The Coore Arms in Scruton, Northallerton

This weekend we went to visit our friends Tom and Sue up in Northallerton, so this review is of a pub we went to near there. I would recommend the area for a visit – Lovely greenery, and lots of nice countryside to relax in.

Growing up in a small village really makes me appreciate a proper pub dinner; not a chain like Marston’s but a classic, landlord lives upstairs pub that has the warmth of a home and delicious home cooked food. The Coore Arms in Northallerton is just that.

As soon as you walk in to this pub you are greeted with friendly bar staff, the smell of pub food and a great deal of warmth. The atmosphere is perfect for a good pub, plenty of tables to sit in the bar area with an open fire and comfy chairs. A great array of drinks including real ale, wine and gin (many others of course).

After ordering drinks at the bar we were shown to our table in the restaurant. Walking round the back of the bar and down a short corridor leads to a lovely dining area with great big comfy chairs and wooden oak tables. Even seated near the kitchen was not a problem, no draft from the door being opened and didn’t even notice it was behind us. The menu itself was brilliant, so many choices all freshly prepared and homemade meant choosing quite difficult.

After talking myself down from ordering all the starters for myself Rory and I decided to share the brie with cranberry sauce and the chicken goujons. Tom and Sue ordered the pate and a beetroot and feta salad which looked delicious. Battered anything is usually good, but these chicken goujons were better than good, the batter was so crispy and light, clearly homemade and freshly cooked. The brie again was delicious, small pieces breaded and fried exactly the way I wanted it. All plates were empty and we were very much looking forward to the mains.

Brie with cranberry sauce
Breaded brie with dressed leaves and cranberry sauce – £5.50
Chicken goujons
Fresh battered chicken goujons with sour cream and sweet chilli dip – £5.95
Pate
Chicken liver and ginger pate with red onion marmalade and warm ciabatta – £5.95
Beetroot and feta cheese salad with toasted pine nuts – £5.95
Unfortunately, they had run out of the burger which is what I really wanted, but instead I ordered a sirloin steak. Steaks all round for the table, two sirloin and two rib-eye, not the most adventurous choice but I really wanted onion rings. The steaks came with a generous helping of sides, and were clearly good cuts of local meat. The waitress sadly got the plates mixed up and gave me the medium well and Tom the medium rare, it wasn’t till near the end of the meal we realised he had mine and vice versa. This did mean I was a little disappointed but the onion rings were delicious and the chips were great so it wasn’t the end of the world. Tom kept telling us how good his steak was, so that’s a positive side, hopefully he won’t be ordering medium well steaks again. In hindsight, I probably should have spoken up but in a typical British fashion, I just let it slide.

Sirloin steak
10 oz sirloin steak, field mushroom, oven baked tomato, chips and onion rings – £18.95
Desserts, is it really a question anymore. A great selection of puddings including sticky toffee pudding, strawberry cheesecake, chocolate and hazelnut roulade and a selection of ice creams. Rory and Tom ordered the STP with only a glance at the menu and Sue ordered the roulade. I almost ordered the cheesecake but the saw they had rhubarb crumble ice cream which I just had to try. I am so glad I did, what an ice cream! Creamy, delicious with just the right amount of tang from the rhubarb. Delicious end to a lovely meal. I am told the STP was delicious too, beautifully moist with a generous helping of toffee sauce.

Sticky toffee pudding
Sticky toffee pudding, hot toffee sauce & ice cream – £4.95
Pate
Chocolate and hazelnut roulade – £4.95
Rhubarb crumble ice cream
2 scoop vanilla and rhubarb crumble ice cream – £2.95
If you are ever in the Northallerton area I would highly recommend this brilliant local pub; I hope to go back again soon!

Fabulously British weekend away in Cambridge

Weekends away really are lovely, just a few days in a new city seeing some friends is for me, the perfect way to spend it.

On Saturday morning Rory and I travelled down to Cambridge to visit some friends for the weekend. I have never been to Cambridge (I think I went as a child but my memory is somewhat lacking), so I wanted to experience everything I could in the short time I was there. And what a beautiful place to go! Pedestrian friendly, minimal use of cars, cyclists everywhere and lovely fresh air, what could be better?!

Top of my to do list was to go punting on the River Cam with two so called experienced punters we began our trip down the river. A rocky start involving several near misses, and some extremely dodgy manoeuvres, but slowly the boys seemed to get the hang of it. I decided I couldn’t go on the boat and not have a go myself. But wow is it tough, just holding the punt itself was strenuous, attempting to make it reach the floor took it out of me and we had barely moved. I quickly learnt where I should be, with the prosecco…prosecco popped, I sat back down and relaxed on the slow route down the river, occasionally over hearing the guided tours for some insight into the history of the surroundings.
Cambridge-punting
You can’t go to Cambridge without visiting the colleges and looking around all the grounds. The beautiful architectural buildings and impressive estates were wonderful to see and experience. Next on the list was a Cambridge wine bar, because at 2pm on a Saturday what else should you be doing? A great little wine bar which sold tons of wine, gin, rum and so much more. Shelves and shelves of alcohol all at a reasonable price. My kind of heaven.
Cambridge wine bar
For dinner, we booked a table at Wildwood and went back home to have some more drinks and get ready for the evening to come. Arriving perfectly on time we were seated straight down in a lovely booth and given menus. After ordering wine for the table we all began choosing our meals.

In any good Italian, a caramelised onion pizza bread should be ordered. This is such a simple dish but so tasty. We shared between the four of us with the addition of a mediterranean platter including italian ham, salami Napoli, salami Milano, buffalo mozzarella, pesto, olives and warm flatbread. Through the first bottle of wine, we quickly ordered another before the mains came out.

Caramelised onion pizza bread
Mozzarella and garlic, caramelised onion pizza bread – £5.55
Mediterranean platter
Mediterranean platter to share – £11.50
The menu offered a great range of choices, pizza, pastas, salads, and meats; difficult to choose! I was struggling between a duck pizza and a meat calzone, so Rory and I had half and half (such a great decision). The meat calzone was delicious, although not as magnificent looking as the calzone in Stratford (read about it here). It had a nice garlic glaze, a delicious tomato sauce, and an unexpected bit of chilli which just gave it a great kick. Now the duck pizza was a little strange, I don’t think duck really goes on a pizza, it just made me want some pancakes and hoisin sauce (not quite the Italian cuisine).

Meat calzone
Spicy meat calzone (chicken, blognese, meatballs) – £11.25
Hoison duck pizza
Hoi Sin duck pizza – £10.35
Steph ordered a baked chicken and mushroom penne pasta with melted cheese on top, and Jon ordered a peri-peri chicken pizza which both seemed to go down well. Very simple but tasty Italian food, and a great ambiance in the restaurant with candles and friendly waiters.

Baked chicken and mushroom penne pasta
Baked chicken and mushroom penne pasta – £10.85
Peri-peri chicken pizza
Peri-peri chicken pizza – £9.85
Filling up on the mains we decided to skip dessert and have some chocolate back at the house (melting Dairy Milk over Daim ice cream is an awesome idea FYI). Many drinks consumed, and a great deal of chocolate and ice cream finished, we all went to bed.

The next day we had a great breakfast cooked by Jon and Steph, and then once all dressed and ready, we headed out for a lovely walk down to Grantchester Orchard. About an hour walk through fields and some track to the Grantchester Orchard Tea Garden; definitely worth the walk. Once we arrived at the orchard we ordered a large fruit scone with jam and clotted cream with a cup of tea. It being quite a mild day we sat outside and enjoyed the fresh air. This was the perfect end to a wonderful weekend; I will definitely be going back to Cambridge and I am sure there is much more to discover.
Cambridge - Grantchester scones
If you think I missed something about Cambridge which you love, let me know in the comments below. Hope you enjoyed this blog post, like, comment, share and subscribe if you did.
Cambridge - Cheers Wine

Bar Lounge in Chester

Christmas. As if it’s already December. Time really does fly as you get older; rarely a moment to sit and relax and think. Today some friends and I went to visit Chester; we had a delicious lunch in Bar Lounge and a lovely walk through the Christmas markets.

Chester-Christmas-Markets
Last time we came to Chester we struggled to get into Bar Lounge, so we decided to book, each paying a £10 deposit. Bar Lounge is located in the heart of the city centre; a cocktail bar and restaurant with a large outdoor seating area (perfect for a summers day, not a day as cold as this one though).

We arrived a little early and ordered some drinks at the bar while our table was finished, a random fridge selection which did not disappoint, saving on the pennies I went for a Lilt (forgot how much I love lilt). It still amazes me that restaurants and bars can get away with charging a 50p can for £2.50 but I guess you pay for the glass, ice and large piece of grapefruit right?

After getting our drinks we were took through to our table. The restaurant is lovely, great light coming from a huge deep window in the centre of the room, aluminium style tables, and as a friend of mine pointed out, many things shaped like a pineapple. We had a lovely waiter who showed us the menu and the options available and left us to it.

What a great menu! So much choice, I will definitely being going back to try the Chicado burger. It sounded amazing! A lemon and honey chicken burger, with avocado wrapped in treacle cured bacon (£11). But I decided to have something a little lighter for lunch, I had a small sized (£6) Lemon and Honey chicken super food salad with peach and pickled red onion, with a side of sweet potato fries (£3.50). A delicious salad, perfect size and filled me up nicely. Great range of flavours and the dressing on the salad was divine, thoroughly enjoyed it and the sweet potato fries were great too.

bar-lounge_chicken-salad
Lemon and Honey Chicken Superfood Salad – £6
Claire ordered a salad as well; she had the Smoked Salmon and Avocado super food salad with lemon crème fraiche (£6), with a side of hummus and bread (£4.50). We decided to share the sides, the hummus was nice enough but nothing incredible, and the pitta was a little thin and crispy for my tastes (it still got eaten though). Claire seemed to really enjoy her salad and as far as I could tell had no complaints.

bar-lounge_smoked-salmon-salad
Smoked Salmon and Avocado Superfood Salad – £6
Three of the girls on the table had roasts (£11.50 with a soft drink included); they did look amazing. I love a good Sunday Roast, with pink beef and all the trimmings, although two opted for a chicken breast. The roasts came with homemade Yorkshire puddings dripping in gravy, tenderstem broccoli, sweet potato and suede mash and other delightful treats. All three, ordered cauliflower cheese on the side (£3.50); this should really be on the side of all roasts right!

bar-lounge_all
Lastly, after much deliberation one of the girls ordered the Allotment Burger. This is a vegetarian burger filled with many vegetables (of which I am unsure) and the main ingredient, a huge slice of goat’s cheese. From what it seemed, this was enjoyed and the goats cheese was delicious, the only problem (and this is not just Bar Lounge, it’s all burger places) is that our mouths just aren’t big enough to fit it all in (insert joke here). You end up having to use a knife and fork which kind of ruins the whole burger idea, but still clear plates all round.

So to wrap up the experience, (wrap up, get it) Bar Lounge offers great service, wonderful food and I happened to have the best company. A great experience at Bar Lounge in Chester and I will definitely repeat it, I would say to book ahead as it gets very busy. Visit their website here and have a look at all the other deals they do through the week.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post, if you get chance I highly recommend Chester, it’s a beautiful place and great bars for all your day drinking needs. Don’t forget to like, share, comment and subscribe.

Chester-Christmas-Markets-Decorations

A weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon

Stratford-upon-Avon is a medieval market town and the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Rory and I decided to travel to Stratford to celebrate our birthdays. Having only ever been once with school, and Rory never, we thought it was a great opportunity. I love Shakespeare; I have a passion for his plays and have read and performed many of his works. When I looked to see what show was being performed the weekend of our birthday I was slightly miffed; The Tempest, it was not one of my favourites, and in fact I had never read the play before. But, we booked anyway and hoped the stage would bring it to life.

Boy did it, a magnificent performance by all! I would like to highlight the three characters which for me stole the show; Prospero, Vertricula and Ariel. Ariel looked only about 18, but he was incredible, and I was in awe at his talent! I won’t spoil it for anyone who may be going but I will say it is worth going to! Highly technical and very well presented, great use of lighting and projection as well as use of the stage. Brilliant performance by all involved. Rory, who before going had stated his disliking of Shakespeare’s work, came out shouting about how incredible it was (believing GCSE English had “ruined Shakespeare” for him originally). The RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) will be performing Julius Caeser March to September next year and we are really hoping to get tickets!

Stratford-upon-Avon is covered with restaurants, all the way up Sheep Street and across Chapel Street (as well as many others I am sure). On the first evening we went to a pre-theatre meal at Sorrento’s, having been recommended by our B&B host (more about Paul later). A delicious well-presented meal; starting with Insalata Caprese, (mozzarella cheese with tomato and basil), as well as Bruschetta Sorrentina (garlic bread topped with tomato, basil and mozzarella); we combined the two and created a delicious new starter. For mains we ordered pan-fried chicken in a creamy mushroom sauce with chips, and a lasagne also with chips. The lasagne was delicious and had a pleasant surprise of meatballs within it. Finally, for dessert Rory had panna cotta topped with chocolate sauce, it was the best dessert he had all weekend, which says a lot, as you will read, we ate a lot! I had an apple tart, which was nice, but nothing special. Sadly I forgot to take my camera and couldn’t record any photos…

We stayed in a lovely B&B a very short walk from the centre called Hamlet House. I chose this B&B due to location, and great reviews, which turned out to be accurate. The room was lovely, the location great and the price reasonable. But the best part of it was the welcoming host and the incredible breakfast we got to enjoy twice! On the first day we both had a full English, and wow was it full. Creamy scrambled eggs, baked beans, sausages, bacon, toast, fried potatoes which were delicious and fresh orange juice, tea and coffee. Not only was the food incredible, they offered a range of breakfasts as well as homemade omelettes with herbs fresh from the garden, smoked salmon scrambled egg, many types of cereals and fruit. A great display of food and a great start to the day! You can view Hamlet House here.

Hamlet-house-breakfast

On Saturday evening we made the error of not booking anywhere to eat. Oops. We really wanted to go to a new Thai restaurant, which had just opened up called the Giggling Squid. Unfortunately they were fully booked till 9.30pm. So we wandered down the road, after looking in many windows at hoards of people and many menus, we finally stumbled across a place called Wildwood. We went in at the perfect time, although the waitress said they were fully booked, after asking when they would have a table she asked her manager and we managed to sneak in and get a table. I am actually really glad as we would never have gone here if we had booked the Giggling Squid.

For some reason Rory and I can’t seem to order just a main, we always go for a full three courses. Our waistlines don’t appreciate this. To start with we shared garlic pizza bread with mozzarella and caramelised onion and a classic Bruschetta. The onion pizza bread was out of this world. A very simple dish but the best garlic bread I have ever eaten, it was delicious as it had the perfect amount of sweetness in the onions and the pizza dough. It made me really regret not ordering a pizza! The Bruschetta was also tasty but had a little too much oil for my tasting.

Garlic-bread-caramelised-onions

Garlic-bread-caramelised-onions

Bruschetta

Bruschetta

Then the mains, Rory ordered a meat calzone, a ginormous pizza covering most of his plate. A great base and a delicious sauce, he had no complaints. It was topped with garlic butter, which just hit the spot. I ordered tiger prawn pasta with a creamy white wine sauce. This may well be the best pasta sauce I have ever had, it was creamy and tangy, the prawns were cooked to perfection, it was delicious in every way.

Meat calzone

Tiger-prawn-pasta

Sadly the puddings for me disappointed, I ordered the Eton mess, it was an Eton mess Sundae which just didn’t really work for me, but Rory ordered an Oreo, Malteaser sundae which from his face he enjoyed thoroughly!

Sundae

One thing I would say about Stratford-upon-Avon is that the food was without a doubt incredible, but it really lacked a good bar or pub. The pubs we went in seemed very Wetherspoonsy and served average wine at high prices. Even the oldest pub in Stratford, the Garrick, which was heaving with people, seemed pretty average. With such a huge tourist trade I would have expected a few high-end bars.

I am not going to talk about the Giggling Squid where we did end up going on Sunday, we ordered two tapas platters which were tasty enough but in my opinion it was overpriced and not the most incredible food I ate this weekend. It did however look incredible…

Thai-food

Thai-food

Finally, the tourism; Stratford-upon-Avon is heaving with tourists and tourist activities. We managed to complete everything we wanted in the short time we were there. I recommend Shakespeare’s birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s (Shakespeare’s wife) house and gardens. We bought a 3-house ticket online for £18 (here) and would definitely recommend. There also any gift shops and Christmas shops which are always fun to look around in. The MAD museum was fun but short. But the best in my opinion was the butterfly farm. Incredible to see such amazing colour and creatures; and a gecko or two as well!

Hope you enjoyed this post, and wasn’t too long for you! I could have said so much more! If you haven’t been to Stratford-upon-Avon I highly recommend you go and visit the RSC as well. I would say you can do everything in a couple of days with ease, but it’s a beautiful place to visit. Let me know what you thought of Stratford by commenting below. Don’t forget to subscribe if you don’t want to miss out on any posts. Thanks for reading! Like, comment, share and subscribe.

Wonderful weekend away in Coniston, Lake District

This week I am doing something a little different with my blog post, instead of a standard Manchester food review, I will be reviewing Sara’s Indian in Coniston, as well as a little bit about my weekend away with friends.

This week has gone by in a blur. Back to the shire (Lincolnshire/Nottinghamshire) to see the family and then up and up to the Lake District for a weekend away with some friends. I love the Lake District; I have very fond memories camping with my dad, cottages with my two beautiful dogs and my mum from a very young age and even just last month in Staveley.

Rory decided he wished to camp in the lakes for a weekend away, after speaking to some friends we all decided that with the temperamental weather we should get a cottage instead. After a long search through the web, we came down to a final three with a chance for everyone to vote. By a long way the Old Police House in Coniston won, so the deposit was paid and the countdown began.

A rocky drive down, with delayed trains, traffic and windy roads, we made it to Rydal to meet up with some friends as we couldn’t get into the house till 4pm. From here due to the late arrival we went straight for a walk around Grasmere; beautiful views and great scenery on a nice simple walk. Once we got back to the pub we travelled to the cottage to meet Claire and Mike.
Coniston is beautiful, I was really unsure of what we would find here, and what the house would be like. It exceeded all expectations, 4 pubs, an Indian, 2 shops and a spar open till 11pm. In addition to lovely walks straight from the house, a lake in walking distance, which you can kayak, and canoe at as well as swim if you are brave (swimming in a lake in a bikini in September, who would have thought it?!).

On Friday evening we decided to venture out into Coniston and head to the Indian, which has such great reviews online. In hindsight we should have probably booked, we went in with 10 people and spoke to a lovely man at the bar. Although they were quite busy he explained how they don’t serve alcohol but we can bring our own, it’s cash only and showed us the nearest cash machine, and that if we give him about ten minutes they will sort out a table for us. Great we thought, this will save us a bit of money as we all have booze at the house or can buy some from the garage and get cash. We all set off and met back at the restaurant later on.
We came back to find a long table on the bottom floor laid out for ten, the waiter was very accommodating of us and made us all feel very welcome. The restaurant was quite dark, romantically lit and felt very warm and welcoming. After ordering more than enough food to feed everyone in the restaurant we sat back and enjoyed drinking our drinks and chatting away. Poppadoms to nibble on served with pickle trays came over. These were delicious! I forgot how much I love mango chutney with poppadoms, as well as the spicy pickle, delicious and a great start.
Pickle tray
Starters arrived shortly after, I chose a vegetable samosa, which was beautiful, if anything I would have liked something to dip the samosa in but I used some mango chutney from the pickle tray and it was scrumptious! Claire has the chicken chaat, the bread was light and fluffy, often the bread can be quite stodgy so this was a nice change. Rory had a lamb tikka, which he raved over. Everyone else gave great reviews on their starters.
Vegetable Samosa
Vegetable Samosa
On to the mains, my main was incredible. I ordered the butter chicken, a classic Amy order, but I am so glad I did. It was delicious, creamy and the chicken was succulent and so delicious. The large naan bread and pilau rice all complimented each other perfectly and if my stomach could allow it, I would have eaten it again and again. Rory however ordered a tomato based curry and found it very disappointing. He described the sauce as the sauce you find on a pizza and sadly the meat was quite dry. He ate his naan dipped into my butter chicken and my leftovers; this filled him up nicely.
Creamy butter chicken and pilau rice
Plain naan bread
Claire ordered tandoori fish sizzle and saag aloo. The saag aloo looked delicious, this is creamy spinach and potato known for being a healthy, nutritious Indian side dish. Others at the table enjoyed their meal but didn’t see it as anything spectacular. The main meals were nice, and were enjoyed but they were not something incredible just very standard Indian food.
Tandoori fish sizzle and saag aloo
One of the tell tale signs of a good Indian is what they give you at the end, a bog standard offers mint imperials, a good Indian gives you after eights, and a great Indian such as this one gives you personalised “thank you” after eights, these were delicious and was a nice end to the meal. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at this restaurant, although others found the food average, I really enjoyed all courses and would definitely come back again.

All in all Coniston has been a great trip, wonderful location with easy access to a lake, pubs as well as other areas such as Windermere, Ambleside and Kendal. Great holiday, would highly recommend!

If you have an experience of Coniston or of Sara’s Indian comment below and let me know what you thought. I have added some other pictures from my weekend away, some beautiful views check them out below.