Posts by What's Up Winchester?

Writing reviews of all things Winchester, Hampshire

The Westgate – Sunday lunch

Spring has sprung in Winchester which means weekend walks in the sunshine.  While it’s not quite warm enough for me for outside dining, I now do like to have a Sunday lunch rather than dinner in front of the fire.

My sister in law was visiting for the weekend and I’d gone all out for Saturday night dinner, lamb tagine, homemade flatbread and a lush red (or two) from Toscanaccio

We didn’t really do breakfast so instead decided on a lunch out before she headed home.  Thus began the ritual ringing of places to see if they had a table.  First up was King Alfred.  We’ve only been there for breakfast and drinks and really like it there so I wasn’t really suprised that they didn’t have tables with one hours notice.  Gotta be more London style prepared for there.  So instead we decided to give Westgate a whirl.  I think I’ve only been there a couple of times for a drink and like lots of pubs in Winchester, it’s nice, clean and worth a punt.  We called but they said there would be no need to book.  You can take it as a positive or negative I suppose, but I don’t particularly like jostling for spaces when I go out, so fine by me.

Comfy seats when we arrived and a short but straight to the point menu.  Three choices of meat roasts: chicken, lamb and beef and then a couple of vegetarian options which almost took my fancy.  However the roast came with cauliflower cheese and bread sauce which I only ever have at Christmas so I went for the chicken. Boyo went for the lamb.  We also ordered a selection of bread and butters too.  I have a thing about butter.  And bread.

20190414_133754.jpgWhile we waited I had a Bloody Mary (obvs). It was good.  Not too spicy, but they brought me the worcester sauce to add myself.  Would have liked some tabasco to add and fresh peppercorns, but actually the tomato juice was flavoursome enough.

All arrived at the same time as we requested.

Things we liked:

  • bread was fresh, warm, with three different varieties.
  • butters – not all of us were into the anchovy butter, but I was a fan.  Maybe add in one plain butter for the more fussy consumer
  • The chicken was really well cooked – crispy and nicely seasoned skin.  MMmm chicken skin
  • Lamb – really nicely cooked
  • Veggies were cooked al dente
  • Cauliflower cheese – pucker
  • portion sizes were great, we were full but not leaving waste
  • Gravy – was on the side so we could pour our own. Halleluiah – praise be.

Things some of us liked, some of us had opinions on:

  • I like a Yorkshire Pud – these were of a goodly size.  My companions prefer more soggy ones.  I like to make mine soggy.
  • Bread sauce – I again was a fan, but the others thought there was too strong flavour of cloves
  • The number of potatoes.  I think two is enough.  Husband doesn’t agree.  But then again he’ll eat potatoes till he starts sweating so I’m all for someone imposing a limit on him

Service was good, I had a nice glass of wine.

All in all we were very happy with Westgate as an option.  I see they do a number of offer nights, steak and wine, two cocktails for a tenner.  Good stuff Westgate – keep it up and we’ll be back for sure.

Three Joes – Joe Joe Joes – pizza pizza pizza

A few weeks ago, my other half went off to see some friends and left me house hunting alone.  Luckily I’ve got me some friends who were more than willing to be dragged around different people’s houses.  By the end of the day, we were tired, a bit fuzzy from a few pints in and in need of food.

The Vine let us down by having stopped serving food, and we were all at hangry stage so we dropped in on Three Joes (or as we call it Joe Joe Joe’s) next door.

What I like about 3Js is the slightly different pizza toppings on offer.  Ceasar salad, gorgonzola, brocolli and leek as well as your standard pepperoni.   All were tasty.  My friend had a chocolate milkshake, we the rest of us were on the red wine.  Damn chocloate milkshake is good and there were lumps of the stuff at the bottom.

Having been here before, we were all pretty certain that service would be quick and the pizzas fresh and bubbling. And it was.  Great that you get reliably good pizzas from a non chain restaurant in the centre of town.  One thing I would say is that this place gets busy.  They’ve managed to use the space really well, but unless you are early or late on a Friday or Saturday night expect to queue.  Sadly there isn’t a bar to sit at while you wait, but as their service is quick and the food quickly consumed, you are not usually waiting for long.

 

The Winchester Orangery

The Winchester Orangery recently popped up in The Square.  One minute there was a boarded up shop, the next moment a garden themed, tree centred, plant filled cafe slash bar.

20190413_093131From some local people in the industry, I’d heard good things about the quality of staff they’d employed so have been keen to try it out.  Winchester has a tension between local establishments and chain like places, so it was really great that it was another local business.

The first thing we really need to mention is the branded Jeep parked outside.  Um I’m not sure there is anything to say other than…don’t park it there. Even though I love the big wheels, it really doesn’t fit with the branding of the bar or the ambience of the Square.

As you go in, there are two main areas to sit.  People watching on at the front, some tables to watch the two bars at work (one coffee, one drinks) and then up at the back a quieter space with a bit more room, plus a separate room which looks like a bubble.

herbs winchester orangeryThe place is covered and I mean covered in greenry.  I mean there is a giant tree in the middle.  Tables filled with flowers and a wall and ceiling saturated with them.  Luckily for the hayfever sufferers like me, they were all fake.  I’m not quite sure whether I like it, but it certainly makes it distinctive.  On the tables are pots of fresh herbs which they encourage you to pick and add to your meal.  Some students were talking about how the other day they had come in hungover and eaten an entire plant pot of parsley while waiting for food- students really have lots of money these days if they are eating in these places.  Nevertheless I kinda like the place – even if the Slug next door appear to have panic copied the hanging plants and copied them in their window.  One thing definitely needs to change: don’t put scented candles on tables.  Just not right.

blueberry sour winchester orangery

How pretty is this?

Onto the food and drink…

Well I started off last night by having a cocktail.  I like and know my cocktails.  This is a fact.  Orangery had small menu, but quite interesting. I quite like small menus – hopefully it means they specialise in getting things right.  I went for the blueberry sour.  I was a little concened it would be over sweet, but actually it was super delicious great balance of flavours.  Didn’t really taste like gin – I actually like my cocktails to taste of booze otherwise they go down too quickly, but not for everyone.  My friend had a cherry blossom, again good stuff.  Would definitley revisit for these.  But would also like to see if they can make a classic too if it isn’t on the menu.

Decided to visit for breakfast the next morning as we’d heard they do breakfast till 4pm.coffee winchester orangery Coffee was excellent and they gave a good helping of hot milk on the side.   I went for a beetroot hummus, mushrooms and poached eggs on Hoxton Bakehouse sourdough.  Eggs had rich yolk and were poached perfectly – yay!!  Other half had a flatbread with Turkish beef sausage, with a yoghurty base.  Though I’m off beef for a year, he kindly picked it off and the rest was great.   Service was good.  We had the back part to ourselves, till the students arrived.

Good beginning Orangery – can’t seem to find you online on Twitter, but I think this place has got potential.  Just make sure you find a way of keeping all those hanging plants clean!

 

Loch Fyne – breakfast

For the second weekend running, our plans for where to go to breakfast were scuppered.  We were supposed to be meeting friends at Josies for breakfast, but by the time we got there, (before 10) there was a 25 minute wait.  As much as I enjoy the food there, there really isn’t the room to wait and we were hungry.  So we popped across Jewry Street and into Loch Fyne.

Loch Fyne and I go a long way back.  Back where my parents live, a Loch Fyne opened up many years ago and my parents and I would often go.  Food was good value, service has always been great and we could kid ourselves that as we were eating fish we were being healthy.

We have also been to the one in Winchester before in summer time.  It has a great courtyard in the centre which is nice to sit in the sunshine.   The layout of this building is really interesting, two levels, oldy timey with huge fireplaces and a big bar to welcome you.  Due to the layout though you can choose to sit in a cosy corner, or in open light areas.  I like that.

But as we had missed out on Josies’ famous pancakes, our first question was – do you do pancakes.  Thankfully they did, though it turns out they are about to change their menu soon to brunch rather than breakfast and pancakes will only be on the children’s menu.

20190316_102545Service was great, offered drinks quickly and our waiter upsold us to get some toast with our juice and hot drinks.  Juice was nice, lattee good, toast – excellent.  Really good quality bread and butter. And boy do we like our bread and butter.  We’ve even decided that if we ever open up a bar the only food we will serve is different breads and butters.   Only problem was that the toast being so nice, I may have eaten a bit too much before my actual breakfast arrived…

There was a good selection on the menu: porridge, full English (with black pudding as is only right), loads of different types of egg benedict, pancakes, muffins, avocado etc.

Two of us went for pancakes.  These were a good size stack, maple syrup on the side, some blueberries and crispy smoky bacon.  Very good – though due to all that bread I had to let the othe half to finish it. 20190316_102611

The other two went for the loch muffin.  On one half was smoked fish and cheese and the other poached egg and bacon.  This seems to be an aquired taste.  And not one that they would order again.  All the elements were there, but didn’t seem to work.  Still both of them polished off their entire plate.  Only thing I would say is that with a poached egg, the yolk has gotta be proper runny.  This wasn’t hard, but just overdone.20190316_102708.jpg

The bill for four meals, toast, four hot drinks and two juices was around £35 which is excellent value.  The receipt also gives us 25% off our next meal – woohoo!  We’ll defo be back!

 

 

 

Chesil Rectory – A Wessexian dream

A surprisingly late table reservation time of 9.30pm meant that prior to feasting on delights of the Chesil Rectory we were able to sample the joys of Winchester at night – the illumination of Winchester Cathedral, a moonlit walk by the Itchen river and the sight of YSL clad posh boys preparing to hit Vodka.

Vague memories of a previous visit meant I’d always associated the Chesil Rectory with the musty welcome you’d expect of an old fashioned seaside hotel. But things have either changed a lot in recent years or I have a terrible memory.

Inside the restaurants manages to mix medieval architecture with contemporary design to create a welcoming atmosphere that oozes anticipation.

Produce from the Hampshire doorstep features heavily but there was only minor consternation from the bar staff when I turned my nose up at the Winchester based Twisted Nose (watercress is not my thing but they do other gins that are great). However, it set the scene for service that balanced friendly informality with professionalism – particularly when one of them bellowed ‘old world every time’ when we were trying to choose between the French and Argentian Malbec. 

The starters were solid. The addition of granola and rhubarb puree meant the ham hock ballontine verged on becoming a breakfast/dinner fusion. The chicken terrine was combined perfectly with mushrooms that had a mild peppery taste but the chicken crackling became a disappointing treasure hunt within a nicely constructed plate.  

Starter at the Chesil Rectory

The first mouthfuls of the mains were accompanied by a prolonged silence as we both took the time to revel in the delight of the first mouthful. The roast Lamb was slightly caramelised. The hot-pot potatoes rich and creamy. And the pureed carrot and crispy cavolo nero provided a mix of textures.

Chesil Rectory - main

I disappointed myself by foregoing a desert adventure for the most chocolatey thing on the menu. In the end I got the best both with a very chocolatey praline iced parfait that came with passion fruit sorbet that zinged on the tongue.

The Chesil Rectory is not cheap but it delivers fine dining and excellent service for a fair price. a city full of restaurants, Wessexians are lucky to have it on their doorstep. My only regret – not having the tasting menu. I can’t remember being offered it – I’ll have to go again soon.

Plus they serve port in very big bottle.

 

McDonalds – the hungover breakfast

I thought long and hard about whether to post this.  All that judgement. And then thought. Sod it. – we’ve all done it. Woken up Sunday morning more hungover than entirely necessary and a family gathering to get to. Needed food and fast.  And when you need food and fast you go to McDonalds.

McDonalds was actually the first place we had dinner in Winchester when we moved here.  Surrounded by boxes that needed to be unpacked and very little time, I remember strolling through the cathedral grounds on the way to the high street.  We’d just moved from Brixton and were pretty freaked out by just how quiet the whole place was.  The McDonalds in Winchester was also slightly different from the craziness of the one in the centre of Brixton too.  Filled with boy scouts.

Anyway – so I’m off beef for a year so sad not to be able to sneak in a dirty quarter pounder with cheese on the sly.  Luckily for breakfast there’s no beef options to feel sad about.

In Winchester most people seem to order from the machines rather than the till.  While I like this when I want to be greedy and don’t want judgement, I don’t like this becuase it allows me to be greedy and I need judgement.  They even do table service now.  Things have changed.

First of all, was hugely disappointed that pancakes were off.  Haven’t had them since I was a kiddo.  So instead I have a sausage and egg bagel with has browns and a diet coke (hungover’s finest cure) while the other half had the sausage and egg mcmuffin and diet coke (also hungover).

Wait was quick.  But I kind of miss the interaction with the people who work there.  It’s all so regimented and I know thats the point but still…  There was an older chap there who paid at the counter counting out his cash while striking up a conversation.  Hang on I’d better not get philisophical about McDonalds.

So I walked home and there was a slight downpour which I hadn’t been expecting.   McDonalds – you really really need to make your takeaway bags waterproof for at least ten minutes.  Got dangerously close to dropping a hash brown.

So how was the food.  I’m not going to lie.  I like their has browns.  Good size, good texture, clearly deep fired.

Bagel – sausage patty good.  Egg…I don’t know it doesn’t do it for me.  I’d probably other it without the egg next time.  Cheese.  What is this stuff?  I love me some high quality cheese (I once bought a piece of goat cheese which cost me £12 from Neal’s Yard and I have no regrets), but there is just something so highly wrong yet right about the plastic cheese in McDonalds.  Never change.

Other half said the sausage and egg mcmuffin ‘tasted like every sausage and egg mcmuffin I have ever had before, but that’s why you go to McDonalds.’  He estimates he has had circa 32.  I think that’s quite high…he points out that was less than two a year since he became an adult.

But for me the real winner is the McDonalds ice.  I’ve spoken about this before with people (don’t invite me to a party), but the shape of the ice at McDonalds is amazing.  Keeps it shape for longer yet isn’t that big.  I’m a fan.  Keep it up McDonalds.  I’ll be back, but probably not for another year when I can get that quarter pounder fix once more.

 

 

Tom’s Deli – breakfast and the best sausages!

Tom’s Deli is on George Street, but you may not know that due to it’s location. Set back from the main road, well the one way system, it is tucked in a corner behind Rawberry.  We’ve walked past so many times, but just have never stopped to pop in. Perhaps because we have never been quite sure what its purpose is, coffee shop, restaurant, actual deli?! But whenever we have been past the tables are busy.  Sometimes that too puts me off.  I don’t like to wait. But today was Tom’s day.

It was not supposed to be Tom’s day, but we had been let down elsewhere.  We had decided to go to River Cottage Canteen for breakfast and had a few weeks ago tried to go, but found it closed in the morning.  So this morning we turn up (great location in the park and as you walk in the different levels make it quite exciting) and even though they open at 9am it turns out they do not serve breakfast.  Hang on.  What’s that.  A canteen that does not serve breakfast till 12, though it opens at 9am.  Poor show River Cottage.  That’s twice you’ve let us down.

Anyway, thankfully Tom’s did not.

We arrived and though there were a few tables open, the rest of the place was nicely buzzing.  Lots of people in and out who were clearly regulars and who knew each other.  Which was actually nice.  We were greeted by the owner, who offered us drinks and there were some menus on the table.  Not that we really needed them as for hot breakfast there were only three options.  Full English, avocado and egg on ciabatta or salmon and egg on ciabatta.   Now I like the simplicity of options here.  If you can do three things well, then you really don’t need anything else.  Good on you Tom.

Plus though I hadn’t seen it at that point, I overheard Tom telling another table about his homemade croissants which he was willing to fill with savoury or sweet.  I was salivating at the idea of warmed mozeralla in homemade croissant, but I had already ordered the salmon and egg.  Next time.  Next time.

When our breakfast arrived, I was pretty taken with the other half’s full English.  It was the BEST sausage of all the breakfasts in Winchester so far.  Didn’t even mind when I was eating it that Tom came behind me and whispered in my ear, ‘thats 100% meat that sausage.’  Be-a-u-ti-ful with superb flavour.  I could have eaten a plateful. Great pancetta and great mushrooms hooray hoorah!!

20190309_105201.jpg

I had half of the salmon and eggs before insisting on swapping.  Salmon was nice, eggs were well cooked, but I’m not a massive fan of the poached and prefer a scrambled.  But I like the fact we had fresh black pepper offered. 20190309_105135-2

 

While we were reading our magazines, Tom came up to us to offer cake.  They looked incredible and he showed us a cake which he makes once a month as it takes over 6 hours.  A ricotta cake with pear and almonds and blueberries.  It looked and smelt amazing and I was sad that I was full.

There was a good looking menu up on the chalkboard for supper and I can totally understand why this unassuming looking place is so busy in the evenings. I really enjoyed the chat and really friendly feel and buzz of the place.

We spent £24 on two hot breakfasts, two cappucinos and a pot of tea which we thought was good value.

Delicious breakfast Tom.  We’ll be back for more.