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Round up post – Baekdu and Felicini

28 May

Here’s some short round-ups from my recent wanderings…

First up is Baekdu. Perched on the edge of the Northern Quarter just near Shudehill bus station is an unassuming Korean restaurant. Head through the doorway and it gets even more unassuming; very little decor, plain black furniture and big windows on one side. Having said that, if you’re coming to a restaurant for the decor, you’ve missed the point.

So if you’re not here for the look you’ll need to know what the foods like. The news is it’s good stuff.

The potato pancake is awesome on many levels. ‘How many levels?’ Good question. I’d say three. Firstly, it’s visually appealing. The orange hue from this pancake is great to look and the colour comes from the addition of carrots but also indicative of the great flavour. The outside is crispy but with a starchy centre which makes this almost comfort food-esque in texture and taste. The third and final part which brings it up from comfort food to moreish dish is the addition of soy. When dipped, this becomes quite an addictive salty dish, despite how filling it can be.

Potato Pancake – Crisp coating and a starcy, salt-flavoured centre

The bibimbap is also worth noting. Anything that turns up sizzling in a dish and covered in chilli sauce clearly has my attention. Warm rice, vegetables, mushrooms, chili sauce and egg all combined to give a fresh tasting but filling dish.

I’d say we struggled to find anything on the menu that wasn’t vibrante, well seasoned and full of flavour. And remember, don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

Next up was Felicini in Didsbury (not on the same night as Baekdu). Now I’m aware that Felicini isn’t new and ‘hip’, but it does one thing right. It makes good quality Italian food. So many places can get Italian dishes wrong, so you need a good staple for Italian food. This post however is about one dish. The Chocolate Brownie and Pistachio Sundae

This is the Sundae. By the way, that’s the Double Deep New York Cheesecake in the background. Also awesome.

It is every bit as deliciously decadent as it looks. Chewy, chunky fondant brownies with crushed pistachio over pistachio ice cream. Every bit was sweet, slippery goodness and perfectly balanced with the sugar content too.

Incase you were worried that you may have to get to the end of this dessert and look down at your plate with longing then fear not. This thing is massive. For the first time in my life I had to give up on it. Dessert 1 Me 0.

Sometimes a restaurant has one dish that is worth going back for, almost regardless of the rest of the menu. This is one of those dishes.

Check out the menu www.felicini.co.uk

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Salt Yard (Central London)

20 Mar

Not far from Euston station, which is of course the key navigation point in London for anyone coming from Manchester, there’s a place called Goodge Street. On this street there is a dimly lit place called Salt Yard. And in this ‘Salt Yard’ there lurks an unassuming dish called ‘Truffled Macaroni Cheese. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Salt Yard has been serving tapas with an Italian and Spanish feel for years. It is a highly regarded, award wining restaurant given praise in the press and through general reviews. The atmosphere is intimate, the decor is modern but luxurious and the menu looks exciting. All of which makes the experience a little more enticing, but ultimately it all comes down to the food. We took a range of dishes here but the key one which stuck with me was the Truffled Macaroni Cheese. So without any further ado, here it is:

A cheesy thing of beauty

Now let’s not be too hasty to move on. Let’s soak up the image here for a moment and contemplate this dish. The crisp, baked topping gave a parmesan flavour with a satisfying crunch. You can see at the edges of the dish, how creamy the cheese was and the rich consistency was matched by its flavour. The buttery cheese flavours were at no point overpowering as they were perfectly complemented by the spices in the mix. The overall effect was a silky, slightly sweet cheese cream. The macaroni was cooked just to the point it became soft so as to keep its hearty pasta ‘chomp’ without becoming soggy in the cheese. But there in the middle is the crowning glory of the dish. Its shaved truffle turned this great macaroni cheese into a masterpiece of flavoursome, luxurious delight.

I honestly can’t oversell this dish enough. To the point where writing about any of the other excellent dishes would just be redundant, because this dish alone should be enough to make you throw on your best eating trousers and make travel plans to get to this stuff immediately. For those who enjoy a little more salacious food photography however, here’s the highlight reel.

Venison carpaccio, Lardo, Dandelion, Marcona Almonds and Qince vinegarette

Cripsy Soft Shell Crab, Fennel Salad and Piquillo Aioli

Grilled Underblade Fillet of Beef, Artichokes, Black Olive and Piquillo Salsa

Need I say more. At between £6 – £8 a dish, it’s not that shocking that you’ll need to book ahead. I’m booking train tickets to London as we speak.
Salt Yard on Urbanspoon

Why I Fell in Love with Goat’s cheese

20 Feb

My god, I bloody love cheese. For Christmas my lovely girlfriend bought me a box of Pong cheeses. The fact that I’ve eaten a third of a wheel of Stinking Bishop despite the fact that I don’t really like the smell, is firm testament to my unwavering affection for what is essentially gone-off milk.

And it goes with so many things as well. In Hong Kong recently, I had a cuttlefish ball filled with American cheese and by Jove the flavour worked! My favourite cheese based fusion however is the Goat’s cheese salad at Croma. Now before I fall into the cliché of verbally drooling over the object of my affections, I want to set the scene.

Place yourself in a restaurant. It’s warm and the night outside is bitingly cold. The place is busy and the air is filled with conversation and laughter from other tables, but the most prominenty thing in your mind is your hungry. And what a hunger it is. Starving, famished, ravenous. You scan the menu looking for something to fill this hole and it needs to be rich and satisfying. Then as your eyes flit down the page, they fall upon this:

The main event - Goat's cheese salad

Goat’s cheese baked on olive bread, served with mixed salad leaves, olives, roasted pine kernels and sun-blushed tomatoes, with a tomato and balsamic vinaigrette

It’s a genious dish. Creamy and partially crumbly goat’s cheese is excellently set off by the tomato and balsamic vinegarette. For the texture to match that soft cheese the olive bread is lightly toated and the crisp salad keeps it fresh. Its a dish that sticks in your mind not just because it tastes great, but because you don’t expect it to taste as great as it does.

But of course, man cannot live on goat’s cheese salad alone, so while we were here we thought we’d give the drinks menu a go. First upwas the Espresso Martini. Coffee infused martini with a vanilla vodka. In terms of the impact on your faculties, two or three of these may have the same impact as a Vodka Red Bull with its caffine-alcohol mismatched attack on the brain. The taste however is worlds apart and is a much more sophisticated, as you would expect.

Espresso martini for those who need a little caffine in their alcohol

The classic Margherita is well delivered here to. Sweetened lime and tequila with that salt encrusted glass. The only mistake I saw here was serving it in a martini glass.

Croma is a personal favourite of mine for all its menu fare, so I’ve held myself back from going on about everything on the menu. It does what places like Pizza Express fail to do; give that Italian pizzeria experience with great food and a simplified menu. Give it a go, and definately try the goat’s cheese.

Croma Chorlton on Urbanspoon