Dinner at the Castle

I had never intended to stay in a castle when I recently travelled up to York, but it was a cheaper option than staying in the centre of York.

Hazlewood Castle Hotel & Spa is nestled in 77 acres of woodland in the heart of the Yorkshire countryside between Leeds and York. It is in the main, or appears to be, in the main a wedding venue. As it was a Monday night, it was considerably cheaper than if I was staying there later in the week.

It is a splendid looking place, though my room was quite plain in comparison to the elegance of the main building. However, I wasn’t complaining as I was there in the main to stay one night, have breakfast the next morning and then head off to York.

It is in the countryside, so rather than venture out into that countryside, I chose to eat in the hotel restaurant.

This is down in the basement, and not that easily accessed from the main hotel area, you do have to go outside to get there, and it was raining.

I sat down and looked over the menu. For my starter I went with the cheddar cheese soufflé. For my main course I decided to have the venison haunch, garlic & thyme crushed new potatoes, roasted banana shallot, honey glazed carrots, cranberry jus.

I had anticipated that my soufflé would be freshly made, and I was expecting something like I had seen on Masterchef. What I actually got was this.

This was a reheated frozen soufflé on a bed of leaves, dressed with balsamic glaze. To be honest it wasn’t that bad, but for the price I was paying I was expecting something better than what I got.

The main course arrived and this was slices of venison haunch with vegetables. 

This was a much better dish than the soufflé. The venison was lovely and tender, and full of flavour. I enjoyed the vegetables, though I think I would have enjoyed having some more jus with the meal.

The service was friendly and efficient.

I did enjoy my meal, and it was all rather nice. Maybe a little overpriced for what I got, but I was in many ways expecting that. The meal was certainly a lot better than the conference dinner I had the following day at the hotel in York.


I fancied a snack and the Temple Quay market was running in Bristol, so headed down to see what was on offer.

I got a portion of calamari from King Fin. They (as usual) were cooked fresh to order.

This was a lovely generous portion of calamari. The batter was nice and crispy, but not too thick to overpower the squid. It was cooked just right, as well as light batter, the squid was nice and tender. Sometimes when I have squid it can be overcooked, so the batter is more crunchy than crispy, and the squid can be somewhat chewy. This squid though was cooked really nicely. Must remember next time to ask for less salt though.

Tapas at Brunello

We went for lunch in Weston and decided to head to the Brunello Lounge.

We weren’t really that hungry, so decided against a full size main course, and we ordered three tapas dishes, some fries and onion rings. Service was quick and efficient, which is always nice when you don’t have a huge amount of time for lunch.

We had some chicken wings, the salt & pepper squid, and the hummus.

The chicken wings were fried crispy chicken wings, which had been coated in a sticky sauce and dressed with sesame seeds.

For me the chicken was overcooked. Probably a result of being cooked twice more than anything else. I do like chicken wings, but these weren’t my favourite.

The squid was nice and crispy and there was a large dollop of aioli in the middle.

My favourite of the trio of dishes was the hummus. This was beautifully presented little dish of hummus with fried chickpeas, chilli and parsley. This was served with some flatbread.

The fries were nice and crispy, as was the batter on the onion rings.

Overall a nice snack for a quick lunch.

Gluten Free White Chocolate Cookies


I have a recipe for gluten free white chocolate cookies which I have been using for a few years now which works really well.

I adapted it from a recipe I had, which didn’t work so well, so I made a few changes.

85g of unsalted butter
100g of light brown sugar
30g of caster sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
200g of gluten free plain flour
75g of white chocolate chips
1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 180℃ and line two baking trays with baking parchment.

Add the butter to a heat-proof mixing bowl. Melt the butter in a microwave for approx 50 seconds, until just liquid. Ensure it has fully melted. I find that slicing the butter into thin slices speeds up the process.

I once tried melting the butter in a pan, but the butter was too hot so the white chocolate chips I added later then melted. It’s important that the butter isn’t too hot.

Add the brown sugar and caster sugar to the warm butter, stir well.

Now the add the vanilla essence and the egg. Sometimes, depending on the size of the eggs, I replace the single large egg, with two egg yolks.

Mix into a smooth batter consistency.

Sift the plain gluten free flour into the batter and combine into a soft shiny cookie dough. I use to add xanthan gum, but have found it isn’t always necessary.

Add the white chocolate chips

Spoon the dough into small balls onto the baking trays.

Put them into the oven to bake for 10-12 minutes.

They are ready when they are starting to brown slightly but will still be very soft. Leave them on the tray to cool for five to ten minutes before transferring carefully to a wire rack to cool.

This recipe makes about twelve cookies.

Flat White at Cafe Society

I have been meaning to visit Cafe Society in Bristol on Baldwin Street for a while now, but never really had the opportunity. When I have walked past it was usually as I was on my way to another place, or I had just had a coffee somewhere else.

So when in town one Saturday and walking past, I decided I would go in for a coffee. The place was busy but there were seats available. There was no queue, so I went to the counter and ordered my coffee, a flat white. Having said that I was drinking in, the barista said to take a seat and they would bring my coffee to me.

I took a seat. I noticed that for some of their seats they had a no laptop rule which was interesting. If you did want to use your laptop, there were shared tables available. The rule was enforced, as I did see someone being asked to move to a laptop table.

My flat white arrived. It looked fantastic.

I really enjoyed the coffee and I think I will certainly visit Cafe Society again.

Time for Park’s Kitchen

I realised I was spending too much time walking around thinking about where to eat. So I did a quick perusal of Google Maps. I decided I would go to Las Iguanas, mainly as I had a £10 voucher from their app I could use. Having arrived in Ealing I went to look at Las Iguanas, I decided despite the voucher I wasn’t really in the mood for Las Iguanas. I remembered I had blogged about my visit there in Birmingham in 2022.

Overall I was a little disappointed. I think this was more down I had quite high expectations about the food, and it was just okay. I don’t think I will be going out of my way to visit Las Iguanas anytime soon.

So made the decision that I might go to Las Iguanas, but would first walk around Ealing again. I might be tempted by someplace else. Which is why I found myself standing outside Park’s Kitchen.

I had seen on previous evenings it had been popular and I quite liked the look of the menu. They had space, so I went in and asked for a table. Sorry Las Iguanas you were close, but not close enough. 

Inside it was more cafe like than restaurant, but still a pleasant environment in which to eat a meal.

Though I had looked over the menu outside, I still looked over the menu sitting at the table. There was quite a bit of choice about different kinds of meals, and then combinations of said meals. I decided I would go for the meal deal, though I messed up by ordering a beer instead of a soft drink.

So I had a smaller portion of Tofu and Seafood Soup Soondubu Jjigae.

This was followed by the Seafood Bibimbap.

Alongside I had a portion of vegetable Mandu. These were fried vegetable dumplings.

Actually all the food arrived near enough all at the same time.

The soup was rather nice, the tofu was soft, there was a good portion of seafood in the soup, and there was lots of flavour. I quite liked it.

The Bibimbap arrived in a really hot stone bowl (in a wooden case). Inside was rice, vegetables, and seafood. It was a process of using the heat from the bowl to make the dish. I did like the dish and it was an interesting combination of flavours and textures.

The Mandu were just okay, nothing special.

Though the service was prompt and efficient, I did feel it was a little frosty. Not that was a problem.

I would though certainly visit again. The food was delicious and tasty.

Time for a sandwich, well a nice sandwich

Portwall Tavern

Went out for a walk at lunchtime. I did consider Low N Slow at St Nick’s market, but the brisket wasn’t looking that good today, it looked excellent last week. I then went to the Finzel Reach street food market. I did consider getting lunch from She Sells Sushi, but I’ve had that quite a lot recently, so thought no. 

I had a look at La Panza next to the office, which has a £10 lunch deal. I was very tempted, but disappointed to find out that the deal had only one choice of pasta, which was a cheesy broccoli bucatini pasta, which I didn’t really fancy. I had hoped they would have a choice of pasta, but they only had a pasta of the day.

I then remembered I had enjoyed a sandwich dish from the Portwall Tavern, so went there and had the pulled lamb ciabatta with potato wedges. 

The last time I visited the Tavern I had swapped the wedges for skin-on fries, this time I didn’t. That was because last time the wedges had looked so good.

This was a substantial open sandwich. There was a slice of ciabatta with salad and a good sized portion of the slow cooked (pulled) lamb. The lamb was garnished with some mint yoghurt.

I don’t normally do sandwiches, but this wasn’t a sandwich, this was quite a substantial meal. The lamb was full of flavour, very tender, and tasty.

I enjoyed the sandwich. Generally I don’t do sandwiches.

I don’t do sandwiches

EasyJet Airbus

When it comes to lunch, I generally don’t do sandwiches. I understand why people like eating sandwiches. I actually do like eating sandwiches, when I say I don’t do sandwiches, what I really mean is that I am not a fan of retail sandwich packs.

I was waiting for my delayed flight to Glasgow recently, and it was at an odd time. I had planned to have lunch in Glasgow, but my flight was delayed by ninety minutes. So rather than wait, I decided I would have lunch at Bristol Airport. The last time I flew with EasyJet they had run out of food, so only had snacks and drinks available.

My first choice would have been some Tacos from Tortilla, but I knew I would have to get to the gate at some point. So, in the end I went to Boots. They had some sandwiches reduced, so I got those.

Eating them at the gate I was reminded how much I don’t enjoy retail packs of sandwiches. Not sure if this was because they were chilled. They lacked flavour and in some way lacked texture as well. The bread wasn’t really bread, it was soft and cotton wool like. I ate them, but didn’t enjoy them.

Next time I will need to remember this and have something else or go without.

Going Vegan at Wagamama

When I was staying in London for a few days I went off to Ealing to get something to eat. I did think about going back to Polka, but it was closed on Mondays. Reinata was another place I had considered, but they had gone back to their Winter opening times, so wasn’t open in the evening until Thursday. After spending way too much time walking around Ealing I decided I would visit VanTan again. I had enjoyed my last meal there, so after looking at the menu outside and choosing the Braised Fish Claypot. This was described as braised fish steak caramelised in a sweet savoury sauce with steamed rice. I was given a warm welcome, and handed a menu. Alas though the fish dish was on the menu outside, it wasn’t on the menus at the table. Rather than have something else, I decided I would head off to Wagamama instead. 

I had an equally warm reception at Wagamama. I was shown to a bench and I had a look over the menu. I chose three dishes at Wagamama. Generally I would have two, but was feeling peckish, and it was difficult to choose.

The first dish I chose was the crispy chilli mushrooms. A vegan version of the crispy chilli squid. This was coated and fried crunchy oyster mushrooms. They were dusted with a red pepper powder and served with a chilli and coriander dipping sauce.

The crispy chilli mushroom was nice, not as nice as the chilli squid, but was tasty.

The second dish was one I have had before, which was the mixed mushrooms bao buns. This was mixed mushrooms with crispy panko-coated aubergine, creamy vegan mayonnaise. topped with coriander.

I did feel the mushroom bao buns could have had a lot more mushroom in them, what mushroom was there was slightly overpowered by the crispy panko-coated aubergine.

For my main dish I had the silken tofu gochujang rice bowl. This was something I hadn’t had before. It consisted of silken tofu coated in a spicy gochujang sauce with bok choi, pickled cucumber, snow onion slaw and red onion. It was served on a bed of sticky white rice. finished with spring onion, sliced red chilli, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds and red pepper powder.

This was an interesting dish, and when it arrived it surprised me. Why it surprised me I don’t know. I guess I was expecting more of a hot tofu dish with rice, whereas this was more a salad with rice and deep fried tofu.

The silken tofu was excellent. I really enjoyed the dish, there was a nice mix of different textures and flavours. The bok choi was a little tricky to eat with chopsticks and there wasn’t a knife to cut it either.

I didn’t plan it, but all three dishes were vegan. Overall I enjoyed all three dishes and would certainly have them again.