is between Lancaster and the more picturesque Kirkby Lonsdale. Part of the Seafood Pub Company group who have seven pubs across Lancashire (four of which offer rooms to stay over), it’s rooms have recently been refurbished. The main building is over 250 years old, which means lots of character both inside and out with oak floors, beamed walls and ceilings, and stunning open fireplaces. The traditional but stylish décor and friendly staff also add to the overall charm of this wonderful place.

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We arrived at 5pm and were greeted by Chris, a very friendly face who signed us in, offered us a drink at the bar and showed us to our room. He explained that all rooms were in the out-buildings, which was a very short walk round to the side of the pub’s main entrance.

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The room was beautifully welcoming, very nicely decorated and smelt just a little of fresh paint. Scenic black and white framed photography adorned the walls and the general colour scheme was cream, light greys and charcoal with gingham throughout. We stayed in the Deluxe Double Junior suite, which comprised of a double bed, dressing table, small bay window and a hallway that lead to the bathroom. The room was carpeted and had a lovely flat screen TV on the wall and a great selection of speciality and traditional teas and coffees, with fresh milk available if requested.

The soft furnishing were particularly luxurious, from the thick, super-soft and warm woollen throw to the lovely cushions on the bed. I also really liked the wooden wall cladding which really added to the stylish feel of the room.

The room had a big wardrobe built-in to the wall in the hallway that connected the bedroom to the bathroom. Ideal if you were staying for a couple of nights and a good use of the space, I thought. The door to the bathroom was a stunning dark oak with a black latch; which matched the polished, oak-cladded floor in the bathroom and the beautiful beamed ceilings throughout the main bedroom.

The bathroom was stunning. The floor was warm and welcoming, the towels were pristine, white and fluffy and the shower was huge; with one giant head then a smaller head which could be removed and used separately. The bath was also very generous, roll-top in style with the traditional taps and shower-head in the middle. Definitely room for two!

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As we arrived back downstairs for dinner, we were greeted by a busy, bustling restaurant and a queue at the bar – always a good sign! I ordered a gin and tonic, and Bradley a cider. I was offered a choice of gins, and I must say, I am not much of a connoisseur so I opted for Bombay Sapphire and Bradley had a pint of the Aspall’s Harry Sparrow cider; a lovely, medium-dry taste.

The gin was delicious. It was garnished with fresh orange peel and served with Fevertree tonic which is just divine. The orange peel really added a beautifully fragrant taste to the drink, which I drank the vast majority of before remembering to take the photograph… Oops!

So – onto the food. As it’s the Seafood Pub Co. we thought ‘when in Rome,’ and being avid seafood lovers we were really excited to see so many enticing dishes on the specials board. However, note that The Fenwick is named a ‘Steak and Seafood Pub’ and there was an impressive steak offering on the menu too – all cooked on their Robata grill (a Japanese style grill which uses fire and flame to cook meat and fish with maximum flavour).

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To start, I opted for the mussels, which were actually served in a creamy cider sauce with bacon pieces and toasted brioche (our server, Harry, explained the dish had changed since the specials board was written!)  Bradley went for the king prawn bruschetta (from the normal menu) served with cherry tomatoes on garlicky toasted, crusty bread.

Both starters were delicious. The mussels were HUGE, juicy and so clean with the beards fully removed (an absolute must if you ask me). The brioche was lightly toasted and not too filling, which I thought was an excellent accompaniment. The sauce was delicious and a really lovely consistency that was perfectly seasoned… I practically licked the bowl clean. 🙂

Brad’s prawns were also humongous. Juicy, meaty and cooked to perfection. He devoured the entire thing, even all the tomatoes, which surprised me as he’s not the world’s biggest fan of vegetables… A really delightful and satisfying pair of starters.

Onto the mains, and I just could not resist the black cod. It tasted as good as it sounded on the specials board, and as it looked. Two big pieces of black cod were served on a bed of noodles, and although the flavours of the dish were strong – the cod held its own in being the centre of attention with its silky texture and naturally buttery flavour. A hint of spice from the fresh red chilli was excellent – one of the best fish dishes I have eaten.

Brad opted for the tuna steak, again from the normal menu rather than the specials board. Harry asked how he would like it cooked – pink or cooked-through. Having opted for pink, when the dish arrived we both agreed it was the largest tuna steak we’d ever seen! Extremely succulent and full of flavour and seasoned really well. The creamed spinach beneath was also delicious, and the Parmesan fries were the cherry on top. A really great dish.

We ordered a bottle of the Chablis to accompany our meals. It was light, crisp and slightly fruity and went really well with all of the dishes we ate.

For pudding- we kept things really simple. We chose the caramel chocolate pot with salted peanut praline. It was like eating a posh Snickers bar. Really delicious and a nice way to end an excellent meal.

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After a great night’s sleep in the comfy bed (with plenty of decent pillows) we were down from breakfast at the agreed time for 9:30am (you could choose any time from 7-10am). Fresh fruit, juices, bread to toast, cereals and fresh milk were laid out on a table for you to dig in which accompanied the main breakfast, which you selected from the menu.

We ordered coffees, the Lancashire Breakfast and the Wild Mushrooms with poached eggs on toasted brioche. Both dishes were delightful – the breakfast was so fresh and a nice touch was that the hash browns were home made, and delicious. The eggs were as fresh as they get with bright orange yolks, and the mushrooms on the toast were full of flavour and varying ‘meaty’ textures. My only gripe would be that the coffee wasn’t great. A simple cafetiere of coffee with a sugar cubes instead of sachets would have been a nicer touch than the machine coffee, but other than that I really cannot complain.

After a truly hearty breakfast to set us up for the day, we were ready for an adventure. We decided not to do the local walk as we only had wellies and the floor was too icy for a hilly trek. So we drove along the beautiful countryside to Kirkby Lonsdale and then up to Lake Windermere which in total is about a 40 min drive up the road. Kirkby Lonsdale had some lovely, quirky shops and restaurants and Windermere was it’s usual, picturesque self (especially in the snow!)

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Cheshire Food Blogger

Cheshire Food Blogger

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at The Fenwick and would highly recommend it as a romantic getaway or a trip away with family or friends. The staff were a lovely bunch with an excellent sense of humour. The food is of excellent quality; from sourcing the finest seafood and ingredients, to creating a menu that is varied, creative and very well-executed. The rooms, decor and finishing touches are also to an excellent standard.

I very much look forward to visiting more of the Seafood Pub Co.’s establishments and trying some more of what they have to offer.

To book a table or room at The Fenwick in Lancashire, visit seafoodpubcompany.com for more information.


We stayed and dined as guests of The Fenwick and paid for all optional extras. All opinions and images are my own. ❤
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Cheshire Food Blogger

The Railway Cafe, Alderley Edge

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.

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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.

We ordered/devoured:

  1. Lamb Sliders mini lamb burgers in a toasted brioche, garlic mayo, cucumber raita and pickled onions
  2. Chilli Imli Chicken Wings ginger-tamarind glaze and cracked black pepper
  3. Super Green & Quinoa Salad with kale, tender stem broccoli, poached pear, asparagus, chilli and candied pistachio
  4. Beetroot & Avocado cumin yoghurt and garlic toasts
  5. 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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What the Pho?!

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.

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fresh rice paper summer rolls with herbs, vermicelli
& pickle

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!

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king prawn Xào stir fry of chilli & greens in a rich, gingery sauce

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.

Sophie -x-

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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-

Baltic Cellar, Manchester

When I was lucky enough to be cordially invited to the exclusive launch party of Baltic Cellar, Lloyd Street, Manchester – I felt honoured. I only started my food blog in August this year, and the response I have received from the foodie world so far has been fantastic. So as you can imagine, I was looking forward to this one. And, I have MDOG_MANCHESTER to thank – so thanks dude 😉

The invitation promised flames, grills, vodka on-tap and a mind-bending surprise… How could I possibly refuse?! Well, I couldn’t of course, and I was so eager that Bradley and I were the first ones there and had to be told on arrival (red carpet and all) by the Tuxedo-clad bouncers to come back in 5-10 minutes when the hostess had arrived! I was excited, to say the least. Lesson learnt – next time ‘fashionably late’ is perhaps the cooler option.

It is safe to say – Baltic Cellar delivered on all that was promised, and then some. These guys truly know how to eat, drink and entertain you. Basically, they know how to party – and I am now told they are taking bookings for Christmas – so if you’re looking for something with a bit of a twist, I would highly recommend this place.

Set just down the road from Albert Square (the Christmas-capital of Manchester), Baltic Cellar is exactly that – the entrance is on the street, with windows and steps looking down towards their main seating area and large bar. To entertain us in the queue was the amazing performer Beth Sykes (pictured above), who put on a flawless fire show, complete with actual flame swallowing. Very impressive.

Once inside, we were greeted with ‘Champagne’ and canapes – a simple yet very effective collection of Latvian and Lithuanian cheeses, cooked meats (Polish smoked sausages, smoked hams), olives and grapes. All were fabulous, very morish – but my favourite had to be the perfectly hand-crafted smoked salmon and creamed cheese eclairs…  a super light and fluffy filling encased in a pretty little choux pastry parcel. So, so good, I think I ate about 15…

Then was time for a short entertainment interval – the wonderful Beth Sykes again, but this time a change of costume and style completely. It turns out Beth is an incredible, mesmerising and extremely talented contortionist. A true artist, ‘mind-bending’ indeed, I couldn’t take my eyes off her – neither could Bradley… Ahem.. OK, now back to the food 😉

Next, we were to be seated for dinner: a traditional Russian ‘Zakuski’ (Russia’s answer to Tapas) whereby you sit together, drink vodka and eat a traditional selection of salted herring, Russian salad (like a chunky coleslaw), pickled and marinated cucumber and Salo (cured fat, I wasn’t too keen on this, but I did give it a go!) As we were seated, the Russian drinking rules were explained to us, something along the lines of: the person who wears the Russian hat must pour the drinks. They must always pour one for themselves when pouring for others. They must hold the bottle by the neck… Thank fully, being the designated driver, I managed to stay sober and avoid the hangover… This also meant I remember all of what happened next!

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On to the Mains… Well, as you can imagine, we were all rather full by now. The main feast however was yet to begin – as now followed a beautifully presented small-servings platter of homemade savoury delights:

  • Beef Goulash, a tender and slow-cooked warming stew with paprika, carrots and onions.
  • Chicken & Mushrooms, served with hand-picked forest mushrooms in a sharp creamy sauce.
  • Bigos, a traditional Polish dish which stews the rich flavours of sauerkraut, smoked sausage, smoked ribs, cabbage, onions, plums and wild mushrooms – so incredibly tasty.
  • Chicken Cedar, chicken in a light creamy sauce topped with cedar nuts.
  • Vegetable Ragu of braised cauliflower, carrots, peas, potatoes and tomatoes.
  • Pork Stroganoff, a traditional 19th century Russian dish served with lean pork strips and a rich, tasty sauce.
  • Grilled Meats – Chicken or Salmon Shashlik,  we tried the salmon only, which was cooked on an authentic Baltic charcoal grill. Marinated and ‘slow grilled,’ it tasted incredible. This  was my favourite dish of the evening, as the fish was mouth wateringly succulent and cooked to perfection.

The the side-dishes were also excellently seasoned; creamy mashed potatoes, spicy rice and skinny, crispy fries. Yum.

Then, this happened…

Possibly THE most decedent, varied, sweet and indulgent (and biggest!) dessert selection I have ever seen in a restaurant (not counting my nan’s pudding spread a family Christmas buffet…) Although we were full to the brim, there was no way we could refuse trying these little beauties – all homemade: Cheese Cake, Honey Cake, Chocolate Cake, Napoleon Cake (Polish variation called Kremowka). Just divine. The berries helped cut through the sweetness with a little sharpness and bite – the perfect end to a true Baltic Feast.

All in all, the dishes were hearty, authentic, homemade and very morish. The party was swinging, the staff extremely attentive and knowledgeable about each dish and the vodka (so I am told), was excellent quality. I will leave you with a few images which capture some other highlights of what was altogether an excellent evening. Thank you.

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If you would like to make a reservation at Baltic Cellar, please contact Inesa on 0161 971 6047 or click on balticcellar.com!