The tales of a half-Spanish, Southern guy with Yorkshire roots living in Bolton and looking for some half-decent grub

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Dearden Tea Rooms, Haslingden by Hannah

We went back in time this afternoon, back to 1940s nostalgia. The gentle chinks of cutlery  and crockery accompanied by the heart warming sound of war time tunes like Glenn Miller and the Andrews Sisters. Even the crochet table cloths added to the character.

It was my Mum's birthday so we decided to treat her to a good afternoon tea at the Dearden Tea Rooms. I'd heard of the Tea Rooms from a very good friend, never would I expect to find such a lovely place in hidden away in Haslingden. 

Us ladies went for a traditional Afternoon Tea. Freshly baked scones served with clotted cream and strawberry jam, a selection of finger sandwiches (ham, beef, cheese and egg with corresponding sauces and a scattering of watercress on the top), a selection of treats with a pot of tea. Our treats included raspberry cakes, golden syrup cakes, chocolate mousses, pink macaroons, strawberries, and a mini shortbread biscuit. I couldn't pick out a favourite element... but the warm scones may have swung it!

Elliott decided that he wanted something a bit more substantial so he chose the Dearden Beef Burger. 6oz beef burger topped with bacon, fried onions and black sticks blue cheese on a toasted muffin, served with salad garnish, chips and coleslaw.

The cakes in the glass case looked out of this world! I was tempted to take a slice of the Chocolate Orange Popping Candy Cake home but resisted for the sake of my waist line... and instantly regretted it when I got home.

My Nanna was in her element, high praise indeed!

The service was impeccable, we are not used to being referred to as sir or madam... Nice touch!

All you parents will be pleased to hear the Dearden is child friendly for all ages. There were teenagers, children and our babba all dining there. Baby changing was a lovely and clean.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

The Reading Room at the Barlow, Edgworth by Hannah

Becoming a new mum is the most amazing thing in the world. The best adventure ever. We had little Eva Rose in April and she is 6 months old already. I have no idea where the time has gone. However, being a mum is not without its challenges. Completing once simple tasks have suddenly become very large victories...

One of these daily challenges is managing to drink a hot beverage. Ninety nine times out of a hundred, duty calls and your brew is left to ice over. When you're so sleep deprived and in desperate need of caffeine, you take a deep breath, brace yourself and get it drunk.

One of life's little pleasures as a mum is to break out of the house, find a cosy place to meet with friends and have a chat over a brew. Magical places where you can get away from the incessant "eh-ohs" of the Teletubbies for an hour and cross reference topics like nappy contents and weaning recipes without judgement, where no one bats an eyelid if your baby decides to kick off. It also makes a nice change to have someone make a drink for you during the day. You may even get to eat! These safe havens are a special and much needed retreat for mums.

One such place is the new Reading Room coffee bar at the Barlow Institute.

Set in Edgworth, the Barlow Institute dates back to 1909 and is the hub of the little village. Complete with a village hall, library, cafe, children's park and play area, cricket club and bowling green... there is always something going on up there whether it be a craft fair or beer festival. 

The Reading Room Cafe inside the Institute itself is lovely and quaint. There are old, Victorian pictures on the wall and it looks no different, aside from the little pops of colour from the furniture and squidgy sofas.

I decided on a latte... I had 3 loads of washing waiting for me at home, make it a strong one. It was amazing to drink something hot and yummy, what a treat! Ten minutes of bliss. They also offer a selection of Suki teas and hot chocolate. Fairtrade, Organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified.

The cakes on sale, handmade by Bekah's Little Cakery, are amazing. Aussie Crunch is my absolute favourite. I went straight up to the Barlow when my dear friend, Bekah, told me she was selling her cakes at the Reading Room. She's been making Aussie Crunch (and cakes in general) since our school days so I can vouch they have been crafted to perfection and made with love. Elliott had a slice of Carrot Cake which lasted about 2 seconds. Says it all!

The facilities are great at the Barlow.  You can comfortably fit a pram in the cafe and the bathrooms are spotlessly clean with baby changing. An important selling point for a new mum; you don't want to spend 2 hours getting out the house just to come home again if the inevitable happens!

There is plenty going on to entertain the little ones. There is a quite a large play area and woodland for the older kids towards the back of the building next to the cricket ground. There are also baby classes, a playgroup and crafts during the week if you get stir crazy like me. The cafe is handy because you can grab a brew whilst you're there. 

The Barlow also serves as a quiet place for meetings. There's free wifi in the cafe so you can get some work done in a comfortable setting. Or if the baby is asleep, have a 30 minute browse on Facebook! It's also a great place if you're holding a function or party as they offer room hire in the hall.

Mums (and dads!) if you are in need of sanctuary, this is the place. Great prices, comfortable, baby and business friendly, hot drinks and cake. It's a resounding thumbs up from me!

Sunday, 23 October 2016

The Fat Pig, Westhoughton

Long time no blog!  

I bet you have been pacing the floor for the last 10 months, wondering when the next post would be.  Well fear not - we are back!

So why the hiatus?  A baby!  Yep, that's right, we had a little girl in April! With severe morning sickness, a newborn and the subsequent sleep deprivation, we haven't had the chance to eat out much this year.

Last Friday was our 10 year anniversary and 6 months since we became parents so we went to celebrate at The Fat Pig on the Chequerbent Roundabout, Westhoughton.

Situated in a 140 year old building that was once a police station, The Fat Pig has been transformed into a stylish and modern eatery.  
It is the sister restaurant to The Strawberry Duck, Entwistle and the same focus on quality can be seen at both.

Pornstar Martini & Long Island Ice Tea
Neither of us drink much but we both appreciate a good cocktail.  That is exactly what we got. Cheers!

Cote de Boeuf
We decided on a 500g Grilled bone in ribeye for two people, roasted bone marrow, grilled confit tomatoes, skinny fries and a choice of two sauces.  

I can't get enough of sweet potato fries so we ordered a separate portion of those with some pickled slaw - it was a combination of our two favourite dishes, Hannah's roast meets Elliott's American diner!

We chose bone marrow gravy and The Fat Pig garlic butter to go with the meat.  The butter is moulded into the shape of little pig faces - a nice touch (pic above).

This platter was so big it hardly fit on the table!  The steak was melt in the mouth succulent and the bone marrow gravy was rich and delicious. 

The pickled slaw cut through the richness and went well with the sweet potato fries.  The only thing I didn't eat was the roasted bone marrow - I prefer it in my gravy as it doesn't taste of much when roasted.

Warm Chocolate Brownie
A velvety pudding with a Belgium chocolate gooey-centre and served with pistachio ice cream.

You can't go wrong with a warm brownie to finish a meal especially when you are sharing it!  I was sceptical of pairing it with pistachio ice cream but it worked.

The Fat Pig was the perfect place for us to celebrate our 10 year anniversary.  Great food, a relaxed atmosphere and great service.  
They rear their own pigs up in Belmont so I can't wait to go back and try one of their pork dishes!

A fantastic meal in a cosy setting.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Hop & Cleaver, Newcastle upon Tyne

I love Newcastle.  Fantastic city.

As luck would have it I get to travel up to Geordie-land for work and when I do, my colleague Glenn acts as my own personal tour guide.

On a recent visit we needed a place for dinner and Glenn guided me to Hop & Cleaver; an American smokery which is found right next to the Tyne Bridge.

The restaurant has been fantastically designed.  Stripped back to its bare walls with rustic features everywhere - my kind of venue.

We were recommended the Reece's milkshake and it didn't take much convincing for both of us to order it.

However, we were in for a bit of a shock!

Reece's Hardshake
Vanilla Bourbon, KahlĂșa, Lillet Blanc, Butterscotch sauce, Vanilla gomme, 2 Reece's cups, 3 scoops of ice cream, milk.

Well... as you can see the milkshake turned out to be alcoholic.  Seems it pays to read the menu when ordering something... oops!!

Still, it was bloody stupendous!

Charred Glazed Pork Ribs
Extra meaty thick cut ribs, smoked for 4 hours on fruit wood chargrilled with sticky Bourboun BBQ sauce.

My choice was easy as I can never resist smoked ribs.  Juicy, succulent and supreme!

The mash and sweet potato fries were a perfect accompaniment.

12 Hour Pulled Pork
Slow smoked pulled pork finished in our homemade BBQ catsup with slaw and salad.  Served with fries and pit smoked beans.

Glenn stumbled upon a real winner with the pulled pork - he left grinning from ear to ear!

The next time you head to Geordie-land, make sure that Hop & Cleaver is on the menu!

Sunday, 6 September 2015

SoLita, Prestwich

SoLita is one of the best places to get a bite to eat when in Manchester as I pointed out in my "Birthday Blog" last year.  If I lived in the city I would no doubt eat in their Northern Quarter restaurant at least once a week. 

However, I live in Bolton and given the severe lack of trains running between my village and the city this summer, I don't get into Manchester as much as I would like.

Luckily for me, SoLita have just opened up in Prestwich which is much easier to get to and will no doubt mean more trips to their fine establishment.

This week my friend Jono and I had the pleasure to visit the new location - it lived up to the hype and then some.

Once In A Lifetime:
2 x 6 ounce minced steak patties, pulled pork, crispy bacon, shoestring onions, buttermilk chicken strips, Monterey Jack cheese, house BBQ sauce and sweet potato fries.

I ordered this and have been looking forward to trying it for a year. It was unbelievably good, especially the buttermilk chicken. It's the biggest burger I've ever seen jammed packed with ingredients!

Nom nom nom!

The Big Manc:
2 x 6 ounce minced chuck steak patties, trifecta brioche, iceberg, home pickles, Monterey Jack cheese and Big Manc sauce.

Jono went for SoLita's famous Big Manc and said it was utterly incredible.  This burger is firmly in my sights when I next visit!

Chow Chow Slaw:
Creamy and sweet.  Lovely.

Bacon Wrapped Onion Rings:
Yes, you read that right.  3 bloody brilliant rings of onion wrapped in glorious bacon. 

Kill me now, I've found heaven. 

I was hugely impressed with the new SoLita in Prestwich.  Not only was the food outstanding but the way they have done up the place is spot on. For me, a lot more convenient in terms of location and a lot bigger than the central Manchester restaurant.

Here's hoping their next move is into Bolton...

Solita Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato