29/12/2017

Restaurant: Chef's Table - Music Hall Passage, Chester

Beef cheeks slow cooked in port, red wine & star anise, mushroom gratin, Borderlaise sauce,roast bone marrow, pickled red cabbage, shallot rings, smoked garlic pommes mousseline

A post Christmas treat from Jessica to my family and I lead us here, to The Chef's Table in the centre of Chester. Not somewhere where you can just stroll in and stand the slightest chance of bagging a walk in table, this was booked many weeks ago and it's clear to see why we needed to do this.

Tucked away in a back alley from the hustle and bustle of the sale shopping madness, the amount of tables can be counted with your fingers, all in the visibility of the small open kitchen and bar.

Jerusalem artichoke & celeriac soup, roast quince, roast chestnut, Lancashire Bomb cheese, sweet onion & sage focaccia 

You may expect one of OpenTable's 100 best UK restaurants to command high prices, but that's not necessarily the case here. The limited Christmas lunch menu gives the option of two courses for £18, or three for £22. It's an affordable luxury and as long as you book far enough in advance, it's a must.

The starters of artichoke & celeriac soup and smoked haddock kedgeree were wonderfully flavoursome and exquisitely presented, and even the appetiser simply labelled 'freshly baked bread' couldn't be done ordinarily. Apple and cinnamon, curried raisin and more with balsamic and oil prepared the taste buds for the main course show stoppers.

Smoked haddock kedgeree arancini, sweet curry sauce, curried swede, shiso, golden raisins, smoked almonds, confit egg yolk

All of the dish's ingredients come locally and organically sourced, and the restaurant now has it's own piece of the countryside where their vegetables are grown. The freshness can be instantly recognised in taste and with the amazing chefs who conjure up a mix of classic and innovative plates using them, it's the perfect restaurant concept. 


The main courses of Christmas dinner - both ham and duck had everything you could possibly want. The meat was tender, potatoes both crispy and soft and vegetables fresh and perfectly cooked. Again, healthy and well presented portions had us all full by the end and unfortunately we had to pass on dessert, but we'll certainly be back to rectify that in the future.

Marmalade glazed xmas ham, sausage & chestnut stuffing, pigs in blankets, duck fat roast potatoes, sprout choucroute, cranberries, xmas vegetables, gravy

 Both Jessica and I opted for the beef main, which turned out to be quite possibly the most amazing piece of meat I've ever had. The knife was made redundant as just hovering my fork over it seemed to tear it apart and get those meaty juices flowing. The mushroom gratin and roast bone marrow took it to the next level and with a side of delightful triple cooked chips, it was perfection on a plate.

Honey roast Gressingham duck breast, duck & chestnut stuffing, ducks in blankets, duck fat roast potatoes, duck gravy, sprout choucroute, bread sauce, cranberries, xmas vegetables

The Chef's Table in undoubtedly the best we've seen in Chester, and up there with the best we've had in the UK - maybe Forage and Chatter in Edinburgh provides close competition. Both were recently voted in OpenTable's top 100 UK restaurants, so we'll have to start work on getting to more places on that list!

Food: ★★★
Customer service: ★★★★
Atmosphere: ★★★
Toilets: ★★

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20/12/2017

Restaurant: Big Easy - Covent Garden, London

Fresh Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Chunks of Fresh Lobster Meat, served with salad, fries and a choice of drink - £20

Big Easy was the destination for something of a reunion - I, James hasn't been down in London for a little while so with Mum and sister Charlyn, we headed down to Covent Garden for what turned out to be a heavenly meal!


Big Easy is all about the home smoked BBQ, chargrilling and fresh lobster, and with such a large menu it took us some time to order, but I think we all made great choices in the end. Jumbo shrimp baskets, lobster mac 'n' cheese and a Taste 'o' Rama plate with pit-smoked BBQ chicken, dry-rubbed St Louis pork ribs and Carolina pulled pork - it was all divine! 

French fried jumbo shrimp basket with fries, slaw and dipping sauces - £16.90

It's one of those places where you have slight concerns for the food wastage levels at the end of the night, and unfortunately we couldn't help that with there being so much, but let's not take the shine off a wonderful meal. Every single bit of meat was as tender and juicy as the next, the chunky chips were awesome, and the shrimp and lobster mac 'n' cheese was all delightful.

Taste 'o' Rama - pit-smoked BBQ chicken, dry-rubbed St Louis pork ribs and Carolina pulled pork - £19.90

It comes fully recommended for a family reunion like ours, catch up with the lads, although with unashamedly messy hands like mine, maybe not a first date. With live music playing from downstairs, milkshakes, cocktails and beers flowing, and incredibly happy stomachs, it was a fantastic evening. 

Food: ★★★
Customer service: ★★★★
Atmosphere: ★★★
Toilets: ★★

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15/12/2017

Restaurant: Bob's Cafe - Queen's Park, London

Jessica - Our breakfast bowl -  quinoa, scrambled eggs, greek yoghurt, roasted tomato, kale, grated radish & avocado - £7.95

With cancelled plans due to the snow, we made the spontaneous decision to still brave the weather and take a short walk into Queen's Park. After visiting Jack's Cafe a few times before, and our never ending love for Gail's Bakery, we opted for somewhere new in Bob's Cafe (the imagination in the name's of these places are wild around here!)

It's an American-French bistro serving everything from breakfast bowls to burgers and steaks, and at such affordable prices. The restaurant was full throughout our stay, from big tables of families to tables of couples and business people, and with the intention of having brunch, we had plenty of choice.



Trying to be healthy, I, James went for the breakfast bowl and Jessica opted for the sunshine brunch - both perfect portion sizes and full of flavour! The interior was cute and had a very homely feel, and the service was top notch.

We'll definitely make sure we return for perhaps a lunch or dinner. The prix-fixe menu of two courses for £10.95 or three for £12.95 looks too good to resist! 

Jessica - Sunshine brunch - 2 free-range eggs, avocado, hummus, roasted vine  tomatoes, feta, toasted dark sourdough - £8.95


Food: ★★★
Coffee: ★★
Customer service: ★★★★
Atmosphere: ★★★

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13/12/2017

Christmas: Winter Wonderland Tradition


If you've been a regular reader here, you know in true Food & Baker tradition, even since the beginning of our relationship, during the Christmas period we have always visited Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.


The first year, we went to watch the Circus, the second year we visited The Ice Kingdom and last year, we went Ice Skating - this year we went back to the Circus, but a different show to the first one we saw in the first year. We absolutely love this tradition we have and it's been amazing to come back again for 4 years running.



A visit to Winter Wonderland wouldn't be a real tradition if we didn't get our churros, to any type of Christmas market really, how could you not get churros? If you want to see our vlog from last year, you can watch it here.



To top off the night, what completes this tradition is our meal at Vapiano's. Vapiano's never fail, we've blogged about Vapaino's plenty of times before so there's no need to repeat ourselves. If you've been you'll know, if you haven't, then you must!



Check out this quick video from the day...


Do you have a Christmas tradition?
Let us know in the comments below.

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10/12/2017

Christmas: Christmas by The River, London Bridge City


We've already visited the Sheffield Christmas markets, so it was only right that we visited some of London's Christmas markets while James was in London this weekend. With a very packed weekend planned, we started with a visit to Christmas by The River.

Although I have lived in London my whole life, it's funny that I don't believe I've ever visited Christmas by The River, but the opportunity came about when we were given two complimentary drinks to the TwoRuba stand and trust me, their seasonal cocktails are hard to say no to.
  

On top of that wonderful treat, a lovely fellow blogger, Charlotte, offered us some some food and drink tokens to enjoy within the market and as if that wasn't enough already, we had entry to the Eis Haus.



Eis Haus is an ice lounge and bar, and if you've been to an ice bar before, then you'll know the deal. They give you an extra coat and gloves to keep you warm during your visit and this ticket entry includes a shot served in real ice shot glass. For some reason, James was feeling extremely brave and went for the Bacon and Chilli Vodka shot, and Jessica went for the sweeter Strawberry option. 





Cheered on by the fantastic owner of Eis Haus, Phillip, we were given a quick tour around and explanation of how everything is made. With sculptures of bears, wolves, an arch and throne for photos, each one can take up to three days to build, some away from site, and some on once the shipping container it is all in has arrived. 

So you can imagine, it's pretty cool (see what I did there)


With Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and the iconic City skyline as a backdrop, this surely is one of London's most picturesque markets. This is the place to buy artisan stocking fillers, boutique accessories, or just to settle down with some fantastic food and drink. There is so much to see with their programme of workshops and events in the chalet style events space.



If you're in London and you haven't already, head to the Christmas by The River. They open until January 3rd from 11am to 10pm everyday.

We had a really fun time at Christmas by The River, this is the only the first stop of out weekend, make sure to come back for our next post where we visit Winter Wonderland and our tradition we do every year.


Disclaimer: this post is not sponsored at all, just purely a kind gesture from a fellow blogger. As always all photos and opinions are our own.

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08/12/2017

Baking: Christmas Mess

Serves: 8 | Prep Time: 10 mins | Cook Time: 5 mins


What's the best thing about Christmas apart from being with family? THE FOOD and let's face it, nothing beats a tasty dessert that takes such little effort but still looks super festive!

A little meringue, berries, yoghurt, berries, meringue, you get it, layer upon layers, create that perfect look and all the tastes and flavours pair together perfectly. To make it even extra festive, add a candy cane to the edge of the glass and you're good to go.

Will you be creating this Christmas Mess?


Ingredients:

600ml double cream
- 400g Greek yoghurt
- 1 x 500g bag frozen mixed berries
- 4 tbsp icing sugar
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- 8 meringue nests

Instructions:

1. In a small saucepan gently heat the frozen berries, icing sugar and cinnamon until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely.

2. Whip the double cream and Greek yogurt until just holding it’s shape. Break the meringue nests into a glass bowl, or 8 individual glasses. Spoon over half the cream, then half the berries. Repeat with the remaining cream and berries. Serve immediately.

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06/12/2017

Christmas: Gift Guide



With Christmas approaching worryingly quickly, we have put together a few different ideas if you are looking to buy for foodie friends and family! These chocolates from Choc Affair* is the perfect way "just to say," and with flavours ranging from salted caramel to orange and geranium, they're certainly a way of showing that some extra thought has been put in, and not just picked up in a rush on the way to the party.

Our favourite was the peach and raspberry, but there is a story behind the magnificent taste. That is that Choc Affair's passion is to make the world a better place through chocolate. Their Columbian partnership has teamed them up with a team of cocoa farmers who they worked with to buy them land. This enabled them to grow and supply their cocoa, and then be paid everything that they're worth. Meanwhile, fantastic quality and unique flavours of chocolate have been created, and we absolutely love it!


We have been lucky enough to work with Root7, who base their products around the belief that people should 'drink differently.' Each one of their extraordinary products are stored, served, mixed or consumed in a slightly quirky way, and as you can see from the following, they work and look amazing!

If you're looking for a cosy winter night in, these Ombre Mugs* are of the highest quality bone china, and come in a variety of matte ombre finishes. They are just perfect for a big cup of hot chocolate, or what ever else your heart desires...


Our favourite is these Himalayan Salt Shot Glasses*, again from Root7 and are the perfect item to toast the New Year if you're a tequila fan! Forget the salt on the back of the palm, now these glasses can do that for you! Hand carved from high quality natural pink rock salt from the Himalayas, the glasses are purely made from salt and completely safe to drink from! We can't wait to use them over the festive period to celebrate with friends!

We hope this small guide has given you an idea or two, and all that's left to say is good luck with your last bits of Christmas shopping!

Disclaimer: products marked with an asterisk (*) was kindly gifted to us, all photos and opinions are our own.

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03/12/2017

Sunday Soup: Salmon Noodle Soup

Serves: 4 | Prep Time: 15 mins | Cook Time: 20 mins


If you've been following our Sunday Soup's over the past few weeks, you'd realise that most of our recipes are blends, so today, we decided to go for something different. Salmon noodle soup!

I, personally really love mushrooms, the baby corn gives it that crunch, the Thai paste gave it that kick and the lime juice give it that tang. The salmon was the glue that made the entire meal.

If you're looking for something more of a proper meal, this noodle soup is the way to go. It could also be easily converted to vegetarian friendly dish with replacing the chicken stock with vegetable stock. A must try!


Ingredients:

- 1l low-salt chicken stock
- 2 tsp Thai red curry paste
- 100g egg noodles
- 150g pack button mushroom, sliced
- 125g pack baby corn, sliced
- 2 skinless salmon fillets, sliced
- juice 2 limes
- 1 tbsp reduced-salt soy sauce
- pinch brown sugar
- small bunch coriander, chopped (optional)

Instructions:

1. Pour the stock into a large pan, bring to the boil, then stir in the curry paste. Add the noodles and cook for 8 mins. Tip in the mushrooms and corn and cook for 2 mins more.

2. Add the salmon to the pan and cook for 3 mins or until cooked through. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice, soy sauce and a pinch of sugar. Ladle into 4 bowls and sprinkle over the coriander just before you serve.

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01/12/2017

Restaurant: The Grind Cafe - Kelham Island, Sheffield


Kelham Island, Sheffield's newest hipster hotspot and home to some great restaurants and cafes is where I, James am lucky enough to be living for my final year of university. The Grind Cafe is just a minute or so walk away from home, so it would seem silly not come to down for coffee and spot of brunch one weekday morning. 

I say that, but actually we only came for coffee until we say these two delicious dishes pass us by and land on the table next to us. We wanted a slice of the action and ordered straight away. Baked eggs is slowly becoming one of our favourite brunch dishes, in this case with tomato, chorizo and toast on the side. It was just what was needed in this crisp weather - so hearty and warming. 


Then comes the Belgian waffles with whipped cream and strawberries. They were fluffy, light and you can't go wrong with the toppings. It's a classic which will never get old.

Along with their terrific breakfast menu, The Grind Cafe are renowned for their famous sausage rolls, delightful sandwiches and locally sourced beans for their fantastic coffees. We'll be back for all of the above in due course, no doubt!

Food: ★★★
Coffee: ★★★
Customer service: ★★★★
Atmosphere: ★★★

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29/11/2017

Christmas: Sheffield’s Christmas Market


With it being Jessica's last time in Sheffield before Christmas, and the city centre looking so festive with the Christmas markets and pop-up bars, we took the opportunity to go down and snap up some Christmassy bites to eat and drink!

Along with the famous Fargate markets, we also visited Thor's Tipi, a pop up bar in the Peace Gardens for a hot cider and G&T. It was the perfect way to spend a cold late afternoon, and we even made a quick 1 minute video for our YouTube channel, which you can check out here!

Here's the pics...











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22/11/2017

Breakfast: Overnight Strawberry Smoothie Chia Bowls

Serves: 4 | Prep Time: 5 mins | Cook Time: N/A



Bringing back some summer into our breakfast this fine November!

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19/11/2017

Sunday Soup: Creamy Asparagus (v)

Serves: 4 | Prep Time: 10 mins | Cook Time: 25 mins


Lately we've been feeling like we haven't been eating our best and we felt this soup would be the best quick fix. Asparagus isn't something we usually use a lot in dishes but it is a very underrated vegetable to be honest, what do you think?
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17/11/2017

Restaurant: Wild Goose Lakeside - Dodleston, Chester

Beetroot carpaccio, goat’s cheese, honey and walnuts - £4.50 

A country drive on a bright and crisp Sunday afternoon led us here - Wild Goose, on the fringes of Chester. Almost alone in 100 acres of parklands and lakes lies this gorgeous restaurant and bar, but it actually feels more like a home.

Serving local and seasonal produce, Cheshire ales, a quality wine selection and as it was Sunday, extraordinary roasts, it was the perfect location to celebrate Mum's birthday.

Prawn cocktail, toasted sour dough - £5.50 

The menu was limited, but quality shone through in every dish on the table. Starting with prawn cocktails and beetroot carpaccio, taste and presentation were first class. Portion sizes were healthy but never overwhelming to begin with, but then out came the monumental roast dinners. With chicken, beef, cod and a vegetarian option to choose from, it left us with just enough space for dessert. A special shout out to the puffy Yorkshire puds, magnificent roast potatoes and beautifully tender meat. Incredible stuff.

Half Roast chicken served with homemade bread sauce, pig in blanket, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and a selection of crisp vegetables with a rich meat gravy - £14 

Roast Sirloin of beef, served pink with roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and a selection of crisp vegetables with a rich meat gravy - £15 

After eyeing up the sticky toffee pudding early doors, we waited in hope and equal expectation and are glad to confirm it did not disappoint. Afterwards we moved over to the sofas and fire place, and had to have coffees as we felt so at home we were nearly falling to sleep.

On a sunnier day it will be fantastic to return and walk the beautiful surroundings, but for now, knowing that we'll certainly returning is enough.

Sticky toffee pudding, butterscotch, salted caramel ice cream - £4.50 

Food: ★★★
Customer service: ★★★★
Atmosphere: ★★★★★
Toilets: ★★★

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