Best kept secrets

Fit for a King…

4

Stunning smoked trout..

A new entry into the best kept secrets archive this week from Evershot, half way between Dorchester, Dorset and Yeovil, Somerset, conveniently located just off the A37.

The George Albert Hotel offers in their words ‘definitely more than just a great night’s sleep’ and I would have to wholeheartedly agree given the gem that is the Kings Restaurant hidden within.

Presenting the pictured fillet of smoked trout, smoked salmon mousse, potato salad, horseradish cream, finished with all the panache you would come to expect from the standard of the AA rosette holding Kings Restaurant.

Definitely worth a pit stop if you are travelling via the A37.

George Albert Hotel (Kings Restaurant)

Wardon Hill

Evershot

Nr Dorchester

Dorset DT2 9PW

http://gahotel.co.uk/

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Funky Fusion To Share…

Soft, sweet and sticky octopus

A new entry into the best kept secrets archive this week from Spitalfields twix Whitechapel.  The nearest tube station to this London hidden gem is Aldgate East.

Yuu Kitchen is the ultimate relaxed, trendy dining experience for South East Asian fusion cuisine, sharing style.  Picking 3-4 dishes per person to share opens up incredible combinations from soft shell crab bao buns to wok fried crispy kale with shitake mushrooms.  The stunning BBQ octopus is one not to miss.  Powerful ginger and soy umami flavours working wonderfully with the soft and sweet octopus.

Funky cocktails, crisp Asian lagers and an excellent selection of world wines pair very nicely with the relaxed but sophisticated food offer.

A unique dining experience for me, and one I could get very used to.

Yuu Kitchen

29 Commercial Street

London E1 6NE

http://www.yuukitchen.com/

Catch of the day…

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The ultimate seafood platter..

A new addition to the best kept secrets archive this week, with a recommendation for a fresh seafood selection to die for.  The Seafood Platter, Beer is a quaint pub with access to the finest, freshly caught seafood.  A really relaxed ‘pub grub’ atmosphere is blown totally out of the water by the special sea food menu.

Beer is a superb little seaside fishing village, well worth visiting for the wonderful coastal walks and beautiful cove.

The pictured ultimate platter needs to be ordered when booking a table to ensure you do not miss out all of the elements, including tiger prawns, crab, mussels, scallops, oysters and cockles.  Stunning and served simply with lemon, bread, butter and aioli.

Sometimes you have to look into the unexpected to find incredible food.

The Seafood Platter

Fore Street

Beer

Devon

Coffee again..

Coffee

Smooth and fruity…not your average coffee

Sadly, a previous recommendation of mine for a first class coffee on the South Coast closed some time back.  Despite that, in its place is a fabulous cheese and wine restaurant which I am sure will feature on this site in the near future.

But to ensure readers are not left without a recommendation for great coffee, my most recent visit to Bath allowed a replacement to be added to my best kept secrets archive.  Colonna and Smalls – serving weekly speciality coffees in a rustic setting. Something I did learn here is the seasonality of coffee much like other produce across the globe. Certain varieties hit the spot at different times of the year. So rather than picking up a bucket of Starbucks when you next visit Bath, try something a little different and far more exciting.

Colonna and Smalls

6 Chapel Row

Bath

www.colonnaandsmalls.co.uk

01202 767513

Staycation secrets…

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Thurlestone Beach in April 2017

Farm shops are often neglected by tourists – whether it is because you are staying in a B&B or hotel, or perhaps the nearest bright blue lights of Tesco have presented an easy choice for a quick dinner.  But I would encourage you to look for the nearest farm shop on your next trip away, there are some real hidden gems in the UK.  They all tend to source local where possible which is great for the local producers, economy and carbon footprint.

An Easter break took us to a small village near Torcross, Devon; where I was delighted to find a superb, well stocked farm shop at Stokeley Barton Farm.  Boasting a butchers, greengrocers, bakery, delicatessen, cafe and plenty of store cupboard items including local wines, beers and ciders, there was enough inspiration for some fantastic home cooked meals in our cosy cottage.  Perfect relaxation after long walks from the pictured Thurlestone to neighbouring Bigbury-on-sea and beyond.

Pan roasted pork chops with sage and rosemary from the herb garden, a white wine and bacon sauce, cheesy mash and some fresh purple sprouting broccoli.  If that isn’t enough to get you along to a farm shop, I’m not sure what will!

Stokeley Farm Shop

Stokeley Barton Farm

Kingsbridge

Devon TQ7 2SE

http://www.stokeleyfarmshop.co.uk/

Casual, confident, convenient…

The Laughing Gravy delivers a trendy, relaxed and impressive dining experience.

The Laughing Gravy delivers a trendy, relaxed and impressive dining experience.

Firstly, a welcome back to all my readers and fellow foodies! It’s been an extremely busy Summer after coming very close to appearing on the BBC’s ‘Masterchef’, to numerous trips packed with some fantastic dining experiences. I’ll certainly be looking to apply for Masterchef again having reached the final stage prior to the televised heats, and there will be lots of exciting news to share on here in the coming weeks.

Straight back into the action, I’ve got a cracking bar and restaurant to add to the ‘best kept secrets’ archive.

Southwark, a stones throw from my regular London destination, Waterloo, is home of ‘The Laughing Gravy’. The name is taken from the 1931 Laurel and Hardy film about a scruffy pooch and Stan and Ollie’s landlord’s ‘no pets’ policy. The chilled atmosphere lends to a few casual drinks at the bar, or a trendy but relaxed dining experience that rivals far more upmarket eateries in the capital.

My highlights from the menu include a delicious Confit belly of pork with apple puree, Hog’s black pudding and pork sausage roll starter, although the Honey-cured smoked Loch Duart salmon fillet, salmon scratchings, broccoli and watercress bavarois is equally as impressive. To follow, I would opt for the cider-marinated lamb rump with parsnip and thyme dumplings, broad bean piccalilli and crushed truffle minted pea and broad beans. Simply stunning in flavour and presentation, the dish comes with all the elegance you would expect with such fine ingredients, but delivers the type of hearty punch you’d expect from a cosy Sunday lunch in the countryside.

Dessert can be the deal breaker for some of my readers, and ‘The Laughing Gravy’ delivers a drum roll worthy Salted caramel fudge and shortbread filled chocolate cylinder with a cashew nut cluster and peanut emulsion. A mouthful in every sense. Rich, indulgent and simply wonderful!

Ideally situated a few minutes walk from Southwark tube station, if it’s a flying visit or a relaxed evening of food, ‘The Laughing Gravy’ delivers with aplomb.

The Laughing Gravy
154 Blackfriars Road
Southwark
London

http://www.thelaughinggravy.co.uk/

An exceptional cup of coffee can cut through the most miserable of weather

A home from home on a wet Saturday afternoon, Cusina serves up Barista perfection, alongside an array of light breakfasts, mouth watering homemade sandwiches, lunches and cakes

A home from home on a wet Saturday afternoon, Cusina serves up Barista perfection, alongside an array of light breakfasts, mouth watering homemade sandwiches, lunches and cakes

When I recall family holidays in Italy, many culinary delights spring to mind. Hand stretched pizzas, beautiful pasta dishes, vibrant and fresh salads and mouth watering desserts. But one lasting memory was the regular visit to the local coffee shop, as my palate developed from craving bittersweet hot chocolate to the famous cappuccino.

A true Italian cappuccino, with perfectly formed frothy milk, the aroma strong and heady, executed to perfection. That is what I have been searching for on the South Coast of England. The smell of fresh coffee in the mornings, it can wipe away the best efforts of British wet weather. There is nothing quite like it.

To date, Cusina, a small café and kitchen in Westbourne, Bournemouth, has delivered the very best cappuccino around. Truly deserving of a spot in my ‘best kept secrets’ archive.

The perfect array of homemade cakes, sandwiches and light lunches accompany a simply stunning level of ability for coffee making. So whether it will be a meaty, tangy salt beef sandwich, or an indulgent slice of caramel cake, you can rest assured that your exceptional hot drink has a perfect partner, morning or afternoon.

This is one I can assure you’ll return to.

Cusina
48 Poole Road
Westbourne
Bournemouth

01202 767513

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