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!

 

 

 

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!!

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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.

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.

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.

 

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.