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.

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.

 

Coffee Lab WInchester Hampshire

Coffee Lab – Coffee and cinammon buns

Like Agent Cooper I’m always appreciative of a damn fine coffee when I find one. This morning, I had a later start than usual and my train was delayed (as per usual) so I had time to walk through town and stop off at Coffee Lab.

Coffee Lab at one point appeared to be taking over the area with three different locations all within about 30 metres of each other, but now they are down to two. A larger place on The Square but it was the smaller one on Little Minster Street tucked away in the back I popped into.

The coffee is good. I had a flat white with oat milk and it was super delicious and smooth.

As I had done some yoga (not sure a yogi who witnessed it would agree with that) this morning I felt justified in ordering one of their cinammon buns. They are divine – not too sticky, not too sweet. Definitely worth adding to your order.

Though I wasnt staying there were a smattering of mac users at tables already working and taking advantage of the wifi as well as a couple of pooches sat at their owners feet. Its clean, but in a cosy non sterile way in there.

Service in there is good. Quick and friendly staff. They even have an app where you can order in advance to pick up. I used it once, but there was an error in delivering the message and I ended up waiting for ages. Probably just teething problems with the app. Will have to start using it again to avoid the bun temptation.

I’ve been in on a weekend when it is packed, and at those times they ask people not to work. This makes total sense. But if you are looking for somewhere to park yourself for a couple of hours mid week with a book/laptop you’d do well to come here. There are a couple of tables on the street outside, but the other site has a much larger outside seating at the front and the back.

So avoid the chains on the high street and instead pop in here for a damn fine coffee.

coffee cinammon buns coffee lab winchester

All the deliciousness for my train ride

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.

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!