Tag Archives: simon rimmer

The Viking – West Kirby

“The latest Simon Rimmer project is all about families and fun. It is by the seaside after all!”

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Been to all Simon’s places they are generally very good. Local produce with quality fittings. The Viking (Pub and Bakehouse) in West Kirby on the Wirral keeps up the tradition in spades. The Flame and I went on an adventure, the objective (as always) to end up with a decent pint and a good feed. A couple of train rides including a trip under the Mersey had us leaning on the railings, breathing in the wonderful sea air overlooking the sweeping sands of West Kirby. Its heady stuff. That said it was a 3/4 mile, uphill, fifteen minute walk inland before the freshly painted Viking homed into view. It’s a fine sight though. Like its local counterpart, The Elephant (reviewed here) it is liberally adorned with smart, simple, painted branding.

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It had only been open couple of weeks as we arrived for a bustling Saturday lunch. We hadn’t booked. Thankfully the youngster who greeted us prodded the iPad for what seemed like an age before finally declaring there was a spot available. As there was only two of us we finally took our place on the last table for six!

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It’s a big place, essentially there is a huge bar in the middle surrounded by wood based, Scandinavian influenced furniture. It’s a smart fit out. A viking ship is moored outside for the kids. Its very family orientated, and why not?

The place is manned by a platoon of check shirted youngsters. Our enthusiastic waitress Lucy was quickly on hand to guide us through the process. A Five Point Brewery pale ale soon had my thirst quenched as we sifted through the wipe clean, branded menu booklet. Its full of standard favourites and includes a decent pizza choice. It majors on brunch too, in fact its fair to say it’s a blinking good menu with plenty of decent choice. 

As its name suggests a worthy note is its bakehouse. The Flame’s hummus starter (£4.50) served with a raft of hot buttered, herby, charred flatbread soon confirmed that this is no gimmick. It was truly spectacular, probably too much as a starter, but gorgeous nonetheless. I had chargrilled halloumi (£6.50) which came with even more of it, mingled with onions and tomatoes. Both starters wolfed and loved, though The Flame doesn’t like food served in tins!

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For mains I had a perfectly decent ‘Budvar’ beer battered fillet of haddock, hand cut chips, minted mushy peas, tartare sauce (£13). The Flame her standard….fish pie (£13.50). It came loaded with Scottish salmon, North Atlantic prawns, naturally smoked haddock, peas, parsley and a side of buttered greens. The greens were incredibly salty but quickly replaced with a double portion with standard seasoning! The menu suggested a twenty-five minute wait for the pie. It arrived in its own curious little balsa wood tray and an inner sleeve of parchment. A little strange but proclaimed as a beauty by The Flame.

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As ever when trifle looms on a menu it has to be ordered. This time a cherry trifle (£5.50). Tons of plump cherries, lashings of cream and vanilla chantilly, Light on sponge but lovely all the same. A decent brew and we were ready to saunter back to conclude our wonderful adventure.

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I have to say well done to Simon and his team. They’ve weighed up whats needed and tailored the fit out to the market. Service bright and perhaps a little too enthusiastic at the moment. We were asked about four times whether we were enjoying our food. Perhaps lacking in confidence while its new? But it’ll settle down soon. I reckon he’s hit just about every trend going to ensure it hits the spot and has something for everyone. Its even got tank beer! A great family place, we’ll be going again. We loved the sea side and there’s plenty more delights on the menu to try.

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See also Liberty Tavern, Greens, The Elephant,

The Viking
Black Horse Hill
West Kirby
CH48 6DS

T: 0151 601 1888
http://www.thevikingpub.co.uk

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Chester Food and Drink Festival – April 2015 – Chester Racecourse

“It’s a food festival Jim, but bigger than I thought it would be!”

I’ve been to a few of these, but never the Chester one. I managed to twist The Flames arm to troop round a racecourse. I tempted her with coffee, light shopping and a slap up feed. It worked. We ventured to the delightful city of Chester on this delightful sunny day by train. A fine idea.

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On landing we sought our first brew. A fine specimen was imbibed at The Baristas. An independent coffee house set in an ancient rampart. Further down Watergate we bumped into celebrity chef and pub owner Dave Mooney on his way to his Chester haunt Mockingbird taproom. This before he hotfooted across to the racecourse for his 1pm cooking demonstration.

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Having stumped our £8 each to enter we set out on the regimented route around the site. They reckon around 150 exhibitors were on hand. At times it felt a bit like going round a dreaded IKEA store, but with nicer things to look at! Unlike some festivals I’ve been to, you were shackled to a fairly narrow, roped off path. So whilst you avoided trudging through muddy fields (a feature of some I’ve been to) progress at times was determined by others and did on occasions grind to a significant halt, such was the volume of crowd.

Smokies, Cheese and Simon
Smokies, Cheese and Simon

Still undeterred we were rewarded by some fine stalls, selling and (let’s be honest here) free tasting some fine artisan wares. Beer, wine, cheese, hams, chutneys, game, pies, desserts and much more. Highlights including some fine ‘smelly apeth’ cheese by The Saddleworth Cheese Co. If you toiled through the entire route you were rewarded with a seat in the cooking demonstration tent. An optical illusion stage set was hosting a session by Simon Rimmer as we arrived. We watched him finish off a super meringue cake and sign a load of books. We then watched the aforementioned Dave Mooney and sidekick Richard, knock up a gumbo and reveal how to make and cook a proper burger. It was a tough crowd for all I think. Both Simon and David had to work hard by keeping the quips, stories and jokes flowing to keep the far away crowd engaged. They both did manfully though. There sets both heartily received.

Gobby Chef and his burger
Gobby Chef and his burger

We meandered back through the crowds with an impressive haul. The Port of Lancaster Smokehouse, Oliver’s Kitchen, Powell’s pies, Zingh Foods and a few others providing a few bits for tea.

The haul
The haul

We didn’t get too much for tea though as we then tootled up the hill to The Mockingbird Taproom. A couple of pints of Chester Gold ensued, followed by deep fried oysters, a mockingbird burger and a blueberry almond tart.

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Suitably satiated and now some eight hours later, it was a slightly weary twosome who ambled back to the station for the train ride home. All in all a cracking day. These festivals are a foodies heaven and in fairness the Chester one seemed as good as any. The season has started now. I’m sure we’ll get to some more before the summers out.

http://chesterfoodanddrink.co.uk/

Liberty Tavern – Woolton, Liverpool

“A touch of real Americana in Woolton Rimmer!”

Twinkling exterior
Twinkling exterior

Like ‘Padstein’, it would seem Woolton has fallen under the spell of a celebrity chef. I have waxed with credit regarding my audit of The Elephant Bakehouse (see here) but noticed at the time that there was another emporium lurking round the back. It turns out Liberty Tavern is also linked with brunching, LFC supporter Simon Rimmer.

Interior
Interior

Despite the tight parking, (Sainsbury’s had locked off their bit!) it was a pleasing sight as myself and The Flame ran gleefully towards the twinkling lights that greet the hungry hordes. The arching, eagle logo leaving one in no doubt as to the fayre on offer. This is pure American diner. Not that The Flame noticed! She quickly turned into a rather forlorn soul on realising that pretty much everything on offer was deep fried! She normally goes for the healthier end of a menu leaving The Cooktwit to plunder the dirtier side of things!

The menu
The menu

It’s a smart place though. Deceptively capacious, it’s full to the brim with lavish banquettes and large, rustic tables. After being greeted in the heaving bar area our maître led us through the back via a myriad of offshoot rooms. We were eventually settled on a tidy twosome table high up on a mezzanine at the back. It offered a splendid view of proceedings though being early evening we were a little off the pace compared to some of the more thriving parts of the scheme. That’s not to say it was quiet. A booming PA ensured we were kept up to speed with US diner tunes. A natty Bad Company track had me tapping though.

Our waiter Chris kept us topped up with Founders IPA and tap water before presenting us with the huge menu. It’s a bold document is this. Black on white, the cooktwit peeps had no trouble reading even the small print. Mind you it still takes some reading as there are dishes splashed all over the place coupled with a variety of fonts. Burgers and kids to the right, sharers and starts roughly to the left. As stated earlier, the deep fried element of the offer had seriously impaired The Flame’s enthusiasm. I managed to convince her to go for the lobster and steak as the main event with a couple of tacos sliders to start.

The menu
The menu

The three sliders arrived in good time. One king prawn, one fried chicken and one chilli. In fairness they were very good (£8.50). All featured a pickled bit for tang. The winner though was the chilli. Assuming this was a sample of the Texas chilli that you can have as a main, I can heartily recommend for next time.

The sliders and cheesecake
The sliders and cheesecake

Then Chris asked us to make room on our ample table. We dutifully pushed aside the ecutriments that we had slowly built up during our short time of pleasant chat. Then it arrived. A giant metal pan swallowed our top. It contained an impressive list of ingredients, to wit, 1 x one and half pound lobster, halved, with claws removed, 1 x 10oz New York strip steak, rare, 2 x metallic tins of beautifully cooked, skin on chips, I x boat of béarnaise sauce, 1 x boat of peppercorn sauce, 1 x skillet of ‘mac and cheese (with grated parmesan) and a set of stout tooling. The tooling was used to crush said claws and extricate more goodness, All in all a fine offer, though it was £25 each! (£50 in total)

The main event, lobster and steak
The main event, lobster and steak

As much as I love lobster, I rarely have it. I have to say it was a right pain to eat. The Flame looked on as I grappled with the instruments of torture to extract a couple of spoons of seafood. Have to say mixed in with the buttery béarnaise it was pretty lovely. The chips were a revelation and the steak (a bit too rare for me) was decent enough. The mac and cheese was an unexpected star. We hadn’t knowingly ordered it, but nonetheless it went down as a worthy accompaniment. Mixed in with spring onion, topped with grilled parmesan it really was good.

I completed the deal with a very acceptable baked cheesecake, complete with lemon curd dollop, coulis and kiddies whipped ice cream. Sorted.

Coffees to finish, we then parted £74 lighter with a hairy trek down the M62 to come. It was thoroughly enjoyed. The food, ambience and the staff all first rate. I’m not sure it’s a cosy twosome kinda place. Definitely recommend it for a big party of mates or for bringing the family early doors. He knows what he’s doing young Simon. All his gaffs are decent. This one fits in nicely……..if you like things deep fried……what’s not to like?

Liberty Tavern
1 Woolton Street,
Liverpool,
Merseyside L25 5NH

Phone:0151 909 4909

http://www.libertytavern.co.uk/

The Elephant – Woolton, Liverpool

“Another quality food and drink emporium from the Simon Rimmer stable”

It was a rather subdued young relative that The Flame and I picked up from her newly acquired abode on the outskirts of Liverpool. Another session of student life beckons. However, the poor girl was minus her usual ‘bonhomie’ on account of her having her wheels half inched within hours of arrival by the local hub cap collection service. We figured an honest feed would win over the day. A quick plug into the ‘smartish’ phone revealed that Simon Rimmer’s new gaff ‘The Elephant’ was a mere five miles away. We pointed the steed towards leafy Woolton.

Always had a good meal at a Simon Rimmer place. He likes his fresh local produce, and that is what’s promised at The Elephant. Earle in Hale is good and his veggie haunt ‘Greens’ in Didsbury (reviewed here) is always good for a decent feed, so I reckoned we were in for a treat.

Very smart from the outside
Very smart from the outside

We slowly entered the sunlit village. The Elephant homed into view. And what a splendid sight. Dappled in bright sunshine punctuated with copious amounts of brightly coloured foliage. It really did look the part.  A smart outdoor area was being heavily utilised, we doubted we would get in.

Nice outdoor bit, nice branding!
Nice outdoor bit, nice branding!

However, the three of us were quickly ‘ooshed’ to a bright wooden booth complete with scatter cushions. Water based restoratives were quickly provided by the bright, smartly uniformed young chaps and lassies. All was well. As it was a Sunday the menu was a simple affair reflecting the British tradition of a hearty Sunday roast.

The logo. Simple menu
The logo. Simple menu

First impressions of the newly opened unit were entirely favourable. Farrow and Ball and the branding lads have done well here. The duck egg blue paintwork looked smart and contemporary. Any doubts that you were in The Elephant are quickly dashed as there are elephants everywhere, be it pictures or sculptures. There is a bit of a logo fest going on. Even the cutlery tins are branded! Still, it all looks rather agreeable. You could bring your mum here no trouble.

Elephants are everywhere
Elephants are everywhere

And what about the grub? Well as I said its simple Sunday fayre, but by hokey its good. The Flame kicked off with the healthy option. roasted salmon on a feta salad (£9.95). She concluded all was well, particularly liking the feta which gave the whole ensemble an acidic lift.

The roast, salmon salad, fish and chips
The roast, salmon salad, fish and chips

 

The aforementioned, hurting young relative was suitably perked to crash through a sensational Fish, Chip and minted mushy pea fest (£10.95). I’m a great lover of the traditional chippy tea and this was as good as any I’ve seen. I think you’ll agree from the image. Our ordinarily difficult to please student was well chuffed. I managed a quick forkful and concur that quality is the ‘mot juste’.

I continued my unofficial quest for the best Sunday Roast beef. At £9.95 this was well up there with the best. The beef was rare, tender and very tasty, just as I like it. All the veg wonderfully cooked and all piping hot.  The only issue for me was that I wasnt able to indulge in the vast array of craft beers that were on offer. Such was the choice that a beautifully presented (and branded) booklet was on hand to help. A previous nights excessive binge on the ‘hop’ had led The Flame to suggest I should refrain on this quaint afternoon occasion.

a bit more fish & roast, brownie and cheesecake
a bit more fish & roast, brownie and cheesecake

For research purposes the baked cheesecake with raspberry sauce (£4.95) was tested. And it was proper. No moussey mess here, proper baked job, lovely.  The vexed student commiserated with a chocolatey brownie and caramel ice cream (£4.95), again voted in with a considerable majority. No re-election needed here.

Branded tins, craft ale, branded tab slate
Branded tins, craft ale, branded tab slate

All in all a cracking afternoon. The bill came to £46.95 for the three of us and not a bad course. The service was superb, swarmed as we were with young, pleasant enthusiastic waiters. We reckon we’ve found another favourite and if you fancy something really different tagged round the back is ‘The Liberty Tavern‘ an American diner full of lobster and pancakes. We’ll be trying that one as well soon.

The Elephant, 1 Woolton St, Woolton, L25 5NH

0151 909 3909

http://www.theelephantwoolton.co.uk

 

Greens – West Didsbury

‘Greens’ as the name suggests, is the place to go for a big fat juicy steak! Only kidding, Greens is a vegetarian resteraunt occupying two shop fronts in the Cheshire village of West Didsbury in south Manchester. It is just one of the many foodie joints that keep the well heeled, Cheshire set fed and watered.

Greens is the brainchild of two Simons, one called Connolly and one called Rimmer. Simon Rimmer is probably better known as the shaven headed TV chef who currently fronts Channel 4’s ‘Sunday Brunch’. Despite being a staunch Liverpool FC fan he seems to be an all round good egg who can knock up some decent scran.
The flame and I rocked up on a Friday lunchtime, we were aiming for a 1pm start but the 20 minute scour round for a parking space meant we were running late and feeling peckish. It might be a good idea to venture in on the tram which has just started to skirt the village. Nonetheless once we’d stepped in we were quickly welcomed and settled in by our young, wiry, bespeckled, waiter Anthony. He explained the menu, lunchtime three courses for £19 or a reduced a la carte. We chose from the a la carte.

The room is plainly decorated with the odd flock feature wall. Plain, dark wood chairs and tables complete the retro, bistro look. Blackboards pick out the special ales available along with future gourmet nights with ‘The Rimster’ (well that’s what I call him anyway!).
To start we shared a platter (£10.50) of smoked cheese sausages, veggie black pudding on lemon mayonnaise, potatas bravas, olives, bread and a lovely mint based salsa. A cracking start.

For mains the flame undertook a huge filo pastry pie (£13.50) filled with nuts, spinach and ricotta all settled on a slew of chick pea stew with some vine tomatoes on the side. She heartily approved.

I chowed through a rather agreeable kedgeree (£13.50) which featured the veggie black pudding again. It had lentils along with the rice, all mildly curried with a soft poached egg on top. It was big, hearty stuff, we could have had sides for more money but thankfully we didn’t as we were well stuffed.

Purely for research purposes I managed to wolf down the ‘Orange blossom, polenta cake with lemon curd and raspberry eaton mess’ (£5.95). The research revealed that this was excellent and that you should keep a bit back for a sweet!

All in all this was a stunning meal, perhaps a bit pricey for a lunch (£48 for the two of us) but I can imagine Greens would be a great night out. To think that normally we would chose a slab of meat or fish and get some veg and spuds spread round the side. It really is a refreshing change to have the pulse, the grain, the legume and the fruit take centre stage in a meal. So even if you consider yourself ‘a meat and two veg man’ I would fully recommend a trip out to Greens, you will not be disappointed.

Greens
41-43 Lapwing Lane
West Didsbury
Manchester
M20 2NT
0161 434 4259
www.greensdidsbury.co.uk