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.

 

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.

 

Little Kitchen Bistro at Winchester Golf Academy – fondue

In the two years we’ve been living in Winchester, we’ve driven past the sign for Winchester Golf Academy a number of times, but not actually driven in.  And not suprising really, as it is a little off the beaten track.  But after our visit on Friday I would recommend it as a great place to visit.

20190301_194345We went with friends, one of whom visits to perfect his swing.   It’s been about 8 years since I’ve hit a golf ball, so I was more than a little rusty.  However I had forgotten how much fun it is when you get that ‘pock’ sound when you hit the ball properly.   Free to use the driving range, so turn up and buy a bucket of balls.  Details here: Winchester Golf Academy.

After we got through the bucket of balls and the humiliation of some truly laughable attempts, we went back into the bistro which is run by Little Kitchen Company who also cater for events.  We’d come specifically for fondue night!  Fondue?!  You mean fundue right?!  A giant bubbling pot of melted cheese?!  I was dribbling before I arrived. I haven’t had cheese fondue for… I don’t even know how many years so I was super pysched.

20190301_201113The very lovely staff welcomed us and offered us a glass of wine from their selection.  And then out came the cheese.  They’d done a mix of different cheeses in there including roquefort, which gave it a subtle piquancy.  All in a beautiful bubbling pot.

20190301_200427And then came the sharing boards.  And boy were they generous: caper berries, cornichons, figs, roast vegetables, three different types of bread, roasted potatoes, different meats and tomatoes.  I can’t really state how generous these portions were.  And we ate and ate. And ate.

While we were working our way through even after we had all stated that we were full, the table next to us had desserts delivered.  We laughed at the very thought of eating dessert.  Turns out we were about to have three desserts delivered each.

20190301_205318There was a beautiful smooth mango sorbet, a blackberry trifle which was absoutely divine and a chocolate cheesecake (yes more cheese).  I polished off the sorbet and trifle but just could not managed to fit in the cheesecake.  Luckily for me, the staff boxed it up and I ate it the next day.  It had a really fruity chewy base which I was not expecting and it was very very good.

This was great food, great service and great value as altogether it was £25 a head (which included the glass of wine).

They have a number of events coming up at the bistro which you can book in for and I’m sure it won’t be long before we will be back!