Tag Archives: breakfast

The Lost and Found – Knutsford, Cheshire

“Cant really go wrong with bottomless prosecco and brunch. Especially at a smart gaff where ladies doth lunch”. Did you notice that rhymed?

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Strange one this. Stumbled on it as part of my day job (as someone who specifies furniture). A rather creditable outfit called ‘Revivalist’ pointed out that one of their more recent successful fit outs was their conversion of a Town Hall into a high end bar called ‘The Lost and Found’ in Knutsford. They proceeded to pepper me with wonderful, high res images highlighting their craft of making places look smart. As a fan of Mr Osbourne’s part time residence I decided to treat The Flame once again and head over there for a light brunchette. We like Knutsford, you may remember me in previous blogs, like ‘The Old Sessions House’ and the wonderful ‘Makers Market’. Despite the early start (11.30am) the website recommended booking for brunch. So we did.

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We duly arrived at the imposing old building, suitably spruced. We booked in at reception and admired the spacious downstairs bar. However, the receptionist radioed into a ‘walkie talkie’ to announce our arrival. Moments later we had trudged up several flights of stairs to the top floor dining room. Once we’d ventured through the smart navy doors you are greeted with a huge, naturally lit space. Divided in two along its length. A tiled mezzanine, sprinkled with Eames inspired wire side chairs sits to the right whilst the lower left half houses a series of booths, the bar, the pass and more tables. It is impressive. This could be the first restaurant review you read with the word ‘biophillia’ in its prose! Trees and various branches of foliage abound, bringing nature and the outside in. The lack of soft furnishings and the huge original windows make it a tad noisy though.

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We are presented with our ‘bottomless prosecco brunch’ menu. As it’s not compulsory we elected to miss the £15pp extra for two hours worth of free plonk and settle for a quality black coffee and some tap water. It’s a great menu, small plates and mains, all done with a twist.

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The Flame went for her favourite Smoked salmon, black pepper and lemon cream cheese, dressed rocket, open malted brown bloomer (£7.50). She also asked for some avocado which was duly provided for only a £1 extra. Have to say it looked very good if you like that sort of thing. The Flame was in raptures, loved, loved, loved it.

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I went for their full breakfast which was Bacon, grilled Cumberland sausages, black pudding, fried, scrambled or poached eggs, roasted vine tomatoes, flat mushroom, house beans (£8.50). For research purposes I had Brown butter pancakes, banana, hazelnuts, chocolate sauce too (£6.00). The breakfast was fine. The sausage rather good, the bacon a bit too crisp for me. The house beans added a twist. The pancakes were hot and plump, sweet and nutty. A fine end to proceedings.

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A little, local bird told me that the place had a rather stuttering start, inexperienced staff, cocktail making by numbers, poor beer stocks and lacklustre management. It would seem much has improved. Whilst it shouldn’t be too difficult to rustle up a good breakfast and serve unlimited prosecco, the staff we encountered, particularly Dianne our American? waitress was experience, warmth and ‘attentiveness’ personified. As I mentioned the place had started to fill considerably, with couples and groups of lunching ladies. The Flame was well impressed and has already earmarked some girlie events here in the future. Its on the list to try for a proper meal. Its worth a punt for the grand view alone. On a nicer day, you can always walk off the excess with a walk round Tatton Park. Give it a go.

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The Lost & Found
Old Town Hall, Princess Street,
Knutsford. WA16 6BY
Telephone – 01565 760 096
knutsford@the-lostandfound.com
http://www.the-lostandfound.co.uk

Breakfast in Manchester – Part 2

“Where do you go in Manchester for an early breakfast? Well, you could try a couple of these for a start…..”

Much to The Flames perplexity (is that a word – ed?) I love going out for breakfast. For me this is God’s own start to the day. The Flame’s preference is to stay in and have a bit of grapefruit! So when I found myself having to fend for oneself for a few days I decided to forego the usual ritual of skimmed milk and wholewheat cereals (yawn) and head into Manchester an hour early and start the day in true style.

First up I stumbled, by chance really, into Ezra and Gil on Hilton Street in the Northern Quarter. It operates out of a big corner plot in a fine old building. It seemed to be set up for coffee. I asked do they do breakfast and was readily assured they do. An all day brunch menu was pointed out. In true NQ style its very informal with loads of high and low tables dotted around, it’s an engaging offer and even sells the basics such as fruit, veg and bread. The ‘E&G’ was ordered up pronto. Though a little disappointed that there was no bacon, it was an absolute belter. Tons of well cooked scrambled egg, great sausages and a decent brew made for a corking start to the day. Around £9 all in.

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Next day I went to Manchester stalwart The Koffee Pot. After initial concerns that it had packed up I discovered it had moved round the corner from Stephenson Square to a newer, bigger plot on Oldham Street towards Ancoats. I settled in and took in the new ambience. Its more standard cafe than the trendier NQ operations. A fine ‘Koffee Pot’ motif dominates the room. Had a change today, went rarebit with bacon, tomatoes and poached egg. My usual black coffee was served in a big mug but was instant rather than the artisan styles offered by many elsewhere. The rarebit and bacon was superb, lovely mustard kick. Disappointingly the poached egg was hard and the tomatoes came slicked in some sort of hot, chilli ketchup, bit nasty really. At just over £8 it was ok.

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Next up after two days of calorific overload I nipped for something a little lighter. I went to NQ favourite Fig and Sparrow on Oldham Street. Here I had a super creamy yoghurt with granola, almonds and cranberries sprinkled on top, all washed down with a top notch black coffee. All in for just over a fiver. Very relaxing, super little place this. It doubles up as a life style shop too. Lots of nick nacks to browse while you wait. Great place.

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I had a cracking few days. If you factor in the places I went last time on my ‘Breakfast in Manchester 5 day tour’ (see here) and add in a later Pot Kettle Black (reviewed here) you can quickly see there are some great ways to eat before work in Manchester. Give it a go. Beat the crowds, get in early and start the day in style….

www.figandsparrow.co.uk
www.thekoffeepot.co.uk
http://www.ezraandgil.com

Pot Kettle Black Coffee – Manchester

“Manchester based, Indie coffee gaff PKB have added a decent brunch to the offer. Its worth a punt”

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The Flame texted in. “Im in town to take your present back to Marks, where you taking me for lunch?”. Bit cheeky, but hey Its Monday, normally a slimming day, thinking on my feet I suggest meeting at Pot Kettle Black. Time 12.30. It’s a short scutch down Deansgate from the office to the rather grand Barton Arcade. PKB is stationed within behind Spanish favourite Lunya (reviewed here). Ive been to PKB quite a few times. The witty blackboards stationed on Deansgate and St Anns Square have drawn me in a many times for a quick brew and the odd bowl of morning porridge. Lately its had a moderate make over and added a brunch menu that I’ve fancied trying. The meeting was set.

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The splendid Barton Arcade, Witty blackboards

The Flame was already stationed in the window on the newly acquired touch down, rough hewn planks that are nailed into the window bays. We sat on the hessian covered stools and surveyed the dinky little A5 menu, itself clipped to a piece of hardboard. You’re perhaps getting the idea of the decor and makeover? Its pure vintage, casual, quirky and smart. I love it. A big high communal table is available to share alongside standard tables and chairs. A new express hatch directly into the arcade is part of the alterations.

I ordered up at the bar. An array of tray baked brownies adorn. The staff, young and hip are decked out in branded T shirts. Once paid, the cutlery was presented in a vintage tin along with my numbered spoon.

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The menu is largely egg based along with the ubiquitous avocado. Carbs are added with a variety of herby, flavoured, sourdough bread. The eggs are done all ways, many of them submerged in glorious spicy sauce. On this occasion I had the ‘saganaki’ version (£9) whilst The Flame plumbed for the poached eggs and avocado (£8.50). We ordered strong, black, americano coffees to go with them.

The saganaki eggs featured feta, chilli and spinach and came with olive and rosemary sourdough toast. Set in a wonderful deep blue bowl the two, plump, soft baked eggs were swamped in a glorious, spicy, tomato stew. The stiff toast doubling up as a scoop and mop for the uncious goo. What a glorious, healthy lunch. So much so, I had the spicier N’duja eggs a few days later!

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Avocado with poached eggs, saganaki eggs

Im not a major fan of avocado but The Flame loved her soft poached eggs on avocado too. Eggs looked good and it was a decent coffee. Nicely presented on its little tray with a goblet of water and a chocolate cigar.

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All in all couldn’t fault it. £22 for a very pleasant lunchette. It seems breakfast and brunch is becoming quite a ‘thing’. Im all for it, love going out for breakfast so I reckon its here to stay. I know there are quite a few places in the city doing this now. The northern quarter in particular but I reckon PKB can hold its own with them. They are open from 8am at the weekends now. So no excuses to hit the corporate, American coffee shops when we have our own right here. Give it a try…..

Pot Kettle Black Coffee
Unit 14, Barton Arcade
Deansgate
Manchester
M3 2BW

Yorks Bakery Cafe – Birmingham

“In my brief, humble opinion eating brunch in Birmingham has no equal”

A gentlemen’s weekend had broken out. A rock gig at Birmingham’s premier ‘mega hangar’ the supposed centrepiece. However as subsistence director I was tasked with ensuring our humble threesome didn’t starve or become slaked with thirst. Thirst was sorted by local hostelries The Wellington and The Victoria, food came via the unlikely titled Yorks Bakery. Having travelled by train and being really adventurous you may be surprised to learn that all this sustenance was had within 200 yards of New Street station!

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We stumbled on Yorks first and foremost on the afternoon of said gig. We were enticed by a beer and burger for a tenner banner. We soon learned that this was a midweek special, however, undeterred the decor and general demeanour had us suitably hooked to sit in a try it out. I immediately recognised the place as a typical, urban, trendy type, ‘Northern Quarter’* cafe, resplendent in the obligatory exposed services and homemade tables, chairs and benches. A hip backing track and cool staff completed the look. A well stocked, stack of homemade cakes on the bar helped too!

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As it was we went for the burger and fries anyway, allied to a bottle of pale ale and a super boost smoothie. The fries gun powdered, the burger suitably sized, cooked pink but overshadowed for me by an over ‘garlicky’ aioli. Could have done with it on the side and not caked over the bottom bun. All in all though a super effort and enjoyed by all.

What really caught the eye for me was the menu for breakfast/brunch. As we were staying at the nearby ‘Nitenight’, breakfast was an extra that we had to fund ourselves. And so come 9.30 next morning we took our place back in Yorks whilst the young staff optimistically put out the kerbside tables and chairs. We surveyed the super A4 card once more to confirm our order.

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A couple of trendy teas, served in big glass urns and a decent ‘americano’ take the edge of the previous nights beer. The house breakfast here when shared is called ‘The gentleman’, which was highly appropriate, as my two esteemed cohorts took up the offer of a sharing plate. A fairly hefty £15 each with unlimited brews. But boy what a set up. Quality, local, artisan ingredients set on a huge plank that barely fitted on our table. Fine herby sausages, oak smoked bacon, huge shrooms, homemade barbecue beans (a particular highlight), fried eggs and wonderful sourdough toast and local butter. All done to perfection.

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I went off beam and tried the middle eastern breakfast ‘Shakshuka’ (£8). Peppers, onions sweated in garlic, cumin and Harissa with baked eggs, yoghurt and herbs. This came hot in its own skillet and sourdough bread. Absolutely wonderful, what a great start to a day. I followed with a bit of sweetness. Toasted banana bread, with espresso labne? Sweet dukka and a raspberry coulis (£5). Oh my, another triumph.

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Shakshuka, toasted banana bread

We were in the place for a good hour and a half. By the time we came out for our 11.20 train the place was packed. It would appear quite a lot of the Birmingham city dwellers are aware of Yorks, as they were all out getting their brunch. Even outside was full. So once again it’s a full recommend. If you ever find yourself with an hour to kill at New Street railway station you can either grab a snack from the chains inside or take the gentle 50 yard stroll to Yorks. I know what id do……

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Lovely cakes

Yorks Bakery Cafe
29 Stephenson Street
Birmingham

T 0121 643 4331
http://www.yorksbakerycafe.co.uk

Bircher Muesli – Anna Jones and Jamie Oliver

I quite like a cereal type, healthy breakfast. Porridge is good, muesli, bran flakes all get an airing. I also have a go at the 5:2 diet (see here). I then look for a good low calorie, filling breakfast. This is where this Bircher muesli recipe comes into play. It’s basically porridge oats prepared the night before and soaked overnight in a suitable liquid (in this case milk, but I’ve come across apple juice) with some extras. Half this recipe provides a good, long lasting feed and comes in at about 400 calories.

Weighing up the night before.
Weighing up the night before.

This recipe adds chia seeds because they give a rich creaminess – if you don’t want to add chia, just don’t add as much milk. Chia seeds are little seeds that boost the nutritional value of the breakfast tenfold. They look a bit like poppy seeds and come in a variety of colours: black, white and grey. I use the white ones here. You’ll find them in health food shops and in big supermarkets beside the nuts and seeds. Chia seeds were the food of choice of Aztec and Mayan warriors, and a single tablespoon would keep them going for 24 hours. They are high in protein, so they’re perfect for breakfast time. You can use them in smoothies and in baking.

The night before, put the oats, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds into a bowl or container, pour over the milk, and add the maple syrup (or honey), vanilla and lemon juice. Mix well, then cover and pop into the fridge overnight. I won’t lie at this point it looks like the slurry you get when you unblock the sink! But next morning it all comes together as the seeds and oats soak up the milk. It then takes on a gloopier and altogether more appealing look.

The finished results
The finished results

In the morning, chop the pears into little chunks, sprinkle over the cinnamon and add the sour cherries. You can vary this bit really, grated apple works or a bit of banana. This recipe does two pretty big portions or could divide into three.

Ingredients

100g oats
2 tablespoons white chia seeds
1tablespoon pumpkin seeds
350ml milk (400ml for a sloppier mix) of your choice (I use almond or coconut)
1 tablespoon maple syrup (I use honey)
a dash of vanilla extract
a squeeze of lemon juice
2 ripe pears
1 pinch of ground cinnamon
a small handful of dried sour cherries, or cranberries

Recipe from ‘A modern way to eat’ by Anna Jones and then taken on by Jamie Oliver www.jamieoliver.com

Breakfast in Manchester – A Five Day Tour

“It seems you can get an early breakfast in Manchester, great start to the day”

The Cooktwit only earns his keep in Manchester. It’s an hours jaunt to the ‘metrop’. Breakfast is normally an early morning affair comprising semi skimmed milk and some wheat grains. For variety the grains may be flaked, branned, crusted or boiled.

The Flame took off for a week leaving the hapless cooktwit marooned. However, he doesn’t quake, he dusts himself down, gets out his credit card and hits town. An experiment ensued, what can Manchester offer for a mid-week pre office feed?

First up Pot Kettle Black, bit of a cheat this, I go here quite a bit for a ‘52diet’ porridge. Lovely little independent coffee stop in the Barton Arcade.  I’ve tried a few porridges in town. I reckon at £2.50 its good value for money, so I reckon this is the best. A good portion, still with a bit of bite and comes with a cup of honey and dried fruit. Could do with being hotter but you can break walls down with this. Good start.

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Tuesday I nipped down to Wholesome and Raw, one of the six new outlets awarded a stab at setting up full time at The Kitchens in Spinningfields. As the name suggests they specialise in organic, good for you grub. I had what turned out to be a cross between a salad and a toastie. Toasted sourdough bread with super scrambled eggs on one and sliced avocado on the other. Flanked by tomatoes and shrubbery dripped in balsamic and oils. An unusual breakfast but nonetheless another super start. Copped me £6.90 though.

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Wednesday over to surprise entry Per Tutti. An Italian restaurant by trade, but here it is offering a super breakfast menu from 8am. I dined alone in smart surroundings with great coffee. I plumbed for a smoked haddock, kedgeree scotch egg. Set on rocket it was a fair size and was very tasty. Came in at £8.50 with the brew. A surprisingly good start.

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Thursday its over to Bills. First chain of the week, but one I’ve always thought seems a bit better than many. Been to a few around the country. They all seem well thought out with an eclectic interior and a good menu. I had the eggs benedict. I love eggs benedict. I’ve had better than this to be fair; I prefer a thicker hand cut ham, rather than the thin sliced stuff. But I’m quibbling, there’s quite a few in here, the service is perky and smart and it’s a great view onto John Dalton Street. All in Dearest of the week £9.30.

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Final day, it’s a sunlit Carlucci’s in Spinningfields. Another chain, but again another quality one in my opinion. Had a corking fry up in Leeds once as well as several decent pastas around the country. Had a simple muesli and yoghurt which came with a dish of honey and a dish of berries. Good portion, great crunch and taste. Lasted me well into the day. Coffee always decent as well, spent many a time in Piccadilly waiting for train with one. All in £7.35.

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Have to say I thoroughly enjoyed my little tour of early doors eating in Manchester. Couldn’t fault any of them. If you’re on a budget probably best to stick to a simple independent. All in all I spent £34.65 but each time I was well set up for the day. Ill certainly be giving this a try again as a little treat.

http://www.bills-website.co.uk
http://www.potkettleblackltd.co.uk
http://www.pertutti.co.uk
http://www.carluccios.com
@wholesomeandraw