Wednesday 31 July 2013

Cibo, Didsbury

Cibo in Didsbury has been a restaurant Mr Nom and I have been meaning to go to for a while, discovering it served Venetian tapas; it was definitely a place we wanted to visit.  Finally we found a chance to go for a light lunch before my Masters graduation. The interior of the restaurant was modern and stylish, a great spot for a couple of drinks and nibbles.

With not a lot time we went for the lunch deal which at £10 for a selection of 3 cicchetti, any dish and side from the main menu is a good deal.  There were six items on the cicchetti menu so we ordered one of each which consisted of stuffed artichoke wrapped in lardo, aubergine ball, arancini sicciliani, scamorza wrapped in speck, baccala montecato and crostini ricotta broad bean & mint.

The cicchetti was presented nicely, little bite sized morsels, to my surprise the aubergine ball was really flavoursome which I was not expecting. The arancini was delicious as well, one of Mr Nom’s favourite nibbles. The crostini was a perfect fresh and light snack. I could happily eat more of them!

From the main menu we ordered the braised octopus, stuffed belly pork and lobster ravioli as an extra dish. My favourite tapas would have to be the ravioli lobster. The sauce was brimming with flavour and the ravioli was well made.  My least favourite was the octopus as I found it a little tough, possibly because it was braised. However the stuffed pork was delicious and the crackling was nice and crunchy.

For our sides we ordered the zucchini fries and the rosemary roast potatoes which came in generous portions, I kept mopping up the delectable sauce from the lobster ravioli with the sides.

A new menu has recently been launched and I already have my eye on a few dishes that I want to try. The swordfish carpaccio, octopus salad and the monkfish are amongst the new dishes which have sparked my interest.  This always happens; as soon as we visit somewhere then new menu items are launched not long after, all the more reason to return!

Cibo on Urbanspoon

Friday 26 July 2013

Almost Famous, Liverpool

Since the inception of this blog, of which the name was inspired by watching Mrs Nom tucking into the Triple Nom burger, there were rumours of Almost Famous crossing the divide of the M62 and setting up shop around the Ropewalks area.

We were very kindly sent an invite to the opening last night and during the whole day in work I could only think about munching on burgers and wondering what specials would be on the menu. With the launch also coinciding with the Browns party in Liverpool One we decided that it would be a few drinks there and then onto Parr Street for our burger fix. After all we would need something more substantial in place of the canapés served at Browns.

What I hadn't bargained on was nearly being unable to drag Mrs Nom away from the assortment of drinks at Browns, any more down her neck and then any efforts would be futile! Eventually managing to persuade her to leave with the promise of returning later.  Having finally dragged her out we made the short stroll over to Parr Street.  Situated directly opposite Santa Chupitos it is hard to miss when the sliding garage doors are open with the massive Be Healthy! neon sign being on show with the unmistakeable burger slogan below.

We recognised the tables and chairs from our visits to the temporarily halted Manchester branch and Lust, Love, Liquor & Burn.  With a decent number of numbers, with ours being number 19, including some standing eating space it seemed quite spacious with a large bar area.

With Mrs Nom wanting more liquid refreshments than meaty burgers we ordered a River Phoenix to share, a double cheeseburger with bacon, bbq fired onions, frazzles baconnaise, chipotle ketchup, bbq sass and fresh chilli along a few sides of winning fries and coleslaw.  Topped with a huge amount of bacon and fried onions it was a messy job but satisfying.  Just what we needed to soak up the alcohol.

Mrs Nom found it humorous that I found comfort that the frisbee the food was served in was made in Germany, somewhere that I’d expect to have some suitable degree of laws and regulations to ensure no harmful chemicals were used which could kill dogs or children through chewing.  There were a few other burgers which are from the menus in Manchester such as our old favourite the Triple Nom, Sloppy Juan and the Triple Threat, of which we will return sometime very soon to sample.  In particular there was one called Kids in America with triple candied bacon which has sold it for me for next time.  New fries include True Romance which if I remember correctly was topped with chilli and Lucky Pig which with pulled pork.

We were given a drinks token each on arrival and the cheerful bar staff told us we could choose anything we wanted on the menu.  I went for the Deep South Iced Tea and JBs Grape soda for Mrs Nom,  both were punchy on the booze and refreshing.  I also wanted the boozy milkshake but with the number of drinks down at this point it would have made me feel sick.  No doubt we will be back to repay the great hospitality shown to us.  The best bit of all is now having this on my doorstep, well for Thursdays to Saturdays at least as they are the current planned opening hours.

Almost Famous on Urbanspoon

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Italian Club Fish, Liverpool

Mrs Nom was having one of her cravings for oysters again so we decided to call the trusty Italian Club Fish to enquire if they had any left on a busy day in Liverpool City Centre with Brazilica and Pirate Ships being the main attractions.  They did and so we made our way.  Having visited a number of times before the seafood is some of the best that Liverpool has to offer in our opinion.

We decided to order a selection of dishes to share rather than the usual starters and mains.  The oysters as usual were slippery blobs of goodness washed down with shallot vinegar and the natural juices.  The specials included another of our favourites, razor clams which were cooked with chilli so we had to choose that along with sauté di Maurizio, a sauté of clams, mussels, cockles, white fish, parleys, cherry tomatoes & toasted ciabatta.  We supplemented this with a pasta dish, Fettuccine Italian Club Fish, homemade egg fettuccine with salmon, porcini mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, white wine & a dash of cream. 

The razor clams were extremely well cooked and were meaty yet not tough which showed skill.  The accompaniments were basic with some token rocket but the razor clams didn’t need it and spoke for themselves.  Next time when we call up it will be enquiring for both oysters and the razor clams!  The fettuccine was just the right consistency and made a mockery of the Tesco version I had a few days previously.  It’s hard to go wrong with the sauté and we soon polished it off, although the toasted ciabatta was a bit tough to bite into.  Mrs Nom noticed Irn Bru on the drinks menu and it seemed fitting to have this reminding us of our childhood days.

The group of restaurants also includes the Italian Club and Italian Club Pizza, the only one we need to visit to achieve the trifecta being the Italian Club.  Although we are always swayed towards Club Fish, due to our taste for seafood.  The arancini from Club Pizza is worth the visit alone, a mammoth ball of deep fired risotto, we had this with a pulled pork pizza which was unusual and benefited from the wood fired oven.

The Italian Club Fish on Urbanspoon

Monday 22 July 2013

The Rose Garden, Didsbury

The Rose Garden in Didsbury is somewhere we have planned to visit for a long time; the last time I had it booked for my birthday but felt too rotten after drinking too much the night before!  Some half a year later we finally got a chance to celebrate my Masters graduation.  Parking proved to be quite difficult but we eventually found a space in one of the side streets, the residents must hate people parking in front of their houses. 

It was a very hot summer’s night and we spotted a window table by the door as we approached but this was nabbed by the couple just in front of us.  Usually we avoid the tables by the door like the plague.  At first we were seated towards the back end of the thin dining room, the heat was overwhelming and our server noticed this and reseated us immediately to a free table closer to the open door.

Since we had decided to visit the menu has changed a couple of times but as always we pretty much had already decided what we were going to order before we arrived.  For starters I chose the pan-seared cod cheeks with smoked applewood rarebit, pancetta crisp, spiced cauliflower purée and tomato salsa.  It was seasoned a little heavy with the pepper as it kept hitting the back of my throat. Otherwise it was a great dish as I loved the pancetta crisp and the spiced cauliflower puree combination.

Mr Nom chose the spring lamb carpaccio, slivers of mint crusted loin of Cheshire lamb with sweetbreads, broad beans, peas, pea shoots and minty vinaigrette.  I tried some of this and it was a cool summer dish and the popcorn chicken like sweetbreads went well with the cold lamb and mint dressing.

The heat in the restaurant was overwhelming since we arrived and I’ve never experienced heat like this whilst eating before.  It was so hot the ice in the drinks melted within a few minutes!  A few fans maybe needed during these few weeks of sweltering heat whilst it lasts.

For mains I chose the lavender duck, roast goosnargh duck breast with blackberry & lavender glaze, sweet potato mash, roast beetroot, sweet potato crisp and a blackberry sauce.  I was instantly drawn to this when I first saw the menu; the description seemed really interesting with the combination of ingredients and flavours.  Mr Nom said I liked all things with lavender, even suggesting for him to use lavender detergent!  The dish was a triumph, the lavender worked extremely well with the duck, the flavours were well balanced. Nearly all elements blended together perfectly, the only slight negative being I could taste orange in the sweet potato mash which left a slight aftertaste in my mouth. Nevertheless, the blackberry and lavender glaze was tasty as I kept mopping up the duck with it!

Mr Nom selected the seaside special, fillet of irish turbot with scallop & herb mousse, English samphire, shrimp croquette and tarragon velouté.  I had a bit of food envy when I saw the meaty fillets of turbot.  The scallop mousse was divine and the fish with the tarragon velouté was heavenly.  A great fish dish, I like that there were two generous pieces of fillet whereas I’ve seen meagre portions elsewhere.

By now the restaurant was cooling down with less people and as the skies were darkening which was a relief.  As always I found space for dessert and we decided to share a raspberry & dark chocolate mille-feuille puff pastry with strawberry coulis, fresh raspberries, raspberry jelly, dark chocolate mousse and chantilly cream.  The dessert was what I expected with the sharp raspberries cutting through the rich dark chocolate. I suppose it was not too heavy of a dessert to end the meal.

The highlight of the meal for me was my lavender duck dish.  I wish we hadn’t waited so long to visit as we were impressed with the combinations and flavours of everything that we ordered.  Most of the dishes on the menu are also available as part of the set menu which seems great value and something we will definitely return for, although probably on a cooler night.

The Rose Garden on Urbanspoon

Sunday 21 July 2013

Neon Jamon, Liverpool

Lately Mr Nom and I have been craving tapas; possibly due to the hot weather having an effect on our appetites. Little small plates are probably the way to go during this hot summer! Mr Nom mentioned Neon Jamon to me a while back but we had never found the chance to go. Finally we went there for lunch recently, and with such a good lunch deal on the weekdays, 2 tapas for £6, it is hard to resist!

Situated on Smithdown Place a couple of doors from Spire there is ample parking on the many side streets.  We were the only table when we arrived just after three in the afternoon but the place soon filled up after we were seated.  The service was efficient and with a smile which gives it extra marks.

We ordered Trevelez Jamon which came with miniature breadsticks.

Veal hamburgers which were cute mini-sized burgers. They were a lovely little nibble with a green peppercorn sauce which was creamy and gave the burger some flavour and kept the burger moist.

Pintxo Moruno, pork skewers with a sweet and spicy sauce. I was not a fan of these because it was quite tough for me to bite into.

The pulpo dish was lovely, I have been craving for some octopus for a while and these were perfect. Chunky pieces of octopus meat with sweet peppers, and balanced out with lemon oil.  A very nice cold summer dish and very addictive.

One of Mr Nom’s favourite starters is squid so we ordered the Malaga style little squids were deep fried and came with lemon aioli. Whenever he sees deep fried squid on the menu, I swear he always ends up ordering it.

Straw fries and eggs came with two runny eggs, perfect to dip the matchstick-sized fries into.

Galician clams cooked with Jamon, garlic, fino sherry and herbs was my favourite dish. The clams were big and juicy, the sauce was flavoursome.

The Iberico pork loin was stuffed with fig, almonds and Manchego, served on caramelised orange honey. It was an appetising dish with interesting flavours and textures.

Without a doubt, Neon Jamon is a restaurant I would visit again, great for casual dining and if anywhere offers a better lunchtime deal then I'm yet to find it, eight tapas with drinks was a shade under £30 with the lunch deal.  There are quite a few more dishes that I want to try next time!

Neon Jamon on Urbanspoon

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Solita (revisited), Manchester

I noted on Twitter that last weekend would be the end of the Tony Soprano burger so it prompted me into action to make an effort to try it before it was too late.  Making a concerted effort to try as many things from the new menu as possible we also ordered the DIY tuna tartare and Maryland crab cakes.  

On all three of our visits we have ordered different things, a review of our prior two visits can be found here. Not being massive eaters we shared the three dishes, also with it being so hot our appetites are not as big as usual.  The crab cakes were filled with succulent crab meat and you could smell it as well as taste it.  A far cry from the usual disappointment of more potato filling than the main advertised ingredient.


The DIY tuna tartare was unique with its presentation of the condiments and salad being separate, leaving diner to add to taste.  We chucked everything in apart from the dressing and salt and pepper which we added a little by little until enough for our tastes.  A great little light summer dish which is also fun and interactive.  Shame we missed out on the steak version.

The Tony Soprano burger hit the right notes for me with zucchini fries, deep fried mortadella ham and marinara sauce.  Mrs Nom felt the zucchini was a bit bitter whilst I felt a little more sauce was required against the deep fried elements.  Never the less the patty was cooked nicely and juicy as is the norm with Solita burgers and demolished in no time.  We contemplated getting the Murray burger as well but have since found out it will continue until this weekend which gives us another excuse to return.

Friday 12 July 2013

Grenache, Walkden

Having seen rave reviews and good feedback on Grenache via various social media sites and blogs we decided to visit Grenache last Sunday for lunch.  After a warm welcome and orders taken I was excited to be presented with our amuse bouche of Pimms jelly with mint & cucumber ice.   I had seen Chef Mike Jennings upload a photo of this on Twitter so seeing the creation in front of me made me feel slightly giddy.  I love Pimms and to see it in a jelly form was certainly different. The mint and cucumber ice was really refreshing, a perfect palette cleanser and also a treat in the scorching summer sun.

For starters Mr Nom selected the Grilled fillet of mackerel, pickled beetroot, goats cheese, orange & watercress salad. It was also the restaurant manager Lindseys favourite starter and after the first taste we could understand why. The flavours married together beautifully, a little bit of each element were picked up in every bite.  I ordered the twice baked Lancashire cheese soufflé with ham pickle salad; the mellow soufflé and the flavours with the homemade piccalilli were wonderful and appetising. The tangy piccalilli contrasting with the mild cheese makes the dish come to life.

Roast sirloin beef & all the trimmings was definitely a generous portion but it what you expect for a Sunday lunch! The huge plate overwhelmed me slightly but the sight of the giant Yorkshire pudding and the succulent roast beef cooked just right slightly pink made me wish I ordered that instead. The only thing I would comment on was that the roast potatoes were slightly too crispy for my liking.  Mr Nom seemed to enjoy it however and demolished the large serving.

My choice of slow cooked belly pork, pressed apple, glazed cheek, smoked mash & cabbage did not disappoint either. The dish was exquisite and to top it off, there was an unadvertised scallop on top of the pork belly which was beautifully presented.   Scallops are one of my favourite foods so the extra addition was a bonus! The belly pork was delicious but it was slightly dry on one side but it did not stop me from clearing my plate.

We both agreed to share the dessert of dark chocolate fondant with coconut sorbet and mango & mint salsa.  Before that arrived we were presented with mini scones with clotted cream and jam. They were scrumptious, slightly warm and bite sized so a little nibble before our dessert.

Our fondant took about 20 minutes and we expected this as we know how long it takes to prepare and it gave us a welcome break after the mains.  Lindsey informed us that they were not happy with the first fondant as it had split and made another one.  When the fondant arrived it was split on the side, I think they did not want to keep us waiting any longer and whilst it was perfectly edible it could of done with another minute of cooking to firm up more on the outside as it was slightly too gooey.  I was also slightly unsure about the accompanying mango and mint salsa as it added sweetness to the already sweet fondant and sorbet.  If anything I felt the dish needed something sour like passion fruit to cut through the sweetness, although Mr Nom seemed fine with that combination but then again he is like a hoover.

It was evident throughout the meal that most of the customers were regulars and the owner, Huss, was making sure that everyone was enjoying their meal.  When he asked us about the dessert we told him it was slightly under done for our tastes and he told us to let him know in future so they could make amends.  You could tell what it meant to him to ensure that his customers were happy and being a local restaurant in the suburbs, repeat custom is key.

All in all, we have a fantastic time at Grenache! The service was wonderful, really attentive and made us feel welcome. Great food in a relaxed neighbourhood restaurant, without a doubt we will be returning for more food by Mike Jennings and in particular the tasting menu. 
Grenache on Urbanspoon Square Meal