,

The Granary Restaurant Review – Newtown, Powys

I was recently asked to attend a little known (to myself) restaurant in the heart of Wales called the Granary in Newtown, Powys to try their new 9 course tasting menu. Not knowing much about the restaurant at first I did a little bit of digging and found out that the head chef has worked at some very reputable restaurants on his journey to heading up the kitchen at The Granary including the one Michelin Star Ynyshir in Machynlleth, two Michelin star Noma in Copenhagen and even further afield at The Little Truffle on the Gold Coast in Australia. Ok, so you can judge a restaurant just by where someone has worked but the menu sounded absolutely banging and right up my street.

The only thing putting me off was the 5 hour round journey to get to the restaurant and back home. Seeing as we’re in the middle of one of the biggest heat waves to grace the land of song, I thought why not make a weekend of it and throw a bit of nature in with the epic scenic route meandering through the Brecon Beacons then up to Mid Wales and go camping whilst we were up there. As luck goes I found a camping spot called The Dolau Inn just two miles from the restaurant, which was situated next to a pub and cost just £5 per person so it was game on!

 

The Restaurant

After a few fermented apple juices to hydrate ourselves after setting up camp, we took the 5 minute taxi ride into town and a short walk down a lane just off the main high street in Newtown to the restaurant.

The restaurant itself has been run by the same owner since 2009 and after speaking to some of the locals before we got there it has gone through a number of different directions since its inception with the most recent offering being tapas.

The re-branding, new menu and new direction under the guise of chef Seamus Russel has also seen the restaurant change its name to the Granary to tie in with the buildings original purpose being a bakers in the 1900 and selling grain during the 1950’s.

The outside building of the Granary Restaurant Newtown

The restaurant seating and tables at The Granary

The bar at The Granary Restaurant - Newtown

 

The Tudor style exterior flowed through nicely into the interior with exposed wooden joists and panelling throughout with stripped back low hanging lighting creating a warm atmosphere. We were the first to arrive and were offered a chance to grab a drink out the back first, which we inquisitively accepted.

Outside seating and garden at The Granary Newtown

Garden at The Granary Restaurant in Newtown

Garden snug at the granary restaurant - Newtown

 

Both going for a Gin Mare G & T, whilst we explored the peaceful and tranquil outside seating area that would be a summertime mecca if it was only located in Cardiff with ample an scattering of tables with rattan benches and cushions a plenty. There was even a snug up on a raised area with comfy sofas and a chance to shelter from the sun in the summer or warm the cockles up in winter with the connected wall mounted fire.

The Food

After embracing my inner Zen channelled through the Buddha statues dotted around outside chill out area, G & T in hand as backup we headed inside for a culinary journey through a foraged and fermented menu expertly curated by head chef Seamus.

tasting menu and gin at the granary restaurant

First up on the menu was the hispi taco, prawn, lime, cucumber and ant. I’ve never been one to purposely journey on through a dish with insects in but seeing as it was national insect week and I’d been desensitised once that week already with the bug farm pop up at The Celtic Manor, there was nothing a little helping of ants as seasoning would do to hold me back.

Hispi taco with ants at The Granary Restaurant

This was a very clever dish with fermented limes used to cure the prawns a la ceviche style, sandwiched between carved hispi cabbage leaves and cucumber. The presentation was on point and gave us a little glimpse of what we were in store for, for the rest of the evening. The ants would have been right at home nestled amongst the edible flower coating. Even the rustic looking plates and tableware were handmade by a woman locally and added an extra special touch to the dishes.

Leek and wild garlic plate at The Granary in Newtown

Second course saw us delving into leek, shallot, parmesan, wild garlic. Each of the dishes was explained by the chef so that no detail was left unearthed, which I though was excellent as the menu reads very simply but the techniques and process behind executing each dish goes way beyond the main ingredients listed. This dish for example was powdered in fine particles of charcoal, adding an extra layer to the delicate ribbons of leak and silky custard like core of parmesan and fragrant but mellow linger of wild garlic.

Sourdough bread and cultured butter - The Granary in Newtown

I was a little disappointed at first when sitting down and not having a chance to carb up on bread, but to my delight it was delivered after the 2nd course. God I love bread! Especially when so much love and attention has been made with the cultured butter and the sourdough both taking around 5 days to produce I was told. This wasn’t just any old Hovis, that’s for sure. Being a champion of fermented yeast I adore its sour taste just as much in a sour beer as my bread and this loaf took some beating, slathered with rich, buttery, yellow mounds.

Pigs head with caviar - The Granary Newtown

Not that it would have bothered me but the next course of pigs head didn’t come on a silver platter with an apple in its mouth. Instead if came crowned in something a bit more regal in the form of Osietra caviar, sat on a bed of squash surrounded in fermented barley with droplets of kelp. I would never have put pork and caviar together myself but when I think about my preference of pork, which would be adorned with glass like shards of heavily salted crackling it married together flawlessly. Sweetened by the soft squash and a pleasant umami hit from the kelp.

Duck with blueberry and beetroot main course The Granary Restaurant Powys

Another meaty dish was up next in the form of duck breast, blueberry, hazelnut and beetroot. Duck being one of my favourite meats if cooked correctly I was more than excited to see how it would be plated up. Even though my favourite potato sidekick to duck dishes, dauphinoise potato wasn’t anywhere in sight, the sight of me wiping the plate clean with my index finger after I’d savoured the last mouthful of duck I think it was fair to say I wasn’t too disappointed in the end. Cooked pink to perfection, the sweetness of the blueberry helped tame the gaminess of the meat.

Pineapple - coal ricotta and rocket granita at The Granary Restaurant

Course 6 was a fusion of sweet and savoury before we went full steam ahead into dessert with pineapple, rapeseed, coal ricotta and rocket. I don’t know what sort of witchcraft they taught the chef at his previous posts but this dish was crazy. Sweet pineapple, savoury rocket granita, with a helping of dairy in the form of welsh gold infused ricotta. Simple raw ingredients yet executed brilliantly by transforming them with some well thought out techniques, lots of time and a little sprinkle of love.

Rice pudding with rhubarb dessert at The Granary - Newtown

The freshly foraged haul came into its own in the next few courses with rice pudding, oats, rhubarb and wood sorrel. This put my regular overnight oat breakfast to shame. Smooth pudding with added crunch and texture from the crispy oats with a spoonful of the sweetened rhubarb was divine. Topped off with hand carved hearts out of the wood sorrel that brought not only a visual touch but another layer of flavour too.

Strawberry and elderflower dessert at The Granary in Newtown

Having only tired elderflower in gin, it was about time I tried it in it’s fresh form with some strawberries, olive oil and drizzle of elderflower gel. Soft, fresh and fragrant. The strawberries were so sweet and a classic pairing with the elderflower.

Final course and dessert at The Granary Newtown
Last but not least we came to the lemon and white chocolate fudge. Bite sized nuggets of lemon and a rich, indulgent chocolate and raspberry to finish off a perfect and flawless meal.

The Verdict

Well what can I say… From not having heard of the granary to learning about the chef and then getting excited about the 9 courses on offer for the June menu this did not disappoint and was definitely worth the 5 hour journey there and back.

The flavour pairings and techniques used were so clever and after finishing our meals, we were allowed into the kitchen to speak to the chef and take a look behind the scenes. There were some very British ingredients on the menu but I loved how they were tweaked with Asian flavours and techniques with ferments like koji, which I’d learned about only the night before whilst watching “The Mind of a Chef” with David Chang on Netflix.

Nothing was just thrown in a skillet and plated up, everything in each dish required patience, time and nurture with some of the ingredients requiring days if not weeks to prepare. There wasn’t one thing that past my lips that I didn’t like.

I really hope the restaurant gets the rewards it deserves and from eating at some other Michelin star restaurants recently I can’t see any reason why The Granary under the direction of Chef Seamus Russel can’t reach the same heights any time soon and although I never ate at its previous incarnation, I think they’ve found the winning formula at last.

I hope the locals do give it a chance and check out the amazing food although speaking to a few in the pub after our meal it might just be ahead of its time in Newtown after describing some of the dishes and ingredients and they pulled a face and said it was expensive. I think it will take off it’s just there is nothing else quite like it around and once they walk through the doors and sample the food, it will do all the talking.

If you are onto something as good as this though people will travel for it. I travelled to Anglesey from Cardiff to go for food at The Sosban and Old Butchers for my birthday, which is 4.5 hours there and 9 hour round trip so this is nothing from Cardiff or Shrewsbury about an hour away.

9 course tasting menu at The Granary - Newtown

The price of the 9 course tasting menu costs just £50, which by Cardiff Standards is bloody cheap as I’ve seen some veggie tasting menus recently for not much less. We ordered a bottle of white wine after our gin and tonics to go with the food as we didn’t realise they did a wine flight to go with the food too for around £30 each. Bearing in mind this is 9 courses and the portion size of the drinks was more than generous. We were gutted we didn’t know at the start or we would of gone for that but they did allow us to pair the rest of our dishes with the wine when we found out and they were paired beautifully.

Our food was complimentary and would cost £50 each and with our two gins, bottle of wine and last couple of paired wines our drink bill came to £60, which I though was very reasonable. So normally that would have cost £160 but in the end we paid £100 with a £40 tip to the chef and front of house.

To top it all off they even gave us the rest of the loaf of sourdough wrapped up in cling film to take home. That was breakfast sorted for the morning with my 40p tin of sausage and beans cooked on my camping stove back at the camping site.

Contact Details

The Granary Restaurant
17 Parker’s Lane, Newtown, Powys, SY16 2LT

Phone: 01686 621120
,

Free London Trip to new Gin restaurant Tonica

If you like fancy a trip to London on the latest boutique luxury coach service called sn-ap operating from Cardiff this week then you’re in luck.

Also if you like gin and fancy yourself as a bit of a foodie then why not combine this amazing free coach trip with the launch of Portobello Road Gin’s latest restaurant launch called Tonica as they are offering 50% off food for the soft launch between April 25th and May 9th.

Sn-ap

Sn-ap aims to offer it’s customers the chance to tailor their trips to when they want and where they want to be picked up instead of being dictated to by existing coach companies. The sn-ap app and system pools together like minded travellers to build trip based on peoples preferences such as time of departure and location of pick up and offers travellers the latest luxury coaches to travel in style.

I just popped over to the launch in Cardiff to see some of the coaches and they are the best I’ve seen with leather reclining seats and individual screens with Now TV and a host of other entertainment apps at your fingertips to make the journey a bit more bearable.

You can get a free trip to London from Cardiff by visiting the Sn-ap website.

Tonica

Portobello Road, which is one of my favourite all rounder gins. They’ve already established the Ginstitute on Portobello Road, which features a hotel, bar and distillery that also allows visitors to distil their own bottle of gin.

They’ve recently announced the launch of a new tapas style restaurant called Tonica, which will also feature a still at the venue that they aim to create some rather unique spirits such as avocado vodka and butter gin.

To book a table with 50% discount on the menu at the new Tonica restaurant by Portobello Road Distillery then head over to the Tonica website.

Accommodation

If you want to make a night of it with your trip to London then why not check out Airbnb for accommodation. You can rent anything from boat houses, a room in a shared house or a whole house.

Fancy a free £25 voucher for your first booking on Airbnb too?

Just use the following link and you will get the £25 taken off the final bill for your stay:

Airbnb discount voucher

,

Toffee Apple Recipe ready for Bonfire Night and Halloween

Toffee Apple Ingredients

100g golden caster sugar
100g granulated sugar
4 tsp golden syrup (i only had the chocolate one)
2 tsp white wine vinegar ( could use cider vinegar too)
100ml water
25g butter
Black food colouring (or any other favourite colour)

toffee apple ingredients

Instructions

Fill the sink or a larger bowl with cold water which will be used later on to cool the pan if it gets too hot or to stop it burning when it reaches the optimum temperature.

Using the you’re planning to cook the toffee place the apples in and pour boiling water over them for a few seconds but no longer as they will discolour too much. The reason for this is to remove the waxy coating so that the toffee sticks and doesn’t just run off.

Put the hob on medium / high pour all ingredients into a pan and try to mix in when the butter starts to melt but then just leave it bubble. The odd swirl to make sure the syrup is cooking through evenly and doesn’t burn in clumps.

Use a sugar thermometer or i used a meat digital one as the glass sugar one i had steams up and I couldn’t see the temperature. You want to get the toffee up over 145C called the hard crack stage, which is when the toffee gives that all important crack when you bite into it otherwise it will stay a soft toffee.

This will take a good 10 minutes bubbling away just keep with it and the thermometer as it can jump up when you’re not expecting it but be sure to keep an eye on the colour and for any signs or burning, which you can usually smell too.

Drop the pan into the waiting bucket of cold water for 2 or 3 seconds at which point you will hear some sizzling but don’t keep it too long as it will cool too quickly for you to use.

Use whatever apple stabbing device you have to hand whether that’s a skewer, lolly stick, fork if you’re out or serial killer 12″ knife if you’re getting into the real halloween spirit (jokes!). Press firmly into the apples then depending on how big a pan you use you might have to tilt it, stick the apple in and swirl around giving a nice even coat one by one.

Drop the apples covered in the molten sugar heaven onto a tray lined in parchment paper so it doesn’t stick.

If the toffee starts to harden put it on the hob again to soften before continuing.

Depending on what you want to decorate the apples with and if you’re going classic then just let it cool. I melted down half a bar of lindt milk chocolate, let it cool to thicken then drizzled over the top.

Tuck in!!

toffee apple cooling

Possible Toffee apple toppings to spice things up a bit

Smashed Biscoff biscuits
Mine Marshmallows
Smashed maltesers
Broken pretzels
Crushed cookies
Broken brownie pieces
Crushed peanuts or any nuts for that matter
Melted chocolate ( remember to leave the toffee cool before adding this and you can go drizzles or dunk the whole thing in)
Sprinkles
Sugar glitter
Popping Candy
M & M’s
Reeses Candy Pieces

Free Uber discount code with 10 pound credit in Cardiff and review

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past month you would of heard that Uber the International Taxi app has set up business in Cardiff a few weeks back. Taxi firms across the globe have been up in arms thinking that Uber will take away their custom but if you ask me it’s about time there was some competition in the taxi ranks as I for one have had a guts full of dodgy taxi drivers trying to rip me off refusing to go on the meter and charging over the odds for fairs home from Cardiff.

Last weekend I was out in Cardiff for a few drinks on a Saturday afternoon down Mill Lane as it was the first bit of sun we have had in ages but not thinking about the Judgment Day rugby double header in the Principality Stadium so they closed Queen Street station and made the regular users and the valley lines walk all the way around the back of the station like rat’s just to make the train journey and waiting a little easier for people who never use the station travelling back across the border after the game.

As we went to walk down under the bridge around the back of the station we saw them queuing up the street with estimates of an hour just to get in the station so i though f#ck that! My mate gave me a Uber discount code on signing up the week before so I thought i’d give the app a go as I already it downloaded on my phone.

A group of friends I had been speaking to had just been charged £45 to get home and the fair estimate on my phone said £27, which after i’d taken the free £10 Uber discount code i’d had from my friend that was just £17 between 3 of us it was less than half the price of a normal taxi and saved us an hour queuing and the walk home from the station the other side so that being said it was an excellent first experience. The taxi estimated it would be there in 8 minutes and I could actually see from the map on the app where he was. Modi, the driver who you can see before he arrives even gave me a call to confirm my exact location due to the 60’000 rugby fans loitering around the street. The car was a brand new Volkswagen Saran, automatic doors, 7 seater and spotless inside.

There was none of the usual haggling when the usual Cardiff Tax drivers put £10-£15 on top of the fee you normally pay and refuse to go on the meter and money upfront. I usually ask how much before I get in these days and if they take the piss move onto the next one till I get a price I know is fair which is usually £35-40 not the £50+ the cheeky b@stards try raping me for most of the time.

I’d definitely recommend Uber in Cardiff from my first experience and will be using it overtime from now on and is especially good for people looking for a lift home and spent all their hard earned cash or lost their wallet or purse as you sign up your bank details or paypal payment details in the app after downloading the app so no money actually passes between you and the driver physically and you have a full audit trail of the driver and your past rides just in case you have any issues you can raise it with Uber unlike half the Cardiff taxi’s who I think most have never been behind the wheel or have a grasp on the English language that’s all they understand MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!

Anyway if you’re heading out in Cardiff this weekend and don’t want to get mugged off and ripped off by Cardiff taxi’s then download uber today and use the Uber discount code nickyb880ue when signing up and you will get £10 off your first ride.

 

Best hosting provider

I’ve dealt with quite a few hosting providers over the years both personally and for the businesses i’ve supported and without a doubt my hands down favourite provider for price and customer service is TSO Host.

I’ve been with them for 4 years and recommended them to all my clients without a single complain compared to some other well know brands on the market.

For just £49 per year you have pretty decent sized web space with 10gb making it ample for blogging with my platform of choice WordPress and has suited some of my clients in the service industry that rely heavily on photography to promote their work such as flooring, tailoring and landscaping.

If you want to get a discount code for TSO Host and get 10% off your annual hosting fee use the discount code batchout at the checkout.

Take a look at the packages on offer at TSO Host, my first choice in reliable and affordable web hosting for WordPress websites.

, ,

Christmas gift list for a 29 year old guy

I’ve compiled a little list below of some potential gifts as my family keep asking me what i want for Christmas so i thought i’d put them on here with a link so they know where to go. If you’re looking for gifts for you son, brother or other half and they are growing a beard, into their Crossfit or need some new tees or warm winter coats have a peek below:

Fitness / Crossfit

Again Faster Hoody (Men’s) Grey | Equipment for CrossFit®

Shorts : Iconx Drive 5.0 Mens Shorts Black Flou Yellow

Shorts :Iconx Barbell Club Accelerate Flow Shorts

Eleiko Hooded Sweatshirt

Texas Heroes – Heavy Rep Gear

Muscle Club – Heavy Rep Gear

Dura-Force Active Short – Heavy Rep Gear

P28 High Protein White Chocolate Spread 453G – Groceries – Tesco Groceries

Protein Bars – Quest Protein Bars x 1 multiple flavours available

Inov8 Functional Fitness Black / Grey Long Socks | CrossFit Compression Clothing | KITBox

Inov8 Functional Fitness Red Long Socks | CrossFit Compression Clothing | KITBox

 

Beard styling

Tweezerman Moustache Scissors with Grooming Comb | From Bath & Unwind

Tweezerman Gear Moustache Scissors with Comb – Boots

Tees

Black Scale | Black Scale T-Shirt With Digital Dream Roses at ASOS

Black Scale | Black Scale T-Shirt With Silent Science Print at ASOS

Converse | Converse All Star Raglan T-Shirt With Star Sleeves at ASOS

Trainerspotter | Trainerspotter Baseball Top at ASOS

Abandon Ship | Abandon Ship Super Longline T-Shirt with Long Sleeves at ASOS

Monarch Knit Jumper (Light Grey) – Bolongaro Trevor

Monarch Knit Jumper (Charcoal) – Bolongaro Trevor

Shirts

Farah Vintage Shirt with Dobby Dot in Slim Fit

Levis Vintage Clothing Shirt Slim Fit Floral Print Western

Paul Smith Jeans Shirt with Check and Contrast Check on Pocket in Classic Fit

Diesel Dinar Shirt Floral Print with Stretch

Soulland Short Sleeve Shirt in All Over Print

Reiss Polka Dot Shirt In Slim Fit

Polo Ralph Lauren Shirt in Slim Bengal Stripe

Fred Perry Shirt with Overdyed Camo Gingham

Scotch & Soda Shirt in Tartan Check

Farah Vintage Shirt with Paint Smudge Print in Slim Fit

Farah Vintage Shirt with Paint Smudge Print in Slim Fit

Sisley Shirt With Floral Paisley Print In Slim Fit

Trousers

Military Chino (Khaki Grey) – Bolongaro Trevor

Military Chino (Black) – Bolongaro Trevor

Coats

Major Jacket – Bolongaro Trevor

Schott | Schott Parka with Faux Fur Trim at ASOS

Barbour | Barbour X Pantone Wax Jacket at ASOS

Fidelity | Fidelity Peacoat Made in USA at ASOS

Denim & Supply by Ralph Lauren | Denim & Supply Ralph Lauren Parka with Down Fill at ASOS

Spiewak | Spiewak Parka Heron Snorkel with Insulation at ASOS

Gloverall | Gloverall Duffle Coat in Melton Wool at ASOS

Gloverall | Gloverall Peacoat at ASOS