Saturday, 30 August 2014

Review: Granny Smith's Tea Shop - Foxholes Farm

(HERTFORD, HERTFORDSHIRE)

Star Rating: Food : 4 Stars Service : 3 Stars






Date of visit: 27 August 2014


Longtime overdue in Hertford, Foxholes Farm Shop have recently expanded their shop to include a delightful tea shop; Granny Smith's Tea Shop.  I have been shopping at Foxholes ever since arriving in the UK six years ago and have always loved their wonderful produce.  I was blissfully unaware that the tea room had opened until my friend Lynn and I decided it was time for a catch up lunch with our other dear friend Caroline.  We all met when we were serving on the PTA at Sele School and have formed a brilliant friendship.  Lynn suggested we go to Granny Smith's as she had been there recently and had thoroughly enjoyed it.

They serve a Traditional English High Tea, comprising of a choice of 10 fine Teapig Teas, finger sandwiches and home made cakes. They also have a delicious cream tea with a freshly Baked Scone, Devon Clotted Cream and Strawberry Jam.  When you have eaten your full you can have a gentile meander around their farm to meet all of their baby animals, they also have a children’s play area.  The tea shop is not very big, but you don't feel cramped when seated.  It is self service, the lovely lady behind the counter was very friendly and helpful.

Now let's get down to the food, they have a great selection on their menu.  Lynn had a Ploughman’s @7.95 served with crusty bread, Foxholes Butter, Salad Garnish, Ploughman’s Pickle, Pickled onion & Apple and Foxholes Saddleback ham.  Lynn did not want the bread so they gladly substituted this with added salad.  This is one of the first ploughman's that I have seen in a long time that actually looked like it had some substance. Normally you find them adding so much lettuce and hardly any nice goodies.  Not this one, Lynn had this the last time she was here and loved it. 




Caroline went for their Homemade Quiche of the Day @6.95 an individual tartlet, made with their hens eggs, served with a dressed mixed Salad.  As you can see from the picture well worth the price, and the salad was not just a plate of lettuce.  Next time I go, this will be my choice.




Me being the usual piggy that I am, I wanted some meat so went for their Chilli Con Carne @ £6.95 on their specials menu, served with a mixed salad and sour dough bread.  Yummy is the only word that I can use to describe it.  The mince was so sweet and the bread delightful.




Overall Experience

Delightful and a definite must, I will be dragging David their very soon.  Yes it is small but who cares.  They are holding a supper club on the 18th of September at a cost of £39 pp for a five course meal, so give them a try.

http://www.foxholesfarm.com

London Road, Hertford, SG13 7NT

Tel: 01992 552900

                                                                                 


Rating Guide


5 Stars - Perfect
4.5 Stars - Exceptional
4 Stars - Excellent
3.5 Stars - Very good
3 Stars - Good
2.5 Stars - Average
2 Stars - Bad
1.5 Stars - Very bad
1 Star - Dire

Monday, 25 August 2014

Review: The Cock & Dragon

(COCKFOSTERS, BARNET)

Star Rating: Food : 4 Stars Service : 4 Stars





Date of visit: 19 August 2014


The Cock and Dragon, in Cockfosters, is dated back to 1798 and is ideally located near the Tube Station and is opposite Trent Park. Inside the pub is very relaxed with a separate traditional bar area and contemporary Thai styled restaurant where they serve authentic Thai cuisine. The bar is stocked with British Cask Ales and fine wines from around the world. 

David and I decided to make use of our Tastecard before it expires next month.  This gave us 50% off our food bill for two people.  I was in the mood for Thai so we searched their website and found this little gem, that I would not normally have found on my own.  When you walk in you think you are in the wrong place as it looks like a normal pub.  But a surprise awaits you round the side, behind the bar.  You walk through the doors and a whole new world opens up to you. The decor is stunning and the service on arrival was very welcoming.



I ordered a bottle of their house white, as you all know a meal for me is not complete without a bottle of chilled white wine.  David went for green tea as he was as usual our designated driver.  I unfortunately did not take photo's as at that stage I had no intention of reviewing the place as it had been a while since my last review and needed something inspirational to kick me into action again.  This place did the kicking, but only after finishing my meal did it dawn on me to write a review.

To start with we ordered their Tiger Platter @ £10.50Pork ribs, chicken satay, beef satay and duck spring rolls. Served with sweet chilli and satay sauces. All I can say is finger licking good.  I did not want to share this, but alas I had to be social.

I ordered the Kaeng Daeng @ £7.95, Bangkok's famous Thai red curry with lime leaf, coconut milk, peppers and pineapple.  Kau Khai @ 2.95, Thai fragrant coconut rice.  This was probably one of the nicest's red curries I have ever eaten.  Well worth you giving it a try.

David ordered The Weeping Tiger @ £11.95Grilled sirloin steak marinated in oyster sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil served with a spicy Thai dressing with a side order of been sprouts that was not on their menu but they gladly made for him as he does not like rice or noodles.  He said that it was delightful and would definitely try it again.


Overall Experience

Well you already know that I loved the place as it has inspired me to blog again. I will be going back and would highly recommend you give it a try. The whole meal for the two of us with my bottle of wine cost just over £42.  This is where the Tastecard starts to pay for itself and I think that I will be renuning my membership next month, thanks to my sister-in-law Janet who gave it to me as a Birthday present last year.

http://www.thaipubs.co.uk/location/cock-dragon

Chalk Lane, Cockfosters, Barnet, EN4 9HU

Tel: 020 8449 7160


Cock and Dragon on Urbanspoon

      

Rating Guide


5 Stars - Perfect
4.5 Stars - Exceptional
4 Stars - Excellent
3.5 Stars - Very good
3 Stars - Good
2.5 Stars - Average
2 Stars - Bad
1.5 Stars - Very bad
1 Star - Dire

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Third Hertford Food and Drink Festival

October 10th 2014 to October 12th 2014

Hertford Town Centre and Castle Grounds



The 3rd Hertford Food and Drink Festival will be held over three days this year.
On Friday initial plans include cookery master classes, pop up restaurants, wine and whiskey tastings
On Saturday head into town for live cookery demonstrations, an Open Day at Hertford brewery with McMullens and a variety of food markets and activities.
On Sunday head to Hertford Castle for Beer festival and world food fayre on the Castle lawn.
The provisional Festival programme is listed below.
2014 Hertford Food and Drink Festival Provisional Programme
FRIDAY 10TH OCTOBER
11pm to 12 noon Loch Fyne Cookery Classes- details to be confirmed
 2pm – 5.00pm.  “A Beer-Tasting Walk in Hertford”.  Led by guides from the Campaign for Real Ale.  Learn about and taste the differences in Britain`s beer styles. Tickets £12 including a half-pint of beer in each of five town centre pubs.  Meet at the Woolpack, Millbridge. Tickets available from Hertford Tourist Information Centre.
2pm. Food Glorious Food Walk featuring doughnuts, ice houses, millers, markets and Tudor banquets. What better way to finish than with afternoon tea in the Salisbury Arms? Tickets £8.50 from TIC, 10 Market Place Tel 01992 584322
 Evening
Visit one of our Pop Up Restaurants
DINE AT GIAMBRONE'S WITH THE PRIVATE CHEF
Joe Davis, Masterchef  Quarterfinalist, will be hosting a fine dining evening at Giambrone's with an exquisite menu using only the finest ingredients available in the deli and  shop.
Tickets: £35 for three courses and a glass of Prosecco on arrival. Bookings available from 6.30pm
Menu will need to be pre-ordered once a booking has been taken.
For more information please email info@giambrones.com or call 01992 503777
 Alley Katsu  pop up curry restaurant  runs from the Manic Munchies premises in Post Office Walk from 6.00 to 9.30pm.
 Enjoy and learn about drink
Whiskey tasting night with food matching at Old Barge with a talk from our resident expert at 8pm. Tickets £10 available from the Old Barge 01992  581871.
7 pm to 9pm Introduction to Wine Tasting by Hertfordshire Wine School at Town House, Fore Street. If you like wine but want to know more this evening is for you. We will taste at least six wines from around the world, learn how wine is made and look at major grape varieties in a relaxed setting. Booking essential. Ticketswww.hertfordshirewineschool.com.  
Grape Expectations - Tasting­ alternatives to Everyday Wine Favourites hosted by Laura Vickers, wine writer and editor of www.VinspireUK.com .and The Mayor of Hertford, Cllr Miss Chantal Geall in Hertford Castle.
 Tickets are £20 covering  8 wines and a cheese board. All profits from the event will go to the Isabel Hospice and Hertford and Ware Street Pastors. Tickets available from Mayors Secretary on 01992 528072 or nikki@hertford.gov.uk
 SATURDAY 11TH OCTOBER
Cookery Demonstration Stage & Marquee in Parliament Square hosted by Joe Davis,  BBC Masterchef quarter finalist from Hertford
10.00-11.30 Mayor’s Children’s Cake Decorating Competition with help from Linda Smith, the SugarSmith and Cynthia Stroud of Pretty Gorgeous Cakes.
11.45- 12.30  Joe Davis – The Private Chef- demonstrates
12.30- 13.15 Andrei Lussmann of Lussmanns restaurant demonstrates
13.15- 14.15 Joe Davis and winner of Hertfordshire Mercury competition go head to head;
14.15-15.00 Carl Clarke of Hertford House demonstrates Chop House specialities
!5.00-15.45 HRC  catering students demonstrate their skills
15.45-16.30 Theo Micheals , Masterchef semi-finalist demonstrates on stage
16.30-17.15 Finale with chef from Loch Fyne 
McMullen & Sons Limited Hertford Brewery Open Day 10.00am until 4.00pm
  • Brewery tours with our Head Brewer Chris Evans: 10.30am/11.30am/1.30pm. Tickets available from the Hertford Tourist Office. 
  • Beer Tasting and Food matching from 10.00am until 12.30 in the McMullen Yard.
  • Join us for Lunch 12.30pm our training and Development Chef Lee Brooks will be cooking Lunch for 10 guests with beer and wine included. Tickets £15 available from the Hertford Tourist Office.
  • Afternoon Cream teas from 3.00pm in the McMullen Yard, charity donation on the day.
  • “Ever thought of joining the Food & Drink Industry?” Come and meet our team at McMullen’s for an informal chat and snack, to discuss our career opportunities.
  • Tasting Stalls throughout the day will showcase some of our great suppliers and ingredients.
All donations for tickets and on the day are to support "Future Living Hertford" the newest free to access addiction day care service moving into Vale House in the autumn.
 Future Living Hertford offer a holistic programme of support for clients with all manner of addictions, including therapeutic interventions, art therapy, our garden project and a range of re-training opportunities within the community. Their philosophy is to be there for as long as their clients need them.
 Enjoy the Saturday Markets
 Special Farmers Market  (extended opening hours  from 9am until 3pm);
 Saturday Charter Market 9am to 5pm with special Food and Drink Festival section in Maidenhead Street;
 Community Market in Bircherley Greeen Shopping Centre 10.am to 2pm
 And around the town
 Treasure Hunt - What’s the Missing Chef cooking?
 Identify the dishes and celebrity chefs displayed in the windows of town centre businesses to find the missing chef and meal for a chance of winning a prize (kindly donated by Waitrose). For entry form and further information contact the Town and Tourist Information Centre, Market Place or www.gohertford.gov.uk.
 Apple Day - Squeeze your own fruit juice at the Quaker Meeting House, Railway Street from 11.30am to 4 pm. Come along and try the apple press, learn about the town’s fruity heritage and get the children involved in lots of free appley activities including an apple treasure hunt'. Organised by Transition Hertford
 ‘Library Bake Off’ borrow a recipe book from Hertford Library, Dolphin Yard, Maidenhead Street. Use it to bake a cake and enter the cake in a competition to win vouchers from Lussmanns restaurant, hotel and Sainsburys. The cakes will be judged by Cynthia Stroud of Pretty Gorgeous Cakes  of Hertford at 12 noon on Sat 11th Oct
 Hertford Food Swop in Andrews Room Hertford Museum 10.30-12 noon Monthly meeting of local food enthusiasts - swap your home made produce for items cooked, baked, grown, brewed or foraged by others- www.hertfordfoodswap.wordpress.com.
 Leaf Café Old Cross @ 2pm The Humble Bean - A book and craft activity for under 10s looking at the journey, coffee and cocoa beans travel from the plant to the cup and then sampling the finished product! We will be making our own maps and reading about other food journeys as well.  Cost £2.50 per head.  Spaces are limited so book early to avoid disappointed. Tickets available in store and TIC.
Giambrone’s  9am to 5pm  To celebrate their first year anniversary of trading Giambrone's will be running in-store promotions over the weekend to say thank you to their customers. Children will be entertained throughout the day with fun activities and a face painter between 12-4pm. They will  be running a raffle to win a luxurious hamper of Italian goodies - with all proceeds going to the Mayor's Charities 2014.  For more information please follow the shop on Facebook  (/giambronesitalian) / Twitter or Instagram (@giambronesdeli).
Mudlarks Garden Café, Railway Street, 2-5pm
From Plot to Plate:  Come along and learn how to turn the autumn harvest into a mouthwatering feast. No charge
SUNDAY 12th OCTOBER 2014
 11am.  “How Hertford`s Pub Scene Was Shaped”.  A circular one-hour guided walk in Hertford Town Centre led by Les Middlewood in conjunction with Hertford Museum.  Tickets £4 including a donation to Hertford Museum.  Meet at Hertford Theatre, The Wash.  Tickets available from Hertford Tourist Information Centre.
 Hertford Castle Beer Festival with Street Food stalls on lawn ofHertfordCastle  between 12 noon  and 6pm with live music.
 Castle Open Day 12 noon to 4pm. Head down to Hertford Castle to enjoy live brass band music, bouncy castle and see inside the Castle …… dungeons and all
Giambrone’s   10am to 4pm To celebrate their first year anniversary of trading Giambrone's will be running in-store promotions over the weekend to say thank you to their customers. Children will be entertained throughout the day with fun activities and a face painter between 12-4pm. They will  be running a raffle to win a luxurious hamper of Italian goodies - with all proceeds going to the Mayor's Charities 2014.  For more information please follow the shop on Facebook  (/giambronesitalian) / Twitter or Instagram (@giambronesdeli).
 Leaf Café Old Cross@ Cakes Galore - we will be reading Cake Girl by David Lucas and running a cupcake decorating session.  Tickets £4 per head (£3 siblings). Spaces are limited so book early to avoid disappointment.  Tickets available in store and from the TIC
 Harvest Lunch from 12noon to 14.00pm at St Andrew’s Church SG14 1HZ following family Harvest Festival at 10.30am.
The timings and content of the events listed are subject to change.
Source:  GoHertford.co.uk
  

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Review: The Green Spice (Roydon Hamlet)

THE GREEN SPICE
(ROYDON HAMLET, ESSEX)


Date of visit: 27 July 2013


One of the best Indian Restaurants I have ever been to.  The décor is modern and clean, the cloakrooms are the best I have have used in a local restaurant.  The service is excellent and very professional and yet not pretentious.  You are made to feel welcome from the moment you walk through the door.  This is the second time that I have eaten here and it did not disappoint, it was exactly as I remembered.   

We started with the usual papadum's and sauces .  The sauces where of the best I have ever had, there was an amazing green one, not sure what was in it.  The mango chutney had actual pieces in it and was delicious.  For eight of them with the sauces it cost £6.00





For my mains I ordered Chicken Dansak @ £8.50 prepared with lentils, lemon juice and aromatic spice and served with pilau rice.  It was scrumptious, is the only way to describe it.  It had and sweet and sour taste with a slight burn (I did ask for it to be mild to medium).  The chicken dish is on the right.



Dee one of our dining party had the Prawn Dansak @ £9.50 prepared the same way as the chicken dish, but instead of pilau rice she asked for mushroom rice, which they gladly exchanged.  If she could have licked the bowl she would have.  It was very moresome. To the left of the picture above.

Paul ordered the Chicken Madras @ £5.50 Fairy hot dish cooked in garlic, lemon juice and spice.  From my side of the table it went down a treat.

David was daring (NOT), he ordered his usual with a slight twist, Mix Shaslick @ £7.95 chicken and lamb, cooked with tomatoes, green peppers and onions.  Cooked in a special clay tandoori.  As his sides he ordered Aloo Gobi @ £3.50, cauliflower with potato and a Chapathi @ £1.50.  These were inspired by Rick Stein's India






Overall Experience

Would I recommend The Green Spice?  YES.  If you are in the vicinity you have to give them a try.  The total bill with a bottle of wine, couple of beers, coffees etc came to £96.70 for four of us.  Well worth every penny.  


Tylers Road, Roydon Hamlet, CM19 5LJ

Tel: 01279 792666


Green Spice on Urbanspoon


Rating Guide


5 Stars - Perfect
4.5 Stars - Exceptional
4 Stars - Excellent
3.5 Stars - Very good
3 Stars - Good
2.5 Stars - Average
2 Stars - Bad
1.5 Stars - Very bad
1 Star - Dire

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Review: Riverhouse Restaurant & Bar



(WINDSOR, BERHSHIRE)

Star Rating: Food : 4.5 Stars Service : 4 Stars




Date of visit: 11 May 2013


I was on the lookout for a restaurant in Windsor along the river as an in between stop for us to get together with our family from Basingstoke. Found this on the web and was a bit dubious as the reviews on Tripadvisor where not brilliant. But due to the fact that there was parking right at the restaurant, as my Mum-Law just had a knee replacement and could not walk far, thought we would give it a try. Very pleased we did, as I must totally disagree with most of the latest reviews. On arrival we were shown straight to our table, and our drinks order was taken straight away. We selected a bottle of Houghton The Bandit Shiraz-Tempranillo (Western Australia) @ £23.95 a bottle, as this just seemed perfect because as you know my surname is Houghton.  One thing I must note is that one of our waitresses should perhaps think twice when choosing what underwear to wear under a white shirt, dark pink is not a good idea, and it did bring down the tone of the place a bit.
We selected from their evening menu even though we were there for lunch, to start with we ordered one Fresh flavoured bread to share @ £6.50, specially baked exclusively for them served with roasted garlic, balsamic and olive oil and marinated olives.  This was more then ample for five of us and was a lovely way to start our lunch.



For our main courses I ordered Pan fried corn fed chicken breast @ £11.95, with potato rosti and wilted spinach finished with white wine cream sauce. The chicken was cooked to perfection and the combination of flavours worked well together.  Although I must state that I am not a big fan of food that is towered up on ones plate, I like to taste each component of my meal seperately.


David on the other hand made the mistake of ordering the  Grilled Sea Bass @ £13.95, served with creamy polenta topped with wild mushrooms and lemongrass sauce. Had he not asked them to just give him the sea bass with a salad and leave off the polenta it might have been worth the £13.95 that they charged him.  Eventually he had to ask for some chips on the side, as there was no way that was going to satisfy his hunger. 


Danielle ordered their Home-made burger @ £10.95, topped with smoked applewood cheese and crispy back bacon with hand cut chips or french fries, watercress salad & fresh coleslaw.  Still to this day I don't know how a restaurant can claim something is home-made, to me it can only be called that if you actually cook it in your home, there is no way they would go home and cook the burger and then bring it to the restaurant once cooked. Sorry my little rant, just does my head in when you read some descriptions on a menu.





Our other two dinner guests both ordered Braised lamb shoulder @ £12.95, with chive mash and redcurrant jus (in layman terms sauce). As you will gather I am not a fan of the word jus, we are in England call it a sauce please unless you are a French restaurant.  They said it was lovely and the meat was cooked perfectly.



For afters David and I shared a cheese board @ £6.50, the others had sticky toffee pudding @ £4.95 and a chocolate torte @ £4.95.  These all went down extremely well.




Overall Experience

The setting was perfect, the company even better.  The whole atmosphere was welcoming, even the toilets were lovely and clean.  I would most definitely recommend this restaurant, well worth a first and second visit.  The whole meal for five of us cost £123.75.

http://www.riverhousewindsor.co.uk

Thames - Windsor, SL4 1QN
Tel: 01753 620010


Rating Guide


5 Stars - Perfect
4.5 Stars - Exceptional
4 Stars - Excellent
3.5 Stars - Very good
3 Stars - Good
2.5 Stars - Average
2 Stars - Bad
1.5 Stars - Very bad
1 Star - Dire


Sunday, 28 April 2013

Review: The White Hart Welwyn


(WELWYN, HERTFORDSHIRE)
Star Rating:  Food : 3.5 Stars  Service : 4 Stars

Date of visit: 26 April 2013

Thanks once again The 106 Jack FM for offering their £50 vouchers for £25.  If it was not for this we would not discover so many lovely places to eat in Hertfordshire.  David and I were at a loose end on Friday evening having to play taxi for Danielle and a few of her friends, so we had some time to kill.  We had bought the voucher and put it away for just such an occasion.  The drive to The White Hart was lovely, just when I think I have been everywhere I discover new places.  We put the postcode into the Satnav and followed her blindly, thinking we new exactly were we where going.  I thought that it was another pub that we had been to before, what a lovely surprise to find out it was not, I love discovering new places.  

They have got ample parking at the rear of the building and on our arrival were offered the option of going to the pub for a pre dinner drink or straight to our table.  I did have a bit of a problem understanding our waitress's accent, but then who am I to talk with my South African one.  We opted to go straight to our table as we had to fetch the girls later.  

You have to go down a few steps into their dining room, so it does not look very wheelchair friendly.  The décor is lovely and I must say you do feel as if you could have a lovely romantic evening there.  








The restaurant menu is very limited and pricey, I must say.  We were also given the option of choosing from their bar menu, which for a bar menu is also very pricey.  David and I both ordered their 21+ Day Aged ‘Bridget B’s’ 8oz Sirloin Steak @ £18.95 each, Rare breed beef with hand cut chips, grilled tomato & watercress with a choice of béarnaise, peppercorn or red wine sauces £1 each.  David took the pepper sauce and I asked if they could do a garlic butter sauce, which they did gladly.  I am not sure if it is the fact that we had just returned from South Africa and had been spoilt with the wonderful meat there, but for £18.95, I would have expected much more.  It did taste good, although David asked for the medium rare and me the medium, the waitress got it mixed up and I ended up eating a much more bloodier piece of meat than I would have like to.  


We ordered their House White @ £14.95
Overall Experience

Overall the waitress was lovely and attentive and regularly filled our wine glasses.  The chef accommodated my garlic sauce.  The atmosphere was lovely.  We had a lovely evening, but I don't think that I will rush back, the prices are scary and I don't feel warranted.  We have been to numerous just as lovely places with even better food that will not break the bank.  The meal in total cost us £56.55, that was just the two mains and one bottle of wine.


http://www.thewhiteharthotel.net

2 Prospect Place, Welwyn, Hertfordshire, AL6 9EN

Tel: 01438 715353

The White Hart on Urbanspoon



Rating Guide


5 Stars - Perfect
4.5 Stars - Exceptional
4 Stars - Excellent
3.5 Stars - Very good
3 Stars - Good
2.5 Stars - Average
2 Stars - Bad
1.5 Stars - Very bad
1 Star - Dire