Favourite Tables

Unique Destinations

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Haywards Restaurant

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There are many reasons why I’m a frequent diner at Haywards but the main ones are:

1) the food is always amazing created by Chef Jahdre Hayward and his wonderful team

2) the wine which we often asked to be matched with each course is chosen superbly by Restaurant Manager Amanda Hayward

3) the service is very professional from the excellent young and friendly waiters/waitresses and it was a pleasure to have witnessed all three once again on Saturday of last week as we took friends to experience a Tasting Menu & Matched Wines evening.

On arrival, we were greeted so warmly before being shown to our table where we enjoyed a lovely cocktail while perusing the menu. It didn’t take us long to decide that we were all going to have the Tasting Menu. After enjoying some delightful snacks it was time for the first course a fabulous Chicken Leg & Sweetbread Ravioli with a Roast Chicken Consommé.

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Our second course was the Optional Extra Course of Scallop, Octopus, Red Pepper Purée & Chorizo Foam serves in the Scallop Shell. This led us onto the fantastic Mushroom Risotto topped with Black Truffle We then moved on to a beautiful fish course of a Fillet of Cod and a Brussels Sprout Purée before going on to the main course a Braised Short Rib of Beef with miso & aubergine purée which was equally as fantastic.

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Before moving onto to the desserts we all decided to have the additional cheese course as the restaurant has a wonderful selection of British & Irish Cheeses.

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Now it was time for dessert and another memorable dish a nice a light Chocolate & Hazelnut Mousse with an Orange Sorbet & Yoghurt Foam we then received a lovely surprise as the Chef sent us out an extra dessert a stunning Apple Crumble Soufflé & Cinnamon Ice Cream which brought us to an end of a very memorable evening.

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I would really like to Thank all of the team at Haywards for such a fantastic evening. To Jahdre for the amazing food, to Amanda & assistant Anne for the wine selection which included a delightful wine from a local supplier Parvills Farm in Epping and to the waitresses for exceptional service. This restaurant to me is the Best in Essex and the county really should be so proud of it and one that should definitely be placed on anyone’s places to dine lists

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Head Chef Karl Martin of Old Downton Lodge speaks to Chef’s Table

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Karl has worked in the hospitality industry for 20 years. Starting his career at a small golf club in the heart of England, where at the age of 13 he became KP in the kitchen of the local golf club in Wolverhampton where his father ran the restaurant, followed by catering training at Henley College in Coventry. Since that time he has gained experience working in many different restaurants in the Midlandsworking with the likes of Peter Griffiths MBE, Simon Haigh F&B Director of the Eden Hotel Collection, Adam Bateman Group Executive of the Hotel Collection.

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Karl is now Chef Patron at Old Downton Lodge,  a restaurant with rooms on the Downton Estate near Ludlow.

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“Here at Downton Lodge we never force a dish, we class the food style as natural. Everything has a purpose. Its British country dining with a modem twist, with the emphasis on the ingredients and the marriage between them. We focus on the flavour and believe in treating the ingredients with respect.  Using nature and working with and preserving the seasons. We try to tell a story with our food. Where, nature to plate, is very important along with the traceability of the produce we use in the restaurant”.

 

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Being situated in the heart of a country estate, there is a wide range of produce that Karl has at his fingertips, from wild game to foraged fruits, nuts, herbs and mushrooms.  Giving the guests a unique dining experience where the quality of the ingredients and simplicity of the dish shine through.

The dining room is a small intimate 20 cover restauran, creating a 6 or 9-course seasonal tasting menu that changes every day, using the best of local produce in and around the estate and Herefordshire, Shropshire and the Borders of Wales.


 

FT: Who influenced you in the past? Who influences you now?

 

KM: There are a few, to be honest. My dad was a huge influence on me, I started where everyone should start, on the pots. Seeing the structure of a kitchen from the age of 13 has been a massive help and he was hard on me which has made me tougher as a person.

My two biggest cooking influences are Peter Griffiths and Simon Hauge. I learned so much from them. Focus, determination, drive, respecting people, ingredients and doing things the right way. Whether that be at work or in life. Both are huge inspirations.

Present day, it would have to be Claude Bosi and Gareth Ward.

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Living in Ludlow I won’t go a day without hearing about Hibiscus or a story about Claude. A true legend of Shropshire cooking scene and his food is inspirational.

I ate at Ynyshir Hall 2 years ago and can’t stop talking about it to this day. As a chef, I try to get as much flavour as possible out of the ingredients, Gareth and his team just blow my mind with the amount of flavour in every course. I left speechless!! He has been great to speak to as well, always offering good advice. A true gent.

 

FT: Which restaurant would you like to go to? (that you haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet)

 

KM: Restaurant Frantzen in Stockholm Sweden. I follow them on every social media outlet I can. Their food blows me away! I remember seeing them for the first time on a video on Facebook, I just sat there with my gob open! It’s on my 2018 list. Can’t wait,

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FT: If you could change any misconceptions about restaurants/food, what would they be?

 

KM: Fine dining! What is it! Some people have this misconception that some restaurants are “too posh”. I agree to a certain point but at Old Downton Lodge I couldn’t give a shit if they want to wear shorts and flip-flops. FFS they are paying customers. I want people to come here feel relaxed and have great food, wine and an amazing experience.

 

FT: How important is a Michelin star? A chef in France, who has 3 Michelin stars, recently asked that they are removed because of the pressure – thoughts?

 

KM: For some people, it’s not important at all, for some it’s a must (die trying kind of thing).

I remember a tweet from Michelin that said “cook for your customers!” A lot of chefs forget that they’re the most important people. I’ve never had a star, so can’t comment on the pressure, but we just try and enjoy it. It’s food at the end of the day. I’m here to enjoy my cooking, not drive my team into the ground. If it happens for us it will be amazing but if not and the customers are happy we are doing our job right.

 

FT: What is your favourite dish on the current menu/s in which you use produce from your most local supplier?

 

KM: Has to be the 3 day cooked Wagyu Feather Blade from Montgomery (supplied By Alternative Meats) it never comes off the menu! Only the garnish changes. We are very lucky to be so close to such an amazing product/producer! Really is world class.

FT: If you could invite any Chef past or present to cook alongside you for one night who would that be and why?

 

KM: Claude Bosi – it would be great  to cook with him in Ludlow and just a very inspiring chef. Marco in his hey day just would be amazing. An absolute hero of mine.

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My Favourite Tables – Two restaurants I have visited and why?

Restaurant (1): Ynyshir Hall- I’ve only been once but another trip is planned this year. Just one of the best in the UK and is for me soon to be world class.

 

Restaurant (2): Simpsons in Birmingham. I’ve been 3 times 1st was 18 years ago and twice last year. Just keeps going and evolving. It’s a great mix of classic and modern working well together.

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Matt Waldron, Head Chef at Llys Meddyg Talks to Chef’s Table

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Matt Waldron, Head Chef at Llys Meddyg

Matt started his career in a small country house hotel named The Glen yr Afon in Usk, completing his apprenticeship in cooking.  His interest in food science lead him to complete a degree in culinary arts and food science in The University of West London.  Staying in London Matt worked his way through some very established restaurants with Helene Darroze at The Connaught Hotel being his most influential.  After two and half years there it was time to come back to Wales.  Working as Sous chef at Restaurant James Sommerin in Penarth from the start taught him a lot about running a restaurant and all that comes with the territory.  After completing his time there he then moved on to work for Gareth Ward at Ynyshir, which holds a Michelin Star and 5 AA Rosettes.

Matt took over the kitchen at Llys Meddyg in the late summer of 2017 and has had a successful start to his time there.

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The food at Llys Meddyg is simple, concentrating on flavour, based on local produce from the coast, off the mountains and all the forage that is available to him around Newport Pembrokeshire.  Where ever possible he works closely with small local suppliers which gives him the ability to handpick the produce to ensure it’s the best he can get his hands on.

 


 

CT: Which Chef/s influenced you in the past? Who continuous to influence you now?

MW: Working for Helene Darroze in The Connaught for 3 years influenced me massively.  Her philosophy of using the very best products and treating them with respect and care.  Seasonality was a massive part of her menu.

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Closer to home a big influence is Gareth Ward at Ynyshir.  The way he creates his dishes, works closely with nature, the acidity of dishes, and just the simplicity of his dishes to the eye makes one of the most amazing restaurants in the UK.

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CT: What would be your last dish (to eat) “the death row question”

 

MW: My mums Sunday dinner.  Roast beef, roasties, and all the vegetables from dads garden.  Cant beat it.

 

CT: Which restaurant would you like to go to? (that you haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet)

 

MW: Piazza Duomo in Northen Italy.  The food at Piazza Duomo is inspirational due to the use of local food products from his kitchen garden and around Alba.  They have such amazing produce in that region and Enrico Crippa just showcases it at its best.  It is his take on Italian food with influences of Japan visible in his dishes.

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CT: What do you think about negative reviews?

MW: I think negative reviews can be a good thing.  No one is perfect and sometimes things don’t go to plan, but that’s life.  You have to see in what context the review was written in.  If used properly negativity can be flipped into positivity, ideas to improve something, maybe something that hadn’t been spotted before.  All reviews whether positive or negative are a good thing, but the people that write reviews just to get something for nothing should stop, it can be quite damaging to a business.

 

CT: If you received a call from Buckingham Palace asking you to create a Dinner Menu using the best of Pembrokeshire what would you feature?

MW: The main event would definitely have to be Preseli lamb, for me, it’s the best lamb around.  The abundance of seafood we have around us I would definitely have to use the crab from Solva and our vegetable guy Nathan who has an organic veg farm just down the road from us.  His vegetables are incredible.

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CT: What is your favourite dish on the current menu/s in which you use foraged ingredients or produce from your most local supplier?

MW: Preseli lamb, loin, rib and shoulder, Aubergine salad, yoghurt, charred onion, lamb soy

The lamb comes from the mountain opposite us.  The vegetables come from Nathan our organic veg supplier, and the yoghurt we make ourselves from milk from jersey cows about 10 miles away.

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CT: If for one night you could be invited to cook alongside any Chef past or present who would that be and why?

MW: Charlie Trotter.  His food is very classic, looks immaculate and focuses on seasons.  He introduced America to food styles not seen before, very bold for the time.  He was ambitious and wanted everything perfect, from the minute you walked in the door.

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My Favourite Tables – Two restaurants I have visited and why?

Restaurant (1):  Gareth Ward at Ynyshir.  The food is exceptional.  There is a continuous development there and the place keeps getting better and better.

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Restaurant (2): Restaurant Frantzen, Sweden.  It’s a combination of relaxed atmosphere and incredible food.  There is no stone unturned there, the attention to detail is out of this world.  If I could afford it I would eat there once a month.

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Chef’s Table talk with Chef James Sommerin

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James started his culinary career at the age of 12 working on a Saturday morning in an Italian restaurant in Newport, Chez Chiovanni, after leaving school he started his first full time cooking position at the Cwrt Bleddyn Hotel near Usk.

 

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It was from there, at the age of 16, that he decided to move to Scotland and worked at Farleyer House Hotel under the guidance of Head Chef Richard Lyth, it was whilst being taught by Richard that he gained the understanding of seasonality, quality and the essence of flavour. Whilst in Scotland he cooked at the dinner to celebrate the opening of the Scottish Parliament and was also shortlisted as Young Scottish Chef of the Year. after a few years working in Scotland, he met future wife Louise and after marrying and having their first daughter James decided to move his family returning to his home country- Wales.

Back in Wales in August 2000 he started at the Crown at Whitebrook as Sous Chef and became Head Chef in late 2003, four years later obtained his first Michelin Star, an achievement he is rightly hugely proud of. He retained the coveted Michelin star until 2013 when the “Crown” closed its doors. Recently reopened under new ownership as The Whitebrook

 

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2014 saw James and Louise open Restaurant James Sommerin in Penarth. James and wife Louise were determined to make the restaurant with rooms a success and are rightfully very proud of what they and their team have achieved. A Michelin star in 2016, AA Restaurant of the Year – Wales 2016-2017, 4 AA rosettes, Restaurant of the year 2016 for Wales at the Food Awards Wales and Number 34 in the Good Food Guide for 2017, also achieving 5 stars for rooms with the AA and Visit Wales.

 

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” We pride ourselves on being a family run business, with myself heading up the kitchen, Louise front of house and our 3 girls never far away “

 

Chef’s Table Asked:

 

Q: What would be your last dish (to eat) “the death row question”

A:  My late grandmother has always been my inspiration, cooking with her on the weekend gave me my love and passion for cooking and I will always be eternally grateful.  So I would have to say my late grans beef brisket, gravy & veg

 

Q: Have you ever been presented with a dish/ingredient that you just could not eat and where was that?

 

A: Durian Fruit – tried it in Singapore in 2012. It tasted horrendous, I can’t even put it into words.

 

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Q: If there were a “Fantasy League” of Chefs, who would make up your perfect brigade?

 

A: Richard Lyth, Michele Roux Snr, Grant Achatz, Alex Stupak, Brett Graham & Eric Frechon

 

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Q: What’re the most overused words on restaurant menus’ today

 

A: where can I start – Textures of, deconstructed & foraged!

 

Q: Having worked and trained in Scotland what food preparation or styles of cooking did you learn then that you still utilise today. What was on the menu for the opening of Parliament dinner?

 

A – oh gosh, butchery.

The menu hmmm, I’m sorry I can’t remember back that far it must be a sign of my age now.

 

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Q: What is your favourite dish on the current menu/s in which you use ingredients or produce from your most local supplier? 

A:  Old Cogan Farm Penarth where we get our Welsh Lamb which we serve with Broad Beans and Turnip.

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Q: If for one night you could be invited to cook alongside any Chef past or present who would that be and why?

C – That’s a tough one, I couldn’t narrow it down to 1 person.


My Favourite Tables – Two restaurants I have visited and why?

 

Restaurant 1 – The Greenhouse in Mayfair – fantastic cooking, every time we go (and we’ve been a few) staff are all very friendly.

 

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Restaurant 2 – Geranium in Copenhagen, cooking on another level

 

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Chef Alex Bond of Alchemilla Nottingham talks to Chef’s table

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Chef Alex Bond has been cooking since he was 19 years old and most of his working life has mainly been in Michelin-starred kitchens including 42 The Calls in Leeds, Restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham, Auberge du Lac in Hertfordshire and Turners in Birmingham.

It has been for some time his ambition to open his own restaurant. Alchemilla recently opened in Nottingham is the realisation of that. Alchemilla has been two years in the making with the project to turn an old 19th-century coaching house, which had remained empty for over 150 years, into a modern light space for a restaurant, whilst retaining the character of the building.

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The food is clean, fresh and a talking point with diners as the menus have elements that they won’t  necessarily have tried before. Alex is a keen gardener and is also married to a gardener so he uses vegetables and plants as centre stage in the cooking. With the resulting dishes delighting and surprising people with the flavours that can be achieved by letting vegetables feature prominently in the menu.

We wanted to know a little more about Chef and his plans:

Q: Which Chef/s influenced you in the past? Who continuous to influence you now?

A: Every chef I have worked for has influenced me whether it’s for good or bad reasons, we can learn from all of these experiences whether its cooking techniques and philosophies, how I wanted to treat my staff or run my business

Q: Which restaurant would you like to go to? (that you haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet)

A: Top of my list at the moment are Hedone, Saison, L’astrance and Attica

Q: What is set to be the next ‘new’ ingredient? And which in particular interests you.

A: There’s been a real shift towards less protein in my cooking over the last 4 years and that seems to be a big thing in this country. I know it’s very Nordic but my plant-based cooking feels very British which I love.

 

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Q: If there were a “Fantasy League” of Chefs who would make up your perfect brigade?

A: I would have to go with Nathan Outlaw on the fish, Gareth Ward on the sauce, James Petrie on the pastry, myself on the vegetables, Tom Spencley and Tony Parkin on the larder

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Q: What foods or styles of cooking do you enjoy cooking the most and which do you most like to eat?

A: I love cooking with vegetables, a large hand dived scallop almost does the work for you whereas a cabbage or cauliflower needs thought, effort and skill

 

Q: What is your favourite dish on the current menu/s in which you use ingredients or produce from your most local supplier?

A: Cauliflower, roasted yeast, almond

 

Q: If for one night you could be invited to cook alongside any Chef past or present who would that be and why?

A: I would love to smash out a service with Pascal Barbot of L’astrance in Paris

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My Favourite Tables – a restaurant I have visited several times and why?

 

Restaurant (1): Ynyshir. Gareth Ward is doing some of the most innovative food in the country and I have had 4 meals there and it just goes from strength to strength

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Chef Steven Ellis talks to Chef’s Tables

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Steven Ellis

It is our great pleasure to speak with Steven Ellis, who is Chef Patron at the newly opened Oxford Blue, “a pub that serves great food” – that’s his introduction to what is one of the most popular New Openings of 2017.

Originally from Lancashire, Steven spent most of his childhood growing up in the Middle East. Aged 16 he returned to England, enrolling at the Birmingham College of Food & Tourism, before moving to London to follow his dream.

Steven’s talents were developed working in well-known restaurants such as Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen and the three Michelin starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, but his vision of creating an extraordinary culinary experience within the comfort of a country style gastro pub came from his time spent at Andrew Pern’s Star Inn in Harome.

His passion to promote a part of our country’s heritage that hasn’t so much been forgotten but needs to be brought back to life drives him. His dishes are sophisticated yet familiar, a perfect match for the relaxed surroundings that this charming pub has to offer.

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We asked chef how he would best describe the Oxford Blue:

” I think of the Oxford Blue very much as a pub. We have locals who come in for a drink and also people who like to come in to dine with us. The beauty of the Oxford Blue is that you can come for a casual drink while reading the newspaper by the open fire or come in with friends for a meal. But also you can bring the other half and enjoy a romantic meal for two. The Oxford Blue has the ability to change for everyone’s needs whether it be a quick meal at lunch or a long evening of 3-4 courses with friends and family.”

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The Oxford Blue has had some amazing reviews and coverage in the press, we asked – What do you think about reviews?

“I feel reviews are healthy for restaurants but only if they are presented in a constructive way, so the owners and staff can take it on board and help better themselves and their business. It’s always good to get an outsiders opinion as sometimes the obvious things can be overlooked when you are working long hours and focused on delivering what you believe to be the best you can do. What I don’t agree on is when someone has a grudge towards a business or just unhappy with them and because of this come in with a negative attitude where everything the restaurant does is seen as ‘wrong’ “

You have worked in Fine Dining Michelin Star awarded restaurants. How important is a Michelin star?

“The benefits I feel a restaurant achieves by obtaining a star is that one, they earn the right to be listed in this exclusive guide but also become noticed by a wider audience of foodies, people who share the same passion for eating out as we do for delivering a high level food and service. But can also attract people who appreciate the hard work that is put into delivering a great experience.”

Achieving your dream here at Oxford Blue must have been hard work, who influenced you in the past?

“One of my biggest idols, since I was young, has to be Marco Pierre White. The passion he had to deliver the best experience to his guests is inspiring but, also the way he liked to push boundaries and not follow the trends proved to me that if you believe in something don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise because you have a responsibility to yourself to make sure it comes true! “

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If you could invite any Chef past or present to cook alongside you for one night who would that be and why?

“As I mentioned previously my idol being Marco Pierre White it would only feel right in saying that I would love to cook alongside this industry legend for one night”.

What is your favourite dish on the Oxford Blue menu in which you use produce from your most local supplier?

“My favourite dish has to be my ‘suckling pig’s trotter’. But, in regards to local suppliers and having such a huge passion for using game, I work very closely with the head game keeper of Windsor Great Park. Being able to use an abundance of different types of Game, it allows my imagination to run wild with ideas I only once dreamt of being able to create”.

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Staying with favourite dishes, What would be your last dish (to eat) “the death row question”

“Most likely a Venison Wellington, being such a lover of all things ‘game’ “

 

Finally, Favourite Tables, where do you like to dine when you get the chance and the time away from your own kitchen.

 

To be Confirmed…..

 

 

 

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Rubino Kitchen

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Rubino Kitchen is a lovely little restaurant set in a lodge on a farm in Maldon , Essex and a real credit to the county as this small team under the guidance of Head Chef Rob produces some great and interesting dishes from using great local produce.

 

It’s a small restaurant but has a great friendly feel from the moment you arrive until you leave . So onto the evening itself they have a good menu where you can choose from 1 to 5 courses which can come as a starter or main or as we did we went for the Tasting Menu so that we could try every course.

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We started with a nice and refreshing White Grape Gazpacho which was delicious before moving on to what was my favourite course the Haddock Scotch Egg with peas , raisin & curried puffed rice it was heaven. Then a Beef Carpaccio delightful followed by a Sweetcorn Risotto which came with Balsamic Vinegar interesting but it worked then to balance the Menu we had a lovely Cod with Octopus Caponata it was beautiful.

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Now onto the main course of Braised Lamb Tortellini & Smoked Aubergine Purée with Gem Lettuce & Beans a great hearty course to finish well almost because there’s always time for Desserts, yes Desserts .

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There were three on offer so of course we had to try them all the first being a Blackcurrant Panna Cotta with Honeycomb which I got to eat myself as my wife decided to have some Gorgonzola Cheese & Crackers. Next was Mille Feuille and to finish a Baked Alaska with Lemon Ice Cream nicely made by Dana .

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I have to say it was a really pleasant evening good food and very friendly service so look forward to returning soon 

A room with a view and Dog Biscuits!!

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What a beautiful view I had at the weekend – the bar at Titchwell Manor – in gorgeous Norfolk countryside – looks out to sea, white sails bobbing about on what was a stunning day!

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Working up an appetite with a long walk along the beach in Hunstanton, the drive to Titchwell took us past Eric’s Fish & Chips the group’s casual dining restaurant, renowned for some of the best fish dishes in the area. *Note to self… The Cod and Chips looked amazing, must try next time*

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Arriving at Titchwell Manor the welcome of the cool decor, country house feel was delightful.  Alfie, the FT dog, was also welcomed! He is of course, exceptionally well behaved, so welcome in most places….but not necessarily with home made biscuits and a silver water bowl…..he wants to live there!

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Eric and his team have obviously worked hard to create a beautiful place – it’s cool interiors, high ceilings, a gorgeous conservatory and walled garden. Eric was having a well deserved day off but it was great Eric – your team were warm, friendly and nothing was too much trouble.

Andy brought over the Sunday Lunch menus and organised the drinks for the humans…

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A perfectly created amuse bouche arrived together with some of the freshest bread we have enjoyed in a longtime.

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My starter of Norfolk asparagus with poached egg and hollandaise was scrumptious – the asparagus, slightly charred but still firm, were beautifully prepared and the poached egg was cooked to perfection.  I may be changing back from sous vide eggs to the old fashioned way!

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My Chauffeur, sorry Mr FT… had the Brancaster Crab with Dill, Sable, Watercress and a lime gel. Very fresh and full of flavour, the quenelles of crab matched the buttery Sable exceptionally well.

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In honour of #FTbadboys, it was inevitable that Beef with Yorkshire Pudding was ordered! In deference to the badboys, the Yorkie came first!   I have decided that there must be a secret piece of kit that inflates these huge yorkshire puddings that only chefs know about…but I digress.  I had been told about the deliciousness of Dingley Dell pork so I had to try it for myself.

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Everything said was true – it was matched with barbequed beetroot with crushed hazlenuts which was divine.

There is a truly lovely feel about Titchwell Manor and I am already looking forward to another visit soon. It’s warm and welcoming and next time we will stay over in one of the beautifully appointed rooms and will sample the Conversation tasting menu

 

Lady FT

 

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Johnsons Steakhouse

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Loved it, great setting and service. The restaurant is bright and modern, the steaks and other dishes are reasonably priced as are the drinks. I look forward to going back… a real destination venue, worthy of the trip from Peterborough each time we’ve visited we’ve had a great experience.

 

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A Chefs Table feature on the family run Haywards

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Jahdre Hayward_FT

Jahdre Hayward was born in Bermuda, at 15 he moved to the United States to live with his aunt and uncle while he studied culinary arts in Tampa Florida. When his studies were complete he moved to the UK and gained a commis job at The Savoy Hotel, London under Anton Edelmann, where he progressed quickly up the rankings to Chef de Partie. Jahdre`s employment in London and the Home Counties also includes Hanbury Manor, Rules Restaurant, the Oxo Tower, Novelli in the City and The Ritz.

Amanda Hayward_FT

Amanda Hayward was born and brought up in Essex and lived in the family owned traditional 17th century free house the Forest Gate Inn which is situated on the outskirts of Epping Forest and the charming market town of Epping.  Amanda knew from an early age she was interested in cooking and after leaving school she took a place at Westminster College and trained to be a chef. She has gained experience in many fine restaurants in London and abroad including Simpsons on the Strand, London Capital Club, and then started her own catering company.

Jahdre met Amanda when they both worked at The London Capital Club. They travelled to Australia in 2003 and Jahdre worked briefly at Guillaume at Bennelong, Sydney Opera House whilst experiencing life in Australia. They returned to London for 3 years before migrating to Australia and settling in Melbourne. Jahdre worked as a sous chef at The National Gallery then moved on to become head chef at the Melbourne Wine Room followed by The Millswyn Restaurant. Amanda whilst in Melbourne went from being a chef to a waiter and after working at Grossi Florentino`s and Maze by Gordon Ramsey went on to work at Circa, The Prince and became assistant restaurant manager of the two hat restaurant.

After five and a half years in Melbourne and gaining Australian citizenship, Jahdre and Amanda decided to return to the UK to oversee the development of Haywards in the grounds of the family owned pub the Forest Gate Inn.

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The restaurant was converted from an old coach house, stable and skittle alley. Amanda and Jahdre oversaw the whole process to create their dream restaurant, sympathetically restoring the buildings and retaining many original features. Haywards opened in May 2013 and has gone from strength to strength and both Amanda and Jahdre are passionate about continuous development and progression for the business. The Haywards kitchen garden is thriving and the restaurant has been working with a local bee keeper to keep some bee colonies and produce their own honey.

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With Jadhre’s global background, our questions were many.  Here are some of them:

Influences – now and then?

“My grandmother, with her love of food and family, was really inspiring and I used to love to watch her in the kitchen.  The chef who has really influenced me is Brett Graham at The Ledbury.  His passion for the industry and for sourcing quality local produce is something that we have adopted at Haywards.  He is also passionate about his customers and our many conversations have influenced decisions we have made”

What are your views on the difference between Australian and British restaurant industries? 

“There are quite a lot of differences between restaurants and food styles.  All are positive differences, and in terms of gaining experience and developing my career, I feel very privileged to have worked in many great restaurants in both locations.   Australian restaurants are often slightly Asian inflenced and there are many different products available and not so much emphasis on the seasons. Due to the warmer climates across the country there is more produce available year round.  There is also access to beautiful and more unusual fresh fish such as snapper, barramundi (similar to sea bass and delicious!) and yabbies, which I love.  However, here in the UK I really enjoy the fact that our native produce is seasonal and we can change our menus accordingly.  We also have fantastic, quality British produce and our scallops are amazing!”

If you were not a chef – where would you be now? 

“My career path was destined to been an aircraft mechanic but whilst studying, I took a part time job in a kitchen and my fate was sealed!”

Are there restaurants you would like to go to? 

“If I am lucky enough to travel to the Far East again, I would love to dine at Sukiabashi Jiro, a three Michelin starred sushi restaurant in Japan.  Another three Michelin starred restaurant is Michel Bras in France which is also high on my list.

Haywards Honey – what is your favourite honey dish? 

“We have a beautiful dish on our menu described as Honey, Dill, Almond.  It is a honey parfait garnished with honeycomb, bee pollen and dill ice cream”

A chef to work with – past or present? 

“I would love to work alongside Michael Caines.  I have dined at Gidleigh Park twice and really admire him for his determination, drive and skill” I saw that his latest venue Lympstone Manor is featured on favourite tables so I will be booking dinner there soon.

Finally – where are your favourite tables? 

One of my favourite tables has to be The Ledbury in Notting Hill.  Always an amazing experience and I love everything about this restaurant.

I also think The Artichoke in Amersham is a fantastic restaurant.   They are gaining a lot of recognition but deserve more!

Finally, I celebrated my birthday just before Christmas at the Bildeston Crown in Suffolk.  We had a wonderful stay and a really great meal in their restaurant so I am sure that they will go on to achieve great things.