Tag Archives: mackerel

The Cruel Sea – Poole, Dorset

“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.

mackerel waiting to be cooked, the frontage. The cooked mackerel.
mackerel waiting to be cooked, the frontage. The cooked mackerel.

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.

Cruel sea Beer, Eugene hard at the pass at the rear kitchen
Cruel sea Beer, Eugene hard at the pass at the rear kitchen

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.

the menu, rustic interior
the menu, rustic interior

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.

hummus and bread, sea bream, cod and wild mushrooms
hummus and bread, sea bream, cod and wild mushrooms

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.

corgette & holloumi, grilled chicken, dover sole & tiramisu
corgette & holloumi, grilled chicken, dover sole & tiramisu

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 rustic bar, great atmosphere
The rustic bar, great atmosphere

The Cruel Sea
5 Bank Chambers, Penn Hill Avenue,
Poole, Dorset BH14 9NB

01202 736362
hello@thecruelsea.co.uk

http://www.thecruelsea.co.uk

The Old Sessions House – Knutsford

“Looks like all these NewMoon Pubs are worth a go”

Whilst I love going to top restaurants as much as the next man it’s not always the best option. You generally need plenty of readies, have to get ponced up and you’re limited as to where you go afterwards. I along with The Flame like nothing better than combining a nice meal out with a good walk or a day out somewhere. Sunday is a big day in our house and last week was no exception

The smart exterior! Thanks to Plog for the bottom pic
The smart exterior! Thanks to Plog for the bottom pic

A bright, crisp autumn morn set the scene before a twenty minute scoot to the food and living fair at Tatton Park in Knutsford (pronounced ‘Nats fiord’!). Knutsford is a beautiful, picturesque town set in the heart of Cheshire, it’s proper HS2 bashing territory, Range Rovers prowl the narrow streets, stealthily breezing past the boutiques, wine bars, gallery’s and swanky hairdressers.

Tatton Park

Tatton Park

Sat bristling at the head of Princess Street is ‘The Old Sessions House’. It forms one of the fleet of hostelries serving food set up by Paul Newman and Dave Mooney (NewMoon – geddit?). It’s a wonderful old building and in keeping with the brand and high quality visuals it is distinctive and inviting. Dark grey with white contrasting decals set behind a phalanx of red flowers. After our leisurely hour and a half stroll round the equally wonderful Tatton Park we were proper gasping and hunger pains were setting in.

Some interior fittings
Some interior fittings, Mooney hard at the pass

We had thoughtfully pre booked for a two thirty kick off but arrived an hour early. Thankfully an efficient chap greeted us and paved a way towards the back of the packed house and sat us at a table in the conservatory towards the rear of the dining area. He stated that Ro (short for Rochina, decked out in the black ‘TOSH’ T shirt) would be handling all our needs. It was a little warm at first but a pint of ‘Old Sessions’ (a special brewed just for them) soon cooled things down. It was good to see the mustachioed (Moon) half of the partnership handling what was starting to be a busy pass.

As it was Sunday our order was culled from the simple three courses for £14.95 side of the binge. However, it was comforting to know we could have ordered from the ‘classic’, printed, place setting menu that we have seen before at sister gaff ‘Beef and Pudding’ in Manchester (reviewed here). Well cooked, quality, local ingredients is the mainstay of the offer.

Mackerel, venison terrine, menu
Mackerel, venison terrine, menu

First up The Flame rattled in a spot of smoked mackerel with a refreshing potato salad and a sheath of fresh leaves. So we could go ‘halvey halveys’ I had the venison terrine. Both dishes, simple, well presented and super tasty. Just as you need it.

Sunday roast, beef and chicken
Sunday roast, beef and chicken

We both had a Sunday roast. The flame, half a small Cheshire chicken, me a few slabs of Cheshire beef, cooked pink as requested. Whilst full of flavour the chicken was a bit dry in parts but my beef was as good as I’ve had. Covering the trimmings it went down a treat with a good dollop of horseradish.

Cheese, atrium roof, menu, banoffee sundae
Cheese, atrium roof, menu, banoffee sundae

Mindful of the three course deal The flame finished with the cheese and biscuits whilst I fell for the banoffee sundae. Set in a small tumbler it didn’t look much, but blimey it was good. Lumps of sticky toffee pudding, caramel, bananas and cream. A perfect bit of sweetness to tingle the palate, super.

We like to seek out quality eateries and I think along with Nigel Haworth’s RVI pub chain in Lancashire, I reckon the NewMoon portfolio is building very nicely to become arguably the best set further south. Check them out. We will.

The Old Sessions House
43 Princess Street
Knutsford
WA16 6BW
01565 621 833

http://www.oldsessionshouse.co.uk

http://www.newmoonpub.co.uk