You can ring my bell – Eight Bells Inn, Chipping Camden (Church St, GL55 6JG)

We walked into this cosy pub in the heart of beautiful Chipping Camden where a warm welcome was chirped from behind one of the six hand pumped beers.  I thought as we entered, we have stuck gold looking around this low-beamed bar complete with a roaring fire but best of all was the fabulous smell of something delicious being cooked in the kitchen.   On first impressions it seemed impossible to not love this  Cotswolds village inn; please don’t let the food change our first impressions.

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The Eight Bells was a welcome relief after only 50 yards from here we first stumbled into the Lygon Arms, which may be a popular Racing UK venue, but the menu and atmosphere was less than enticing.

We found a table and considered as we were dining at 8.00pm at Charingworth Manor later and it was already 2.00pm we order a lighter lunch of sandwiches, but could not resist a portion of their chips.  The decision to choose sandwiches was not an easy one whilst we watched our fellow diners tuck into a huge Lamb Shank and Hook Norton Beer Battered Cod but we stayed strong.

We ordered a couple of pints of the aforementioned Hooky from Hook Norton  the pubs most local brewery (about 20 miles east) and what a great pint of golden and maltyness. The pub is lovely and we pleased to have found a seat across from the a roaring fire.

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Perfect Pint of Hooky by Hook Norton

Did you know that Hook Norton still deliver to some local pubs by Shire Horse and Dray? If you in the area it would be worth checking the Hook Norton site to see if you can see these beautiful horses in action.

This inn was busy with a gentle hum which felt very calming or maybe it was the pint of Hooky giving the soothing effect – either way we had found a real gem in this corner of the Cotswolds which has a fabulous atmosphere.

Our lunches were served and both were presented neatly with no fuss or garnish on the plate. I’m never sure how I feel about a lack of green on a plate but in the interests of zero waste I trust the Chef to waste any leaves (I hasten to add you can top your order for an extra mix of salad and chips).    The chips were golden and tasty – crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

David loved the Brie and Bacon Ciabatta as it had a great balance of filling to bread and was oozing with hot creamy brie over thick slices of quality back bacon.  What was unexpected was the apple chutney which really added to the mixture and made this creamy, meaty sandwich a ten out of ten for him.

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Brie and bacon ciabatta

The rare roast-beef, was as ordered rare, all too frequently we are promised this but served overcooked but not today.  With lots of peppery rocket, and sweet and spicey horseraddish all in a crunchy ciabatta (did you know ciabatta was commercially only introduced to the UK in 1985 by M&S). This was looking good and it tasted good too but the beef was fighting for its place in the flavour race as it was quite thinly sliced. It was a real shame as they advertise the sandwiches as hearty.  On a positive the beef was tender and of good quality.  Just more slice of beef for the £7.95 would have seemed fairer and given a perfectly filled and balanced sandwich.

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Rare roast beef sandwich

The bill was just under £27 for the two of us before a tip so reasonable value. We really enjoyed our visit to the Eight Bells and next time we are going to Cheltenham we will definitely make a point of calling in and trying their main courses.  If we are organised enough (this pub has 6 gorgeous en-suite rooms which book fast) we would like to stay here so we can sample some more of their excellent kept beer.

So if you are a regular visitor to Cheltenham races I would recommend you put this lovely 17th century inn on your list of considerations, with its beautiful setting and 4 star rooms and a concise and varied menu that is reasonably priced oozes confidence .

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Rusty Shears (Whitby ) As good as it gets

We stumbled upon this delightful in
Independent cafe on our last weekend in Whitby. We have been coming to Whitby for a few years now as a couple and as coffee lovers realised we were probably missing a trick relying on Costa for our caffeine hit. (Plus we hate that certain staff leaders start wrapping up a whole 90 minutes before they close –  not exactly a warm welcome). 

You enter the cafe through a delightful walled patio area. We headed into the cafe to a warm welcome and display of homemade bakes. One of which, a Lemon & Thyme Loaf,  was just cooling off ready for tomorrows lucky customers.

We only ordered drinks as we were dining at The Magpie within the hour but my eyes certainly enjoyed a feast.

I ordered a Flat White which was served in a beautiful teacup. Davids americano was served in a China mug. Both coffee were excellent and at £4.90 were priced well for the serving.

We had a great experience at Rusty Shears and think you would too.  

Louise xxx

#EatBakeBlogGB 

The Fossgate Social (25 Fossgate York) Lives up to its name

Following a great weekend of racing at the fabulous York Racecourse and breaking even despite our best efforts, we wandered around York city seeking a independent eatery for our late luncheon.  Our wandering around was soon rewarded when we came across The Fossgate Social.

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The venue was buzzing, perfectly volume for a lazy Sunday.  Ts and the looming black clouds we avoided the rear terrace and headed upstairs to the first floor and secured a table for two.

David was quick to chose after  short discussion but sadly our neighbours broke the news the meatball sandwich was sold out – good going for 1:45pm  We were tempted by the Mountain Valley Brunches (see board above and I would ask for this you go) but after the weekend’s excesses we played it safe.  David ordered the Ham & Cheese Toasted Sandwich with full grain mustard served on Haxby Bakehouse with beetroot and juicy gherkin on the side.  I decided a Bacon Sarnie  with Tomato Relish was going to hit the spot.  I placed our order at the bar, the staff were instant to acknowledge me and let me know they’d be with me soon and they were.  They took the order and asked if we could wait 20 minutes for the order.  This to me is always a comforting sign, as any good food is always worth the wait.

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When our orders arrived on first look neither of us were disappointed, despite going for the less decadent options.  The bacon was thick and just salty enough and had been cooked well done, as requested.   The tomato relish was divine – as much as I love tomatoes I never have really enjoyed them in relish form until today.  My only mistake was not asking the sociable team where the relish came from or what it was made with.

Cost for 2 drinks (Fentimans Ginger beer and Magic Rock Grapefruit Highwire) and our snacks came to a reasonable £16.  I would comment Highwire is a premium craft beer and this pushed the price up, the food would have been about £11.00)

Fossgate Social is a fabulous independent cafe /bar and I am not concerned I did not ask about the relish as it just gives us another reason to return

 

The Cow Shed (Northgate, Wakefield); meat me elsewhere

Our greeting upon arrival on a snowy Wednesday night in February was not the best.  I can only assume the waiter had just had some bad news.  The word “disengaged” is the best way of describing his demeanor.

We were shown to the seating  area on the first floor, as the table before us was running behind and about 15 minutes later we were at our table.  We ordered a glass of red (£6.25) and a bottle of Speckled Hen (£4.00)  which were served without so much a word, or a smile – I hoped this was not an omen of things to come.

The atmosphere was lacking on this snowy Thursday night especially after the early bird diners had gone us a’la carte diners were left quite alone.  The barn upstairs looks lovely on first impressions, but it needs a bit of TLC on the decor and a full rather draft cracks sealing up.

The starters we chose were Duck and Port Parfait with ginger marmalade and toasted ciabatta (£6.95) – the parfait was overpowered by the jam it was too sweet and sticky for this delicate and smooth parfait.    David ordered the Brie (£5.95) it was deep-fried, the story ends there, it was unmemorable which is a travesty for any piece of cheese.

The owners of the restaurant talk about local produce, however there is no reference to the provenance of the produce which is infuriating when we have some many great butchers and farms to be proud of within  a short distance.  Surely, you would be proud and publish your partnerships?

The fillet I had ordered (medium to rare) had good flavour, but this was undone as it had been overcooked.   As someone who cook’s a fillet or rump steak nearly every Saturday night I would say this had come straight off the grill without being rested; the meat was dry with no juice.  The Rib Eye with Blue Cheese again was flavoursome but too dry .  The side of peppercorn sauce (£1.55) which was so so.

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When I dine out I want to be wowed.  I expect a professional chef to be able to cook a steak to order and to know to let it rest.  It might have been the end of a busy service but there was no pressure from the dining room as it was now quiet so no excuses.

Total bill was £70.65 excluding service.

What is interesting is this restaurant continues to be a success in Wakefield where others have failed.  All I can think is that the good people of Wakefield have not had a great steak cooked to perfection.    For now we will continue to either eat steak at home or dine at Goucho in Leeds.

Pieminister (Duncan Street, Leeds) It gets my vote

We jumped in here on the first chilly night of Autumn as who would recommend a good hot pie to warm you through?

We were quickly seated with a drinks order taken. Yorkshire Gold Ale (Leeds Brewery plus a few other local ales) with a  water for me.

There was a good choice of pies and sides and we ordered the Kate and Sydney with Minted Mushy Peas and Moo Pie with Mash and chose some Onion Rings for a nibble.

It was a busy night and there was a nice buzz about the place shame the temperate was so cool!  We asked the staff to turn off the air con which was pumping out chilled air (not what you’d expect in October) as between this and the slow shutting entrance door it was blooming freezing (the air-con remained on which was disappointing).

The drinks arrived soon followed by the onion rings which were huge (sorry there are no photographs), hot and crispy and a very naughty and welcome nibble before the main event.

Thankfully the hot pies arrived not long after and on first impressions it was looking good. Both pies were encased in a golden pastry, so many places offer pies in dishes with lids – in my opinion that is not real pie –  it’s a casserole with a lid.

My Moo Pie (Steak and Ale) was tasty; with crispy pastry, rich gravy, tender meat but wait for it, there was an interloper!  Lots of diced carrots which were not welcome! Why, oh why, do restaurants add in ingredients that is not listed on a menu!   If I wanted Meat and Vegetable Pie I would have ordered that. A meat pie is allowed onions to give it flavour. Don’t get me wrong I am not anti-carrots but come on don’t put fillers in to keep your costs down and not list it! We liked that the gravy was served in a jug i don’t like to add mine all at once; as I like my pastry to stay as crisp as possible before being devoured.

The Kate and Sydney Pie was similar but the balance between the steak and kidney was 90% steak (something I would not complain about, not being a lover of kidney) but David was disappointed, however this was without carrots – he was the winner in my option.

Atmosphere at the venue was good but a cool temperature and with the urban décor (cheapskates) and it made it colder on this Winter night.   This diner-esque pie emporium is in a great location, close to Brew Dog (who sell their Pies to order).

The staff seemed happy in the jobs and were bright and breezy although slightly dippy with it – I could not imagine them handling a large party or customer rebellion.

Overall a 3 out of 5; it gets my vote based on the price (£22.60) versus quality we would return for a quick tea but ensure we are not sat by the door. I don’t think the Pieminister is pretending to anything it isn’t which I recommend it for.