Delicious Gastro Pub Food at the Canbury Arms

It was August and we were staying with family in Kingston. The night before we had had some great sushi at Obon and on this evening we were visiting the Canbury Arms.

This is a pub, probably what most people would call a gastro pub, there was a section of the pub for people who wanted to drink, but there was a larger section with tables for people who wanted a meal. There is a difference in decor between the two sections, the restaurant area looks a lot more like you would imagine a restaurant should look like, whilst the bar area has lots of wood.

We were shown to our table and I looked over the menu, I have to say I had cheated and looked at the menu online before, but even so looking at the menu in the flesh, I wasn’t sure what I would have.

For my starter I decided to have the calamari and share it with my son. I kind of default to calamari as a starter, something that I do enjoy, and I have had great calamari in a variety of places, but sometimes I think I should have something else as a change.

It was nice, but nothing special, I think if I went again I would choose something different from the menu.

My sister in law went with the farmhouse pork, black pudding & sage scotch egg, brown sauce.

Now it was only later when I had posted the picture to Instagram (as one does) that someone commented on the saucy nature of the presentation of the food. Having said that I was offered half of the scotch egg, to which I said, yes please. This was actually rather excellent, and I really enjoyed the intensity of flavour in the pork around the egg. I could have eaten all of that dish.

For my main, there were some lovely choices, but I decided that I would go against my usual choices and have the chicken. Usually I would avoid the chicken, as I have it quite a lot at home, but this time I decided I would go down a different route and I would choose the chicken. This was a chicken supreme, asparagus, butternut squash puree, sautéed wild mushrooms & tarragon butter. I think what sold it to me was the wild mushroom element of the dish.

The chicken was cooked to perfection, tender and moist and full of flavour. The butternut squash puree was to die for, it was so smooth, buttery and full of flavour. The mushrooms weren’t as good as I was hoping, but I did enjoy them. The tarragon butter was an addition that in my mind brought the dish together. This was a delicious plate of food and I really enjoyed eating every mouthful.

We had some great food across the table, some great looking steaks. I did quite like the look of the sea bass fillet, on crushed jersey royals, peas, spring greens, with caper butter.

The salad from the specials menu was also outstanding. Black Quinoa Salad with roasted cauliflower, feta, pomegranate and harissa dressing.

Overall we had a wonderful meal, delicious food and we left feeling very happy and satisfied.

Frankly it was rather disappointing

On visits to the Leather Lane market well before the Covid lockdown I had seen the Argentalia market stall a few times, but had not bought lunch there, though I did quite fancy the concept.

So on a recent visit a couple of months back, I had the opportunity to try out the stall. I went with the Argentalia Barbeque Box, which comes with Asado (ribs), Vacio (flap meat), Chorizo (sausage), Morcilla (black pudding), Pollo (chicken), Pork with chimichurri and variety of salads or fries.

This had the potential to be outstanding box of food, but alas it wasn’t meant to be.

The salad was flat and insipid.

The fries were okay, but nothing special.

So what of the main attraction, the barbecued meat?

I think if the meat had actually been barbecued then this would have made the dish so much better than it was. The problem with the meat was that it was quite tough and chewy. It was almost braised, steamed rather than grilled.

I am not even sure I got everything on the list. 

Overall I was looking forward to a great box of barbecued meats, what I got was frankly rather disappointing.

Time for breakfast

breakfast at The Walton

I occasionally have to stay away as part of my job, and I find it surprising that I have become something of a breakfast snob when it comes to hotel breakfasts. I know that it is nice to have someone else make you breakfast.

A recent breakfast experience at the Holiday Inn Express was very disappointing, with minimal choice, not much different a previous experience a few years back. However recently I was able to repeat the breakfast experience at The Walton Hotel in Nottingham. I first stayed at The Walton back in 2016.

The Walton Hotel in Nottingham

This is a unique hotel experience and nothing like the bland chains that I usually find myself in. The quirky decor and furniture makes fort a very different hotel experience.

The Walton Hotel in Nottingham

Last time the breakfast was very quirky in its presentation.

breakfast at The Walton

This time I was expecting something different, as I had noticed that the dinner menu was radically different to what I had seen on my last visit. Last time I had a really nice pork done three ways. Looking back through the blog I realised I hadn’t blogged about that dish or the breakfast.

Pork done three ways

That pork dish was very clever and delicious, but as you can see it had quite a quirky presentation. I think I remember seeing a similar sounding lamb dish back then, so was looking forward to having that this time on my return visit. However looking over the menu it was apparent that they had changed chef and were going for “safe” options such as steak and chips, steak and ale pie, fish and chips, etc…

The new menu didn’t inspire me so was expecting a more “traditional” breakfast. However this time the breakfast was similar, it was served on a plate, though the beans were still in a miniature saucepan.

breakfast at The Walton

The mushroom was full of flavour and well cooked, not broiled for ages as you find at a breakfast buffet. Likewise as it was cooked to order the bacon was very tasty and not dried out, the eggs were also similarly freshly cooked and still had runny yolks. I liked the beef tomato that came with the breakfast. The sausage was meaty and tasty. The breakfast came with some nice toasted bloomer bread and a cafetière of freshly brewed coffee.

These were high quality ingredients and were cooked well and tasted delicious.

A little piece of France in Bristol

La Buvette in Bristol

Down on Baldwin Street in the heart of Bristol is a little piece of France. La Buvette is a characterful little wine bar which also serves some really nice food.

La Buvette is owned and run by the Riverstation’s Peter Taylor. Peter runs a hotel in rural France called Auberge de Chassignolles and when it closed for the winter months, Peter came back to Bristol in December and he opened Bar Buvette a pop-up Parisian-style natural wine bar. It seems to have been a success and has become more of a permanent feature.

I found out about La Buvette from an article in the Evening Post weekend supplement. So the following Tuesday thinking that this would be a nice place for a quick lunch I popped down to find it closed. Alas they only open for lunch on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, so I had to find somewhere else…

Last week I was in Bristol on a Friday, so I thought, hmm, this could be a good time to try out La Buvette. I arrived at quarter past twelve, it was open and only one other table was taken, well it was quite early for lunch. The staff were welcoming and friendly and as they were still writing the menu out on the blackboard.

La Buvette in Bristol

Listening carefully I decided to go with the boudin with duck egg. When it arrived I was a little surprised to find that it was black pudding, or boudin noir! Maybe I should have listened a little more carefully. The waiting staff did say that this was a small dish, so I ordered a beetroot salad alongside the boudin noir.

The environment was really atmospheric, it felt very French, the wooden furniture, the bottles on the wall and the pictures on the wall.

La Buvette in Bristol

The boudin noir was cooked to perfection, it was soft and full of lovely flavours, and the richness of the duck egg complemented it well.

Boudin noir and duck egg

The beetroot salad was made from different dressed roasted beetroot complemented with goat’s cheese curds. This was sharp and tasty.

Beetroot Salad

Upon reflection I think I might have ordered just one dish along with some bread. This would have been better value for lunch, but I did really enjoy both dishes. The total cost was £12.50 as I basically had two dishes, with bread the cost would have been around £7.50 which is better, but still quite expensive for lunch. However the food was great, the staff friendly and excellent service, it will be a place I would like to visit again.

Breakfast for dinner

I don’t normally have breakfast for dinner, but with what I had in the fridge and having little time after getting back from work I wanted something quick to eat.

A couple of slices of black pudding were fried in a pan, I prefer it grilled, but time was of the essence, so fried they were. It is worth seeking out some good quality black pudding.

I also scrambled a couple of eggs. My technique is to put a knob of butter into a pan and then add the beaten eggs. Low heat and stirring a lot with a fork. Turn off the heat just before you think they’re done and let the residual heat cook the eggs off.

I took a ciabatta roll and sliced it in half and popped one half in the toaster.

To serve I took the toasted ciabatta, cut it into two, placed on it a slice of black pudding, topped it with the scrambled egg and freshly ground black pepper. The plate was finished off with half of a fresh tomato.

Yes this would also make a nice breakfast, but it makes a nice dinner too.

Steak and Black Pudding

The other week I was lucky enough to have dinner at the Mustard Seed Restaurant in Inverness. For my starter I had had the crayfish and salmon salad. For my main course I had the pan fried rump steak served with roasted fine diced black pudding and potatoes with parsley and garlic crème fraîche.

This was really really nice.

The steak was a rump steak, and I have found at many restaurants that rump steak can be quite tough, this one though was cooked to perfection and was very tender. I did ask for it to be cooked medium rare and I think that helped. The black pudding and potatoes were done well and really enhanced the steak. It was all complemented with the parsley and garlic crème fraîche, which had a subtle garlic flavour and the freshness worked well in opposition to the strong spiced flavour of the black pudding. Across those flavours you could still certainly taste the flavour of the beef.

Overall a really nice combination of ingredients, that was cooked well and was as a result delicious.

Breakfast at Bloomsbury

I was recently up in London and stayed at the Ambassadors Hotel in Bloomsbury. I generally dislike having breakfast in hotels, as more often than not they are overpriced and though have extensive choice are not really value for money. For example a month or two back I stayed at the Thistle Barbican Hotel and breakfast (though included in my room rate) would have cost you £15.95. For that you would have to queue up unless you got up really early. Having sat down in the Thistle, if you were lucky, the waiting staff would bring you some coffee and toast. Then it was self-service for the cooked breakfast, which was not very inspiring.

So I was well pleased with breakfast at the Ambassadors Hotel in Bloomsbury. It was about the same price as the Thistle, but unlike that place, at the Ambassadors they served you your cooked breakfast at the table, and what an excellent cooked breakfast it was.

breakfast

Beautifully served, it consisted of an excellent meaty sausage, some very nice grilled bacon, a small bowl of baked beans, grilled (and skinned) tomato, mushroom, bubble and squeak, black pudding and egg. You had a choice of eggs (chicken or duck) and cooked to your liking, I had a poached duck’s egg. It was also garnished with lettuce, not sure about the lettuce.

There was quite a choice of other cooked items as well, such as boiled eggs and kippers.

Along with the cooked breakfast, there was also a (self-service) selection of toast, bread products such as croissant and panettone, fruit, yoghurt, juice, cold meats, cheese and smoked fish.

Overall I was well impressed and would recommend the breakfast, though still not sure about the lettuce.

Goat’s Cheese and Bury Black Pudding

Went out for dinner tonight, a spur of the moment kind of thing at a local pub.

For starters I went for what sounded like an interesting dish.

Goat’s Cheese and Bury Black Pudding

It consisted of slices of Bury black pudding topped with goat’s cheese and cranberry sauce.

Overall it was interesting but not really anything special. It lacked flavour and there was way too much salad on the plate.