Now, am I biased because this restaurant is practically next door to me? Perhaps I am. However, the premises had been largely empty for a year and to see them rejuvenated by such a promising restaurant filled me with joy. M and I ordered an outrageously flavoursome meal from Seoul Kitchen last week and I am delighted to be able to write to you about food once more.
For once takeaway photographs have not let me down, a testament to the Instagram-readiness which restaurants must have when presenting food to their phone addicted customers, perhaps. The above photographed was the cheese toppoki, (correct spelling Tteokbokki); is a dish consisting of stir-fried rice cakes. This is a popular Korean dish made from small-sized garae-tteok called tteokmyeon or commonly tteokbokki-tteok.
This contained a delightful rich sauce which I believe is called Dashi and some necessarily more bland cheese mixed in. The latter is likely an aberration to Korean diners but one which I suppose had to be made to pacify the English buyer. The rice cakes themselves were almost tubular in shape and quite slippery, but wonderfully dense to bite into. The rubbery texture was very pleasant indeed.
Matthew had regular Toppoki, pictured above. His was noticeably more spiced than mine and had absolutely no cheese.
Tofu Dolsot Bibimbap was my other dish of choice. This was a vegan twist on the traditional Korean Bibimbap, made typically of warm white rice topped with namul or kimchi and gochujang, soy sauce, or doenjang. I chose the vegan option on this occasion and was not at all disappointed. The tofu was fried lightly and beautifully soft inside. The sauce was perhaps a little sesame heavy but overall very flavoursome. The vegetables included beansprouts, carrots, zucchini and spinach. All in all a fibrous offering for which your body will thank you.
Kimchi is the best known of all Korean dishes. This is a spicy (thanks to the gochujang) salt nappa cabbage side dish. We tried to make it here but it takes weeks. The dish sometimes call for the use of fish sauce which Seoul Kitchen used liberally on this, hence put me right off. I don’t like fish, hence this is entirely personal preference, however I could see it was a faithful and accurate rendition of the dish which Matthew enjoyed very much.
Overall, I am elated that such a high quality restaurant has opened locally. I look forward to many meals there in future, hopefully in person as soon as possible.
Home to the Two Towers Brewery (named after the Asinelli and Garisenda towers in Bologna, I believe), the Gunmakers Arms has become a much loved consistently visited haunt for me. It has in effect become my local. My heartfelt thanks to Nick (formerly Saint) for introducing me to this place. It must have taken great courage for him to battle my perceived pretensions and take me somewhere he thought I might not like. As it turns out I am a big fan and keep being drawn back to it.
The erstwhile Gunmakers Arms
Situated in Birmingham’s Gun Quarter, this magnificent pub is a stone’s throw from St Chad’s Cathedral. It is now owned by the Two Towers Brewery and has been since 2010. The brewery itself is situated at the back of the pub and can be seen from your comfortable outdoor seating.
Using traditional methods, we brew a range of ales representing the true spirit of a great city. With a batch size of 10 British barrels (360 gallons) the brewery is at the rear of our dedicated outlet, the Gunmakers Arms, in the historic Gunmakers’ quarter and supplies pubs, clubs and restaurants across Birmingham and the West Midlands. Two Towers
Why do I like this pub? £3.40 per pint (now £3.50, shock, horror), excellent variety of beers for me not to drink (I’ll defer to Nick for explanations of their excellent selection) and readily available good quality cider. Equally, there is a local convivial atmosphere which is lacking in some of the newer establishments in town. I have found that the concept of a local pub, with local patrons has decreased dramatically in the last decade and there are now only a handful left in Birmingham. The other one that I can think of within 3 miles of the centre would be the Jeweller’s Arms in Hockley.
In summary, the Gunmaker’s Arms is a genuine local gem of a pub which I cannot recommend highly enough. If I had the chance I would go there weekly. I hope you will avail yourselves of the opportunity to visit it, should you be in the vicinity.
I’ll begin with something I dislike in food recipe posts. For reasons unknown to me, bloggers seem to make every effort to write 90% of the post about the origins or main consumers of the beverage or meal without telling you how it is made or which ingredients you need! the guide itself is almost an afterthought. Not on Cedric Suggests! I shall keep inane and irrelevant descriptions to one paragraph. Karak Chai is made with black loose tea leaves, crushed cardamom, saffron and sugar and evaporated milk. It is possible to use cardamon flavoured evaporated milk but I do not believe such a luxury to be available in the Tesco Metro near me.
Its origins lie in South Asia, and though this flavourful and milky tea is part of the Qatari tradition today, it actually comes from Indian and Pakistani households were this Karak is a part of their everyday lives and is known mostly as ‘Masala Chai’, roughly translated as tea with spices, or ‘Karak Chai’, roughly translated as strong tea with the word ‘Chai’ coming from the Chinese word for tea ‘Cha’.
It’s believed that when the workers came down to Qatar from India and Pakistan in the 1950s – 1960s to take part in building the country’s infrastructure around the time when oil had just been discovered, they found it hard to leave their love of this sweet milky tea behind and bought the recipe with them to Qatar to remind them of home. I Love Qatar
Ingredients – makes 2 cups of tea
2 cups water (475 ml)
3 teaspoons of loose leaf black tea (three teabags are also effective)
1.3 cups evaporated milk (300ml)
2 teaspoons of sugar (sweeteners also an option)
4-5 cardamon pods crushed
1 small piece of cinnamon
3-4 strands saffron (optional)
- Boil the water and pour it into a saucepan
- Add the cardamom pods, cinnamon, and tea. I put these in my tea infuser to minimise mess.
- Bring it to boil, with the tea infuser, then once the water is boiled add milk and sugar.
- Let the mixture come to boil again
- Set a timer for 4 minutes. Once the mixture is boiling it will boil over so remove it from the heat when it does. Once it has calmed down put it back on the heat. Repeat this for the duration of the 4 minutes.
- Once you see the tea has a dark caramel colour, turn off the heat.
- Pour the tea into a mug and enjoy!
Apologies for the wretched weather in the above photograph. I was surprised at how sweet this recipe was so would advise using less sweet black loose leaf tea to begin with and evaporated milk instead of condensed milk. Then you can add the sugar to regulate it to your liking. Overall, this is a sterling winter beverage and I believe this one is superior to the one at Damascena!
The Sandpiper Inn is a 17th century pub with a cosy interior in the heart of Leyburn. Leyburn is a village which is itself in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, where I spent some time a few months ago. Alas I have only just gotten round to writing up a review of the Daleightful experience, pardon the pun, and am not aware of the current state of the ever-oscillating COVID restrictions at the time of the publication of this review. Rest assured dear reader, I attended when it was acceptable to do so.
Now that the outrageous floundering is out of the way, I can talk about the delightful meal which we experienced. This was my favourite meal which was not the one I ordered. the Sandpiper Burger was just superb. It had a beef steak burger, streaky bacon and smoked cheddar as well as delightfully crunchy bacon. I am unsure whether the beef was local and fed on Wensleydale grass only but it had quite a unique flavour. The texture was quite novel and smokier than what I was used to. The bun itself was a sensation and held the burger together wonderfully, which is always a good sign in a burger. Overall excellent.
M’colleague had the pan fried sea bream on linguine. Sea Bream is considered to be the tastiest of all fish. Its flavour is both clean and meat like. Regular readers of this blog will know that I detest fish and what with social distancing I did not get close enough to M’colleague to sample his dish. Suffice to say by the state of paralysis he found himself in after lunch, one can surmise the dish was a success.
My dish was a true showstopper. Lemon scented Nidderdale chicken breast on a chorizo, sweetcorn, piquillo pepper and basil mint risotto. This was explosively flavoursome. The sweet and spicy flavour of the chorizo blended beautifully with the savoury rice and parmesan. It is almost a shame the menu is changed every day because I would rather like to have this dish again next time I visit.
Overall the Sandpiper Inn is a distinguished restaurant in the heart of the Dales which offers a delightful and economic fare ahead of any cheese infused afternoon adventures. It is highly recommended.
Tisane’s Tea Rooms are very much typical of the Broadway ideal – charming, traditional and quintessentially English. It sits on Lower High Street, metres away from the town Green, which I found to be the greatest attraction of the town. After a largely adequate lunch up the road at the Horse and Hound, we decided to have dessert at a different venue. Tisane’s was on the original itinerary for lunch but we ended up going there for scones.
And what scones! These were superbly soft, airy and light scones. Interestingly, scones were thought to have originated in Scotland and were originally round and flat instead of the modern bulky round modern shape. These fruit scones were a lot smaller than they look in the photograph. I so enjoyed them with the clotted cream and strawberry jam on offer.
Another highlight of this tea room is the excellent variety of hot beverages. They have 40 loose leaf teas on offer. These include Assam, Ceylon, Earl Grey English Breakfast, Lapsang Souchong, Rwanda Burundi and Spiced Chai Yunnan. I have tried Lapsang Souchong tea once after watching The Mentalist and found it to be almost as revolting as some of the acts of Red John, the serial murderer in the series. I had a pot of English Breakfast as I am not terribly adventurous when it comes to trying new teas. Excellent, as expected.
Overall, while I cannot write a comprehensive review of everything the Tea Rooms had to offer, I was left with an excellent first impression and will endeavour to return as soon as I can face the climb to Broadway Tower again. Tisane’s is highly recommended. And it is cheap at the price(as opposed to anything else), to boot.
NB – Unfortunately The Stable has closed since this review was written. Please take this piece as an appreciative tribute to the excellent food and service we experienced there.
During the first national lockdown (of three), Matthew and I would walk past The Stable frequently. We would observe the plants inside die slowly which each passing day. The Stable had remained shut through most of the lockdown, all the way through August, in fact. We would bemoan the fact that we were not able to avail ourselves of Mr Sunak’s aptly named Eat Out To Help Out (or, as London Lady Emily put it ‘Go Down to Save Town’) scheme. However, much to our indescribable glee, The Stable opened its doors again and allowed visitors to avail themselves of a 50% discount all the way through September. This post is an amalgam of the two visits we made in that time.
Firstly I would like to highlight the star of the show, the Sheppy’s low alcohol cider. This was the sweetest most delightfully fizzy, apple tasting cider I have sampled. I was really very impressed with it and felt I had to share this.
Sadly, the menu this first month is reduced to the Pizza and Sharer menu. However, we did not let this stop us. The only downfall of course is that after 2 visits, one samples most of the menu. This is hardly a complaint however, as most of it was delicious. Above is pictured the garlic bread sharer pizza. This consisted of sourdough pizza base, garlic butter and chopped parsley. The thing which ties the bases together in this restaurant is how thin and light the dough it. I have yet to leave this restaurant feeling overfilled, as it were. We had this alongside the Pesto Pecker salad, consisting of chicken thigh, pesto, heritage tomato, green leaves, cucumber and green onion, topped with garlic croutons and fresh chillies. I do not have a picture of it as it was too dark at the time, however I can confirm that it was highly flavoursome. The pesto and the chicken, cold, with salad is an excellent healthy meal. The portion was large enough for both Matthew and I, which is rare.
The best pizza I sampled was the Longhorn Tim, with marinated ground beef, chorizo, field mushrooms, mozzarella and red onion topped with smoked ham. Though, as you can see, I replaced the beef with sriracha chicken, performing a small part in slowing down climate change. The pizza was a masterful collection of flavours. the smoked ham and chorizo went so very well together. The melted cheese was not overwhelming and the bass was so thin that I could handle three quarters of it all by myself like a big boy. Normally I would only eat half of a pizza at a time, if at all.
This was the vegan pizza on offer. Normally I would spit on the ground thrice at the very mention of the V word but on this occasion I was surprised at how flavoursome and balanced this pizza was. The Blazing Jack contained rapscallion BBQ jackfruit with roasted peppers, caramelised onion and vegan mozzarella, finished with jalapeños and butterbean aioli. Together, this was not as great as my pizza but was a tasty alternative to environmental destruction (with exception of the soy cheese and most soy products).
The Hazelnutter was another vegetarian feast. Comprising of spinach, field mushrooms, caramelised onion, green beans and vegan cheese, topped with, you guessed it, hazelnuts, this was excellently tasty and greatly fibrous. The tartness of the caramelised onion was weighed beautifully against the more bland mushrooms and beans. Again, this was a light and highly flavoursome pizza which impressed me.
Overall, the Stable is a solid choice for lunch or dinner. It is light and cost effective, even without the 50% discount of up to £10. Additionally, it is right in the heart of Birmingham. You can see New Street Station clearly from most seats in the restaurant.