Food Awards 2017 – Part 3, small independents

WadeandRockandFood Awards 2017

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 2017.

Lynwood & Co, Lechlade – best breakfast

We visited Lynwood & Co after seeing it named in the Guardian’s 50 best breakfast places in the UK. The coffee is sublime and, with bread made by Max Abbott of Sourdough Revolution,their bacon sandwich is unbelievably good. Lynwood Review

P1050734a
Sourdough bacon sandwich

Beadlam Grange Farmshop, Beadlam – best cheese

A great cheese counter filled with carefully selected cheeses and staffed by people who really know a lot about the goods they are selling.  You can taste before you buy and you are unlikely to be disappointed.  Introduced us to Black Cheddar! Beadlam Review

P1060003a
Black Sticks Blue, Barncliffe Brie, Mrs Bell’s Ewes Milk Blue and Charcoal Black Cheddar

Mannion & Co, Helmsley – best coffee and cake

Beautiful coffee and fabulous, freshly baked artisan made cakes.  The cakes are often decorated with fresh fruit and interesting herbs that put them on a level above the competition. Mannion & Co also gave us the best pasta dish of 2017! Mannion Review

P1050869b
Blueberry & thyme frangipane tart and a cappucinno

Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House – best attached tea room

Usually when we visit an historic house and/or gardens the cafe or tea room seems to be only there to provide basic sustenance.  However at Blackwell they have an Arts & Crafts approach to food with a focus on quality, freshly prepared dishes.  We loved it! Blackwell Review

P1020129a
Warm salad of pulled ham, orange & fennel served with Puy lentils, toasted pumpkin seeds, mixed leaves, honey mustard dressing and toasted homemade bread

Here’s hoping that 2018 gives us as much food joy as 2017!

Advertisements

2017 Food Awards – Part 1, Restaurants

WadeandRockandFood Awards 2017

The WadeandRockandFood Awards 2017 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. 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 an 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

Arras, York

Arras is relatively new and we hope it continues to thrive… as it produces very interesting dishes. Balancing a combination of flavours is the key when being inventive and this kitchen contains people with very finely tuned palates. The balance of flavours often borders on perfection! Arras review

P1050983a
Grilled mackerel, brassicas and apple
P1050984a
Braised pork cheek with fermented rye grain, sauerkraut jelly and mustard sauce
P1050992a
Cinnamon crumble, yoghurt sorbet, orange, orange jelly, red berry jus, vanilla and ricotta mousse

Marcus, Belgravia

When you visit a place that has two Michelin stars it is impossible not to have very high expectations.  At Marcus they delivered food that met and exceeded those expectations and the level of service and attention to detail was extraordinary. Marcus review

P1030971a
Scallop, curry & apple with a roast beef dressing
P1030975a
Herdwick lamb, crispy breast, pea, mint
P1030993a
Warm chocolate, cacao, salted caramel ice cream

The Woodspeen, Woodspeen

The Woodspeen is the only establishment in any category to have appeared every year in our Awards.  Their success is due to the excellent food and service that they consistently deliver every single time we visit. Wood Review 1 Wood Review 2

P1060016a
Quail breast and crispy leg with chicory & orange jam and a cauliflower puree
P1060030a
Roasted cod with pancetta, cavolo nero, girolles, onions and a cep puree
P1060033a
Tarte of fig & hazelnut, fig leaf ice cream

International

The Artist, Bucharest

The Artist gave us one of the best eating experiences we have had anywhere in the world.  Extraordinary food presented in exceptional ways – almost like a culinary theatre! Artist review

P1020535a
White cod, zucchini, cauliflower, eggplant and curry
P1020530a
Whipped brie, granola and orange gel
P1020542a
Spoons of salted caramel, chocolate & coconut, raspberry cone & berries, strawberry & white chocolate

The WadeandRockandFood Awards parts 2 and 3 will follow over the next few days.

Cheese@Beadlam Grange Farmshop

While we were in north Yorkshire, Beadlam Grange Farmshop was the place we went almost daily for high quality provisions.  It is a great farmshop staffed with really helpful people.  And, before leaving Yorkshire, we had to have one last visit to stock up on cheese.  Beadlam Farm have a great cheese counter, they carefully select their cheese, they are very knowledgeable about their cheese and they encourage you to taste anything you fancy before buying it.

We came away with: Mrs Bell’s Ewes Milk Blue – a delicious creamy blue, slightly salty,  full of flavour and a little like a Roquefort but better; Black Sticks Blue – a very strong orange blue, firmer than Mrs Bells, possibly too strong for Rock but I loved it; Charcoal Black Cheddar – a fabulous creamy cheddar which, aesthetically looks fantastic on your cheeseboard and tastes as good as it looks; and a Barncliffe Brie – creamy but not super soft and with much more flavour than a standard brie.

Plus, we have a jar of Great Yorkshire Pickle from Rosebud Preserves.  Sweeter than branston and a great accompaniment to the various cheeses.

Finally, thanks to Angela, Jan & Penny for their superb help and advice on all our visits to Beadlam Grange.

Lunch@Arras, York

After a fabulous morning walking round York Minster and the city walls, we are heading for Arras and lunch.  Arras is a relatively new restaurant opened by Adam and Lovaine Humphrey who, though both English, had opened the original Arras in Australia before being drawn back to the UK.

Let’s start with the negatives – there are only two and they are both small.  Firstly, some of the tracks on the Arras lunchtime playlist are a little bizarre.  I like driving rock music when I’m…driving.  When I’m having lunch I want something a little more chilled.  Second, I am briefly disappointed by the relatively limited beer menu.  It doesn’t take me very long to choose Maris the Otter by Brew York, a smooth English bitter named after the Maris Otter variety of malt.  However, my modest disappointment disappears when I read the food menu.  Three courses, just three choices for each course – but every choice sounds interesting!P1050981a

Rock starts with the grilled mackerel, brassicas and apple.  The mackerel has been marinated before grilling and it works perfectly with the brassica and apple.  I have the braised pork cheek with fermented rye grain, sauerkraut jelly and mustard sauce.  The pork is as tender as anything and the great flavours of sauerkraut and mustard are there but they do not overpower the pork.  Both dishes are beautifully presented and taste fantastic.

P1050984a

Is Arras going to be one of those places that presents you with fabulous starters and then follows with far less inspiring main courses?  We soon have the answer…a definite no.  Rock is even harder to impress than I am – but she really is impressed by her roast poussin, celeriac remoulade, mushrooms and lovage emulsion. How have they managed to infuse so much flavour into a roast poultry dish?  My stone bass with puy lentils, cucumber and crab is also wonderful. The fish is perfectly cooked, crispy skin and flaky white flesh. Balancing a combination of flavours is the key when being inventive and this kitchen contains at least one person with a very finely tuned palate.

P1050987a

As is often the case, we decide to share a dessert.  Another exquisitely presented plate arrives with cinnamon crumble in the centre, topped with a yoghurt sorbet.  Segments of orange, chunks of orange jelly and small pieces of frozen berry all sitting on a red berry jus surround the crumble.  Plus, draped across the plate… a square snake of vanilla and ricotta mousse. It is a fantastic collection of sweet and sharp, soft and crunchy taste sensations.  Again the quality of each component and the balance of flavours borders on perfection.

P1050992a

All five dishes were incredibly well balanced with some unusual flavour combinations that really worked – if Arras can do that consistently they should be in line for a Michelin star!  We also had really informative and efficient service from Charles.

If you live in York or you are planning to visit York and you want a high quality food experience – we strongly recommend that you try Arras.

Dinner@The Star Inn, Harome

When we went to The Star Inn at Harome a few years ago, we absolutely loved the food and the ambience of the place. It has been a regular in both the Good Food Guide and the Good Pub Guide for a very long time. So tonight, as we head there for dinner, our expectations are absurdly high.

It seems bigger and smarter than I remember and now feels a little more like a fine dining establishment than a gastropub. We are soon presented with an amuse bouche of warm cheese and fennel sablets with a Hambleton ale relish. The sablets and the relish are both excellent.

P1050926a
Cheese & fennel sablets with Hambleton ale relish

I order a pint of the Two Chefs ale. I last had this beer at the Pipe & Glass and the name refers to the fact that it was created by James from the Pipe & Glass and Andrew Pern from here at the Star at Harome. I was not overly impressed when I tried it before but, second time around, I am really enjoying the fragrant notes of cinnamon and nutmeg that come through the ale.

Rock has the gravadlax of oak-smoked halibut with sourdough crumpets, oyster emulsion, mayonnaise and sea vegetables. It is perfectly fine but she is not as wowed as she hoped to be. I have the freshly steamed Isle of Shuna mussels mariniére. I am wowed – the mussels are superb.

Planning ahead to leave room for dessert, Rock has another starter for her main course – ravioli of beer braised oxtail with fresh horseradish shavings, kitchen garden flowers, leaves and vegetables. She is surprised to find that the ravioli contains very little oxtail and a significant amount of chicken mousse. She doesn’t like the dish at all and leaves it almost untouched …on the plus side, now she has plenty of room for dessert.

P1050943a
Beer braised oxtail ravioli 

We are being looked after by Jen and Alex. The ravioli is immediately taken off the bill and both work hard to try and ensure that Rock is enjoying herself. I have the saddle of local venison cooked over charcoal with a startling range of accompaniments – coffee bean carrots, pistachio cake, pickled cherries and ‘twiglets’. The venison is very good and, although I enjoy some of the added extras, I am starting to feel that the kitchen is trying too hard to be inventive.

Rock moves on to the spiced braised pineapple with a pineapple sorbet and she is back in the game. I have the gooseberry and lemon verbena rice pudding with an elderflower custard doughnut. The rice pudding is a great balance of sweet and sour and I have an excellent elderflower spritzer to go with it.

While we can’t ignore the ravioli, which was a travesty compared to the oxtail pasta dish we had at Mannion & Co, the rest of the food was very good indeed. The drinks were excellent and the service, from Jen and Alex, was superb.

Lunch@The Olive Branch, Ilkley

We tried Sardinian food last week, this week we are going Turkish! The Olive Branch is a small chain of family run restaurants in Yorkshire and we are having lunch at the Ilkley restaurant.

How do you get draft beer in a bottle? I order an Efes Draft and receive a very refreshing Turkish lager in a barrel-shaped bottle. Ok, beer straight from the barrel but the barrel is a bottle! To start I have the grilled halloumi with roast aubergine, courgette, peppers and olive oil. Rock has falafel served with hummus and a tomato relish. Both dishes are very flavoursome and the accompanying salad is beautifully enhanced with sumac.

I find room for another barrel of beer as I begin to eat the grilled lamb kofte. Served on an extremely wide and narrow plate, the skewered lamb mixed with spices is almost a foot long and served with rice, salad, yoghurt and a sweet chutney. Rock is having the lamb Imam Bayildi – roast aubergine, stuffed with spiced minced lamb and vegetables and served with a tomato sauce and rice. Very generous in size and in flavour.

P1050892a

P1050891a

Despite being enticed by some delightful sounding desserts we dither over whether we can even share a slice of lemon cheesecake. We recognise our limitations and decide not to. Service throughout from Jade and Kelly has been excellent and, just to add to our experience, they box up a slice of lemon cheesecake and two baklava for us to take home…..as a gift. Wow!

P1050893a

Coffee&cake@Bettys, Northallerton

Bettys is a very civilised place. Traditional surroundings, staff in uniform and all the baking, patisserie, tea and coffee brewing skills you expect from a quality British institution. We’ve been to the Harrogate and Ilkley branches before – now it’s the turn of Bettys in Northallerton.

I have a cafetière of coffee made with Kenyan Karatina beans while Rock is happy with a cup of Bettys cafe blend. We share a piece of the Autumn berry cheesecake and the tangy lemon slice. They are both excellent with the cheesecake winning the beauty contest and the lemon slice winning on flavour.

As usual, as we leave Betty’s we wander into the shop to buy bread and pastries for later. It would be foolish not to!