The Greyhound, Stockbridge

Stockbridge SO20 6EY
01264 810833
thegreyhoundonthetest.co.uk

When travelling to or from London we usually choose the less stressful option of the A30 and so our route takes us through the pretty town of Stockbridge. There are several places where one can eat here. Recently we ate in The Greyhound. The Greyhound is an old coaching in and has lots of character and (very low!) beams. It has a garden where one can eat out in the summer.

There is a set menu, £15.95 for 2 courses or £18.95 for 3. The set menu looked so good that we chose it on this occasion. However, the main menu had lots of appetising dishes on it which were very reasonably priced. Dishes which caught our eye included Tempura Monkfish cheeks; Beef Carpaccio with a celeriac remoulade; seared scallops; a charcuterie board; a fish board. Amongst the main courses were skate wings; fried pollock; rack of lamb; kedgeree; duck breast and various steaks.

The set menu which we had was a chicken pate on toast followed by Moules Marinière followed by a chocolate dessert. The house red was a more than acceptable Vaucluse.

They were packed, but service was cheerful and efficient

The Seaside Boarding House, Burton Bradstock

Burton Bradstock DT6 4RB
01308 897205
theseasideboardinghouse.com

If you head for Hive Beach, which many of you will know, you will see a sign to The Seaside Boarding House. It enjoys a spectacular view over Lyme Bay and, unlike Hive Beach, it is rather more comfortable, roomy and cosy… and there is plenty of free parking.

Created by the same team as the Groucho Club, you will find meticulous attention to detail here. On your left there is a large bar with tables where you can eat or just have a drink or a coffee or tea. Beside this there is a restaurant where you can enjoy a slightly more formal meal. There is a good-sized terrace where you can eat and drink when the weather permits. Well-behaved dogs are welcomed, in keeping with an informal, relaxed atmosphere.

The menu is well balanced with fish and meat dishes on it. There is a good value daily set menu from Monday to Friday at £15 for 2 courses or £18 for 3. We didn’t choose this option but enjoyed a cheese souffle and a scallop dish for starters, followed by fish and chips and moules marinière for mains. Nicely cooked and presented, served by cheerful, efficient staff. Definitely a place to which we will return. Apparently the rooms are very nice too and they do terrific breakfasts, whether you are staying there or just eating!

The Seaside Boarding House is open seven days a week for breakfast, coffee, lunch, tea and supper. Reservation is recommended.

Thank you Gordon & Adrian for recommending this to us!

The King John Inn, Tollard Royal

Tollard Royal, Wiltshire SP5 5PS
01725 516207
www.kingjohninn.co.uk

Opened a decade ago already, the King John Inn in picturesque Tollard Royal is well worth a detour. Open for food 7 days a week, the pub offers a fine selection of draft beers for the beer drinkers amongst you. The decor is a mixture of modern and traditional, with a stunning new pale oak bar and a quarry tile floor of reclaimed red tiles. Lovely selection of framed country photographs on the walls. Mixed scrubbed oak tables. Open log fire. Immaculate loos. It’s all exactly as it should be and has been done with excellent taste.

We arrived just after noon and were the first there. A relaxed and smiling welcome set the tone and we were shown to a nice table by the crackling open log fire.

The menu when we visited for lunch was quite small but full of interest. Hot out of the oven bread (The King John Bloomer) was crusty and delicious. Recent starters have included Moules Marinière; lightly dressed Portland crab on sourdough toast; smoked stone bass with beetroot; Carpaccio of rose veal. Mains such as a pigeon breast salad with crispy bacon and croutons; pan-fried Gurnard with crushed potatoes and curly kale; twice baked Cheese souffle; fish and chips; fillet of cod with crispy oyster and a lobster sauce. There was a good selection of puds from which we shared a chocolate and orange fondant. The food was all well prepared and nicely presented, without being too “fussy”.

Service by our friendly waitress who has been there for ages (but whose name I have forgotten) and by the owner Monika, was very good and well informed.

A three course meal will set you back £30 to £35 not including drink.

The King John has kindly agreed to be listed as one of our recommended restaurants and are pleased to offer 10% discount off lunch and dinner Mondays to Thursdays. Just mention you are a member of Trencherman’s when you book.

The Masons’ Arms, Knowstone

01398 341231
enqs@masonsarmsdevon.co.uk
www.masonsarmsdevon.co.uk

Believe it or not, this Michelin-starred pub, set in deepest Devon, offers a lunch menu of £25 for 3 courses or £20 for 2. This is amazing value, as Mark Dodson has to be one of the top chefs in the country, having spent 13 years at the 3 star Michelin Waterside at Bray.

Of course, we can never resist the a la carte menu! Our favourite starter is the seared peppered tuna with Oriental salad. It is just mouth-wateringly delicious! This time I plumped for the Arancini with Beetroot three ways which was very good.

Main courses were fillet of brill with a potato crust, caramelised little gem, cucumber and capers with a creamy cider sauce; and Monkfish wrapped in Prosciutto ham with breaded mackerel and scallops. Other mains included fillet of Venison, Breast of Guinea Fowl and fillet of beef. As one would expect, presentation is always perfect as are the different textures of each course and the accompanying sauce.

Ethne’s chocolate cheesecake with peanut butter ice-cream rounded off another terrific meal.

Mark & Sarah look forward to welcoming you at their pub .

L’Auberge Bressane, Paris

16, Avenue La Motte Picquet
00 331 47 05 98 37
www.auberge-bressane.com

The Auberge Bressane has become one of our favourite restaurants in Paris. The food, atmosphere and service are consistently excellent. It is in the septième again, a short walk from the métro École Militaire.

As soon as you enter you are warmly greeted, coats taken and shown to your table. It’s a small cosy place and feels “right”. The menu has many “classics” such as escargots, cuisses de grenouilles (frog’s legs), wonderful soufflés both savoury and sweet, scrambled eggs with truffles, fried squid, sole, turbot, kidneys, Chateaubriand steak, Tournedos Rossini, coq au vin, and so on!

The wine list is superb and varied. The service is always very friendly and, if you like Frogs legs, which we both do, they produce some of the best.

La Terrasse du Septième, Paris

2 place de l’École Militaire
http://www.laterrassedu7.com/?lang=en

This is a big, bustling café/brasserie on a busy crossroads. Sounds ghastly, doesn’t it? But actually it’s a great place to sit over a coffee or a glass of wine and people watch. It’s always full of life and the service is excellent and very fast. There are usually about 6 waiters on duty, each with his own area to patrol. The food is just what you would expect in a Paris Brasserie and is all freshly cooked and appetising.

Most of what the French call “les Incontournables” are to be found on their menu. Caesar Salad, Snails, Steak Tartare, Steak Frites, Chicken & Chips, Sweetbreads, Chocolate mousse, crème caramel, crème brûlée, rhum baba to name but a few.

This is not gourmet dining, but it is good honest fare, well prepared and served with a smile at almost any hour you choose to eat and booking is not necessary. What more could one ask for?!

Bocca di Lupo

Archer Street W1B 7BB
0207 734 2223
http://boccadilupo.com

If you like top quality Italian food and lots of atmosphere, look no further than Bocca di Lupo.

Tucked away down a small street in theatre land a stone’s throw from Piccadilly Circus, it is perfectly placed for an early pre-theatre supper. We went there at lunchtime and had a superb meal. There is a long marble bar, at which one can sit on high stools, on the other side of which are four chefs beavering away preparing the food in the open kitchen.

Bocca di Lupo offers Italian-style tapas – small dishes of delicious food, cooked in front of your eyes if you sit at “the bar”. It does, of course, have lots of tables too if you don’t fancy sitting on a stool for an hour and a half! We had a selection of deep-fried sage leaves filled with anchovies in a light batter; sea-bream carpaccio with orange and rosemary, Arancini – balls of rice with saffron, bone marrow and gremolata (lemon zest, garlic, parsley and anchovy) deep fried; flash fried squid rings; mussels a la plancha with spicy chilli and herb butter; and as a token gesture towards vegetables, melt in the mouth roasted slices of pumpkin with sage, parmesan and balsamic vinegar, which was especially scrummy! We drank some good Primitivo and finished with great coffee. Staff were especially nice and friendly.

Highly recommended.

If you want to make your mouth water, have a look at their menu here.

The Cinnamon Club

32 Great Smith Street, Westminster
0207 222 2555
www.cinnamonclub.com

Great Smith Street is tucked away in a quiet street not far from Westminster Abbey. If you are on foot, you’ll need to keep your eyes open for it, as there is little to show from the outside that there is a top class restaurant inside. Once you step inside, it feels a bit more like a club than a restaurant. It is housed in the former Westminster Library, high ceilinged and still with books on the shelves around the walls. It’s well worth looking at the pictures on their website, as it is very different.

We were greeted and shown to our table by friendly staff, impeccably turned out. The lunch menu was £24 for 2 courses, £26 for 3. We started with two superb dishes – Tandoori chicken breast with mace and cardamom and a smoked paprika Raita; and Fenugreek scented Tandoori cod with curry leaf and lime crumble. (I didn’t mention that this is one of Vivek Singh’s restaurants and that he is the king of subtle Indian spicing.) Both dishes were absolutely stunning. We continued with a pan-fried duck breast with coconut vinegar sauce and pilau rice; and green spiced plaice fillet with Maharashtrian koshimbir salad and curried yoghurt. These were very good, though maybe not quite as wonderful as the first course.

Desserts in Indian restaurants are usually pretty awful, but our two desserts here were excellent. A mango and passion fruit cheesecake with mango sorbet, oats and honey crumble; and a White chocolate and pink peppercorn cake with thandai lemon sorbet.

It was a superb meal.

 

 

Lido

Oakfield Place, Clifton, Bristol BS8 2BJ
Tel: 0117 9339530
spa@lidobristol.com
www.lidobristol.com

Lido is an unusual restaurant in that it surrounds a large outdoor swimming pool. So while you are eating you can watch people thundering (or wallowing!) up and down the pool. It is bright and airy and the food is delicious. We went there for a wine tasting with dinner. This is what we ate, lots of small dishes tapas-style.

Wood-roasted scallops in the shell with melted butter and fresh dill
Tempura Oysters with hot chilli relish
Cecina Spanish air-dried smoked beef
Roasted salmon steaks on a bed of mixed fresh herbs and leaves
Cold rare roast lamb with a sweet potato ratatouille
Selection of homemade ice creams – Chocolate, Strawberry, Passion fruit, salted caramel, boozy rum and raisin, coffee

Good coffee. Friendly, helpful, efficient service. Thoroughly recommend it.

The Canal Turn

Lancaster Road, Carnforth LA5 9EA 01524 720546
www.thecanalturn.co.uk

If you are going up the M6 at the right time of day, take the exit to Morecambe Bay and the A6 following signs to Carnforth. Look for a sign on the left, and a side road up to the car park. I came upon this lovely pub quite by chance, and didn’t even know it was on the Lancaster canal.

The pub is right by the water, with a small terrace and a dozen tables outside, one of which I was lucky to bag in full sunshine. As the name implies, it is on a broad bend of the canal with narrow boats moored, and quite a few going back and forth.

The pub has recently been entirely refurbished, with plenty of tables inside, and has quite an extensive menu (see their website): I saw others eating beautifully presented fish and chips and platters of cured meats. Service was very slow, so I went to the bar to order the Morecambe Bay shrimp that I had been looking for: they were on the menu, both hot and cold, and were delicious. But when you are sitting in the sun watching boats go by, slow service seems less important! So much better than a motorway service station!

Food is not served on Mondays, but from 12 until 4 Tuesday to Saturday light lunches are served, with things like sandwiches, platters, jacket potatoes and light bites.