Sunday, 12 August 2018

Sampling the menu at Maggie Fu...

It is good news when a slightly outlying area of a city is populated with great restaurants and this is true of Liverpool’s Smithdown Road which is home to several enticing eateries and cool bars, just outside the city centre. I love this area of the city for its vibrant and cosmopolitan atmosphere and Maggie Fu has been on my list of restaurants to try for a while, so it was high time when I finally went for dinner there recently. The menus offer a pleasing mix of Chinese and Japanese inspired dishes such as ramen, katsu curry and stir fried creations. We were warmly welcomed and seated straight away despite not having booked a table. Over a glass of wine for me and a Fanta for my designated driver, we perused the menu where the big bowl stir fried dishes caught my eye, before I settled on a sweet potato katsu curry for my main.


The restaurant was bustling with customers when we arrived, which was a promising sign on a weekday evening. I like the fun and bouncy energy of the space, which features an open-plan dining area flanked by an open kitchen and walls adorned with vibrant graphic art. 


There are plenty of starters to choose from, so we ordered a selection to share. Spring rolls are a classic I can rarely resist and the crispy filo and generous amount of filling made these a winner. 


Vegetable gyoza had a vibrant green colour and a delicate flavour and a steamed bun filled with tender roast chicken was an authentic treat paired with teriyaki sauce.  


I would recommend ordering a selection of appetisers, as there are plenty of inviting options to try and it is enjoyable to start a meal with a variety of flavours. 


We moved on to mains and my partner went for the three-meat ramen with curry broth, topped with wantons and chicken balls. This steaming bowl of ramen was heaped with succulent meat and the  aromatic curry broth had a subtly spicy taste while crisp green vegetables, wantons and chicken balls added to the overall flavour. The ‘build your own ramen bowl’ section of the menu is genius, because you can customise your bowl choosing which noodles, broth and toppings you prefer. Be warned, the portion size means you need a healthy appetite to do justice to one of these! 


My sweet potato katsu was everything a katsu curry should be – comforting and hearty, the sweet potato in golden panko crumb was enrobed in plenty of thick curry sauce, which initially tasted mild then rounded off with a pleasant kick of spice. The sticky rice was the stuff rice lover’s dreams are made of and this katsu more than delivered the goods, omitting the meat without missing out any flavour. 


We added a side of salt and pepper chips to our order and the fries garnished with spices, onion, pepper and chilli were the perfect addition to the meal. 


Excellent food, friendly service and reasonable prices are just some of the reasons to stop here for a bite to eat and it is always gratifying to see an independent place like this full of genuinely happy customers.

Maggie Fu
346 Smithdown Rd,
 Liverpool 
L15 5AN


Do you like the sound of Maggie Fu and which of these dishes would you try? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.


Until next time,

Camille 

xo




Saturday, 7 July 2018

The new summer menu at Gusto...

Some restaurants hold such good memories, that walking in to them is like greeting an old friend. This sums up how I feel about Gusto* Albert Dock, where I have dined for many years and the waterside location makes this such an attractive place to eat. Inside, the stylish interior includes dark wood, mirrored wall details and twinkling fairy lights which create a timeless charm. The food at Gusto is Italian inspired and you will find a range of pizza, pasta and salads on the menu alongside seafood and steaks. 


We went along to check out the new Gusto summer menu recently and after settling at a table by the window we sipped chilled Pinot Grigio and started the meal with cheese and truffle crispy ravioli while we pondered what to order. I was introduced to the joys of fried ravioli and tortellini during a press trip to Verona and these were as good as any I tried in Italy, stuffed with Stracchino cheese and laced with truffle oil and romesco sauce - the flavours were simple and delicious. 


No visit to Gusto is complete without an order of garlic bread and the garlic pizza bread with rosemary and sea salt never disappoints.


We moved on to starters and my dining companion's choice of Milanese style meatballs was a hearty dish with a real depth of flavour to the hand rolled meatballs, dusted with Gran Moravia cheese and served in a tangy lightly spiced tomato sauce. 


My choice of king prawns, pan fried with pickled fennel, tomato, caper and chilli oil packed in a wealth of flavours – the prawns were cooked to retain their succulence while the chilli oil added a pleasant kick of spice. 


I was impressed to see some vegan dishes joining the menu, including the Vegano pizza (tomato base, courgette, pine nuts, caramelised onion, roast peppers, cauliflower rice, and rocket) and my eye was immediately drawn to the spaghetti verdi, which is also available as a vegan option. The generous portion of spaghetti had a vibrant green colour thanks to soya beans, French beans and pea shoots and the wealth of bold summery flavours made this a perfect choice of main course for a sunny evening. 


Sides of polenta chips and Italian fried courgettes completed the feast – these are a good choice of sides to share as the polenta chips are chunky and indulgent while the courgette fries are a slightly healthier spin on French fries. 


The pizzas at Gusto are not to be missed - thin and crispy, the dough is made from scratch in-house daily. My dining companion enjoyed the Pepperoni salsiccia, heaped with pepperoni and mozzarella which is available with extra chilli if you are feeling brave. 




On to dessert and the evening was a little to warm for my usual favourite Gusto pud – the Nutella calzone which is freshly baked to order. Instead I rounded off the meal with a warm chocolate and hazelnut brownie with salted caramel ice cream and dark chocolate sauce. 


My dining companion meanwhile went for the homemade Gusto Tiramisu served in a towering slab, with smooth layers of creamy mascarpone and just enough of a boozy undertone. 



Gusto 
Edward Pavilion 
Albert Dock 
Liverpool 
L3 4AF


Dining at Gusto always leaves me feeling contented and the combination of impressive food, service and stylish surroundings makes it a consistently reliable dining destination in Liverpool. The new menu has some interesting additions which are definitely worth checking out.

What do you all think, do you like the sound of Gusto and which of these dishes would you try? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,

Camille 

xo


*I was invited to try the new menu by Gusto, this meal was complimentary. All opinions expressed herein are my own and honest. 

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Small plates and cocktails at Heritage...

Over the past few years, Castle Street in Liverpool has become one of the most thriving areas of the city when it comes to dining destinations. A wide choice of restaurants and bars jostle for space along this elegant street, in the shadow of the stately grandeur of the Town Hall. Heritage* has been on my radar for a while, I have heard glowing reports about this independent restaurant since it opened in February and more recently I have walked past a few times and seen people contently sipping cocktails outside in the afternoon sun and I kept meaning to drop in for one myself. Last week it was high time that I finally dined at Heritage and after a quick pre-dinner drink nearby, I was ready for food! A quirky space awaits when you step over the threshold of Heritage, where shelves lined with succulents, a compact bar area and patterned tiles create a vibe which is cool without trying too hard. We were immediately served a carafe of chilled water - a touch I appreciate so much and wish that more restaurants would adopt. A round of Capri cheesecake cocktails got proceedings underway in style as we pored over the menu – this refreshing blend of vodka, limoncello and pineapple was just the ticket for a sunny day. 




A selection of 2-3 small plates each was recommended and we obliged by ordering a wide spectrum of the varied menu. Dishes here are uncomplicated and the flavours do the talking, a simple culinary philosophy which is underpinned by quality local and seasonal ingredients. As the name suggests, the fusion of styles on the menu stems from the diverse heritage of the owners - Heritage is the brainchild of Alex (a chef of more than 20 years), Antonia, Lauren and Adam who teamed up to create a restaurant which reflects their backgrounds. The result is a menu peppered with Middle Eastern and European influences, as well as updated versions of classics (think Yorkshire rump steak served with tangy beer onions and gravy). 


We dived in to the meal with ‘our bread, hummus & punchy zhoug’ a sweet burst of pomegranate seeds adorned the hummus which paired well with crusty homemade bread, while the zhoug packed a  moreish punch with a carefully balanced blend of spices. 


An elevated take on traditional fish & chips, seabass with skinny fries was another winner and the buttery fish paired well with chunky house made tartare sauce and crunchy fries.


Our next arrival - slow cooked Indian spiced beans n’ peas and Alex’s chicken curry delivered layers of flavour worthy of many renowned Indian street food restaurants - the slow cooked spiced beans and peas were satisfyingly hearty thanks to the combination of ingredients. Give me a bowl of this any day and I will be happy! 




My dining companion tucked in to Alex’s chicken curry, tender chicken pieces in a velvety curry sauce which had a mild yet subtly spicy flavour. Both dishes were topped with pillowy homemade naan bread, which we tore in to without preamble!





Next up, ‘bag of brine n’ fried chicken’ a paper bag of golden fried chicken (soaked in brine first before it is fried, to retain its tenderness) was a delight with house made sweet chilli and barbecue sauces.

A bowl of falafel with fresh tahini yoghurt and a zesty cucumber salad proved refreshing and tasty. 


There was just enough room left for a creamy bowl of coconut rice pudding, raspberries & passionfruit which ended the feast on a tropical note, with the kind of dessert just made for eating on the terrace of a villa in Bali.


We relaxed with a coffee before departing in to the evening, happily replete after our meal. Heritage is an intriguing restaurant and bar which proves more than worthy of its name, with a menu showcasing a  range of global influences which translates to delicious food. It is pleasing to see another independent holding its own in this competitive area of the city and they work with some great local suppliers including Crosby Coffee and Dead Crafty Beer Co. All in all, dropping in here for some (not so small!) plates and drinks is a perfect way to while away a few hours and you can choose three small plates for £15 at lunchtime.


Heritage
40 Castle St
Liverpool
​L2 7LA

www.eatatheritage.co.uk


What do you all think, do you like the sound of Heritage and which of these dishes would you try? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post. 

Until next time,

Camille 

xo



* I was a guest of Heritage to sample their menu, this meal was complimentary. All opinions expressed herein are my own and honest. 



Sunday, 3 June 2018

Dining at Dough & Brew Warwick...

You may be wondering where I have been, usually I try to update the blog regularly but recently I have been so busy with writing work and freelance projects and this busy period culminated in a press trip to Rotterdam last weekend followed by a trip to The Lake District. In the midst of this busy time, I find myself back at my family home in The Peak District this weekend, so on this quiet Sunday afternoon I thought I would take a moment to update you about somewhere I dined recently. Following our review of The High Field Town House last month we decided to stay on in the area, so we spontaneously booked another night in nearby Warwick. I had not visited this charming city before and after wandering the streets sightseeing, we had worked up quite an appetite. In need of sustenance (and a wine or two!) a quick perusal on my phone revealed we were within a few steps of Dough & Brew, renowned for some of the best pizza in the area. The decision on where to dine was made and it turned out to be a wise choice.
Dough & Brew opened in 2016 and it has quickly gained a reputation for its pizzas - there is pasta available too and a well-rounded drinks offering including wine, craft beer, cocktails and milkshakes. The interior has a laid-back but contemporary feel, with wood panelling on the walls, stylish lighting and an open kitchen where the pizza oven plays the starring role.


It is no secret that I love a good pizza and I love a good glass of wine - put the two together and I am quickly assured of happiness - if only everything in life could be so simple. In no time, we were installed at a high table watching the world go by, with a glass of Chilean Merlot for me and a rich chocolate milkshake for my partner.


There is a varied brunch menu on offer at Dough & Brew too, but it had to be pizza so I opted for the Marge - this classic pizza was topped with zesty tomato sauce, fior de latte mozzarella and fresh basil. The sourdough bases here are left to prove for 72 hours and the pizza was simply delicious, with plenty of fresh flavour from the toppings and an appealingly crusty base.



My partner ordered a pizza from the specials menu, almost a burger in pizza form, this was heaped with various tender meats, lots of mozzarella and piquant gherkins - undoubtedly the best of all worlds if you like both burgers and pizzas. Silence ensued as every slice was assiduously devoured. The attention to detail here pays off and ingredients are locally sourced where possible, resulting in quality pizzas which are a pleasure to eat. Dough & Brew also have a sister company called Spectacular Goat which caters private events too. 


While we were at Dough & Brew, we got chatting to the charming owner John Martin who was taste testing some new menu items including the 'Elvis' a sweet waffle topped with banana, salted caramel, peanut butter, jam, Mascarpone, ice cream, Nutella chocolate sauce, maple syrup and candied bacon. Wow, this creation was pure indulgence and after tasting a sample we decided to order our own - John kindly obliged even though the dessert was not on the menu yet and he retreated to the kitchen to prepare this towering celebration of sweetness. The addition of crispy candied bacon really worked with the peanut butter and chocolate and this was the ultimate homage to the King of rock n' roll!  


After another round of drinks including a glass of Zinfandel on the house (thanks John!) we set off to explore more of the area feeling fully replenished by one of the best pizzas I have eaten for some time (and I have eaten many, dear reader!) I really liked Dough & Brew, this was casual dining at its best with attentive service paired with impressive food and drinks in an unhurried atmosphere. Most of all I love to see a great independent restaurant thriving in what is currently a tough market and I will definitely return when I am next in the area.


Dough & Brew 
45 Brook Street
Warwick
CV34 4BL

What do you all think, do you like the sound of Dough & Brew and what is your favourite pizza? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post!


Until next time,


Camille 

xo 

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Sampling the new menu at Chaophraya...

Thai food is one of my favourite cuisines, I love the bold flavours and the diversity of the dishes and it is always a pleasure to visit Chaophraya* which has an impressively varied menu including familiar Thai favourites, as well as some more intriguing creations. This week I went along to sample the new menu, which notably includes several new Thai re-imagined dishes which blend a fusion of East meets West influences to create dishes such as Farrang sausage pad ka pow, Toulouse sausage marinated in red wine and stir fried with Thai spices and basil. 
Our table was next to a pool of Koi Carp, which added to the relaxed ambience of the evening -  the interior design is sleek and contemporary with polished dark wood and Thai inspired decorative items. I sipped a Siam Smile as we perused the menu and this refreshingly tropical cocktail of  Absolut vanilla vodka, pineapple, passionfruit and a shot of prosecco made a pleasant start to the meal. There is a good range of drinks on the menu at Chaophraya including gin serves, signature cocktails, sharing cocktails and classics alongside beer and wine.


We chose a selection of appetisers to share, vegetable spring rolls, red curry battered prawns and chicken Thai tacos. We sampled the tacos on a previous occasion at Chaophraya and I love the street food inspiration behind this dish of red curried chicken with coconut milk, served on pan seared rice flour tacos. These tacos packed in a wealth of delicate flavours and they paired well with the cocktail. 



The red curry battered prawns were succulent and the tempura style batter was so light - I will be ordering these next time as I love prawn dishes. 


We were intrigued by the new Thai re-imagined dishes, so we decided on a couple to sample. The tom yum roast duck wings marinated and roasted in tom yum paste and served with a sweet tomato dipping sauce were so tender and the richness of the meat was complemented by the marinade. 


Ceviche is such a tasty dish when done well, and my choice of ceviche scallop with chilli and dressing nasturtiums was an elegant creation with precise favours. The scallops were  cured in lime juice and the burst of citrus offset the heat of the chilli perfectly, while the presentation on a nasturtium leaf was a nice touch. 



Curry is one of my favourite dishes and I am a lover of spicy food, so when I saw the prawn jungle curry on the menu I had to try it. This fiery dish inspired by a recipe from northern Thailand packed a punch with bamboo, papaya, green beans, Kra Chai and basil. Accompaniments of coconut rice, sticky rice and Thai prawn crackers with sweet chilli sauce rounded off our meal.



Sweet and sour chicken is a classic and it was good to see a new spin on this at Chaophraya, their sweet and sour chicken with dragon fruit has a tangy sauce heaped with pomegranate, peppers, pineapple, tomato, onion and Thai dragon fruit and it was served in dragon fruit too which made it a feast for the eyes. 






Dining at Chaophraya again reminded me why I love Thai food - the choice of dishes and satisfying flavours make a meal here an enjoyable way to spend an evening. We were so full that we politely declined the dessert menu , but I know from past experience that the chocolate bombe with warm salted caramel sauce is hard to resist. Chaophraya have restaurants around the U.K. and we dined at the Liverpool restaurant. 

 Liverpool One
5-6 Kenyons Steps
Liverpool L1 3DF

https://chaophraya.co.uk/




What do you all think, do you like the sound of inventive Thai food and expertly blended cocktails? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post. 

Until next time,

Camille

xo



*I was a guest of Chaophraya to sample the new menu, this meal was complimentary. All opinions stated herein are my own and honest.