To Steki tou Psara (Fisherman's House), Santorini 07-2020

After reading Santorini Dave's blog, I had to try this place he said was the best for seafood in Santorini. That's a big recommendation considering the reputations of To Psaraki, Giorgaris and Ammoudi Bay. Kiria Roula must be the local name as our host hadn't been there but had heard of this place down by the Vlychada bay. There's lots of parking nearby which is also helpful.

They are incredible at frying food and the fried calamari (€8.5) is the best I've ever had with crisp batter texture, tender flesh and perfectively seasoned and flavoured. It was a large size for that price too. I wanted to try the cuttlefish, as I assume it would be the same quality, but on the second visit I decided to go for what we knew was spectacular and so the calamari again. The fresh fish is also fried (€10) for a very large serve of which half were really good (the cutlet and what looked like a scorpionfish to me?) and the half a little drier but still ok. Octopus (€12) was a cold salad style in vinegar, so not worth getting. The greek salad (€6) is large to share. There is a grill out the back but I couldn't see any items for grill. Maybe you have to request it?

We went twice (which is unusual for us) but such was the quality and price. I would definitely return here if I ever make it back to Santorini.

Mezedaki, Santorini 07-2020

After arriving into Perissa after a long transit, car rental and an afternoon beach session, our host suggested nearby Mezedaki which I had also conveniently put onto my list beforehand already.

They didn't have the kebabs, lamb chops or moussaka, 3 items we would almost certainly have chosen from. Ah well, at least we could branch out a bit more then.

- Sea bream - excellent grilled with perfectly soft texture and crisp skin. Overall seasoned well. I thought they said it would come with fried potatoes (which I saw and smelled from an adjacent table) but unfortunately it was fries instead;
- Santorini tomato-vegetable fritters (traditional deep fried patties) €7.5 - soft squishy insides with tomato acidity and taste. Thought they were ok with the tzatziki but nothing too special;
- Bougiourdi (kefalotyri, Greek feta, fresh tomato, spicy peppers, baked in the oven) €6.4 - very thick cheesy kefalotyri layer on top and salty feta underneath with chopped tomato and jalapeno. There's only so much of this you can easily eat and would have been good with bread, if we could stomach more food. 

Our waiter was very friendly and conversant. Traditional music played throughout.

They gave us some free mini magnum (type) things to finish off on. Very generous.

The Pig, Windermere 07-2020

For a final lunch before leaving the Lake District, Bowness was very busy and so we looked at Windermere proper instead. There are definitely less options up that end but we chanced across The Pig which happened to have some available tables and also a varied menu to cater for the pasty-desirer (myself) and some vegetarians in the party. You wouldn't think a place dedicated to The Pig would be overly vegetarian, but there you go.

Service was very friendly and with a big smile from the main guy (seemed like a manager or owner) who happily reported it was the first day of the place re-opening and serving their full (minus 2 items) menu.

- Boon Doggle Beef, Smoked Bacon, Potato and Thyme Pasty £10.95 - a beautiful pasty with a thick charred and twisted top housing what seemed like an excellent Irish-type beef stew inside. Served with very thick soft and mostly crisp exterior chips that were outstanding. A large meal indeed;
- In-house Cured Maple Bacon Chops (with double hens egg, spiced corn on the cob, chips and a pot of English mustard) £14.95 - the same wonderful fries this time with 2 large pork chops grilled with a mild maple liquid. The edges had been charred and acquired a sweet salty flavour and a reasonably (although not very) tender core. The parts away from the edges had less flavour and charm but were still nice.

I also sampled the outstanding zucchini fries and witnessed the enormous girth of the halloumi burger complete with 2x 1-2cm thick slabs of halloumi. These guys don't mess around. They serve large portions of extremely delicious food.

The Little Ice Cream Shop, Windermere 07-2020

This little ice cream shop only does very large servings of gelato. At the excellent price of £3.8 for a waffle cone with double scoop, large amounts of gelato was stuffed into the cone and overflowing across the sides of the cone. No wonder there was a queue here on this warm Sunday afternoon.

I am usually a pistachio person everywhere, which acts as my benchmark, but they didn't have it this day. There was a strawberry/pistachio combination but I didn't go for it. Instead I opted for the local flavour of Hawkshead gingerbread (a mildly gingerbread flavour with chunks in it) and Bounty vegan (a mild coconut sorbet with chocolate chunks). I liked the gingerbread although hoped the bounty vegan would be a lot more coconut-ty (expecting coconut pieces, coconut mild).

Nonetheless they are quality items and servings even if the flavours weren't my favourite. I would definitely come back (if in the area).

I also noted that the Kendal mintcake was a similar green colour to the one they served me at Macdonald Old England Hotel.

Sun Inn, Pooley Bridge 07-2020

After the reasonably pretty Ullswater Steamer journey from Glenriddig, and a less than impressive walk around Pooley Bridge (the 3h time there isn't enough if someone wants to have a sitdown lunch), we settled here. There's nothing particularly noteworthy about this pub over the others. The food isn't advertised as especially local either. But it's an option.

- Wholetail scampi (Whitby breaded scampi served with chunky chips, salad garnish, chargrilled lemon & homemade tartare sauce) £12.95 - simple dish as described. Chunky chips could have been a bit more crisp but still good;
- Sun Inn Creamy Fish Pie with a Lemon Herb and Parmesan Crust (flaky white fish, prawns, smoked haddock, salmon, fresh parsley, sliced boiled egg cooked in a rich creamy white wine and parsley sauce crowned with mashed potato topped with grilled cheese) £13.95 - a piping hot mix of all those ingredients which was nice and maybe could have used a bit more seasoning. The grilled cheese topping was also surprisingly mild. Good overall though.

The fish 'n' chips looked and smelled wonderful as it passed by our table. I'd certainly order that over the scampi and possibly over the fish pie next time. But I doubt I'll ever be back in Pooley Bridge in this lifetime.

Macdonald Old England Hotel, Windermere 07-2020

For a 4 star hotel overlooking Lake Windermere with the accompanying views, setting and old-world charm, £34.5 for 3 courses or £26 for 2 courses doesn't sound like a bad option. I mean you can eat in Windermere for about £10 and be remarkably full. But for those extra things that you are paying more for, it's not too bad. With a generous 50% NHS discount, 2 nights including breakfast and dinner was £313. Not so bad if you say that the 2 dinners for 2 alone are £138.

Service is smooth and effective and efficient, as expected in a slightly luxury hotel with Covid precautions. Over 2 nights, I sampled a few dinner items:

- Hot smoked salmon, fennel salad, horseradish, balsamic - excellent entree with the smoked fish, fennel slices and seeds contrasting with the spicy horseradish. Balsamic was fine too although left a sticky ring on the plate suggesting it had been plates a while earlier...;
- Beetroot, honey roast walnuts, parmesan souffle, red onion - simple combination of textures and flavours. Not bad;
- Braised Scottish beef, potato tart, carrot, wild mushroom & shallot jus - beef was not that tender and quite stringy. Each element was much too salty unfortuantely;
- Sea bream fillet, crushed dill potatoes, samphire, tomato & caper dressing - an excellent dish of grilled fillet with this and the potatoes both having elements of crisp and soft. Samphire and capers added salinity and the everything came together perfectly;
- Sticky toffee doughnut, toffee sauce, vanilla ice cream - a slice of almost bread-like doughnut with a very sweet sticky sauce. The 1st night vanilla icecream wasn't impressive. Requested the Kendal mint chocolate ice cream the 2nd night and received a green thing with chocolate pieces. An improvement from my point of view;
- Mint chocolate delice, caramelised chocolate, Kendal mint chocolate ice cream (not pictured) - soft chocolate chunks (almost like ganache) with the other items. Oddly this Kendal mint chocolate ice cream was white with little chocolate speckles but also had a mint flavour in it. Strange...;
- Selection of artisan cheese, Scottish oatcakes, fruit chutney, grapes - mild blue, a lot of soft brie, and too weak of a cheddar.

Overall the food was good. If I was paying, I'd get the 2 course salmon and bream. Although I might find myself eating elsewhere without the views and setting.

Breakfast included a Full Macdonald with some soft black pudding, an egg (overcooked poached), some average bacon, and a nice potato hash. A selection of cereals, yoghurt, berries or fresh fruit was also available. Some marmalade, nutella and jam also accompanied my brown bread and tiny croissants.

Nardulli, London 05-2020

Lockdown has been ongoing for about 7 weeks or so. One of the common questions asked is "what will you do/eat once lockdown is lifted?" There are many possibilities, but I stuck to a simple one - gelato outside.

With the weather warming up (although I accept gelato on a cold day when rugged up warm is probably better overall), a cool afternoon of 12C and the surprise discovery of the local gelateria being open meant serendipity. Apparently they had just opened over the weekend (this was a Monday) and the queues went all the way to the tube station in 2m intervals.

Unfortunately they were out of pistachio, a light green (maybe a little more green than I usually like) so will have to try that next time. Instead there was hazelnut and a yoghurt/cherry. The hazelnut was very mild in flavour, much more so than the true Italian nocciolas. The yoghurt/cherry was alright with the cherry being glaced but not like those horrid sweet bright versions. The textures were good and no ice crystals.

I'll be back to try the pistachio and to support the local business and my own gelato tendencies. Although I think I may need to get some Grom/Remeo/Waitrose pistachio for home anyway.

Nardulli Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Black Axe Mangal, London 02-2020

BAM has been on my eating list for quite a long time with the menu looking delicious of meats, offal and flatbreads. Finally on a rainy Saturday lunch we managed to get a table in the mid-afternoon just before they were closing and only after a short wait.

The menu is a real mixed bag - hints of Turkish from the mangal side, but influences from random places creating borscht, mapo tofu and other bits. Points for being creative if nothing else.

- Smoked pig's cheek & prune doughnut £8.5 - delicious and full bursting with flavour. A chunk of fat which was a bit less appealing, but overall really good;
- Oxtail & anchovy flatbread £13 - a nice bread with meat, anchovy, pickles, very mild chilli and parsley complementing well;
- Dextor onglet, roast bone marrow & green chilli, shoestring fries 23 - a very tender cooked meat with a chimichurri. The bone marrow didn't have that much flavour to it (not my thing I suppose) and one of the reasons we ordered it was seeing the next table have those fries. Unfortunately we expected freshly fried hot potatoes, but they were the dried form you buy in supermarket packets - disappointing.

I've been wanting to get my hands on a cookbook too, but might need to take a closer look to see how many of these things I can/will realistically try making first.

It was nice to tick it off my list finally and the food was great but probably not exceptional (probably the fries put me off). I'm interested in trying it for dinner sometime with the more extended menu. If I can get a seat.

Black Axe Mangal Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Udderlicious, London 02-2020

After a meal at Afghan Kitchen, it was time for an evening stroll and given we were moving from the area soon, it seemed a last opportunity to finally try Udderlicious. I had walked past several times before, but never stopped in for several reasons, some of which were it was closed after movies.

But I wouldn't be denied this time and the the perfectly pale brown pistachio was complemented by a chocolate. There was one or two ice crystals, but the flavours for good and reasonably strong, particularly the pistachio.

I would have no qualms (other than distance) to go back. I don't know if I'd try any of the creative flavours, but who needs to when you know what you like. I might replace the chocolate with hazelnut next time, if there is one.

Udderlicious Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Afghan Kitchen, London 02-2020

After walking past many times, trying to get in a few times, and finally discovering that they actually take bookings and so guaranteeing us entry the final time, we made it into this Afghan little eatery in Angel.

The food is good, particularly the lamb with spinach £8. Fish stew with potatoes £8 was ok too. The aubergine with yoghurt £8 was a overpriced for 3 pieces. The £3.5 evening bread was very impressive to see and alright. £25pp overall wasn't as cheap as I expected.

Overall decent and glad to have tried it and supported a local business. Would happily go back but wouldn't need to.

Afghan Kitchen Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato