Partick Duck Club #cravingduckeggblue

The History of the Duck Club:

in a large building with a smoking chimney located near the original transport museum site, was a tavern known as the “bun and yill house” or bunhouse (yill is an old scots word for ale) in 1827. it stood on old dumbarton road on the approach to the river kelvin. the bunhouse was the favourite tavern of a group of glasgow merchants, bankers and professors. they would walk out to partick from the city each saturday to dine on roasted duck, sage & onion and green peas, washed down with locally-brewed ale. the ducks were abundant and healthy from feeding at all the local grain mills on the banks of the river kelvin.

their favourite dish gave the name to the drinking and social club they formed in 1810, the duck club of partick. their president’s fondness for the fowl gave rise to the verse:

“the ducks of partick quake with fear, crying lord preserve us, here’s mcTear”.

All Day Breakfast Menu / Lunch & Dinner All Day Menu

Score: 19/20

Why: although I haven’t yet had the opportunity to visit for dinner I’m confident PDC is worthy of 19/20 across all meal times; their stellar service, food, atmosphere and coffees at brunch time are too good not to be mirrored across the board. The owners are friendly and heavily invested in their business being a success, so how can it not be when their commitment to ensuring every customer’s experience is excellent is paramount?

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You’ve got to be quacking mad if Partick Duck Club isn’t in your top places of ‘must go NOW’ brunch spots in Glasgow! I’ve seen numerous photos all across Instagram and beyond for the last few months, which has had me eager as a beaver to plan a mate date brunch here. They do brunch all day, every day – does this not make all your dreams come true?! This weekend, my fervent anticipation has finally culminated in the BEST brunch, featuring Orkney crab. Now anything with shellfish generally means I’ll love it, but PDC truly has taken the wonderful and delicate flavour of tantalising Scottish crab and transcended it beyond any normal expectations with crème fraiche, avocado, sourdough toast, a poached duck egg and a smattering of choice garnishes.  However, I’m getting ahead of myself as I didn’t just dive head first into a plate of crab on toast upon entering (even though this sounds like the aforementioned dream plus infinity when it comes to dreaminess).

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The mirrored wall inside, viewed as you enter, gives the impression that the place is bigger than it actually is. I can’t decide if it’s a shame it isn’t bigger than originally expected, as more people should be able to experience the wonder of their fare, or a good thing, as the smaller size means it maintains a sense of intimacy. The mirror serves a dual purpose of reflecting the natural light and the subtle tones of blue allude to the duck egg colour theme that comes through throughout the restaurant, which I’m assuming is the intention. The booths are leather and blue tartan and the empty glass bottles lined up along the window sill are a noticeable feature. My friend and I were seated at one of the tables for two along the mirrored wall. I love the burnished brass effect salt and pepper grinders and the duck decorated china sugar bowl; all little touches that bring a smile to your face before you’ve even sampled the food!

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My friend, being slightly hungover, decided she was having the Eggs Benedict and a portion of the salted duck fat chips (have you ever heard of a better idea… chips WITH your Benedict?!), and I ordered the hummus, pine nuts, tomato, sourdough from the Nibbles Menu and Potted Orkney Crab with crème fraiche, apple and radish starter, which isn’t on their online menu but you can see a photo of it on their Instagram: @partickduckclub.  The staff were attentive, friendly and polite – and not even a grumble from them when Ms Fussy Pants here decided she wanted to change her original order… I’d seen the crab on toast waltz by and decided I wanted that A LOT more than the potted crab, ha! So they allowed me to swap the potted crab starter for the Orkney crab on sourdough brunch option I mentioned above. My friend ordered an orange juice as well, which only came in a small glass, so she probably could have been doing with a bit more… I can chug a whole carton when hungover, but she remained ladylike and proper; sipping only a little at a time (she’s a better woman than I – I clearly lack self-control around fresh orange after a night out).

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Our food arrived in a decent time, and it was a delight for the eyes! The garnishes they use to decorate the food and the plates are used smartly; they lift the dishes from simply pleasant to engaging, colourful and eye-catching. It’s been proven we eat with our eyes first, and taste buds later, hence why the Instagram culture is so embedded in our food pleasures nowadays, thus PDC have ensured they deliver on this extremely important factor first to grab your attention. I love the light blue colour of the plates, as the contrast of the food on them looks fantastic.

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My combination of flavours was fresh, zingy, spicy with the hint of chilli and creamy from the avocado. It’s the best brunch meal I’ve had in a long time! I can’t recommend highly enough, and the hummus was edging close to being as tasty as Paradise hummus (I measure all hummus against Paradise hummus, as it’s the best in the city – in my opinion). Having the hummus was probably a bit much, but it would have been a nice extra if I’d stuck with the lighter option starter. The micro herbs, finely diced tomato and pine nuts were a welcome textural addition. Christine, my friend, thoroughly enjoyed her Eggs Benedict, and proceeded to dip some of her chips into the hollandaise sauce. Some of the best ideas are born from hangovers, I’m sure of it! I helped finish her chips, because that’s what friends are for after all, and I can confirm they were scrumptious.

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I finished off with a coffee, decorated with a pretty fern – well done coffee maker! And the total bill came to around £36 for everything, which I felt was pretty reasonable considering the portion sizes and the quality of ingredients.

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Further dishes from my visit with Jonathan in August 2018:

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duck leg & nduja hash, fried duck egg, sour cream, sourdough

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mushroom duxelle, portobello mushroom, goats cheese cream on sourdough

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potted orkney crab – crème fraiche, chilli, lime & apple, sourdough crisp

Links below to the menus:

Lunch and Dinner Menu

All Day Brunch Menu

 

Singl-end Cafe & Bakehouse, Merchant City #cravingtrunch

“Bohemian joint serving a wide array of creative dishes, home cooked baked beans and coffees.”

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The definition of bohemian means someone or something that is socially unconventional, or I suppose ‘hipster’ could be another descriptive word we could use for the sake of this discussion. Would you attribute this word to Singl-end? I suppose you could at first glance; with their artisan bread collection, gluten-free and vegan options, eclectic menu and high-waisted jean-clad staff. I’m smiling whilst writing this; as I’ve been Direct Messaging @foodnotes_gla on Instagram this morning talking about the occasional attempt we make to try to fit in with the other ‘real’ hipsters in these types of establishments and failing miserably… earning ourselves the self-proclaimed title of ‘fraudulent hipster’. But in actuality, what dictates whether you are or you aren’t? I find a compelling argument that hipster is becoming more mainstream, and thus doesn’t really deserve its bohemian connotations anymore. With the introduction of all the new trendy brunch spots – Pot Luck, Café Strange Brew, Patrick Duck Club and the likes, it’s becoming the norm rather than something on the periphery of convention.

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We visited the Merchant City branch again this morning, as the location of the Garnethill café has always put me off going for some reason. I think people always have personal preferences of what areas of town they like visiting (i.e. I love Merchant City and Finnieston, but I’m quite as keen on West End for example). This generally has nothing to do with the restaurants themselves, but moreso do to with accessibility for me – I find parking easy in Merchant City, and Finnieston is easy for me to get to coming from the North East of Glasgow. It’s these small things that impact the decisions we make, hence why I’m glad they opened the café on John Street.

31924632_10156492083108578_3019538338970337280_n.jpgPictured above: Meaty Baked Eggs

Their menu is slightly different than what is online (simply because I had Croque Monsieur – pictured below – on our first visit and you can’t see that option online), but the majority of dishes are the same. They also generally have a specials clipboard featuring their Daily Soup and Salad options, Main Dishes and special Omelette. Importantly… even at 10am they serve ALL menu options; even those under the ‘Lunch’ heading, or any of the ‘Main Dishes’ from the specials, which is ideal if you’re more of a ‘full meal’, rather than breakfast kinda person at McDonalds (who even likes the McMuffin’s anyway?!) If you like a myriad of flavours being offered as a supplementary taste sensation over and above your typically classic dishes, then this is a place for you (pictured below – Singl-end Eggs Florentine). I love when chefs take time to really enhance flavour in their dishes, as their passion really does end up on the plate, which inevitably is what draws in the droves of customers in their masses. The fresh baked goods and fresh bread on display as soon as you enter through their doors is a smart marketing ploy, but equally effective in encouraging people to wait for a table (as you can’t book).

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Service is typical of a generally busy café; they’re polite and efficient but often don’t have the luxury of spending too much time building rapport with tables, as otherwise service would suffer. Although I did have a nice conversation with a waitress upstairs today just before I left, which always personalises the experience and encourages you to return somewhere, in my opinion. Having been a waitress myself for a significant number of years, good customer service is one of those elements of eating out that really impresses me, but you also need to take all factors into consideration when reviewing it (i.e. how quiet/busy, informal/formal or staff levels), however regardless of all that – politeness and efficiency are admirable qualities to aspire to.

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Their seemingly hand crafted table tops with old letters and stamps preserved in time for you to peruse over your baked eggs is pleasing, fun and provides a great backdrop for any pictures. I also like their island and Scottish maps up on the walls upstairs, as quite ironically I noticed the Islay map whilst on the phone to a Water Operator on Islay dealing with critical water tank levels due to a Whisky festival going on this weekend (the joys of being on Operational Stand-By…). So I suppose with the funky interior décor, there is the opposing argument for hipster status once again. But dare I say it… they haven’t caught onto the paper straw movement yet (much to my fiancés delight), so maybe it’s time we all admitted that this is simply our current trend, or dare I say ‘fad’ indulgence, for brunch these days? And they needn’t be scared of dropping the ‘bohemian’ tagline in favour of advertising themselves as leading ‘trunch’ providers (that’s trendy brunch FYI), as if I learned anything at my last creative thinking seminar, it’s that a newly created word can draw a loyal audience that transcends even the quality of the item (e.g. Cronut). But I’ll leave you with that for now, as I never professed to be a marketing genius and they’ve pretty much got brunch on lockdown anyway, so that’s a wrap folks!

33576434_10156545699283578_6783485336010883072_nPictured above: Meaty Breakfast (with substitution of vegetarian haggis instead of black pudding)

Top Tip: visit the John Street (Merchant City) branch if you want somewhere handy for parking, and be prepared to wait for a table if you’re going at busy times!

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Salmon Stack

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Altamurra Toast with scrambled eggs & veggie haggis (amazing!)

Paesano, Miller Street #cravingthebestpizzaintown

“At Paesano Pizza we are the first to bring authentic, traditional Napoletana pizza to Glasgow. Cooked in Artisan built wood fired ovens from Naples, our Pizzaiolo take pride in adhering to the process in production of the dough and provenance of the produce to Verace pizza Napoletana standard. Our pizza is a hybrid yeast and sourdough proofed for over 48 hours. The long proofing time together with cooking at an intense heat of 500oC produces a moist, light, soft, digestible crust which is aromatic and delicious.”

Overall Rating: 10/10

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I’ll try to make this review as quick as Paesano makes their pizza’s (90 seconds apparently) – as truly delicious things can’t be described with justice through words and pictures – you just gotta try it for yourself! Pizza can elicit a sense of calm, serene happiness for me; biting into doughy crust with vibrant tomato sauce and delectable toppings is a hard combination to defeat in both culinary aspects or in general life. So when I found myself heading back home from walking the dog last night, thinking “what shall I have for dinner?”, Paesano was firmly always at the top of that list.

Firstly, for being such a damn tasty pizza, they’re so reasonably priced! When you compare the cost to that of its competitors (e.g. Toni’s Pizzeria Giffnock/Gibson St), it comes out triumphant both in affordability and flavour. The price ranges from £6 – 8 per pizza, with the option to add additional toppings if you want (either from the other pizzas or the Specials Board). Their menu has 9 options, with generally another 2 pizza options on their Specials Board, which can vary weekly.

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They don’t take bookings, which can deter some people (but clearly not a lot, as the entrance way is always rammed), but I would encourage you to drop in anyway as the waiting times are minimal due to the speedy pizza making time. You would struggle to be waiting more than 5-10 minutes, and don’t they say ‘anything worth having is worth the wait’? Trust me when I tell you – it is worth the wait!

I can only speak for the Miller Street restaurant (sorry Katie!) when I say that they have certainly got the ‘vibe’ of the restaurant right; long wooden benches with cutlery being supplied in recycled tomato tins, illuminating light from their proud ‘Paesano’ sign on the wall in addition to strategically placed lighting for excellent Instagramable pictures and a constant, excitable buzz about the place to generate anticipation for the mouth-watering pizza to come. If you’re popping in for a takeaway, you’re free to go to the front of the line at the right hand side, where a waiter/waitress should take your order (this will save you standing behind a long line of people who are looking to add their name to the waiting list to sit-in).

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I actively choose to eat the crust and leave the topping section when I find myself getting slightly full… which is slightly backwards when it comes to your typical pizza eater, but crust is the prime time real estate for me on Paesano pizzas. You parents tell you to eat the meat as that’s what costing the money? Not with Paesano’s! Eat the crust first… the flavour in it alone will have you returning time and time again (pictured below is a No. 5 with additional topping of red onion and No. 8 with additional topping of tomato sugo).

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The owners have hit the nail on the head when it comes to what the people of Glasgow are after, hence why Paesano’s is such a roaring success. And considering they ran both The Italian Caffe and The Italian Kitchen so well until they sold it (before opening Paesano’s), I’m not surprised! It provides tasty, delectable, reasonably priced pizza in a chic urban setting for all to enjoy. It was named No. 1 pizza restaurant in the UK by Stylist Magazine for a reason y’know. So let it make all your doughy/ cheesy dreams come true, and I’ll take a bet that everywhere else will pale in comparison forevermore!

Not sure I hit the 90 second brief, but what can I say … I’ve got a lot to say about pizza!!

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(pictured: No. 4 with additional topping of special meat – porchetta)

Top Tip: parking isn’t great on Miller Street, so I would park nearby or take public transport/walk where possible.

The Strathearn, Gleneagles Hotel #cravingperfection

“Representing Scotland at its best – its heritage, history and beauty – The Strathearn experience is like going to the theatre and being entertained. One of the last bastions of first-class Highland dining, The Strathearn’s traditional walnut gueridon trolleys, silver cloches and butler trays deliver the touch of a bygone era, while a setting of elegant grandeur reflects the essence of Gleneagles glamour.”

Overall Rating: 10/10

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I’ve got a confession – I adore Gleneagles. This makes it extremely easy for me to write a review or blog post on anything related to it, as it’s almost like reliving the great experience all over again, whilst trying to articulate the excellence of the experience in words that do it justice. I’ve posted the Trip Advisor review I wrote from my stay at Gleneagles for Jonathan’s birthday treat in April HERE, which focuses more on the hotel itself. I’m going to use this opportunity to discuss my experience of The Strathearn restaurant, as that’s where I decided to dine on my recent visit. The opportunity to stay this time around came as a joyous perk of having a mother who loves Gleneagles as much as I do; she was there to celebrate her friend’s 60th birthday with a table booking in Andrew Fairlie’s. I was tempted to try room service for the first time, but after reviewing the available menu items, I decided to venture out on the iconic allure of the cheese trolley.

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I wandered round from Braid House around 7.45pm and I was pleased to be seated in the conservatory area, beside the window, by the hostess Francesca. My table provided lovely lighting for a few photos as it was still light outside; and meant I had a view of the lawns out to the side of the hotel. The sommelier Elena-Diana offered me the drinks menu, which I declined as I do prefer to spend my calories on food rather than alcohol… depressing, but true. I also wasn’t feeling all that hungry, so I decided I would order 2 x starters followed by (duhhh) the cheese trolley, because, well… cheese. I always have room for cheese; it’s my chocolate dessert belly equivalent (i.e. people who say they can be full to the brim, but mention a chocolate dessert and suddenly they have room for it). Gleneagles offers 3 x courses for £65 in The Strathearn restaurant, but if you aren’t feeling up to 3 courses, you can choose from the same menu as if it were A La Carte.

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I knew I would be ordering the beetroot and goats cheese starter, as it had lingered on my taste buds since my visit in April. So my only real choice came down to whether I wanted Scottish Langoustine Bisque or Wild Mushroom and Fennel soup. I hadn’t noticed the soup on the menu the month previously and although not directly responsible for the food menu at all, I need to thank Elena-Diana for her recommendation to try the wild mushroom soup. Our logic was neither of us had tried it, but both loved mushroom and I’d had the langoustine bisque numerous times before. I’m extremely glad I took her advice, as the depth of flavour in my bowl was staggering. I didn’t get a particularly aesthetic photograph, which is maybe my failing as an experienced blogger but I’m blaming it on greed and anticipation; I didn’t relish pausing the waitress whilst she poured the warm soup over a nicely constructed pile of fennel and mushrooms in my bowl. It all tastes the same when it’s in your mouth anyway, so I didn’t feel so bad about not catching the little vegetable mountain in all its glory before it was swallowed up by fungus-decadence. So my personal thanks to Elena-Diana, and also the chefs for this wonderful new and delightful addition to the menu!

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Following my soup, I had the Heritage beetroot, goat’s cheese and baby leek salad with truffle honey and toasted seeds. I enjoyed it so much when I tried it on my last visit in April, I HAD to get it again. As I said to Elizabeth who was one of the waitresses attending to my table, I genuinely thought it was even better than last time (if that’s possible!). The earthy smell of the fresh beetroot is what assails your senses when the plate is placed in front of you, followed by the vibrant colours against the stark white of the dinner plate. The pickled radish provides a sharp contrast to the rich sweetness of the truffle honey and fresh beetroot. I thoroughly appreciated every mouthful of that salad; taking my time with it and revelling in how such few ingredients can be prepared and treated with such care and attention to gift diners with so many zeniths of sensory delight from one ‘simple’ dish. Another small touch, which really sets Gleneagles apart, was Elizabeth remembering me when I mentioned to her she had served me the month before. She even remembered what Jonathan, my fiance, had ordered! She must have an excellent memory, but it truly elicits the experience and feeling of exemplary service.

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To close, I had a final course, which I had been leading up to with fervour and anticipation… the cheese trolley. Cheese is included in the 3 x courses for £65 menu at no extra charge, but you can allow them to bring you a selection or you can ask for the trolley to pick yourself. Being a bit of a control freak in certain aspects (Jonathan would say many!) I prefer to pick my own. I also think having the opportunity to see the cheeses and ask questions about them are part of the experience; one which Christina helped grandly with. I’m a big fan of soft, strong cheeses and goat’s cheese (unless that wasn’t already obvious with how much I raved about the beetroot and goat’s cheese salad). So apologies in advance if you’re a hard cheese or blue fan, ‘cause I’ll be disappointing you miserably with my recommendations here! I chose 6 x cheeses from the trolley:

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You can see from above I’m clearly a French cheese fan, oui oui!

My favourite of the evening was the St Maure (11 o’clock position), but I cleared the plate so they were all delicious! Only disappointing element of the evening for me was that they didn’t have any of the charcoal crackers I like, which they usually do have available. I’m not an oatcakes with cheese lover so I asked for some more of the pumpkin seed bread rolls, which was no issue at all. This was also accompanied with truffle honey (again, I know… but it’ so yummy!), quince and chutney.

Whilst enjoying my cheese, I became acutely aware of the piano playing Clair Du Lune followed by Tale as Old as Time in the background and I just stopped for a moment to appreciate my surroundings and the ambiance created within The Strathearn. I left feeling well looked after, content and happy, and I really couldn’t have asked for much more than that having eaten alone. Thank you!

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Francesca greeted my Mum and I warmly again the next morning for breakfast and seated us at the same table I’d had the night before. Sunshine illuminated the room and the conservatory was heating up quite quickly due to the greenhouse effect. Thankfully there were a set of doors behind us that were opened up, providing some cool air and a welcome breeze. I won’t delve too much into the breakfast on this review (I’ve shared some photos on my Instagram), but let me know if you want to know more about it on another post!

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Service: 10/10

Food: 10/10

Ambiance: 10/10

Value: 8/10

Instagram: @laurenscravings

Cocktails & Steaks, Uddingston #cravingaroast

We had good intentions of going for breakfast this morning when Jonathan (my fiance) and I met up with our friends Simone & Jason. They’re getting married in July this year, and we got slightly distracted in wedding shenanigans (all will be revealed on 08/07/18), which meant that we didn’t leave to head upto Uddingston Main Street until midday. Cue us arriving at Angels Hotel to be told there were no tables, followed by Smiths which was fully booked as well meaning we ended our hunt for food in Cocktails and Steaks. It boasted a Sunday Roast, which we were all pretty keen on having (and although Simone is a fiend for a Toby Cavery, we were short on time, alas…).

The restaurant was empty when we arrived around 12.10pm, and it instantly reminded me of #porterandrye with its dark wood steakhouse vibes. The waitress asked if we had booked, which we hadn’t, and we got offered a seat by the window with lots of natural light, which I loved.

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The seating arrangement is booths on one side and slide in chairs on the other, which can be seen in the photos above. I found the chair comfortable and the specially branded placemats and crystal water glasses were a tasteful touch. However, although Simone and I are big fans of 90’s RnB (Pony by Ginuwine featured), I’m not so sure it’s exactly suited to the ambience the restaurant is trying to create, as it was being played just slightly too loud for Sunday lunchtime. They playlist creator does need to be commended for their taste; but I’d prefer to hear it in in the evening and preferably with a Mojito in hand.

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Now our food order ended up being something that rarely happens to me, moreso because I fundamentally don’t agree with everyone ordering the same thing regardless of whether you’re sharing or not (I like looking at other potenital dishes on offer even if I’m not eating them ok?! Call it future planning!) – but we all ordered the same 2 courses from the Sunday Menu for £17.95.

I’ve been trying to increase my protein intake recently, hence why I chose the ‘Josper grilled chicken with a chimichurri sauce’, rather than the baked camembert like I usually would (you’ll soon find out how obsessed with cheese I am after we’re a few reviews deep…). But honestly, I’m glad I did – as the chimichurri sauce is one for the tasting! A perfect balance of herbs that aren’t too overpowering with a sharp punch of vinegar and olive oil underpinning it all. I’m a great lover of sharp flavours, and I do believe it lifted the dish into something ‘moreish’, which we all agreed on. Chicken was cooked well; both juicy and succulent on the inside but with a crisp finish on the outside. This rested on a small bed of leaves with small touches of (what I believed to be) butternut squash puree around the side.

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The roast itself is served pink, unless you specify that you like it cooked otherwise. They are generous in their portion of beef; I was given two slices, which you can see takes up the majority of the plate. And the most glaringly obvious highlight of the dish is the quality of the meat, which they state on their website is from Scotch Beef, and therefore of excellent quality (it isn’t being biased just ’cause I’m Scottish.)  I also thoroughly enjoyed the homemade Yorkshire pudding, with the bottom of it soggy with gravy that had been so thoughtfully poured inside for me. I would have liked the roasties to be slightly more crispy, but I know that can be difficult to create in a restaurant setting within the limited confines of service time. The vegetables were hidden under the beef playing their own little game of hide and seek; which I happily indulged them in playing but left slightly disheartened with how quickly the game reached its resolution. There was the baby turnip you see below, with one stalk of brocollini, one asparagus tip and three or four small pieces of carrot that would have benefited from some caramalisation. The liberally poured gravy distracted me from any despondancy I may have felt with the vegetables though as it quite literally danced over my tastebuds for the duration of my main course. There had evidently been some time spent on deepening its rich flavour, thus enhancing the whole dish overall. This is where a Sunday roast at Cocktails and Steaks is a step above your generic pub roast; the outstanding ingredients being carefully handled by their evidently talented chefs, and heightened through careful consideration of how best to handle those ingredients.

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This is true of both courses I tried today, and it did mean I left thinking that I wouldn’t mind returning to sample more from their Main Menu. Considering how busy Angels and Smiths was, I was surprised that only two other people arrived whilst we had our lunch. There was only one waitress working as well, which could have been a problem if they expected the same level of traffic as the other restaurants. She was prompt in her tasks in terms of clearing plates and providing more water for the table, but we felt she was slightly awkward at times. The best interaction we had with her was actually right at the end – maybe she was distracted with getting things set up for the day beforehand.

Our meal concluded not long after an hour of being in the restaurant, but this was due to us requesting our main course quickly following our starter, as Simone and Jason had to catch the train home to London. Although we didn’t end up getting the breakfast we’d prepared ourselves for, we left Cocktails and Steaks content and with our interest piqued for a potenital evening meal in the future.

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Instagram: @laurenscravings