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.

 

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.

 

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.

The Cheese Stall – Winchester market

Three delicious cheeses from The Cheese Stall in Winchester’s High Street market

My God do I love cheese. I cannot emphasise this enough. If I’m honest the day I got married was not as happy as the day I spent in Neal’s Yard sampling and choosing the cheeses for the wedding reception. Alone. Without my betrothed… bliss. But since moving to Winchester, the lack of a permenant shop based delicatessen/cheese monger had been a frustration. A friend recommended that I stop by The Cheese Stall to sample and see if this would fill the hole in my heart (which ironically surely can’t have any holes as the arteries are clogged by cheese), I was happy to.

From the first visit to the stall (on the high street on Saturdays) I knew I’d found what I had been missing. They have an amazing selection of cheeses and my goodness do those working there know their cheeses. When I spotted they had a good supply of Tunworth (Hampshire’s answer to Camembert) I was totally sold.

On my latest visit, I was taken by the sight of a Rochebaron from the Auvergne which was literally running away it was so creamy. Any cheese which you can eat with a spoon at room temperature is fine with me and this did not disappoint – divine.

We also picked up some Waterloo – I had this at Christmas time from here and I would describe it as a kind of brie which is made with clotted cream. It’s from Guernsey cows. It’s delicious. Eat it.

Finally I was after a hard cheese, but wanted something I’d never had before. We requested something nutty and after a couple of recommendations and samples were settled settled on the last cheese and to my horror we didn’t ask its name. This cheese wasn’t yellow but a deep orange. It’s proper lush.  I must go back and get the name.

The Cheese Stall is a must for a visit. Have a chat with them. Sample their delights and then take home a large paper bag of cheese with pride.  In the meantime, I’m going to have to spend a couple of weeks giving them a wide berth because my arteries need a break.