The Hawksley – Hamburger and a Pint

The Hawksley

The Hawksley on Derby Road is another one of the Nottingham City Centre pubs that features part of the cave system. It is right next to the Hand and Heart pub which we have visited before that has a restaurant inside the caves. Here at the Hawklsey the pub kind of adjoins the sandstone and there are nooks and crannies where it touches the caves. It did smell a bit ‘cave-like, when we walked in and it was not as full of punters as its neighbour. For a brief moment we wondered whether to move on down the hill, but then we saw the Castle Rock Harvest Pale pump on the bar so we knew that all was well and decided to stay a while.

We got a pint and went up into the outside gallery which is right up against the sandstone. Its a pretty nice spot but all you can see is cliff and roof. the outside air and sunlight is within grasp but not sight. Lets be honest though it is better than being inside unless of course this is where all the smokers congregate? I suspect it might be when it is busy, damn never thought of that, why do they get the best outside bits?

Hawksley Hamburger

Well we had our pint of beer and so now we needed some food. There was a limited but all encompassing menu chalkboard offering your standard bar food with a hint of it being home cooked. If it hadn’t been hot I might have had the homemade pie or chicken curry type of situation, but instead knowing full well what may lay in store I opted for a hamburger.

This was not the most amazing hamburger in the world but as a pub hamburger it was perfectly acceptable. I liked the fact that when we ordered them one of the two ladies behind the bar went off upstairs to cook it for us to order. I don’t think that thee is a steady stream of people coming in for food, but when they do they seem to get a friendly greeting and the personal touch.

On the plate you got a really hearty freshly chopped up salad with good crunchy fresh lettuce, slices of red pepper, some red onion and a bit of tomato. Inside the burger you also got a slice of tomato and a large lettuce leaf, plus a slice of cheese on top of a basic burger meat patty. The chips were of the oven baked or frozen variety, and they were those ‘steak-type’ ones, not that bad, but I didn’t eat them all.

You know what I liked eating here at the Hawkley. I might not have chosen well off the menu, but I got what I needed from my burger and I liked the fact that I was gently told off for not eating all of my salad. It is those sort of homely touches that make a place your local.

The Hawksley is located at 69-73 Derby Road in Nottingham. It is just about a 10 minute walk up the hill from the Old Market Square and a couple of minutes down the hill from Canning Circus. We suggest adding it onto a pub crawl in the are including the Hand and Heart next door, and the three pubs at Canning Circus; The Sir John Borlase Warren, The Falcon Inn, and The Organ Grinder

 

The Canning Circus Circuit – Three Great Pubs for a mini pub crawl

If you head up to Canning Circus where the A610 from out of the city centre splits into Alfreton Road, Derby Road, and Ilkeston Road you will find a nice little grouping of three really well supplied pubs full of Real Ale pumps. This is a perfect group for a mini-pub crawl. It is just a short bus ride away from the Old Market Square and about a 10-15 minute walk. I recommend getting a bus (Take the 28 or 30 on the Pink Line, or the 34, 37 0n the Orange Line, or any of the buses on the Turquoise line)

Lets have a little look at what you might find. No apologies if it makes you feel thirsty

The Sir John Borlase Warren

The Sir John Borlese Warren

We first came up to Canning Circus on a food (and beer) hunt during the summer and at that time we were working our way along the Route to Real Ale. The Sir John Borlase Warren was one of the pubs in that guide. Back then it had just reopened after refurbishment and we had a fine time supping upon a pint of the Everards Sunchaser beer which is described by Everards as “a thirst-quenching beer made in the style of a continental lager”. Since then it has closed and re-opened again. We came up here again to sample beers on the Canning Circus Circuit and we popped in to see how it was faring.

We had a couple of nice pints from Oakham Ales , I like their beer if you can see them try the Scarlet Macaw which they describe as “Tart gooseberry and soft peach on the nose. Gooseberries and fruit to taste, before an intense bitterness that’s as sharp as a macaw’s screech!”  They have a ‘Meet the brewer’ night coming up at the pub on the 9th July.  We also sampled some beer from the ‘Funfair Brewery’    I think it was the ‘Dive Bomber’ which they say is a ‘straw coloured premium refreshing ale…. it goes well with spicy food’

I think what we are trying to say is that they serve some pretty good beers here

Bar Snack Menu at the Sir John Borlese Warren

On the food front at the moment they are just serving some simple bar snacks such as Pork Pies and a Cheese platter. I understand that in the near future they will start serving meals and there was even some talk of a pizza oven being brought in. So on the food side there may be some interesting times ahead.

The Falcon Inn

The Falcon Inn

The Falcon Inn is a mere 25yards or so away from the Sir John Borlase Warren in total stumbling distance. If you are walking between the two do not bother putting your coat on you won’t feel the benefit. I have already written about this pub on the blog in “The Falcon Inn – Wood Fire, Good Beer, and Pulled Pork“. Since then they have stopped doing food on a regular basis but they are doing a Sunday Lunch. If you are planning for food then you could take a chance as the situation seems to change a lot

Food Options at The Falcon Inn

At the moment they are serving up a couple of bar snacks, when we walked in this last week they were serving Crusty Cheese Cobs for £1.75 and I was happy to see that they were still selling the Falcon Scotch Eggs for £2.75. I would recommend trying one of their homemade scotch eggs with your pint. I hear that they are worth the trip up the hill on their own!

On the beer front they are a free house and seem to have 8 or so pumps with real ale. There always seems to be a few from the Lincoln Green brewery, I favour the ‘Marion’ which is a refreshing pale ale and not too strong, they describe it as ‘A full bodied pale ale with citrus aroma and a hint of grapefruit’

The Organ Grinder

The Organ Grinder

After you exit the Falcon stay on the same side of the road and walk along Alfreton Road for about 100yds and you will find yourself at the door of The Organ Grinder. This pub is a great place to meet up and drink a lot of that excellent beer from the Blue Monkey Brewery

Food options at the Organ Grinder

There is a pretty limited selection of food at the Organ Grinder but that is fair enough. You really shouldn’t be heading up here looking for food you should just be concentrating on trying as many of those Blue Monkey Beers as you possibly can. On their website they say that “We have up to nine cask ales on the bar.  Most are from Blue Monkey, with the occasional great guest beer”. Inside they have a big chalkboard and it usually contains a lot of Blue Monkey Action. The Blue Monkey Brewery is based locally on the Giltbrook Industrial Park in
Giltbrook (close to Ikea off the A610). They have many beers that we like, if we could only pick a few then it would be (in no particular order) BG Sips, Infinity, and Marmoset. The good thing is that you can usually get all three at the Organ Grinder

“There is a lot of good beer to be found at Canning Circus and plenty of bar snack type food to keep you safe while you sup. It really is worth moving off the well worn track in the city centre just a short way away to sample their fares and wares. Give it a go!” @myfoodhunt

 

Featuring some of the Best of Notts Streetfood – A little bit more Porco

Porco Streetfood

Have you tried

I was walking across Slab Square on Friday after work when I saw this chalk board sign asking passers by ‘Have you tried our amazing Porchetta and Pulled Pork Sandwiches or Boxes??”. I looked to my right to see the lovely Porco Streetfood stall and mentally said ‘Yes I have and it was jolly good as well.!!

My stroll was thus interrupted and I was drawn towards the stall with the aim of acquiring a small snack of Porchetta to sustain me on the rest of my stroll towards the pub.

Porco Menu

I have met up with Porco on a number of occasions and I have never been disappointed. The first time I met them was also in the Old Market Square and I wrote about that meeting last year on the blog back in July 2013 (Read More here). The next time I told you all about them was when they were at the launch of the Nottingham StrEAT in November when they were one of the featured traders at the evening Bistro event (Read about that here).

I was so excited and delighted at the same time to get my hands on that Porchetta sandwich that I felt implored to Tweet it out!

 

The next day I was feeling peckish and as I knew that they would be in the square I popped back to get another Porchetta sandwich and one of their Slow Cooked BBQ Pulled Pork sandwiches. I concede that may well have been slightly greedy of me, but I had one for breakfast and one for lunch. OK so maybe I did eat breakfast and lunch at about the same time. You really cannot blame me for this as their sandwiches are just so goddam good, it is almost a crime not to overindulge at any reasonable opportunity.

Porchetta Sandwich

porchetta

I love Jez Poyser’s Porchetta so much that I had to go back again as already noted just to eat another sandwich. I have talked about this so many times now I fear that you may think I am on the Porco Streetfood Payroll. That isn’t the case at all, but I will admit that I would love to find myself behind that counter dealing that joy to the local Porchetta fans. Some time ago Jez told me how he makes the Porchetta and I have already posted that last July but just because I can I will post it again

“I take a whole middle – belly and loin (Free range Duroc from Woodside Farm, Wellow) and remove the spine and ribs, leaving the rib meat attached. Onto the meat side I add maldon sea salt, a toasted spice blend of fennel seeds, black pepper and a smidgen of chilli flakes. Then I sprinkle with finely grated lemon zest and finally layer generously with a paste composed of rosemary, sage, thyme, garlic and olive oil. I roll, tie and leave to cure overnight before running it through with the spit on the market square the following morning and letting the rotisserie work it’s magic.”

12 Hour Smoked Pulled Pork Shoulder

BBQ Pulled Pork at Porco

I honestly am torn as to which of their main offerings I like the most. Their 12 Hour Smoked Pulled Pork Shoulder which they say they cook in ‘true Texas style, slow cooked over hickory chips until it falls apart into moist strands of smoky, juicy, melt in the mouth gorgeousness.’ does exactly what it says in the description. It is very succulent, has a nice smoky flavour and really is very juicy in the most gentle of ways. They offer a choice of having it served with their own home made slaw, BBQ sauce and a choice of house pickles (cucumbers, red onion, shiitakes), either in a box  or piled onto a fresh white roll. I had mine on a roll. In the past I have never been much of a fan of ‘slaw’ or of ‘pickles’, but I tell you this much. Their slaw is to die for and as for the pickled shitakes? they are something else altogether. They are so good that they sell them on there own for £2.50, and if I hadn’t just eaten two sandwiches I would have bought a box of those as well!

For upcoming events and more information about Porco Streetfood check out their website and Follow them on Twitter

In the near future you can find them at the newly refurbished Star Inn in Beeston where they will be feeding the folks at the Ale & Cider Festival on the 29th June, and they will be at the Taste of Rushcliffe event on the 5th July in West Bridgford on Central Avenue.

You can find them alongside the Lions in Nottingham’s Old Market Square at the Nottingham Regional Fine Food Market on the 3rd Friday and Saturday of each month. Just like I just did in June

Grosvenor Pub Grub

The Grosveor Pub

The Grosvenor Pub at 291-293 Mansfield Road has quite some history behind it. A pub has been on this corner since the early part of the 19th Century when it was known as the Blacks Heads Inn. In 1873 it was renamed the Grosvenor Hotel when it was bought by John Robinson who was the founder of Home Brewery. Locally it was then known as the Squires largely due to the stabling of horses from the nearby Forest Racecourse. In the 1990’s the name was changed to the Grosvenor Pub, these days it is a John Barras pub.

I am not a massive fan of the big pub chains, but these days with so many pubs closing day by day I have to mellow somewhat as it is often the only way some of these pubs get to stay open.

Inside the Grosvenor

Inside Grosvenor there are the usual televisons showing sport (at the moment the World Cup in Brazil) but they are not as intrusive as you might think in comparison with a number of the city centre pubs. The pub itself sprawls around with rooms leading into rooms, despite my cynical misgivings I quite like the layout. It also helped that they have a fair offering on the beer front with the locally loved Castle Rock Harvest Pale being there on the pump to soothe my beer soul.

All Day Breakfast Offer Grosvenor

I am going to be honest, I didn’t plan to eat here and it really was a case of reaching that point of the evening where it was here or nowhere ‘until the pubs close’. So it was as case of checking out the menu looking for something that was not likely to involve too much microwave or freezer action (just my misgivings on chain pubs there not a comment on how they cook stuff here). It seemed that the All Day Breakfast Offer from the ‘Pub Classics’ section of the menu was offering us the best option. It was 2 plates for £9 and that was going to give us “Two rashers of bacon, two fried eggs, two Boroughbridge sausages, mushrooms, grilled tomato, Heinz™ baked beans and chips, served with toast and butter” for our outlay of nine English pounds.

All Day Breakfast at the Grosvenor

When the actual All Day Breakfast arrived I was half way through my pint of Harvest Pale, my third pint of the evening and I had moved beyond my food snobbery mindset and was pretty hungry. It is a simple but filling affair, there is not enough plate space for all the food, so you cannot complain about quantity. The sausages were not too bad, not as cheap as some places and they did have a nice herby flavour and were almost meaty. The bacon and the eggs were perfectly acceptable and the toast was, well the toast was toast what can you actually say about that. The beans and the mushrooms were a bit overcooked and the chips had seen better days. Did I eat them? well yes I did, but it would be a bit dishonest for me to say anything else about them when you can see exactly what I just said about them just by looking at them in the picture. As for the grilled tomato? we didn’t eat that.

How can I sum this up? I like the beer, I like the pub layout, the locals seem to be making use of the place and I sensed it was an actual local. As for the food, well it filled me up and was reasonable value. I wouldn’t be bringing my Mum here for Mothers Day or a special dinner, but if I was out and about in the area on some sort of pub crawl situation and just needed something ‘safe’ to help me along, well then this place might just work on that day.

Long Island American Diner – Bottle of 312 and a Decent Burger (Bogart style)

American Diner Sign

Long Island American Diner at the Long Island bar and night club on Market Street opened in mid May, as the name suggests they are selling ‘American Diner’ food. On their Facebook page they ask  “Want a taste of the American life? Why not come down to Long Island’s American Diner” and then give a flavour of their menu emploring you to
Come along and try our delicious American food from corn dogs, burgers, steaks, ribs, hot dogs and milkshakes and plenty more!”

Long Island Nottingham

There are two floors in Long Island an upstairs and a downstairs, the upper floor has retained it’s use as a night club served by an entrance just 15 or so feet up the hill, while the ‘Diner’ is based in the lower bar of the building and is open in the day serving food until late evening. We headed over with somewhat open minds to see what they had on offer and sample some of their food.

  Goose Island 312 to drink

Goose Island 312

Well the experience got off to a good start when we found that they sell Goose Island 312 beer at the Diner. This now means that we have found 6 places in the city that serve our favourite Craft Beer tipple from my adopted US home town of Chicago. For the record those places are Hopology, Watson Fothergills, Bunkers Hill, The Bell and sometimes the Lincolnshire Poacher. That is just about enough for a new Goose Island 312 pub crawl post!  Finding the 312 was a total bonus as were not expecting much beer joy here and had almost resigned ourselves to getting a couple of diet cokes.

Long Island Menu

Finding that 312 did mean that we were distracted from the Food Menu for a while, but that was fine the place wasn’t that busy so we were oit in any kind of rush to order and they seemed quite relaxed about it. The menu had a few American Diner classics on it as one my expect based on the theme. What we want to know though was is it just a theme?

Some Menu items

One unexpected classic dish on offer was the Fried Chicken & White Gravy. I have had this in the states a few times and had variations of it, where they often call it ‘Country Fried Steak’ this is a Southern Classic and usually is made from a chicken cutlet that has been coated with seasoned flour and pan-fried in Chicken fat. It is a bit like a wiener snitzel or if you have had Chicken Milanese? well its like that without the tomato sauce. It comes with a thick white gravy, which for us Brits is more like a creamy white sauce. It’s pretty nice often I have had a sausage gravy which is a thick white sauce with crumbed sausage meat. Trust me this is all good, and the best part is that you often have this for breakfast or brunch. It is real comfort food.

Burger Options

Burgers

In the end though we were just feeling hungry and not particularly adventurous so we started to check out the Burger section of the menu.

H.Bogart Burger

Humprey Bogart Burger

I opted for the H. Bogart Burger mainly because it was topped with a Fried Egg, but the other toppings of Smoked Bacon, Chorizo, and Black Pudding also whet my appetite as I really like all four of those toppings a lot and I was really curious to see if they all would work in combination. I kind of knew that they would as I often stick them all into an omelette back at home.

Bogart Burger Profile

Slice of Bogart Burger

I cut through my Burger so that it was easier to get hold of to eat, and also to release that yummy egg yolk. Looking at the ‘Bogart Burger Profile’ you can see that you get a pretty decent layer of black pudding sandwiched in between the fried egg and the chorizo. The lettuce element of the sandwich was positioned quite perfectly in a structural sense to stop too much juice seeping into the lower bun slice thus preventing bun sogginess. Having said that the egg yolk seepage into the top bun on the first bite or slice is an epic fail, but one that my chin and I were happy enough to take a chance upon and to be honest it was kind of self inflicted.

The verdict on the burger was that it is a fair effort. I like the combination of toppings, I like the softness of the brioche type bun, but it doesn’t need to have a funny name. I cant find any link between Bogart and this Burger, but what’s in a name anyway. I suppose it is slightly better than Burger 4 or Burger D. I would eat this combination again, but not sure if I would have another burger at Long Island, instead I might try something in the non-burger sections of the menu.

F. Sinatra Burger

Burger

My accomplice on this occasion chose the F. Sinatra Burger which was to come with toppings of ‘our bourbon BBQ sauce’, Jack Cheese and Smoked Bacon. It was declared to be quite decent. Not as good as some other well known burger joints in the city, but a fair effort and they said that they would eat one again. The good thing is that these are fair sized but not ridiculously sized burgers, so you can eat one and still be able to move.

Diner Girl Cartoon

I know that it is not a ‘real’ American Diner but I thought that they had themed the place out quite well and its a good place to bring your family in here early on in the day. I don’t know what it would be like later in the evening when the drinkers arrive or of it stays just as a diner downstairs. It might not be quite the same experience. Would I come back? well yes, possibly to try out their mac and cheese, a hot dog, or maybe that Country Fried Chicken dish I was talking about.

The Long Island American Diner is located at 26 – 28 Market Street just a short walk down from the Royal Centre Tram stop or a short walk up from the Old Market Square Tram Stop. You can follow them on Twitter and on Facebook to get up to date event information.

PS on Burger Naming (just for fun) – Too much Google Alert 

dean-martin-frank-sinatra-recipe

Back on the naming of burgers front, while I was looking to see if there ‘really’ was a Dean Martin,  Frank Sinatra, or H. Bogart recipe for a burger or even a list of their favourite toppings, I came across several stories about original recipes. In 1966, Dean Martin contributed a burger recipe to The Celebrity Cookbook, which was a collection of recipes by celebrities put together by Dinah Shore. Then apparently sometime in 2010 the Sinatra version appeared to go viral across the web, although the story is supposed to be a hoax it made me laugh at the reality of what they would really have wanted from a burger. Not sure that you could include Frank’s recipe on a Family Friendly Diner Menu.

 

 

 

A Nice Indian Meal at 4500 Miles From Delhi – but not that far away for us on Maid Marian Way

4500 candle

4500 Miles from Delhi is located up on Maid Marion Way on the intersection with Mount Street. It is kind of Indian Resturant corner up there with some other well known local Indian Restuarants sitting side by side including MemSaab and The Calcutta Club. However, if you visit all three you will find that they each serve up quite distinctive food and cuisine.

4500 Miles from Delhi tell us that it is a ‘contemporary Delhi restaurant’. I find it to be quite a relaxing place to eat and has quite an informal atmosphere. Their website say that it has a ‘unique theatre kitchen and stylish décor’ If you are seated in the back room next to the open kitchen you can watch the chefs rustle up your meal.

I have had many happy dining experiences here and on occasion have spotted the odd celebrity the one that made the best story was when we saw Jesse from the Fast Show played by Mark Williams, or as he is better recognised these days as Ron Weasley’s Dad in Harry Potter. On the Fast  Show he would pop out of his shed or was it his outhouse to inform us that ‘…this week I ave mostly been eating…‘ For months after we would just mimic that line with whatever curry dish we had been eating at 4500 Miles from Delhi.

But more importantly what were we eating?

The Tandoori Mixed Sizzler

Mixed Kebab Platter

We fancied quite a few of the different starters and I quite fancied some of the Tandoori Grill options and so we opted for the Tandoori Mixed Sizzler for £13.95 which contains 5 items that you can order individually on their own as well from the menu.

The items on the platter and descriptions were as follows;

Chicken Hariyali £4.95 (Bite sized chicken tikka cooked in specially imported charcoal ovens marinated in Coriander , mint and raw mangoes)

Gilafi Seekh Kebab £4.50 (The traditional seekh of lamb mince with distinct flavours, creating an extraordinary play of tastes.)

Lasooni Chicken £3.95 (Marinated overnight in yogurt flavoured with garlic, ginger , and spices and cooked in clay oven)

Achaari Boti Tikka £4.95 (Tender Lamb pieces marinaded with pickles)

Salmon Tikka £5.95 (Chunks of pink Scottish salmon matured in a rich spicy marinade of dill, fennel, ginger , honey and a trace of mustard oil, and then roasted in the tandoor)

Starter

If I am honest this was too much meat and starter even for two people sharing, but it was a really good way to try out the different starters as ordering a plate of each item would cost you about £24. I would probably order just a few dishes to share next time instead of the whole platter. I liked the Chicken Hariyali best. The flavour of the mint and coriander on the Chicken Hariyali was so tangy and pronounced that it made my mouth water or rather it got the juices flowing really well. It is a visually striking dish as well with the whole piece of chicken smothered in green mint and coriander (good job I like both). This dish also brought back memories of a few months that I spent working in HiTech city in Hyderabad, there was a restaurant in Madhapur called Ginger Court where they served all sorts of tandoor and meat on skewers up on their roof top terrace including a less green version of this dish. While we dined we used to joke that we were about 4500 miles from Nottingham.

Chicken Malabar

curry

When it came to the main courses we picked a couple and then planned to share them. I chose the Chicken Malabar which was described on the menu as ‘An aromatic Keralean dish, flavoured with coconut, chilies, tamarind, curry leaf, mustard seeds’. It looked very appetising in the serving bowl with the coconut and other sauce swirled into it was as if there was some sort of Curry Barista back there in the kitchen working his magic on the bowl. It certainly was an aromatic dish and a lot of the delicious smell was coming from the curry leaves which are a key ingredient. The gravy is mildly spicy tempered slightly by the addition of the coconut. The dish originates from Malabar island in the coastal region of Northern Kerela where coconuts feature prevalently in the local cuisine. Kerala was a stopover on the spice routes and so the local cuisine evolved with the different traders that passed through and as a result there is a prominent Arab influence in the cuisine of the region which probably accounts for the mild spiciness of the gravy.

I really like this dish and I could almost be inspired to try and make it myself.  I shouldn’t really make the comparison, but this dish has a similar background and taste profile to one of my go to home curry recipes from Jamie Oliver in his ‘Happy Days with the Naked Chef ‘cookbook, which also focuses on the use of those curry leaves. Both are well worth making

Lamb Dhansak

Main Courses

For our second choice we opted for the Lamb Dhansak described as a ‘Lamb and Lentils dish, with the tastes of India in every bite’ Typically a Dhansak is made by cooking lamb or mutton with a mixture of different lentils (arhar dal, bengal gram or chana dal, red masoor dal and brown masoor dal). I am no lentil expert so I cannot confirm if they were all in the dish but all I can say is that it had a kind of creamy texture like a thick soup. The rest of the gravy was made up with potato and tomato, and I could taste the fenugreek leaves in there as well.

Garlic and Coriander Naan

naan bread

As a side and accompaniment we ditched the rice and just mopped the two dishes up with a Garlic and Coriander Naan Bread, it worked for us and I just mention that so that I can justify sticking a picture in to the post. It makes me both happy and hungry everytime I look at it.

I really like coming to the 4500 Miles from Delhi restaurant on Maid Marian way and have been quite a few times over the years. Apart from the food I like the informal atmosphere and I like the way that they set up the dining area. If you are in a big group they seat you in the middle room on the longer bench like tables, but if you are just in a couple or in a small group they set you in a quieter area where the noise levels are lower and it is more intimated and relaxed.

4500 Miles from Delhi is located on the corner at the join of Maid Marion Way and Mount Street, you can check out the details on their website and also you can follow them on Facebook and on Twitter

 

The Parlour in West Bridgford – Club Sandwich for Lunch

The Parlour

The Parlour in West Bridgford has been open since April and looks to be a welcome addition to the area. I know that there are a lot of bars and cafés on the strip now, but I much prefer to see a more original offering as opposed to just another one of those generic coffee shop chains. I first read about the place in the Nottingham Post back in April and since then I have walked past quite a few times while wandering the Avenue.

Over the past few days while the sun was shining I found myself strolling past and I just fancied popping myself down in their patio garden for a spot of lunch and a cold drink.

 

Sandwich Menu

You probably know by now that I am a total sucker for a Club Sandwich and when I am trying out a new place I will quite regularly base my opinion and decision to return based on that places ability to prepare one.

Here at The Parlour I was happy to see one on the All Day Menu at the top of the ‘Our Tastie Sarnies’ section.

The menu described the ‘Browns Club Sandwich’ as ‘Our Signature Sandwich with Layers of Bacon, Juicy Tomato, Crisp Lettuce, Roasted Chicken Breast, Cheddar Cheese and Boiled Egg‘.  Well it sounds like it has everything in there that I was hoping for and expecting, and it was only £6.25.

Brown’s Club Sandwich

Club Sandwich at the Parlour

 

Ten minutes or so later it turned up and as the waiter walked over with my plate I was getting excited ‘Right then “let the dog see the rabbit”. This was a BIG sandwich, the footer on the menu section chirpily trilled ‘Why not add on a bowl of our fresh made chips for £2.50′. Some how I felt I would not have to take them up on that suggestion

This is an excellently constructed Club Sandwich, with two well balanced layers in a toasted double decker. In the top layer you have their ‘secret sauce’ (its sort of home made tomato sauce), Roast Chicken, Boiled egg, Cheddar cheese and some ‘crisp’ lettuce. In the bottom layer was the thick and solid bacon slice, fresh tomato, and more lettuce, plus I seem to recall a little bit of mayonnaise. Just the right combination.

As much as I liked all of the individual ingredients, I loved them even more in combination, and the toasted slices of bread had just the right amount of char to make them a part of the dish and flavour.

I liked this sandwich and I had only one complaint, and that was that the way it was cut in half which meant that it was a bit more difficult to eat.  I struggled to get my mouth around the sandwich to take a bite. I ended up with quite a bit of sandwich adhering to my chops and cheeks, but you know ‘that was half the fun’. I learnt my lesson quickly and cut the next half into quarters and then it was the perfect size. ‘I know’ I can be fussy, but that is why it is the ‘Club Sandwich Test’.

What else can we eat?

The Main Event Menu at The Parlour

If you wanted something that was even more substantial (not at lunchtime for me) you could select one of the options from the main event section of the menu. There was a whole load of things that I was tempted by, all with those words that just get my juices flowing and my taste buds tingling

‘…Pork Belly…Tuna and Chorizo….Macaroni and Cheese….Braised Beef…um yum!’

I am about to totally surprise myself though and see past all of those staples on the menu. The dish that is calling out to me for my next visit is the ‘Salmon with Courgettes’ for £12.99. This is described as ‘Grilled Salmon and Brioche Coated Courgettes, Water Cress, Salsa Verde, Tomato Salsa and our own Candied Bacon’. Not my usual sort of choice but it sounds great for a summer time outing. Perhaps next time?

The Parlour café is located at 48 3/4 Bridgford Road in West Bridgford  at the city end of the strip. It’s near neighbours include the Stratford Haven, Fire and Ice and the Pearl Bar. The café and bar lounge is part of a small set of outlets that include Brown’s Café, and Browns Bistro and Bar in Mansfield and Newark.

Check them out on Facebook or just pop in for a sandwich or a drink.

Open Farm Weekend at EcoCentre in Screveton this weekend 7th-8th June

I don’t usually do too many promotions or previews of upcoming events, but this week I have made an exception for my beloved EcoCentre in Screveton who are holding an

Open Farm Weekend this Coming Weekend on the 7th and 8th of June.

On their Website they tell us

“Farmeco’s biggest event is Open Farm Weekend, held 7th & 8th June. With FREE entry for both days. After last years success at Open Farm Sunday, we are expanding our event over the weekend with an “Farmeco Open Farm Show” on the Saturday (10.30am to 5pm). With nature walks, tractor & trailer tours to see the farm & animals. Stalls, demonstrations and competitions for all the family to enjoy! Plus Farmeco produced products in our very own “Saturday Kitchen Cafe”.

A Barn Dance will follow on Saturday night (7.30 pm to Mid-night) £12.50 for tickets. This event will host a fantastic local band with drinks and a Farmeco hog roast.

While “Farmeco Open Farm Sunday” will be a relaxing day (11am to 3pm) of nature walks, tractor & trailer rides to see the farm and its animals. Plus food & drinks from our own Kitchen Café.”

So What is Going On this weekend? Lets have a look at the poster

Open-farm-weekend-poster

 

So why am I telling you all about this?

This is the place where I learnt to make bread properly under the guidance of Gail Hooley at the fortnightly bread making group in the EcoKitchen, it was a lot of fun and I have posted the link all about that just below. Many of the people that I have met through the Bread Making Campaign and Friends of the Eco-Centre will be here over the weekend working in the Kitchen Café to keep everyone fed and watered in between events and activities, they will also be manning the Pizza Oven which has been recently completed and I understand that you will be able to make your own pizzas up and then cook them to order with the teams help. Pizza making is one of the activites that the centre does with local schools and groups on a regular basis as they help children in particular to understand the story of where their food comes from. They use locally produced flour for the pizza base, and produce grown on the farm for some of the toppings

So as I said that whole group are going to be ‘really busy’ helping out over the weekend all for the love of the Farm and for the pure joy of the event, so if you can get over to support the centre and their efforts it would be much appreciated by everyone.

If you want to sample some of their baking there may well be cakes to buy and if you like a Cookie? well you will be in luck as the team from the Bread Making Group have been busy making a whole batch especially for your enjoyment.

I am posting some of the pictures when they were trying out the recipes.

cookies_2

I have eaten the cookies in person and they are really worth trying, so much so that I asked Gail if she would share the recipe and very kindly she has let me post it here just for you.

If you don’t have the time to make some don’t worry just jump into your car this weekend and pop over to Screveton to sample one in the Kitchen Café

It may inspire you to bake some yourself and you can also meet some of the friends of the Ecocentre and the community baking group

and who knows perhaps you will find yourself coming along to one of their upcoming baking days?

Oatmeal & Raisin Cookies

Makes about 30 cookies

110g butter, softened
110g caster sugar
110g soft light brown sugar
1        egg
2tbsp  water
1tsp vanilla extract
250g porridge oats
110g self-raising flour
1 level tsp salt
110g raisins

cookies_1
1 Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4

2 Cream the butter in a large bowl or with an electric food mixer until soft. Add the sugars and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add
the egg, water and vanilla extract while still beating. Reduce the speed
and gently mix in the oats, flour, salt and raisins to form a dough. If the dough is too sticky to handle pop it in the fridge for 15 – 20 minutes

3 Using your hands, roll the dough into walnut sized balls and place spaced slightly apart on 2 baking trays (no need to grease or line) press down gently with the back of a fork. If it sticks, wet the fork.

4 Bake in the oven for 15-25 minutes or until light golden brown but still
slightly soft in the centre.

5 Allow to cool on the trays for a couple of minutes, to firm up, before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

cookies_4

VARIATION:

Oatmeal & Chocolate Cookies: chocolate chips can be used instead of raisins.

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What else is going on?

 As well as eating some of the cookies and the pizza’s you can find out all about some of the other activities that the EcoCentre is engaged with.

Seed to Sandwich

seed_sandwich1

One of their popular events that they run is the Seed to Sandwich Day where you can learn all about ‘following the entire Real Bread journey from seed to sandwich’ all the way from growing the wheat, milling the grain, and even through to baking a loaf.

‘Meet the Animals’ and ‘Sheep Shearing’

Lambs

You can meet the animals on both days and on the Saturday they will be Shearing the Sheep. I don’t know if any of these fellows will be getting shorn, but they may well be around although they may be a bit older than when I took this photo. I should not really mention it but every so often they have a butchery course at the centre and these lambs often are the main attraction. I have eaten a few of them, not the whole lamb, just a few chops, and I have to say that they produce very good meat, very tasty, very good value, and produced the right way as well.

Look out for the chickens, they may seem a motley bunch but many of them are rescued and they produce some really great eggs which we often buy from the farm. There is an honesty box near the main entrance and they are really fresh, often laid that same day. You don’t get that in a supermarket where they may be two weeks old, and even local farm shops can be several days old. So if you are driving past have a look.

Ecocenter

I really could have told you so much more, but if I do then maybe you would not need to come to the Open Day to find out more info for yourself. I think it will be a really good weekend, so if you can pop along, I urge you to do so. There will plenty to do for the whole family, and also plenty just for yourself if you want to come along on your own. I have always found everyone here to be really friendly and I won’t name them all, you can meet them yourself when you come over.

Check them out on their website, and you can find them in Screveton this coming weekend at the Open Farm Event

Located at Home Farm, Screveton, Nr Bingham, Notts NG13 8JL

Contact Details and Location Map

 

 

 

The Bridge Sandwich Bar in the Old Toll Booth by the River at Wilford

The Bridge Sandwich BarSandwich Bar Open Sign

Despite being surrounded by tram works and barricades the Bridge Sandwich Bar on the Nottingham side of the Wilford Toll Bridge appears to be alive and kicking. You just need to follow the chalk boards to find your way inside. Hopefully it will not be that long until the Bar is released and the trams start to roll by over the bridge and we can all stroll into the shop easily. Until then though we have to work our way through the maze likes lab rats hunting a lump of cheese.

Toll Bridge List

The Toll Bridge was built in 1870 and in those days it would have cost you 6d to bring your cattle across the bridge between the City and Wilford. These days you can get your meat in a bap from the  Bridge Sandwich Bar which has been located inside the old toll booth since around 2012. I like the idea of paying for a sandwich or a cob as I pass over the bridge as opposed to paying a penny to the toll keeper to be able to drive my cattle into town.

Inside the ladies are a pretty friendly bunch and they are serving up cobs and baps filled with most of the usual suspects

Ham and Cheese Cob

I haven’t tried to be that daring and the first time in I just had a plain old cheese and ham cob on a white bread bun. It was a pretty simple and plain affair. The emphasis seemed to be on value for money and a decent sized cob with plenty of filling. I will not pretend that it was some sort of gourmet affair, It was just a simple ham and cheese cob.

 

Chicken Bacon Mayo Bap

The next time I walked along the embankment to get a sandwich I decided to try something a bit different by ordering up one of their bacon and chicken cobs with mayo. I have tio admit that I was expecting some slices of bacon and some slices of chicken, but instead I got a kind of mayo mix with all that stuff smothered in mayo (perhaps too much). It wasn’t really to my taste, there was something in there that I didn’t really like the flavour of. Perhaps next time I should just stick to a bacon cob, or a chicken cob. Well we live and learn

One of the best features of picking up your sandwich here is the view from the dining area, and by dining area I mean the steps on the embankment down by the river. On a sunny day it is a great place to pause for a moment and even though you sometimes have to battle with a hungry swan or two it is still great to be out amongst the wildlife.

The Bridge Café is in the Old Toll Booth on the Toll Bridge by Wilford on the Meadows side of the river. Soon (well in about a year) you will be able to get here via the tram, but until then you can stroll along the river banks or across the bridge to get here. Basic standard fare and something to sustain you when out on a stroll would be my summary.

 

 

Via Fossa Cask Room – Real Ale and Pizza to go (or stay)

Via Fossa Sign at Front

Via Fossa on the Canal Side in Nottingham has recently been refurbished with the front room that opens out onto Canal Street having been re-launched (is that the right term?) as the Cask Room.  They seem to have split the place into two areas one at the front for the real ale drinkers and the hipster craft beer drinkers (it’s a trend) and one at the back for the lager and Alcopop drinkers, or am I being too stereotypical now? They even have a sign so that you know where to go.

Via Fossa Which way

If I was being cynical I would say that it is just a marketing ploy to attract some of the people who like the real ale and real ale ‘dressed up as craft beer’. It is a bit of a trick as well, a sleight of pub hand, as the old Via Fossa that I was not that keen on is still at the back and carries the John Barras Chain menu. So if you like that kind of thing, well you still have that to look forwards to.

For me though I am staying in the Front half of the Pub.

Cask Room

The Cask Room Bar

I had seen some pictures on the t’internet through Twitter and similar sites with a Harvest Pale pump on the bar, but let’s be honest you can see that Pump all over Nottingham these days (not complaining by the way). Today we had a few different offerings and we opted for a pint of the Speckduckular from the excellent Mallard Brewery which they describe as ‘a refreshing, golden ale full of fruity hops with a malty undertone’. It is a really nice pint and was even better when we combined it with one of the pizza’s that were being served in the Via Fossa Cask Room.

Pizza Americana

Americana Pizza

Ok so it doesn’t look that pretty, but does that matter? what matters is does it taste good? Well I am happy to say that it does taste good. It is really very simple, a little bit of sweet tomato sauce and a few or rather as you can see here 9 pieces of pepperoni. The best part of the pizza is the base, it had a really good char on the bottom and each slice stayed level when picked up (not floppy). It isn’t gourmet or pretending to be, but you know at a price point of £3.95 for a six inch Pizza, this is one hell of a bar snack.

Hawaiian Pizza

Hawaiian Pizza

I really don’t know what to say about this other pizza, the Hawaiian Pizza, I am only mentioning it as my companion chose to eat one. I did have a slice and although it was well structured (as in it had a great crust) I am still of the mind that this is a combination that should be made illegal. Having said that if you like this mix of toppings and that is your vice well this one is a fairly decent representation of the genre, which is a begrudging note that I ate it and was not dismayed. I wouldn’t get a whole one though.

Can I just say that you have to pay £4.15 for this pizza topping, although thinking about it that is fair I consider it a tax of 20p for your choice (seriously)

Menu

Menu

OK so I may have poked a little fun at the menu, but you know at this price you really cannot go too far wrong if you do not overstretch yourself. If you want to push the boat out (and I am not sure if I will do this myself) you could try one of their Calzone’s. Essentially a pizza folded pastie style and filled with toppings (or insidies). You can get a Chicken Alfredo Calzone which is filled with ‘Chicken breast, creamy white sauce, black pepper, Italian style cheese and mozzarella’ for £7.95. Well I like Chicken Alfredo as a dish so ‘maybe’ this could work. The reality is that I would be more tempted and likely to sample the “Italian Meatball Calzone” which as you might expect is a Calzone filled with ‘Italian Meatballs with roasted red peppers, red onions and mozzarella’ for £8.25. Having said that I will have to sample the ‘Mighty Meaty‘ pizza first to test out their meatballs ‘chicken. meatballs, ham, pepperoni, basil, and mozzarella’ for £4,75 (yeh might have to try that one out)

OK so lets ‘cut to the chase’, will I be coming back here? Well yes I will, they have six pumps of real ale and they serve cheap pizza that you can eat and enjoy. Plus it makes for a really short pub crawl between Fellows, Morton, and Clayton, The Canal House which are yards apart, and now this place just another 25 feet away (approx.)

Via Fossa Cask Bar is located at 44 Canal Street in Nottingham