Ugly Bread bakery – Go here and get a pizza (just because)

Ugly Bread bakery

The Ugly Bread Bakery has recently opened up at 39 Pelham Street, sandwiched between the noodle shop and the old bank that now is a pub (you know where I mean). It is just at the top of the street before we drop down into Hockley and looks to be another excellent independent addition to the Food scene in Nottingham. For a couple of weeks I  had walked past on my way to other food hunt spots and had patiently awaited to see what was going to appear from behind the shutters. This week though those shutters were no more and the ‘Ugly Bread Bakery’ had emerged without any pretence of being a swan to feed us good folk of the Town.

Pizza Chalk Board at Ugly Bakery

It was looking good as soon as I saw the chalkboard outside offering Stone Baked Sour Dough base pizzas; “9 inches from £2.45″ OMG “You had me at Pizza“. So OK just for the story I decided I had to try this place out, but lets be honest, both you and I know that I was going inside with or without the magic chalkboard offering. I just cannot resist walking into ‘anywhere new’ and the Ugly Bread Bakery was not about to be the exception to any of my unwritten scoffing rules.

Once inside you are greeted by a couple of large chalkboards behind the counter listing all of their 9 inch pizza combination and their 12 inch combo suggestions. ‘Served in minutes from our pizza oven’ (or something similar) was the message that we were getting as we drooled and contemplated what we should (or perhaps for our waistlines) should not be ordering. Just give me pizza already! On the counter were a whole batch of pizza’s waiting to be chosen to go into the oven, and also stack of sandwiches or were they a Panini type of thing? waiting to jump out and onto your plate. If you didn’t want one of them (how unkind we can be) then you could just choose from the board. I should have taken a photo, but I was in a shy food hunt kind of day when I was just wanting to eat and not be that guy.

I had a quick scan of all the drool worthy offerings and decided to take something simple and yet potentially ‘oh so tasty’ off of the board.

So it came to pass that I was to order a 9 inch Chorizo and Mozzarella opportunity.

9 inch Chorizo and Mozzarella

Chorizo and Mozzarella Pizza

This is where it starts to get real, and I mean real good. I am hoping that the picture does this simple ‘meaty and cheesy sour dough disc of joy’ justice? Now that is a good name for a pizza combination if I ever typed one. It was real simple, thin crisp and slightly charred base, topped with pools of soft and light mozzarella and thin slices of spicy and lightly smoky chorizo. This was ‘so simple yet oh so good’ as a light lunchtime snack. It went down pretty well with my can of diet pop (who was I kidding with that?).

It was enough of a taster to know that I look forward to popping in and trying some of their other combinations, both on the deli counter and from the oven.

 You can check them out on both Twitter and their developing website .

Give them a whirl

“Haddock, Chips, and Mushy Peas please!” at George’s Fish and Chip Kitchen

Georges Fish and Chip Kitchen

George’s Fish and Chip Kitchen in Nottingham is to be I hope a welcome addition to the restaurant dining scene in the city centre. George’s Traditional has been present in and around the city for a while now and has been a pretty reliable place to get your fill of Fish and Chips. If you ask around the ‘town’ (that’s what we locals call it) many people will suggest George’s. I have eaten quite frequently from their takeaway on Melton Road in West Bridgford, and over in the sit down restaurant just outside Chilwell, and have found them both to be pretty good. So when I heard a few months back that a sit down restaurant was opening in the city centre I was kind of getting excited.

The Fish and Chips Section of the Menu

Classic Fish and Chips section

This George’s has a lot more that your basic or classic Fish and Chips on their menu, but having said that, on this first visit I was only ever have been going to order a plate of Fish and Chips. There was a straight menu throw-down between the Cod and the Haddock, but it wasn’t a fair fight as I am a Haddock man, I just love those flaky chunks.

Haddock and Chips at Georges Fish and Chips Kitchen

I had to wait about 15 minutes or so for my plate of Haddock and Chips which wasn’t too bad, but it was a bit weird that the two tables alongside me, who were both there well before I did, all got served at the same time as me. Having said that, I wasn’t complaining as I arrived last, so I think I did quite well there. One side were questioning where their food was when I was reading the menu, which worried me briefly, Once the plates all arrived everyone was tucking in so it was all fine, just early day teething.

It was a deceptively large piece of Haddock, it hung over the edge of the plate width ways and it kind of dwarfed the rather small ‘scoop‘ of chips. Yep you read that correctly, they serve those on the plate in a metal scoop, I didn’t ask why, I was just happy that it wasn’t one of those metal bowls, mini-wire baskets, or enamel cups. To be fair this was a new type of presentation that I hadn’t seem before. Please can we make a rule that we just put everything on a plate normally. (insert ‘smiley face with a raised eyebrow’/or ‘I am actually serious but trying not to be mean comment’). There did not seem to that many chips, but maybe that was because the fish was quiet big? It was a fair piece of Haddock, a bit thin to be honest and coated in a plain batter. Texturally and ‘mouth feel’ wise it was probably a really good batter, as it was nice and flaky and airy, but for me I just needed to add a little bit more, or perhaps, even some seasoning to make it more interesting. Having said that though perhaps a plain batter is good as it then doesn’t detract from the fish that lurks beneath its crispy folds.

The sides or condiments

Condiments at Georges

When that plate arrived, for a brief moment I was going to ask where my sides were, but then I found that my Mushy peas were in a jar on the side of the plate (a very hot jar), as was the tartar sauce and some random pickles. I liked the mushy peas, they were more of a mushy pea sauce than a side of peas, but they went well with that small pile of chips. I liked the tartar sauce as well, I would have liked perhaps a little more, but I did not want to appear greedy. I did not even try the pickles.

Altogether the whole plateful worked really well, I had no real complaints, and also I was totally stuffed. I could not have even contemplated having one of their puddings!

The padstow booth

As I sat I stared over into one of the Beach Hut Booths, which looked to be a much more comfortable dining experience I think that you musty have to reserve on of these. The one directly opposite to me was named Padstow and that brought back some happy memories of eating other Fish and Chip meals, in particular from Rick Stein’s Fish and Chip shop (still some of the best I have eaten). Next time I am getting a booth!

I quite enjoyed my dining experience though here at George’s Fish and Chip Kitchen, it is a great big space and was packed out when I visited at the weekend. It will be interesting to see how the Nottingham Public take to the place. It’s a bit ‘fancy pants’ for some (in a good way), and I would like to think that it would be somewhere to come for a nice treat once in a while.

I will be back myself, and already have plenty of people who want to come with me to try it out

George’s Fish and Chip Kitchen is Located at 13 Queens Street just up from the Old Market Square

 Check them out on Twitter and on Facebook

It is not just about the Fish and Chips, they have a quite extensive menu that I took a few picture off  (just for future planning purposes).

Why not have a look;

More Menu Options

Georges Kitche Faves

 

Sandwiches type things

Meals in a Bun at Georges

The Pie Shop Menu

 pieshop

Mama White’s Pancake Parlour – Bacon and Maple Syrup Pancakes!

Mama Whites Panckae House

Mama White’s Pancake Parlour in Newark was a great find this weekend as we searched for “just a little something” to get us through the afternoon. Would you be surprised if I was about to relate a tale of a lunchtime in Newark when we ate a couple of platefuls of Pancake? I guess not, the tagline of the post kind of says it all does it not?

Looking on their website they advise “Take a 30 minute break from your day to be looked after by Mamma White – whether she cooks you the finest fluffy pancakes, brews you a delicious cup of coffee, flips you a perfect crepe or gives the children their lunch. Everyone needs a Mamma White Moment!”

It sound so American, but let me ease your mind it isn’t.

OK food? Yes I imagine that you want to know about that now

Savoury Menu

Mama White's meu

We were only ever going to be ordering from the Savoury section of the Menu, but even that was up for debate when you consider what it was that I did actually order. The “Crispy Bacon and Maple Syrup” for £5.95 to which I added a ‘Fried egg for just another 50p”

American Pancakes with Baocn and Maple Syrup

So with much surprise at myself it came to pass and this was my plate of “American Pancakes with Bacon and Maple Syrup” a dish that in the past I have ‘shuddered’ at when considering eating. I mean ‘Who?’ would eat bacon! and something sweet!  like maple syrup? Surely that cannot be right? After 7 years living in the states and continually avoiding this combination it was ironic that I was to finally try it a couple of year later in Newark one of the County’s great market towns in a café a thousand miles away from ‘the place most expected to eat it at’

I have to confess though, I kind of liked this combination, and I am also kind of sad that I did not try it when it was available on every street corner in every neighbourhood that I lived in when I was Stateside. It sounds crazy but it isn’t really that sweet, the maple syrup brings an almost toasty honey element to the dish. I had imagined that the bacon was to be the ‘salty’ contrast and maybe sometimes it is, but here at Mamma White’s it was just ‘meaty;’ That may have been due to the huge pile of really crispy bacon on top of the pancake stack. I am not sure that this was smoked bacon and so maybe it was a milder lighter kind of taste. I am glad that it was though, I am kind of converted now. Dang!

The pancakes themselves were the “American” kind sort of thicker fluffy discs more or less ‘beermat’ sized. I had a stack of three and that was plenty for me. Topped with a fried egg and an inch of bacon there was very little chance of getting a full slice into an English mouth. I did try though. Despite the supposed sweet element from the Maple Syrup this really was a ‘savoury’ dish

So yes, I have to concede, that I have been converted to ‘maple syrup with bacon’ so ‘Mama White‘ whomever you are I thank you!

Mama White Pancake Parlour menu

I am going to be over in New York in just a couple of weeks, and guess what I will be ordering at the nearest diner to my hotel? I feel the need to pursue this flavour all a little further.

However for the rest of us on a normal Nottinghamshire day we can come over to Newark to eat the same thing at Mama Whites.

Located at 40 Stotman Street in Newark they are just a few minutes walk from the Market Square area. Check them out on Facebook and on Twitter

Chunky Chicken – A Box of Fried Chicken one Friday Night

Chunky Chicken

This last Friday evening as I exited the Orange Tree pub, the shining illuminated beacon of Chunky Chicken two or three doors down on Shakespeare Street called out to me as I passed by. Perhaps this wasn’t going to be my finest hour in the search for some culinary delights, or perhaps it would be, I just didn’t know, but all I did know was that I kind of really fancied a piece of fried chicken. The ‘lights were on’ and people seemed to be at home, so I figured why not see what this ‘Chunky Chicken’ joint had to offer?

Chuncky Chicken Graphics

The Chunky Chicken graphics gave hope and I was feeling brave as I approached the counter to boldly order a 2 piece combo box with an additional side of spicy hot wings.

Chunky Chicken Box

The bold patterns on the Box was still giving me ‘everything is going to be just fine’ vibe and I reached down to unfold the lid and peer inside hopefully.

Chunky Chicken Combo Box

The ‘Combo’ Box was packed out with Chicken and Fries. To be detailed there were Two pieces of the Southern Coated Chicken, a Leg and a Breast piece on the bone, plus three spicy coated chicken wings. I didn’t count the fries but there were a lot, way too many to eat, but enough to hide the chicken and stop it rolling around the box, a kind of ‘chip nest’ if you like.

So I thought that the chicken was pretty well cooked, the meat was juicy and fell off the bone, the southern style coating also fell off the meat, perhaps too easily. It had a good taste although perhaps would have been assisted with a little more seasoning. The ‘spicy’ wings were lightly spiced not quite spiced enough to called ‘hot’ but better than the flavouring of the combo chicken. I liked it well enough and can forgive the breading slippage. The fries were a bit too greasy and although they were plentiful to the nth degree and good value I suppose bulkwise I didn’t feel the need or desire to empty the box.

I had played it safe when I ordered, but on reflection I think that the thing that I should have ordered was the Peri-Peri chicken plate. I could see the guys at the back of the kitchen grilling the chicken on the broiler and quite a few of these plates chicken, salad and rice were continually coming out over the pass. Maybe another day.

When I walked in I had just thought that Chunky Chicken was a ‘fried chicken chancer’, a ‘KFC wannabee’ but I had been pleasantly surprised. They were OK and with decent prices (I paid 4 quid for a big box of fried chicken) they are worth considering if you are walking by. It certainly helped to soak up a little of that beer that I had just consumed.

Chunky Chicken Window

 

You can find them here in our fair city at 1a 24-30 Shakespeare Street, Nottingham, NG1 4FQ and soon (apparently) in places afar such as Toronto Canada and Andra Pradesh in India.

Check out their website and see them on Facebook and  Twitter

Lunch-time Burgers at the Missoula Montana Bar and Grill in the Lace Market

Missoula Nottingham

This weekend I finally made it over to Missoula ‘Montana Bar and Grill’ in the Lace Market for lunch. I have been trying to find the time and the space in my stomach for a while. I had a chance to come in on the Opening night and had other invites to try but sadly was just not free to accept them. Having said that I kind of like to come in under the radar as it feels more honest and I can eat just as I always do as just another punter.

Breakfast menu at Missoula

I had been reading the menu and I will say that it does read very well, I just hoped that the food could match the prose. It does seem quite extensive being split between breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sadly this time in, I was just too late to sample something from the ‘Breakfast Menu’ as that finished at 12.

The picture of the ‘American-Style Waffle’ in the menu booklet on the table was hitting the spot mentally, and even though I spent much of my time in the states avoiding the sweet and savoury combo mixes, today I was a little sad not to be able to recall a food memory eating waffles with bacon and maple syrup, topped with two ‘sunny-side’ up eggs.

The Breakfast menu did show a lot of promise, almost enough to get me up and put of bed early enough on a weekend to come over to sample something from it. ‘On paper’ I would be ‘all-over’ the “Classic American-Style Breakfast” which is simply described as “Crispy Bacon. Home Fries, Your Choice of Egg and Toast” for just £5.25. That sounded good to me.

Burger menu at Missoula

Whoever wrote the menu deserves some praise as it does sound unique and a little different (I reckon that they have O’ levels in both English Lit and English Language – #showing my age). I liked the bold names of the Burgers that they had on offer. The trick though with a menu, comes once someone has been in more than once, and can tell if the words and description match the experience. Lets just see, I hope that there is a match, as the menu does sound good in many places.

As I pondered the burger section of the menu a work colleague and a friend walked in fresh from a 10K run around Wollaton Park to join me, and I wondered (albeit briefly) if my burger thoughts were a bit out of synch with the moment perhaps not healthy enough? I had no worries though it turned out that everyone on the table was thinking of a Burger, some perhaps had earned it through effort and sporting industry, others (myself) required one purely for some continuous and admittedly imaginary quality control kind of reason. I can stretch a reason / justification as far as I need on these occasions.

Bear Tooth Mountain Beef Burger

Beartooth Mountain Beef Burger

When selecting my burger sandwich combination from the menu I was drawn firstly to the name, ‘Bear Tooth Mountain Beef Burger’ named I assumed after the Bear Tooth Mountains of Montana.  I liked many things about my burger, it was tasty, the cheese, bacon and beef melded together in a way that made each mouthful enjoyable. It was good enough to tell the waitress that it was ‘very nice thank you’ when asked if I enjoyed my meal, but that was also based on the company with whom I had enjoyed a very agreeable lunch combining good conversation and good food. If I had to be strictly accurate I would say that it was ‘very nice, but not amazing, and I kind of need ‘amazing’ now to come back time after time.

Inside Bear Mountain

Slice of Bear Mountain Burger

The burger itself was basically your bacon cheeseburger with crispy onion fries, you know the ‘shoestring type’ and it was a pretty decent effort, very tasty, perhaps a little on the small side, even with a side it was basically a snack as opposed to a meal. Officially the sandwich is described as the ‘Beartooth Mountain Beef Burger with Swiss cheese, crispy bacon and home-style crispy onions’

The fries come in one of those standard and to be honest ridiculous metal tins, “just put them on the plate already”. Oh yes I forget to mention as with nearly everywhere now the whole meal comes on a bespoke wooden board with a cut out hole just for that tin. What is wrong with a real plate anyway? I might just stop eating at places that don’t have crockery. The fries are described as ‘seasoned’, and I was kind of expecting more, but if seasoned means ‘lightly salted’ then fair enough, but to be fair and unfair at the same time all you get here is one step up from your McD skinny fries that have the feel of a frozen effort. If I am wrong and they are hand cut daily and cooked fresh to order, then maybe someone needs to make them a lot better presented as in don’t just stick them in a metal bucket, make them proud and let the world see them on a shiny plate :-)

Big Sky Burger

The Big Sky Burger

My companions both went for the Big Sky Burger which was topped with Swiss Cheese, Crispy Bacon, BBQ Pulled Pork, and more of those home-style crispy onions”. To be honest I kind of wished I had chosen this topping selection, it did look really good and based on the contented faces I could see it was a winning Burger Sandwich combination. If it wasn’t for the feeling that ‘Pulled pork’ has invaded our culinary shores and crept onto every menu then I would have had this burger. Perhaps I need to just eat what I fancy then and let my mind take a rest.

Missoula Sign

Missoula in Nottingham is owned by the Stonegate Pub Company who have 640 pubs nationwide including The Major Oak on Pelham Road,  The Horn in Hand on Goldsmith Street, The Ropewalk on Derby Road, and The Willow Tree in West Bridgford,  Plus a lot of other Slug and Lettuce’s, Yates, Living Rooms, and many other Missoula Montana’s. It is always interesting and often revealing to see who owns what bits of the cityscape and Nationscape.

Although this is part of a pretty extensive chain and brand, I kind of liked what they had done with the place. They describe the place thus “Situated in Nottingham’s popular Lace Market, Missoula Montana Bar & Grill brings the authentic American feel to the city of Nottingham. The historic Lace Market was once at the heart of the world’s lace industry, Missoula’s building itself functioning as a showroom for lace manufacturers to parade and sell their designs. Today, it is a sophisticated, stylish American bar and restaurant cultivating a chic, upbeat atmosphere.”

As I already said I like the content and sound of the menu.

I kind of wish that breakfast extended through brunch, but I suppose I ‘could’ drag myself out of bed early one weekend morning to make it on time?

You can find the Missoula Nottingham up at 7 High Pavement, in The Lace Market, Nottingham just 5 minutes walk from the Lace Market Tram Stop

Check them out on Facebook and on Twitter

Dingheen in Hockley for Dumplings and a bowl of Hot and Sour Soup

Dingheen in Hockley

Dingheen, down Hockley way, has been on my radar for quite a few weeks now. I have perused the menu in the window on several occasions, nose pressed up against the window trying not to drool. Although the menu is mostly is Chinese, that as a good sign of somewhere likely to be selling real authentic Chinese fare, and somewhere I want to be eating. To back that hope up whenever I have walked by it has been full of the local Chinese community crouched around tables laden with communal dishes of food.

I have been looking for a place like this in Nottingham for the last couple of years since my return to these fair shores. I have been in dire need of somewhere to supply me with Chinese Soup and Dumplings, regular readers of my other blogs at The El Stop Food Hunt Project” and at MyFoodHunt” may recognise my predilection for these two dishes. Most recently I was able to travel back over to China to Shenzhen and was satiated with both some Hot and Sour Soup and a dish of dumplings (Read about that trip here).

I had already spotted them both on the Dingheen menu and was hopeful that on this visit I was about to make my dumpling dreams come true.

 So it was with a hopeful gait that I made this shorter trip over to Hockley.

So lets get down to it

Szechuan Hot and Sour Soup

Schezuan Hot and Sour Soup at Dingheen

First up was a bowl of the Szechuan Hot and Sour Soup which was featuring on the menu for just £3 (bargain). This is my ‘Go-to’ Chinese soup dish and I absolutely love it. It has assisted my recovery on many an occasion in places far and wide, from Wuhan to Beijing, over to Hong Kong and neighbouring Shenzhen, back to China Town in New York, and down South of the Loop at Cermak in Chicago. Particular faves have been at The Excellent Dumpling House in New York, yes that is it’s real name, or up in Flushing Queens, where you can get fantastic and authentic dumplings at the Golden Mall on Main Street 

Here a Dingheen I was not to be disappointed, it was another excellent bowlful,  hot in temperature and a little hot in taste, the perfect soup for a late Autumn day. It was thick and gloopy in a good way, filled with shredded carrot, dried mushrooms, juicy lumps of silken tofu floated in and amongst a sauce filled with plentiful slivers and thin slices of chicken and pork. Hints of the reason for the spice was not subtle, with bits of red and green chilli floating all around.

This was a great start to my visit, half way through my nose was starting to run a little as the spices did their work and as the steam rose from the bowl like a soup sauna and my glasses started to fog up a little. As I continued to slurp my way through the bowl I could half see into the kitchen where I could see and hear my dumpling being made. The clatter of those pans, all just for me, was a happy sound. As I made it halfway down the bowl my dumplings came out through the hatch and onto my table. So I paused briefly to sample a few.

 Pan Fried Pork Dumplings

fried dumplings at Dingheen

 

For just £4 I was treated to a plateful of eight fried pork dumplings. Each was filled with moist and crumbly pork mixed with Chinese leaves. The casing was light, silken, juicy and crispy where it had caught the pan. It was a joy to lift each morsel from the plate with my chopsticks. The dumpling paused for a brief moment to be bathed in the Chinese vinegar based Dipping Sauce enroute to their final resting place in my mouth. Dream time on the lips.

chinese vinegar dipping sauce

I was very happy to find somewhere unpretentious and casual in Nottingham to get my hands on a plate of simple dumplings. In recent times I have had to resort to cooking my own, which was an excellent thing to be fair (read more here) but you know although I love to cook, it does get in the way of MyFoodHunt trips out and about in this fair city of ours and beyond

Inside Dingheen

One thing that has amused me is that on the menu they tell us that “At Ding Heen, there are no Sweet & Sour Pork Balls, Lemon Chicken, or Beef with Mushroom to name just three British Favourites“. Ok so I hear what they are trying to say, but they are not the British favourites, or are they? they continue….”However we do realise that you may want to play it safe and stick to the European-inspired Chinese dishes that are your firm favourites, and of course we’d be delighted to prepare them for you”… I hope that is true as I walked in one night late on and was mocked by a small group of Chinese suggesting that I was just there for some ‘Sweet and Sour Chicken’ or ‘Egg Fried Rice’. To be ‘unfair’ back though I would suggest that maybe they should hit the streets in their own country sometime. I was working at Wuhan University back in the late 1990’s and we often bought bowls of egg fried rice with pork at Lunchtime for 1 RMB (about 7p at the time), Sweet and Sour was not with Chicken but with Pork and was called “Tang Cu Li Ji” or ‘Sweet and sour pork’. I found it to be too sweet though as did my Chinese work colleagues, but even so it was way better though than the often ‘delicious in the mind’rubbish‘ that they serve up here in the west. To fair though China is a massive country and this particular dish is popular in Zhejiang, Sichuan and Shandong and maybe the guys who I bantered with were more used to the blander Cantonese efforts.

Apart from the soup and dumplings which I have now ‘ticked on the list’ there are a couple more dishes that I feel the need to try. One that brings back memories of old times in Wuhan is the sound of the ‘Ma-Poh Tofu with Pork’ for £7.50 and just because I kind of like it, I might try the ‘Kung Pao Chicken’ also for £7.50.

Dingheen is located at 7 Heathcoat Street just steps away from Hockley and about 5-10 minutes walk away from the Lace Market Tram Stop and the Old Market Square

 

Ding Heen on Urbanspoon

“PILOT – Poultry and Prosecco” – Nice bit of Rotisserie Chicken for Lunch

Pilot in Hockley

Pilot at Goose Gate in Hockley occupies the old Nash Interiors shop and is a welcome addition to the independent restaurant sector in Nottingham. I had read a little about the place prior to my visit and although my mind was open I was a little confused by the menu. The extended name is Pilot-Poultry and Prosecco and apparently they are the only place in the country to sell Prosecco on draught. I wasn’t previously aware that the Prosecco crowd were fervent Rotisserie Chicken aficionados but maybe there is a movement that I have missed, after all down in London they quaff Champagne with their Hot dogs at Bubbledogs. I decided that we would just gloss over that whole theme and move on to the menu, but then I saw that they also served Pizza, so it was now Poultry and Prosecco and Pizza. 

Rotisserie Menu

Rotisserie menu at Pilot

We just glossed past that for a moment as we were hungry for some of that Poultry, it was time to check out the ‘Rotisserie section’ of the menu and eat some Chicken. I was liking the simple look of all four chicken options on the menu. House (basically just plain Rotisserie chicken with a choice of dips), Lemon, Bourbon, and Jerk (I believe each name is enough to give the idea of what they might taste like). We decided to get two different half chicken plates, I fancied something a little spicy so opted for the Jerk and to counter that we chose the Lemon as we thought it might cool us down if the Jerk was too spicy.

The ‘Jerk’ Chicken

Jerk Chicken at Pilot

My choice was the ‘Jerk’ Chicken which was billed on the menu thus “Scotch Bonnet Chilli, Allspice, Coriander, Lime & Thyme”. It arrived all chopped up neatly in a bowl, visually it was a most appetising plateful. The chicken was covered in a dark brown glaze, runny ‘gentle Jerk’ sauce, thin strips of red chilli and some unknown micro-greens. The menu online tells us that their “Rotisserie chicken is jointed, glazed & finished in the wood fired oven.” which accounts for the presentation and to be honest made for a much better and easier sharing experience.

The Jerk sauce was relatively mild which is probably OK for most as it leads to a more enjoyable eating experience, if you came looking for some serious Caribbean style heat hit then you might be a little disappointed. I was quite happy though I liked it and found it to be quite a pleasurable plateful.  Heat apart the sauce was really well balanced and together with the moist chicken gave me a plateful that I would happily recommend and come back to eat again.

The ‘Lemon’ Chicken

The Lemon Chicken at Pilot Hockley

My Companion chose the ‘Lemon’ chicken from the menu which is described as ‘Lemon, Fennel, Rosemary, Honey & Balsamic’. It probably would not surprise you to hear that the overall taste was sweet and citrusy. I quite liked the pieces that I ate and considering that I was eating those while chowing down on, in comparison, a spicier dish I was pleasantly surprised to find that the flavour stood up all by itself alongside that spicy chicken.

Sides

Roast Corn

Chilli Corn on the Cob at Pilot

Tatos

Tatos at Pilot

We added a couple of sides one from the ‘specials menu’ and one from ‘regular menu’ The Tato’s described on the menu as “Crispy Spice Potatoes – Seasonal Mayo” turned out to be more or less what we thought they would be, ‘chunky chips with a pot of mayo’ and the Side of Roast Corn with Chilli & Lime Butter’ was essentially fancy corn on the cob. Ok so maybe I seem to belittle them both but I know that is what you will be thinking that they look like from the photographs.

We liked both, the Corn was really good with a decent hot of Chilli countered with a tang of citrus from that Lime. The Chips were a mix of the solid crunchy chips and crispy potato skins mixed into the chip stack. The garlicky mayo actually worked really well with my spicier chicken and although simple was quite an effective player on my plate.

So all in all this was a really most enjoyable lunch, the chicken was moist and flavourful, the sides played there part and the price point (around £15 each) although on the edge of expensive for essentially chicken and chips was reasonable for the quality of the food that we ate.

So what about the rest of that menu?

Specials menu

Speicals Menu

As for the ‘eclectic menu’ that includes Pizza as well, even though I am not sure that it works as a concept in my mind I am pretty sure that I may well return to try one. I liked the sound of the ‘Rabbit Sausicon’ pizza on the specials menu and on the regular menu I understand that the one to try for the curious mind is the ‘Lahmacun pizz’a which is topped with “Lamb mince, Ras el hanout, pomegranate, Greek yogurt, and parsley salad.” I think someone in the kitchen is having a lot of fun with the menu.

Another dish that we saw on another diner’s plate was the Cubano sandwich or to give the correct name the ‘Grande Cubano’ described as ‘Our signature sandwich smothered in Montery Jack Cheese’. You can get one of these filled with Pulled Pork, Beef Brisket, or Rotisserie Chicken for £9 and from what I saw they are huge and would feed at least two people. It looked good but is really an ode to the Cuban Sandwich or Cuban which is traditionally made with ham,  roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard. Still it did look good so maybe I should stop being picky

Pilot in Hockley

 

Pilot is located at 17-19 Carlton Street in Hockley you can find out more about what they are up to on a daily basis if you follow them on Twitter @pilothockley and on Facebook.

They are open Tuesday to Saturday so be warned, ‘no chicken for you’ on Sunday or Monday.

We really did like the chicken

 

 

Fellows, Morton, and Clayton: The FMC Specials Board – Cassoulet? Nice!

Fellows Morton and Clayton

I love eating the food at the Fellows Morton and Clayton Pub on Canal Street and in the past I have related tales of nights when I consumed some of their bar food (in between sampling the beer) including a fantastic Pulled Pork sandwich (before the town was swamped with them) and an always ‘excellent’ Club Sandwich which I have had more than twice.

This night though I was dining from the specials board, a board at FMC that is worthy of it’s name. Tonight I was eating the FMC Cassoulet described as a “French Style sausage casserole with cannellini beans and a rosemary crust served with crusty bread (not shown) for £7.

FMC Cassoulet

FMC Cassoulet

Now I am the first to admit that I cannot take a photograph that justifies how good the food is, but today I think I managed to take one that conveys just how mouth wateringly tasty the plate could be? This plate of FMC style Cassoulet was to turn out to be one of the stand out meals that I have eaten this year.

It might ‘just’ be a pub meal in principle, but don’t let that fool you, they serve up some seriously good food here.

Often the special’s board is a place to use up the weeks leftovers, but here at FMC I have found that it is a place that it is a board to highlight the chefs food.

This was a tremendously eatable dish; thick, solid, and warming would be the view of the common man who exists in half of my writing mind, delicate, full of depth, and desirable, are words that I should not be using but that spring to mind, squeezing their way from the other part of my mind to my typing fingers without hurdle. I am just a home cook so do not really have the chef words to describe this dish, but I know enough (mostly from cooking this dish badly, and eating it is places where it was done well) to appreciate that this was a good dish done well.

Part way through my dinner

Now I don’t usually show a partially consumed plate, but on this occasion I am doing so just to add the ‘depth’ of the bowl that you cannot see from the first picture. At this point I have been eating for 15 minutes or so and I have already eaten at least (I think anyway) 3 large sausages, and still as you can see there are more to eat. Such excellent value, if this plate was served somewhere fancier they would be raving about it, so it is a good job that I was here with my ‘imaginary glow sticks’ to light up just how good this plateful was.

Yeh I did really like it! :-)

Fellows, Morton & Clayton is located at 54 Canal Street in Nottingham just down by the canal. I cannot guarantee that you will find a bowl of Cassoulet on your visit. I would suggest though that you will find something equally delicious.

Fish and Chips at The Street Kitchen Restaurant in Wheatcrofts Garden Centre

The Street Kitchen Resturant

The Street Kitchen Restaurant at the Wheatcroft Garden Centre, on the edge of Edwalton, has been open for about a month now. It is quite an improvement on the old café, it seems to be brighter and more welcoming and so much more spacious. Whereas the old café felt like a cross between a school canteen and a late lunch at an old folks home, the new space feels upscale and more family friendly. I liked it already. I had already had good reports from family and friends who had eaten here, hearing tales of a “vintage van serving freshly cooked Fish and Chips”, and another vintage van that was selling ‘Lasagne and Meat Pies’. This was already sounding like my kind of place. To whet my own appetite I was advance mentally dining vicariously devouring tales of the “Really good Fish and Chips cooked in Beef Dripping” and a lunchtime tale of a “Massive Steak and Ale pie served with new potatoes and cabbage for just under a tenner”

Fish abd Chip van at Wheatcrofts

Based on what I had heard I planned a team outing which I called ‘Fish and Chips Friday at the Croft’. Without much persuasion as the imaginary lunch bell rang, I shepherded the gang down the well worn remnants of the old Landmere Lane to the garden centre, through the bedding plants and into the new café area until we found ourselves standing in line at the hatch of the blue vintage Fish and Chip Van. It was only just after 12 and already there was quite a queue, the young lady at the hatch warned us that it would be about 5 minutes for the fish as she was cooking them to order. That was fine with us so we ordered 5 platefuls. As we waited the queue lengthened behind us, and I was glad that we had come just as they opened.

As we stood my tummy rumbled as I read the description on the chalkboard; “Freshly Hand Battered Cod in our own Local Beer Batter with fresh cut chips, Homemade Mushy Peas and Tartare Sauce” for £10.95. Sounds good if a little on the expensive side. My wallet was marginally appeased and overruled by my gluttonous brain as I read the subtext beneath the description of the plate “Fried Traditionally in Tasty Beef Dripping”… ooh this could be good

Fish and Chips from Harry Wheatcrofts

Five minutes later we were walking out with our plates of Fish and Chips to sit on the outside patio under the rays of some unseasonable November sunshine. We found seats at a large wooden table and all tucked into our plates. The plates were piled high with those fresh cut chips and huge piece of Cod coated in a lovely looking golden batter. The beer batter was light and crisp, excellent to be more gushing with my praise. The cod was also fantastically cooked, juicy, moist, flaky and light, untainted by fryer fat and dripping with the sense of the sea from whence it had come.

Now I am a great fan of two other excellent Nottingham based Fish and Chip emporiums namely Cod and Scallops in Wollaton and the George’s Traditional restaurants, but I have to say that ‘this fish on this particular day‘ totally trumped them both. Now I know that is quite a bold statement, but it feels justified in the moment. That fish really is and was that good!

Lets talk about the rest of the plate. I quite liked the chips although I found them just a bit too crisp and crunchy and maybe even a bit too thick. I do like my chip shop chips a little, well can I say this? soggier. I like to douse them in vinegar and these took a lot and still kept their crispness. OK so they won. I will say though that there were way too many chips on the plate, and sadly I just could not eat them all, such sacrilege to admit that failure. The mushy peas are good too, perhaps a little too creamy and in need of salt and pepper, but probably gauged just right for their audience here at the Garden Centre. One of our table who was not a member of the global mushy peas society said that he quite enjoyed them so they must have something about them.

You know what, this is a dang good plate of Fish and Chips, as I said earlier I love the beer battered Cod fried in the beef dripping, and I would walk all the way back down the lane just to eat that. I will say though that I think it is a bit overpriced. You can get excellent Fish Chips and Mushy Peas from Georges Traditional for well under a tenner, and the same from The Cods Scallops for less as well. Now it may be good, and maybe the Garden Centre crowd will pay this much, but I have to be honest and say that I am not opening the wallet this far too often even though it is probably the best beer battered fish I ate this year.

It is good though!

 The Street Kitchen Restaurant is located at the Wheatcroft Garden Centre which is on Landmere Lane in Edwalton, Nottinghamshire.

Hambletons Bakery Shop in West Bridgford

Hambleton Bakery

The Hambleton Bakery shop on Melton Road in West Bridgford is just one of five retail outlets for The Hambleton Bakery. The other four are based in Exton, Oakham, Market Harborough, and Stamford. The bakery was first opened in 2008 to supply Hambleton Hall and Hart’s Nottingham, and it has grown steadily ever since. On their website they talk a lot about the ‘taste’ saying that “Initially the aim was to rediscover the taste of good bread. Not the taste of sugar, malt, cheese, onions, olives, sundried tomatoes, poppy seeds etc etc, but the magical flavour that can be conjured from unadulterated organic flour, salt and water using the slow, traditional processes that made the bread that fed our ancestors.”

When I first walked in I thought that it was an ‘actual’ bakery and was looking forward to that freshly baked bread smell. It turned out that it was just a shop outlet, which was a slight disappointment, but I still figured that it was fair to give them a whirl, so I popped in on occasion to try out some of their offerings.

What did we eat?

The Rutland Pippin

The Pippin

The Rutland Pippin is one of their famed flagship items, originally I understand that it was developed during the ITV show Britain’s Best Bakery (which they won!). in the show they had to create a product representing their region’s best ingredients and the result was this, the Rutland Pippin, described as “a crusty dough filled with ham hock, sausagemeat, Colston Bassett Stilton and a handmade Bramley apple puree.”

Half a Pippin

When you cut into the ‘Pippin’ you are faced with that crusty dough filled with ham hock, sausage meat, the Colston Bassett Stilton Cheese and a handmade Bramley apple puree. Now I think that this must have been a clever concoction using the ingredients. Do I like it? You know what I am not sure, but then you see I am not a massive blue cheese fan. I wish I was as everyone raves about that Colston Basset Stilton. I liked the sausage meat and the ham and although I found the apple puree a bit much and the cheese overpowering, I cannot dismiss this savoury item as it clearly has merits amongst and for those with a different palate than mine.

Ploughmans Parcel

Another one of the savoury items being sold at the Hambleton Bakery shop is the Ploughman’s Parcel.

This is described as a ‘savoury focaccia dough filled with Lincolnshire Poacher Cheese, Fresh Apples, Celery and homemade Chutney topped with seeds.’

On the face of it that sounds like it might be OK but it isn’t a combination that I would necessarily have put together.

Half a Parcel

I liked the outside of the parcel especially the seeds, but sadly I didn’t like the filling at all and I abandoned eating this savoury item after a couple of bites. It just wasn’t my ‘cup of tea’ but it might be yours. I will be honest and say that I don’t think I understand the flavour combinations of some of these savoury items. Luckily they do serve things that I do get.

Sausage Roll

Sausage Roll

I find that I often gravitate towards a good looking home made sausage roll and so I was most certainly going to be trying the ones that they make for the Hambleton Bakery Shop. I quite liked the sausage itself. Just take a look at the picture, you can see the flecks of herb in amongst the meat. I like my sausage meat a little looser, but this is still a fair offering filling wise. and the pastry was fair enough, perhaps a bit too soggy in the middle this time, well when I say middle I mean that lopsided section alongside the meat. I can see Mr Hollywood pulling that bit out as he munched though the rest of the roll with flecks of golden pastry adhered to his cheeks.

Sweet Stuff

Treacle Tart

Treacle Tart

On the sweet side I do like their Treacle Tart mainly because it is not ‘too‘ sweet. It reminded me of the treacle tart that we used to get for school dinners back in the 70’s. I like pretty much everything about this tart, and it goes very nicely with a dollop of ice cream alongside. I know it sounds strange when I say ‘not too sweet’ as it is a sweet pudding in theory, but this is kind of perfect, I think that the key is probably the addition or rather use of the lemon that cuts through any potential sweetness from the syrup in the tart. But I am just guessing that is the way that they made this. Its is good though!

Lemon Tart

Lemon Tart

Something that cannot be resisted is their Lemon Tart. There is not too much to say about it, except that as expected it is nice and lemony, and it is has a nice tangy and tart taste on each bite. All encased in good flaky pasty. I always loved a good Tart Lemon Tart, but I don’t eat too many, mainly as I would just keep on eating them if the chance arose. Luckily I have the sense to wait until I see a good one, and I will tell you that the Hambleton Bakery does serve a good one!

Bread

Basic Loaf

Although I do prefer to bake my own bread their Basic White Loaf was quite acceptable and is just one of the more simpler offerings at the shop. Described as “a perfect sandwich loaf made the way the old masters used to make it with long fermentation. It has a springy texture unlike modern bread and is excellent toasted”. Unsurprisingly they also sell some more adventurous breads including a Borodinsky which is a ‘kind of’ Russian rye bread with added malt and coriander seeds, and a Date and Walnut bread which they tell us is ‘a sourdough infused with walnuts and stoned dates.’ topped with ‘pumpkin and sunflower seeds to finish it off.’

I have had mixed moments with the Shop, I like the bread, the sweeter items (which is unusual for me), and some of the savoury items. Some are just too ‘grown up’ for me. It is also conveniently located on that strip of excellent food outlets on Melton Road in West Bridgford. If Central Avenue is becoming ‘restaurant row’ then Melton road could be the place for the artisans and the local foodies.

As I said earlier, what I do miss though is that smell of freshly baked bread when you walk in through the door although that is probably because It is a bakery shop not a bakery.

The Hambleton Bakery Shop in West Bridgford is located at 101 Melton Road and is worth stopping at just to see what you think of what they have to offer.