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Everything posted by nicola

  1. What about Ockenden Manor - although this will be more lunch than brunch? Ockenden Manor According to the website they are only 20 minutes from Gatwick.
  2. For those who may be interested there is a programme tonight on BBC4 at 9pm which looks at the origins of the Good Food Guide. More info here: The Bad Food Guide
  3. M&S only use free range eggs but the chickens are mostly not free-range. I had assumed (because of the eggs) that they were but noticed yesterday that even their "premium" chicken (Oakham Gold?) had those marks that the programme told you about. I then noticed (for the first time - not sure if it is new?) that they had a few free range chickens on sale. I will definitely be trying to go for these in future.
  4. But it will be repeated on Friday at 9.00am
  5. Just wondering if Jesus (or anyone else) has been to the Gran Hotel Melia recently and can give some feedback. I will be in the area later this month and would be interested to know whether it is worth going to. (Apologies if this has already been posted about but I couldn't find it so a link would be very helpful if it's not too much trouble)
  6. The Guardian had an article about GR @ Momma Cherri's Soul Food Shack yesterday Article here
  7. In case you haven't already realised, Noura is not in Knightsbridge but just near Victoria Station (there is also a new branch on Lower Regent Street but haven't been there).
  8. I have had dinner there without staying so they definitely serve non-hotel guests
  9. Yes Poilane is still in Elizabeth St, Belgravia and there is now also a Baker & Spice a few doors down
  10. I ate at Andrews on the Weir and it was pretty good with very ample portions. That said it was probably two years ago now so it could have changed (better or worse). Are you staying at the Porlock Vale Hotel? I go there regularly (for riding) and the food is good there too.
  11. I bought an oven thermometer in Peter Jones about three weeks ago so you could try there (if you call they will tell you whether they have them in stock to save a wasted journey - phone no. is 7730 3434)
  12. Does Carluccios have enough branches now to be considered a chain? They are pretty London-centric but I've found them quite reliable. New one just opened in South Ken but haven't been there yet.
  13. Had lunch here last Friday and it was really good. We went for the set lunch (£24 for 3 courses - excellent value). I started with an artichoke heart with mushrooms and a delicious very light cheesy sauce (sorry for the non-professional description!!). This was followed by calves liver which was served with a beautifully rich but delicate sauce (if that's not a contradiction in terms) and basil mashed potatoes. As a person without a sweet tooth I then went for the cheese (which unusually didn't attract a supplement - a pleasant surprise). I was presented with a selection of about six, the only one of which I can specifically remember was Epoisses as it is one of my favourites). All were in excellent condition. The breads (we were given a basket with three different types) were very good and the service was efficient and friendly (we had a chat with the chef about his recent visit to Barcelona). I just wish this restaurant was near where I live!! There were only two other tables occupied (I guess Friday lunchtime out of season is a bit slow), one a table of four and the other a two. I would guess the latter were regulars, if only because they were on very good terms with the gorgeous retriever who watches over the guests in the lounge. We also shopped at the deli (Blacks), the dairy and the local butcher (where we bought an excellent leg of local lamb). Chagford is definitely a place to visit if you are in the area.
  14. We went to Alba on Saturday evening. This was chosen because by the time I got round to booking (the day before) they were the only one who could let us have a table at a sensible time. The place is very smart and has a great position by the water. Our table was upstairs but towards the back so we didn't really benefit from the view. Overall I would say the cooking was average to good. I started with a smoked haddock and mussel risotto which I enjoyed a lot. One of my friends had mackerel tempura to start which were OK but somewhat bland. My main course was a white fish (sorry - can't remember which) which was served with a sauce very similar to the dipping sauce from the tempura. Again the overall effect was rather bland. The service was friendly but not overly professional. We ordered a bottle of Chablis, admittedly not the most expensive wine on the list, and were somewhat surprised that it was brought to the table with the cork already removed. Overall I got the impression that the restaurant was setting itself up to be something a bit better than it actually is. Sunday lunchtime we went to the Porthminster Beach Cafe. We were very lucky with the weather so we sat outside with a beautiful view of the sea. I had fish and chips (which that day was hake) which was delicious. Two large pieces of fish in a light batter, loads of crisp, chunky chips and two little pots of tartare sauce and white wine vinegar. The overall atmosphere here is "seaside casual" and it works well. As for wine merchants, we weren't really in need of one but on our town wanderings the only one I saw was a Threshers. If that's all they have I'm sure another would be welcomed!
  15. Had lunch at Tragabuches on Sunday. This was my second visit and I really like the place. The piglet was particularly good - really moist meat with beautifully crisp thin crackling. My starter was soft cooked eggs in soup - a sort of chicken broth with chick peas - delicious. We got them to recommend a bottle of wine and despite gving them a budget of €40, they chose us a very good bottle of Ribero del Duero for €24. Definitely on my "go to" list.
  16. Pushing the boundaries on your price range to the top, but what about Roussillon. It has a private room for twenty and is doing a menu of 3 courses for £45, 4 for £55. More info on their website: Roussillon It has a Michelin star and is in the area you are now looking at, between Victoria and Chelsea. I've been a couple of times and think it would make a great venue.
  17. Thanks for the recs and for the vote of confidence in my taste. Will let you know how I get on and keep a look out for the level of competition for a good wine merchant. That said, I believe from a punter's perspective there can never be too many good wine merchants in one town!
  18. We will be in St Ives for two days without a car. Breakfast is provided (hopefully a large English one but no beans for me please!!!) but would appreciate suggestions for lunch (probably light in view of large b'fast) and dinner. All cuisines and prices considered. Many thanks.
  19. I like Fino (Charlotte Street) for post theatre. I am never sure whether by the time we eat I am going to be starving hungry or my appetite will have actually declined so tapas is perfect - you just adjust the number of dishes you order. And if you fancy tapas but want something a little less expensive, Mar I Terra near Piccadilly Circus would fit the bill.
  20. Chez Bruce is open for Sunday lunch.
  21. The Saturday morning market in Orange Square (by La Poule au Pot/Hunan) has some organic stalls and the veggies I've had from there have been pretty tasty - I think this is your neck of the woods Moby and would provide a convenient excuse for lunch at the Ebury
  22. Only just found this thread which I have really enjoyed. Sorry to drag it back to the topic of UK supermarkets but thought people might be amused by this piece on who shops where and why: I'm rich and I'm living well. Shopping here is part of that.
  23. I have bought oil from Oliviers & Co. The big advantage is that they have a selection out so you can taste them. There is nothing more irritating than buying a bottle and discovering once you get it home that you don't like it - seems a terrible waste. By sampling before you buy at least you know what you're getting. As for what I bought - can't remember! The disadvantage there is that they are all similarly "canned" so you don't have a distinctive label as a reminder of what it is.
  24. btw, just noticed your comment about tourist trap Italians - Timo is not in this category. The chef is ex-Zafferano and it is situated in a bit of a dead area for tourists so the fact that it was full on a Tuesday evening in January is testament to the cooking not the tourists
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