Third Time Unlucky

This weekend we paid our third visit to The Bell at Ladbroke, Banbury Road, Ladbroke, CV47 2BY. Our first visit was last on a Sunday in April last year. The food was tremendous, I had some amazing pigeon as a starter and the Gin Whisperer had Tuna Tartare which was absolutely divine. Next time we stopped for burgers on a beautiful summers day and sat out in the garden, burgers were just as good as our Sunday lunch experience. 
This time we visited with friends. Between us we chose Pigs Cheek, Tiger Prawns and Scallops for starters and Blade of Beef, Pie of the Day which was Steak and Fillet Steak.

Bell at Ladbroke Blade of Beef, Pigs Cheek and St Clements Tart

The Pigs Cheek was nice, served with a parsnip crisp and some wilted spinach. It also came with potato which wasn’t mentioned on the menu but was also nice. There was only one piece of cheek which surprised my for the price of I’m honest. The red wine sauce was a little thin for my liking and a bit salty. The Gin Whisperer had the Tiger Prawns which were delicious, served in a Thai green curry sauce.

Next up I had the Braised Blade of Beef. I found this a little disappointing. The beef was shredded and rolled in what looked like Parma ham. It was accompanied by parsnip, carrot and dauphinois potatoes and then rather disappointingly the same spinach and red wine sauce I’d had with my starter. I found the beef itself a little dry and left some of it which I never do, the dauphinois were very nice though. I just thought it was a bit lazy to serve the exact same sauce and spinach as with the starter.

The Gin Whisperer and a friend both ordered fillet steak, one rare one medium rare. The steaks that looked amazing both, disappointingly, came medium and if you’re charging £26 for a steak you should at least be able to cook as requested. Our other friend enjoyed the pie and managed to polish off the rest of his wife’s steak. The mushroom sauce which accompanied her steak looked delicious.

For dessert I went for the St Clements Tart which we served with raspberry sorbet and it was divine. There was a huge mix of textures, the tart itself had a creme brûlée type sugar topping, the filling itself was lovely and citrusy, the sorbet was topped with sugar coated slivers of lemon and orange peel, absolutely delicious! 

Altogether we paid just over £180 for 4 starters, 4 mains, 3 desserts, 2 bottles of wine, 3 glasses of dessert wine, 3 coffees and a brandy. Service was ok, the owner as usual was very attentive when he could be but the rest of the staff were only ok. 

Our friends loved the experience but we were just a little disappointed that this visit hadn’t lived up to our others. It won’t stop us visiting again, I will just be more careful what I choose from the menu next time!

Advertisements

Quick coffee stop

We were an hour early for our table at Foxlow so walked up the road to see if there was some to hang out for a bit. We found Workshop Coffee at 27 Clerkenwell Rd, Clerkenwell, EC1M 5RN and managed to get a seat at the bar as it was incredibly busy. 

 

Latte and Cappuccio works of art!
 
The coffee was delicious, I had a latte and I’m normally a two sugar girl but I don’t want to spoil the design on the top by stirring it so went without and it tasted amazingly smooth. Not cheap at £6.20 for two coffees but you definitely get what you pay for.

The food that was being served also looked amazing so I think it will be well worth a brunch trip next time we are both in London.

Foxlow Brunch

Yesterday we had brunch at Foxlow Clerkenwell. From the same people who brought us Hawksmoor, Foxlow are their neighbourhood restaurants. They also have branches in Stoke Newington, Chiswick and Balham. 

Located just up from St Barts, I had a little geek moment walking under where Sherlock fell in Reichenback Falls, and through Smithfield Market on St Johns Street from the oitside the restaurant is pretty unassuming. Inside it is very stylish and it was packed. In fact we could only get a table at 2pm. Not really a mixed crowd in there, mostly 20-30 something groups having lunch. 

 

Lunch and Brunch at Foxlow Clerkenwell
 
As well as the usual menus there was a specials boards which had a delicious sounding meatball sub. We went straight in for the mains, I had the fried chicken with Habanero Vinegar, Gin Whisperer went for the Dexter cheeseburger and fries and our friend when for the fried chicken, egg and croissant waffle. We also ordered a Poblano Mac & Cheese to share. Drinks wise we also ordered a Bleeding Heart, an Aperol Spritz slush and a gin, mint and cucumber cocktail which we can’t remember the name of. 

There was quite a wait for the drinks and to be fair someone did come over and apologise for the delay, but when they arrived they weren’t right anyway. We had two Aperol Spritz Slushies and no Bleeding Heart. This was quickly rectified. So I got a free Slushy and a Bleeding Heart! 

 

Brunch at Foxlow Clerkenwell. Clockwise from top left: Poblano Macaroni Cheese, Aperol Spritz Slush and Bleeding Heart, Fried Chicken, Yorkshire Rhubarb, Sweet Labneh & Pistachio
 
The food was good. My fried chicken was enormous, I could only manage two of the three pieces. It actually looked bigger than it was, the coating was so thick it made the chicken pieces double in size. The coating was delicious and crispy but the chicken inside was still really moist. The Habanero vinegar was also a really good accompaniment but I must admit  I also stole some of my friends sausage gravy which also went with it really well. We were warned that the Mac and cheese would be quite spicy but actually it was really nice, the only problem was it was hard to serve as it was stuck to the bottom of the dish although I’m sure it would have been fine if you had eaten it straight from the dish as a main course as it was intended. Gin Whisperer enjoyed the actual burger but didn’t like the bun. He also enjoyed a piece of my chicken! 

For dessert I went for the Yorkshire rhubarb and Gin Whisperer went for the Rhubard Sundae. I had no idea what Labneh was, turns out its Greek yoghurt! Beautifully presented and it tasted delicious. 

All in all a good brunch with just a few small service niggles. Nothing that would stop us coming back and all for a very reasonable £83 for three main courses, two desserts, two cocktails and service.

It’s been a while……

Sorry if you’ve missed me!

I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to post but I can assure you I have been eating and I’ve been to some amazing places since I last posted. Soho Farmhouse, Rixos Premium Suites Gocek, Foxlow Clerkenwell, Four and 20, Fairlawns to name a few and I’ve been to 10 countries, some old favourite and some new ones so I’ve got plenty to fill you in on!

The £9.50 Sandwich

Back from Turkey in time for the last day of the VIP event at Bicester Village!

Unfortunately we were a few minutes too late for breakfast at Farmshop (Pingle Drive, Bicester), another outpost of Soho House. I’m surprised we even managed to get a table, it looked so busy from outside but there was plenty of seating even though upstairs had been booked out for a private party.

Menu-wise I was spolit for choice! I decided to go for the Baked Ham and Melted Cheddar sandwich on warm sour dough. I don’t think I’ve ever had a sandwich that cost £9.50 before so was expecting something pretty amazing. Pretty safe to say I was not disappointed! 

 

Clockwise from top left Espresso, Cappuccino, Chips, Ginger juice, Baked Salmon Sandwich, Baked Ham and Melted Cheddar Sandwich, Apple Pie and Ice Cream. Centre Victoria Sandwich
 
The baked ham was absolutely delicious,  cut into piece not sliced and then topped with the melted cheddar and some mustard mayo, all on warm, soft sour dough.  The ham was so good I even let the Gin Whisperer share a piece. He went for the baked salmon, spinach and lemon mayo sandwich (£10). We had spotted the huge whole baked salmon as we went to our table and it looked amazing, it tasted equally as good. The holey sour dough oozed with lemon mayo, delicious but not great with the Gin Whisperer’s beard. He said it was the best sandwich he’s ever had! Chips (£4.50), as with everything else were served in enamelware and were perfect! I had the ginger juice which was delicious, ginger, lemon and apple juice but tasted very lemony and sharp.

The service was probably some of the best we’ve ever had, friendly and attentive without being intrusive. Our waiter, Dawid, was great. He recommended the bramley apple pie and ice cream which the Gin Whisperer decided to go for. It was serve from a giant pie dish at the table, we literally could have eaten the entire pie it was that good. I went for the Victoria Sponge which was good but nowhere near as good as the pie.

Altogether we spent around £60 including service, we left an extra £10 on top of that as the service was so good. Definitely a treat, definitely worth it. So looking forward to a trip to Soho Farmhouse next month! 

Byfield Big Breakfast

My favourite time of year is back! Nope, not autumn. It’s the time of year that I know once a month I don’t have to bother making breakfast. 

In our village from October until April on the first Saturday of the month is The Big Breakfast (Byfield Village Hall, The Green, Byfield).  Run by volunteers, it is used to raise money for the local church. Last year the proceeds were going towards a new toilet!  For £6 you get sausage, beans, bacon, mushrooms, black pudding, fried bread and scrambled or fried egg. You also get a glass of juice and as much tea or coffee and toast and marmalade as you can consume. 

 

The Big Breakfast!
 
At Christmas last year we also had a choice of a glass of Bucks Fizz and smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. The volunteers put in a lot of hard work and the food is always well cooked and tasty, no cheap sausages here, and there’s always plenty. They are very attentive, constantly checking if everything is ok or that you have enough tea and coffee and toast. 

Tables are set out in two’s or sixes. The tables for six are a good way to meet people in the village you would probably never get chatting to otherwise. Some of the volunteers also use the time to promote their local clubs or other events taking place in the village and surrounding areas. 

The breakfast isn’t just for villagers though, everyone is welcome. So if you’re ever on the A361 between Banbury and Daventry on the first Saturday of the month between 9am and 1pm pop in for a really good feed! Look out for the sign on the village green.

Byron ❤️

I love Byron. But my nearest Byron is 50 mins away so whenever we see a Byron it is always a treat! We’ve managed to visit tow different Byrons in the last few weeks. One in Camberley and one in Shoreditch.

Camberley has changed a hell of a lot since my last visit. A lot more modern then before and plenty of places to eat. I’d done my research so knew that there was a Byron (The Atrium, Park Street, Camberley)! What we hadn’t thought of was booking a table and on a very busy Friday night we ended up having to wait half an hour for a table . As always it was worth it!

 

Dead Pony and Camden Hells and Run Rarebit Run
 
The Gin Whisperer hates gherkins so I always get two! I went for the Run Rarebit Run, one of the specials with Cheddar rarebit, bacon, English mustard Mayo, pickled cucumber and lettuce. It was delicious, if a little messy! I had some of their delicious Mac & Cheese to go with it! I can’t get enough of the stuff.

The following week we were invited to the UK opening of Kit & Ace, a Canadian brand producing technical cashmere. Whilst their canapés and copious amounts of espresso martinis were delicious we were both craving a burger and luckily there was another Byron around the corner inShoreditch (34 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch). 

 

Clockwise from top left Dead Pony, Double Bacon Cheese, Kit & Ace Real Talk and Absolut Elyx Espresso Martini
 
This time I went for the Double Bacon Cheese, two 6oz burgers, bacon, Freddar™cheese, pickles, ketchup and American mustard. Again accompanied with Mac & Cheese! Again delicious! But I was beaten by the giant burger, either that or all the espresso martinis I’d had!

I’ve on,y ever been a little disappointed with Bryon twice and I’ve been numerous times. I find the courgette fries far too soggy so I just don’t order them anymore, and I ordered a medium rare Holy Cheesemas in York last Christmas which came pretty much well done. But apart from that there is nothing I don’t love about this chain. Well apart from the fact that there isn’t one a lot closer to my house! Now a Byron in Banbury would be amazing , hint hint!