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Gymkhana Restaurant Review – Mayfair, London

Gymkhana is another restaurant I only found out about recently after researching gin and food pairing for a recent Cardiff Gin Club collaboration. The restaurant is a Michelin star Indian restaurant located in Mayfair and it was the Pink Gin menu that first caught my attention. None of this sugar laden, plastic pink gin bullshit but how Pink Gin was first drank by the British Navy over 200 years ago, with gin and bitters to give it a pink hue. 

They actually had a use back in those days too with the bitters used to treat sea sickness and counter the effects of not being able to refrigerate food by settling the stomach and aiding digestion. They were also enjoyed by the British in India during the British Raj an hour or two before Sunday tiffin.

After giving the gin and cocktail menu a once over it, it didn’t take me long to cast my gaze over the food menu, which turned out to be just as enticing. With several menus on offer from a la carte, tasting menus and feasting menus with varying number courses and prices for lunch and evening dinning from £25 to £90.

I was keen to visit the venue sometime in the near future when up in the big smoke and it just so happened I booked tickets to Meatopia, which took place a week ago. Wanting to try some the Martinis at Dukes Bar in Mayfair whilst I was up there it made sense to book Dukes Hotel for the night, which meant we were within walking distance of Gymkhana for lunch the following day.

The Venue

The Gymkhana Restaurant was only around 10 minutes walk from Dukes Hotel so we strolled across after checking out for our 12pm table booking. It would only be about 10 minutes from Piccadilly Circus and Carnaby Street too if you’re around the neck of the woods.

Gymkha Restaurant London

The venue is based on the old Gymkhana sports clubs in India that were frequented by high society to drink, eat, socialise and play sport. The theme ran right through the restaurant with dark wooden panelled decor and ceilings, prized stuffed animal heads from hunting and illustrations adorning the walls depicting cricket players, Indian Military officers and polo players throughout. Attention to detail was unreal, right down to the basement toilets with branded water toilet tank and a seating loo seat that resembled an actual throne. This reminded me exactly like the other half’s, aunties toilet in her cottage up in Anglesey. 

Seating consisted of green leather panelled benches around the outside of half of the upstairs with narrow dark wooden tables to seat tables of two. There were a couple of cubicles for larger groups too. We both thought the restaurant looked a bit smaller than we thought it would be upstairs but it was only toward the end of the meal and after visiting the little boys room that I realised there was also another room downstairs that was also full of dinners.

We were sat by the front window, on the corner so we had a full view of the upstairs but also a slightly larger table compared to tables in the middle. This was handy as we had a bit more table surface and saw one table struggle for room with drinks and a selection of plates each that happened to arrive at the same time.

The Food

The Feasting menu or hunters menu featuring 7 courses, which included prawns and a few different game birds costing up to £90 were only available in the evening. We were dinning for lunch so there was either the choice of a la carte, a set lunch menu with 3 courses starting at £25 or 5 courses for £38.50. No prizes for guessing what option we went for. Luckily for us there was a choice of two dishes for each course so we just asked for one of each to share so we got to taste a bit of everything.

Pink Gin menu at Gymkhana London

cocktail menu at Gymkhana London

After picking one of everything from the lunch menu, it was time to delve head first into the drinks menu. I’d seen a thunderbolt G & T on instagram so I was going to order one of those as they looked very nutritious but they didn’t seem to appear on the menu. I was also keen to try some of the pink gin’s with wonderfully flavoured bitters such as dandelion and burdock with Monkey 47. I’d taken some inspiration from the menu and ordered a bottle of the Jindea Single Estate Darjeeling First Flush to pair with the dessert menu at Purple Popadom, which we sweetened to match the sugary creme brûlée with the aid of a Darjeeling tea syrup.

I decided to go off piste for something totally different with a tequila cocktail from the punch and club classics menu called green leaves. This consisted of Tapatio Tequila, cucumber, green chutney cordial, lime and Himalayan salt, which I thought would be a good all rounder to pair with the different courses.

CARMICHAEL CUP cocktail at Gymkhana London

Green leaves tequila cocktail at Gymkhana London

Llio opted for something a bit lighter with an Indian inspired Pimms Royale. This fruity number featured Ciroc vodka, Early Grey tea, elderflower and vetiver grass, lemon, ginger, seasonal fruits and a touch of champagne for elegance.

Although Sake is usually more at home and Japanese restaurants, I read somewhere that the head chef at Gymkhana is looking to start pairing the food with Sake, which will be an interesting change. Sake is derived from rice though, which is a staple in Indian cuisine.

The first of the courses and usually my favourite part of an Indian and that’s the chips and dips. 

I liked that we had a selection of different dipping devices and not just a plate of standard popadoms, each with their own unique flavour and texture. I’d never seen the white bubbly variety called Sabudana Papads, which looked like little slabs of polystyrene at first but tasted a lot better than I’d imagine it’s lookie likey to taste. There wasn’t much of each dip to go around with the amount of chips we had but they were strong and punchy and a little went a long way especially the shrimp dip, which gave a good savoury contrast against the sweet mango chutney.

Potato chaat at Gymkhana Mayfair

The bowl of potato chat, chana masala and tamarind was plentiful and took us in to the first round of the starters. Soft potato and chickpeas layered in a sweet sauce, yogurt and crispy shreds of sev, a fried crispy potato noodle. This was a flavourbomb of textures and flavours that prepared us for the bountiful feast on the senses to come.

It was interesting to see Gymkanas take on some of the popular street food favourites in India compared to some similar dishes I’d tried at Bwyta Bwyd Bombai (3 B’s) in Cardiff, which does a very good selection themselves including the Potato Chat and the next dish coming up, the dosa.

dosa and kid goat methi keema at Gymkhana -London

The dosa is a cripy rice pancake like parcel with a filling and a selection of dips. The pancake can look overwhelming at first but the filling is usually limited to a few spoonfulls in the centre so it’s not too heavy.

This came served at the same time as the kid goat methi keema, salli, pao, which was probably one of my favourite items on the tasting menu. A medium spiced sauce, flaked with goat meat with crispy potato sticks that is meant to be mixed in and sandwiched between a bread roll. A buttery roll with a rich spiced meat and crispy shards of potato. I could of eaten 10 in a row they were divine!

Paneer Tikka at Gymkhana Mayfair

 

Well this is embarrassing. I thought the Paneer Tikka, Cashew Nut, Corn Chat was a stuffed chicken. Paneer if you’ve not tried it is an Indian soft cheese that looks like a cross between halloumi with the softness of tofu. It’s used in many Indian dishes as it keeps it’s shape unlike more well known European cheeses and is good at absorbing the spices and flavours it is cooked in. It also resembles cooked diced chicken if you’ve had too many Martini’s for supper the night before.

fish tasting dish at Gymkhana Mayfair

The Hariyali Bream, Tomato Kachumber was a here or there dish. It was ok but didn’t stand up to the other rich, flavoursome dishes on the menu but it was a pleasant addition of a seafood dish instead of a full on meat feast as I’d eaten half a farm the day before at Meatopia.

We’re now into the mains with two rice dishes, but only because we ordered one of everything to share. The first was a vegetarian dish consisting of wild mushroom, asparagus, morel & truffle pilau and probably my least favourite of the dishes. It’s the first time i’ve ever seen a dish seasoned with fresh truffle instead of the usual salt or pepper so this looked really impressive but I think it was the asparagus i didn’t like in the dish. I do like asparagus but it just wasn’t for me in this.

wild mushroom and truffle pilau at Gymkha Mayfair

The Samudri Seafood Biryani, Pomegranate & Mint Raita was miles ahead for me though and I don’t even like salmon. Generous nuggets of seafood such as prawns and a portion of salmon entombed in golden, perfumed rice, which I piled on top of the huge pile of scorched bread with dollops of Dum Aloo Benarasi & Lasooni Dal.

After soldiering on as best we could, we submitted in defeat at the two rice dishes and bread overload as nice as they were. All was not lost though as everyone knows there’s a second stomach always on standby to be called up when faced with dessert.

With a choice of three desserts we opted for a Mango Shrikhand, Yoghurt & Lime Sorbet and a
Black Carrot Halwa, White Chocolate & Rose Ice Cream to finish off the Indian lunchtime banquet.

Desserts at Gymkhana Mayfair

The Mango shrikhand is a sweet yogurt based dessert mixed with fresh mango that was stuffed in a sweet crunchy tuile like cigar coated in sesame seeds with nuggets of fresh mango and cooling sorbet.

The quenelle of carrot halwa was interesting, which is a sweetened dish made of grated carrots slowly cooked in ghee and milk. It was dense but not sweet enough for my liking but I really liked the white chocolate and rose ice cream it was paired with.

The Verdict

We had an absolute mountain of food between us and got to try all but one dish on the whole tasting menu by ordering one of each of the two options between us. This was Indian food like I’ve never tried and blew every other Indian meal I had out of the water and this was just the introduction to what Gymkhana is capable of. They’ve got a well deserved Michelin Star, based in the heart of Mayfair meaning they’ve got some very affluent customers who will be used to eating very good quality food, so they have to be at the top of their game to survive where they are based.

I didn’t like every dish but I did taste 10 and it’s all down to personal taste. It wasn’t that the food wasn’t good I just didn’t particularly like it myself. We dinned at the lunch time tasting menu and it was excellent value for money for what we had but I would love to go back in the evening to try the feasting or hunters menu featuring more luxurious ingredients. For twice the price I’d be expecting nothing less than a masterpiece but I think they could very well pull it off from what I had at lunch.

I’d also make a bigger dent in the cocktail menu as we dinned at 12 midday and had a day of shopping ahead of us, I didn’t want to go overboard so we only had the one cocktail each.

I would have no hesitation about recommending this restaurant to anyone and would love to dine there again, although I’ve got my eyes set on Dishoom in Shoreditch first before I head back.

We spent £116 for the 5 course taster menu for two and a cocktail each with service charge. The hunters and feasting menu is around £90 each, so I think i’ll have to wait till my birthday for that one.

Final bill at Gymkhana Mayfair

Twenty Nine Park Place Restaurant Review Cardiff

The latest venue to open by the Knife and Fork Fork group, the team behind Cardiff and Penarth favourites The Conway, The Pilot, The Discovery and The Old Swan is Twenty Nine Park Place. Located at, you’ve guessed it 29 Park Place just across from the National Museum of Wales it is their most central Cardiff venue to date.

I’ve had a pint or two and lunch at both The Conway and The Pilot in the past and become acquainted with their no nonsense, good hearty pub food so it was interesting to see how the menu would differ being in such close proximity to the likes of Park House and The Laguna Restaurant at Park Plaza.
I’d followed the venue early on before they opened the doors and was impressed with the promise of a pretty decent selection of craft beers. They had one or two local beers at the two other venues under the Knife and Fork Food umbrella but they seemed to be ramping up their offering here, which had the thumbs up from me.

The Venue

I wasn’t fortunate enough to visit the venue under the previous management that sadly went under less than 12 months ago so I wasn’t sure how it compared to the previous incarnation. The venue seems to be suited to a casual pint near the entrance and around the bar and the restaurant with seating split between round tables of around 7 seats to each in the middle and rows sitting 4-8 along the sides within a conservatory like extension to the main building.

 

Craft beer board - Twenty Nine Park Place Cardiff

 

The illuminated craft beer board stops you in your tracks as soon as you walk into the venue, enticing you in to sample the ample selection of fermented hoppy nectar. On closer inspection they have a growing selection of craft gins for those who fancy something lighter on the waistline too.

The Food

We scouted out some of the starters we’d seen on socials from the recent launch night with them averaging £7 mark.

I was intrigued by the sound of the giant scallop, cauliflower puree, pancetta sand and sorrel for £7.50 as I honestly didn’t know if this was an actual living shellfish or some kind of mutant creation from the kitchen as it’s hard to realise scale on an Instagram photo.

 

fried muscles and cockles Twenty Nine Park Place Cardiff

 

The other half and her mum opted for the ox cheek scotch egg, rarebit dip at £7. We also opted for some nibbles whilst we waited, which consisted of crispy cockles and muscles at £3 and some homemade bread for £2.50. I’d had deep fried cockles before but it was nice to try the muscles too. And the bread…well who doesn’t love homemade bread.

 

Giant scallop starter at Twenty Nine Park Place CArdiff

 

The giant scallop was served in a standard sized shell, which led me to poking and prodding the white squidgy mass in the middle to see if it was real or not. Not needing David Attenborough to explain to me in the end that this was a creation from the kitchen and not dredged from the waters of the English Channel.

The soufflé type concoction of what must have been scallop meat with egg quite remarkably resembled a scallop with a lighter, airier texture and more mellow flavour of scallop. Generous in size, it was enjoyable at first but became a little sickly towards the last bite or two. The pancetta sand added a nice crunchy texture and hit of bacony, fatty, lovliness too.

 

Ox Cheek Scotch Egg adn rarebit dip Twenty Nine Park Place Cardiff

 

The scotch egg was decent in size although it could of done with a minute or two less as the yolk was almost hard boiled and meat a tad dry. The rarebit dip added a much needed dose of moisture though.

Opting to verge off main menu and try one of the sharing board specials. On the night, the options consisted of tomahawk steak, lobster or a picanha steak. Seeing as I was a tad hungry I know from past experience you don’t get much bang for your buck when it comes to lobster and even though the tomahawk looks pretty epic on a plate, you’re essentially paying for a steak plus what would normally be heading for the waste bin with the wing tip. If I was eating with dog Marley, I’d probably shared the tomahawk with him as it would have kept him quite for a few hours, gnawing at the bone.

 

picanha steak at Twenty Nine Park Place Cardiff

 

Opting for medium / rare, the steak came out pre-sliced more on the medium to well done, which was a shame as the thinner ends of the rump were a bit more chewy than I would have liked. I know the Picanha, a favourite in Brazil isn’t the best cut out there but when you’ve sampled it as part of the £10 lunch menu at Asador 44, you know how good it can be.

The fries were good though and we opted for garlic butter to dunk both the steak and chips in. There were a couple of cuts to choose from with varying weight and relative price around the £30 mark and ours came in at £31.50.

 

Lamb rump goats cheese risotto

 

The (future) mother in law went for the Roasted lamb rump, pearl barley risotto, radish, goats cheese with blackberries, which was a nice touch and priced at £16. Having had a taste of the dish I’d say it was the star dish of the night. Cooked a little less than our steak, the lamb was tender. The risotto still had a bit of bite, seasoned well and the goats cheese lent a rich, creaminess to the dish.

 

Argentinian Malbec red wine - Twenty Nine Park Place Cardiff

 

The Argentinian Malbec we opted for to wash both dishes down was a hit too at £23.

Onto desserts and after seeing it on Instagram whilst sitting down and reading the menu I opted for Thibault’s citrus tart, meringue, lemon and mint sorbet. Knowing the master creator behind said dish worked under Laurian at Cocorico Patisserie and made it onto BBC’s Crème de la Crème I was hoping for nothing short of a masterpiece.

 

Citrus tart with lemon and mint sorbet

 

Sadly it didn’t all work together for me. I think the citrus tart and meringue would have been fine as it was but the lemon and mint sorbet was rock hard and way to bitter for me. I struggled with the sorbet both chopping bits off to eat and because it was too bitter on the palate.

The Llio had ordered a coffee whilst we decided on dessert but decided to upgrade it to the Café Gourmand to include some small pastries. She said it was ok but nothing to write home about.

 

Pina Colada creme brulee at Twenty Nine Park Place Cardiff

 

Her mum chose the Pina Colada Crème Brulee, coconut and almond tuile. There was lovely crisp, sugary top encasing the core of the dessert but for both of us who tried it, it was too fruity and overpowered the custard base layer.

The Verdict

To be fair to the restaurant it had been open for less than two weeks so it was a new venue, new team and new menu so it takes some time for that all to gel. The food was ok but could do with a few tweaks to get it just right and just a bit less in the oven on a few dishes.

The ideas are good but it’s just the execution that will come when they’ve found their feet. The desserts in my eyes need a bit of looking at as the lemon sorbet spoilt the dessert for me and the fruit in the crème brulee was just too much.

I will probably be back to the venue in a few months to see how they’ve developed or even to sample a couple of the beers they have on tap.

Maria’s Greek Taverna Restaurant Review Cardiff

It was the other half’s birthday a few weeks back and unlike us, we hadn’t booked anywhere to go. She’s fancied Hellenic Eatery for a while but it’s always be chocka block every time we’ve passed.

We tried calling them as soon as we got home from work but again, there was no room at the inn tonight. I’d seen a few insta posts about Maria’s Greek Taverna recently and thought it was along the same lines as Haelinic so we rang and got a table.

The restaurant was small and cosy inside and they seemed to squeeze as many tables in to fit, which did mean there’ wasn’t much room between the back of my chair and the table behind. Luckily for me nobody was booked in whilst we were eating or we would still be fighting to get out from under the table.

I liked the decor though as it really did look like it could have been nestled in a back street in Greece and seeing that we hadn’t had a holiday for a good few months I felt like I was having tea in the Med, especially with the heat wave we were currently in.

The Food

We had a quick scan over the menu as we hadn’t looked prior as it was last minute. There were a few well known dishes and you could either go for a mezze of little dishes or go big (what I was under the impression at the time) with some of the mains.

Marias Taverna Menu Cardiff

 

Based on pricing from some other well known establishments who specialise in meat skewers blistered over hot coals such as Saray I thought the mains seemed a little expensive. Based on the price difference of about 30% I thought this would be made up in portion size.

We opted for a few mezze plates and one main as we’ve been satisfied with a main between us with some side dishes at some other Cardiff restaurants of late and we thought we might of gone overboard on our options at first. We even though we might of needed a bigger table.

For the small dishes we went for beer battered salt cod fritters (£6.95), spicy Greek sausage with peppers and red wine (£6.50), halloumi fries (£5.50) then a portion of dips, Hummus and Tzatziki priced at £4.50 each as they didn’t do a mixed selection. I would of had the smokey aubergine one too but I refused to pay £15 for 3 dips as I thought it was extortionate.

For the main we opted for a mixed souvlaki with one chicken and one pork kebab with chips and pitta.

The food did seem to take longer than expected but we did foolishly ask for it to all come out together, so that may have been the issue. The Halloumi fries were really good and probably my fav dish on the table. Golden brown, slight crisp on the outside and lovely salty core.

The spicy Greek sausage was fine, not that spicy to be honest but we did finish it all off. The salt cod fritters were ok. If you like salt cod you probably would have enjoyed them. They were plate I was least expecting to like and just ordered them because I’d never tried salt cod and took a thought I would take a punt on them.

The breads and dips were fine with hummus and tzatziki with toasted pitta. They were just ok really nothing special and would of liked something a bit spicier or a mixed selection with smaller individual portions like we had recently with our mezze in Turkey that had about 6-8 little portions of dips that were the star of the show there. For 6 of the dips you’re looking at £30 here, which is absolutely nuts if you ask me!

Then onto the main, which to be honest for £15 I was pretty pissed off at. I was expecting a bit more substantial on the skewers but they were beyond disappointing for the money. I would of expected either sub £10 or 4 skewers based on the meat content for £15 compared to what you get at some of the places you can pick a kebab up on that road into Cardiff.

The Verdict

I wouldn’t say I disliked the majority of the food The only dish I didn’t like was the salt cod and that was personal preference. The food was ok and that’s as far as it went really but at that price it was way over priced in my eyes. We’ve paid £20 between us at Saray for two skewers, chips, breads, a selection of dips and pickles, mint tea and even had some baklava thrown in for free and we were more than content. The food at Saray and Sham Nights was more tasty too to be honest and near half the price I’ll stick to them in future.

Based on that I can’t see me rushing back to Maria’s. I’ll definitely give Hellenic Eatery a try further down the road but I’ll stick to Saray or Sham Nights or some top quality meat and tasty accompaniments for a very reasonable price.

For what we had, one bottle of water and a carafe of house wine it cost just over £50. Not a huge bill by any means but for what you can get both in quality and quantity at half the price this is probably the first and last time I’ll be through the door.

 

Afternoon Tea Review at The Angel Hotel and Oak Rooms in Abergavenny

We had an invite to attend a high tea at Abergavenny’s most renowned hotel, The Angel Hotel recently. Now normally I would have been just a little bit excited, but when I found out it was in collaboration with The East India Company I can’t repeat what words left my mouth. Not only celebrating some of the their finest teas but also a chance to try some of the cocktails knocked up by their resident mixologist with one of my favourite gins, The East India Company’s own juniper laced spirit.

If you’d asked me a few months back who The East India Company were, I probably wouldn’t have known much. But seeing that I’d included the gin in a gin and Indian food pairing tasting menu with a recent collaboration I’d done between Cardiff Gin Club and Purple Poppadom in Cardiff, I could probably recite the 400 year history off the top of my head after my research into the company.

I’ve always fancied staying at the Angel Hotel but never had the chance and heard the afternoon tea was the best in town. I did spend a couple of weekends in the town when they were hosting the National Eisteddfod about two years ago and I decided to treat the other half to breakfast there for her birthday. The fry up was very good and went down even better with the smoked vodka Bloody Mary I’d swapped the cuppa for.

I’ve always driven to Abergavenny when visiting and hadn’t ever occurred to me about catching the train, but it’s not much more than 30 minutes with no changes from Cardiff Central for less than £15. Knowing that The East India Company were travelling down from London with a bag of their finest gin and expertly paired cocktail spiking liquids, I think leaving the car at home was a wise decision.

Luckily for us the usual crappy Welsh weather had been on our side and the plans of having the high tea out on the terrace, in the sun were still going ahead. I’d even given the scalp a slather of 8 hour sun tan lotion just in case too before I left the house.

East India Company Gin Welsh 75 cocktail at The Angel Hotel Abergavenny

All the guests were seated together on a long garden table with a canopy flared out to save those who hadn’t taken precautions with the factor 15 from blistering in the glorious sunshine, which I’ve found hard to grow used to lately.

To wet our appetite before the festivities commenced, we were served a round of Welsh 75 cocktails. A play on the delicious French 75, which is usually a concoction of gin, fresh lemon juice, Champagne and a dash sugar syrup. This Welshified 75 had the addition of cassis to give it a shimmer of red.

Whilst we sat sipping the amalgamation of sweet, tart and dry flavours from the cocktail, we were introduced to the team behind The Angel Hotel and The East India Company representatives who specialised in fine teas and of course my favourite tipple, gin.

Each course or plate of food brought out for the high tea was skilfully paired with fine and rare teas sourced from around the world, whilst being curated by The East India Company Tea Master about its history. I found this mesmerising hearing about someone who had worked in the tea industry for 30 years and who works directly with the tea planation owners after I’d read so much about tea, putting the gin pairing menu together recently. I’d sourced a Darjeeling Tea gin and created a tea syrup to go with the desert menu so the chance to have something put together by the experts in the trade was amazing.

I also didn’t realise that The Angel Hotel was had been awarded the prestigious Tea Guild award for it’s quality, selection and knowledge of tea and is the only venue outside of London to receive such an honour.

The Afternoon Tea / High Tea

Onto the high tea / afternoon tea. I wasn’t quite sure what the difference between a high tea and an afternoon tea was to be honest. I thought high tea was a pot of tea with some scones, jam and cream and maybe a few little cakes then an afternoon tea was something a bit more substantial with sandwiches and a few more pastries thrown in.

After doing a bit of research it seems it dates back over 100 years and was to do with the classes at the time. Afternoon tea was consumed around 2pm and was mainly indulged in by the upper classes as they didn’t have to work and it would keep them going until evening meal around 8pm.

High tea was more of a working class meal around 6pm because they couldn’t afford the time, privilege or money to wallow in such luxuries in the afternoon when there was money to be made to feed hungry mouths at home. This would be the only meal they would have after midday so was a lot more substantial as they wouldn’t have an evening meal around 8pm like the more wealthier people of the time.

Sandwiches from the afternoon tea at The Angel Hotel Abergavenny

First up was the sandwiches, comprising of triangles of poached salmon, with lemon and dill, cream cheese and cucumber, ham and whole grain mustard and finally egg and cress. The sandwiches were paired with The East India Company Royal Flush tea. A Sri Lankan tea which got it’s name from the original tea bush that was planted by Prince Philip in 1954 to commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s first state trip to Sri Lanka after Coronation.

This was the only tea were recommended to taste with a little dash of milk. I’m not much of a coffee drinker, I’ll have the odd flat white on the weekend but I do love a good cup of tea and this was an excellent introduction to The East India Company Tea portfolio.

savouries for the high tea at The Angel Hotel Abergavenny

The savoury plate was next out, consisting of bite sized spinach and ricotta parcels, coronation chicken tarts, sausage rolls, bacon, onion and cheese quiche, feta cheese, sundried tomato and pesto parmieres. I savoured every last morsel of the savouries with each manageable bite whilst sipping a Chinese tea called Da Hong Pao, which was light, pleasant served without my usual splash of milk.

East India Company Green Tea cooler at The Angel Hotel Abergavenny

After allowing the group to work their way through the savouries, have a chat amongst the group and being enlightened by the Tea Master (I know what a job right?) we had the chance to cleanse our palates with refreshing glass of Dragon Well Lung Ching. A green tea from China, served cold in a highball glass with a healthy serving of ice, mint and honey.

This was divine and so well received after the walk from the train station in a pair of thick trousers in 25C heat and basking in the sun for the past hour or so in the terrace. It was so refreshing, but one couldn’t help wondering what a cheeky nip of gin would have done to liven it up a bit.

I was excited for the next course, not only because everything was saturated in sugar but it was my first chance to taste the Champagne of teas, the Darjeeling First Flush from India. I’d bought a bottle of Jindea Single Estate Darjeeling First Flush Gin to try pairing with the PP tasting menu and looked into making the Darjeeling Tea sugar syrup with first flush tea leaves until I saw the price of the tea.

The Darjeeling First Flush, which is the first of the tea leaves picked between November and March is one of the most expensive teas in the world and probably the first and last time I’ll be able to try it.

Dessert select with Darjeeling First Flush Tea at The Angel Hotel Abergavenny

The tea was paired with raspberry cheesecake, bakewell tart, chocolate and nut baskets, custard slice, profiteroles, lemon and poppy seed fairy cakes, coffee and walnut cake and a lemon and raspberry tart.

Yes I know, that’s one hell of a cake banquet for one person so we chose to share a plate between the two of us to save us from purchasing an extra seat each on the train journey home, especially as there were another two courses after this.

The East India Company loose leaf tea at The Angel Hotel Abergavenny

Not only do they know their teas at The Angel, they don’t half know how to spoil you with the food and that rings true with the high tea too. I couldn’t fault any of the cakes but I just can’t imagine any mere mortal conquering the whole feast themselves, not that that’s a bad thing. I’m sure they would be happy to box anything up for the journey home once you’ve had a breather.

Earl Grey Tea with eton mess at The Angel Hotel Abergavenny

Next we were served mini bowls of Eton Mess, one of my all-time favs and served with probably my favourite tea of the day the Black Vanilla from Sri Lanka, which bounced off the flavours of the Eton Mess really well.

The meringues were spot on being soft and chewy on the inside. There’s nothing worse than biting into a meringue and it bursts into dust like one of those joke golf balls that explode when you whack them.

Scones with jam and clotted cream at The Angel Hotel Abergavenny

If that wasn’t enough to put anyone in a food coma, the final hurdle was in the form of warm scones, clotted cream and jam. Obviously this nearly led to a few fisty cuffs over who was right and who was wrong regarding jam first or cream first.

Having a whole host of people from across the pond gave me some security and re-assurance as cream obviously comes first with a generous dollop of jam, as the jam is easier to spread on top of cream than the other way around. We’ve nearly had a divorce many a time over this topic.

East India Company Gin Cocktail at The Angel Hotel Abergavenny

To finish off a sumptuous journey through the tropical climates of Sri Lanka, China and India paired with equally delicious food from The Angel Hotel Kitchen we were treated to a Gin Tea cocktail by The East India Company mixologist. I’ve been playing around with G & Tea’s a lot lately but had opted to infuse a sugar syrup so it was good to get an insight into how a fine tea importer servers theirs up.

It was interesting to see they infused the gin with the Early Grey and add a sugar syrup later to sweeten it slightly, along with some ginger wine and a few dashes of the Angostura bitters. The original bitters that the East India Company soldiers mixed their gin from England with to create Pink Gin.

The East India Company soldiers can also be held responsible for creating the quintessentially British drink, the G & T by mixing their gin brought over from Britain, a little bit of sugar, water together and using it to make their daily ration of quinine more palatable to fight off malaria.

The Verdict

If I could pick the perfect day then sitting on a terrace in the sun, being served cocktails, the best tea you can buy, married perfectly with sweet treats and pastries would be right up there. I really couldn’t fault the experience and would highly recommend it.

Normally an afternoon tea is all about the cakes, sandwiches and scones but it was such a welcome difference at The Angel Hotel because the tea takes centre stage along with the food. Normally when i’ve gone for afternoon tea, the tea is actually an afterthought and you’re just served a choice of tea from a small selection and you get a pot placed on the table to brew. You’re then stuck with that pot till the end of the service.

I thought it was a excellent that they paired each plate of food with a different tea and really took us through a journey across different continents with their unique landscape that helps to impart it’s stamp on the tea leaves and it’s final taste.

I’d like to thank the team at The Angel Hotel in Abergavenny and The East India Company for a truly unforgettable experience.

Abergavenny Food Festival

One last note and that is Abergavenny Food Festival takes place over the weekend of 15th & 16th September in the town centre. I’m not sure what availability is like for staying the nights The Angel Hotel during the two day event that brings the very best craft food and drinks form around Wales and under the roof of the Indoor market and lining the town centre.

I’m sure there will be plenty of room to swing by for a drink or two, breakfast ( which is pretty damn good) or some food in the Oak rooms though.

The Angel Hotel and The East India Company Team

Contact Details

The Angel Hotel
15 Cross Street, Abergavenny, NP7 5EN

Phone: 01873 857121

Burger Theory Review at Kongs Cardiff

I was recently asked back to try out the burgers at Burger Theory at Kongs in Cardiff. I’d been a few times in the past and did a blog post after my second visit to the pop up kitchen on St Mary’s Street. I’m glad to say that things have improved quite a bit since then as it was still new on the scene and I did have a couple of issues on both my first two visits.

I decided to take my younger sister and her boyfriend to see how it faired against some of the other burger places a 16 year olds frequent in Cardiff these days and to get a younger persons perspective. I was offered a £35 voucher towards food so I paid extra for the rest of the food and drinks on the visit. Seeing as I wanted to compare against how they had progressed since the 18 months after they opened I thought I’d opt for the same burger I ordered on my first visit the Kimcheese featuring Beef patty, melted cheddar cheddar, kimchi, pulled beef rib with black pepper glaze, chipotle mayo (£11.95).

I was going to order the cola ham hock dirty fries I’d seen on the menu previously but they were a special and been replaed by the “You have goat to try these fries”, which were a Caribbean take on dirty fries, which consisted of Fries loaded with goat curry, melted cheese, lime and coriander aioli, pineapple and scotch bonnet sauce, coconut flakes.

My sister opted for the Cheese theory with Beef patty with crispy bacon, melted cheddar, house pickles, Dijonnaise, house ketchup (£8.75) and her boyfriend went for The Sherriff with Beef patty with crispy bacon, melted cheddar, onion rings, BBQ sauce (£9.25).

We fancied a chip fest so went for two standard fries (£2.95 each) and a side of halloumi chips (£6.50).

Soft drinks all round for the teens whilst I sipped on a pint of Tiny Rebel Cali till the food appeared out of the kitchen.

Kimcheese Burger at Burger Theory Cardiff

The Kimcheese burger had grown since my first visit and was an absolute whopper of a burger to be fair. I was close to doing a few tricep dips off the edge of the bun to allow my jaw to take it in for a bite. There was a lot of juice and I was glad I had my side of the table to myself so I didn’t drown the person next to me whilst I chomped away.

There was a decent amount of meat content with the patty, beef rib and combined with the other fillings it did taste really good. Again though there wasn’t much kimchi going on. I don’t think I had any of the advertised fermented Korean staple in my burger the first time I visited and I struggled to find much in it this time unless they had done a batch of their own quick pickled kimchi but there was none of the expected pungent condiment in my burger this time either. Apart from that I was pretty happy with the burger.

There was a bit of a mix up with the fries but probably due to me using the voucher to pay at the start for  part of the meal as the server wasn’t sure what to do with it. I ordered one portion of the goat curry dirty fries and two portions of the standard ones but two goat ones came out. They immediately gave us a serving of the standard and let us keep the other goat curry but wasn’t sure if I’d been charged for the two goat curries. I’d had £35 towards the food, which came to around £55 in the end so I wasn’t bothered too much about going back and checking with them or causing a fuss.

goat curry dirty fries at Burger Theory

The goat fries were amazing though and a great addition to the menu instead of the usual pulled pork or chilli beef you tend to find at most burger houses when opting for some dirty fries. They were a slow burner mind as the first couple of bites I thought oh, they aren’t too bad but a minute or two later I could of done with someone fanning me with a palm leaf whilst squirting my mouth with a super soaker 2000 filled with milk.

Not that I was complaining, I was expecting it to be hot spice wise but for me the meat could have been a tad warmer. They were pretty epic though.

halloumi fries at Burger Theory Cardiff

My sister has an obsession for halloumi fries and was very impressed with Burger Theory’s take on the deep fried slabs of cheese and so was I. Portion size was generous and they looked exactly like chips, I thought they had brought out two different thickness of potato kind at first until I bit into one.

She also smashed the Cheese Theory burger and gave it a massive thumbs up along with her partner who said it was the best burger he’s ever had. He attempted a stab at the goat dirty fries and like me thought they were fine at first but when the heat kicked in he bailed. They both enjoyed the standard fries, although they didn’t quite manage to finish them off. Not from lack of trying I might add, they were just stuffed from the burger and other bits and bobs.

The Verdict

I was a lot happier with my food compared to my first and second visit. The Kimcheese burger was still lacking on the Kimchi front though as I’ve always got a tub to hand in the fridge at home I was looking forward to a healthy portion in my burger.

The goat curry fries were a really nice change and if you like your spicy food, keep with them as they seem quite tame at first but they don’t take long to catch up with you when you’re least expecting.

I’ve heard rumours that Burger Theory will be opening up as a standalone restaurant in Cardiff in the near future so keep your eyes peeled on socials. I’m hoping they carry the bottomless burger brunch they do at the standalone Bristol venue to Cardiff too as that will be unreal.

If you’ve not been to Burger Theory before, it’s located at Kong’s Bar on St Mary Street, which is a basement bar next to Turtle Bay.

Grub Kitchen Pop-Up Restaurant at The Celtic Manor Resort

The Celtic Manor Resort in Newport recently held a special pop up menu for National Insect Week at the Newbridge on Usk venue featuring Grub Kitchen who hail from St Davids in West Wales. The Grub Kitchen aims to educate people in the benefits and environmentally friendly importance of using insects in our diet compared to the labour and energy intensive cattle farming.

They have a restaurant in St Davids that features varies insects in many forms throughout the menu and they’ve also devised and packaged up insect based cooking ingredients such as ground mealworms that can be used to make pancakes and ready made cookies that can be purchased from their website. After speaking to one half of the Grub Kitchen team who happens to be a doctor and researched the use of insects for sustainable farming methods as part of her doctorate and they now do a lot with schools and education on their farm too.

The Celtic Manor decided to bring the grub farm team and owner/chef to cook up an I’m a Celeb esque feast for some lucky patrons and I was half happy, half terrified of accepting the invitation to join them for the launch of the pop up menu. I’ve been to both the other hotels under the Celtic Manor umbrella but this was my first visit to the Newbridge on Usk. After nearly launching my phone and google maps out of the car window for sending me several miles in the opposite direction, we arrived at the idylic riverside location. I was so suprised when we walked inside as it was almost tardis like in size compared to the outside as it looked quite small when we parked up outside.

 

Insect cocktail and crickets at grub kitchen pop-up The Celtic Manor

Cricket belini with salmon at The Newbridge on Usk

bug farm insect flours and food

 

We were treated to a choice of buggy drinks on arrival at the bar with the options of ant infused Eccentric gin and tonic, pimms with some critters floating on top or a non alcoholic mojito with something else from the insect kingdom taking up solice in the glass. Opting for one of each of the stronger options so we could try both. It wasn’t long until the creepy crawly laden canapes started to appear on trays to sample.

No worm and mud sandwiches in sight luckily and what we treated to sounded pretty good on the menu if you can get your head around the main centrepiece being something you would try and fish out of your plate or drink on any other occasion. The first bite sized nibble was the hardest to embrace but once you got over the initial fear they weren’t actually that bad.

The only one I couldn’t bring myself to try from the canapés was the vol au von with the mealworms as unlike the other dishes this looked a bit slimy and reminded me of mini gooey grub worms that explode slime when I’ve seen them eaten on I’m a celeb and it would of sent me over the edge.

 

bug farm vau le vauns

Vexo insect sausage roll

 

After the initial canapés, some people left and those who stayed on were treated to a sumptuous three course meal featuring even more insects in its various forms.

Not shying away from the challenge I went for the Entomophagic tasting board featuring black ant and Pant-Ysgawn goats cheese croquette, curried cricket pakora, toasted cumin and mealworm houmous, bug burger bite and dipping sauces.

 

Insect tasting board at The Celtic Manor

 

If I hadn’t been told I would never have known there were ground down insects in each of the items on the tasting board but because I did know, I was playing a constant battle with my brain to re-assure it I wasn’t going to die. Well at least I was hoping I wasn’t. I think if i hadn’t been told about the insects I would of wolfed everything down and enjoyed it more, it was just the thought of what i was eating made me a bit hesitant. I did polish most of the tasting board off though.

For mains i went for steak. This came with baby and pureed carrot, roasted lettuce and a vexo bolognese. Vexo is Bug Farm’s own creation and is a plant and insect based protein that can be added to meals. The steak was a whopper and cooked perfectly for me at medium rare. What I’d learned here is that the insects were a bit less in your face as the canapes and you could easily eat around them with the main meal if you were’t feeling brave. I was happy to give most of the things a go though as this was a great opportunity and very different experience i just had to take by the (cricket) balls.

 

Steak with vexo bolognese at The Celtic Manor - Bug Farm popup

 

The vexo was put into a little pan so to use at my leisure and being in control of how much I wanted on the plate instead of it being served to me swimming in the stuff and spoiling the whole meal had I not liked it. Obviously it wasn’t beefy like a normal bolognese but it was totally edible.

For dessert I went for the dark chocolate terrine. Oh don’t worry there’s a few additions lurking in there too with a toffee mousse, salted clotted cream and cricket ice cream. The chocolate terrine was heavenly and I tried my very best to have half a spoon of each item on my spoon as I went on a mission to destroy the plate of dessert but I failed half way through the ice cream.

I annihilated the terrine and the salted clotted cream but by this point I was all bugged out. I think if I hadn’t done the canapes I could of powered on through but the constant battling with my brain and pictures I kept seeing in my mind of the insects as I took a bite just took their toll. I got half way through the ice cream but there were just a bit too many crickets for me in the end. The other half on the other hand said it was the best ice cream she had ever tasted so there you go!

The Verdict

Ok so what did I think about the whole experience? I thought it was an amazing idea to be fair and they were so creative with everything from the ant infused gin, the canapes and the three courses of delicious food we were treated to. Having a chance to speak to the guys who run the bug farm and hearing the back story on how it all started, what they do now and dreams of the future. I love how they get the kids involved and do a lot with schools too.

It’s definitely an area we should start to explore too to try and cut down on the amount of energy and waste we go through in the world with traditional farming. I’m really glad I tried the food and the nibbles and would definitely recommend it either at the Bug Farm in St David’s or if The Celtic Manor put on a similar pop up again.

I can imagine kids loving the chance to eat some insects without being shouted at for digging up the garden in search for them by their parents and the majority of people on my table devoured everything on their plates. It depends how weak a stomach you have or how much your brain takes over when you are eating something you think you shouldn’t be and everyone is different.

I thought it was an amazing experience personally even if I was playing a constant battle in my mind but I did try my best and finished the majority of my food.

To see what other events and special menu’s are coming up at The Celtic Manor take a look here.

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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

Nikka Coffey Japanese Gin and Miso Mackerel Recipe

Miso and Japanese Gin mackerel ingredients

  • 2 fillets of fresh mackerel
  • 2 teaspoons miso paste (I used white organic miso from M & S)
  • Juice of 1/2 a charred lime
  • Small bunch of corriander chopped finely
  • 1 small chunk of ginger grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 chilli chopped finely
  • 6 teaspoons of Nikka Coffey Japanese Gin (Or sub for another Japanese Yuzu Gin)
  • 3 teaspoons mirin
  • 3 teaspoons rice wine vinegar

Asian salad ingredients

  • 1 carrot julienned
  • 1 carrot sized daikon julienned
  • 1 handfull beansprouts
  • 2 inch thick cucumber cut into batons
  • 1 spring onion sliced thinly
  • 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

gin and miso mackerel ingredients

Instructions

  1. Put a frying pan on medium to high heat.
  2. Slice a lime in half and put one half, flesh side down in the dry pan for a couple of minutes to char.
  3. Slice the spring onion and peel and julienne the daikon. Add both to a bowl of cold water to get some of the harshness out for a few minutes.
  4. In a bowl, add the miso paste, juice of the charred lime, chopped corriander, grated ginger, garlic powder, chopped chilli, Nikka Coffe Gin, mirin and rice wine vinegar and give it a stir. Put to the side for dressing the dish later on.
  5. Take the daikon and spring onion out of the water and pat dry. Peel then julienne the carrot. Add to a bowl or plate with the washed beansprouts, daikon, half of the spring onions and give a little toss to combine.
  6. Add a little oil to the pan and cook the mackgrel skin side down first. I used a griddle pan and the skin stuck to the pan after a minute but was cooked through so i pulled it off the fish and put to one side to add as a topping later on.
  7. Turn the fish after a couple of minutes. They don’t need too long as they can be quite thin.
  8. When the fish is cooked through, remove from the pan and place on top of the asian salad.
  9. If you removed the fish skin, chop it into little shards.
  10. Drizzle the miso dressing on top of the fish and top with sesame seeds, the rest of the spring onions and the crispy little shards of fish skin.
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James Sommerin Discount 6 course taster menu voucher

Travelzoo have just launched a new discount for a 6 course taster menu at Penarth’s Michelin Starred James Sommerin Restauranton their website.

Set along the Penarth Promenade just a stones throw away from the sea, it’s a fantastic location with menu to match. The voucher is available for £89 for two dinners for lunch between 12-2pm from Tuesday to Sunday.

If you want to dine with friends a discount voucher for James Sommerin for 4 dinners will cost £169. It’s a surcharge of £20 each per person to dine at dinner in the evening if you can’t make it for lunch.

They’ve even got an overnight package including bed and breakfast for two for £199 if you fancy making a weekend of it in Penarth.

To buy the discount voucher for James Sommerin then visit the Travelzoo website.

Beefy Boys Burger Restaurant Review Hereford

So i’ve been teased with the chance to try out the legendary Beef Boys up in Hereford for over a year now. I almost divorced the other half when she owned up to taking a detour past that neck of the woods on the way back home from North not too long ago so she promised we would stop there on the way up next time we headed up to Anglesey.

I’d heard from many that they knocked out the best burgers they’ve ever tasted and some were massive foodies so the bar was set.

Luckily for me we were heading up north between Christmas and new year just gone so we took the scenic route via Hereford for me to make my own mind up. I didn’t realise how popular they were or the size of the venue so didn’t make a prior booking and tried to do a walk in. Don’t be a fool like me especially in December in near freezing temperatures.

We bit the bullet and said we would take a table alfresco just so we didn’t have to make the journey a second time after it took us forever to park in Waitrose with the atrocious road management put in place that doesn’t let any cars turn right when the light goes green. You will find out the hard way soon if you’ve not already had the pleasure.

We were shown a table furthest from the building to start but we were fortunate to be moved under the heat lamp after about 10 minutes, which might have just saved us from frost bite.

The Food

Seeing that i’d started to lose feeling in my fingers I drawn to the spicy options on the menu to start the blood flowing again.

Starters we opted for Mac n Cheese balls sprinkled with bacon dust, parmesan and chives with a pot of chipotle mayo. Mac n cheese with bacon and a kick of chilli what more do i need to say. Crispy shell, cheesilicious centre with bacon loveliness for good measure.

Hot wings and mac n cheese bites at Beefy Boys

Next up was the chicken wings. Llio ordered the wrong ones so we ended up ordering two portions one of the Ninja wings with Soy, Garlic, Honey, Sesame Seeds, Sirachi Dip and the other special of the time with a bit more of a Korean twist.

Both equally as delicious. I loved the crispness from a double dip in the fryer and the sauces / toppings from both versions worked very well together.

I went for the Rude Boy burger as it had 3 chilli rating to get the central heating back on track. The burger included Fire Roasted Green Chilli Salsa, Jack Cheese, Bacon, Lettuce, Onion and Tomato, served with a Jalapino popper on top.

Burger at Beefy Boys Hereford

The burger was pretty decent although I think I set my expectations a bit too high. I couldn’t really fault it as it was juicy with a nice pink centre but I was expecting something a bit spicier based on the spice rating. I was also hoping for the heat to warm me up slightly too.

Normally we try two flavours and do a share but the other half wasn’t feeling a burger on the day and opted for the chilli cheese fries with crisp french fries topped with a generous helping of chilli con carne and cheese. She enjoyed hers although it was a bit more than she bargained for and was easily a main meal rather than a side dish. I’d recommend sharing one between two rather than one each.

I had a taste just to try and was a good chilli but I’m just not a big chilli con carne one fries fan. If you are then you’re going to love them. I opted for the millionaire fries instead with parmesan, truffle oil. You can’t go wrong here really and the chips were cooked just right with a ample dusting of cheese and not too much truffle oil, which can be a bit overpowering sometimes.

The Verdict

I enjoyed what we had. On this visit I enjoyed the sides and starters more than my burger but then I’d probably opt for flavour over spice the next time as I went for spicy but it wasn’t very spicy so that was the only reason I wasn’t bowled over. Some of the other burger options did some delicious though but i’ll learn from my mistake and book a table prior to arriving next time as it was bitterly cold eating outside in the middle of winter. Not their fault, they were fully booked inside and I opted to eat outside but it did affect the visit a little.

Would I go again? Yes i’d go again and I loved the wings. They also have menu specials so there is usually something different on the menu and not just the usual suspects on the menu. It’s also very rare I’d eat out and not sample a desert on the menu so I might have to go back just to for for 3 out of 3 too but it was just too cold to hang around any longer outside on this visit.

Just make sure you book a table if you’re going in winter or dress for the cold that’s all I can recommend.