Dinner@Hanoi Bike Shop, Glasgow

The road trip has reached Glasgow and we are meeting our friends Ophelia, Janice, Marley & Alska for dinner at the Hanoi Bike Shop. The Hanoi Bike Shop is a Vietnamese restaurant with a great reputation that has attracted many celebrities including Beyoncé. If it’s good enough for her then it will almost certainly be good enough for Janice!

P1060996a

Sitting outside on yet another hot day and all but Marley (too young) are keen to try some Vietnamese and Glaswegian beers.  A selection of Jaw Brew Drop IPA, Saigon Export lager and Jaw Brew Surf pale ale soon arrive. The Saigon lager is genuinely Vietnamese and brewed in Ho Chi Minh.  Golden, frothy, the notes of rice and lemon will clearly work well with Asian food. Jaw Brew is a Glaswegian brewery.  Drop is an IPA with notes of grapefruit that will cut through the spice and Surf is a pale ale with apple and pine that should work well with fried or barbecued dishes.  Of the three, Drop is probably our favourite. Hot day, cold beer, food to come – all is good.

P1060998a
Bun Cha

Prawn crackers while we wait for the dishes – each dish will arrive as and when it has been freshly cooked.   The first dish to arrive is the chicken Bun Cha – marinated chicken, char-grilled and served on skewers with vermicelli noodles, a fresh herb salad and a hot & sour broth. Fabulous.  Next the Cha Ca Quy Nhon chosen by Ophelia – Vietnamese fish cakes served with gem lettuce, pickles, vermicelli noodles and nuoc cham ( lime, fish sauce, garlic, sugar & chilli).  Wow!

P1060999a
Cha Ca Quy Nhon
P1070001a
Ba Roi Ram Duong

More beer and now Ba Roi Ram Duong – caramelised pork belly and pan fried sea bream served with cucumber kimchi, watercress and chilli.  Extraordinary – I think I may have been transported temporarily to food heaven.  At the other extreme Janice, who is always up for trying something new, has ordered some Kimchi – a side dish made from fermented vegetables.  By itself it tastes pretty awful but I’m sure it will work as a flavour enhancer for other dishes.

P1070002a
Banh Cu Cai Dau Nanh

Next to arrive is the Banh Cu Cai Dau Nanh – daikon & soya bean cakes served with crispy shallots, birds eye chilli and syboes (Scots word for spring onions).  Rock loves them. Then, for Alska and Marley, are the Cha Lua pork & lemongrass kebabs skewered on roast sugarcane which comes with fresh herbs and blistered chilli sauce. Another winner.

P1070004a
Ca Mop Ot 

Rock has selected Ca Mop Ot – Hake flavoured with tamarind and fermented chilli and served with a beansprout salad and a mango sambal.  She has now joined me in food heaven.  Janice has made a much wiser choice than the kimchi with Vit Ma Ong (see featured image) – crispy salt & honey duck leg served with  pickled red cabbage and syboe oil.  More beer and then finally, for Alska & Marley, Bap Gnot Va Dua Banh Ran – huge sweetcorn & coconut fritters with gem lettuce, pickles and nuoc cham.

 

 

P1070011a
Bap Gnot Va Dua Banh Ran

We ordered less than the recommended number of dishes and, even with Janice’s enormous appetite, we could not eat it all.  An extraordinary amount of food, a massive variety of flavour combinations, fabulous quality of cooking and a more than modest amount of beer.  We all loved it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Brunch@cafezique, Glasgow

No Rock today but I’m joining my good friends Ilia, Muffin and my godson Zord for a late brunch at one of their favourite places – cafezique.  Tables are set out around a bar area that encircles the small open kitchen, plus there are more tables upstairs on a mezzanine level.

It’s buzzing here and, after a short wait, we get a corner table downstairs next to the window.  Zord needs distracting and a really generous bowl of beautiful black and green olives does the trick.  Ilia and I are similarly distracted by a fine bottle of Samuel Smith’s Organic Lager.

Properly cooked food takes a little longer but it is worth the wait.  Muffin has the cullen skink with bread.  For anyone who does not know what the traditional Scottish cullen skink is, I’ll do my best to give you an idea.  It is a thick soup made with smoked haddock, potatoes and onions and often flavoured with parsley or bay leaf.  The freshly baked bread is excellent here – the cafe owners, the Zique family, have a bakery too.

P1060891a
Cullen skink

Ilia is having the big breakfast – fried eggs, shoulder bacon, black pudding, sausages, beans, tattie scone, mushroom, tomato and toast.  A plate of quality products – both the bacon and the sausages have great flavour.

P1060893a
Big breakfast

I’m having eggs black – a version of eggs benedict – soft poached eggs on a muffin, with hollandaise and leaves plus Stornaway black pudding rather than the bacon you get in a benedict.  The eggs are beautifully poached, the hollandaise is top drawer and the black pudding is fabulous.

P1060895a
Eggs black

Now, did I mention that the Zique family are bakers…time for cake.  Muffin has an excellent fruit scone with butter and jam.  But, I’m about to enjoy the highlight of this whole experience – a baked cheesecake.  No sauces, fruit or any other addition – it just does not need them.  It is the lightest baked cheesecake I think I’ve ever had – and I will remember it for a long time.

P1060900a

Great food, friendly and helpful service mainly from Eva and Fiona, quality beer ….oh, and that cheesecake!

 

2016 Food Awards – part 3

WadeandRockandFood Awards 2016

Awards part 1 focused on our top restaurants, part 2 focused on our favourite pubs and now part 3 focuses on four small independent food providers that gave us something special during 2016.

Eastward House, Orkney – best breakfast

You choose in advance from a range of three course gourmet breakfasts with each course designed to deliver either vitamins, fibre or protein. It is a breakfast experience like no other! East review

Jolly Nice, Frampton Mansell – best burger & beer

To create the fabulous Jolly Nice burger they use rare breed shorthorn beef and other high quality local produce. It can be enjoyed with any one of a range of bottled craft ales. Jolly review

Toast House, Ilkley – best coffee & cake

Great place to relax with fabulous coffee. But it is the cake that puts Toast House at the top of the pile! Every cake has been home-made with skill and love. Toast review

Severn & Wye Smokery, Chaxhill – best fish

Suppliers to some of the finest chefs and foodstores in the UK. Their small restaurant has a menu of fresh fish, smoked fish and shellfish which they cook beautifully. A must for fish lovers! Severn review – Jan 16 Severn review – Jul 16

Here’s hoping that 2017 gives us as much food joy as 2016!

2016 Food Awards – Part 1

WadeandRockandFood Awards 2016

The WadeandRockandFood Awards 2016 follow another year of dining out in hundreds of restaurants, pubs and cafes. The awards aim to celebrate the very best eating experiences we have had over the last 12 months. Awards 2016 part 1 will focus on restaurants, part 2 on pubs and part 3 on small independent food providers.

We have had an extraordinary year in terms of visiting restaurants of the highest quality. As usual, we have narrowed it down to 3 UK restaurants that we loved the most, plus a new award for the best international eating experience. The top UK restaurants are listed in alphabetical order followed by the winner of the international award.

UK

Aizle, Edinburgh

This place creates a 5 course menu from monthly ‘harvest’ ingredients that are all at the height of quality and seasonality. They create dishes and cocktails that are sensational. Aizle Review

Carters, Moseley

3,5,or 7 course set lunch menus cleverly balance big flavours and a variety of textures. It was a joy to find such a diamond of a restaurant in a relatively unassuming suburb of Birmingham! Cart Review

The Woodspeen, Woodspeen

This beautiful airy restaurant was featured in the 2015 awards and we couldn’t resist going back. They spoil diners with exceptional service and consistently fabulous food. Wood Review – Jan 16. Wood Review – Aug 16.

International

Kodbyens Fiskebar, Copenhagen

Skilful kitchen teamwork helps to create fish dishes and desserts that are fantastic to look at and even better to eat! Despite the restaurant being very lively, the service is still superb. Kod Review

Parts 2 and 3 will follow over the next few days.

Lunch@The Devil’s Advocate, Edinburgh

After a beautiful walk along the Water of Leith and then from the parliament building at Holyrood up the length of the Royal Mile… it has to be time for lunch. Just off the Royal Mile is The Devil’s Advocate, a bar & restaurant located in an old Victorian pump house.  When we arrive the place is lively and most people in the downstairs bar area are simply enjoying a drink. We are soon seated by Lenka at an upstairs table.

Rufus and I both need a beer. He chooses the Vienna Pale from Pilot a local Leith brewery – it is a very drinkable lager style ale with sweet & malty notes. I go for the Skye Gold from the Isle of Skye Brewing Company – a craft ale with a touch of grain and a creamy head. We’ve both chosen well!

Lani & Rock both decide to have the Scrabster cod fillet with French style peas, smoked bacon and cabbage. The red-meat eating males both pick the bay leaf, lemon & garlic marinated lamb rump served with a salade nicoise. The cod is cooked perfectly and the lamb rump is tender and pink. Relatively simple dishes, beautifully executed.

For dessert each couple shares a pecan pear pie with cinnamon ice cream – rich and sweet, it tastes as good as it looks. 

The Devil’s Advocate is a few hundred yards off the main tourist drag of the Royal Mile but, if you are looking for a better place to eat and drink than most of the crowded places on the shopping streets, it is well worth seeking out!

Dinner@Field Grill House, Stockbridge

We wanted to have dinner at the Field but they were fully booked. Instead Rufus & Lani secured a table at its sister restaurant, the Field Grill House in Stockbridge. These two restaurants both make a virtue of sourcing quality ingredients as locally as possible.

Rock is having the roast quail’s breast, quail kiev with crisped, pickled and crushed carrots. Rufus & I are both having the beetroot cured salmon with mint crème fraiche, beetroot, pickled cucumber and a crispy crab ball. Lani cannot resist the pan fried scallops with black pudding, avocado & hazelnuts. Everything is fresh, beautifully presented and tastes really good. Each of the starters has an excellent mix of textures and the use of pickling and curing has enhanced the flavours.

For the starters and the main fish dishes we order a bottle of Domaine Horgelus Colombard Sauvignon – a refreshing white with good citrus and floral notes which should work well with fish and seafood dishes. Rufus is having steak next and picks a Les Marins Malbec by Paul Sapin to go with that. I choose a Leyda Reserva Pinot Noir that should go well with my pork dish.

Rufus’ 35day aged ribeye steak comes from Shaws of Lauder and is served with hand cut chips, Portobello mushroom, roast tomato and shallot salt. My grilled pork loin is accompanied by pork cheek, black pudding gnocchi, scotch quail egg, apple & ginger sauce. It is heavenly! A sweet potato & goat’s cheese ravioli arrives for Rock – which is a bit of a problem because it’s not the dish she ordered. Profuse apologies follow and the kitchen races to put together the roast hake with curried cauliflower, avocado crème fraiche, mango salsa and prawn wonton which she had actually ordered. Lani has the roast cod, lobster tortellini, anchovy & olive mash and thermidor sauce.

We are all enjoying the food and the wine and we cannot resist carrying on. Rufus & Lani decide to share the caramelised white chocolate & raspberry baked alaska. Rock & I share the IJ Mellis cheese selection served with grapes, honey and oatcakes.

We have had a great time – fabulous company, great food, good wine. The service and the atmosphere at Field Grill House have also been really excellent. We may have wanted to be at Field but the Grill House has been a great alternative.

Lunch@Hamilton’s, Stockbridge

We are with Rufus & Lani in Stockbridge – a smart area of Edinburgh – and we are about to have lunch at Hamilton’s Bar & Kitchen. It is a lively place, with people of all ages, some having brunch, some having lunch, others seemingly just here for a drink with friends.

Rufus orders a pint of Joker IPA from the Williams Bros. Brewing Company – a golden pale ale with fruity notes. Lani has a glass of Tenuta del Porconero Aglianico, a spicy organic Italian red. Rock and I try two different beers from Tempest Brewing Company – a Pale Armadillo and a Long White Cloud – the Armadillo is a lovely IPA with citrus notes, the Cloud is light and refreshing. Lunch has started very well indeed!

The menu here appears to have something for everybody and there are some original touches. I choose the kale, halloumi & zucchini croquettes with lebanese potatoes, roast red peppers, rose harissa and blood orange hollandaise. Beautiful and interesting flavours. Rufus is having the Serrano ham with fresh fig, boilie goat’s cheese, heirloom tomatoes & sherry vinegar.

The red lentil, coriander & butterbean hash browns with two poached eggs & honey arrive for Rock. It’s always great when the kitchen knows how to poach an egg properly and the hash browns are a perfect accompaniment. Lani is having the corn chips with cheddar, jalapenos, avocado, tomato salsa & sour cream. It’s a slightly sexier version of Nachos than you get in most places.

Hamiltons has a great buzzy atmosphere. The service is pretty good, the food is very good and the drinks are fabulous. All in all – lunch has been a delightful experience!