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!

 

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!!

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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.

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!

 

forte kitchen winchester

Forte Kitchen – breakfast – French toast please

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When I woke up this morning, I had French toast on my mind.  Not eggy bread but proper French toast, with crispy bacon and a little pot of maple syrup on the side.  And with that we set out in search of a weekend breakfast.

Forte KitchenWe debated a little about where we should find this.  Having floated the idea of The Ivy and been thoroughly mocked (it’s going to take a lot to go back there) we decided on Forte Kitchen on Parchment Street.  We probably have only been there once and about 18 months ago, but had good recollections so off we went.

First thing is that Forte is up a set of steep steps, so if you’ve got buggies or people with mobility issues, this really isn’t an option.  Which is a shame, as it is a good option and pretty popular.  It was busy when we arrived, no queues but they were turning over tables quickly.  Not that it felt like anyone was being rushed which is important.  Mix of ages in there and though busy was not too crowded in terms of packing in tables.  Good set up. Probably the lack of buggies helped.

This place had a mix of newspapers on offer to read through while you waited.  I really like that in a breakfast place.  (Though one time I completed the crossword in one of those newspapers in another cafe then had a rather heated conversation with a regular who came in everyday in order to do that crossword and he was not impressed I had beaten him to it).

Bloody Mary Forte Kitchen WinchesterSaw they had Bloody Mary on the menu so for the sake of this blog and any others who are interested in finding Bloody Mary’s in Winchester, I ordered one.   When it arrived it was definitley the number of ice cubes I like and was getting towards the depth of colour.  No celery stalk, but flavour of celery salt coming through and a nice spice.   I liked it.  Though I do prefer it with ‘bits’ in.  You know cracked pepper, shavings of horseradish oh and a capful of martini rosso.   It was a good effort, but I’ll keep hunting for the perfect one.

Other half had an Americano, which he said was fine, though he would have liked to have been offered hot milk.  Primadonna.   I also had a flat white – I really like oat milk, but they only had soya and almond as alternatives.  People need to get with the oat milk – it’s proper lush!

French Toast Forte Kitchen Winchester

Mmm…foaming bacon

Breakfast arrived.  And boy was I happy. The bacon was still foaming slightly.  The french toast was light and perfect and I really really really really like the fact that the maple syrup came separately so I could control the amount of syrup.  I hate it when someone else has drowned my breakfast for me.  Perfect amount and completely fulfilled my craving.

Smoked salmon and scrambled egg Forte Kitchen

Other half had smoked salmon and scrambled eggs.  After the shoddy scrambled eggs at Brasseries Blanc last week, these were a welcome relief.  Light and fluffy and buttery. As they should be!  A generous size piece of granary.  And generous portion of smoked

salmon.  I didn’t try the salmon, but thought it looked a bit overly pink for me.   Bit of fresh lemon for squeezing over the top to cut through the saltiness.

So for all of this £27.  And I would say well worth it seeing as £7 of that was on my breakfast cocktail.  I would highly recommend a trip into Forte for breakfast – really nice place, great service, great food and nice mix of menu options if you want to go more healthy or less plus an almost there Bloody Mary.

Overdraft: craft beer with mac and cheese

Yesterday after running some errands in town I fancied a half.  Luckily there was a friend who was also free that afternoon who also fancied a half.  Luckily for Overdraft, that half turned into four (maybe five) halves and a snack.

Overdraft arrived on Jewry Street a little while ago.  At first I was saddened by the loss of a pretty decent (read filthy) burger place which had been there previously, but each visit I’ve made to Overdraft has made me appreciate it more.

Firstly – it’s got some outside seating.  Hoorah hooray.

craft beer winchester overdraftMore importantly it has a great selection of craft beers and ciders which change regularly enough to keep things interesting.   The people who work here are really friendly and are happy to give advice and let you sample too before you commit.  I fancied something a bit fruity so started off with the Cali before moving on later to the Juice Springsteen.  Some people find pun names lame. I do not.   We decided that Juice Springsteen tasted a bit like alcoholic kia-ora. Which then led onto a conversation in which we realised how unbelievably inappropriate that advert was.

A few halves in and I developed some hunger.  Overdraft is known for its tacos and they have a great menu which at some other point I will write about (because it’s all good), but I went for the mac and cheese.  Apart from my love of mac and cheese, the last two times I’ve been here and tried to order it, they were out, so I was keen.

As you can see from the picture it was covered in chillis and jalepenos. Now usually that amount of chillis would be a problem for me, but they were super mild, so worked perfectly.  And yes that a strip of slow cooked pork belly you see on the top. Hot diggity damn – that was good pork.  The cheesiness was excellent and I scrapped that plate clean.mac and cheese overdraft winchester hampshire

Decor inside is basic but comfy.  They play some decent music and have wifi.  I do like a place with wifi.  Crowd was a mix of ages with shoppers, locals and what looked to be a bunch of business gentlemen who had skipped out of some training post lunch and were enjoying themselves and I wouldn’t blame the either. I’ve sat in here by myself people watching and doing the crossword with a delicious pint. All made to feel welcome.

So if you are looking for an afternoon hangout spot post shopping with interesting beer – get on down to Overdraft.

 

Rawberry – vegetarian cafe

For those of you looking for a top notch vegetarian cafe in WInchester you can’t go wrong with Rawberry on George Street which is on the edge of Parchment Street and round the corner from my favourite charity shop (the Oxfam book shop).  While other places in Winchester offer standard vegetarian fare – e.g. vegetarian sausages or a side of avocado, the whole menu for breakfast and lunch at Rawberry is 100% vegetarian and has really interesting mix of juices, smoothies, breakfast, lunch and other goodies and treats.  Those of you who are meat eaters (me included) you won’t feel like you are missing out.

peanut butter banana soughdough rawberry winchester

Liked the way they added cacao nibs on top.

This morning I dropped in to have a quick breakfast.  Though all the options looked good, I saw that they had sourdough toast with peanut butter and banana.  Oh em gee. Do I love peanut butter and banana.  When it arrived it did not disappoint.  They were generous with the peanut butter – in fact probably a little too generous and I wasn’t able to finish it all.

As for the drink, I needed a coffee, but decided to opt for one of the superfood coffees they have on offer.  I went with the tumeric lattee, which when it arrived, looked as the chap next to me commented like curry sauce.  Didn’t taste like it though.  Was delicious, warm, bitter yet creamy.  Not something I’d have everyday

tumeric latte rawberry cafe winchester

Tumeric latte – it’s yellow alright!

and perhaps alongside the generous toast portion left me more sleepy than energised, but that’s the problem when your eyes are bigger than your stomach.

 

In the rest of the cafe there was a mix of people and they have further seating downstairs.  Free wifi and student discounts are an added bonus. Don’t be put off by the outside of the building – Winchester has so many beautiful facades that as a tourist it might be easy to walk on by Rawberry, once you are inside you are in a bright, clean modern cafe with fantastic coffee and a really interesting menu.

Look forward to visiting for lunch sometime soon.

 

Coffee Lab WInchester Hampshire

Coffee Lab – Coffee and cinammon buns

Like Agent Cooper I’m always appreciative of a damn fine coffee when I find one. This morning, I had a later start than usual and my train was delayed (as per usual) so I had time to walk through town and stop off at Coffee Lab.

Coffee Lab at one point appeared to be taking over the area with three different locations all within about 30 metres of each other, but now they are down to two. A larger place on The Square but it was the smaller one on Little Minster Street tucked away in the back I popped into.

The coffee is good. I had a flat white with oat milk and it was super delicious and smooth.

As I had done some yoga (not sure a yogi who witnessed it would agree with that) this morning I felt justified in ordering one of their cinammon buns. They are divine – not too sticky, not too sweet. Definitely worth adding to your order.

Though I wasnt staying there were a smattering of mac users at tables already working and taking advantage of the wifi as well as a couple of pooches sat at their owners feet. Its clean, but in a cosy non sterile way in there.

Service in there is good. Quick and friendly staff. They even have an app where you can order in advance to pick up. I used it once, but there was an error in delivering the message and I ended up waiting for ages. Probably just teething problems with the app. Will have to start using it again to avoid the bun temptation.

I’ve been in on a weekend when it is packed, and at those times they ask people not to work. This makes total sense. But if you are looking for somewhere to park yourself for a couple of hours mid week with a book/laptop you’d do well to come here. There are a couple of tables on the street outside, but the other site has a much larger outside seating at the front and the back.

So avoid the chains on the high street and instead pop in here for a damn fine coffee.

coffee cinammon buns coffee lab winchester

All the deliciousness for my train ride