Seven 54 – Excellent Late Dinner – Didsbury, Manchester

Seven 54 – Excellent Late Dinner – Didsbury, Manchester

Picture the scene, I had arrived in Manchester late one Thursday evening. My friend was on her way down from Edinburgh and would not arrive until almost 9pm. For some reason the British public insist on eating at 4pm every night so the chefs go home early in this country. This was one of my chief frustrations when I moved here, as it happens. I knew time was of the essence. The first choice for dinner was not serving food due to staff shortages (thanks anti-vaxxers). The second, Seven 54, had a whole half hour of kitchen opening left, to my great relief.

My friend Aife, being what one might term a ‘skinny legend’ opted for the grilled prawns, cooked in smoked garlic butter, served with toasted sourdough. Prawns are supposedly excellent. They are semisweet, mildly salty and savoury, and not too calorific. The smokey texture of the garlic butter as well as the richness of the butter added to the prawns’ flavour and left Aife one happy diner.

I went for something a bit more substantial, the chicken schnitzel, with the divine caper herb salsa, garlic aioli, french fries and charred lemon. We were trying to figure out what consisted of the caper herb salsa. I asked the waiter to fix me a jar of it so I could take it home to Matthew but the kitchen was closed at this stage. British dining culture strikes again. The German word for this dish means ‘cutlet’. Often one would find this dish with veal as the central meat but this would not accord with my environmental sensibilities. Thankfully Seven 54 served it with chicken. The chicken was breaded with flour, eggs and breadcrumbs before being fried in lard or oil.

The real star of this dish for me was the capers and the fabulous aioli. The combination of the crunchy schnitzel, skin on fries and salsa was almost too delicious to bear.

Finally I ordered the spiced sweet potato and chickpea pakoras. This was served with something called ‘twisted mayo’ which I dare not espouse a view on. These were quite delicious and unusual. Typically these are filled with vegetables or onions but this one was made with sweet potato which was great for me. The sugary potato mixed with the savoury chickpeas and excellent batter (notice the larger crumbs also) made for a delicious dish.

Overall an excellent meal, which did not break the bank. I would recommend this to you if you are in Didsbury late one evening and cannot find a place which is still serving food. The welcome was great, the waiters were attentive and the environs were beautifully decorated. What more do you want?

 

The Greek – Authentic Mediterranean, Hull

The Greek – Authentic Mediterranean, Hull

My goodness did we order a lot of food at this place. It will take me some time to get through them all so hold onto your hats. I shall try to be as brief as is likely in the following. Suffice to say this meal cost us about £21 each, including a bottle of Retsina vine wine, which was most welcome considering that I had just cycled 250 miles, the last 30 miles of which my seat post was shrinking mile by mile, which rather hurt my knees for weeks afterwards.

The dolmades were one of our first order, stuffed with rice, mint & seasoning and coupled with fresh yoghurt. This was delightful, refreshing and not too heavy so was perfect as one of our many starters.

See above a photograph of the home baked greek bread with olives, on which we nibbled throughout the meal. It is always my advice to save room on bread, avoiding bread can often conserve your appetite and leave room for a variety of dishes. If you do not want a huge meal, on the other hand, do stock up on bread as this will limit your appetite.

The Saganaki was a beautiful hard cheese pan-seared at high temperature, until bubbling, forming a nice golden crust. This was so flavoursome, and resembled halloumi in its texture but was a tad more acidic, which I enjoyed immensely.

While the stuffed red pepper is perhaps not the most attractive, this sweet pepper, stuffed with wonderfully seasoned feta was one of the overall winners of the meal. The tangy and salty flavour of the feta, which was a tad on the more grainy side as opposed to smooth (a good thing in this instance) paired very well with the nicely roasted pepper.

The bougiourdi was by far the least appealing visually. However, this feta cheese baked in the oven with tomatoes, fresh chilli peppers, garlic, sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil was the most flavoursome. An explosion of flavour which I could not stop nibbling at.

Finally we enjoyed the above beautiful lamb kefte, consisting of grilled lamb with chips, tzatziki & pitta. Tzatziki is made with made with strained yogurt, cucumbers and olive oil, and can be flavoured with lemon, vinegar and dill (or sometimes mint). On this occasion it was dill, if I am not mistaken. The lamb was well grilled and balanced in its spicing, and was a good portion in view of the mammoth meal we enjoyed up to this point.

Overall, this was an excellent meal with astonishing good value. I would absolutely eat here again on my upcoming trip to Hull.

 

Dough Eyed Pizza – A Sensation, York

Dough Eyed Pizza – A Sensation, York

Picture the scene, we are en route to Bishop Wilton, and have decided to stop halfway. We have cycled alongside the river on the way into work and are met with a spectacular picture of York Minster. The restaurant we want to go to is closed so we do a quick search on Trip Advisor and alight on the #7 restaurant in York. Lo and behold, it is a pizzeria in the centre of York, facing the central market. Dough Eyed is an unassuming restaurant, specialising in Neapolitan-style savoury & sweet pizzas, plus cocktails & craft beer. Neapolitan-style pizza typically consists of a thin and soft crust—if it is cooked correctly, the crust will bubble up and be charred in spots.

As I have written before, when going to a new pizzeria, I will undertake the Margherita test. This does not mean getting trashed, it means trying the original ‘Marge’ pizza to determine the quality of all of the pizzas in the restaurant. Suffice to say, I was astonished by this. It was exactly correct. I like the dough to be on the softer side and this was perfect to me. The tomato sauce has the correct amount of acidity which cut through the flavour of the mozarella, which mild and creamy, the taste is salty with a slight tang. I would have preferred for the basil to have been added at the end of cooking rather than at the beginning, which tends to leave the leaf dry and shrivelled, but I am nit picking. A phenomenal pizza.

Nick and his red shirt ordered the Napoletana, consisting of anchovies, tomatoes, fior di latte mozzarella, fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil. As you’ll know I am not fond of fish. However, I can say with confidence that Nick enjoyed this pizza immensely. He got through the whole thing in record time. Anchovies have a number of flavours, including  sweet, sour, bitter, and salty, along with a fifth flavour known as Umami. Together with the creamy, soft, fior di latte and the aforementioned acidity of the tomato sauce, this was most likely a winning pizza.

Finally, I should like to close with a picture of my cycle, Excelsior, before York Minster. I would like to think my cycle is more impressive but perhaps I am in the minority.

 

Oliver’s Pantry – Best Breakfast Ripon

Oliver’s Pantry – Best Breakfast Ripon

Our penultimate day of travel, from Ripon to Bishop Wilton, saw us stop for breakfast at Oliver’s Pantry. I recall Nick asking me if we could go to some lesser cafe because there was a statuette of Tin Tin in the window. I did away with his Aryan proclivity and put my foot down on Oliver’s, and what a triumph it was. I would have to say this is among the finest breakfasts I have had in Yorkshire and wish I could have eaten more.

I have known Nick a long time and I think only on one occasion did he opt not to eat the Full English. At Olli’s the full English was absolutely lovely. The sausage was local, rather than Danish as in full English breakfasts across the land. The bacon was likely Danish but the egg was poached beautifully, wherever it was from. Clean plate and positive grunt is always a positive from Nick.

I had the chorizo hash which consisted of, you’ve guessed it, chorizo, sauteéd potatoes, poached egg and delicious red peppers. This was an explosion of flavour which was only enhanced by the enormous amount of oozing cheese poured all over it. I pity their washing machine. The potatoes were a triumph I thought, beautiful fluffy and soft but still solid. The acidity of the chorizo pierced through the other softer flavours on the plate and delivered a balanced and excellent breakfast, which gave me plenty of energy for the ride ahead.

Finally I should like to draw your attention to this delightful doggy that we saw on our way back to the hotel. A highlight in our brief sojourn through Ripon.

 

Grassington House – Triumphant Feast Grassington

Grassington House – Triumphant Feast Grassington

Oh me oh my, this was probably the best meal on the Way of the Roses trip. We arrived to the Craiglands hotel in Grassington, unpacked and cleaned up then headed to dinner. Our fellow guests were shocked that we were eating there, as it seems to have a reputation for exorbitant costs. The costs were certainly close to budget but not excessive I found. Portion size could be described as minimalist but certainly the flavour is concentrated in each beautiful morsel!

Grassington House? I didn’t know we were staying with millionaires!

We skipped the starter to concentrate on the main and not overload ourselves for the ride in the day to come. Nick went for a vegetarian dish, the spinach Spätzle. Spätzle a type of small noodle or dumpling made with fresh eggs. Typically it is served with meat but this time it was served with breaded goats cheese bon bons. This was also served with pickled beetroot and fresh rocket. I had a small part of the bon bon which was cooked beautifully, as you would expect. The batter was the crispiest possible without being brittle. The pasta itself was cooked well and seasoned intelligently.

I had to have the Yorkshire Lamb. Seared loin with a lamb wellington (thank you very much), broad beans, peas and a wild garlic pomme pureé. This was possibly the smallest meal I have ever had but also ranks among the most flavourful. The quality of the food at Grassington House cannot be overstated and was reminiscent of the meal I had some years ago at Kampa Park in Prague.

This was a dish which was levels of spectacular. Fantastic consistency on the lamb, on the brink of being fondant but still tough enough to have the consistency of well cooked lamb. The pastry on the wellington was feather light and the filling balanced the lamb against what I believe was mushroom quite beautifully. The garlic pomme pureé was also sensational, light, fluffy and so flavoursome. A small meal even by flea standards but one of substantial beauty.

The cheese course consisted of Tunworth, Dale End Cheddar, Fellstone and Leeds blue, the only one on the list made form sheep as opposed to cow’s milk. Those who have been within 4.5 miles of my location will be aware by favourite cheese is Roquefort. The Leeds blue was the closest in terms of flavour to this so was of course my favourite on the plate.

A very creamy soft cheese which is fresh like their Pecorino, most similar in texture to a Gorgonzola. A gentle mild blue aged for 30 days with savoury notes, a little bitter with some sweetness that lingers in your mouth. George & Joseph

Overall, a staggering restaurant even if the portion size were more fit for a door mouse than a 6 foot pedant. We will most certainly be returning in future.

 

The New Inn – Clapham – Terrific Mid Ride Meal

The New Inn – Clapham – Terrific Mid Ride Meal

Prior to an astonishing hill coming out of Settle, we ate a lovely lunch at the New Inn in Clapham, in the Craven district of North Yorkshire. The lunch itself was high quality and we were very grateful to the staff at the New Inn for letting us faff about with our bikes before the huge hill out of Settle. For a combination of the above reasons I must recommend this charming place.

The Ploughman’s lunch was absolutely lovely but a little too ambitious for us. We were cycling machines at this point and had had a fulsome breakfast which did not leave much room for an extravagant lunch. Nonetheless we ate at least 60% of this delicious dish. I should say the Wensleydale was a little dry for my taste.

Nick opted for the ham and cheese panini which I understand was wholly satisfactory. I went for the pastrami, pickle and mayo panini which was excellent. Pastrami has quite a unique flavour including smoke, spicy black pepper, and the sweet citrus tang of coriander. The original process involved placing meat in saddle bags, where it was pressed by the riders’ legs as they rode. Thankfully Health and Safety have since frowned upon this practice.

Overall this was a lovely lunch break and very welcoming place. I understand one can book a room there which we may choose to do down the line. I am most grateful to the staff for allowing us to tinker with our bikes (outside of the view of fellow diners it should be added, which made the bitter hill out of Settle less frightening.

See below a photograph taken on a road being newly relayed. I did not realise how newly until my tyres were coated in yellow paint (which dries very quickly indeed). A minor set back saw us slightly delayed into Grassington but more on that in a later post, perhaps.