Sunday, 3 August 2014

Stover Golf Club

Located on the edge of Newton Abbot is a convenient treat for golfers in the south west, with easy access from the A38 and M5. The course is one of the best courses in the south west.

The beautiful parkland course features a wide variety of holes, elevation change, mature trees, streams and picturesque ponds.

It also has a restaurant in the clubhouse, which, sadly, is underused. The Sunday dinners were started about a couple of months ago, and we went 3 weeks ago and really enjoyed our meal there.

So we decided to do the same after our walk.

They offered chicken, lamb, or beef. Last time we were there the chef said we could have a bit of everything as we couldn't I was cheeky and asked if we could have the same again.....and they said yes!

The whole meal was home cooked  and served with cauliflower cheese, runner beans, broccoli and abundance!

This included wonderfully puffed-up Yorkshire puddings and stuffing.

As if we were not full after that we opted for the puddings. I had Irish Cream indulgence and Colin had Raspberry Creme Brulee. Both were divine.

We had the option of:
1 course @ £6:50....(yes as cheap as that!!!!!)
2 courses @ £9:50
3 courses @ £13:50.

We could only manage 2 courses and they were big portions.

So full marks to a very unused facility, but who maintain their standards even if there only a few Sunday lunchers!

5/5 Food
5/5 Presentation
5/5 Service
5/5 Setting
giving an overall 20/20

Today's questers were: Mel and Colin

We wore: shorts and tops.

We drank: a pint of Devon County; a large glass of Pinot Grigio

Total bill: £27.90

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Pig & Whistle - Totnes

This pub restaurant has been under new management for almost 2 years now having previously suffered from a not so good reputation. During the last year we have heard many good things about it. Much has been done to improve the dining experience and this is ongoing.

I, and a friend, Sandra, decided to give it a go on a Friday lunchtime. Staff reception was excellent; smiles and welcomes all round.

Ambience was lovely with lots of little and larger areas and space between tables which means you can hold private conversations and not listen to everyone's chat.

Interesting and varied menu with a good specials board and 2 for £12 meals on offer.

The menu varies slightly with the seasons.  Starters (price range £4.50-£8.95) Main Course (price range £7.95-£18.95) dessert & ice cream from £4.95. Full menu & specials available lunch & dinner, 7 days a week (except Sunday lunch). In the afternoons they have carefully selected 25 dishes from their main menu.

We both had a vegetarian option as it was a very warm day: stilton & mushroom tartlet, Very well presented and came with a bowl each of new potatoes...lots of them! Very tasty and moreish. I don't normally go for pies / tarts etc but was pleased that I had as the taste was subtle and interesting and the tartlet was full of lovely garlicky stiltony mushrooms. Also had a dash of spinach in there.

Dessert menu was good and it was difficult to choose. £5:25 seemed a lot, but good portions and again very tasty and well presented.

I had the brownie and ice-cream and Sandra had vanilla ice cream with coffee and shortbread...and the shortbread was huge and the coffee came in a separate little cup so that you could pour as much / little of it on your ice-cream as you would want.

We were very impressed.

Food 4.5/5
Presentation 5/5
Setting 4/5
Service 5/5
giving an overall 18.5/20

Lunch questers were Mel and Sandra

We drank: gin and slimline tonic and red wine

We wore: summery white 3/4 pants and floral blue top and beige cargo skirt and top and both tanned from the brilliant sunshine we have been having

Total Bill: £41.50

The Pig and Whistle
Newton Road
01803 863733

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

O'Donnell's Bar - Amsterdam

The stag weekend continued on Marie Heinekenplein in Amsterdam, at O'Donnell's, a place that's ploughing the furrow of continental Irish pub with which many of us are all too familiar.

It was situated on quite a nice city square spot, so suited us rather splendidly for a beer and a light snack, in the afternoon sunshine.

Now, I won't claim that the food on offer was particularly outstanding, but the situation merited a review as we were dressed in a quite outstandingly bonkers fashion.

As I may have mentioned, there a good section of regular readers who are way more interested in the "what we wore" section as opposed to "what we ate". Many of these devotees were represented here today, so we couldn't but take the opportunity to give them their moment in the sun.

Aside from the stag, regally decked out as our reignin monarch, we had a blend of other royals, revolutionaries, presidents, and leaders from history, including Cardinal Richelieu, Tutankhamun, and a quite magnificent Maggie Thatcher. The challenges of retaining one's modesty while wearing a short skirt proved insurmountable, but the welcoming and attentive waiting staff at O'Donnell's managed to cope.
The journey to O'Donnell's

We ordered thirteen small beers, then considered the menu, which was of the pub snack variety. I extolled the virtues of bitterballen, which are the quintessential Dutch bar snack. Half way between a pork meatball and a croquette, they're served with mustard, usually in a portion somewhere between half dozen and a dozen. I've enjoyed them many times, to the extent that I've cooked them at home, and even have my own secret recipe for the little blighters.

My voice was not greatly heeded, though, with nachos, burgers, and many, many bowls of chips ordered, instead.

The food was all decent, performed its task admirably, and allowed us to proceed on our merry way with stomachs that thanked us for the brief respite from our otherwise liquid diet.

So overall, O'Donnell's will remember us, and we'll remember them. We'll remember a good refuelling feed, and they'll remember a pair of size 8 ballet pumps that we cast aside by Maggie Thatcher in favour of bare-footed hobbling. Its place in the collective memory is guaranteed.

Blythe scores O'Donnell's
3/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for setting
3.5/5 for service
giving an overall 13/20

Today's quester were: Ernesto 'Che' Guevara (2), King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands, Margaret Hilda Thatcher, William Jefferson Clinton (né Blythe), Barack Hussein Obama, the Duke of Edinburgh, Armand Jean du Plessis - the Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu, Ho Chi Minh, Tutankhamun, Prince Charles, Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, Queen Elizabeth II

We ate: nachos, frites, bitterballen, burgers

We drank: Heineken

We wore: Presidential tie (2), combat fatigues (3), crown, purple Calvin Klein's, orange t-shirt, tweeds, military jacket, snake head-dress, grey beard, purple robes

Total bill: the bitterballen were €6, the beers were around €2.50

Ferdinand Bolstraat 5, Amsterdam

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

La Vaca Argentina - Amsterdam

Amsterdam! My visits, recently, have simply been for transit, either to countries further afield or to other parts of the Netherlands, so I was glad to get a chance to wander round the place for an afternoon. The main business of my visit was a stag weekend for regular guest quester, Malcolm (who has joined at Locanda de Gusti and Origano amongst other places), but I got a little oasis of calm to start my weekend with a relaxed lunch, prior to the arrival of the massed ranks of chaps.

After a wee stroll, I alighted upon a likely looking row of restaurants. I was tempted by one called Garlic Queen, which featured the Dracula-repelling bulb in just about every dish, but sadly it wasn't open, yet. Instead, I popped in to one of the many Argentinian steak places that populate the city centre.

This one was called La Vaca Argentina, and looked a smart if under-populated place. I guess there's not much demand for a steak dinner at 3pm when it's sunny outside.

Their menu was extensive, featuring a big range of meats, cuts and preparation styles. Argentinian goulash soup caught my eye, unsurprisingly, then I chose to follow that with a rump steak

Soup arrived promptly, in a big cup. It bore some flavour relationship to some previous goulashes I've had, but it wasn't the best soup in history. Solid but unspectacular would be the verdict.

The steak was entirely better, with an impressively large, accurately cooked and seasoned rump delivering good flavour and that unmistakeable meaty texture. The quality of the beef was good, and the execution was pleasing.

So overall, La Vaca Argentina served me very nicely, and fulfilled its function of giving me a good meal to remember while I shoved bad shawarma towards my face, in the few moments when I wasn't pouring lager down my neck, over the course of the rest of the weekend.

Blythe scores La Vaca Argentina
3.5/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for setting
3/5 for service
giving an overall 13.5/20

Today's quester was: Blythe

I ate: Argentinian goulash soup; rump steak

I drank: red wine

I wore: brown suit

Total bill: €30.75

Reguliersdwarsstraat 8, Amsterdam
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Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Butcher's Arms: Abbotskerswell: Devon.

Having been very remiss about remembering my duty as a roving reporter, I thought today was a good day to make amends. (Note the use of alliteration!)
So on a lovely mild and sunny day in December, the week leading to Xmas, it was time to visit and review the other local establishment in the village of Abbotskerswell, “The Butcher’s Arms”.
On first moving to this village over 5 years ago, we were warned that “The Butcher’s” wasn’t a great place for food, but in the last couple of years, with a new chef, it has improved by leaps and bounds…or so we were told!
It did not disappoint. The food is all cooked on the premises and the chef actually brings the food out to the tables when not too busy.
Four of us enjoyed a good meal. All four plates were well presented and there was plenty of quality food on the plate to fill even the emptiest of tums.

Sue had a board special of Meat Lasagne, chips and salad, which was well presented and equally good in the tasting.

Colin had one of his favourite dishes: a Fish Bake , which was equally good and again well presented.

John plumped for the Cod in Beer Batter with new potatoes which he polished off with no hesitation.

I was so very tempted to have the Steak with Stilton and Walnut sauce, but as my tummy hadn’t been so good this week decided to have a Rare Rump Steak with new potatoes, salad and coleslaw and onion rings. The steak was almost perfect, but lacked a crisp outer coat to cover the lovely juicy centre.

We decided against a desert as we were quite full and decided that a mince pie and coffee at Greystone (our place) would just finish things off nicely.
We dressed casually.
We drank J2O, beer, and fizzy water.
The cost was £41:75....not bad for a pub lunch !

General rating for: -
Presentation 4/5
Food 4/5
Ambience 3/5 sadly there were few people in at the height of lunchtime
maybe due to their being no Xmas lunch menu????
Service 4/5 

It is lovely to have two such good local pubs with excellent food in a small village like Abbotskerswell. We are, indeed, blessed.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Stann & Olly's, Belfast

Black Friday in Belfast is generally the last Friday before Christmas. This is when 90% of business Christmas parties are held and as a result, the city centre is thronged. Despite being booked into another restaurant on the trendy Lisburn Road, we spotted the eyecatching Stann and Olly's diner on the Dublin road when parking the car. We were running slightly late anyway so decided to kill two birds with one stone by letting our intended fellow diners begin without us and trying out the diner!

As Laurel and Hardy fans both, we found it hard to suppress a smile as we walked to the US style diner. The walls are covered with pictures of the famous comedy duo and large screens run their silent movies non stop. We were immediately brought to a large booth and the charming waiter decided that Leo would like a pint of beer whilst I was to apparently have one of his home made Strawberry Daiquiris! The Daiquiri, which was made in my view, was wonderful!

From the extensive menu we selected Cheesy Nachos (£4.25) and Ribs with home made BBQ sauce (£4.05) for starters, with Leo opting for the Bacon and Cheese Burger (£8.75) whilst I chose The Marilyn Monroe, a wonderfully described BBQ chicken burger. The food arrived promptly and was far better than one would expect for the archetypal US diner. Both starter plates were completely cleared but the portions were so big that I did not quite manage to polish off the Marilyn, not for the lack of effort though- it was superb!

The bill came to a reasonable €34.55.

Whist chatting with Richard, he told us that they were only open for three weeks and that this was a “soft opening” before the proper launch in January sometime. If they manage to keep up these great standards, expect Stann and Olly’s to be a roaring success!

Stann & Olly's
18 Dublin Road
Belfast BT2 7HN

028 9023 1213

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Blackfriars, Newcastle

Blythe's Verdict
As a lunchtime treat on our little trip to Newcastle, to bathe in the glorious majesty that is Britney Spears' effulgent splendour, we popped along to Blackfriars, which boasts the UK's oldest dining room. It showcases local produce from the region, and if you ask nicely they'll even stretch to a mead-fuelled banquet in monastic and comely wench gear (although for that, you apparently need to bring your own spoon!).

The place is tucked neatly away, strangely enough just on the edge of Newcastle's Chinatown. It's probably not the kind of spot where you'd expect to meet four revellers fuelling-up for a Britney gig, but we were probably not your typical Spears devotees (they were already queuing outside the Metro Radio Arena, as we sat down to lunch).

Friendly waitresses welcomed us to the dining area that radiated medieval chic from every carefully turned stonework arch. And if we thought we'd escaped the tendrils of TFGE's topic of the month, 'from the tree', we were wrong, as an ancient looking item was growing in the very restaurant, clutched to a corner for dear life.

The lunch menu showed an attractive looking lunch deal, with two courses available for £12, from a generous selection of freshly prepared dishes.

In a rare aberration, I was tempted away from my usual furrow, opting to start with the black-pudding topped with a poached egg, served with brown sauce.

Soup wasn't far away, though, as Milo opted for the spiced parsnip soup. I had a little taste and it had a real depth of flavour, was rich and dark, indicating real good carmelisation from roasting the parsnips, and was quite unlike your usual version of this classic soup.

My starter was excellent. The generous slab of home-produced black pudding was expertly prepared. The poached egg offered just the right amount of goo to moisten the dish, with the fruity notes of the brown sauce adding a tidy little finish. The micro-herb coriander made the dish look very pretty, but lead it off towards a powerfully divergent vignette, so perhaps could have been replaced with something equally pretty, but a touch more subtle.

MJ's smoked salmon starter was good, although the texture was a little unusual.

The risotto looked good and tasted good.

I was hung-up on whether to go for the steak or the shepherd's pie, but our waitress steered me towards the latter. It was an excellent piece of guidance. Delving through the potato topping revealed beautifully tender pieces of lamb, with nuggets of sweet carrot. It really was first class.

The accompanying vegetables were simply prepared, but beautifully fresh. The ingredients could be allowed to speak for themselves, and they eloquently did so.

The fish and chips, sampled by Hannah and Milo, looked very good. MJ enjoyed her main course portion of the risotto, too.

We were pretty full after that, but we contemplated the desserts, momentarily. We opted for coffees to round out what had been an enjoyable introduction to Newcastle's dining scene.

Overall, I was impressed by Blackfriars. It has translated the impulse towards showcasing local ingredients into an excellent and varied menu, offering good hearty fare. The setting is something rather special, too. I'd recommend you pay it a visit, next time you're in the neighbourhood.


Blythe scores Blackfriars:
4/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
4/5 for setting
3/5 for service
Giving an overall 14/20

MJ scores Blackfriars:
3/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
4/5 for setting
3/5 for service
Giving an overall 13/20

Today's Lunch Questers were: Miriam, Hannah, Milo, Blythe

We wore: pony bling, tweed, ninja badge, all-purpose clubbing footwear.

We ate: spiced parsnip soup, risotto (starter portion), black pudding, smoked salmon, risotto (main course portion), fish and chips (x2), shepherd's pie

We drank: Pilsner Urquell, water, coffees

Total bill: c.£70