Sunday, 30 April 2017

Gusto, Lytham St Annes - Spring Menu Launch evening

We were recently kindly invited to Gusto in Lytham for the blogger launch of their spring menu, on a decidedly unspring like evening we experienced a lovely dinner of gorgeous Italian food.

Gusto is situated on Dicconson Terrace in the  heart of the town and is in a tastefully converted period property, the decor and ambiance is a relaxed Milanese in style. The restaurant has a lovely bar area were you can enjoy a drink or cocktail before your meal and loads of cosy dining areas all of which are tastefully furnished, The soundtrack is laid back jazz and helps create a warm relaxed environment to enjoy the food and company. We particularly liked the eclectic mix of black and white photography throughout the restaurant.

We experienced the restaurant on a reasonably busy Tuesday evening and would imagine that at weekends you would be best booking to secure the table of your choice.

A lovely wood fired pizza oven was visible in the open kitchen from our table.

As this was a review evening a special menu had been prepared. 

To start the evening a delicious sharing platter - The Grande Board was placed on the table to share.

Featuring creamy goats cheese, smoked provolone and dolcelatte, humus, rocket, nocellara and black olives, sun dried tomatoes, prosciutto, salami sopressa , coppa and rosemary focaccia on an olive olive wood serving platter. A great to start to our evening, may only suggestion of an improvement would be to ditch the hummus and replace with some grassy extra virgin olive oil and some sweet and deep balsamic vinegar, to dip you focaccia in.

Our chosen starters were Gusto Dough petals with Garlic butter, enjoyed by Mr LF and novel twist on the standard garlic bread, my calamari was lovely, light crispy, tasty and not in the least bit chewy and accompanied by a tangy lemon mayonnaise. Our accompanying Garganega Pinot grigio a perfect balance to our choices.

Next up where our mains, a crispy pan fried sea bass for Mr LF, served on a bed of creamed spinach and as a side some crispy rosemary and garlic potatoes Mr LF really enjoyed his fish cooked to perfection and plenty of it, for me Baked Aubergine Milanese, served with rocket salad and a spicy tomato sauce, warning portion size was huge, two great slices of aubergine, soft and creamy aubergine in a crispy breadcrumb, and topped with cheese and slices of tomato. The rocket salad could may be have done with a little balsamic just to cut the cheese in the dish. Very enjoyable but the portion size beat me.

Our Dessert choices were a lovely light yet moist and creamy Tiramisu and a creamy wobbly traditional panna cotta served with balsamic strawberries.

A lovely meal in fine company, Gusto is a small select chain of restaurants who's aim is to make everyday exquisite.

They have a great a la carte menu which you can view here and they have a great value lunch , dinner  and Sunday set menus too. Plus they also have "create your own pizza" for the kiddies (complete with chefs hat).

The website is here, they are also active on Instagram, twitter and facebook too.

We dined on a complementary basis after being invited to give a review, all thoughts, views, opinions are our own. We were not expected to give a positive review.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Lunch at The Walton Fox, Bamber Bridge.

Just after the Easter break we popped in for lunch at the The Walton Fox, part of the Vintage Inns chain in Bamber Bridge for a spot of lunch after their recent refurbishment.

 The decor is a cool relaxed country style, ideal as an informal dining venue with friends or family.

The extensive menu provided lots of choice and I noted they also have frequent specials and offers throughout the year. They have in the week time a "fixed price lunch" of 2 courses for £10.95 / 3 courses £13.95

The welcome was warm and  friendly and the service attentive without being overbearing, We also experienced good sized portions, all the food was hot and attractively served and at good value prices.

I choose as my starter the Oven baked button and portobello mushrooms, served in a garlic and cheese sauce with rustic breads, a tasty dish , lots of mushrooms which I love and well balanced with the sauce. I shared my starter with Mr LF and he particularly enjoyed the bread.

For mains I chose the Smoked haddock kedgeree fish cake which was served with roasted vine tomatoes, broccoli, basil dressing and some delightful baby herby potatoes. The fish cakes were lovely with large chunks of smoked haddock and just a hint of curry flavours.

Mr LF chose a pie (he always does !) in this case the steak and mushroom one, rich slow cooked beef and mushrooms in red wine topped with a puff pastry top, served with creamy mashed potatoes and roasted carrots and braised cabbage. The beef was a little chewy but the sauce was very tasty. We do like to see cabbage served a vegetable, an unsung hero in my opinion.

To finish our meal we shared the "Pudding Tasting platter" a spiffing idea in in my opinion and one I am surprised you don't see on more menus, this one featured a handsome slice of apple pie with a dinky jug of creamy custard, Melba mallow mess , a delicious combination of meringue, cream, marshmallow fluff , peaches and raspberries. Classic vanilla creme brulee, creamy wobbly creme with a cracking burnt sugar top. Belgian chocolate brownie with smooth creamy vanilla ice cream and of course 2 spoons !!  Yummeee.....

A perfect end to the meal, we left pleasurably satisfied and very pleasantly surprised.

We dined on a complementary basis after being invited to give a review, all thoughts, views, opinions are our own. We were not expected to give a positive review.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Tolkien Inspired cakes at Townhouse Coffee and Brew Bar, Preston

For those of you in the know, the 25th of March every year is Tolkien reading day, so as we held our last cake club on this date, I decided that we would have a Tolkien inspired cake theme.

Our lovely members ever inventive came up with some fantastic cakes which fitted the theme perfectly.

Bilbo's Tea cake
Anglo Saxon shield and seax cake
Evil Eye ginger cake
Magic lemon cake
Beorns Honey cake
Chocolate "ring" cake
Chocolate orange ring cake
Blueberry lavender shire cake

Our lovely venue was the Townhouse Coffee  and Brew Bar on Friargate in Preston town centre. Our hosts were fabulous, so welcoming and lovely attentive service, they couldn't do enough for us.

We thought the decor was great and loved the book swap area, the menu was also fabulous and featured some lovely dishes and the drinks were great, they have Origin coffee ( as chemex, aeropress, pourover and expresso) and Birdhouse teas. Please pay them a visit while you are in town. They are open Monday to Saturday.

We love independent coffee shops and their individuality, fresh flowers, quirky decor and great service with a smile.

Individual pots of tea and cute little urns of milk

You can find the Townhouse Coffee and Brew Bar at 62 Friargate, Preston . They are on facebook

Cosy corners to relax and lose yourself in a book

Says it all really .........

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Turtle Bay , Blackburn. Rum, Reggae and Jerk !

Last week, we paid a lunchtime visit to the recently opened Turtle Bay in the Cathedral Quarter in Blackburn to find out all about the hot new venue in town.

First a confession, both myself and Mr LF are pretty much Caribbean food virgins, so we were excited in anticipation of experiencing some new flavour sensations.

Turtle Bay is a growing chain of Caribbean social eating and drinking venues, in Lancashire you can find them in Preston, two in Manchester and two in Liverpool as well as the latest one in Blackburn.

Informal in style with a emphasis on relaxed social eating and drinking, the decor is definitely in a Jamaican Caribbean style. Plenty of reused materials and stripped back styling. The staff in Blackburn were great, friendly, welcoming and eager to please.

The extensive menu features a wide range of food (more of that in a minute) and drink including regional (as in Caribbean) specialities such as Ting, a very nice Guinness West Indies Porter, which Mr LF particularly enjoyed. They also have a good range of cocktails which often are 2 4 1 but I was driving today so couldn't comment but have many friends who have enjoyed a glass or two. I find Blackburn town centre roads and parking confusing enough when sober so I would probably be still navigating the one way system if I had partaken.

I have a very nice and refreshing Limeade which I understand they make on the premises.

Any way on to the food, as I have already said having never sampled this style of food as we perused the menu with our drinks we were assisted in our choices by a really helpful waitress, so we plumped for the Beach food platter to start, so we could try a few specialities all in one go.

 The sharing platter featured, traditional Jerk chicken wings, Stuffed Pepper roti, Sweetcorn fritters and Garlic and herb flatbreads, all served on a board drizzled with chilli sauce and strewed with rocket. The jerk wings were moist juicy and really tasty with a generous jerk spice hit. Pepper roti was served Trinidadian style with cheese, sliced carrots, potatoes and onions and sweet hot peppery sauce, tasty little triangles, a little like a cheesy tortilla. I had been recommended by a friend to order the sweetcorn fritters, which in her words were legendary and I can say I enjoyed them , little bundles of sweetcorn (obviously), spring onion, coriander and some Scotch bonnet chilli deep fried in balls. The garlic and herb flatbread was served as rolls which also included a sticky chilli sauce. Mr LF's favourite from the platter was the Jerk chicken wings and mine the sweetcorn fritters. 

For our mains I plumped for the Goat burger from the Jerk Pit part of the menu, a tasty goat and lamb burger, seasoned with Jerk spices, served on a sweet brioche style bun, with sweet onion chutney, green seasoning (a little like a pesto sauce), on the side sweet potato fries, slaw and a sweet plantain dumpling. I really enjoyed the goat burger plenty of goat flavour not too spicy and moist and juicy, the green seasoning was also interesting, a little like a pesto meets sofrito, meets salsa. I have since googled it and it contains onions, garlic, green herbs and then what ever else you like from chillies, more herbs or sweet peppers and is widely used in Trinidadian cooking.

Mr LF's choice was the One pot slow cooked Goat curry, served with the traditional accompaniments of rice 'n peas and Caribbean dumplings. The goat was tender and moist, the curry rich, sweet potatoes  soft and plenty of ginger and citrus notes along with hot scotch bonnet chilli, the sweet onion chutney provided a nice flavour contrast. Rice n peas for those not in the know is actually rice and normally kidney beans, not peas but none the less a tasty accompaniment to the curry. Caribbean dumplings are a little like unsweet doughnuts, served in fingers. Mr B managed to almost finish the dish, but he did say he was a little spicy towards the end for him.

For gluten free eater, I did notice that many of the One pot dishes are GF if you have the rice 'n peas and skip the roti and dumpling options.

Forgive me but a glorious close up of the Goat Curry one pot

After all that spicy food it only seemed right that we had a little sweetness, so both ordered a pudding. Mine was the Gluten free chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream, very nice too moist and very chocolaty, especially as I had two good sized pieces served with creamy ice cream.

Mr LF's choice was a Rum and Raisin pudding, soaked in dark rum with brown sugar, cinnamon raisins, this decadent pudding comes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Nicely rum flavoured and a good end to our meal. 

I would advise booking particularly at weekends as it was very busy when we visited. The soundtrack is what you expect of a restaurant who strapline is Rum, Reggae, Jerk, not an issue to us but might be for some people.

The prices are pretty reasonable and service was very good, everything was clean, the food fresh, hot and came out at a good pace.

Here are some more shots of the laid back interior.
One Love............

We dined on a complementary basis after being invited to give a review, all thoughts, views, opinions are our own. We were not expected to give a positive review.

                                                           Image result for turtle bay uk

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Anything Goes at The Folly, Worden Park, Leyland for South Lancashire Cake Club

Our latest cake club outing was to The Folly Coffee House situated in the heart of Leyland's beloved Worden Park,  housed in the old stable block this quirky coffee shop welcomed us with open arms.

Our theme for our event was "Anything Goes" so we had a fabulous selection of cakes and bakes some of which wouldn't normally be allowed at a Clandestine Cake Club.

We enjoyed chatting about baking, the history of the park and the weather. So if you are visiting the park pop in for a warming coffee or a bite to eat at The Folly.

The interior is quirky and reflects the history of the venue.

Outside is the Arts Centre (sadly unused now due to budget cuts) and the remains of Worden Hall, ancestral home of the Faringtons.

 As stated previously as our theme was Anything Goes, traybakes were allowed , so we had some lovely Gluten Free, date sweetened brownie bites and some delicious Carmelita's.

Scrummy Cherry Madeira cake, traditional Dutch celebration cake , Coffee cake and Tunisian Orange Cake.

Good Intentions cake, Rum Truffle and savoury goats cheese cake

The Folly is open everyday and more details can be found here

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