Saturday 25 January 2014

Dogs n Dough, Manchester

Feeling slightly peckish after some Christmas sales shopping with Mrs Nom, we fancied something fast and easy so decided on Dogs n Dough for a quick bite. We were the only ones in late afternoon on Boxing day.

Mrs Nom chose the ADB hotdog, or ‘All Day Breakfast' in long form. Along with a meaty frankfurter it came with bacon, baked beans, and a poached egg on top. It was a messy business, especially with the runny yolk and the beans falling out the toasted bun.

I settled on The New Yorker with pastrami, big fat gherkin, jalapenos and swiss cheese. It was certainly the easier to eat and I was glad I chose this and not the other way around. A horseradish mayo brought all of the flavours together.

We also ordered a portion of naked fries to go with the dogs. Unfortunately due to how quiet it was we imagine, the frankfurter hot dogs tasted like they had sat for a while and Mrs Nom found them a challenge to bite through, although they were satisfyingly beefy and meaty.

For a quick bite the dogs at Dogs n Dough are a reliable option. We also attended the launch night and tried the Hawaiian dog which we remember was awesome. With a lunchtime special of £4 a dog or pizza til the end of January its well worth checking out.

Dogs n Dough on Urbanspoon

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Club Gascon, London

I first came across Club Gascon at the Taste of Xmas event last November. Having tried their foie gras burger it prompted me to make a reservation for dinner. Based in Smithfield it has held one Michelin star since 2002. With it being the lead up to the festive season we had to settle for the ‘Chefs Special’ menu of 3 courses for £28 which seemed a bargain with 3 choices for each course.

For starters I chose grilled pine smoked duck hearts, wild fennel and diabolo sauce. They were well cooked with a bite and not overdone. The sauce added a slight sourness which went well with the grilled duck hearts. My dining partner, P, had watercress veloute, goats cheese gnocchi and mouli, he commented that it was average at best.

Mains were interesting with me plumping for grilled squid, bordelaise, grenailles and samphire. The squid pieces were big and meaty and again well cooked with little added to allow the freshness of the squid to shine through. This was compensated with the bordelaise sauce of red wine, bone marrow, butter and shallots. P chose the seared wood pigeon, mushrooms and beetroot which was well received.

Dessert was a low key affair with black olive & chocolate millionaire with lemon gel failing to set the pulse racing. The raspberry, lemongrass variation and pistachio dust didn't fare much better.

It seems unfair to judge the merits of Club Gascon on this one meal. Generally it was ok with dishes that I rarely see on other menus, however based on this meal it failed to live up to the Michelin star billing.

Club Gascon on Urbanspoon

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Monday 20 January 2014

Franco Manca, London

Franco Manca specialise in serving fresh sourdough pizza baked in wood burning brick oven. With six sites dotted around London, we visited the Chiswick High Street restaurant. The wood ovens are made in Naples and produces a heat of about 500 degrees centigrade. The website states that the blast cooking process locks in the flour's natural aroma and moisture giving a soft and easily digestible crust.

With 6 options on the menu, a few specials and options to add toppings, the menu is short and to the point. The decor is simple and efficient, with coat hooks next to each wall side table being a nice touch.

I decided on the meat special with wild pig capocollo, Parmigiano Reggiano, mozzarella, organic tomato and watercress. The meat was top notch and nicely cured. It could of done with less watercress however and more of the pig! The sourdough base was well cooked, yet soft and moist. Topped with the Parmesan, mozzarella and tomato it was one of the best pizzas I have had in a while, simple yet so satisfying.

My colleagues seemed to enjoy their pizzas as well as they didn't make a peep until they had finished after stating 'it's good' on the first bite. The tomato, garlic, oregano, capers, olives, anchovies and mozzarella pizza garnered the following comments:

"Classic pizza toppings combination. Moist dough and very fresh toppings. The first bite was amazing with fresh herby tomato nicely complement by an explosion of salt. However was a little too salty for such a big portion – can’t really complain when you order anchovies though."

Gloucester old spot ham, mozzarella, buffalo ricotta and wild mushrooms.

For around a tenner each for a pizza and drink, Franco Manca makes for a cheap and easy dinner. In fact that makes me think if they can deliver such affordable quality down south then no reason why it couldn't be done in Liverpool, franchise opportunity? Certainly a cut above what we currently have, but I'd probably say that about Franco Manca as well if I tried pizza in Naples.

Franco Manca on Urbanspoon

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Friday 17 January 2014

Delifonseca, Liverpool

Despite only living a mile away and driving past it most days it’s been a long while since I last dined at Delifonseca Dockside. Since it winning the readers restaurant of the year in the Good Food Guide 2014 I always had a mental note to return, we finanlly had that chance over the Christmas break.

The main dishes and desserts are chalked up on massive blackboards in the dining room. Mrs Nom chose the duck a l’orange whilst I stuck to the lunch time menu and went for the Po’ Boy sandwich. The duck come with a rich pomme boulangere and earthy roasted beetroot. The orange sauce however lacked flavour and Mrs Nom would have preferred it to be more orangey. 

The Po’ Boy is one of the signature dishes of the restaurant, a New Orleans classic. A hot baguette filled with slow roasted beef and roasted juices, with lettuce, tomato and chunky chips. For a quick lunch the Po’ Boy is ideal, the beef was moist and tender and the portion was more than adequate. The thick chips reminded of chippy chips, soft and fluffy.

We decided to share a dessert and ordered the orange, pistachio and cardamom tart. To Mrs Noms dismay it was served with cream instead of the advertised vanilla ice cream. However the warm nutty tart was a good combination of festive flavours worked well together with the runny cream.

With an ever changing blackboard of mains and desserts I really should make an effort to visit more given its my local. The adjoined deli offers quality meats amongst a host of fresh veg, condiments etc.

Trawling through our vast photo album from last year I found some breakfast shots. Although I can't remember exactly I recall it being decent.

Delifonseca - Dockside on Urbanspoon

Thursday 16 January 2014

L'Enclume, Cartmel

It is fitting as we reach the century blogpost milestone that it belongs to a special restaurant. Much has been written about L’Enclume, the flagship Simon Rogan restaurant that sits in the charming village of Cartmel. As well as being the 100th post it was also the venue for Mrs Noms birthday back in December, I can’t reveal her age though as I risk not being able to finish this post otherwise! The booking was made months in advance, increasing the anticipation as the date drew nearer. L’Enclume holds two Michelin stars and scored a rare perfect ten alongside topping the charts in the Good Food Guide 2014.

The drive to the village of Cartmel takes you on a journey from urban to rural, leaving the motorways to narrow countryside roads. L’Enclume is located on a side street just off the main square. We were one of the first tables to arrive at 6.30pm and were seated at a table with a view of the pass, or theatre seats as they were described. After a quick tour of the state of the art kitchen we sat down to begin the 22 course culinary adventure. The menu for the night was contained in an envelope on the table, but we decided not to look until the end, but truth be told I kind of knew what was coming from countless drooling at other blogs! 

The first nibble was an oyster pebble with oyster leaf. It is fascinating how a leaf can taste like an oyster. A fresh taste of the sea with a melt in the mouth oyster macaroon, this was a divine start to the meal.

Next up was a broiche chicken ragu dumpling with a crispy skin packing intense chicken flavours.

Artichoke crisp with truffle purée and grated truffle with great crunch from the crisp.

Goats cheese from Herefordshire, tarragon and malt, this was slightly too strong and intense for Mrs Nom.

Smoked eel on tapioca and smoked ham fat emulsion.

Poached quail egg with the yoke removed and filled with black garlic with crisp kale. This was a clever nibble and was the last of the appetisers as cutlery began to appear on the table.

Scallop tartare with English caviar, rocket and fennel vinegar. Sharp vinegar but as a dish it came together extremely well. It was one of our favourite courses of the evening.

Sack of brown shrimp, lettuce emulsion and mace powder.

A bowl with three coloured balls were presented next and described as a hot pot with the flavours being puréed potato, lamb and purple cabbage. A lamb broth was added at the table, the balls burst in the mouth, oozing out intense hot pot flavours, a clever little dish.

The bread selecton contained, malt, white and Cumbrian rolls served with rendered fat butter.

Cod yolk on a bed of wild rice and infused with salted vinegar. 

Venison tartare, mustard, caper jam, fennel and candied fennel gin. Very well executed, Mrs Nom preferred these flavours over the ox tartare at Simon Rogans Manchester restaurant, The French

The next course was presented with a sealed pot with linseed cracker and langoustine cracker on top, after which the lid was taken off and underneath lay fresh sweet Cumbrian langoustines, black pudding and parsnip foam.

Baby potatoes in onion ashes, lovage and wood sorrel, a lovely salad dish with great flavours 

Butter poached Dover sole with razor clams, nasturtium butter and leeks. 

The last of the savoury dishes was 5 week aged Dexter sirloin beef with wasabi mayonnaise, tomato purée added sweetness. Smoked bone marrow was spooned over finishing off the dish. Whilst the beef was exquisite Mrs Nom found the leaves slightly bitter. 

Likewise with the start of the meal a series of bite size desserts were presented first followed by larger dishes. The first was milk skin crisp and truffle ice cream which was lovely and sweet.

Goats cheese cup with encased pear and beetroot, a mellow cheese flavour and served frozen, Mrs Nom was too busy taking pictures at this point and was warned to quickly eat it before they melted. 

Elderflower wine reduced,yoghurt sorbet and chocolate soil. Probably the only dish of the meal which didn't really deliver a punch.

Buttermilk poached quince, muscovado shard granita crunch and sweetness from honey oats. 

Meadow sweet mousse with Granny Smith apple, walnuts and sorrel. Tangy notes from the apple, perfect and well balanced flavours, the pick of the desserts.

The last course were a series of coloured flavoured cones including raspberry and sweet cheese, celeriac and woodruff. Served with a refreshing Douglas fir drink.

An additional dessert course of raspberry with crumbled shortbread was presented to Mrs Nom to acknowledge her birthday which was a nice touch from the restaurant. It rounded off a fantastic meal which we can say was our best of 2013. No words can do it justice, you will have to visit to find out for yourselves how good L'Enclume really is.

L'Enclume on Urbanspoon

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