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.

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.

Greens Bar and Kitchen – Sunday brunch

Today we were with friends and we wanted somewhere were we could sit outside in the sunshine for brunch.

Bloody Mary's at Greens Bar and Kitchen

A great start to brunch!

Service was speedy and efficient and we were quickly brough coffees and then bloody marys. It was a pretty good bloody mary – nicely spiced, though perhaps a bit too much ice. I like my tomato juice thick and dark and the ice waters it down a little. But then again, this is a minor gripe.

We were a larger group and it was busy when we arrived table so we waited a little long for food, but to be honest I hadn’t noticed until the waitress came to apologise and tell us it was on the way which is good.

brunch sweet potato hash Greens Bar and Kitched

Sweet potato hash with bacon

I’d gone for the sweet potato has with crispy bacon and it was properly delicious. Nice and light and something I would definitely order again.

Other half had the full English.

  • Sausage – ok though a little pale I like one a little more herby
  • fried eggs – good
  • hash brown – a proper one – hooray!
  • Bacon – good stuff
  • Toast – nice seeded sourdough with some delicious butter
  • Beans – what they say on the tin.
  • mushrooms – a little greasy but fine
  • tomato – nicely cooked and seasoned

So for coffee, two Bloody Mary’s, two breakfasts and then two half pints (well it was brunch) the bill came to around £40. Service was good; food was good. Job’s a goodun.

Thanks Green’s – we will return.