Saturday, 9 December 2017

Winter Menu at the Olive Tree Brasserie, Preston.

We had a fabulous lunch last Sunday at the Olive Tree Brasserie in Preston, wonderful food and great service. The brasserie serves Modern Greek inspired food in a fabulous setting, the interiors are particularly special, especially at night.

Modern Greek food, served in  a contemporary setting in the fabulous Grade 1 listed Victorian shopping arcade in the heart of the city, we just had to indulge in some exterior shots of the Miller Arcade as it wonderful and this is where you will find the Olive Tree in Preston.

The Olive Tree also has branches (see what I did there) in Lytham St Annes and Chester too.

More detail indulgence of the Miller Arcade before we get on with our review. Its just so beautiful and is currently seriously under used. The upper floors are magnificent.

On escaping from a cold blustery wintery Preston in to the warm brasserie we just knew we were in for a treat, the Christmas decorations were tasteful and complemented the contemporary decor, it was quiet when we arrived but we were early and that's great for us as we can take a few interior shots without disturbing other diners. Things soon got busier as other diners joined us to eat lunch.

Lots of  urban chic decor, dark wood, funky lighting and lots of glassware, cool and contemporary are what you can expect. Classy without trying too hard.

The menu is extensive whether for food, wine or cocktails and has something for everyone and helpfully includes translation of the Greek terms used so you can be confident of your choices. The cellar of the Olive Tree is also a cocktail bar called Elia which is open in the evenings. As we visited for lunch I can't comment on this but have friends who have partaken and they love the bar area, its also handy for a pre dinner drink too.

This is my mocktail (as the designated driver) an Earl Grey Iced tea - it was very tasty and refreshing but could maybe have been a little colder,it had a good earl grey tea flavour and contained peach puree, lemon juice and sugar.

On the waiters recommendation we chose an appetizer of Greek marinated green and black olives, mild green chillies and ciabatta to have whilst our food was cooked for us, the olives were great. We both love olives, I particularly enjoyed the black ones. Also pictured in this shot is Mr LF's Fine and Dandy Cocktail but more of that later.

For one of our starters we  ordered Marida, whitebait and aioli with a beautifully dressed lambs lettuce salad. A delicious start to the meal, crispy and light, the portion size was very good and well complemented with the aioli, to cut the richness of the fish.

Our other starter was Manitaria Skordata, roast mushrooms, cream and garlic served with toasted ciabatta. This dish was very popular with Mr LF who loved the creamy garlicky sauce and the dinky little pallets that they used for serving the dish on.

I chose a Classic Greek Moussaka as my main, this the second best Moussaka I've eaten and the best was in a beachside taverna in small fishing village on the West coast of Mainland Greece about 25 years ago whilst on holiday, eaten in blistering August heat, so pretty stiff competition to any dish served in a wintery Preston. This version had potatoes, courgettes, aubergines and a rich beef mince in tomato sauce and a creamy bechamel sauce, maybe if it had been lamb it might have been number one, who knows....

A shot of the wine cages in the cellar

Now that Fine and Dandy cocktail

Fine and dandy cocktail - Havana 3 year old, Havana Especial, Dandelion and Burdock syrup, Dandelion and Burdock bitters, lime juice and whites. A taste revelation and very much enjoyed by Mr LF who loves the traditional flavours of Dandelion and Burdock and he also loved that his cocktail was served in a heavy crystal glass, very masculine.

Mr LF's main was Lavraki - two  pan fried sea bass fillets, accompanied by a feta potato cake herby, perhaps a little too herby in this case, a delicious sweety silky parsnip skordalia (garlic and parsnip puree)and lots  kolokithakia (courgette fries). Overall very tasty just slightly let down by a heavy hand with the thyme in the potato cake.

So now it was time for pudding, our waiter informed us that two of the options were unavailable as they had sold out of the Saturday night. But we still had plenty of choice, Mr LF has loved Turkish Delight since he was a child so was happy to order the Loukomia - sugar coated Turkish Delight, the menu promised some with a chocolate coating, so we were a little disappointed as was looking forward to trying this classic flavour combination when they didn't appear in the dish when served.

Our other choice was the Sokolata tahini brownie, with haynoto syrup (Greek liqueur) and deliciously creamy hazelnut ice cream. So a rich dense nutty chocolate brownie with tahini, boozy syrup and ice cream. Very scrummy and a very large piece, so much so that we had to take away some of the Loukomia as we couldn't finish it all.

All in all, we had a great time and the food was very very good, going Greek for a change was good fun. The Olive Tree also have a good lunchtime offering of a limited menu for a bargain price and even a Greek Roast on Sundays too. So check out their website and book yourself a table.

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, 6 December 2017

Seasonal Favourites at Twin Lakes Velo Cafe, Croston

There is a definite nip in the air now and things are starting to feel a little Christmassy so for our last Clandestine Cake Club outing we made a welcome return visit to the Twin Lakes Velo Cafe in Croston. The Cafe is aimed at cyclists but everyone is welcome including hardy cake fans like our members. Our theme was Seasonal favourites and once again we had some great cakes enjoy with a warming brew.

The cafe is a hidden gem with two gorgeous lakes outside which create a wonderful calming view,  the cafe is cosy inside and serves a great range of food and drinks. Thanks to all the team for hosting our event.

Tea and cake, what more can one want, Gluten free Ginger Zinger cake.

White chocolate and cranberry cake

Gluten free Clementine, almond and pomegranate cake 

Gluten Free Ginger zinger cake

Astrids festive no bake cake

Pear and mincemeat cake 

Apple and Mincemeat cake

We also had an alternative christmas bundt cake but I didn't get a picture sorry Helen.

Some of our members enjoying a chat and a great range of cakes

Smiling faces enjoying the treats we have to share, thats what cake club is all about.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Festive menu at Turtle Bay

Yesterday we popped into Turtle Bay Blackburn to sample their festive menu which has just recently launched and is available until the 31/12/17. There are a range of menus to suit all budgets and going Caribbean is a nice alternative to the usual Christmas fare, lots more exciting than Turkey. There is also plenty of choice for vegans, vegetarians and gluten free diners on the menu's on offer.

You can find an earlier review of the Blackburn branch of Turtle Bay here so you can get a good idea of the venue and its decor,  it's situated in the Cathedral quarter of the city centre.

If this review gets your mouth watering then lucky reader you can win a festive meal for two by following the easy enter rafflecopter on the below post, but hurry it closes soon.

Mr LF chose the 4 course option which is £24 per head, minimum 8 people and pre booked online. Available all day including for dinner service.

To start his meal, a Garlic 'n' herb flatbread -  a rough formed stone baked flatbread, topped with fresh rocket, crushed chilli and garlic butter. A spicy take on garlic bread.

Next up Garlic and chilli pit prawns - whole shell on king prawns grilled over the jerk pit, tossed in herb n chilli garlic butter served with flatbread. Additional £1 on the menu charge but so worth it, deliciously garlicky juicy prawns, very messy but oh so tasty.

Mr LF's maine was Pit Salmon - crispy skin fresh salmon fillet served with a grain salad, spinach , tangy sweet onion chutney and green seasoning. Light fresh flavours and a delicious crunchy salad.

To  finish a glouriously Sticky black treacle pudding - a typical West Indian pudding served with salted caramel black treacle sauce and vanilla ice cream. This disappeared so very quickly and apparently was the standout dish of Mr LF's meal.

I chose the 3 course option for lunch , available for £15 per head from restaurant opening until 5pm

My starter was the Mango Pit wings - 24 hour spiced and marinated chicken wings, pit grilled and tossed in a sweet mango chilli and coriander glaze. Served strewed with fresh herbs, nice and gnarly just how I like them, messy and sticky and fun to eat.

My main was the Caribbean browned chicken - braised on the bone chicken stew, served with coconut rice n peas, served with johnnycakes (Gluten free :-)). A hot dark spicy  stew served with tender rice and yummy johnny cakes.

For my dessert I chose the Banana and toffee cheesecake - a triple layered cheesecake with crisp biscuit base, creamy soft cheese, banana and toffee (Gluten free), delicious, creamy and very moreish and not too sweet.

We had a great time with friendly attentive service from welcoming staff, So if you need to book a festive get together for yourself or a group of friends why not go Caribbean this year at Turtle Bay, menus available in your local branch.

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.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Have yourself a Caribbean Christmas at Turtle Bay - Giveaway of festive meal for 2 at Turtle Bay, Blackburn

Vegan Platter


Step away from the turkey… Christmas 2017 is all about rum, reggae and jerk, as Turtle Bay invites you to celebrate a Caribbean Christmas to remember!

The great news is we have a festive meal for two to giveaway, using the easy enter rafflecopter below.

As the festive season gears up, Turtle Bay is here to offer the ultimate, alternative festive vibe, with its first ever set Christmas menu – featuring dishes inspired by the island life and Caribbean sunshine.

At Turtle Bay you can transform grey winter get togethers into fabulous, sunshine-inspired festive parties that no guest will forget in a hurry.

The Caribbean Christmas collection offers a range of laid-back eating options based on Turtle Bay’s beautiful soul food and famous cocktails.

Jerk Chicken

The Festive Platters menu is Turtle Bay’s answer to a chilled out, social Christmas eating experience – all for just £9 per head. Platters are Turtle Bay’s most popular dishes served with a range of delicious sides.  Perfect together with any of Turtle Bay’s legendary rum cocktails or with a cooler of Caribbean craft beers, bubbles or wine. The new drinks packages mean that all this can be pre-ordered, and be waiting on the table as guests arrive.

Meat platter

The Festive Lunch menu is a three-course Caribbean bonanza for just £15 per head. Guests can go all out with Caribbean with Crispy Okra, Jamaican Browned Chicken & Caymanas Upside Down Cake, or dial down the spice a little with Garlic Flatbread, the famous Turtle Bay Street Burger and Dark Chocolate Brownies.

The All-Day Christmas Menu with four courses for £24 per head is for those who want to go all out ‘tropical-festive’. This Island-inspired festive experience starts with a range of sharing dishes for the group to graze on, followed by a succulent Caribbean banquet of three courses including Turtle Bay’s famous jerk chicken.

Sweetcorn fritters

All festivities are better with reggae and the whole experience will be served up to the party sound of the Caribbean… So festive revellers are invited to simply turn up, dig in and chill out at the Caribbean Social, for the alternative Christmas celebration of the year.

  • Simply follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget below. 
  • To be in with a chance of winning you must complete ALL the required fields. 
  • All entries will be checked and verified before a winner is announced. 
  • You can increase your chances of winning by Tweeting on a daily basis. 
  • Rafflecopter will pick a random winner. 
  • The competition runs until the 23/11/17
  • If you win, you MUST send me your  within 3 days otherwise another draw will be held.
Please see the Terms and Conditions on the Rafflecopter widget for the rules and more information.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Tales of the Unexpected at Townhouse Coffee and Brew Bar, Preston

South Lancashire Clandestine Cake club has been running  for over 6 years and over the years for our 39 and counting events we have been hosted by lots of lovely venues. We have lots of favourites, one of which we paid a return visit to for our most recent event.

We have loved them all, all different in their own way. So we were really pleased when we were invited back to hold another event at this great little coffee house in Preston.

Run by the a great team we love this venue, it's so friendly and the refreshments are second to none, the Townhouse is a wonderful retreat from the busy town centre. Its so calming...

For our theme this event we decided on "Tales of the Unexpected" and we really enjoyed chatting through the "unexpected" ingredients in our cakes, great fun and some amazing combinations.

Lemon and Lavender drizzle cake containing swede. This was also gluten free

4 C's cake - included cauliflower

Rich Porter Cake - West Indian Porter

Rich Dark chocolate cake - Guinness

Citrus and Cardamon cake - chickpeas. Gluten Free

Julie's Swiss roll - Spinach

You can find the Townhouse Coffee and Brew Bar on Friargate, in Preston Town Centre

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