What's on the menu?

What's on the menu?

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Sunday Lunch at the Queens Head Belton

We love the opportunity to head out to a good country pub. Whilst we appreciate the hustle and bustle of Nottingham we're no longer the party animals we might have been. We're now at the point where we'd rather treat ourselves to Sunday dinner so when the opportunity to pop over to the Queens Head at Belton for a review came about we jumped at the chance.

We've been hearing good things about the Queens Head for a while and whilst it's a little further than we might normally venture it's actually not that far in honesty. A relatively short 25 minute drive from Nottingham city centre and we were out past East Midlands Airport and into some lovely rolling countryside on quiet roads. The area's not far from Nottingham, Leicester, Derby and Loughborough so if you're looking for inspiration for your Sunday lunch it could be well worth consideration.

The Queens Head, Belton

Sunday, 20 November 2016

It's Time to Griddle & Shake Nottingham

Last week Mark came along to the opening party for Griddle and Shake. Where the farm meets fast food with quality burgers cooked up before your eyes. 

Griddle & Shake Nottingham's Front on Fletcher Gate

I had the pleasure of attending a special event to celebrate the opening of the long awaited Griddle and shake restaurant in Nottingham’s Fletcher gate - a fast food burger joint that actually sells great service with better burgers than other so called burger franchises!
The owner Edd Halls has probably succeed in creating the genuinely first fast food burger joint that is actually fast and serves a great burger with great toppings. 

Liam and I had the opportunity to talk to Ed Halls at length about his vision and the concept of the restaurant, what is clear is that Ed has a great passion for good food and in providing it in an environmentally friendly way-the plastic cutlery isn’t really plastic!! Edd's vision is a great one that not only looks to provide a great meal but also to look after his staff the way they look after us  the customer and the environment. Though this is not entirely unique it is rare and it is good that Nottingham has been chosen to be the launch site for this new venture.

Ed Hall's Tell Us All About His Vision for Griddle & Shake

Situated on Fletcher Gate the restaurant is on the tram route almost opposite Lace Market Tram Stop and close to major bus routes with a 5 minute walk from Market square.  The outside is much as you would expect with modern branding and signs extolling the virtues of the food inside and…a life size orange cow in the window! as per the photo at the top of the page. 

Inside you have a themed but very spacious area.  and we were greeted at the entrance, shown to where we were being hosted for the evening and provide a little bit of information with regard to the evenings format. We were directed to order a drink and told we would get to experience ordering our burger later on. The restaurant was open to the public for the evening however all the happenings were going on at the rear. 

Beers at Griddle & Shake Come Couressy of Freedom 

Ed is keen to partner with people who share a common goals and vision and here with Freedom Brewery he has found a good beer supplier. There is the usual soft drinks as well and of course the shakes but we will get those later. The beer was either a hand crafted ale or a lager, I naturally chose the lager. Now don't get this confused with Kronenbourg, Stella, Carling etc this is really a level above what they do mass produced.  The Freedom lager has a great golden colour with a nice head but it was the taste that won it for me, the combination of spring water , malted barley, hops and yeast produces a fragrant sweet and slightly floral taste. This is both full of flavour and refreshing and being brewed in a sustainable way is truly fitting to Edd’s overall vision.

Fresh and Modern Dining Areas to the Rear of the Restaurant

Towards the back of the restaurant there is a mural wall depicting food pictographs in keeping with the restaurant, bright colours but loads and loads of space. Turning around to look out to the front of the restaurant we see the outside inside!! With fake grass and country panorama complete with seating areas cunningly discussed as barns come milking sheds. Even a jersey cow patch arm chair. We were told that there should have been a swing as well, but some body broke it!!

Moo-ve Over to the Cowshed.

The tables all look like reclaimed oak planed and nicely finished with brightly coloured chairs and a tractor bonnet turned into a coffee table! it seems that there is an eccentricity to the decor but one that fits with the style of the place.

Finally we get to order our burgers so we head up to the counter and there are presented with the first decision - the Bap! With thee to choose from including gluten free it is not all that difficult but unusual as who gives you the choice of filling with the choice of bun! there is that sandwich place but they don't do burgers! 

Your Burger Cooks Right Before Your Eyes

Having chosen my brioche bun i went on to  choose the toppings and the chutney for my burger. What is too nice is being ballot to pick and choose what you  want  without having to  wait for someone to bother to do your “hold the pickles” order. once all this was done all I had to  do  was head to my seat and the  staff will bring you your meal. I guess I waited less than five minutes before I was unwrapping my brioche bun with cheese,bacon and a smoked bacon chutney burger. I could have had half a dozen other toppings instead - stilton , pulled pork as well as salad toppings.

Mark's Finished Burger Creation from Griddle & Shake

So I bite in to my juicy and flavour some burger getting hints of the relish the mature cheddar and crispy bacon and a beef patty that is course in texture but moist and just cooked with the beef being just pink inside it was as near to perfect as it could be. I thoroughly enjoyed the burger it was full of flavour and at the end of the day it was my burger, I created it, and it had only on the bun what I wanted no pickles!!

While we were eating the sides were brought out there were skin on chips and sweet potato fries these were again served with additional spices/herbs etc that you can chose. the chips were fine =, they were crispy and tasty but not blow you mind amazing. I also tried the sweet potato fries - now I need to  explain at this point i am not a fan of sweet potato, HOWEVER, these were amazing!! Seasoned with garlic and rosemary they were nothing short of brilliant! The sweet taste of the potato with the tang of garlic and the earthiness of the rosemary combined to make a great dish. 

House Spiced Sweet Potato Fries

If you may permit me a small digression, I firmly believe that cooking good food is not difficult, I truly think anybody can do it with a little help and guidance. The difference comes in turning good food to GREAT food. That is where the skill comes in, in taking small things and combining them to make something better than the sum of their parts like for instance the sweet potato fries! Simple ingredients with a big impact on taste. 

These days it seems every one is doing chicken wings, usually drowned in BBQ sauce of one description or another… BORING!! In the beginning they were different but now its like everyone has to do them. Griddle and shake have chicken wings as well, but not drowned in what is usually a mediocre sauce at best. No, Griddle and shake have blended their own spice, they have put together the flavours they want and then lightly dust the wings when cooked. 

Griddle & Shake's Amazing Chicken Wings

Oh such sweet, juicy spicy and beautiful chicken wings so Moorish I kept wanting more! I thought that these were soon very good until one of management team joint us for a chat and suggested I try them with the blue cheese dip! Ok so NOW I am in love!!  So many flavours mingling and hitting all those sweet, sour and salt tasting areas of the tongue all at the same time while no one taste overpowered the others I was in chicken wing heaven! I wish I hadn't had so many previously as but this time I was getting to the very full stage. The blue cheese dip made that dish, it took a great chicken wing and lifted it to amazing!

Lastly but by no means least we have the shakes, All made with milk vanilla ice-cream and with over a dozen flavours to add one or all if you want to create you very own flavourful shake. Even with dairy free at the same price. 

We tried 3 different shakes - strawberry, Speculoos and Malteser, Oreo, peanut butter and Speculoos, and one other that escapes memory but it had speculoos in it as well as Nutella! These were only samples but full of the creamy goodness of a vanilla ice-cream whole milk. The added flavours were so good, so tasty and way overboard on the calories but hey you don't go to  a burger joint for salad! 

Again I should point out I hate peanut butter. I guess its one of those things you like or don't much like satay. but when combined with the Speculoos and Oreo’s it was actually not bad! I liked the result it wasn't overpowering you got the flavours of the other ingredients so it was all good. My favourite shake was definitely the strawberry- it was so good. Creamy and tasty, I was sold on this the moment I tasted it.

Ed Halls is a man with the plan! He has a clear strong and concise vision for Griddle and Shake. In his welcome to us he said he has partnered deliberately with people who share or can compliment his vision. He has made decisions based on ethics not the bottom line - So what if he pays 2-3 pence more for his cups, and napkins, the vision is as much about sustainability as it is about great food. 

Where Ed has a self admitted lack of knowledge in some areas he has surrounded himself with those who do have the knowledge and has a great team from the suppliers to the management that help and oversee the operation. Add his vast knowledge of the industry and as such a charismatic and personable man you cannot help but like him and get excited as he is about Griddle and Shake. It's not difficult to see his enthusiasm for the business and how that draws people in.

Food Should be Fun

All in all I loved Griddle and Shake, its concept, food ,outlook and the staff who really made us feel welcome

Griddle & Shake 
9 Fletcher Gate
Tel 0115 9506000

Monday, 14 November 2016

Fine Dining at the Blue Grill, Thoresby Hall Hotel

For many of us Thoresby Hall is a hotel complex and despite knowing where it is we wouldn't really consider it as somewhere to go for dinner. Mum has had a few trips up to use their amazing spa previously. Up to now we hadn't even considered their Blue Grill and it's open to non-residents wishing to sample their double AA Rosette award winning restaurants cuisine. We had a very memorable evening and really it shouldn't remain a fine dining secret.

The decadent surroundings of the Blue Grill at Thoresby Hall

Friday, 11 November 2016

Taste Testing The Springfield Inn, Lowdham

When you think of a country pub you often hope for a roaring fire, plenty of ales and lots of comfy seating to sit and chat. We love a good pub with some rustic, rural character. In that sense the newly refurbished Springfield Inn at Lowdham could well rise up our list of places to visit on a cold winters night.

The Springfield Inn, Lowdham

Set back off the Epperstone Bypass road, access is via the Old Epperstone Road beside the garages but it's hard to miss the large 6ft tall signs beside the main road. The Springfield Inn is part of the Vintage Inns group and promises hearty food from an extensive menu.

Cosy and Rustic

Sunday, 6 November 2016

5 Great Places for Vegan Food in Nottingham

With the celebration of World Vegan Day on November 1st and the whole month of November being World Vegan Month we thought it would be great to showcase some of Nottingham's best cafes, restaurants and shops for Vegan Food. Whether you're on your travels to the city or a local looking for new inspiration there's plenty of options for you. Whilst labelling something as the best vegan food in Nottingham is very subjective we've sure there's something in the below list to satisfy

Three Mushroom Fajita at Las Iguanas
With a limited range on offer in some of Nottingham's more prominent chain venues this list is a chance to highlight some of the amazing independent retailers we have in the city alongside some choices you might not have considered.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Jemma Goes Vegan at Las Iguanas

Jemma celebrates World Vegan Day and World Vegan Month with a trip to test the menu at Las Iguanas, Nottingham

Vegan and Vegetarian options on menus in the past I've noticed some vague nut roast, vegetable medley or vegetable burger. They’ve all offered a very general affair but a few restaurants are now taking on board meat free food needs to be interesting full on taste and texture. Whether it’s ‘Meat-Free Monday’ or wishing to appeal to the vegetarians, pescatarians and vegans among us. Las Iguanas offers lots of Latin American inspired options which you rarely see on a menu locally to add to the intrigue.

With an invite to Las Iguanas to try out their Vegan menu and celebrate World Vegan Day (November 1st) we were excited to see what they could come come up with. I decided to take along the newest member of the Nottingham Food Lovers team, Shareese out to sample something different. Despite being a self confessed hater of mushrooms she was even willing to try some on this occasion. You certainly don’t get a lot of Latin American food from her side of Mansfield.

We were the first people in for lunch and after a warm welcome from the staff we made our way over to one of the comfy booths

Inside Las Iguanas Nottingham