“Looks like this Seafood Pub Company have got things going in the right direction”
That’s three out of six we’ve done now. Assheton Arms, Farmers Arms and now the Town Green Brasserie. I don’t think I’m being too disingenuous to suggest that the Town Green Brasserie is slightly the less salubrious of the three so far. After all ‘brasserie’ is defined as ‘a small restaurant serving beer and wine as well as food; usually cheap’. It’s smaller than the others with less outdoor space. Not that that stopped the locals slurping outside until the last remnants of the evening sun ebbed away.
It’s the newest though. Open six weeks. The decor as you would imagine is pristine, green, wood and more wood. Seating is basic, no lounging here, hence the brasserie tag? It’s the usual quality menu though. The Flame and I were well impressed with the fayre on offer.
After the gentle breeze out to the sticks (the Cooktwit driving) a local, lonely Burscough brew pale ale had us settled and choosing from the premium card. Seafood features. So it was pretty much seafood that we went for. Whilst we stuck to the menu there was a great selection of specials too. The grilled mackerel, plaice and new potatoes, enthusiastically and expertly explained by our young waitress.
Starters up first. We both went ‘terriney’ and ‘hocky’, me devilled crab, with salmon and shrimps (£6.50) the flame traditional ham with cheeses and chutney (£5.50). They were both presented in a similar fashion, plate, clam shell jar. Both looked good, both tasted very good. My crab had a little kick, the flames ham featured big chunks of the stuff.
Mains rocked up. The flame won this one. Storming piece of hake on a slurry of peas, smoked bacon and onions, (£13.50). The hake was beautifully roasted! She loved it. I went for ‘posh’ scampi, made up of monkfish and king prawn (£18.50) dusted in a dark, crispy coat. If I was being picky it looked a bit boring, but to be fair it was what it said it was going to be so I can’t really argue. There was some big chunks of fish buried in there. The king prawns particularly hunky and flavoursome. Great chips too.
As usual I went for a dessert whilst the flame sat back and quaffed a light red wine and a coffee. I went for the passion fruit and strawberry mess with little coconut meringues (£5.95). Lovely end to the meal. I know it’s easy but I love a good mess and this hit the spot.
All in we were at £35 a head. Pretty standard nowadays. We really like what The Seafood Pub Company are doing. We’ve set our mission to do them all. We’ve a few to go. If they all keep up this standard they really are a credit and an asset to their creators and local community alike. A true delight and a worthy alternative to the Nigel Haworths RVI chain that operate in these parts too. Lancashire has some fantastic places to eat. Long may it continue…
Town Green Brasserie,
Phone: 01695 420 883
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.seafoodpubcompany.com
“Catch it, cook it, eat it, sounds a pretty good concept to me”
I stumbled on The Cruel Sea by chance. The flame loves Ben Fogle! and so when he did one of those ‘I love round here’ documentaries I caught site of an ace looking seafood restaurant. The documentary was called ‘Harbour Lives’ and centred on the Dorset coast. I managed to catch site of the name ‘The Cruel Sea’. Its owner, who featured on the programme is Pete Miles. He is a fisherman by trade. His concept is to front a restaurant that offers ‘from net to plate’. The Cruel Sea does just that.
It is set, quite unassuming in a parade of shops in a well-heeled part of Poole. It is a good mile from the sea. It is an atmospheric, lively bar and kitchen, serving fish, meat and vegetarian tapas-style dishes. It offers decent wine, European lagers and great British ales. I had a pint of ‘Cruel Sea’ ale specially brewed locally for them.
We turned in early, just after six. It was already half full, the atmosphere building nicely. It is rustic in style, the obligatory lanterns in the window providing the nod to the sea. A mass of union jack bunting donned the ceiling when we were there. Presumably confirming all the produce is local? The kitchen is open and set at the back of the long narrow bar. I had a quick chat with head chef Eugene and manager Jose. Whilst I was already loving the fish tapas menu, Eugene told me some dover sole and some crabs had just turned up that weren’t on the menu yet. He reckoned I could have some of that if i fancied it. I was gibbering with excitement.
We ordered up. We had some bread and humus to start while we picked off the fishy stuff. Then in no particular order the morsels of goodness started to arrive. Highlight for the flame was the whole mackerel, beautifully filletted, then baked with a salsa verde (£7). It was superb. Highlight for me was the baked dover sole (£8) which came with a goblet of crab bisque, sensational.
Other highlights was the tranche of cod set on wild mushrooms with kale and iberico ham (£9), the sea bream with a chamoula sauce (£7.50). The Flame had one nod at meat. grilled chicken with a lovely quinoa salad (£7.50), we also had a courgette and holloumi dish (£6.50) as our casual nod to something green and healthy.
I finished off with the obligatory, homemade tiramisu (£4.95), set on a slate with a swirl of couli. Very nice too. We had a good chat with the young, buzzy staff who were bright, efficient and friendly. All in all a super night. We cashed in our chips at around £78. Pretty good for a good amount of freshly caught and cooked fish. I love the idea of fish tapas, a great idea. The place was rammed when we left and this was a Wednesday night.Well worth looking out for. I’ll get the crabs and shellfish next time.
The Cruel Sea
5 Bank Chambers, Penn Hill Avenue,
Poole, Dorset BH14 9NB
Like most provincial communities, my home town of Newton-le-Willows has succumbed to the rising influence of the great British curry. A veritable phalanx of spicy food emporiums have come and gone. That said a good number have been here a good while now. “The Fort of India”, “Balti Towers”, “Shajahan”, “Belash” to name but a few, have seemingly found a niche in the local gastronomic scene. However, theres a new kid in town, ‘Amans’ has rooted a dark almost satanic frontage smack bang in the middle of (a faintly resurgent) Newton High Street.
It has an even more imposing gaff a few miles away down the East Lancs at Astley. On that occasion the old “Queens Arms” succumbed, at Newton it was merely a solicitor that went pop! (I think!). Amans it seems is taking over the North West with Congleton, Lowton and Bramhall either fallen or next in line.
So what’s it like? It’s pretty good really. I could stop there but I won’t (groan – Ed). I feel I should set this review in context. Owing to The flames virtual intolerance of Indian food it is very rare The Cooktwit gets to indulge in the fruits of Indian cuisine. That said, out with the boys a few months back I had a glorious meal at Mughli on the curry mile in Manchester which was sensational and is reviewed here on the blog, Amans has a tough benchmark to match.
As I have mentioned black is the main colour, helped along by a purple neon edge. Long gone are the mismatched tables and paper tablecloths. New Indian restaurants nowadays endeavour to ooze sophistication. Amans is no different. As it’s new it is smart. A purple backed, fret cut, wall matrix serving as the feature backdrop. A bizarre wall of plaster ceiling roses forming the way up the stairs to the upper floor and the loos.
Believe it or not The Flame was here on this occasion. Along with six others we were celebrating the flight of leading nephew Ben as he bolts off to China on a teaching shindig. A ‘swifty’ in the Pied Bull across the road meant at least one decent pint could be had before I had to have Kingfisher! As is the norm in most Indian restaurants, Amans present us with a luxurious, metallic, golden tome. It takes hours to get through. In my eyes it presents the first negative comparison with Mughli. Their entire menu is presented on the side of one card. It is the work of a moment to select your meal.
With the miriad of dishes and sauces on offer I am reminded of the TV programme ‘The Restaurant Man’. If you are not familiar, the premise being that a handsome cove, well versed in what makes a successful foodie joint work, trots round to would be owners and tells them where it’s all going wrong. One episode featured some good natured Asian ladies who had the laudable idea of cooking and selling real Indian food, just as their grandma had taught them. The snag had been how they could create their wonderful dishes to the scale they needed to make some cash. A head chef was hired. He immediately purchased a huge vat and an industrial ‘whizzer’ in order to create huge quantities of the ‘base’ sauce. Every dish would therefore start off as this but then have a little something extra added just prior to service to create a ‘different’ dish. It was incredibly off putting for me. Im not saying Amans do this but I sense many Indian restaurants do this in order to service these vast offerings.
I digress though. In order to make sure my experience of Amans is not tainted, the flame and I opt from the non standard half of the menu. It makes a pleasing change. I go for ‘Tahori Fish’ to start, pieces of seabass in a light batter (£4.95). Two pieces of beautifully cooked fish, marred slightly by the appalling effort of a garnish. Why restaurants think we diners appreciate scrags of limp lettuce, a shred of onion and an olive is beyond me, but it seems to be ‘de rigeur’ in some places. The flame trooped home in first place with some stunning pieces of chicken. Called ‘MalayTikka’ (£4.25) Tender pieces of chicken marinated with mayonnaise, ground almond, ground spices and natural yoghurt. I managed a morsel and have to say it was superb and moist. The salad was from the same pot as mine! Sadly I didn’t manage to get a pic as she had wolfed it in no time.
For mains we again went off beam and came up trumps. The flame probably won again ‘Pangash Biraan’ (£10.25) described as white fish fillet marinated with medium spices and lightly pan fried, served with sauteed onions, red and green peppers, spring onion and garnished with lemon and coriander. The fish was superb, beautifully cooked with a light spicy, seasoned coat. The flame had to shove the mound of onions off to one side (there was no peppers or spring onion garnish) but other than she said she would come again just for this. Can’t say fairer than that. The same scraggy garnish made it to the plate! I went for a ‘Lamb Chop Balti’ (a slightly whopping £11.45, but boy this was good. Five, tender chops wonderfully cooked in a rich tasty sauce. They were very pleasant. I left a mound of dry bones and mopped up the sauce with some boiled rice and a chapati. The desserts on offer were the usual freezer based ice creams, no ‘Rasmalai’ I’m afraid. At least the well turned out waiters laughed when I asked for it!
I’d have to say we all enjoyed it. The place was packed out. The service was efficient and friendly, giving us just the right amount of gap between courses. We certainly weren’t rushed. As a standard Indian restaurant it was very good. A few Indian pale ales wouldn’t go amiss to top up the Kingfisher and the cans of ‘Tetley Smooth!’
If you’re in Newton le Willows and want an Indian you really couldn’t beat it. It is probably the best Indian in Newton! But, if you want to try something a little different and have the time I would see if Mughli have a table and get the next train to Oxford Road, then a £5 taxi to Rusholme. Explore the simple menu and enjoy. It cost us £50 a couple at Amans. I reckon you wouldn’t spend much more going down the curry mile. A welcome addition to Newton though. We will go back (if they let me!).