Category Archives: Food

A Good Night Out

Well, despite my misgivings, it turned out to be a good night, although I was a bit late due to trouble parking. Maybe I’m more sociable than I think.

We went to Curry 2 Night in West Bridgford and I’d recommend it highly. Good service, good food and not many people there. I don’t like crowds. It’s really a take-away that has fitted itself out as a restaurant so the lack of customers isn’t significant. They had quite a few callers for takeaway so they kept busy.

I had the Aloo Mutter Paneer. I’m not sure it was as hot as the chillis in this recipe suggest. I’m a bit of a wimp these days and select milder options than I used to do.

I drank it with fizzy water.

I really can be quite boring at times.

 

 

 

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More Scones, More Chips

Really, the things I do for research.

First, I had scones at Minsmere Nature Reserve. They were big, reasonably priced and fruity. They were also much better than the ones we had on Wednesday, though that was not difficult.

The ones we had on Wednesday, during a visit to a craft centre, were “short” according to Julia. This is baker-talk for crumbly.

Actually they turned to dust as if they’d been tightly-wrapped in bandages 3,000 years ago and left in the pocket of an ancient pharaoh until recently rediscovered. They also tasted of baking powder, which is generally considered a bad thing.

The ones at Minsmere were far better. They wouldn’t be worth a special journey, but they are a safe choice if you find yourself on the Suffolk coast with an odd corner to fill.

While I was eating the scones I looked at some of the signs. They are really taking things seriously – possibly too seriously. I may come back to this subject later.

Later in the day we went back to Aldeburgh for fish and chips. We were there before five o’clock. There were two chip shops open this time and they already had small queues starting. I don’t think the people of Aldeburgh exist on fish and chips, by the way. Second homes make up about a third of the yown’s residential property and I suspect many of them are used by people who don’t cook.

They come in a specially made bag with greaseproof paper lining – very technical.

The chips were good – well-cooked and tasty. The fish was also good, with nice big fresh flakes. Again, we passed on the peas as they are tricky to eat in the car.

Were they worth the effort? Well, they were very good. They were probably as good as the ones from Saxmundham the night before. But they probably weren’t good enough to justify two trips to Aldeburgh.

Southend or Saxmundham?

After a breakfast of porridge and croissants in our room (the porridge was the sort where you pour boiling water into a plastic pot) we didn’t feel the need for food for most of the day.

We did indulge in a snack when we arrrived in Southend-on-Sea but the four miserly doughnuts and two cups of tea merely showed us how good we’d had it on Monday. They certainly didn’t fill much of a gap. The cost of today’s snack was £7.40, with the miserable skinny doughnuts being £1 each. The tea wasn’t even full!

According to Wikipedia Southend is the 11th most expensive place to live in Britain. With doughnuts at £1 each you can see why.

What a contrast to Saxmundham when we visited later that day.

Before that we had failed to get fish & chips in Aldeburgh (having been told several times how good they were). The queue was just too long and there were only two people serving. We tried several times but the queue never seemed to get shorter.

A disaster was averted when Saxmundham came to mind. It had seemed a decent place when we stayed near there at Christmas so why not try there, I reasoned. If there were no chips there were two supermarkets so we could at least buy something. (Julia was ravenous by this time and she’s not at her most cheery when unfed).

We had cod and sausage and chips and ate them in the car. That’s not some fiendish combination of flavours – Julia had the fish and I had the sausage (and some fish as there was a lot of it). We didn’t bother with peas as they can be tricky, even with the liitle wooden fork traditionally supplied by chip shops.

They came from “The Trawler’s Catch”, which we selected simply by driving past and finding it had car parking nearby.

The shop was chaotic as one man tried to cope with walk-in trade and telephone orders. Julia ordered a large haddock and a large battered sausage, both with chips. We ended up with two medium cod a small battered sausage, a small plain sausage and a discount.

You have to admire a man who can put together a deal like that.

So, the service was great, and distinctive.

The chips were very good.

The sausages were good.

And the fish was the best I’ve had in years with big, fresh, tasty flakes. I think I’ll polish up the word “superb” for this review – I don’t often use it but it seems appropriate today.

So remember – The Trawler’s Catch, Saxmundham for superb cod and chips.

 

 

 

Fish and Chips at Cromer

I’ll jump ahead a bit, missing out the rest of the Hunstanton visit and Cromer Pier and getting straight to the chips.

When a chip shop calls itself Number One, even if it is at No 1 New Street, it’s making a big statement. When this is backed up by fish and chips at £12.50 it’s doing the same, as you can generally get them for £9.50. So was it really 25% better than the average fish and chip shop?

Difficult to say.

I had hake and Julia had rock (which used to be called rock salmon in the days before trades description legislation).

I’m not sure if either of them were up to the mark. The rock was a bit soft compared to the shark I’ve had before, which has always been quite fibrous, and the hake was a bit too fishy. I believe that hake is generally more fish flavoured than other fish, so this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though again, it seemed a bit soft and didn’t flake well.

Hake and Chips in Cromer

Hake and Chips in Cromer

Portion size was good, batter was OK – not quite crisp enough for my taste. They were served seasoned with sea salt. When I’d read this on the menu I imagined a light sprinkle of salt, not the amount that ended up piled on the fish. Look at the photo for an idea of what happened. Too much salt!

The chips, on the other hand, were excellent. Big, crispy and plentiful.

Tartare sauce was tangy and had a great flavour. Ten out of ten for that.

The peas, on the other hand, were bland. We had the non-minted ones – I suppose the minted ones would have been a better choice. I don’t know how you can make bland peas, particulalrly when there was plenty of salt on the fish.

There’s no excuse for poor peas. They should have remembered the 6 P Rule.

Proper Preparation Prevents Peas Poor Performance.

We’re currently discussing this meal – Julia says she would go back again. I say I probably wouldn’t. It wasn’t bad, but I don’t think it was any better than some of the cheaper offerings from less glitzy shops.

 

 

An Expensive Mistake

This is probably the best example you could have of how out of step I feel with modern life. Apologies is you are becoming tired of my view on this subject, but I have to blog or burst.

On Monday afternoon we went to the new East Bridgford Garden Centre. A perfectly good local garden centre has been taken over, new buildings erected, a massive car park built and a slice of retail Hell has been grafted onto the Nottinghamshire countryside.

I’m sure, from the crowd of people, that it will be popular, and that it fills a need in the lives of many people. This need isn’t necessarily for plants as most people seem to have left without visible purchases. It is also providing a lot of jobs, though they are mainly, it seems, for teenagers. Older people, as in people in their thirties, don’t seem to have much of a place here.

We didn’t see any of the staff who used to work at he old centre and Max the Parrot has gone too. It appears that he went to live elsewhere during the building work and liked it so much that he decided to stay.

A likely story. I think he was handed his P45 as part of the move from Garden Centre to slick corporate retail outlet.

Anyway, back to the fish and chips. They were a familiar and, we thought, safe, choice in a rather confusing cafe.

They gave us a “locator” for the table – a high tech version of a number on a stick. The tea arrived, just ahead of the meal. My thoughts were that the tea could have been a bit quicker and the main meal was available quicker than I was expecting.

The staff were quick, efficient and cheerful and the locator seemed to work well.

And that was as good as it got.

The fish portion was small. The chips were large, though not numerous. The tartare sauce came in a cheap paper cup, the watercress garnish was a bit of an afterthought. And the peas…

For £10.95 you expect a goodly dollop. What we got was a smear. Julia’s photograph exaggerates the size of the portion. I wasn’t sure whether it was the promised pea and mint puree or just a leftover from a poor attempt at washing up.

Fish and Chips East Bridgford

Undoubtedly the worst fish I’ve had for years

The good news was that the sauce was tangy, the caramelised lemon was juicy, the chips were well cooked and the pea and mint puree was delicious, even if it was brief.

Bad news – the fish was the worst I’d had in thirty years.

It was small, thin and had a pasty consistency with only a few discernible flakes. Mainly it was tasteless, and in parts was so bland as to be unpleasant, which probably explained why there was salt on the plate when the meal arrived – an attempt to introduce flavour.

It took me back to market day in Uttoxeter thirty years ago. I had fish and chips in a cafe – the fish was thin, bland and, as I got to the centre, still frozen.

I really don’t know what to say. It wasn’t good value from the quantity point of view, and it was inexcusably poor from the quality point of view.

Surroundings were clean and bright, staff were great but the food is the important bit, and it was dreadful.

It’s very unlikely we’ll be going back.

 

Chips at the Dolphin

I’ve been going to the Dolphin fish and chip restaurant for around 30 years. When I sold chickens to farmers in Lincolnshire I would make a detour two or three times a year to walk round Sutton and then have lunch at the Dolphin.

We have been most years, either with the kids or just as a couple. It was always OK rather than outstanding, but has always been a pleasant place to eat. Over the years various owners have made improvements, though this has been accompanied by the occasional lapse, and in the last few years, they seem to have been selling off household goods to raise cash. It did start to look a bit like a jumble sale, but when we visited on Wednesday it was a lot tidier.

It has also grown an assortment of notices prohibiting various sorts of behaviour. I can’t give examples as I didn’t really read them. I prefer my food without too many petty rules.

Haddock Special at the Dolphin Fish Bar, Sutton on Sea

Haddock Special at the Dolphin Fish Bar, Sutton on Sea

The Haddock Special was £9.95, not £8.95 as stated in various reviews, and tea is not included in that. The chip portion was sufficient, though not generous, and the peas were also served in a smaller pot than we remember. That wasn’t the worst thing though, they were a bit tasteless too. All in all, not the best “special” we’ve had.

You can’t order at the table now either. It’s not a big thing, but it is a sign of the erosion of standards of service.

Finally, on that subject, when someone asked for tapwater they were told it was 50p a glass. Now, the law states that only places selling alcohol have to provide tapwater free of charge, and they are, it seems, allowed to charge for service and use of the glass. As the Dolphin doesn’t serve alcohol they don’t need to offer free tapwater, but on the other hand, it’s another nail in the coffin of customer service.

However, if you have a dog with you, you are welcome to bring the germ-ridden fleabag into the eating area, where I have no doubt it will be provided with free water, and if that’s not enough you can even buy frozen lactose-free yoghurt for your dog.

Frozen yoghurt for dogs - what next?

Frozen yoghurt for dogs – what next?

The staff were quick, efficient and reasonably cheerful, though they were arguably too efficient in clearing tables. I finished before Julia, as I come from a family of predatory snackers and speed is the best defence against food theft. The way they whipped my plate from the table was undeniably efficient, but felt like they were trying to get rid of me as soon as possible.

So that’s the report – declining portion size and a couple of queries over peas and service. It’s clean and efficient, and the food is generally good, but not so good we can’t find somewhere else equally as good. We will probably do that next time.

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Wall tiles – Sutton on Sea

Fish and Chips in Felixstowe

When we arrived in Felixstowe we found the sea front and threw the car into the first parking space we found.

Fortunately the space was just across the road from the Regal Fish bar, which looks like a poky fish and chip shop from the outside, and a hollowed out hotel from the inside. There’s a choice of large or medium fish. I had a medium haddock (with chips and peas) and Julia had a large plaice with chips and salad. She fancied plaice and they only do large plaice, so she opted for salad to make it a bit healthier. She says…

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Large plaice on a large plate

The medium haddock was quite large too.

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Medium haddock – it was good despite looking like it had died writhing in agony

I really don’t know what to say now. It was excellent fish with good chips and good peas. I’d be happy to eat it every day.

So, excellent food, bright, clean surroundings and friendly staff. Beef dripping again. I forgot to check on gluten-free alternatives again. I must start checking that so I can look like a concerned and touchy-feely member of the 21st Century.

Don’t worry, I’m not softening, I’m just pretending to be concerned.

Meanwhile I saw this notice in the toilets – it seems that modern life is a lot more complicated than I thought. If Julia ever gets rid of me I’m going to become a monk. The vows won’t be much of a problem – after 30 years of marriage and 25 years with kids I’ve got the obedience and poverty cracked.

I can’t see the tonsure being much of a problem either.

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The complexity of modern life