Dish, Leeds

After a very busy week spent mostly in London which included business dinners all you need is a night in but D had other ideas…..
I wasn’t told where I had to go and when the cab dropped us off at The Electric Press I thought we were going to start at Epernay but was very surprised when we walked into the little place between Epernay and Casa Mia called Dish. I had heard of Dish but didn’t even know it was there. The place is very small, under 30 covers but is nicely set as a Bistro style, wooden floors and dark wood tables, high ceiling lots of blackboards.

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The bar is tiny and the kitchen is open and small to say the least so I was kind of pleased that there where only 3 tables occupied because I worried whether the chef and his assistant would be able to cope.
The front of house is a charming young chap called Chris and he explained that they were fully booked so the only table available was the high one in the bar area right outside the kitchen but D was determined so we climbed into the seats.
D ordered a glass Prosecco and I had a Japanese whisky which I am particularly fond of at present called Yamazaki we asked for some crackling and truffle popcorn to nibble on whilst we perused the menu.

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Looking at the menu my immediate thought was, far too adventurous absolutely no way can these dishes be carried off in that kitchen! We ordered pan seared foie gras with apple and pork gel on toasted sourdough and artichoke crisps for me and East coast crab and sautéed tiger prawn salad with horseradish snow for D, I am guessing you understand my concern. The wine list is simple but well designed, we decided on a bottle of Laurent Perrier Rose as I hadn’t seen Mrs S all week!
The food was flying out of the kitchen and it looked amazing, the table we were at was turning into a “Chef’s table”, we were having fun and the place was filling up.
Our starters arrived and I can only say that both were just fabulous.

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We googled the chef who is Eddie Nuttal, very experienced, lots of flair and a star in the making but hang on we hadn’t had mains so let’s not get carried away too early.
D had slow roasted pork belly with fennel and chilli black pudding, smoked mash, pig ear and walnut salad and I opted for duck three ways, smoke crusted Gressingham duck breast, Peking duck consommé, pan seared duck hearts with pomme Anna. The amount of “wows, amazing” were off the scale…

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After all that I was full despite the beautiful desserts being taken out but D ordered lemon tart and see below because as they say a picture speaks a thousand words.

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We have no doubt that Eddy, Chris and the team here obviously deserve their “Best Newcomer” in the Oliver awards and will be successful. In fact I predict they will easily compete with the best places in Leeds….
G&D.

The Scarlet

For the first time ever we enjoyed a whole week in Cornwall AND it didn’t rain, actually the sun shone all week so we decided to stay an extra night if by some miracle we could get a room at the upmarket Scarlet Hotel in Mawgan Porth. It was May Bank Holiday but you can but ask…. One room available and it was a dog friendly as well, so it was meant to be. The hotel itself is set on the hillside overlooking a most magnificent Cornish beach and is renowned for its beautiful art, contemporary architecture and environmental credentials. Lots of wood and glass provided light filled rooms and stylish al fresco choices to sit and enjoy lots of locally sourced food options.

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As this was a special treat we decided to start with a bottle of Sancerre Rose accompanied with some of our favourite Nocellara olives, to while away some time we sat outside on that strange arty furniture that looks uncomfortable but is amazingly comfortable. The seagulls menacingly hovered above so when D decided she wanted to try the afternoon tea we took it inside. Homemade scones and jams with clotted cream, I was asked to share but decided to save myself for dinner so only half was eaten but that did require a great deal of discipline as it was pretty perfect. After snacking a snooze was required so we retired to our room chilled and readied ourselves for the evening.

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The bar is very well designed and as you would expect incredibly well decorated and furnished with those arty stylish types in mind……. We fitted in nicely, joking apart everyone would feel comfortable and chilled. One comment to make is that they had no cucumber for the Hendricks and the spirits were, well, independent and not many brands which made you try new stuff but I was a tad surprised as you would expect both brands plus independents would give the choice customers would want at this type of place. That said The Scarlet is trying to be different and proud of it.
The menu was small but a perfect mix of meat, seafood, veggie and everything was tempting. We both ordered the same dishes, pork belly and black pudding for starters.

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Veal for mains…..

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Absolutely delicious, perfectly presented with lots of panache, faultless.
Another fantastic Cornish sunset, sat in the huge windows with Mrs S, it really doesn’t get any better.
We finished off some more Sancerre Rose and I had a half bottle of an excellent Rioja Gran Reserva with a lovely cheese board which we shared in the “retreat”.
It isn’t cheap but now and again a place like this, you just got to go for it.

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G&D.

The Hidden Hut, Porthcurnick beach near Portscatho

We had enjoyed watching the Caroline Quentin TV series on Cornwall and were fascinated by The Hidden Hut so we decided that we should try find it. Yes, it is well hidden and parking isn’t easy but boy is it worth the effort. At the end of a coastal path from the little village of Portscatho from one end or at the end of a long cul de sac from the even tinier village of Rosevine from the other is a beautiful little beach which is where you will find a picturesque wooden hut run by a couple of proper foodies. You sit at one of two long wooden communal tables with enormous benches or a few smaller steel tables. Almost everything on the chalk board menu, except the wonderful breads which are sourced locally, is home made.

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I had a smoked haddock chowder followed by a piece of orange and almond cake and D had spicy chicken and butternut squash tagine followed by mint chocolate chip ice cream. Luscombe juices and tea accompanied the food with the most wonderful view.

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You know we all talk about those gems on the med that are good value but serve the freshest simplest food and make a holiday, well here is as good as any in the UK.

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G&D

Smoak

One of the anomalies of the Glasgow licensing laws means makes street food very difficult to happen. Basically the Scottish laws are quite strict about street food being sold within 300 yards of a school, and Glasgow in particular has a lot of schools.

This may well be North of the border bunkum, aimed at befuddled Sassenachs but it’s what my local food experts in Glasgow told me as we walked towards one of the more innovative solutions to this pedantic bylaw.

We were on our way to a ‘pop up’ food thing, situated in a bar on Glasgow’s notorious Sauchiehall Street. I say ‘thing’ as it’s a dine in, sit down and have a beer with food affair or a takeaway – either way, it’s interesting and currently the best sandwich in Glasgow right now and that got me on the hook.

Smoak is the indoors street food ‘concept’ situated in one of Glasgow’s most old school bars, The Variety. This place is as authentic as they come and we piled in on a surprisingly quiet Friday lunchtime. The menu is super simple with meat, cooked long and slow and smoked of course, served with home-made slaw and pickles. The chef is set snugly next to the bar with all his kit, like he’s been there twenty years.

It’s a genius idea.

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It really worked: the old school credibility of one of the city’s coolest, dodgiest bars and the bang on trend filthy food served with a lot of verve and attitude. I loved the look of it all, but clearly ordering the entire menu would not have worked so I went for the mixed slider combo – smoked brisket, pulled pork and Asian pork with all manner of pickles, gravy and loveliness and a brioche bun to boot.

Washed down with a pint of Guinness it was the lunch my personal trainer should never know about – and I’m relying on you to keep schtum about it.

Smoak are doing something that is both lovingly done and well considered and it would be great to see them in Leeds. Perhaps we could get our thinking caps on…hang on a minute, it would work a treat in somewhere like the Brudenell…

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La Piloitte

Once again went to Portiragnes Plage in the South of France, this time the four sisters had managed to get together for a long weekend, hopefully the first of many. We ate at La Piloitte in the square, a lazy afternoon without a care in the world.

Three of us decided to have the three goats cheese salad for starters, the amount was just right and not too filling. For main course I had steak au poivre this was beautifully cooked medium rare perfection on a plate. It was served with ratatouille a baked tomato and dauphinoise potatoes. I had to have a couple of glasses of vin rouge to wash it down, from the Languedoc of course. My dessert was ile flottante which I have had several times but never disappoints. Crumble was the order of the day for Pat and Bernie. Maureen just ate a pizza which she said was very good and tasty.

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This restaurant is very reasonably priced, the service is excellent and I shall definitely visit again when I return to Portiragne at the end of May.

Tess and Pat

The Cornish Arms, St Merryn

Second day in Cornwall and the sun had taken a day off, funny then that unless you are abroad thoughts drift towards a nice pub lunch….perhaps even a roast.
So it was that we decided to take a drive over to St Merryn to find The Cornish Arms, Rick Steins pub. As almost everywhere in Cornwall the drive along country lanes means most places have to be “destination” hostelries and therefore after the drive they better be good or the disappointment can be big. The Cornish Arms is an old pub that has been cleverly extended without taking away the character right down to real log fires and RAF Curlew memorabilia harking back to previous use of the establishment. The menu is not huge and is quite old school comfort food, burgers, scampi, curry etc but all posh nosh style.
We both decided on Sunday lunch, D went for the beef and I had the pork. All that needed to be said it’s faultless right down to the plate of mixed vegetables old school form.

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At £12.95 per head or £15 if you had a pudding…we opted to have puddings too, sticky toffee for moi and chocolate nut Sunday for D. Service and value was excellent! We will go again I fancy Mumrez Khan’s lamb and spinach karahi! Booking is advisable even out of season.

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G&D

The Blue Tomato, Rock

When we first started to visit Cornwall over ten years ago, frankly, the accommodation and restaurants left a lot to be desired. The exception to this rule was either the couple of Michelin starred restaurants or the odd independent super beach cafe like The Blue Tomato at Rock. So it is that every year we take a couple of trips as it is still going and still superb. We do breakfast once and lunch once. This year for our breakfast visit we both had a fresh berry granola with yoghurt and honey which was fantastic.

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This was followed by the full Cornish for me and portobello mushrooms with walnut and blue cheese sauce on granary for D. Ranks as probably the best breakfast one can have but the view makes certain it is the best!

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Another day and the sun was shining across the estuary with views over to Padstow we couldn’t think of a better place to walk the dog and have lunch than Rock.
This time for lunch I had an unusual dish; crab rarebit with mixed salad, some would just go for crab and others just rarebit but I can honestly say that crab rarebit is the way forward! D had battered king prawns with a chilli dip and mixed salad, I pinched a couple and agreed they were perfect, crispy batter soft juicy hot prawns inside.
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And to finish with…..

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As always this place is hard to beat anyway BUT impossible to beat particularly if you have a dog…….check out the Doggie Menu!

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Don’t miss out you have to try it for great food, fantastic view, totally chilled.
G&D