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!

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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!

Dinner@Aizle, Edinburgh

We are out for dinner with our good friends Rufus and Lani – who have recommended that we come to Aizle. Aizle is a restaurant without a menu – at least not a traditional menu. Each month they chalk up on the wall a list of ‘harvest’ ingredients used to create a 5 course set menu. For the month of May these ingredients include: buckwheat; Gartmorn Farm duck; kombu; pear mustard; salt cod; thai basil and more – some familiar, some that we’ve not even heard of before!

We start by ordering drinks – mostly from the seasonal cocktail menu. Colourful cocktails called After A Fashion, The Rose and Nils Noren are ordered by everyone except me. I fancy the India Pale Ale from the Boundary Brewery. It soon becomes clear that we are all very happy with the choices we have made.

The first food that arrives is a set of snacks. A duck confit galette served with buckwheat and moelleux raisin. A goats cheese cornetto with sour cherry & savoury granola. A shard of crispy cod skin with whipped salt cod, red pepper and dill. Wow!

The starter is a wild garlic agnolotti – freshly made pasta served with heirloom tomatoes, thai basil and a tomato tea. Fabulously colourful and beautifully delicate. This is followed by a fish course of cod served with watercress, wild leek and summer truffle. The fish is beautiful and the summer truffle complements it perfectly. We’ve moved on to wine with a glass or two of decent Riesling Kabinett and a fine bottle of Casa Silva Pinot Noir.

The next course is breast of Gartmorn Farm duck with pear mustard, miso, sansho and rainbow chard. The duck is properly pink and tastes fantastic – the rainbow chard, the sansho and the pear mustard make really interesting accompaniments. This place just packs in a glorious mix of flavours.

Dessert is Perthshire strawberries with meadowsweet, white chocolate & sorrel leaves. We are really enjoying ourselves and, as we have already spotted petit fours being served to other tables, we order coffee. The coffee is as good as you would expect from a place like this and they keep refilling your cup while you relish the passionfruit & lemon vebena pate de fruit and sweetcorn macaroons.

Just one of the best eating experiences we’ve had anywhere….

Coffee@Birsay Bay Tearoom

Sometimes you just need a decent coffee and a good view to help you get through the day. The weather has been pretty awful and there are very few really good places nearby where we can stop for coffee & cake.  We’ve heard that the Birsay Bay Tearoom is worth a stop and it overlooks one of the more interesting places on today’s route – the Brough of Birsay.

Rock orders a home-made coconut cake and, because I’m in the mood for something savoury, I order a cheese scone.  The coffee and the coconut cake are both good but the cheese scone is fantastic – really light and yet full of flavour.  With great views and good service this has been an ideal place for a mid-morning break.