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.
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 Originally made by putting the meat on horses and squishing it down while men were riding around, Pastrami is an interesting meat!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!
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.
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!
It may surprise you to know that I did not have a good time in Bristol. I had cycled 100 miles to get there and was not in the best shape having to do a full working day the following day as well as an hour presentation to dozens of people. No matter! La Grotta was highly rated and from the descriptions looked like the sort of place I might enjoy a hearty Italian meal. This was absolutely the case. And to top it off it is in the centre of Bristol.
To begin I had a lovely arrancino. This is a cone of rice, with tomato sauce, breaded and invariably with a glob of molten mozzarella in the centre. This after a long cycle and seemingly longer walk from Montpelier to Bristol centre was just right. This is a staple of Sicilian cuisine but is eaten across Italy, and indeed in Bristol. The one at the Grotta was no exception. It was exactly what I hoped it would be. The sauce mingling well with the coagulated rice, held together by a lovely thin crust of the bread crumbs which was not too thick.
Although the crust was good, I am afraid to say La Grotta could have done better on the margherita pizza test. They have, as you can see, used grated cheese instead of sliced mozzarella… and there is a distinctive green sweet leaf missing from the top. The best margherita pizza have a few pieces of basil scattered about just after the cooking is finished. This was not the case here. In this instance I was so ravenous that it did not much matter. The dough was good, nice and thin and even, cooked through with no soggy bits, which was ace.
Also, ever keen to be green, I had some rather buttery garlic broccoli with the meal, this helped counterbalance the relatively unhealthy carb overload of the pizza!
Overall I had a good time, I was well attended to, and the waiter was as keen a cyclist as me which was a big plus.
One of the surprising things about returning to a place you once lived in is discovering just how many good things you had hitherto overlooked. Prior to my recent visit to Birmingham, I thought I had a comprehensive idea of all Brum’s best establishments for the imbibing of strong liquour. As always, I hadn’t reckoned on Cedric pulling something extraordinary out the bag when least expected. Upon his first mention of the Craven Arms in fairly glowing terms, I was intrigued. Not long after, a cursory google search convinced me we were in for a winner. With a single-minded resolve not unbefitting the grand old name of Jenkins, I determined the Craven should be the first building I entered upon exiting New Street station. Once I arrived, I was not disappointed.
The Craven Arms is owned by Black Country Ales, a very fine brewer of ales with a number of pubs across the Midlands including the Wellington (arguably Birmingham’s very best pub). While the Craven does not quite compete with the breadth of the Wellington’s cask ale selection (11 pumps to the Welly’s 16), it has one chief characteristic that venerable establishment cannot hope to match: the Craven is never rammed to the rafters. Situated ever so slightly off from the city centre, behind the Mailbox and towards the Peace Gardens, the Craven Arms is a great place to enjoy a pint in relative peace.
And let’s face it 11 pumps ain’t half bad. The beer is generally very good too. On my first visit I had a pint by Black Country Ales called chain ale and a pale ale by Green Duck called Revolution (but don’t worry I didn’t get up after drinking that last beer and start singing the “Internationale”). On my second visit I opted for a pint of pig in the wall, a nutty brown mild, once again by Black Country Ales. On each occasion I ordered a pork pie with my pint, a pub snack I was delighted to find they served at the Craven. There really is no finer comestible on this earth to be enjoyed with a pint of beer than a pork pie.
It was splendid to once again visit this city I used to call my home and may call my home again someday. If I do move back, I know I will be spending many more a happy hour in the Craven.
Ever oscillating, I took it upon myself to visit the South coast. During my short time in Dover and its environs, I had the opportunity to go to Luben’s pizza in Folkestone. This was the first time my immediate family had been in the same country for over 12 months so we took the opportunity to have a good time and eat many carbs.
Seitan Pepperoni w. Vegan Mozzarella
I have fallen in love with seitan, no not the devil, but the flour and water based meat substitute. Matthew has been making it for some time and we have had it in wraps and as a substitute for chicken. I was quite impressed to see this as a choice at Luben’s. This pizza was exquisite, perhaps a little dry and could have used more sauce but otherwise really quite excellent. The dough was perfect and the vegan cheese was very nice indeed.
Spicy Nduja, Pepperoni, Piquillo Pepper, Red Onion, Fresh Rocket & Buffalo Mozzarella // Moons Green Pepperoni, Buffalo Mozzarella
Of course the actual pepperoni was divine for other reasons. This was beautifully distributed, had a good amount of buffala mozzarella which was hot but not melted, as it should be, and well sauced. Again the dough was a thing of beauty. This was an alarmingly flavoursome pizza.
Father and Celia shared the Nduja pizza which was one of my favourites. The Nduja has an acidic flavour with a chili-forward bite. This mixed with the pepperoni and sweet but heatless Piquito pepper and the freshness of the rocket made a pseudo explosion of flavour in the mouth. This may have been my favourite of the night.
The dough ball sharing plate, served with a trio of dips; (garlic butter, aioli & pesto) was also quite good, soft and supple enriched by the dips.
Father and his oddly held cutlery enjoyed the wonderful salad which does not look like much but was equally explosively flavourful.
Overall this was a high quality restaurant in a beautiful street of Folkestone, moments from the sea front. We enjoyed our time there very much and I hope to go again before long.
The Wolds Inn is situated in the village of Huggate which claims to be the highest settlement in the Yorkshire Wolds, though at only 170 metres above sea level this is hardly East Yorkshire’s answer to Kathmandu. Nevertheless, Huggate undoubtedly is a lovely spot, peaceful and serene. Situated on both the Wolds Way and the Way of the Roses, it is also an ideal stop for walkers and cyclists seeking refreshments.
Cedric and I had the pleasure of visiting the Wolds Inn recently in August whilst half-way through a little cycle ride I had devised. I consider it to be one the finest pubs in the East Riding. Its exterior is rather pretty in an understated sort of a way with red titles, whitewashed walls and a delightfully old-fashioned pub sign. The interior is equally pleasing to the eye, traditional and cosy – exactly what you want in a village pub. Most importantly, the drink and grub ain’t half bad either.
I think there were about three real ales on the bar the day we visited. I had a pint of Sleck Dust, a refreshing session ale by the Great Newsome brewery. This was chosen for me as owing to my rather slow and steady pace on two wheels, I was quite a few minutes behind Cedric by the time he arrived at t’pub and ordered. I think they had another Great Newsome beer on that day: Frothingham Best, a delightful best bitter. Incidentally, this terrific little brewery, based due east of Hull, appears to be gradually taking over East Yorkshire and frankly I am all for it!
When it came time to order our mains, Cedric opted for the dish that has deservedly earned British cooking such a disastrous reputation worldwide: bangers and mash. It boggles my mind to think why but then he has always been a fairly inscrutable fellow. I, on the other hand, judiciously selected the steak and ale pie with chips for my main. The pastry was excellent. Chef Cedric tells me it was a little softer in places, indicating the pastry had not quite been cooked through evenly. I am sure he is right, but nevertheless it was a sterling effort for a country pub. The beef was excellent, locally sourced, tender and delicious.
All in all, this is a fantastic little pub in the heart of the Yorkshire Wolds, well worth visiting should you happen to be in the area.
This will likely be my last post regarding my trip to Hull, which now occurred some months ago. As you can see my ‘holidays’ are less about relaxing and more about covering ground, enjoying the local offerings and invariably exhausting myself. Indeed I covered 200km in two outings on the bike during my bank holiday August weekend. The second 100km cycle went through Huggate. St Nick and I went past this Inn on the last day of our Way of the Roses cycle (that was a 400km cycle for me!) and decided to return.
Bangers and Mash… hit the spot!
The Huggate Inn sits 170 metres (558 feet) above sea level which meant quite a shocking ascent from flat Hull! I arrived at the restaurant and ordered our food and a well deserved pint of cider to give me some calories and sugar in my system. Two 100km cycles in three days does use up many calories. I ordered the bangers and mash, having learned long ago that when cycling one should not overload oneself mid ride. This was the perfect portion size, with beautiful locally sourced pork sausages, which were fulsome and relatively light. The meat was supplied by M & K butchers in York, a traditional family owned and run butchers. This made it all the more delicious to me. The gravy was a sensation.
Nick and his angrily folded arms, perhaps because I was holding up his lunch for the sake of a photograph, Nick went for the Wolds Inn steak pie, with some beautiful homemade shortcrust pastry. This was a divine home made dish with just the right amount of bitterness. I was only allowed one morsel but could see why this was the eponymous dish for this wonderful restaurant. Nick went on to have some sponge cake and custard which was reminiscent of something I ate at primary school, all the better for the nostalgic element. I recommend this Inn to anyone in the vicinity. There are some excellent views of the best county in the Country in the immediate environs.
The cover photograph is my cycle, Excelsior, prior to a punishing ascent to the Inn. What a view!