Belated Review of Rick Stein Winchester

Well, it’s been so long since my first visit to Rick Stein’s new restaurant in Winchester that I’ve actually been back a second time to enjoy it. In case there’s any of you still wondering about whether or not to book a table I’m finally getting around blogging about my recent visits.

Myself and the OH are big fish and seafood fans so, it’s fair to say we were excited about this new restaurant. My first thoughts were how different it looked from Jamie Oliver’s Union Jack’s that had previously occupied the site and even more radically different from the days when it was a Pizza Hut! It is hard to believe it’s the same space, it’s such a cool, calm and welcoming layout. There is comfy seating by the doors if you need to wait for a table, or if like me you like to sit and have a drink before your meal. I found this a lovely area to sit and sip a bellini, they had other classic cocktails on the list too (which I’m sure I’ll try on my next visit!).

The menu is simple but exciting I found, I could have easily enjoyed anything from it but on my first visit a settled on a classic fish soup served with rouille and parmesan. I just love these kinds of fish soups that you get on a Mediterranean holiday and this one didn’t disappoint. There’s something very satisfying about customising your soup by adding lots of cheese and garlicky rouille! A word of warning, it was very filling by the time I’d had bread too. I could have easily eaten it as a main course!

Crisp Garlic Bread Croutons, Rouille and Parmesan

Crisp Garlic Bread Croutons, Rouille and Parmesan

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Delicious rich fish and shellfish soup

I opted for the filled of hake for my main served with spring onion mash and soy butter sauce. It certainly was a sizeable fillet of fish (or maybe it just seemed that way after polishing off my soup and extra bread!), everything on the plate was light and delicately flavoured. It was just delicious and a clean plate was left behind.

Fillet of Hake with spring onion mash and soy butter sauce

Fillet of Hake with spring onion mash and soy butter sauce

I thoroughly enjoyed the meal, as did my dining companion, I was incredibly full though (my own greedy fault!). So I remembered this on my next visit and opted for a lighter prawn and crab cocktail to start with, which was lovely, although I did look longingly at other diners enjoying the soup!

On my second visit they had a special main course of a Lobster Thermidor, which I couldn’t resist (it’s lobster and there’s cheese after all!!). This was a good size and not too huge – just right for me.

The special - Lobster Thermidor

The special – Lobster Thermidor

My dining companion on the other hand did not go for something so small…

Fruits de Mer

Fruits de Mer

A rather large seafood platter, featuring a huge crab! It was thoroughly enjoyed and I did help out a little of course – so yes the whole thing was demolished.

I must also mention the sides, they were so good and probably partly why I filled up so much on my first visit! In particular the roast pumpkin with chilli oil was just gorgeous – I could eat a whole plate of it.

So there you have it, my experience at Rick Stein Winchester. After visiting a few times, you can’t accuse me of not being thorough with my reviews! I really enjoyed the food, the wine, cocktails and the atmosphere so would recommend it to anyone who likes fish and seafood. There are couple of non-fishy and veggie courses for those you who don’t do fish but really the fish is the main attraction here.

Have you been? Let me know what you thought if so.

xXx

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Birthday Bliss

So the other day/month I turned *not-quite-30* and was treated to a day of pure loveliness by the people I love best. The sun was shining as headed to my parents house and we all set off for a brisk country walk with the family pack of labs (okay only two of them). It felt so luxurious to take a little bit of time off and be free of phone signal in the middle of the week! And spending time with my family in the fresh air means so much to me, it was just all round joyous.

Of course what birthday walk in the country would be complete without a pub lunch pit-stop? Tasty fish cakes were followed by this delicious little dessert…

Eaton Mess in a delightful little cup with strawberry ice cream

Eaton Mess in a delightful little cup with strawberry ice cream

Back at the family pad I was treated to cake, cards and presents! So lucky to have such an amazing family who know me very well, I received some simply wonderful things. Seriously, it mists my eyes now thinking about how awesome my family are.

I actually received many fabulous foodie presents from everyone including some seriously special cocktail making kit, a recipe book, champagne and lots of tea. All of which I plan to show off in several blog posts to follow.

 

As I headed home there were more treats, with fabulous things to open and dinner at the Black Rat – my favourite. Sitting outside at the Black Rat is so magical, you’re cosied up in your own little hut drinking wine and feeling happy. And that’s before you’ve even eaten anything, the food is always an exciting culinary experience…and well, just very tasty. The allotment bread to begin with was so good and then this came…

A beautiful crab and avocado

A beautiful crab and avocado

This was followed by a fabulous fish main course…

Delicious!

Delicious!

I am one very very lucky lady, this was such a special birthday – how will I ever top it when I turn 30 next year? An enormous thank you goes out to my lovely family and friends for making my birthday so magical, food filled and fantastic.

THANK YOU XXXXXXXXXXX

Last weekend’s foodie highlights

Well, the title says it all really…

Last Friday night’s visit to the Chesil Rectory was a lovely last minute treat. The menu was great, just look at these yummy starters…

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Portland Crab, Secrett’s Beetroots, Avocado, Mayonnaise         

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Treacle Cured Salmon, Brixham Scallop, Pickled Ginger

And of course there’s the beautiful Cottonworth rose to enjoy when at the Chesil Rectory. This English sparkling wine is every bit as lovely as something like a Laurent Perrier Rose. It’s local too, if you haven’t tried it already, it’s a must! You can also get it from Wine Utopia in Winchester.

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On Saturday I ate at an old favorite that never disappoints, The Bugle Inn, Twyford. The tasty bacon chop on their menu at the moment is highly recommended! It comes served on a bed of bubble and squeak with a poached egg on top and some gorgeous cauliflower cheese – it was heavenly and certainly very filling! No pictures due to me being a greedy guts and scoffing it all without thinking of my blog!

You wouldn’t think I could eat more food in one weekend…but I did. To celebrate my dad’s Birthday a fabulous family party tea was put on at home. Featuring afternoon tea, triangle sandwiches, my sister’s yummy mocha cupcakes and a scone or two, it was a fine birthday feast! Here’s a snapshot…
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Definitely a few fast days need this week after a full on weekend of food, glorious food!

xXx

Pescatarian Week One

Well, so far so good…mostly anyway. I haven’t caved and eaten any meat other than fish, but there’s been a few times where I almost slipped up. Nearly ordered a croque monsier in a cafe yesterday!

Easy to forget they contain ham...

Fortunately there’s been some fabulous fish dishes this week to keep me on track (none of which were made by my own hands I’m ashamed to say). Save for one attempt at Oeufs en Cocotte (of course I’ve been watching Little Paris Kitchen!), this week flew by with two meals out and cous cous or soup providing the rest of my meal time sustenance.

Great meal at The White Horse in Otterbourne this week

Wednesday evening saw me dining at the newly refurbished White Horse in Otterbourne, my second visit since it’s recent change of hands. It did not disappoint – the choice of fishy dishes made pescatarianism a delight. I was tempted by a crab and chilli risotto, but in the end settled on a fish cake to start which was absolutely beautiful and well complemented by parsnip flavours. I followed this with a really good hake chowder and perfect poached egg on top – all in all absolutely delightful!

Must remember to take the photos before I start demolishing the food...

I was lucky enough to be taken out to dinner again this weekend to my favourite local haunt the Bugle Inn Twyford, where I enjoyed a lovely dressed crab with a new potato and pea salad, accompanied by crusty bread – a classic that you just can’t beat in my book!

Lovely bit of crab

So it’s been a busy but food-filled week…today’s guilty indulgence was a vat of salted popcorn (my favourite!) at the cinema with a good friend, perfect way to finish the week.

That’s all for now – I promise each week won’t be solely focused on pescatarian diet updates!

The crab’s claw and more…

I’ve been busy doing some really fun foodie things this week, including meeting and photographing several south coast fishermen for something that’s very new and exciting! Can’t tell you about it yet, but watch this space for some fantastic local foodie news. Okay so I didn’t actually take any photos myself…I left that to the professionals but had a really good time meeting some local fishermen and chefs…I even saw a crab detach its own claw! Never witnessed that in person before, quite a funny sight…not for the poor crab though, it obviously thought its life was in danger…which, well, it was.

Poor crab...

Moving on…

How great are piccolo tomatoes? Seriously I am loving them at the moment, can’t get enough. Do you know the ones I mean? If you don’t…buy some! They’re truly the sweetest, loveliest tomatoes you can get…I just googled them and it would appear I’m not the only one in love with these little red lovelies, they seem to have quite a following. Might look into growing some.

'Plumptious Beauties'...As Nigella would say!

Wine notes time now… I recently enjoyed a lovely meal at the Chesil Rectory which was delicious (must do a write up – highly recommended!). During our visit we enjoyed two bottles of an amazing locally produced sparkling wine, it was sensational! I love a good sparkling rosé and this was honestly every bit as nice as one of my favourites, Laurent Perrier Rosé …and a heck of a lot more reasonable in price! I really don’t know much more about this fabulous wine other than it’s a Hampshire wine named Cottonworth Rose – I intend to find out more though! I do also happen to know you can get it through local company Wine Utopia …just in case I’ve got anyone else interested in trying it.

Love a sparkling rose!

 

Fab meal enjoyed at the Chesil Rectory - highly recommended!

Festive Eating Continued…

It was a four day weekend for me this week, with plenty of festive foodie moments to savour. It’s just a lovely time of year for friends, family and food – and I’m making the most of it!

My Friday evening may sound a little sad but actually it was a dream, although I was home alone while Tom braved his work Christmas party, I had my own little Christmas party. A few mugs on Winter Pimms and some favourite films saw me through the evening after wrapping a heap of presents. It was also time to do the ‘Christmas Shop’ – you know…the excessive,  wildly indulgent, you’ll-never-eat-that-much, heart attack in a trolley festive food shop? Well I did mine online  with Ocado in an effort to be a little more conservative (didn’t go so well) – suffice to say I’ve now got an assortment of alcohol that would put any cocktail bar to shame – including Baileys Biscotti, Ameretto (for my new favourite – Ameretto and Cranberry – you must try it!), fruity red wines for more mulled wine, St. Peter’s ales and Kopperberg Fruit Ciders. I tried to be a little less spend-happy with the food, preferring to pick a lot of it up at the local farm shop and farmers market.

Time to be merry...

Saturday afternoon saw me repeating the festive food shopping experience, this time in a real supermarket with my little sister. We’re both spending Christmas Day with my parents and decided that as grown ups – we’d do the ‘nibble shop’ for my mum and dad. The trolley was laden with cheese straws, mince pies, Yule log, Christmas cake, nuts and lots of miniature food favourites – Christmas Day is going to be good!  Loose fitting clothes advised.

Hello festive food

Saturday evening I met with some good friends for mulled wine and other drinks and thoroughly good catch-up. With one friend staying the night at mine, we enjoyed a bit of Baileys Biscotti as nice night-cap – a lovely way to end the evening.

Ultimate night cap

I spent the next day braving the busy streets of Winchester, buying gifts from the art and design market and enjoying yet more mulled wine and some sweet crepes with a dear friend at the Christmas markets. We wandered till it was dark and our fingers froze before wishing each other a Merry Christmas and retreating to the warmth of home.

I couldn’t have asked for a better Sunday evening than dinner at The Black Rat with Tom. We haven’t been there for ages, but it’s always been amazing…and it didn’t disappoint!  Every course was deliciously interesting. I couldn’t begin to tell you exactly what I had in as much eloquent detail as the menu itself, but I had a delightful crab starter and monk fish with curried leeks for a main course – and of course cheese to finish…although I could have been tempted by almost all of the desserts on the menu. Needless to say the Black Rat is the foodie highlight of the week for me!

Possibly the best Sunday evening ever at The Black Rat...

That about rounds up this extended weekend’s eating really…all that’s left is to cook up a curry for tonight’s tea.