Sunday, 31 January 2016

The Palazzo Burnley 30th January 2016

The Palazzo is an Italian restaurant in a magnificent building, that was Nat West Bank, on Grimshaw Street, Burnley which has fond memories, as I worked there for about twelve years, from the age of eighteen.   The Palazzo is the sister restaurant to The Villa Clitheroe, but on a larger scale and it was great to catch up with owner Pino Cafasso, to congratulate him on his new venture.   It really is an awesome building, with so much marble, wood panelling, plasterwork and cornicing and the refurbishment is sympathetic to its surroundings.

We had a couple of drinks in the bar, where there is plenty of seating and a huge wood burning pizza oven.

We shown through to our table, where we had some delicious olives, olive oil and balsamic and bread.

For starter I shared a rosemary garlic bread with my friend, but to be honest I could easily have devoured this on my own, it was fantastic, in fact the best I have eaten.

I enquired when I arrived. as to which pasta was eggfree, so I ordered the linguine with garlic, chilli and tomato and a side salad.   The pasta was perfectly cooked and absolutely spot on, if I had eaten this dish in Italy, which I have done many times, I would have been happy.

We had a lovely Canaletto Pinot Grigio vegan wine, to accompany the meal and then some rather nice Espresso coffees.

We do not live locally to The Palazzo, but it is definitely worth the trip, to visit with friends who live nearby and so we will be back, as based on their rosemary garlic bread, their pizzas must be awesome

Friday, 22 January 2016

The French by Simon Rogan Manchester 21st January 2016

I watched the programme Restaurant Wars - Battle for Manchester with Simon Rogan from The French and Aiden Byrne from Manchester House, hoping to gain a Michelin Star for the city.   I have been to Manchester House (see my review here) and also visited Simon Rogan's restaurant L'Enclume in Cartmel over ten years ago, before he achieved his second star.

I had been meaning to contact The French for awhile as my husband was dying to try it, so I contacted Restaurant Manager Kamila Plonska, who was most helpful, liasing with Head Chef Adam as to my vegan diet and allergy issues.   I was offered either a six or ten course tasting menu. with my choice being six, as I am not sure I could manage ten.

On arrival we met Kamila, whose friendly attitude made us feel welcome, so we immediately felt relaxed, as she told us a little about the history of the restaurant, which dates back to 1903.  I know some of the restaurants loyal customers, prior to Simon Rojan taking over, were a little perturbed at the new decor and colour scheme, but times move on and I thought the refurbishment was sympathetic in its surroundings.   I was given my menu, asked if I was happy with the dishes suggested, which I definitely was so it was left on the table, so I could refer back to it.

There is a wine flight offered to accompany the tasting menu, but we decided to choose wine by the glass, so I kicked off with Nyetimber a British sparkling wine, then Sipp Mack Riesling finishing with Karasi, a gorgeous red Armenian wine, who knew they made wine in Armenia.   All the wines were vegan due to their production method and I am hoping one day wine and beer lists will reflect how they are fined, so I do not have to try and remember, as my memory is not as good as it used to be!

The first course (or what I thought was the first course) was actually two small amuse bouche, but not what I was expecting.   The chickpea was actually made into a crisp, spread with a delicious, what I can only describe as a rich tomato chutney, with celery and edible flowers.

The parsnip appeared as a crispy wafer, topped with pickled cabbage and leek cream, with micro herbs, two wonderful titbits to wet the appetite.

I was then given some delicious sourdough, with a small bowl of rapeseed oil, instead of butter, which was a nice touch.

Second course was golden turnip dumplings, resembling very light gnocchi, with crispy onion rings, onion petals and a mushroom broth, which I would describe as a ketchup, it was so deep and rich in flavour.

Next was potatoes with caramelised cabbage, horseradish, salsify and scurvy oil, presentation was pretty stunning on the eye and the dish said "eat me" it was so good and I hope no-one was watching, as I wiped the plate with my finger, as I did not want to leave any of the sauce!

I had heard of "hen of the woods" mushrooms, but never eaten them until tonight, served with carrot puree, baby carrots and barbecued broccoli, another fabulous tasting dish.

The last savoury dish was hay baked celeriac, crispy kales, buckwheat, pickled kohlrabi, with a creamy sauce described as hazelnut milk, which was so delicious and nothing like any hazelnut milk I have ever had.

To finish was poached pear, buckthorn sorbet, gooseberry jam and candied walnuts, a very delicate dish, with one of the smoothest sorbets I have eaten, a perfect end to the meal.

We got to meet Head Chef Adam, who was so enthusiastic and passionate, he showed us where they grow micro herbs in a special cabinet with perfect light conditions for growth and incredibly they have a roof garden, who would have thought.   He seemed to have no concerns about catering for any dietary requirement or allergy either, perhaps he likes the challenge.

My blog only includes restaurant visits as a vegan over the last year,  but I have dined at numerous one, two and three Michelin restaurants in the past, becoming jaded with fine dining along the way.   This first visit to The French has made me want to experience fine dining again, I was not expecting to like it.....but I loved it.   Service throughout was spot on, ultra professional, yet friendly from the young team looking after us, the cooking is modern, light yet packed with flavour and includes unusual ingredients.   I like the fact that my menu, included amended versions of what my husband was having, like the turnip dumplings dish and the dessert.

Why this place has not been awarded the first Michelin Star for Manchester is beyond me. I hope Adam and Kamila, if they happen to read my review, realise that I will be returning, sooner rather than later, as the whole experience was wonderful.

Gino D'Acampo My Restaurant Corn Exchange Manchester 22nd January 2016

Gino D'Acampo My Restaurant is part of the Individual Restaurants chain and I wanted to visit for breakfast, after a night out in Manchester.   I really liked the decor, bright and colourful as you would expect from an Italian restaurant, but with nice low lighting over the dining tables.

The breakfast and brunch menu includes a number of juices and dairy free smoothies, although a little on the steep side, although this did not bother me too much on this visit, as I was taking advantage of the 50% off food January offer.

I ordered the Rejuvenate juice, an Americano and as they served scrambled eggs, with chestnut mushrooms cooked in olive oil and rosemary on grilled ciabatta bread, I asked for a vegan version with no eggs.   Sadly there was some confusion in the kitchen and the dish appeared with scrambled eggs, however the Manager who took my order, went off to the kitchen speaking fast Italian and asked for a fresh version to be made immediately.

The photos are not brilliant, due to the low lighting, but everything was very tasty, the mushrooms were delicious, as was the juice and the coffee had a real kick.

I will definitely revisit, especially as on the way out, the Manager said I would be well looked after on any future visits, so I really should give their pizza a try!

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Greendale View Kitchen Downham 20th January 2016

I contacted Greendale View Kitchen via Facebook, to ask about vegan options, as there was no menu available on line and their response was really positive.   I had been meaning to meet up with a friend since before Christmas and a drive out, on a lovely cold but sunny winters day, was just the ticket, after all the rain we have had.

The place was fully refurbished last year apparently, with lovely original floorboards, a wood burning fire, open plan kitchen and has a lovely cosy atmosphere.

I had a delicious jacket potato with delicious roasted vegetables, a side salad and homemade bread with oil and balsamic, with my own vegan spread.   I took some coconut milk, so ordered organic Clipper Earl Grey tea, which came with a large jug of hot water for top ups.

I would definitely return to Greendale View, as I am sure they could many other vegan options, as they make everything from scratch.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Crust Bold Street Liverpool 15th January 2016

Crust is a newly opened restaurant and bar, specialising in Italian classics  some with a twist and is an extremely busy place, especially on a Friday night, when we visited.

I contacted Crust via Twitter and received a very positive response as to vegan options, with plenty to chose from and many of the pizzas can be adapted.   I decided on tomato and basil bruschetta to start, which I shared with my husband which at £3 was a bargain.   Mains was Marinara pizza, a simple traditional Italian classic of tomato, oregano, garlic and olive oil, but I asked for artichokes as an extra, with a side order of skin on French fries

The food was delicious and having eaten Marinara pizza all over Italy and in Naples, where pizza orginated, it is fantastic to see it being served at Crust as it should be and not a seafood pizza, as in most Italian restaurants.   Service was fast and efficient, which it needs to be as Crust is a vibrant, busy place and if you are looking for a quiet romantic dinner for two, it is not the place for you, but if you want delicious authentic Italian pizza, get yourself down to Bold Street.

Brasco Lounge 27A Mann Island Liverpool 15th January 2016

Brasco Lounge is part of a group of informal food led cafes and bars, with this particular venue not far from Albert Dock.   The added bonus is that they have an extensive vegan menu, so plenty of choice, whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner.

I was here for brunch so chose chimichurri field mushrooms, potato, spinach and spring onion hash, fried aubergine and roast tomatoes, swopping the spicy beans for extra aubergine.   I also had two slices of granary toast and a large pot of Earl Grey tea.

I could not fault the breakfast, it was delicious, tasty and just the ticket, after a freezing breezy walk down the sea front from Albert Dock and service throughout was spot on.

The company have various venues throughout the UK, including the Cosy Club Manchester where I visited last year (see my review here), so I hope to visit others in the future.

Lunya College Lane Liverpool 14th January 2016

Lunya is a lovely Catalan deli, bar and restaurant, with the added bonus of having an extensive vegan menu.   We had a lovely table for two near the bar and were very well looked after by our waiters Natalia and Gokhan.

The vegan menu has so much choice, it was difficult to decide what to have, a tough decision.

Pre dinner nibbles were stuffed giant gordal olives, recommended by Natalia (an excellent choice) and roasted Catalan almonds.   The olives were some of the best I have eaten, lush, moist and delicious and I love almonds, so perfect to start the meal.

Catalan tomato bread, patatas pil pil and pan fried woodland mushrooms and asparagus followed the nibbles.   I could not fault the dishes, they were totally divine, I did not want to finish they were that good, as you can see from the photos.

I love eating these small plates of food, so if you fancy something else, you can order more, so to finish it had to be escalivada, another fine dish.

To accompany the meal we had a very nice bottle of Rioja Gran Reserva, delicious and vegan, which complimented the meal perfectly.

I loved Lunya, so much so that not only will I visit Liverpool again, but will be paying their Manchester venue a visit at some point in the future.