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.

 

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.

 

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.

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.