Thursday, 15 April 2010

Fire & Stone Pizza - Gunwharf Quays

This place opens on Monday 19th and look to be doing some amazing first week offers:

Wednesday 21st April - £2 pizzas
Thursday 22nd April - £3 pizzas
Friday 23rd April - £4 pizzas
Saturday 24th April - £5 pizzas
Sunday 25th April - £6 pizzas

Fire & Stone claim to take pizza to an exciting new level with amazing stone-baked pizza made from entirely fresh ingredients, cooked to perfection in a gigantic wood-fired oven.  The combinations of toppings are inspired from five continents.  Sounds the this space for my verdict.  Hopefully I'll be one of the lucky ones who can get the £1 pizza deal via there website - either way I'll be there!!

They only have branches at Covent Garden and Oxford, GWQ being no. 3.  Let's hope it lives up to expectations!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

abarbistro Old Portsmouth

Went here for lunch today  - just fancied something with a bright and spring like atmosphere.  I think this place is fab inside, I love the art work in here - the scenes of Southsea seafront fit this bistro's environment, and the provocotive black and white picture of a lady with a glass of red wine placed on the table in front of her always gets a smile from me. 

A few people braved it to sit outside and also in the sun garden at the rear, but we opted for a table inside.  I really fancied the chips as I could see they were presented in a nice metallic cone and looked really golden.  Looking down at the menu I was initially feeling cautious of what to order due to the fairly high prices of some of the dishes, (I don't know why but I always have a hard time in my mind justifying a large food bill at lunchtimes), but the proof is always in the eating I say.  We ordered between us a cone of chips £3, small moules £6 and a ham doorstep sandwich £4 which are all reasonably priced.  The chips were the best I have ever had in a restaurant (I'm wondering if they use the twice cooked method), moules were beautiful with just the right balance of wine and the lemon perfectly proportioned in the sauce just to lift it correctly, and the ham doorstep too was really good.  So if the rest of the menu is this good, then it really does justify the pricing.  As they are so close to the fish market I would guess that all of their fish dishes would be perfect, and so am looking forward to re-visiting this bistro - only problem is will I be able to draw myself away from ordering the moules and frites!!!

P.s Don't miss out on visiting Camber Wines upstairs if you get a chance.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Ashburton Cookery School

March 2010 I recently attended a 2 day course entitled 'Gastro Plus' which was amazing! Anyone wanting to improve their skills, and pick up tips, then this is just for you. A very professional and well organised school, it is one of the best in the country (so I'm told). My teacher was Chef James Knight-Pacheco who came runner-up with friend Alasdair on the BBC television show ‘The Restaurant’ and was subsequently offered a year long position at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir and has also worked at Gordon Ramsay at Claridges & The Square in Mayfair. This experience really showed through as he gave us lots of 'Michelin' style hints and tips along the way.
The course content included making 2 fish courses for lunch; we made Sea bream fillets with cherry tomato and basil salsa and the other dish was Seabass fillets with poached quails eggs, crispy parma ham and white truffle oil. Not only do you learn to prep and cook the fish, but also how to fillet it! Other fun dishes we made included Gin & Tonic sorbet and Lavender creme brulee. We also made a pork dish on the first day and duck on the second. The courses are designed so that you make the dishes for yourself and then eat them at lunch, and dinner in the late afternoon. This way you get to enjoy the fruits of your labour!

It is quite tiring on your feet for 2 days but the effort is well worth it. I returned home with many recipes under my belt and the confidence to 'experiment' with the dishes and to try different infusions and ingredients. There was knowledge to be gained for all levels of experience and the school offers lots of different courses. The schoold is based in Ashburton, Devon and they also offer accomodation.

Monday, 5 April 2010

New restaurant on the block - Relentless, Elm Grove

Been out today for a walk and discovered a new restaurant on Elm Grove next to Rosie's called 'Relentless'. It is a Steak and Lobster House and the leaflet I picked up explains that the idea is that of cooking locally caught fish and meat to be supplied by Buckwells in an open kitchen! They state they have a fleet of their own fishing boats and what they can't get will come from Brixton fish market to ensure there is no middle man and that the fish is fresh. You can also pick out your own lobster from the tank. So looking forward to trying this at some point.

This building has changed hands a few times, but the building has been totally revamped and looks rather nice.

Yo! Sushi coming soon to Gunwharf

Went to Southampton this week only to discover a new Yo! Sushi in West Quay. The waitress pointed out a man who she told me is the new Manager of the soon to be open restaurant in Gunwharf!!! Yippee!!

Its going to be opposite M&S I'm told and hopefully will be open in a few weeks. I messaged Gunwharf themselves to confirm this which they did and I also asked if there were to be any promotions (as Wagamamma's had one), but they just said watch this space. I'm not holding my breath as the Southampton one didn't have any.

Giraffe - Gunwharf Quays

17 Mar 2010
Really wanted this experience to be great as I have read reviews on this chain restaurant and it was ranked rather high in a respected food magazine. Having arrived I was somewhat disapointed in the menu, not knowing why until I returned home to look at the menu online and saw that only a fraction of the unusual dishes were available at Gunwharf making it in my opinion 'average'. The food we ordered was good, and the staff attentive, but I just don't think I will be visiting again, as there is not much on the menu to tempt me. Wagamamma's is opening there very soon - stiff competition from them, so I really think Giraffe you should add some of the other dishes to the Portsmouth branch. This is my first expereince of visiting a chain restaurant where certain items are only available at other branches!! Clothes maybe - but food??????!!!!

Sakura - Albert Road

22 Feb 2010
Loved it here - went for lunch on Saturday. Only wish they did a lunchtime menu at a slightly cheaper price. A must for any sushi lovers.

JSW - Petersfield

7 Feb 2010
Having been to several of the one star restaurants in our region I was looking forward to trying JSW. At first glance I was a little disapointed to see that there was once an 8 course tasting menu which has now been slashed to a 5. On asking why,I was told it was too complicated with eight, as they were bringing out two dishes at a time and one was getting cold. - Anyway, the building is very pretty and looks the part. The food was very nice although my main critism for a Michelin restaurant was that there was absolutely no amuse bouche or any palette cleaners between courses and I can't say I have ever been to a Michelin restaurant where these extras didn't happen. I have even been to non-starred restaurants which have, and it all adds to the anticipation and enjoyment of the meal. So JSW, you should really think of adding these in as I mentioned to a member of your team - people who enjoy fine dining expect it. One of our courses also arrived whilst I was powdering my nose, so to speak, and really I feel both of our dishes should have automatically been held back until my return. Very young staff lacking a little in expreience also, but very pleasant natured. Tried to pay via American Express and was told it was not taken, which left us wondering if making money was the main priority of the restaurant (as there is a charge for the restaurant to take this card), and a few things that occured during the night left us wondering if the things lacking were due to trying to achieve higher profit margins rather than great dining.
In summary - a nice restaurant, but average. Would not go again, but hopefull thet they will make some needed changes.
Top tip: try Restaurant 27 in Southsea, just as good (if not better) yet half the price.

Restaurant 27 - Southsea

12 Nov 2009
YIPEE!!! I was so excited when I heard that a fine dining restaurant was opening in Southsea, one which would love a Michelin star according to it's own staff. The restaurant only opened a week ago today, so I couldn't wait to be one of it's first customers on Saturday night, and I was not disappointed! The owner is a former chef at Bistro Montparnasse, so we knew we were on to a good thing. The building is beautiful and very warm and cosy, almost like a lounge and I was glad to see carpet and not some horrid hard wood floor that can make restaurants sometimes feel clinical. The menu offered 3 courses for £35. The food was beautiful and having just last month eaten at the Hamborough on the Isle of W which has one Michelin star we thought in it's own right that Restaurant 27 was just as good. I look forward to seeing what other foodies out there thought of it. I could go on in great detail about the food we ate, but I wont, all I will say is, that Kevin's signature dish is even more finer tuned than it was at Montparnasse - thanks! The staff were so helpful and the service was spot on. I can't fault it, olny negative comment I can possibly make was that we would have liked the bread to stay on the table for longer, but if that's all I can come up with...! I wish the team evey success and we will be back again in January once Christmas is over with.

Vatika - Wickham

10 Nov 2009
I see everyone's experiences here were good, and I wanted mine to be also, but my visit back in the summer was spoilt by the flat atmosphere and awful smell in the restaurant. The food however was good. I actually didn't like the fact that when I called to book I was told we only had a 2ish hour window before we had to leave for the next sitting, and I can't bear that in restaurants. Fine dining should be about taking your time over the meal. As for the smell, well it can only be described as disenfectant!!! I e-mailed my comments to them regarding this when I returned home (apparantly according to the website direct to Atol), but with no reply. I'm sad about this because I wanted an explanation as to the awful smell and to feel as if my feedback was valued. Message sent twice and no reply. The stern looking female manager could do with smiling a little more - fine dining does not have to be stiff necked!!!!

The Hamborough - IOW

10 Nov 2009
we travelled over from Portsmouth to stay here for the night in the hotel too, and really enjoyed it. The hotel was really cosy and the bathroom lovely too. Great decor.

The restaurant was split into two rooms. We were seated by the window but sady it was too dark to experience the lovely ocean views. We enjoyed the meal and the wine also. This is not our first one star restaurant visit, so we had comparisons to make. Overall it was well worth going. We had the tasting menu, but would have liked one or two more extras. Service was great as expected, and we would return again.

Blue Nile - Osbourne Road

25 Jul 2009
Wow! We went here after a recent review in the local paper - and we were not disapointed! For those not too sure wheter to try it or not - I would say to you if you like curry, then you will like this. The staff are so attentive and polite. The food is so very reasonably priced, and the way you are traditionally enouraged to eat the food makes the experience wonderful. Coffee is freshly made - and I mean even the beans are roasted right there in front of you, lovingly by hand; "you won't get that in Starbucks" I heard another diner say!

I hope this place does really well as it deserves it. I'm told it is the only Ethopian Restaurant on the whole of the south coast - so go and experience something new!!

Brasserie Blanc

25 Jul 2009

Got the chance to go when it opened as they did a 50%off the bill pre opening offer to local residents. It was ok, our bill came to around £50 (excluding the discount), which had we paid full price, my jaw would have dropped to the ground! Average tasting (and only 8oz) steak was a whopping £26.00 full price which I would never pay in a restaurant. The snails were lovely though. Verdict - over priced and not everything made fresh!