The Castle Pub – Good Beer and ‘Takeaway Fish and Chips’ Indoors

Fish and Chip SignThe Castle Pub

On the face of it The Castle Pub opposite the entrance to Nottingham Castle should be my idea of perfection. I have been here on numerous occasions to enjoy a pint of Harvest Pale but I had never eaten here. The main reason being that it is usually really busy on a Friday night when I pass through, often just standing room only and can be tricky to find a table at which to rest my plate. It has never been too busy though for that pint of beer.

Recently I found myself in here when it was quiet, and I needed a pint of pale, so when I saw the sign for “Fish & Chips – eat in or take-away” I suddenly found myself in need of a plate of Fish & Chips. As it happened that plate was to be a box, but hold on a moment we will get to that.

The Castle Pub and Kitchen Fish and Chip Menu

The Castle Menu

The Chip Shop Menu” invites us or perhaps emplores the patrons to ‘Enjoy a selection of your favourite British dishes to eat in or takeaway’. I scanned down the brief menu to ‘The Castle Box Meals’ section and quickly alighted upon the offer of ‘Castle Rock Ale battered haddock and chips served with homemade tartare sauce‘ for £6.95. That was going to be my selection, how could I choose anything else?  I pondered momentarily about having a pie and chips, but the pie on offer was just too good, it was an Owen Taylor’s steak and ale pie, in a chip shop despite it all it’s reputation, it just has to be a Pukka Pie. Other options included Whitby breaded scampi and battered sausage, both classics, but when did a homemade thai style fishcakes become a chip shop staple?

Fish and Chips in a box

As promised my meal arrived in a box, but what will the inside of the box have to offer?

The Castle Fish and Chips

Now I am a bit fussy or perhaps set in my ways when it comes to my Fish and Chips. I like a nice crisp light batter, juicy moist fish, preferably haddock, and freshly cut freshly fried chips. The Castle offering is not quite to my liking but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t like it or appreciate their efforts, The batter is a bit soggier and thicker than I would like, but I know a lot of people who like it like that. The fish was moist and plentiful. The chips were reasonable nothing to get too excited about but nothing to complain about either. It is a good sized meal in a big box that if I had from an actual takeaway and sat eating on a park bench would have done the job.

There were plenty of people in the place eating the boxes of Fish and Chips so they must be doing something right

The Castle Pub is part of the ‘ever so sensible restaurants’ group alongside it’s neighbour Watson Fothergills (another pub I like to frequent). They also serve a beer battered fish and chips but for a more princely sum of £9.95. You pay a lot to use a plate these days.

You can locate the Castle Pub at 1 Castle Road right next to the entrance to the grounds of Nottingham Castle. To find out more up to date news you may follow the Castle Pub via Facebook and Twitter

 

The Navigation Burger Bar – An easy recommedation – Eat Here

 

Burger Bar Logo

This week I visited The Navigation Burger Bar at the Navigation Inn on Wilford Street. I have to say it is Good to find that burgers are being flipped there once more. After a short hiatus following the departure of Annie’s Burger Shack to the Lace Market, a new chef is in place and they are back up and running serving up burgers in the pub. A recent article in the Nottingham Post “Lavish burgers are greeted with relish as The Navigation in Nottingham re-launches” tells the full story of the re-opening.

The Navigation Inn Canalside

The Navigation Inn on Wilford Road is right next to one of the Canal Locks and one would assume has some history to tell in the story of the Canal. Back in 1797 the house which stood upon the site acted as a station for passengers along the canal, the story is that ‘it was then occupied by a certain Mr. Maddock who acted as agent for Mr. Redfern who ran a line of packet boats on the canal for the conveyance of passengers twice a week, between Nottingham and Cromford, which was in those days an important manufacturing centre. The fare was 5/- first class and 3/- second class. A similar boat also ran to Leicester the fare being 5/-first class and 2/6 second class’ (original reference: J. Holland Walker, An itinerary of Nottingham: Wilford Road, Brew House Yard, Transactions of the Thoroton Society, 33 (1929)[check out Nottingham History Organisation for  more fun filled facts]

These days it’s history may be told by the bands and music lovers that have passed through it’s doors seeking live music, and in more recent times a shorter span of history may tell the tale of a quest to provide excellent burgers. The baton on that front has passed hands, as I have said earlier, and so today we are talking about the present incumbent of the kitchen Bob White, Lets talk about the burgers that he cooked us last week.

Let Talk Burgers

The Forest Gump Burger

The Forest Gump with Cheese

I ordered ‘The Forest Gump Burger’ which was described as ‘simple but standing proud – just naked or with melted cheddar’. I added the melted cheese onto my burger patty and out of the possible potato side options I got the salted potato wedges. I chose this burger for a smaller option as in the past I have been a bit overfaced by burgers in the navigation and suffered later from being too full. This burger was just the right size, it was a tasty well seasoned patty. I wasn’t given any choice of how I wanted it cooked and it was someway past medium but even so it was still quite moist and juicy.

Burger Cross Section

 ‘Lets Look inside’ The Forest Gump

The burger sandwich had just about the right amount of salad filling, enough to add some crunch, some sweetness from the tomato, and enough to ease the conscience. I was quite a fan of the burger bun, it is a nice soft white flour bun. The juice from the burger soaked well into the top layer and the cheese had also oozed into the bread as well giving the sandwich a nice soft melty bite.

The French Farmhouse Burger

The “French Farmhouse” Burger

My dining companion ordered the “French Farmhouse” Burger which comes ‘topped with smoked bacon, melting brie and home-made red onion marmalade’. It was a little bit of a toss up I understand between this one and the ‘Smokin Blues’ burger which comes with a bluer cheese (the excellent Colston Bassett Stilton). The verdict was also tasty, the red onion marmalade was declared a winner of a topping. Both burgers came with a pile of unlisted onion rings on top of the burger, which I suppose on reflection were a nice bonus addition and perhaps this together with the large chunk of pickle on a stick is the Navigation Burger Bar calling card. I would personally have preferred both on the side, perhaps replacing the green leaf with coleslaw that returned on the board to the kitchen in the same state as which it arrived (unloved is a common comment I make on such plate (or board) fillers.

Both Burgers were very good, on the verge of excellent. I don’t want to compare them with the other burger establishments in the city, but will state that for my personal choice they are right up there and probably looking to push into my top three burgers sampled in the city. They are a good size, have one of the best buns, and I also like the location where they live. There is nothing quite like having a burger in a pub, with a  decent pint alongside it.

What I also like about the relaunched menu at the Navigation Burger Bar is that it is not just Burgers. That is a concept that I have struggled slightly with, as I like the name of the place to inform my brain and stomach as to ‘what I am about to recieve’. It does mean though that I can now take someone who has not got the appetite for a massive burger here, and they can have a wrap or a sandwich while I am chowing down on some sort of burger extravaganza.

So what else ‘could‘ be on offer if you were not in the mood for a massive bite of burger sandwich?

 Ribs and Wings anyone?

Menu Specials

If I had not been here in the mind-frame of sampling a burger I may have tried out some of their “Barbequed Ribs ‘n’ Wings” with a choice of fries for £10.95. That was advertised as a special attached to the top of each menu with a paper clip. I wasn’t so sure about the other special which was a ‘Royal Balmoral Burger’ composed of “Scotch Salmon with Prawns in white wine and a dill mayonnaise” having said that, you could opt to have that combination as a salad which does sound like a tasty option.

Dogs?

hot dogs at Nav Inn

They are also serving a little bit of a wider range on the menu with a selection of hot dogs and wraps. I do like a proper decent hot dog and I may well return to see if their ‘dogs’ are worth the effort. It will all come down to the bite and the snap of the dog, and I don’t mean from the jaws of the dog itself. I like the sound of the ‘Dog Father’ just because it comes with bacon, cheese, and onions but only if it is a real proper hot dog sausage, not one out of a tin, or a ‘gourmet’ sausage. The ‘Long Island’ dog sounds like a better bet just because it says that it is a ‘classic German frank’ OK enough talking about the dogs I will have to try them now.

sign

 

I will be totally honest and say that even though I kindly have listed some of the other ‘non-burger’ options on the menu and ‘suggested’ that I may even sample them in the future. I may, but the chances that I would turn down the chance to try another one of the Navigation Burger Bar Burgers again is quite slim, sorry Mr and Mrs Wrap perhaps I will bring a friend to visit you one day.

The Navigation Inn is located on Wilford Street right next to the canal. You can follow them on Twitter and on Facebook, or instead of ‘cyber stalking them’ you can walk through the door and eat a burger, drink a pint, and perhaps see some live music

Just to Whet your appetite check out some other burger offerings on the menu

Classic Menu options

Classics Menu section

World Menu options

world menu option

‘Fishy’ Options

Fishy Options

 

 

 

White Horse Pub and Kitchen in Ruddington

white hart

The White Horse in Ruddington has recently been refurbished and re-launched as The White Horse Inn and Kitchen,  a ‘family gastro pub’ . I had not been into the old White Horse that much in the past, but when I had frequented it I would have described it as ‘comfortably scruffy’ and ‘somewhere to get a decent pint’. In past years, it had been known for having been pivotal in organising the annual Ruddington Beer and Cider Festival.

I had heard rumours for a while that someone new was taking over the reigns and had read a little bit about that in the Nottingham Post (original article here) at the back end of 2013 in November.

In that article the new guys, Andy and Abbie Hunt, had been quoted as saying “We are family people so we want to run a family pub. The ideal would be to have a three or four-generation pub where you have grandads and children under the same roof – a real community pub.”

This all sounded good to me so I made a mental note to pop along and try them out

white horse sign

I had checked out their menu online and saw enough possibilities on there to make sure that I paid them a visit for lunch this week. On that menu and on the board outside the Inn they were advertising the Early Bird Menu offering 2 courses for £10, or 3 courses for £12.50 between 12-7pm. This looked good value but I didn’t really have the time or the capacity to eat that much for lunch on a midweek outing.

If I had partaken then I would most probably have opted for the ‘Homemade soup of the day’ (can’t go far wrong with the soup), followed by the ‘Pork Rib eye, with fries, fried egg & a mixed leaf salad’, and possibly if there was room (and having just had soup there may have been) I may have been tempted to try the ‘Sticky toffee pudding, with toffee sauce & vanilla ice cream’ for pudding or dessert.

Inside White Horse Ruddington

I will be honest and say that I had already planned (for several days) that I was going to be ordering the Homemade burger for £8 which was to come with ‘tomato, gem lettuce, toasted focaccia bun, coleslaw, and fries’. Having said that while I sat in my prime position in the dining room I was almost swayed into trying one of the other options that caught my eye. On the larger plate I might have had the ‘Handmade steak & stilton pie, buttered mash, vegetables & onion gravy’ for £10 on the lighter side of things I could have gone for the ‘Mushrooms in white wine on toasted focaccia’ for £5.

Beyond that there were plenty of sandwich options including what I was hoping was a grown up version of a favourite kids sandwich ‘Fish finger, white bloomer, little gem & tartar sauce’ at £6. To be fair though I would have just liked a few birds-eye fish fingers stuffed between two slice of cheap white bread with some ketchup (the reality of that probably doesn’t match my childhood or student memories).

If I was having a sandwich I would have chosen the pick of the menu which for myself would have been the ‘Meatball sub,’ which essentially seems to be a sandwich of ‘spicy meatballs, tomato sauce & melted cheese’ probably in a submarine style roll for £6.50.

I didn’t do any of that though and I probably spent as much time contemplating all that as it just took me to relate my pontification over the menu while waiting for my cooked to order ‘homemade burger’ (about 10 mins – I typed quickly)

Homemade Burger PlatterCheeseburger

I took the option to add Cheese to my burger to make it a Cheese burger and that seemed to work out as a good choice. This is a really well crafted and tasty burger. The burger patty is nice and meaty, it is not at all greasy and you can tell that it is an unfrozen hand formed effort. My only slight criticism is that it was just a little bit well done for my taste, I like my burger cooked medium and when it made freshly that should be no problems I know that it is not as popular in England where people are suspicious if their burgers are not half cremated, but people are learning and places are starting to cook them that way if you ask, perhaps I should have asked? but they often do ask these days.

Half slice of burger

I had some concern that the foccacio style bun would be a bit hard (It sometimes can be) but it wasn’t the case it, in fact it was a nice light airy bun with a soft bite. The additional bonus enjoyment came from the light hint of rosemary from the lightly herbed roll. You could just see a couple of flecks in top bun slice. The fillings of tomato and lettuce were simple and that was all the burger needed. I would have preferred a herb leaf or rocket leaf instead of the Cos lettuce leaf that I had in there but that is just my personal preference.

My only minor gripe, which I didn’t have until I left and pondered, was that the whole meal came on another one of those wooden bread boards and the chips came in a small metal bin. Who decided that we cant have our food on a plate anymore? It always seems to be on a board or a slate. There must be some ‘Dummies guide to Gastro Pub Food presentation’ out there to blame. It used to be original but now it is getting mildy annoying. I have probably been swayed listening to the critic on last weeks BBC Masterchef who moaned that he just wanted a round white plate. I know how he feels sometimes, well I am a grumpy so and so on occasion :-)

OK that wasn’t a real gripe and is no reflection on the standard of the food that I ate at the White Horse Inn, no the food was excellent and I really enjoyed my burger, and would eat another one again quite happily. Although I now have my thoughts on the Meatball Sub (mmm Meatball Sub).

logo

The White Horse is located at 60 Church St in Ruddington, Check out the full menus and a list of upcoming events and offers on their website. Follow them on their Twitter Feed and see what they are up to on their Facebook Page as well.

They have a Steak and Burger Night every Wed between 5pm and 9pm which I feel was the night that I should have gone to instead of eating my burger all alone. I heard on the burger vine that they may have more exotic options that night such as kangaroo and crocodile. Um perhaps I shall try that out!

 

 

The Corner Cafe in Netherfield – Full English Breakfast and erm.. some other stuff too (probably)

corner cafe in Netherfield

The Corner Café in Netherfield is another local community establishment that deserves another look. It is a bright and friendly establishment that seems to be focussed on your standard café fare with a few extra items. More about those at the end of the post, but just for now lets just assume that I came in here looking for some sort of breakfast scenario, I could pretend otherwise but it was just one of those food hunting days when my stomach was in charge and my head was planning some sort of culinary specialness for tea later on at home. Ok Stomach part of the brain why don’t you just fill us all in then?

Top of Menu

OK I will admit that at this point of the post it does appear that I am focussing on the Set Breakfast section of the menu, and to be honest that is true, but hear me out. I do find that at this sort of place a really good way to check out the standard is to opt for the ‘all day breakfast’ scenario. In the same way that many chefs will make a prospective employee cook them an omelette or a simple fried egg to see if they have the basics, my ‘interview’ if you like in a café is to give me a decent breakfast plate.

The first thing that hit me was that even in the breakfast department there is quite a fair amount of choice and variation with even two vegetarian options out of the eight choices. That is a pretty respectable 25% for the vegetarians which is not too shabby. If I am honest there is too much option here for me, I don’t need to think, I just need to explete the words ‘all day breakfast’ in some sort of lunchtime Tourette syndrome.

bottom of menu

I am pretty sure that I could have done a little negotiation here to get my perfect combination, but instead I played the game and ordered a ‘Full Breakfast‘. Why you might ask did I choose this, as I am sure that regular readers will spot one of the things I keep on saying I don’t like; the tinned tomato. Well yes that is true, but I wanted fried eggs instead of scrambled which ruled out my first choice of Set 4 for £5 which was ‘Scrambled egg, bacon, sausage, mushroom, beans, and black pudding’, and I really wanted to try the black pudding too.

Full Breakfast

So what was the verdict? Well it was pretty positive to be honest. The sausage, while not an amazing gourmet effort, was quite decent, it was well cooked and fairly meaty. Considering where I am sitting I have no complaints, bacon was good, fried eggs were fair too (yolk could have been a little runnier if I am being picky). The black pudding slice was fair enough as well, not gourmet by any means, but I wouldn’t complain if my Mum served this up on a Sunday Morning breakfast treat. The hash browns were OK, large is the main thing, I am not that excited about them at the best of times but I had a cunning plan to utilise my tinned plum tomato. I mixed them both together and found that they were a pair meant for each other, one of the rare cases in the standard café where two ingredients combined are greater than the sum of the individual. Should I say that there was too much food here? perhaps that would be somewhat churlish, as well as the beans I had two whole slices of toast and a mug of tea. It was hard work but I did my best, purely in the interest of research for my fellow man (and woman).

Here at the Corner Café you can get all of your standard offerings in a sandwich, cob, or panini; “ham, ham and cheese, egg, chicken, chicken and sweetcorn, tuna mayo, prawn mayo….” you get the idea, oh and did I mention in the hot cobs?  “bacon, bacon and sausage, bacon and egg…”. Basically what I am saying is that there is nothing to be afraid of if you want a vanilla café lunch.

But if you want something slightly more interesting than you might expect at a greasy spoon then might I suggest the following? “Lambs Liver and Mash with bacon, onions, peas and gravy” for £4.50? No, well how about “Welsh Rarebit“, billed as cheese on toast with a poached egg on top for  £3? (I think they might have got a hybrid of a croque madame and a eggs benedict and cheese on toast here all mixed up), If not that then well I propose either a ‘Spanish Omelette with chips and salad’ for £4.50, or a “Bowl of Cream of Broccoli Soup” for £3.

I know you just want a full English Breakfast, and I don’t blame you either.

You can find the Corner Café on… well… as you might expect … a corner. Address wise it is at 40 Victoria Road in Netherfield just across the road from the Co-op and next door almost to Robinsons Butchers.

 

Cafe 67 on the Colwick Industrial estate – Friendly Cafe with Decent Food

cafe 67 sign from the roadCafe 67 entrance

Café 67 is in the middle of the Colwick Loop industrial estate on Road No 2. I found the place on a food hunting lunch time sortie when I was using my ‘radar’ and guessing that there would be some sort of café on the industrial estate, or perhaps I was just driving aimlessly about feeling hungry? Either way it turned out that my hunch was right and there was indeed a café on the estate. If you drive along the Colwick Loop Road between Netherfield and the Racecourse you can turn in to Road No 2 either at the Netherfield end by Road No 1 or the Racecourse end at Mile End Road just past the Toby Cavery. Follow the road around and you will see multiple café signs.

Special Breakfast Sign

As you walk in the first thing you see is the Sign for the Special Breakfast (which I did try) a feature of which I was most delighted to note as  I am always happy to locate ‘all day breakfast’ situations. You never know when you might be in dire need of such a plate.

The Special Breakfast

Special Breakfast

As I said on my first visit I took a chance on that Special Breakfast, and was met with mixed fortune, you most certainly got a good sized plateful for your money, but I also got a couple of the things I don’t like on the plate too. If I have to have tomato, I am always hopeful that it will be a grilled half of a tomato, and I always hope and pray that it is not a big spoonful out of a tin. I always hope for a decent sausage and not a cheap catering sausage, it wasn’t starting well. However on the positive side I had a couple of really nicely fried eggs with runny yolks, I liked my bacon and the toast was just as I like white and buttery. What did I learn from this? I learnt that next time I want breakfast at Café 67 I will order fried eggs on toast, or bacon and eggs and if I do that I will be a happy diner. Cracking mug of tea as well that really hit the spot, not too shabby for £5.

Food Options

The Specials Board

Specials Board Options

There are a regular set of Homemade options on the various ‘Dish of the Day’ boards adourning the walls. Wholesome and Hearty options that you just know will slip down nicely, on each visit I have made to Café 67 the options have been ‘Chilli Con Carné’, ‘Chicken Curry’, ‘Spaghetti Bolognese’ and ‘Sweet and Sour Chicken’. I am kind of guessing that they may be the same every day.

Homemade Chilli

I decided to try the Chilli with rice and for some reason agreed to a topping of cheese. This is your classic café chilli con carne, it isn’t too spicy, just mildly warm, it has many of the ingredients that you expect in a chilli and is a classic reminding me of dishes I was given in the Seventies it was a plate covered a mixture of mostly mince in gravy with red beans, onion, some mushroom, and some bell pepper (I think I had bits of yellow and red, as well as the expected green pepper.) The cheese sprinkled over the chilli was so wrong but yet so right at the same time as it melted into the chilli making it all gooey on top. This would have been better on a jacket potato than with rice, and it would also have worked in a soft tortilla or in a wrap. It didn’t take me back to Mexico but it did take me back to a childhood memory of what we thought chilli was supposed to be, and for that I was warmed inside and satiated in my mind and stomach. I would eat it again.

Inside cafe 67

I have to say that I liked Café 67, it is brightly lit with a kind of Mod theme all over the walls, Mopeds, Quadrophenia, the Jam, the Specials you know the kind of thing. There isn’t a big group of scooter boys though in the corner which would have made it more interesting. No but each time I have come in, the place has been frequented with a set of regulars all talking about local stuff on the radio and stuff that was in the paper that day. There is a mixed crowd from the surrounding industrial estate and a few passing by as well. It is a warm and friendly place, and if I was working on the industrial estate I could easily make it my local café spot for lunch, possibly breakfast too and somewhere to grab a cup of tea.

As I noted Café 67 is on Colwick Road No 2 in the heart of the industrial estate, you cant really miss it as it is well signposted. There is also plenty of parking at the back and on the main road.

 It is worth making a mental note if you have a greasy spoon urge as you pass along the Colwick Loop Road.

 

The Crafty Crow – Real Ale and Craft Beer and Local Food

Craft Crow Door

The Crafty Crow on Friar Lane in sight of Nottingham Castle is one of the newer pubs on the Real Ale and Craft Beer scene in Nottingham. We have been in for a beer on a few occasions over the last couple of weeks and it is fair to say that they have a decent selection of real ales and some good craft beers and lagers as well. The Crafty Crow is actually a tap house for Magpie Brewery but on first inspection of their beer range you would be forgiven if you thought that it was just a free house as I have never seen more than a couple of their 10 hand pull taps housing Magpie’s Beer. Other featured breweries we have seen have been Magic rock, Tiny Rebel, and Brewsters. I did read on their website that in the first week alone they had 18 different beers, this is excellent news for those of us who like a decent amount of variety in our world of beer.

inside Crafty Crowbeers on tap from the old barrelbarrel sink with pumps for tapsInside the Crafty Crow

Inside the Crafty Crow they have made use of what I would call ‘recycling lots of old stuff. I believe that more popular term these days is upcycling. In my day that meant riding your bike up a steep hill, I always preferred the ‘freewheeling’ back down the hill, even that term can be interpreted differently as being ‘not concerned with rules, conventions, or the consequences of one’s actions.’ That is something I often contemplate when wondering if I should have a glass of red wine after I have had several pints of Castle Rock Harvest Pale.

Menusandwich menu

This past Friday we finally managed to get in early enough to try out some of the food that they have on offer. The first time we tried on opening weekend we were too late on the Friday (they stop food at 7pm) and at the second attempt on the Saturday after the football they had sold out of most of the items. This night though I checked that they had food before we settled in with some beers.

Helles Lager at Crafty Crow

While we looked through the menu we were supping down on a pint of Helles Lager from Brewsters Brewery. It is a lager but not quite, more of an American lager, crisp, not too gassy and quite drinkable. It was a lager that did not make me feel ashamed for drinking fizzy alcoholic water.

Chicken Wrap

Roast Chicken Wrap

My companion went for one of the Hot Wraps opting for the Roast Chicken Wrap which was described as coming with Salad, Red Onion Chutney and Sweet Chilli Mayo. The verdict was that is was quite tasty but a bit small, for the £7.50 price point he was hoping for a better sized portion.

Crafty Crow Quiche

Crafty Crow Quiche

Roasted Potatoes

Crafty Crow ‘Roasties’

On another day I would have taken a more obvious choice and had one of the pies with mash, or a belly pork wrap, but today instead somewhat unintentionally I went for a vegetarian option by ordering the “Caramelized Red Onion, Colwick Cheese & Thyme Quiche” for £4.50 and a portion of “Rosemary & Sea Salt Roasties” for £3.00. I went for that just to try something using the ever popular local Colwick cheese. The Quiche was tasty but I would have preferred a whole round individual tartlet as opposed to a slice. The empty quarter of the plate covered with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar was the perfect location for an additional bit of quiche. The ‘Roasties’ sounded fantastic on paper, in reality it was basically just a simple bowl of Roasted Potatoes, I must say though that they were better than just a dish of chips. They were accompanied by some sort of mildly spicy mayo to dip them into that was a nice addition if somewhat off kilter with the menu description.

Maybe we didn’t choose the right things from the menu. The prose of the menu itself makes everything sound quite amazing, it was promising us food that was ‘Handmade – Local – Artisan – Fresh’ from the “Real Food Kitchen“. In some ways I should have known what to choose as both the Hartland Pies and the Handmade Scotch eggs were safe reliable and top notch items on the menu. Add to that the two ‘Pie and Mash’ options of the “Drunken Cow” -’braised beer in ‘Magpie’ beer gravy’ or “Free Range Chicken, Leek & Dry Cured Bacon” should be no-brainers and I understand all of those have been very popular so far.

Crafty Crow Board

I have to say that I do like the concept of the Crafty Crow, they do have a lot of beers on offer, and they have recognised the distinction between the Real Ale drinkers and the Craft Beer drinkers. The menu has a lot of promise in terms of the way that it is written and I am hopeful that as they grow that the food on the menu will reach it’s potential.

The Crafty Crow is located at 102 Friar Lane about a 5 minute walk from the Old Market Square Tram Stop. you can follow them on their Twitter Feed and see what they are up to on their Facebook page.

Their Twitter profile looks to declare a fair mission statement worth noting;

“Real ale and craft keg bar,  specialising in British artisan producers, brewers, vintners and distillers, with traditional, locally sourced bar snacks”

Core’s Bistro in Lady Bay – Excellent and Honest Polish food

Core Lady BayInside CORE

Core’s Bistro in Lady Bay was quite an excellent find and I have been in a couple of times now. According to their website the name is an acronym for ‘Community, Opportunity, Resources, and Expertise’. The Bistro is a partnership I understand between Maria Spalek (the owner) and Joanna Prusaczyk (Read more of the story on their website here).

My first thoughts were that I like that everyone seems to know everyone else, and it was as much a meeting up point, as a café and as such it had a real community feel. I also like that they have a menu that is a little bit different to many of the cafés in West Bridgford and its periphery (can I call Lady Bay as part of West Bridgford? – maybe not). I also like that they have a Polish menu.

On their website they tell us that; “We offer homemade Polish food, a glass of wine, Polish lager and vodka with friends & bistro meals.  The atmosphere remains informal with good food ranging from the traditional Polish favourites, such as golabki, pierogi, bigos and barszcz czerwony or Zurek,  being our popular homemade sour rye soup well worth a try”

Core Menu

I must say that initially it was the promise of that Polish menu that had brought me over to Lady Bay to seek them out and it was Pierogi that I was on the hunt for.  Once inside I was instantly delighted to see the black board above the counter with a list of polish dishes chalked up upon it. I could have been distracted by the “All Day Breakfast” which was ‘Polish sausage, bacon, egg, toast, tomato, beans, and mushrooms‘ for £4.95 (reduced on the chalkboard) or a ‘Potato Pancake with egg or sour cream‘ for £4.50, but I wasn’t. I could if I had so chosen had a Baguette or Jacket Potato filled with Coronation Chicken for £3.2o or with Smoked Salmon for £3.35, I resisted. I wasn’t even tempted by a Hot Panini or Toastie with Meatballs, or Polish Ham, or Brie and Cranberry for around £3.20-3.30, but again no, I came here for something Polish. It didn’t stop me looking though.

So onto those Polish Offerings

Polish Meatballs

I do have a distinct fondness for Pierogi, but I also have weakness for meatballs and so it came to pass, that on this first visit, I found myself sitting in front of a plate of Polish Meatballs or as they called them “Pulpeciki z Grylowana Papryka“. This was in fact a plate of ‘Pork meatballs with roasted pepper topped with cheese‘ that came with some sort of pasta that looked like chopped up spaghetti. The meatballs were bigger and softer than I expected, they were quite good though, after all they are meatballs. I wasn’t too sure about the pasta part of the plate, but you know I was happy to go along with the flow. Good meatballs is all that I really cared about and they are good enough to return for, BUT I was sad that I didn’t have Pierogi and thought about them all the way back to the office.

Pierogo Neutske

This week I had to come back to try the Pierogi and to be honest I had been thinking about it since my last visit a week ago. So for this visit I knew what I was going to order. There were two choices of Pierogi on the board; ‘Pierogi Ruskie’, and ‘Pierogi z Kapusta i Grzybami’ and if you don’t read Polish, it did say helpfully that the second option was filled with mushroom.

I had my suspicions based on some time grazing through many plates of Pierogi alongside friends in the Polish-American community in Philidelphia and Chicago that the first one, the Ruskie, was going to be filled with potato and cheese, and my suspicions were correct.

I ordered a plate of the Pierogi Ruskie, and it was a neat and tidy dish, if not quite what I was expecting. In the past the pierogi I have eaten have always been more, well how I can I describe? a sort of silky dumpling cooked in butter and filled with all sorts of tasty fillings. On this occasion the pierogi had been lightly fried so that they were more of a crispy parcel, don’t get me wrong they were nice and the filling was tasty, but not quite what I had expected. The accompanying salad was decent and I really liked the coleslaw type side that came with them. There was also a drizzle of balsamic along the rim of the plate which was needed as after about half of the pierogi pieces I needed something sauce like to cut through the dish, perhaps a little cream, perhaps a little tang of some sort, or some butter I think that was what I craved.

After I had finished I had a nice chat with them and asked about the style of Pierogi cooking and it turned out that I could have had it with butter, and after I got home I saw the menu on the website which described the dish as “Polish pasta stuffed with milky white cheese, potato and onions topped with country butter or bacon”.

Yes please that was what I would like, only with both ‘country butter AND bacon’. Next time I am in here I am going to see if I can get it like that as it brings back such warm comforting memories and well lets face it I am not ashamed to admit, it is a pure comfort food craving that borders on a mild fetish for any food of the ‘dumpling’ variety.

I like Core’s and will probably be back for those butter covered pierogi and maybe a little bit more of that community feel.

You can find them at 117 Trent Boulevard, check them out their website and on Facebook as well

Gracie’s Cafe in Ruddington – Homemade Pie and Really Good Homemade Chips

Gracies Cafe in Ruddington

Gracies Café on the High Street in Ruddington (number 14) is one of your old school cafés that is not trying to be a bistro, not trying to get bonus points by using all the ‘local organic produce’ that has been handpicked by a lithe old chap from his allotment or small holding that has been in the family for generations. It is for the want of a better a phrase a ‘salt of the earth’ establishment cooking it’s own food on the premises. It is really good to find that these places still exist.

Specials Board at Gracies Cafe Special's Sign

This is the sort of place where you need to take note of any daily or regular Specials, as it is most likely that whoever is working behind the counter in the kitchen has made those fresh this morning just ready for you to eat at lunch. That is where I was leaning my attention when I walked in this week. It was a toss up between the cottage pie as I haven’t had that for a while and I cannot be bothered to cook that at home for one person, and the lasagne, as in my mind I could envisage a large pan filled with lasagne just like you used to get at school, where each portion was being cut out in small rectangular chunks. The Cottage Pie won.

My first failure of will was when I was asked shortly after I ordered if I wanted chips instead of new potatoes, I knew I should have stuck to the new potatoes, but I gave in to temptation and said ‘ooh…well…um… if there are chips on offer, then, yes that would be nice’. I am so glad that I took that choice!

Home made Cottage Pie at Gracies

If this was an article for some fashionable magazine, one might of been reading phrases such as ‘rustic’ when talking about this dish. I am not going to insult anyone’s intelligence with cheap words, what we have here a dish that really is homemade, the cottage pie came in a dish filled with beef mince, chunky onions slices and chunks of carrots, it was topped with mashed potato covered with a thin sprinkling of cheese. It was all perfectly acceptable and most definitely made at home or rather in the café. If I was being picky I would say that it was a bit bland (perhaps a little harsh but honest) and needed some seasoning, but those of you who know me well, know that I still believe that salt and pepper is on the table for a reason, that being to allow the diner to add it according to their own taste. I added what I needed and it was then just as I like it, perhaps not as you like it, but then again this was my lunch so each to their own. Some days I like to add ketchup or ‘Lea and Perrins’ Worcester sauce to my pie, but not always, so I was happy to get a blank canvas to work upon. I mixed my peas into the pie to add a little more variation, and that worked for me.

The best bit though were the chips, hand cut and cooked freshly just for my lunch these were really good. The word frozen was nowhere in sight, pre-cooked and heated up? I don’t think so. These are some of the best chips I have had for a while in a Nottinghamshire café, and I can honestly say that I would come back here just for those chips. Egg and Chips is starting to look good right about now, and I may well end up thinking about such a plateful while pondering my next food hunt and most certainly when walking along the main street through Ruddington.

I was quite happy with this lunch-time food hunt through the village of Ruddington. It was good value for some home cooked food and a drink for just under £6, and the added bonus is that I have really good ‘go-to’ café for a plate of chips when I just really need one. Bliss!

Another Great Nottingham StrEAT event – at the Galleries of Justice for LightNight

Nottm StrEAT at GOJ

StREAT sign at GalleryStrEAT at the gallery of justice

This past Friday night Nottingham StrEAT were being hosted by the Galleries of Justice in Nottingham as part of the Nottingham Light Night activities. This was billed as a ‘family friendly night of entertainment to Celebrate Light Night’, judging by the crowd we saw during the evening it seemed to be the case with a lot of families there as well as a lot of people like ourselves who just wanted a bit of street food and a beer.

inside StrEAT at GOJ

The advertising for the night had promised us ‘Street food & music in the Courtyard’, ‘Real Ale Bar in the Reform School’, ‘Terror Tours in the Galleries of Justice Museum‘ and ‘Surprises in the cells of the old Edwardian Police Station’

We did our best to take advantage of the first two options, how did we get on?

Pork Cob chalkboardPizza Chalkboard

As soon as we entered the corridor to the courtyard our eyes were pulled through towards the street food by some chalk board action. Roast Pork? Fresh Hot Pizza? what to choose first? should we just check everything out first or just dive in? Yep you called it, we just dived in.

We adopted a two pronged attack ordering a pizza which we knew would take a while to cook and then going back to Silvio’s to get an interim Pork Cob. It was a perfect and well practised solution.

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Roast Event

Silvio's Roast PorkSilvio's Board

We had to walk past Silvio’s Pig Roast at his Roast Event stand to get to the courtyard. He had done well with a prime spot as you entered. I am going to suggest that almost everyone will have sampled some of his delicious pig treat. The pork meat was really juicy and there was a nice herbiness to the gravy juice. The bun had a decent amount of meat interspersed with chunks of crackling, and it was good crackling as well, the sort that you can crunch as opposed to the sort that breaks your teeth. It was a good sized bite, and also a fair price at just £3.50. Roast Event bill themselves as ‘hog roast, pig roast and game specialists with over 20 years experience of catering, from fine dining to BBQs’ You can follow them for more information on Twitter and on Facebook

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Spectacular Goat Street Emporium

Spectacular PizzaSpectacular Goat Card

We were most excited to try some of the wood fired pizza from the Warwickshire based Spectacular Goat ‘Street Food Emporium’. Their website had promised pizzas ‘with a sourdough base and our secret recipe tomato sauce’. We had seen that they were going to be here serving some ‘freshly cooked wood fired pizza in their woodburning oven’ a Neopolitan style we understood and so we had ‘booked’ a little room in our stomach to sample their fare.

The BradThe Brad

The menu listed their options for the night as the “Marge” which was a pizza topped with Mozzarella & Tomato with Basil, it was described as “The Queen of Pizza! This Lady is the Queen of Simplicity…Mozzarella and Basil’ and also the “Brad” which was more simply described as “Hot Sausage covered with Cheese”.

They also had the slightly more advanced offerings of the “Cousin Billy Bob” a pizza described as “Delicious Goats Cheese mixed with Mozzarella and topped with Roasted Butternut Squash and Maple Syrup Roasted Bacon” and the “Aunt Mabel”, they told us that “This Lady is sweet and full of flavour” it was essentially  ‘caramelised butternut squash, creamy goats cheese and toasted pine nuts, finished with fresh rocket’ .

The last pizza option on offer was the “Buddha” which was ‘one with everything’ (not sure about that last one).

Spectacular Goat Pizza

The Cousin Billy Bob

We had the ‘Brad‘ and the ‘Cousin Billy Bob’. Both were excellent, the Brad was nice and simple with the spicy sausage and tomato topping lightly covering the excellent base. The star of the Cousin Billy Bob was the butternut squash and the goats cheese, it surprised me, I would not have chosen those toppings, but you know what? they totally worked. The squash added sweetness and an almost peanut butter texture (the kids would love this) and the goats cheese, a creamy saltiness. Add to that you had the bits I knew I would choose and like; the maple bacon, the mozzarella and the tomato sauce. These were all great as well, “What a combination – More please!”

Price wise it was good and fair with both small and large available (small is good when you want to try everything at the event). The ‘Marge‘ and the ‘Brad‘ were £3.50/£6, the ‘Aunt Mabel’ and the ‘Cousin Billy Bob’ for £4/£7. Check them out on Twitter and on Facebook

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Big Daddies Diner

Big Daddies Diner

I like the hot dogs from Big Daddies Diner, it was down to the StrEAT team that I was given my first chance to sample their fare when I had a hot dog at an earlier event (Read more here). They had a good location at the Gallery of Justice event and seemed to be proving as popular as ever which made us happy to see. They are a fixture and feature across Nottingham and that is also pleasing as I like to know that there is a good hot dog on offer somewhere in my local food hunting circuit, more pleasing is that everyone else in the city has the opportunity to eat their hot dogs!

Big Daddies Diner Board

I was interested to see that “The Edna” came with a topping of homemade chilli made with Brewdog Hardcore IPA. Over the last months I have seen that Big Daddies has been linking up on certain nights with BrewDog in Nottingham. To my mind this is a perfect combination, I have thought for some time that just due to the name “BrewDog” that “dogs” should be their food offering of choice. If it was me I would be getting a local butcher to make up ‘hot dog’ sausages made using the BrewDog beer. I know some people guys :-) or I might put a bid in myself to supply. Not for the first time I have digressed badly so lets get back to the StrEAT event. Big Daddies was going strong all night and when we popped back at about 10.15pm they were still serving, well done for having enough food to last the night! Follow then on Facebook for more information and check their website as well.

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Eat Good Real Food

Eat Good

I was also pretty keen to try some of the food on offer at the Eat Good stall, a Nottingham based Carribean Food Catering Specialist. They had all sorts of pots on the go and I was poking my nose into all of them to see what there was. According to the StrEAT site, Eat Good were going to be serving up such goodies as  ‘Fried/Steamed Fish with Rice and Veg’, ‘Curried Veg and Sweet and Sour Veg’, ‘Ackee and Saltfish’, ‘Dumplings‘ and ‘Saltfish fritters’. I am sure that the guys at the stall gave them much more exciting descriptions as they showed me all of their dishes.

Fried FishAckee and Saltfish

Curried VegFritters

I had a portion of the spicy fried fish for just £2.50. It was really excellent the fish was moist, the crumb was crisp and there was a nice spice hit that came into the palate after a short moment. This was the first time that I had met up with Eat Good and it will be interesting to try some more of their offerings in the future. You can find them on Twitter.

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Victoria Creperie

Victoria Creperies

If you wanted something sweet you could not have gone too far wrong if you had tried one of the homemade pancakes or ‘crepes’ from Victoria Creperie. They were doing a roaring trade selling both sweet and savoury pancakes.

Creperie Sign

We were tempted by the White chocolate crepe for £3, and the Nutella and Banana for £3.50, and I don’t think that we were the only ones. There was a steady stream of people lining up for a crepe treat while we looked on. For more information and see where else they will be in the near future hunt them down on their Twitter feed and Facebook Page.

More StrEAT GOJ

I don’t know if you have been to any of the other Nottingham StrEAT events? We have been to a few and they have all been great fun and an excellent opportunity to get your hands on good food and drink (usually from Flipside Brewery). Even before we embarked on this adventure we had a feeling it was going to be a good one. The Galleries of Justice was the perfect location, all the stalls were tucked away into the courtyard nestling in between the reformatory buildings and the old police station. Even at the start the crowds were starting to build and by the end there were still a fair amount of people hanging on eating the last bits of food and supping the end of the beer.

Nottingham StrEAT

If you want to ensure you don’t miss the next events then I recommend that you keep an eye on the TigerTalk website and follow them on Twitter where they keep you up to date with what is coming up and often what is in progress.

Lady Bay Cafe is well worth a look – “It’s a wrap!”, a chicken wrap that is.

Lady Bay Cafe

This week I was driving through Lady Bay in West Bridgford on a lunch time food hunt and I found the Lady Bay café on Trent Boulevard, number 147 to be exact. There was not a lot of easy parking outside, but there was plenty on the side streets. Outside there were a few bench type picnic tables and as it was a sunny lunchtime I pondered sitting outside alfresco, but in the end I was in a bit of a rush so I went inside to seek out a take away option.

If this had been a day when I was exceptionally hungry or perhaps one when I was slightly worse for wear following a previous evening on the town food hunting then I might, and I just stress might, have opted for “The Full Monty” for £5. The printed menu on the wall by the counter, tells us that this is a plate comprising of ‘Two slices of bacon, sausage, two eggs (I assume fried), mushrooms, hash browns, black pudding, beans, tomatoes, all accompanied with a choice of toast or fried bread.’ On another day and with an empty stomach I may well find the desire to return to partake of this particular plate

Inside lady bay cafe

So what were my other options? I ‘could’ have chosen one of the well priced general options from the lists of Jacket Potatoes, Toasties, Omelettes, Burgers, or Chip options. Just to give you an idea of costs, ‘chips and beans’ is just £2, ‘chips and two eggs’ is £2.20, a ‘plain jacket potato with butter’ just £1.80, or with cheese or beans you will need to stump up £2.60.

In hindsight and after some contemplation I felt that I should have tried one of their egg based dishes. Why? well it had a lot to do with a small chalk sign on the counter top that related the story of the provenance of the café eggs. I should have taken a picture, but instead I will paraphrase and tell you that all their eggs come from a local supplier, a chicken farm, free range, organic, and woodland based. I should have just had a fried egg on toast. Sadly to my own personal detriment I did not take up that chance. Perhaps another day.

Lady Bay Cafe Specials Board

In the end and despite all of my considered thoughts I took a glance, a long lingering glance, at the Lady Bay Café Specials Board. I always like to take a chance on the daily special, even though I know that these are usually the lost leaders, or a way of using up the items that you cannot shift. Today though I was taking a leap of faith, I liked the chalk work with each item surrounded with a cartoon thought bubble. I also liked the sound of all three items on the board. I did for one moment consider ordering a ‘Fish Finger Sandwich’ for £2.70 and admit to being a big kid at heart, but I did not. I could have been really safe if I ordered a Roast Pork Cob for £2.90. But instead I went for the chicken, already working in the tagline ‘It’s a wrap’ to the post.

Chicken wrap

I really have to be truthful and say that I was not expecting too much when I ordered the Chicken Wrap but I should have had more faith. It had everything that I needed, some lightly spiced crispy coated chicken, tomato and lettuce with mayo, and a big well filled wrap. You got plenty of bang for your buck and even though it was a big beast of a wrap, it felt pretty healthy and well balanced. From the first bite to the last you got a bit of everything with each mouthful. I am quite glad that I made this choice

As I noted at the top the Lady Bay Café is in Lady Bay, West Bridgford at  147 Trent Boulevard. The menu is more in line with your standard greasy spoon, but I give them extra points for the whole back story on the egg front and I know that I will be coming back for an omelette, a fried egg, possibly some scrambled eggs or something similar. ‘What came first? The chicken or the egg?’ well today it was the chicken, tomorrow it may be the egg.