Saturday, 7 June 2014

Rioja - great Spanish food in the West End

It was one of those wonderful Glasgow nights when warm air magically weechs up the city and drops it down a thousand miles nearer the equator. Outside chairs and tables suddenly appear from nowhere and as we strolled down Argyle Street even the Chinese takeaway had a fella sitting outside sipping instant coffee whilst waiting on an order. We walked on past Old Salty's and Table 11 where they'd opened vast windows giving that alfresco experience to those eating indoors. By the time we reached Rioja it felt like a holiday.

Rioja was buzzing at 9.15 on Friday evening. We were shown to our table, passing the cocktail drinkers lined up along the bar, by a slick waiter from Spain and most of the other staff seemed Spanish too. The interior is 'wan of they eclectic wans' with mismatched everything, lots of upside down lampshades and a menu chalked up on giant boards... and what a menu. Finally a Glasgow tapas joint where I want to try everything. The three of us ordered three dishes each to share and spent the next hour and a half along with everyone else there eating, drinking and chatting loudly. This place has a great vibe.

Now for the food.

The mussels baked with garlic butter had been separated on to the half shell with a little bit of bread crumb on top and were absolutely delicious.
Padron peppers that came unadvertised with the squid were perfectly griddled with olive oil and sea salt. About one in five of these little green chaps is hot, none of our lot were. The squid was a little overcooked and underseasoned.
The pickled anchovies came in their own little kilner jar and tasted spot on.
If you like ham croquettes Rioja's are a fine enough example, a light crisp exterior giving way to a soft gooey interior, again though they could go a little more seasoning.
The octopus was absolutely superb, grilled till the skin caramelised and sweet as a nut
Then came a real show stopper: slow cooked pigs cheeks with mash and crispy parsnip. A stunning dish where every ingredient worked together lifting the whole to another level. Beautifully textured moist pig cheek, a deeply flavoured unctuous sauce- verging on sweet and sour- yet perfectly balanced, a lick of savoury mash and the crispy sweet sensation of parsnip. Perfection.
After that the poor old oxtail suffered, it was nice enough but just had the misfortune to follow a superstar. The only disappointing dishes were lamb chops which lacked enough flavour to compete with their sweet sauce and the chick pea & cod stew which had a rather tasteless fresh white fish instead of the expected salt cod.

There was a moment half way through dinner when, amid the general buzz and bustle with Spanish being spoken at the next table and thick accents from the waiters, I began to drift with the breeze to warmer climes. So I might have imagined the Spanish easy listening version of Sympathy for the Devil being played, I hope not, it was very good.
Rioja hasn't been open long, it exudes an effortless and unpretentious cool whilst cooking some seriously tasty dishes, I can't wait to go back.

Click here for Rioja's website

1116 Argyle Street
G3 8TD
tel. 0141 334 0761

Friday, 30 May 2014

New Chips for Sauchiehall Street

Last year the sudden and unexpected demise of Mr Chips came as a dreadful shock to the many thousands of Glaswegians who over the years had come to regard this place as their own. A unique and brilliant vision centered around the chip. Attention to detail was everywhere, Mr Chips showed everyone how good chips could be when created in a purpose built environment. Indeed Mr Chips was internationally renowned because it was so more than just a chip shop, this was a place where artists, musicians, revelers, junkies, prostitutes, beggars and even people from the South Side would collide late at night to swap ideas, create new ones and eat chips.

Now from the ashes of Mr Chips springs Pommes Frites, a Belgian style chip shop. Belgium's famous for chips and I'm pleased to report these are damn good, nice crisp exterior with a lovely fluffy inside. They have loads of extra options but no vinegar and the only free salt is Himalayan Pink Salt which struck me as silly but tasted nice enough, although I felt 60p for a squirt of mayo was taking the piss. Other than that at £1.75 a regular portion was good value. It's not Mr Chips but it's a pretty good substitution.

 Goodbye, Mr Chips.

Below: 1981 and Mr Chips in it's original site with Adam Ant fans queuing overnight to get chips.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Cracking 15 year old Speyside Malt : theperfectsip - Batch #1

 Something great this way comes.

Tucked away in a basement underneath the Glasgow Art Club is 'Inverarity One to One'. Anyone with even a passing interest in whisky, bourbon, rum, tequila, wine or cigars should make an effort to search out the shop's basement entrance off Bath Street.
The two knowledgeable enthusiasts who run the place recently selected their first ever batch of whisky from a single cask. Pete Stewart and Andy Bell chose a 15 year old from Carn Mor distilled at Auchroisk Distillery in Speyside (pronounced Arthrusk) and finished in sherry casks.

Batch #1 has a beautiful viscosity and slight haze, clearly no chill filtering here. For me the smell conjures up nuts, woodsmoke, tart tatin and orange oil. On the palate it explodes into a multiplicity of flavours with barley sugar to the fore. An utterly gorgeous dram that's worth every penny and needs snapping up because they only bottled half a cask.

theperfectsip - Batch #1 15 year old Single Malt: £50

Andy and Pete also do some very amusing tasting videos under the banner 'theperfectsip' and will on occasion offer visiting customers a taste of the limelight.

Click here for the Inverarity Website 

And click here for more loads more videos from theperfectsip's YouTube channel

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Bez's Beer

I was introduced to these beers by a friend and couldn't help but notice the similarity with the Happy Mondays album art work.

A few days later I popped along to The Cave on Great Western Road to pick up a couple more bottles and Nikki who works there told me that these beers were specially selected by Bez at the Herrnbrau Brewery in Germany. Mind blown.

Surely the Happy Mondays endorsement of anything that can get you wasted is worth something. As it happens Bez has chosen a mighty fine couple of beers, both the beerspotters blonde and wheat manage a simultaneous amalgamation of refreshment and complexity that makes for a really satisfying glass. Nice one, sorted, top buzz.

Here's the Happy Mondays at their absolute finest. Back in the day when everything started with an E.

beerspotters blonde & beerspotters wheat £1.99 a bottle from The Cave, 421/423 Great Western Road, Glasgow.

And click here to visit the Herrnbrau Brewery just like Bez

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Perfect red for a sunny day

Tesco's own label Valpolicella only costs £5.49, a total bargain that went brilliantly with lamb and chicken kebabs on Friday. A light easy drinker with refreshing acidity and a pronounced sour cherry flavour. It's good chilled too and only 11% alcohol, so you can drink loads without getting a thick head. What's not to like? Well sour cherries I suppose so don't buy this if you don't like them, apart from that it's simply quaffalicious.

Click here for a link to Tesco's Valpolicella

Saturday, 10 May 2014

An Island Adventure... then off to Balmaha for tea & icecream

A suddenly recalled foot injury led to the announcement and it came an hour after I'd planned be heading up Ben Lomond. I'd delayed on the promise of company up a much smaller hill nearby. Then, from a distant room came a question, "Is there a hill in Glasgow?"... "Eh??"..."Well, I just want to practice walking downhill because I think I'll be alright going up but I'm not sure I'll be able to get back down again".

There were several possible reactions here but mostly a sense of couldn't you have perhaps mentioned this an hour ago sprang to mind. Then suddenly, like a subconscious reaction to cushion the shock, a memory of the wonderful Tom Weir's television programme box set flooded into my head. He was walking around an island near Balmaha talking about the Highland Boundary Fault whilst walking through abandoned graveyards. That man could have made a cow pat interesting.

Thanks to Google and a car within the hour we'd boarded the ferry to Inchcailloch and embarked on our adventure. The boat's a beauty built in the 1930s and we had it to ourselves on the way over, for the five minute journey.

The island's beautiful and in early Spring had a serene quality. Bluebells were bursting out and the woodland floor was hoaching with wild garlic. I picked a rucksack full.

There's a well marked path that takes in the highest point (85m), an old graveyard where the Macsomebody's of Macsomething are buried and a pile of stones that it's claimed was once a farmhouse.

More usefully at the far end of the island, looking out towards the National Park's inaugural shopping centre, there's a beautiful beach with picnic benches, 'barbecue facilities' and dread of dreads, a composting toilet.

At the ferry office they'd recommended spending two hours on Inchcailloch, frankly without a picnic that was pushing it, but there's no denying, medieval shit ditch aside, it's a beautiful place.

We returned ashore parched from our adventure and, after bidding our farewells to the ferryman, headed to the latest addition to the Balmaha complex- a cafe to compliment the shop and pub- and what an addition.

From the outside Cafe St Mocha is a bit bizarre. Mismatched furniture and occasional strips of AstroTurf... yes really. But don't be put off. The first sip of my Darjeeling made me sit up straight and start paying attention, it was outstanding.

I saved the tab from the teabag and later discovered 'Jenier' is a tea company based in Renfrewshire that does mail order. Their coffee's from Dear Green roasters in Glasgow, so it'll be good too.

Then came the ice-cream, wow, the pistachio was sublime, tasting of proper pistachio and with a butteryness that can surely only come from nuts. The cherry yogurt ice cream with it was the perfect foil, fruity, clean and refreshing. All served by a young woman who was enthusiastic and well informed. What on earth is happening to the Scottish tourism industry?

Click here for a link to Cafe St Mocha on Instagram.
It's to the left of the village shop by the Oak Tree Inn and opposite the main car park.

Click here for Jenier's World of Teas
And finally a real treat for fellow lovers of old TV programmes where men in bobble hats get to walk about talking shite for half an hour, here's Tom Weir visiting Inchcailloch:

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Cupcakery in Finnieston

Why do so many adults gibber on excitedly about cake as if it were an illicit drug? It isn’t. It won’t get you high, result in amazing sex or change the way you see the world. More importantly it shouldn't leave you bankrupt or get you arrested, unless you steal one. So please stop. It's a cake. Just eat it and say “Mmm nice cake” or something... and give me a bit.

‘I’ll wait here’, I said to my scout as she bravely pushed forth. I hovered outside, awkwardly; pretending to be fascinated by status updates on my phone, for longer than anyone witnessing would have been comfortable watching. What held me back was pink. Pink signage, windows framed by pink tissue lights, pink menus and when the sun hit the glitter atop of the cupcakes inside I was almost blinded in a bobby dazzling blaze of the colour. Pink is nature's warning sign to men and anyway, it doesn’t suit my skin colour. What my trusty scout brought out though very much suited me. A Chocolate Peanut Butter Stack made with a dexterously light touch and packed full of sweet peanut creamy goodness. So a few weeks later, with my intended sandwich emporium full, I manned-up, bravely braved my pinkophobia and timidly strolled in.

Steve, who runs the place, isn’t exactly the sort of chap you’d expect to be a purveyor of all things pink. He told me he’d grown up in South Africa, maybe pink was illegal there and this was some sort of Veldt nurtured dream?

The goats cheese, beetroot & honey panini I'd ordered was apparently a recipe from an Indonesian acquaintance of Steve. Although lacking any descernable Indonesian ingredients it was superb. Lightly toasted gently yielding bread, giving way to a lovely creamy goats cheese then a bite from the beetroot all followed by an enveloping wrap of honey and a few tasty seeds for texture. This really worked and came with a decent bit of properly dressed salad and the right amount of crisp interest. There's nothing worse than too few crisps with a sandwich, pure torment.

There are three sweet menus in here. Cake hugging heaven. Everything on the patisserie menu is £2.75 and if my earlier stack sets the general standard, that's a bargain. The Salted Caramel Vanilla Crunch was looking particularly tasty on this visit as were the Ferrero Rocher and Red Velvet Cakes, everything on the cake menu's a mere £2.50 a slice. My very good and refreshingly limey Key Lime Pie came with squirty cream. Squirty cream is hilarious, I didn’t even know they still made this stuff, it's the orginal Ferran/Heston ‘foam’. This one thankfully wasn’t pink and tasted entirely of cinnamon dust. Oh the coffee's good too.

I don't really get cupcakes. Tarted-up pieces of sponge laced with icing and glitter, visually promising so much more than they ever deliver. Lots of people do get cupcakes though and for them this Cupcakery is a place to come. They've got them made from Irn Bru, Cookie Monster, Jaffa Cake, Millionaires Shortbread, Caramac and many, many more. All excellent looking examples of the Cupcaker's art and only £1.85 a pop. There's even a cupcake to drink.

So please go, but for goodness sake don't pretend you're doing something naughty. Thanks to the Industrial Revolution, crop rotation and a global economy the developed world can now have it's cake and eat it and it's really not that big a deal.


1024 Argyll Street,
G3 8LX

Thursday, 12 December 2013

What is it with Tesco?

What is it with Tesco?
Last night I popped out to get a few ingredients for dinner.
First stop my local independent Asian supermarket for coarse bulgar wheat. I often shop here, they sell top notch basmati rice for a fraction of any supermarket price, very cheap vegetables and all the spices anyone could ever need. Familiarity and all that but I don’t think I’ve ever known what it’s called, anyway they only had fine bulgar and that was a year out of date.
So I headed along to an independently owned Middle Eastern deli, El Baraka, just down the road, they had it, in date and 99p for masses. Madhur Jaffrey’s Bulgar wheat and pea pilaff in case you were wondering. It’s a stunner.
After that wandered over Kelvinbridge to a local independent fruit and veg place. On the way I passed the new mini Tesco that opened that had opened in the morning with protestors outside apparently. It was just after 5pm, through the vast spanking clean glass blazed a dazzling array of newness and the place was mobbed. I carried on.
In Roots & Fruits I picked up a kilo of rather handsome looking vine tomatoes for 1.99 a kilo, a fraction of the cost at any supermarket. However, their courgettes were rather huge in size and price at 3.50 a kilo, so I left them.
Onwards up Great Western Road, a quick stare through the widow of the local independent fishmonger, Fantoosh Fish, revealed nothing particularly appealing, in fairness it was the end of the day, so I carried on to Waitrose.
Here courgettes were 2.50 a kilo and a nice bit of hake from South Africa was reduced to 9.99 a kilo. Marine Steward approved, presumably not climate approved .
I slipped by the wine aisles and picked up a bottle of their delicious, incredibly bargainous Coteaux des Baronnies, reduced to 5.29 for now, remarkable value even at full price.
On the way home, on a whim, I popped into the local independent off sales The Cave and picked up a bottle of incredibly moreish Erdinger Schneeweiser seasonal beer for 2.99.
Heading home I passed Tesco again. Still mobbed.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Sutor Creek - cracking pizza in Cromarty

The car rolled in across an ancient fertile landscape with oats and barley ripening on the warm breeze. We passed through empty village after village undulating away towards our goal. From an otherwise empty school playground well dressed scarecrow children stared out from the trees and posts to which they'd been roped and I'd swear I heard them whispering, "Welcome to The Black Isle".

It's a wonderful name isn't it? Conjuring up sorcery and pirates galore. Yet like Harris it isn't an island at all but a butt of land adjoined to a larger proper isle, in this case Britain. We were visiting friends in Jemimaville, another name I'd conjured with that turned out to be a pretty row of houses with the sea lapping gently at their backs and the UK's smallest Post Office whose other claim to fame is that it doesn't bare the name of the postal district that it sits in. Oh and there's the scar, make sure they show you if you go, where many years before someone cut their way in to fill their boots with gummy envelopes, sellotape and stamps.

Actually you won't need to ask, they'll show you, because round these parts there's a definite sense that people are very busy talking about anything other than 'the thing' that no-one dares to mention. Nobody could recall what happened to the Postal thief, or so they said. There's a genteel haunting on this Isle that's not an isle, a constant wind-chime too high pitched for human ears but penetrating the subconscious.

After meeting up we headed off to Cromarty accompanied by a mishmash of the sort of people who board buses in Scotland's rural parts. The northern English mother with too many kids and too much shopping, excited teenagers texting to find out which bus stop they're all hanging in tonight, the token genuine local whose accent sounds like part of Cromwell's army visited and never left and of course us, the weirdos.

Cromarty lies across it's Firth from Invergorden where the mighty British Fleet would put ashore when such a thing existed. It's also where the last mass mutiny of Royal Navy sailors took place in 1931. Nowadays it's the place where oil rigs come to die and their skeletal remains loom large.

The town itself is film set beautiful, 18th century Caribbean, honestly, when Disney make Jack Sparrow XV they need look no further. The architecture appears influenced by trade. Centuries ago Scotland's east coast sea towns specialised in different products and consequently traded with different countries across the North Sea, some villages separated by no more than a burn developed different dialects or 'doric' as a result. I'd guess the Dutch weren't strangers here.

Thankfully it was Italy not Holland that influenced the menu at Sutor Creek. Particularly on Mondays and Tuesdays when chef's not in and all they serve is pizza from the wood fired oven. What an eminently sensible idea, if only more restaurants would do the same.

A young enthusiastic team delivered pizzas, wine and lovely Black Isle beer as we munched and watched ships slip by. The crayfish, spicy sausage, ricotta and coriander was particularly impressive, the ricotta tasted so good and fresh it might have been local, I forgot to ask.

We wandered off for a pint beside the Firth then through the town itself as darkness fell. The sound of singing drifted out among the streets, apparently our waitress now home and practicing for the town's next opera. The Black Isle is a magical place.

Click here for Sutor Creek's website

Sutor Creek
21 Bank Street,
IV11 8YE

tel. 01381 600 855

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Campari Mojito

Dead easy, dead tasty. Made using the recipe on the back of the bottle and bloody deelish it is too.

Made using Instagram video, not without it's flaws but the extra 8 seconds is useful.

Vine Tasting

Blogging's been boring me a bit of late always feeling like it needed something new. Finally something's come along that makes me want to do it again.

Vine and Instagram offer an exciting new addition to anyone with a food and drink blog. The constraint of time, with Vine a measly 7 seconds, forces creative thinking on how to convey information and best of all, it stops people boring the arse of viewers.

Here's my fist attempt at a Vine tasting. The sound defaults to mute, no bad thing since it loops, but a click in the left hand corner gets it back.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

the 78 cafe bar - as good as chips get?

I'm going out on a limb here and realise the inevitable danger that others may visit the 78 when the potatoes aren't the same variety, a different person's cooking or the oil's a bit older and colder. Well if that happens hard cheese, today in the blazing sunshine with the mercury hitting 14c, these were as fine as the finest chips I've eaten. What's more I wasn't drunk and my chip tasting record's impeccable because many years ago when Heston was just a village north of Hounslow, I was among the first to try the thrice cooked chips of a budding young chef named after it.

Blumenthal's, finished in fat rendered from calves kidneys, are impressive, unfortunately they were to change the face of restaurant chippage forever. Chips began suffering the fate of those who consume them and nowadays the 'chips' in many Glasgow restaurants look more like roast potatoes. Not here. Today these little skin-on blighters were sublime. A perfect tempura light crisp outside yielding to fluffy taste packed potato inside. Cut as chips not fries and definitely not 'thick'. Chip perfection for £2.50.

Other than good potatoes I've no idea if they're employing any special chip technique, they definitely didn't use veal kidney fat though because the 78's a vegan. Lack of animals didn't hinder the delicious Quesadillas or the tasty Ras el-hanout roast sweet potato wrap either. One slight caveat, all the beans, nuts and pulses that took the place of meat made this food seriously filling, six hours later and I'm still stuffed. For the myriad students living nearby that's probably a bonus, especially on Tuesday's when they get 25% off. What a bargain.

Click here for THE 78 website

THE 78

10-14 Kelvinhaugh Street
tel. 0141 576 5018

The 78 on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Enoteca Panevino - top wine & nibbles in Finnieston

Panevino, bread and wine, two of the greatest achievements of western civilisation and two of my favourite things yet until last night I'd never been in. Outside the menu read well, peeping through the window all I could see was a chichi sea of marble and polished metal. Italian bling is no doubt still the rage in Newlands and Newton Mearns but it's totally incongruous amid Finnieston's seething mass of piercings, tattoos and fixed gear bikes. This is Glasgow's wanna be Dalston that ended up Potlandia, here everyone believes they've at least one good pop-up in them.

Anyway, last night we were booked in for a spot of total immersion theatre in an empty warehouse above a fishmonger, as you do in Finnieston, but completely forgot to book anywhere for dinner. Numerous phone calls, a few of which were actually answered, resulted in the conclusion that since it was 12 degrees centigrade, sunny and Friday the entire city had decided come out to eat, drink and kid-on they live in a proper climate. Suddenly I remembered Panevino and we were in.

It's a funny thing getting in somewhere after trying everywhere else. Initially it's elation but by the time the phone call's finished you start thinking, 'Hmm, why did they have a table when nobody else did?'. I needn't have worried, the answer was 'because they could be arsed', the place was mobbed and they'd made an effort to squeeze us in.

The menu's full of things I like eating at this time of year. There's various nibbles- hams, salamis, cheeses- as well as more substantial dishes. If you get there before 6pm they do Aperitivo where for £5 you get a drink and a selection of nibbles 'of the day'.

We started with grilled then marinated vegetables, all £2 a dish and enough for three of us to have a bit. We went for courgettes, aubergines, artichokes, all good, fabulous little red peppers stuffed with tuna and a couple of cheeses, the one with Barolo wine was delicious. Bread's £1.60 a basket and nice enough.

For mains the beetroot risotto looked brilliant and tasted good, beetroot and parmesan go together really well. Proper risotto needs to be cooked to order, that takes at least 25 minutes with pretty much constant attention, something most restaurants can't do. Here they'd managed to retain a bit of bite to the rice.

If bread and wine are western civilisations greatest achievements then Linguine alle Vongole must surely be one of Italy's. It's a relatively straightforward dish that's almost impossible to find well executed.  Panevino's last night was the best I've had in Glasgow and by quite some way. Throughout the short time it took to devour the al dente linguine, swirling mass of surf clams and perfectly integrated garlicky sauce I didn't say a word. Rarely does a craving get satiated so well for £10.50.

The wine list's excellent and there's over 30 by the glass. We drank a superb bottle of Sardinian Vermentino, so good it tasted like a bargain at £22.40. There's plenty of good looking bottles for less than that. Frustratingly they don't put their wine list online, that's a real shame because it makes for good browsing.

We finished with a couple of very good espressos, just £1.40 each, before wandering off to the warehouse where we spent the next hour atop penny farthings, peddling away, staring into a Victorian camera at beautifully crafted miniature worlds whilst someone whispered in our ears. I love Finnieston.

panevino, 1075 Argyle Street, Glasgow G3 8LZ
tel. 0141 221 1136

Click here for the panevino website

And here's a clip from the bloody marvelous Portlandia:

Panevino on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The Bay Tree Cafe & A Bottle of Chablis

I've been coming here for longer than I care to remember. It was still a militant vegan place when I first rolled through the door and judging by the reception I'd say they could smell the meat on me. They're much friendlier these days and it has one of the best things going for it of any Glasgow restaurant, BYOB with no corkage charge. How good is that? Instead of paying the bare minimum 300% mark-up everywhere else, you get to drink a bottle of wine worth what you paid for it.

Well, I paid exactly nothing for this Chablis. One of two bottles sent as part of a Bloggers Competition to show how many different types of food Chablis compliments. The prize is a weekend for two in Chablis though I suspect given what I'm about to write there's no rush to look out the passports.

First up was a 'plenty to share' vegetarian platter. It comes with their delicious homemade baba ganoush, hummus and the other very good reason to visit The Bay Tree, their falafels. These are not just any falafels, these are the first falafels I ate and thought, right I get it now. They're gently spiced and there's a moreish tension between the crisp coating and the crumbly almost too dry interior that makes you keep dipping in the hummus. At £8.95 this dish makes a great starter for two and has this cafe's food hallmark, total freshness.
As for the wine, well strictly speaking it's a 'Petit Chablis', made from grapes grown on soil not considered good enough for true Chablis. The label said it'll be on sale in Marks and Spencer for '£7.5', good luck with that. It's one of the sharpest most searingly acidic wines I've encountered recently, only improving slightly as it warmed up. On the plus side we both swore our teeth were much whiter half way down the first glass.

We persevered with it into the mains. Juje Chicken kebab (£10.95) was as perfectly chargrilled and as delicious as ever, the Perisan Naan it came with was a bit stodgier than usual, more paratha in style. Turkish Potato Chaps (£8ish), great name 'Chaps' isn't it? Mashed potato encasing minced lamb and again always beautifully, gently spiced. Unfortunately these three were burnt, two at the edges one to a crisp all over. It's really annoying when restaurants send out burnt food, people aren't stupid, they know it's burnt, what they're left wondering is why it came to their table? The really burnt Chap was replaced, the others had to be eaten around.

As a palate cleanser the Chablis worked a treat, if it hadn't been -10c outside the thought of it as a sorbet could have appealed. In the end we popped the cork back on deciding the only thing that wine is ever going to compliment is oysters.

As for The Baytree Cafe, well, Chapgate aside, this place is remarkable value. We sat for the best part of an hour after dinner sipping a much more agreeable bottle of Fairtrade Bonarda Shiraz (on offer @ £3.99 Co-op) without ordering anything else from the menu and the waitress continued to be as friendly as ever. Eight of us were in here towards the end of last year, running out to the The Cave and Co-op for extras, and the bill came back at £15 a head. Remarkable. You can even smoke a hookah outside with your coffee if you're that way inclined.


& click here for The Cave's Facebook page. Top independent beer and wine seller.

Strictly speaking the Chablis Competition was for takeaway food, The Bay Tree food is available takeaway we just fancied sitting somewhere else.

Bay Tree on Urbanspoon