With the English invasion by Scottish MPs now complete, haggis is well and truly back on the menu. Many a person recoils at the word 'haggis' much like Davy Cameron recoils when the name Nicola is mentioned....however there is much myth and misinformation about this famous Scottish dish.
FoodGoblin reviews Sixtyone Restaurant, a swanky restaurant new Marble Arch, London, now doing an unlimited Prosecco Sunday brunch!.
In a city that welcomed 17.4 million tourists to it in 2014, surprisingly I often find myself in need of an escape. I love London, I truly do, but it’s easy to become overly ‘London-centric’ and to forget the delights that our other cities can offer, a mere few hours jaunt away. Besides...absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that – and so it was with great excitement on one sunny Saturday that I hopped on my Virgin East Coast train. My mini-break destination? Newcastle!
The last time I stepped foot into Leeds’ iconic town hall, I was 18 and about to sit on the lofty pews at the back of the main hall for school speech day. I managed not to fall over whilst collecting my “I made it through school" certificate and mimed my way through the Latin school song. Needless to say, I made my parents proud.
In March I descended upon the Town Hall again for Leeds’s Cocktails in the City event. I arrived speculating on how many drinks would be served in a vessel other than a glass (i.e jam jar, ridiculous wellington boot, bird’s skull), I was delighted to find out the answer was surprisingly few. Win number 1.
Coffee has always been a staple for me. In the morning, after dinner, in the afternoon….come to think of it I drink it all day, every day. Yet as a food item it’s not something I’ve delved into, which, I suppose, is shocking for something that contributes so fully to my daily intake. Whilst I’ve avoided the high street chains, I’ve accepted the coffee I’ve received, I’ve drunk instant and never asked for more. A visit to Pact Coffee in Bermondsey has changed all that.
Too often I proclaim the need to get out of Leeds and have a weekend in the countryside. Every week my ambition to hop even half an hour away soon crumbles as I find myself nursing a bottle of red most Friday nights and handling the obligatory headache on a Saturday morning. By the time I come to, I’ve made the executive decision that it’s too late to venture to the North Yorkshire countryside and in any event – I want my bed and a takeaway.
However last weekend I sacrificed the post work drinks and had an early night and very early Saturday morning. The weather was beautiful and I planned to head up to Ripon to come check out Lockwoods restaurant. Whizzing up late afternoon in the blazing sun I felt almost ashamed that with such a place of natural beauty and fascinating history sitting on my doorstep (40 minute drive from my house), I had not visited since I was a young child. It’s strange what you take for granted. I would regularly travel 40 minutes on the tube to meet a friend for lunch in London, yet haven’t slung my arse out of bed to visit what must be one of the most picturesque places in the country.
Our day started with a toddle around Ripon Cathedral. As we walked into this magnificent building, a full orchestra was rehearsing, making a visit round this awe-inspiring structure feel incredibly profound. I felt like I was Harry Potter scuttling down the corridors of Hogwarts. Post culture and classical musical experience we walked toward the river over a small footbridge to the Water Rat pub. This sits right on the river from which the shallow water trickles by and families of ducks with ducklings swim past in line formations. Pint in hand this Leeds lass felt more in touch with nature that she had in a long time. We sat there whilst the evening sun went down and headed on up for dinner.
Past the main square, which is adorned by a huge obelisk, on the roadside sits Lockwoods; a small quaint family owned restaurant with a glorious glass ceiling which provides a bright and almost Scandinavian Summer feel to this cosy joint. We were shown to our table by a lovely waitress who took our coats on arrival and showed us to our table where we could just about see the fading light from the sun.
We started off with two cocktails whilst perusing the Menu, a rhubarb gin and tonic and a Mojito. Both were refreshing and went down a treat, the Rhubabarb G+T especially if you like your drinks dry and tart. A word of warning, these may be quite strong as I soon proceeded to set my menu on fire with the table's candle! However the waitress assured me that it has happened before (probably not but it served to diminish my cretinous feelings).
As we cast our eye over the menu and blackboarded specials Matthew engaged us with some of Ripon’s history - every night at 9pm a the city’s Hornblower walks the four corners of the square blowing his horn at each corner to let the town know that the ‘watch’ was ‘set’ and the community could go to sleep assured that the town was safe. The hornblower must then duly notify the Mayor. This is a tradition from the year 886 when Alfred the Great visited the town. So taken with it he granted it the Royal Charter and gave the city a horn which is still on display in the Town Hall. This quaint tradition that is carried on today can still be seen and heard every evening at 9pm.
He then told us about the menu explaining that local produce and freshness is key. The menu is seasonal and alters reflecting the changes in local produce hauled from farms nearby. I couldn’t wait to tuck in. Greedy little pigs we were, we had 3 starters. Firstly the squid and prawn tempura which came with an Asian style salad and sweet chilli dipping sauce. The batter was light and puffy like a cloud but the real winner was the sauce; the best sweet chilli sauce I’ve had since visiting Thailand.
Next came the smoked haddock scotch egg. I was somewhat dubious as to how fish could be robust enough to encase an egg for frying and expected it to arrive a crumbled mess. Scepticism and intrigue prompted my order. This was seriously good. It came served on mushy peas and a tomato based curry sauce. The egg inside was runny, oozing golden yolk into the sides. This is currently on the specials, however will be coming on the main menu permanently. A bloody good idea in my opinion.
Finally my date had the home-made black pudding with Wensleydale rarebit and apple and vanilla chutney; hearty; earthy and a credible starter.
Then for our mains – the restaurant is using a new supplier for it’s meat (Farmison & Co) and had decided to showcase some of the lesser known cuts and had these on the special steak menu. We went for the flat iron steak which came with a wonderfully peppery sauce and chunky chips. Not only was the steak full of flavour and possessing a wonderful texture, but it came in at a scant £10.95! I would challenge anyone to find such a bargain with no compromise on quality or flavour.
I had the herb-crusted hake with potato croquette almonds, cauliflower purée and spinach. The hake was crusted on top and well cooked.
Each course came with a glass of wine which complemented the flavours on our plates, some of which were quite unusual and from lesser known regions. It goes to show they know what they are doing with their wines too here and I would trust their recommendation when selecting a tipple.
To finish - CHOCOLATE! We ordered a chocolate pot to share as we were close to exploding at this point. It came with a raspberry mousse and shortbread. This was heavy and oh so delectable. The accompanying mousse was sweet, light and wonderful; blissful.
Lockwoods food is no-nonsense, great quality, and great portions. The courses are packed with flavour and wonderful seasonal ingredients. It’s menu is traditional yet manages to harness a contemporary twist on classic flavours and dishes. One to try if you’re ever in the area and even if you’re not make a day of it! Ripon’s history and local culture will ensure that you will come away like I did - full of new knowledge, well-rested and most importantly, well-stuffed.
Tel: 01765 607555
83 North Street Ripon
Written by Erin Goodall, FoodGoblin Northern Correspondent
You may be surprised to learn that at University my degree was nothing to do with food, nor even journalism. Indeed I spent a very happy four years studying Ancient Greek and Latin at the University of St Andrews. Now that my façade of ‘coolness’ has officially been burst, I’ll move to the point of this revelation. I recently got to make use of my degree in the context of FoodGoblin at an Ancient Greek cookery class held at The Real Greek restaurant in Soho by Tonia Buxton, Greek food TV presenter and author of ‘Eat Greek for a Week’. It also happened to be my birthday. You can imagine my excitement.
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