Archive for the ‘British Food’ Category

Discover: Best Restaurants in Chester

Saturday, August 29th, 2015
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If you’re visiting the beautiful Roman city of Chester then you’re in for a treat as it’s home to some of the best restaurants around; there’s an abundance of independent eateries, quirky coffee shops and delicious delis for you to explore. The blog-writing team here at Sykes Cottages are big fans of eating out and need no excuse to peruse a menu, so take advantage of our expertise and discover some of the best places to eat in Chester, as voted for by locals.

Best for… a romantic meal

A firm favourite with us, La Fattoria on Lower Bridge Street is the place to go in Chester for an authentic Italian experience. Everything is freshly made and the pizzas (which we thoroughly recommend) are cooked in a proper pizza oven. La Fattoria has a welcoming, lively atmosphere and the food is mouth-wateringly good. If you’re looking for somewhere a little more intimate, try Sticky Walnut which is tucked away in the Chester suburb of Hoole and is another great option. This award-winning bistro has a strong reputation and offers ambitious, imaginative and downright delicious dishes.

Best if… you’re on a budget

Siam Thai on City Road is a delightful Thai restaurant in a lovely setting overlooking the canal. If you’re on a budget, you need to try their Early Sitting Menu, which offers tasty, traditional Thai food at excellent value. Eat from 5pm-6.45pm on weekdays, or 3.30pm-6.30pm on weekends and you can enjoy two courses for just £12.50 per person. Unlike many early bird menus, Siam Thai also offers plenty of choice with a wide range of dishes available including curries, Pad Thai and stir fried meals.

Best for… celebrations

If you want to book somewhere special for a celebration, American BBQ restaurant, Hickory’s is a fantastic choice. In an idyllic location on the banks of the River Dee, Hickory’s offers a mouthwatering menu full of slow-cooked ribs, burgers, steaks and skewers and you’ll also get free popcorn on your table- you’ll need to bring your appetite for this one! The drinks menu is another highlight with a wide range of cocktails, milkshakes and sodas; try the Cherry Cream Soda for a real treat!

Best for… families

For something a little different that the kids are bound to love, head to Hanky Panky on Commonhall Street. This specialist pancake café offers an impressive choice of both sweet and savoury pancakes with example menu items including Fisherman’s Friend (smoked salmon, crème fraiche with rocket, topped with chives) and The Sticky Toffee (sticky toffee fudge ice cream topped with whipped cream and caramel sauce).

Best for… lunch

There’s no shortage of fantastic cafes, pubs and delis around Chester which serve fabulous lunch options. If you want a recommendation however, we suggest you take a look at Watergate Deli on the lower Rows of Watergate Street. Watergate Deli is a charming and characterful, family-run coffee shop and deli which serves delicious home-made cakes, sandwiches, salads, pies and soups, all made using locally sourced produce.

If you’re planning a trip to Chester then don’t forget to take a look at our fabulous holiday cottages in Chester; we have some great properties in the area for you to choose from! If you do indulge in a meal out while you’re here, let us know what you thought on Twitter or Facebook.

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Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Five Traditional Foods You Must Eat In Wales

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015
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With half of the country backing onto the coast and the other half full of beautiful countryside, it’s no wonder Wales produces some of the UK’s best produce. But along with its fantastic produce, Wales is also home to a number of fantastic traditional recipes. On today’s blog we’ve decided to celebrate Welsh food by listing several traditional foods you must try on your next visit to Wales!

Welsh Rarebit

What it is: Welsh rarebit is often compared to cheese on toast but it’s so much more than that! A true comfort food Welsh rarebit combines cheese, mustard, beer and flour to make a tasty topping for thick-cut, rustic Welsh bread. Easy to make and easily found in many Welsh eateries, this dish is a must for anyone looking for a hearty Welsh breakfast.
Where to find it: Caffi Florence in Loggerheads Country Park serves a fantastic Welsh rarebit with home cooked ham for just £6.95. Perfect for a late breakfast or brunch, this Welsh rarebit is a real treat for anyone in the area.
Make it yourself: Visit BBC Food for a fantastic Welsh rarebit recipe that serves four people and takes less than 30 minutes to make.

Welshcakes

What it is: Welshcakes are delicate little cakes which can be eaten at any time of day. Traditionally cooked over a bakestone, they are now more commonly cooked on a griddle for just two to three minutes each side. Welshcakes are filled with dried fruit and a mixture of spices which normally include nutmeg, sugar and ginger.
Where to find it: Cwmni Cacen Gri in Betws y Coed is famous for its traditional Welshcakes served fresh from the griddle. We would highly suggest stopping by and treating yourself to a hot Welshcake and tasty traditional Welsh tea.
Make it yourself: Good Food have put together this tasty recipe for Welshcakes which is sure to impress your friends and family. The recipe makes 16 Welsh cakes and takes around 20 minutes from start to finish.

Cawl

What it is: Cawl is a traditional Welsh stew made with lamb, leeks and root vegetables, usually potatoes, carrots and swede. Each region in Wales has its own take on cawl so although the core ingredients stay the same, you should see the addition of other seasonal veg and possibly even bacon as you travel around the country.
Where to find it: The Plash Inn in Whitland is part of Discover Carmarthenshire’s Cawl Crawl and serves up a truly tasty cawl full of flavour!
Make it yourself: This fantastic recipe from Loved Earthy Locally is sure to warm you up on a cold day. Packed full of goodness this recipe will serve six people and takes around three hours to cook.

Bara Brith

What it is: Translated, bara brith means ‘speckled bread’ although the issue of whether bara brith is a bread or a cake is wildly debated across Wales. As bara brith is traditionally made with yeast, packed full of dried fruit and spice, and served with salted Welsh Butter, we’re going to say it’s most definitely a bread!
Where to find it: Treat yourself to a Welsh afternoon tea at Caffi Gwynant and along with an array of other delicious treats, you’ll also receive a slice of their mouth-watering bara brith with Welsh butter.
Make it yourself: For a tasty bara brith loaf that will cut into 10 slices, we would suggest this recipe from Good Food. Ready in just one hour and 40 minutes, this bara brith is best served with traditional Welsh salted butter.

Glamorgan Sausage

What it is: A favourite amongst vegetarians, Glamorgan sausage is a cheese and leek mixture coated in breadcrumbs. Traditionally made with Caerphilly cheese, Glamorgan sausages can actually be made with any crumbly white cheese and are fantastic when served with pickle.
Where to find it: The Hayloft Restaurant at the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre serves a fantastic Glamorgan sausage as part of their lunch time menu. Stuffed with wholegrain mustard and Aberwen cheese, the sausages are a favourite for many customers.
Make it yourself: The Guardian have put together a fantastic recipe for homemade Glamorgan sausages. This recipe will make six and should be ready in about 45 minutes.

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nicole.westley

By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.

Alternative Dining Experiences

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015
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The UK is known for its fantastic selection of restaurants, from The Fat Duck in Berkshire to 34 The Kitchen in Edinburgh, we are not short of wonderful dining experiences, but what if we fancy something new, something a bit different? If you’re looking for an alternative dining experience, one that will really impress your friends and family, then keep reading as we suggest three odd yet wonderful restaurants to discover this year.

Dans le Noir, London

Dans le Noir

Image from Dans Le Noir

A truly unique dining experience has come to London, one that sees guests embark on a sensory journey as they are guided to their table and served by blind people whilst in complete darkness. The idea behind Dans Le Noir is that when you dull the dominant sense of sight, your other senses become heightened allowing you to taste and smell food like never before. Not only does the darkness enhance your senses but it is also said to kill shyness, making even the quietest guest come out of their shell. The restaurant chefs cook surprise meals every evening and a lunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Guests have the choice between four different menus including a fish and seafood option and a vegetarian option.

Price: Two course meal from £44, three course meal from £52. Drinks not included.

Contact: london.danslenoir.com; dir-uk@danslenoir.com; 02072 531100

The Bridge Inn at Ratho, Midlothian

The Bridge Inn restaurant barge has been a regular site along the Union Canal for the past 30 years, offering guests a unique dining experience as they gently tour the canal. Whilst on their cruise, guests can indulge in a three course meal, specially prepared by a team of professional chefs. The barge can also be rented out for private functions for up to 36 people at a time, making this the perfect spot for a special birthday celebration or wedding anniversary. Cruises are run most weekends but please check with The Bridge Inn before arriving whether they are offering an evening or lunch cruise on the day you plan to visit. If there are no cruises running that day then don’t fret as The Bridge Inn restaurant opens daily and offers a fantastic menu.

Price: Lunch from £29.95 (£18.95 for under 12’s), dinner from £34.95. Drinks not included.

Contact: www.bridgeinn.com/boats; Bookings@bridgeinn.com; 01313 331320

Dungeons after Dark, Warwick Castle

Travel back though time with Dungeons After Dark at Warwick Castle, where guests can experience a truly unique tour of the Warwick Castle dungeons, meet some of the castle’s more horrifying residents and enjoy a tasty three course banquet. An evening in the dungeons is sure to impress your friends and family, with the frightful entertainment and themed menu sure to see you coming back for more. For guests with a nervous disposition, Warwick Castle offer an array of other themed evenings including The Highwayman’s Supper, The Kingmaker’s Medieval Banquet, and a Dine Through Time Banquet. Please be aware that themed evenings at Warwick Castle are for over 18’s only.

Price: From £60.00 per person, cash bar available on arrival.

Contact: www.warwick-castle.comcustomer.information@warwick-castle.com; 01926 406660

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nicole.westley

By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.

Britain’s Best Eco-Friendly Restaurants

Monday, June 22nd, 2015
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We all like to do our bit to help the environment- whether it’s recycling, using energy-efficient appliances or buying organic food to cook at home- but have you ever wondered about how you can be more eco-friendly when you’re eating out? Here in the UK, we have a large number of fantastic eco-friendly restaurants; we’ve done some research and come up with our favourite eco-friendly restaurants in the UK, for the next time you want to enjoy a meal out, safe in the knowledge that the food you’re eating is as environmentally friendly as possible.

Blas Burgerworks, St Ives, Cornwall

As someone who will always choose the burger on the menu, Blas Burgerworks is right up my street. This restaurant prides itself on being eco-friendly and still providing delicious food. All of their furniture is made from reclaimed timber or sustainable sources, they use 100% green electricity, recycle as much as they possibly can and use recycled boxes and napkins in the restaurant itself. Their burgers are made using Cornish meat which is free range, and their other produce is fresh and locally sourced where possible. Described on Trip Advisor as “a real hidden gem”, you don’t want to miss it!

Contact info: 01736 797272; www.blasburgerworks.co.uk

ODE dining, Shaldon, Devon

If you’re looking for a dining experience with ethics, ODE dining is ideal. ODE dining provide high quality regional food, with their seasonal menu currently offering dishes such as ‘Torched Lyme bay mackeral’ and ‘Duckaller farm pork fillet’. They have a strong sustainability policy supporting local farms that have high standards of animal welfare; they will never use factory-farmed fish or poultry in their menu, or use GMO products. However it’s not just the food that’s eco-friendly, the kitchen uses low energy equipment, organic napkins and soya candles.

Contact info: 01626 873977; www.odetruefood.com/ode-dining

Bordeaux Quay, Bristol, Somerset

This sophisticated converted warehouse on Bristol’s beautiful waterfront is one of the UK’s most acclaimed sustainable restaurants. In 2011, it was recognised as a Three Star Sustainability Champion by the Sustainable Restaurant Association- the highest possible national award for general sustainability. Bordeaux Quay have a broad recycling and composting system, use sustainably sourced resources and also boast their own rainwater harvesting system. With the Restaurant, the Brasserie and even a Cooking School to choose from, Bordeaux Quay is the perfect place to head to whatever the occasion.

Contact info:  0117 943 1200; www.bordeaux-quay.co.uk

The Traddock, Austwick, Yorkshire

This family-run restaurant near Settle has two AA Rosette chefs, who make some of the finest food around using Yorkshire Dales produce, usually from within a 50 mile radius of the restaurant. The Traddock uses organic, seasonal produce where possible and is totally upfront about where it gets its ingredients, with a whole page on their website dedicated to their food provenance. The menu itself is enough to make anyone’s mouth water, featuring the likes of ‘Roast rack of Mansergh Hall lamb’, ‘Yorkshire smoked rainbow trout’ and ‘Traddock summer pudding’.

Contact info: 01524 251224; www.thetraddock.co.uk/restaurant-menus

If you do get the chance to visit any of these fantastic restaurants then do let us know what you think! You can do so via our Facebook or Twitter pages. If you’re planning an eco-friendly holiday then you can check out our eco-friendly holiday cottages on our website.

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Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Sykes’ Guide to a Family Barbecue

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015
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Well summer is finally just around the corner! We were lucky enough to have a bit of good weather over the bank holiday and for me, it seemed to signal one thing – the start of the Barbecue season! Now you can’t beat a proper barbie in the back garden; good food, good company and a little bit of sunshine, it’s quite the mix! So we’ve come up with some handy hints and tips for the next time you have all the family round, take a look and see what you think!

Getting Prepped

Now you don’t need me to tell you that the most important part of any barbecue is the food, but with the right preparation it can reach a whole new level. First things first, make sure that any frozen meats that you’re thinking of using are fully defrosted before you put them on the barbie – you’d be surprised at how many people think they can defrost their food and cook it at the same time!

Next we’ve got marinades. These are really important for meats like chicken or fish that have a tendency to dry out when being barbecued, as they’ll keep them nice and juicy whilst giving an extra bit of flavour. You can either buy your marinades pre-made at the supermarket, or there are plenty of recipes available online if you fancy making them yourself.

Fire up the Barbie

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Why not fire up the Barbie in a Sykes holiday cottage?

Then we’ve got the actual cooking. One of the most common mistakes made when barbecuing food is throwing the food on before the barbie is ready for it. Make sure that you light it up well in advance so that there is plenty of time for it to reach the necessary temperature – normally a barbecue isn’t ready until the coals have stopped smoking and are covered in a fine layer of white ash. You can also throw a couple of sprigs of rosemary onto the coals at this point to add an extra layer of flavour!

You should also make sure that the grill is properly oiled before you start to put the food on, after all, you don’t want it sticking to the barbecue! If you want to get that lovely, crispy and caramelised finish, make sure that you hold back from poking and prodding the food too much. You should only flip the food a couple of times as doing it any more will encourage the juices to escape and the meat to dry out.

Time to Tuck in!

Then it’s time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour! If you’re serving up burgers, make sure that you put out a variety of buns, relishes and toppings so that everybody can customise theirs to their heart’s content! If you want to save yourself a bit of effort down the line, you could always give everyone paper plates and cut down on the washing up that needs to be done at the end of the evening!

So there you go, some hints and tips from the Sykes team on hosting the perfect family BBQ! Hopefully we’ll have another cracking summer this year and we’ll be able to get out and enjoy some proper al fresco dining. But if you really want to make the most of the summer have a look here and find yourself a holiday cottage complete with a stunning garden where you can rustle up a feast for the family!

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Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.