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 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!


forte kitchen winchester

Forte Kitchen – breakfast – French toast please


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.

Brasserie Blanc…breakfast

Saturday morning breakfasts matter.  Both of us have long commutes which mean that most mornings breakfast is a coffee and if we’ve been organised a banana on the 6.18 from the station.  This means that when we do have the time to go out and have a breakfast, we want a proper breakfast.

Though we’ve been in Winchester for a couple of years now, we’ve never ventured into Brasserie Blanc.  I have a thing about chains and we’re pretty loyal to another breakfast place pretty close by, but this morning we thought we’d give somewhere new ago.  After rocking up at the door of River Cottage to find it was closed for staff training we thought we would try Raymond’s place.

We were greeted promptly at the door by a friendly member of staff and given the choice of tables. Tables were nice, but a little small..  We were asked for our drinks order as we sat down (like that) and they arrived speedily with hot milk.  Hot milk. Yum. So far so good.

There was a pretty good selection of options on the menu and I liked the fact we could make exchanges and add on extras.  I ended up ordering a full English and replaced the beans with hash browns.  The other half had the eggs benedict.  Rather sweetly the server asked us whether he wanted it with ham, spinach or salmon despite those being different things on the menu.  Other half was pretty smug that he actually knew the difference between benedict, florentine and royale.

So then we waited. And waited.

While we waited we watched the food delivery come in through the front door to be piled up. Probably not a great idea to show your customer you order pre made frozen chips but hey.  We discussed how in a French bistro we’d prefer to see a the chef come from the kitchen to sniff a vegetable or two and enter into negotiations, but alas it was not to be.  Winchester is a tricky place for vehicle access, so not much I’m sure there would be much that they can do about that and at least it was a fairly quiet time of day.

And we waited.

To the point where we ordered another coffee.  I think at this point we should have been given the second one for free, but honestly I was not in the mood to ask or demand.

Eventually the food turned up.

Full English

  • Great bacon, slightly less crispy than I like, but great flavour.
  • Two good sausages
  • Mushrooms – tiny but delicious
  • Black pudding – a decent size piece – hoorah.  However needed to be crispy as this just was warm.
  • One slice of good sourdough and some decent butter
  • Hash brown – hmm.  I love a hash brown but this was over-cooked (deep fried) and clearly from the same place that the frozen chips we saw being delivered come from.
  • Tomato – cooked nicely, but lets face it – tomatoes in February are never going to be the most flavourful
  • The eggs.  I’d asked for scrambled.  I ruddy love a scrambled egg.  But these were just…poor.  You know when they look powdered.  Pale, no texture, no seasoning and watery.  I took one bite and left the rest. That suck’s.  I hate waste.  Scrambled eggs should be buttery and soft and made to order with fresh ground pepper etc.  Massive disappointment here.

The Eggs Benedict

  • Muffins – soft and fluffy
  • hollandaise – nice and sharp with good balance from then herbs and had been grilled on the top which was a nice touch.
  • eggs – perfectly runny but didn’t really taste ‘like a local farmer’s egg’ (he’s really getting full of himself now)

Altogether the bill was around £30 which I suppose is Ok. But I do think for the time waiting we could have had second coffee included especially as it was just Americano.  Servers were busy but attentive and efficient which works for me on a Saturday morning.

Would have been good to have some newspapers to have a flick through.

Sort out the eggs and hash brown and then you have a really decent breakfast!