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Top Dishes of 2015

I can see a bandwagon coming along. Yep, I’m on it. Welcome to my 2015 food review! It’s now customary to provide a small compendium of what has been quaffed over the last year. I did one for 2014 and that seemed to go down well. I’ve already read a few this year. They’ve generally been a more exotic round up than mine, but nonetheless the grub featured here is top stuff.

Like last year this isn’t all the top grub, but merely the ones that have stood out slightly from the rest. As ever, the joy of a decent feed comes not just from the food itself but from that certain feeling of well being that one feels as the plate, dish, tub, tray, slate (or even flowerpot) is first placed down in front of you and the experience starts.

The meals featured are in no particular order. Just generally great.

Early doors we went to Simon Rogan’s, The French in Manchester. This gives a reason to show some raw beef in coal oil again. I could have shown loads more. Suffice to say The French was very good indeed. But you already knew that.

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I love a decent burger. A newcomer to Manchester this year has been Filthy Cow. Young Jordan has done really well there. The filthy beast is a beaut, and washed down with a Ginger Comfort milkshake you really are on a winner.

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I love a good pud and have had many fine ones. Albina‘s (in Crosby) really hit the spot with their old school jam roly poly and custard.

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We went to Jersey for our hols. Michelin starred Ormer was a highlight. Loved the steak tartare with a horseradish cream. Jersey is a fabulous place to visit and eat. Mark Jordan on the Beach another one to recommend.

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Big treat for me is a Sunday Brunch. We had none better this year than at NewMoon’s spectacular, Scouse opening ‘The Old Blind School‘. Eggs Benedict and French toast, it was boss.

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French toast, haddock omelette, eggs benedict

 

 

Bit of a Spanish explosion in Manchester this year. Had wonderful octopus at Levanter, which is a sensational tapas bar in Ramsbottom (but somehow seems to be considered as near Manchester!). Had a corking paella in Iberica in Spinningfields and wonderous Iberian ribs at the Barton Arcades Lunya. All three will be on the list again for 2016, along with my old faithful El Rincon De Rafa.

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No year would be complete without a good steak. Didn’t have a better one that at Hawksmoor, Manchester. Sensational rib eye with anchovy mayonnaise and thrice cooked chips! Had a wonderfully indulgent lobster in a bun too.

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Had a short break in Barcelona for my birthday. Glorious tuna at the infamous Pinotxo Bar in La Boqueria market. Finished off the break with a suckling pig dish at 4 Gats in the old town.

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I love a Sunday roast, had none better than at Freemasons Wiswell. Simply stunning. Will admit though that The Bay Horse Inn (Lancaster) came up close.

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If pizza is your thing, (and occasionally it is mine!) newcomer to Manchester, Tariff and Dale in the northern quarter do a pretty mean one. Check them out.

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Best scallop and lamb meal was had in one sitting at The Cartford Inn (Little Eccleston) Pretty incredible really, never had lamb like it, totally historic.

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The Flame (the wife!) loves fish pie. Couldn’t get by without mentioning The Bulls Head at Mobberly. She reckoned that’s the best this year. Full of fish, beautiful.

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Love seafood. Who doesn’t? Didn’t have it prepared any better than at The Easy Fish Company in Heaton Moor. What a plaice this is! Well worth a visit. Has a lovely piece of plaice with a slash of Crustacea and shells. Incredible.

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Plaice with all the trimmings

 

Working in Manchester as I do, I couldn’t finish without mentioning The Kitchens. A new, six pop up, street food outlet in Spinningfields. All six are ace, I had them all. Long time favourite Mumma Shnitzel maintained remarkable, consistent quality for their chicken based burgers. Young Richard at Bangers and Bacon (as well as Well Hung) rocked up with superb meat based offerings. Hip Hop Chippy Shop did what it says on the tin with a cracking fish and chip butty. Chaat Cart (Indian Canteen) with the wonderful Aarti at the helm delivered amazing chicken kati rolls. Yakuhama and Wholesome and Raw brought some slightly less carb loaded nutrition to the table.

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Chip butty, bean salad, avocado scrambled egg breakfast, banh mi, kati roll, schnitzel.

All in all a fabulous year for food. I’m sure I’ve missed loads out. I could have added loads more too. Who will forget the Solita Christmas burger? and the lemon posset in a flowerpot at The Royal at Staveley? If you follow on Twitter you would have seen all this anyway. If you read the blog you would have had a bit more detail on these too. Read on if you really haven’t anything better to do!

Anyway that’s it. Happy new year. Let’s look forward to trying more great dishes in 2016!

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Ormer – St Helier, Jerseys

“Another Michelin Star restaurant on Jersey, don’t mind if I do…”

The Flame had arranged a quick week in Jersey. No problem I thought, the place is steeped to the gills in Michelin starred restaurants and the place heaves with quality raw materials. Within minutes I’d booked Ormer. Its Michelin star has been honed by its mentor, Shaun Rankin. I couldn’t wait to get there. Mid hols we sauntered from our hotel through the mean streets of St Helier to Don Street. It’s just off the main pedestrian shopping area.

Smart decor. The pass from our table
Smart decor. The pass from our table

Ormer dominates Don Street with its smart double frontage. The bang on trend mustard leather chairs shine through the front window which itself is daubed in indigo. The theme continues inside, complemented with walnut and cream. You could be entering a smart Soho club. The gentlemen at The Drones would be most appreciative. I later discovered it was designed by Martin Brudnizki who has designed a good number of smart London eateries. My hunch was most accurate.

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We decided to go straight to the table. A phalanx of uniformed front of house executives enquired about our wishes. A couple of sherries were set down whilst we poured over the menus. We decided to go from the Spring menu (£48 three courses). Whilst the choice was limited, I was drooling. It seemed to tick all the boxes I was looking to tick that night. A taster menu for £75 was on offer as well as a stunning a la carte. As with most smart menus on Jersey, it’s local, high quality produce is high on the agenda.

The menu, arancini
The menu, arancini

From our seat we could see the pass via a classic chandelier. We could see Head Chef, Lee Smith and a pretty extensive team beavering away. It all looked pretty slick. A couple of crab arancini balls came through as an appetiser. By now a nice bot of Pinot Grigio was cooling in the wings.

Using the spring menu we simply picked the lot between us. The flame had the scallops, which came dressed with a carrot purée, cumin and lime marinated carrot, coriander oil and yoghurt. As you would expect, beautifully cooked, my tiny slice of scallop was perfect! It was all I could get. That said I think I won the opening round. I had the steak tartar, which itself came piled on a block of focaccia. It was accompanied by a stunning bowl of horseradish panacotta. It arrived dressed with colourful, foraged shrubbery and then slicked by a waitress with a dark green nettle purée. The combination was truly sublime. Possibly the best dish I’ve had in years. Flashes of the sort of dish we had at Simon Rogan’s The French.

Scallops, steak tartare with horseradish panacotta
Scallops, steak tartare with horseradish panacotta

For mains I had the lamb whilst the flame had the turbot. We opted for sides of asparagus and the ubiquitous Jersey royals. The lamb featured beautifully pink loins as well as sweetbreads. It came with an assortment of aubergine, pickled artichoke, tomatoes and a whipped goat’s curd. It provided a wonderful array of flavours and textures, a stunning plate. The Flame announced her fish, complete with cauliflower, samphire, a pine nut crust and a bevy of sea based foliage as a triumph. The morsel of turbot I had was superb.

Lamb, turbot, Jersey royals and asparagus
Lamb, turbot, Jersey royals and asparagus

The flame won the desserts. She had the soufflé with vanilla cheesecake ice cream, poached rhubarb and ginger and mascarpone foam. The soufflé was a warm, luxurious, creamy explosion of taste. My strawberry salad with yoghurt sorbet, meringue and strawberry broth was refreshing enough, and it looked the part, but a bit boring for me.

Soufflé, strawberry salad,
Soufflé, strawberry salad,

Coffee arrived with its own garden of delights. Nuggets of nutty popcorn a top soil of coffee/chocolate granules was a final treat. The white and dark truffles adding a further luxury touch. A cracking end.

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The final bill with service was just over £80 each, but this was a quality offer. This was a real treat for me. I thought it was a truly stunning meal set in wonderful elegant and classy surroundings. Despite the formality I still found it completely relaxed. The flame, however, felt it was a little too formal for her, particularly for a holiday binge.

That said, it’s a full recommend from me, I’m still having dreams about that steak tartar………………….

Ormer

7-11 Don Street
St Helier
JERSEY JE2 4TQ
+44 01534 725100

http://www.ormerjersey.com