Gourmet Food Kitchen, Coventry – Dining As It Should Be

Gourmet Food Kitchen, Coventry – Dining As It Should Be

At times in my life I have believed in divine intervention more ardently than others. On Saturday last, for example, arguably one of the more difficult days of my time in Birmingham, I ended up in Coventry quite by chance. Further, once there, the cafe I would go to usually, Rising Cafe, the first place I reviewed on this blog, was closed permanently. Dutifully, as can be expected of me by readers of this blog, I whipped out my Trip Advisor and did a search of the local offerings. I did not fancy a Vietnamese restaurant with many fake reviews, at least not for lunch. The second choice was Gourmet Food Kitchen, in the Coventry Outpost of Fargo Village. Fargo, not the town in Minnesota, is a wonderful place, a sort of arty collective about 15 minutes walk from the centre. I have been visiting for some years but was quite surprised to find this gem of a restaurant there.

Chef Tony stands proudly behind his grill, catering to the 12 covers before him, and regales us with the method behind his madness. He tells us everything we are about to consume is made freshly. Tony cures his own bacon and cuts and cooks it from frozen (as it keeps its form better that way). He tells us he stuffs his own sausages, and smokes his own salmon with cherrywood, rather than oak. Chef Tony also makes his own terrine, and sold me a bit of game terrine which I will enjoy at Christmas when my parents ascend from the South. See my Full English below.

Me: Chef, where is that music coming from?

Chef: I have an Alexa behind that sausage stuffer.

My Full English included bubble & squeak, home stuffed sausage, sweet homemade black pudding, a delightful tomato, freshly made beans (better than Heinz by a country mile) and a fibrous combination of mushrooms and spinach, as well as two slices of excellent soft home cured bacon and two perfectly poached eggs. Some like their bacon cremated, I enjoy it soft and flavourful. This was achieved by Chef by cooking it in an oven rather than frying it. I seldom say this but everything was exquisite. The black pudding was perhaps a bit sweet for me, but this should not detract form this five star feast. The quality and freshness of this food cannot be described. To have chef in front of us telling us about his food with passion was a wonderful experience. Chef Tony has little patience for nonsense and the results of his culinary ethos speaks for itself.

Charlotte enjoyed a beautiful eggs Hemingway with home smoked salmon. Why Hemingway? The ham on the eggs Benedict has been replaced by salmon. So the dish consists of an English muffin (or similar), smoked salmon, a poached egg and on this occasion a whiskey infused Hollandaise which tantalised absolutely. Now, I do not like fish, but this salmon was the absolute bomb. I could not believe the depth of flavour, the richness of the cherrywood being so different to ordinary oak. This was a triumphant dish.

Divine intervention? I surely think so. Were it not for an unfortunate series of regrettable events, I would not have sampled this heavenly feast. I am grateful for my guardian angel guiding me to these excellent places and allowing me to enjoy some sparse positive experiences at this trying time. Please do go to see Chef Tony. He is only open a few days a week so it might be an idea to book beforehand.

 

Belgisch Biercafé Olivier Utrecht – Religious Experience

Belgisch Biercafé Olivier Utrecht – Religious Experience

Housed in a former Catholic clandestine church (the outside facade is indistinguishable from the elegant townhouses of the street), this Belgian bar came as quite a surprise to me. We had a hard time finding it but we managed in the end. Once inside I was quite impressed by the beautiful ceiling, many original features and a stunning organ.

Belgian beer café Olivier Utrecht is located in the former schuilkerk Maria Minor, to Achter Clarenburg. Many elements of the ‘schuilkerk’ from 1860 have been preserved, such as: the altar, the vaults and the organ, making it a special place in Utrecht with fantastic specialty beers from Belgium. Like A Local Guide 

We ordered two alcoholic beverages. Mine was the Boon Framboise which was quite stunning. According to the promotional material, “Boon Framboise is an easy drinking and subtle, raspberry-sweet, oaky, raspberry lambiek fruit beer” I can see Nick (formerly Saint) reading the above and quite falling from his chair. Yes I did consume a beer but it was as close to cider as possible!

The above is the view we were treated to this glorious bronze statue of a Pope and two Bishops! While we did not stay long or consume much, envious stolen glances at the food of other diners made for tantalising viewing. I should hope to come here again with Nick next time so he can sample the delectable Belgian beer. I wonder if they used it to de-consecrate the altar.

 

Dogma Hotdogbar – Ecumenical Nosh, Utrecht

Dogma Hotdogbar – Ecumenical Nosh, Utrecht

After a lovely Mass at St Nicholas in Amsterdam a few weeks ago, Celia and I headed to Utrecht for lunch. I searched the internet webs and found that Dogma Hotdogbar was a place of interest which I felt compelled to investigate. After a confusing journey from the beautiful Utrecht Central train station to Voorstraat, we sat down for lunch. The below artwork on the wall was most amusing.

DONDERSE DOGMA – Pork sausage − Homemade ketchup Dutch mustard sauce − Mesclun Sauerkraut − Pickles − Crispy onions

Celia ordered the below which was the ‘standard’ hotdog. I often think the original thing on the menu is the best and I was not wrong. I had only a small amount of this dish and it was quite excellent. The mesclun, a mixture of tender young gourmet salad greens contains combinations of salad leaves and herbs. This was quite sweet tasting which contrasted with the acidity of the pickle and smokiness of the excellent pork sausage. The crispy onions on the top were just marvellous.

BRUTE BEPROEVING – Beef sausage − Texas BBQ sauce Old cheese − Crispy onions − Dogma coleslaw Pulled pork − Pickled jalapeño

As you can see from the below, I was quite excited to dig into my lovely BBQ beef hot dog. It was quite hard to eat on account of being so large. Also it was almost impossible to cut into pieces because these modern hot dogs tend to focus more on aesthetics then practicality (thanks, social media). In fact the owner jokes with me after I took the below that now I had my instagram picture, I could leave! I had a hearty chortle. The hot dog itself, once I managed to consume it, was sublime. the pulled pork coleslaw was unbelievable and the BBQ sauce was smoky enough and with sweetness to boot. Excellent.

Side Salad – Mesclun − Fresh avocado − Sun-dried tomato − Carrot strips – Pork sausage

This was the final beautiful part of our lunch. I thought it was beautiful, a medley of flavour which was highly fibrous and relatively healthy.

Overall this was a quality restaurant in the centre of a beautiful city. I hope you find time to visit Utrecht safely in the near future.

 

Rudy’s – Best Pizza Central Birmingham?

Rudy’s – Best Pizza Central Birmingham?

Rudy’s! Why have I not reviewed this before? Who knows? This is one of the best pizzerias in town. The best of course being Alicia’s but that is so far away that I seldom go. Rudy’s is an excellent alternative in town centre and is moments away from St Phillip’s. A true gem in town which deserves more visibility.Since deciding to do a review of this wonderful eatery, I returned to Rudy’s again. We have five pizzas below which I hope will make the case for this eatery. Some of them are specials which are no longer available.

The Portobello

SAN MARZANO TOMATO, FIOR DI LATTE, PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM, BASIL, OREGANO, SEA SALT, PARMESAN & GARLIC OIL.

This rather blurry photograph is the Portobello, which combined the beautifully creamy fior di latte with portobello mushrooms, the profound earthy almost meaty texture of the mushroom making for a very satisfying mouthful.

Holly opted for one of the specials which I cannot quite remember. It seems to be close to the Parmigiana whose ingredients are below:

PARMIGIANA*** 9.20 SAN MARZANO TOMATO, FIOR DI LATTE, ROASTED AUBERGINE, PECORINO, BASIL & E.V. OLIVE OIL

Aubergine, fior di latte, peppers, nice pesto sauce, the whole thing was just delicious, balanced, the acidity of the lemon in the pesto contrasted very well with the meatiness and flavour of the aubergine. Terrific pizza.

Cinghiale

SAN MARZANO TOMATO, FIOR DI LATTE, WILD BOAR SALAME, N’DUJA, ROQUITO PEPPERS, PARMESAN, FRESH CHILLI, BASIL & E.V OLIVE OIL

I had the cinghiale which was a boar salami pizza with some rather spicy peppers. The nduja was just delicious and added a richness and almost smokiness to the overall flavour. An excellent pizza. I ate 3/4 of it in one go!

Another pizza from the special menu. This was one with pumpkin, basil and fennel sausage – the combination actually brought tears to my eyes. This was an explosively flavoursome, brilliantly balanced. Quite unbelievable. An autumnal treat.

Overall this is an incredible eatery and I believe the photographs of the pizzas speak for themselves. Do go either in person or a takeaway. They also do cook at home pizzas which I have made use of on many occasions.

 

Il Rustico – Lovely Pizza, Dover

Il Rustico – Lovely Pizza, Dover

When one thinks of Dover, they think of white cliffs, cruise ships, lorry queues and perhaps even the migrant crisis. But one seldom thinks of pizza. But after a wonderful sermon on the feast of All Saints in St Paul’s in Dover, we felt compelled to go to Il Rustico. See below my thoughts on this relatively hidden gem.

I felt quite hungry after the service so thought two courses would be best. We ordered the taglio which can be seen above. A taglio is often a combination of meats and cheeses which one can enjoy with a bit of bread. There was parma ham, some chorizo and salami with some soft pecorino cheese and lovely fresh bread. This was a small portion but helped my parents and I satisfy a small portion of our hunger.

I went for the four cheese pizza, feeling somewhat low and needing a cheesy boost. This was an excellent combination of cheeses, they used mozzarella, parmesan, some blue cheese and also, bafflingly, cheddar. However, while the latter cannot be conceived as an Italian cheese, it did add a rich nuttiness to the pizza and indeed cheddar melts more nicely on account of a higher water content (35.6–38.6% moisture) which helped combine the other cheeses and resulted in a most flavourful pizza. The crust was lovely and thin.

Both my parents opted for the salsiccia pasta, combining lucanica sausage, onions, garlic, wine, tomato sauce and topped with parmesan shaving. This was an excellent, rich and flavoursome pasta. The rigatoni were cooked beautifully, the sauce had the right liquid level and the sausage itself was cut small to help them fit into the centre of the pasta and helped the eater enjoy the fulsome flavour of this delicious dish.

Overall, I would recommend this if you fancy an economical and excellent meal in Dover.

Please, Sir! Splendid Burgers, Broadstairs

Please, Sir! Splendid Burgers, Broadstairs

When my folks brought me to Broadstairs, I searched for the best eatery. Please, Sir! came up as number one. My critic senses were tingling, I simply knew this was the place to go. What confirmed my opinion was that all those in attendance wanted to not eat there because of some bizarre attachment to eating with the sea in sight. See below how I was absolutely correct. I wagered with father that if this was not the best burger he had eaten in months I would pay for dinner in full as well as lunch. Deal.

Holy
Steak patties, American cheese, pastrami, pickles & English mustard.

Yoikes. Please, Sir! were the first restaurant in Kent to do smash burgers, according to the owner Steve who was kind enough to explain us the concept of a smash burger and the fact that the restaurant chooses meat from the back of the cow rather than the front for maximal flavour, at the cost of fat content. This made for an exquisite burger. Originally made by putting the meat on horses and squishing it down while men were riding around, Pastrami is an interesting meat! It has flavour such as smoke, spicy black pepper, and the sweet citrus tang of coriander. Mixed with the lovely flavour of the patty and acidic pickle, this was a marriage made in heaven. Father told me it was indeed the best burger he had had in a considerable time, followed by a swift “damn it” under his breath. You see, good taste can be economical!

Mighty
Steak patties, bacon, crispy onions, Monterey Jack cheese & BBQ sauce.

I opted for the Mighty which seems like an ordinary combination of standard burger ingredients and indeed it is, but the quality of the ingredients is the excellent part. See the thick cut bacon, thick goopy cheese and smashed burgers, with beautiful buns topped with sesame seeds. Just perfect. I have difficulty to describe the depth of flavour but I can assure you I finished with a satisfactory grunt.

Unbelievable
Steak patties, American cheese, sriracha mayo, lettuce.

Finally Nick opted for the Unbelievable which very much lived up to its name. The flavour profile contains: sun-ripened chiles, garlic, sugar, salt, and vinegar, giving it a hot-sweet-sour-salty flavour. The combination of this with the beautiful beef, cheese and lettuce was just sublime with Nick who nodded in approbation.

Overall this was a stunning establishment. The milk shakes were also a thing of profound beauty which I recommend, the Kinder Bueno White being the best, I believe. Really lives up to Steve’s description. Do go if you are in Broadstairs!