Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Crown

The Buttlands
NR23 1EX

F recommended The Crown based on happy memories of eating here in his childhood - thankfully his memories were accurate and we had our best meal in Norfolk here. The starter platter above was full of incredibly delicious items - in particular, the salmon belly in the lower left-hand corner was melt-in-your-mouth tender. Going clockwise, the crab spring roll was crisp and greaseless, and the smoked chicken salad was full of great, semi-Asian flavors. Crispy chicken wings and grilled chorizo rounded out the platter - I'm really glad C and I shared this as it was quite a lot of food. C and I also shared two mains - the fish goujons with chips, and the seared sea bass over saffron risotto. The risotto was to die for - perfectly cooked with creamy grains of rice and crispy sea bass to liven up the texture. While the goujons were nice, the sea bass was the clear winner. A and F both opted for rib-eye steaks and since they both finished their enormous portions, I think it is safe to say that they were good as well. No room for dessert, but I'm a savory girl anyway and would take more salmon belly over dessert any day.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Norfolk County Ice Cream

A picked this up at the Wells Deli since he couldn't resist pistachio ice cream. I was enthusiastic about trying some ice cream from Norfolk, until I tasted this. Terrible, artificial pistachio flavor - the ice cream wasn't even smooth and creamy like good ice cream should be - rather it was grainy and chalky tasting. Ugh. I'm all for eating local, but not when it doesn't taste nice. Maybe the other flavors are better, but based on this one, I'm certainly not trying any others.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Red Lion Food and Rooms

Brook Street
Cromer, Norfolk
NR27 9HD

Friday night in Cromer. Not sure what was going on, but the whole place was completely dead. We walked around, looking for a restaurant that was open, but it seemed like every place we saw was shut (at least some had explanations on their doors, most just seemed to be closed). Finally, we stumbled upon The Red Lion and gratefully took a seat in their dining room. The three of us not allergic to shellfish immediately settled on Cromer crab salad as a main - after all, we felt that we should eat the item that Cromer is best known for. Alas, the salad tasted as if it had been pre-prepared and then refrigerated - the crab was cold and not as flavorful as I expected. Portions were enormous, so we all left full, but I have to confess I was mightily disappointed by Cromer crab. Perhaps we went on the wrong weekend (it was the weekend after the lobster & crab festival, annoyingly enough), or something odd was happening that we didn't know about, but we decided to spend the rest of the weekend in places other than Cromer.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Teapot

7-8 Plowright Place
PE37 7LQ

We made a pitstop in Swaffam for lunch on our way to North Norfolk. For some reason I thought Swaffam was a cute market town - instead it seemed difficult to find a decent lunch place. The Teapot came to the rescue - nothing interesting, but a tuna melt panini hit the spot. Usually I think fish and cheese do not go together but a good tuna melt always sways me. A had a bacon baguette that was way too buttery (I am still not used to the British habit of buttering bread before making a sandwich).  At least this fueled us for the rest of the journey to Cromer. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Town Mill Cheesemonger and The Town Mill Bakery

The Town Mill Cheesemonger
Mill Lane
Lyme Regis, Dorset DT7 3PU

The Town Mill Bakery

2 Coombe Street
Lyme Regis DT7 3PY

I am blogging both of these places at one time because together, they created a magnificent cheese-nic for a sunny day in Lyme Regis. The path from our cottage into town went right past the cheese shop so after three days of passing by, we were practically foaming at the mouth for cheese. These are the three that A and I contributed (counter-clockwise from bottom left of top picture):

Rachel - Unpasteurized semi-hard goat's cheese with a washed rind. From Somerset.

Smoked Ardrahan - Washed rind, cow's milk. From County Cork.
Cave Aged Cheddar - Made at Ashley Chase, then aged in Wookey Hole. From Dorset.

They were all scarfed down eagerly, but my favorite was the Smoked Ardrahan, with the Rachel a close second. The cheesemonger helpfully told us that it was ok to eat the rind of the Smoked Ardrahan, because with its mottled and moldy appearance, we would have tried to cut it all off and lost some of the smokier flavor.

At the bakery, we picked up three loaves - pan d'epi (looks like a wheatstalk), ciabatta and a poppyseed loaf. I loved the pan d'epi - you could rip off chunks of it in bread roll-sized pieces. The bakery is around the corner from the cheesemonger, which means that everything you need for a cheese-nic is at hand!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Royal Standard

25 Marine Parade
Lyme Regis

For my first ever 11 hour pub session, we chose The Royal Standard in Lyme Regis. To be fair, the length was unintentional - it started off as a place to meet up with the happy new couple but then somehow inertia kept us all there until closing time. Some people even managed to eat both lunch and dinner there. I only succumbed to dinner and I had to get the fish and chips after seeing several people enjoy it at lunch. It is hard to tell how large the plate is in the picture, but trust me, it was very large. And I ate the entire thing, which says quite a lot about how good it was (though I didn't finish the big bowl of tartar sauce that accompanied it). It was a smart move, having a big dinner, as things quickly degenerated into Jaeger bombs and tequila shots - I credit this meal with saving me from a terrible morning after.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Whole Hog

The Cobb

Lyme Regis

The Whole Hog is so good it has an appreciation society dedicated to it on Facebook. This place specializes in roast dinners in a bun for a very reasonable 
£3.50 - the day we went they had roast pork and apple and roast chicken and stuffing. I have strange issues with fruit and meat combinations, so I requested roast pork and stuffing, which they were happy to do. I also nixed the butter on the roll. Even with my 'healthy' tweaks, the sandwich was pretty good, though I do wonder what it is meant to taste like with everything (apple sauce, caramelized onions, butter, extra crackling) on it. I suppose next time I go to Lyme Regis I may have to find out.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mulberry Manor

6a Broad Street
Lyme Regis

I have met the devil in food form, and he is a Scotch egg. From Mulberry Manor, to be precise. A was very hungry and begged for one as a snack while we were waiting for lunch. After sharing one, we immediately headed back for another - the crisp, breadcrumbed exterior combined with crazy good sausagemeat wrapped around a hardboiled egg was impossible to resist. This turned into a Scotch egg addiction that had to be fed every day. In fact, I even woke up a mere 5 hours after going to bed, still incredibly drunk, and walked 15 minutes with A to get a Scotch egg before heading back home and passing out again. I credit that Scotch egg with saving me from what should have been the most vicious hangover but instead was just a drowsy, limp one. Point is, if you walk by this shop, stay far away from the Scotch eggs, unless you want to find yourself spending every minute of your waking days in Lyme Regis plotting out how to pass by the shop as many times as possible.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Talbot Arms

Lyme Road

After decorating Uplyme Town Hall to the rafters in preparation for K&A's wedding, a few of us trotted across the road to The Talbot Arms for sustenance. There was a lovely pub garden where we stayed until the setting sun and quickly cooling temperatures forced us inside. I ordered some fish and chips since that's what you do in seaside towns in England. The massive specimen above appeared, and luckily I was starving as I hadn't eaten in about nine hours. The fish did start to taste quite greasy about halfway through so I ended up peeling off quite a bit of the batter, but the chips were crisp and hot through the entire meal. I don't like tartar sauce enough to eat the stuff out of packets so I just stuck to the fish with some lemon this time. This was fine for our first dinner in Lyme Regis, but little did I know that better fish and chips were to come in a couple of days...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Little Chef, Popham

Popham Services, Micheldever
SO21 3SP

After watching Heston Blumenthal wrestle with how to make a Little Chef actually palatable on a TV programme a while back, I made a mental note to try the Little Chef at Popham whenever it was conveniently placed during a road trip. Fastforward at least a year and a half, and I finally noticed that Popham was on our way to Lyme Regis. Hip hip hooray - we hopped in the car and raced straight there. A chose the Early Starter and I went with one of their lunch specials, the lamb shank with mash. After an appropriate wait (long enough to convince me they were actually cooking our food to order), big gleaming white plates appeared with what looked like restaurant-quality food on them. A was very happy, announcing that his breakfast didn't taste greasy at all, which is quite a feat when bacon and sausage are involved. My lamb shank was incredibly tender and pulled away from the bone with barely a prod from my fork. We both ate in silence for a few seconds, appreciating the wonder of having a nice lunch at a Little Chef, of all places - I'm not in the habit of blessing people, but dammit, GOD BLESS HESTON BLUMENTHAL.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Drinksfusion @ the Cobden Club

170 Kensal Road
London W10 5BN

The Cobden Club is a private members' club in West London, though on some evenings they have gigs that are open to the general public. I am generally biased against private clubs, but since Qype was holding a cocktail and canapé event there, I trudged out west and had my name checked at the door to make sure I wasn't some ruffian trying to harass people posher than me. The event was really more about Drinksfusion, a company that combines cocktails and food for parties. To that end, they had some specialty cocktails that were being generously poured all evening, as well as little shots of drinks that were paired with the canapés.  The salmon with poppy seeds above was great, as was the seared tuna paired with watermelon shots. I was concentrating a little bit too hard on the bellinis and gin cocktails (read about the drinks here) and before I knew it, giant trays of chocolate fondue were being placed on tables. Strangely, the chocolate was not hot, though it was still liquid - aside from this odd temperature, there's not much that can go wrong with dipping fruit in melted chocolate. During a quick chat with one of the founders, I was reassured that Drinksfusion is not only for corporate accounts - they claim that their drinks only run about 3-4 quid a head at a party, which is pretty reasonable if you're doing something special. Seeing as how they are so passionate about their food and drinks, I bet you wouldn't have to worry too much about your event if they were the ones running it. 

Tuesday, June 08, 2010


114-116 Charing Cross Road

Why hello there Chipotle. I've missed you. Or at least, I thought I missed you. We spent so much time together in the US that when I left, I lamented your absence over and over again. So when you finally ventured over here, I was excited to see you again. But I forgot that in the years since we have parted, other places in London such as Luardos and Chilango and Benitos Hat were quietly taking your place. And now, you are not as wonderful as I remembered. You are more expensive (I couldn't even bring myself to pay for guacamole), and smaller, and just not as special. This all makes me very sad, as I realize you are just too late - our relationship will never be the same.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Riverfront Bar and Kitchen

BFI Southbank, Waterloo

After seeing Iron Man 2 at the IMAX, P and I decided some food was in order so we wandered down to the South Bank. We snagged a seat at the BFI cafe by the windows overlooking the river and promptly ordered beers. I went with scampi and chips while P had a cheeseburger - both of us were happy with our choices. I recently had a conversation with someone about what 'scampi' actually is - it means different things in different countries. In the UK it seems to always mean shrimp (or as they call them, prawns), fried in a breadcrumbed shell, alongside fries (chips). I am starting to freak myself out with my new-found love of tartar sauce - the one here tasted homemade with lots of nice capers chopped up in it. Anyway - good place for a meal and a chat if you're in the Waterloo area, since it's not exactly a hot spot for dining.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Portcullis House

I feel a little guilty writing about Portcullis House since it's not exactly open to the public - still, it's got a decent cafe inside if you happen to know someone who works there and can get you in. Prices are excellent due to government subsidies, but I have a feeling that those subsidies might be one of the many things to get cut under the new regime.... Anyway, above you see a plate of grilled sea bass, roasted vegetables and new potatoes. Nothing amazing, but it is all tasty enough and for under a fiver, I'm certainly not going to complain. The atrium where you can eat is full of light and busy-looking people - not somewhere to have a leisurely meal, but it is more than sufficient for a quick hot dinner.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Caffè Nero

60-61 Trafalgar Square

J and I were meeting up before a matinee of Enron and popped into the local Caffè Nero for a drink and a snack. I was tempted into ordering this cupcake, which was weird because 1) I don't really like cupcakes and 2) I wasn't hungry. Sadly, this cupcake did nothing to help either of those issues - it was pretty dry and sweet and exactly what I wasn't looking for. I should remember never to order cupcakes - the only ones I've ever liked were homemade.