dining · Food · Lifestyle

Lunch at No. 3

There are mixed reviews about No.3 Gin Club and Kitchen in the centre of Hessle near Hull. We have been a number of times and have had a different experience each time. So choose your day and time to visit depending on what kind of experience you are hoping for. As many have commented, it can’t quite make up its mind what it wants to be. And it’s trying too hard to be all three: a music venue; a rowdy, boisterous, bellowing 18-25 drinking den; a restaurant. And it does all three well – but not together. [See ‘Are my ears deceiving me’ previous post.] This place is one big open plan room with very high ceilings and wooden flooring. It’s built for crowd drinking but with an area to eat in.

We chanced mid-afternoon on a Friday which seemed ideal for a meal with family and friends and without the crowds. On entering the premises we found the decor a bit drab and crying out for a face lift; a bit like a theatre in the daylight. But like any theatre, put on the bright lights at night and it morphs into life. Maybe, it was the calm before the storm as Friday night, in contrast, is more for a pre-night out meal in semi darkness with loud music and spirited shouting, or simply just for drinking.

So, back to the meal. The extensive drinks menu includes every variant on the gin theme that you can imagine (at a price!). But we decided to treat ourselves to cocktails today. If you fancy a cocktail that isn’t on the menu they will make it for you, just ask. What we noticed straight away was a lack of staff. Maybe it was shift change, and we did get served, so fair enough.

A quick glance at the menu and we chose our old favourite, the seafood platter. This is always a winner at No. 3. The food was served quick and hot. So was there anything to moan about? The only thing was, it was like a banquet! Huge! Way too much much for two people, in our opinion. Ten scallops, eight big portions of fish in batter, eight massive prawns in shells, prawns in rose marie sauce, a big bowl of mussels, etc.. With half a loaf of bread, vegetables, and enough salad to feed six vegetarians we duly tucked in. Was it good? You bet it was! Delicious and perfectly cooked. Fantastic pearly-white fish, amazing seasonings and a host of oils and dips. But, I can assure you, I’ll not eat another prawn for a few weeks. And because of the mountain of food it was inevitable that we had to eat the occasional cold scallop and fish. Food quality 10/10. Quantity 11/10.

Friday Fish Feast

The main menu has something for everyone, from a fish finger sandwich or vegeburger at lunchtime, to Rib-eye steak or duck in the evening. There is also a vege, meat or fish sharing board for £29, which is what we chose.

Do we recommend it? A big fat ‘yes’! But go at the right time to suit your age, temperament and your expectations. I’ve been in the evening with young people well used to drinking copiously and partying, and left because we were just unable to communicate. It was an assault on the ears. Even the waitress on that evening found it difficult to take our orders because of the din. And then the music starts! So, don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.

Give it a whirl. I’ll go again, when the time is right.

dining · Food · Lifestyle

Are My Ears Deceiving Me?

Is it me or are restaurants getting noisier? OK, I’m getting older and less understanding of modern life. That’s a fact! But I’m not alone in my fears over the advent of maximum decibels in public places. Others are beginning to notice and comment too. Especially in restaurants.

People, especially the young, are encouraged to make noise. You only have to watch TV to notice how ‘live’ audiences are whipped into a maniacal frenzy of whooping and whistling upon hearing some celebs mediocre comment, by over-zealous, flapping floor managers on TV shows. Now, I’m constantly noticing obnoxious people in public places who seem to want to talk and laugh louder than anyone else in our look-at-us culture. It becomes competitive. This causes a domino effect because others then have to take part and shout even louder just to be heard. So, is it society that’s to blame?

Or should restaurants themselves shoulder some of the responsibility? Well, you never hear incessant babble when fine dining in their tranquil surroundings, that’s for sure. Why? Next time you’re eating out, study the different decors.

And suddenly you notice. In ‘fine dining’ you have opulence, plush carpets, luxurious drapes and simple things such as table cloths. The walls are thick and the furniture is solid and padded. It deadens noise.

Compare that to our modern restaurant decor; high, exposed ceilings, and almost no soft goods, such as drapes, upholstery, or carpets. These design features are a feast for the modern designer eye, but unfortunately a nightmare for the ears. The absent soft furnishings and tall ceilings mean nothing is absorbing sound energy, and a room full of hard surfaces serves as a big sonic mirror, reflecting sound around the room.
The result is a loud, echoing space that renders speech unintelligible. Now that it’s so commonplace, the din of a loud restaurant is unavoidable. And that’s bad for your health. But it also degrades the thing that eating out is meant to culture: a shared social experience that rejuvenates, rather than harms, its participants.

So who do we blame? Architects? The avant-garde interior designers? Fashion? Yes, to all those, but spare a thought for the restaurateurs. Think of the nitty-gritty practicalities of running a modern business. Cheap furniture that is easy to wipe down and replace. No table linen or soft furnishings to wash. Cold tile floors and composite decorations that are easy to mop and disinfect. They are functional. The interior is planned out on computer software so that every centimeter of floor space is utilised – so you, the customer, can be crammed in and profits duly maximised.

There is one more interesting theory that has been cited. It is that of the space/rental formula i.e. how much a customer is willing to pay x for how long. Yes, even that has been worked out and timed to the minute. A restaurant does not want you, the customer, to overstay your welcome. (This vulgar formula is rarely used in the world of fine dining). You and your friend, sitting there talking over your coffees, are no longer paying for your space. You should get you coat on, clear off and let other paying punters in. It’s as plain as that. Once you’ve eaten and paid, you’re of no more use.

So, loud music and noisy customers are encouraged, and suddenly it becomes very hard to hold a conversation with the person sitting directly opposite you at a table. Some restaurateurs feel a ‘livelier’ atmosphere encourages more patrons, but a side ‘benefit’ is quicker table turnover, thus maximizing the number of people who could dine in a given evening.

So there you are. Noise is here to stay in the average conventional restaurant, whether you like it or not. Pardon? Say again?

dining · Food · Lifestyle

Chamas Rodizio

Located in the historic East Riding market town of Beverley, Chamas Rodizio claims to be a ‘true Brazilian gaucho experience’.

Firstly, if you are planning to visit Chamas it’s worth noting that there is no parking at all. The nearest public car park is quite a walk away as well, and being a Saturday on our visit, the bustling market filled the usual nearer car park. This may prove difficult for anyone with impaired mobility as might the stacked chairs limiting access to the toilets.

We were taken to a table in the corner which we found to be a bit of a squeeze. The floor was littered with remnants of food left by its last occupants, but to be fair someone came and swept it clean when asked.

So the idea here is that you help yourself to the extensive buffet. Everything is clearly labelled, and both hot and cold Brazilian dishes are available. There is something for everyone and it’s all delicious. Even though you may be tempted to try everything on offer, my advice is, pace yourself. You can return for more at any time.

When you are ready the waiters will bring skewers of spit roasted meats and carve them at your table. At lunchtime the meats include; steak, garlic steak and steak with cheese, marinated chicken, pork, gammon, sausage and minted lamb. Just say if you prefer your meat’well done’ and some will arrive. On our table the lamb was voted best by far. As long as your token is green, the meat will keep coming.

On a personal note, I chose the salmon option. Whoops! Should have stuck to the salad. I can honestly say that it was the worst salmon I have ever had. It was bone dry and tasteless. There is a vegetarian and vegan option but really it’s the meats that are the star attraction here.

In addition we were also served some hot, cheesy garlic bread, chips and to finish, juicy, cinnamon coated pineapple, which was also cooked on the spit. I could have eaten more of this!

When you’re stuffed, I mean finished, just turn your token over to the red side and the waiters will know not to bring anything else.

Chamas is very popular and you need to book. What you book is not a table for as long as you want, but a two hour slot. Someone will come and give you a thirty minute ‘warning’ for when your time is up. This is not a deterrent however, as there were plenty of happy diners making plenty of noise. Overall for £15.99 each at lunchtime we think, for carnivores, Chamas is well worth a visit.

dining · Food · Lifestyle

Loving San Pietro in Scunthorpe

Having heard various mixed reports of late about this restaurant, we felt it time to check the place out once more. OK, it’s not what you’d call budget. Far from it! And maybe for the most of us it’s best kept as a place of special celebration. We knew it was going to sting financially so, is it worth a visit?

In a word, yes.

This award-winning restaurant and hotel, run by Sicilian-born chef Pietro Catalano, is housed in a unique former windmill and offers fine dining and a touch of class.

San Pietro advertised a fabulous seven course tasting menu including a full vegetarian choice. The trouble with these tasting menus is that you get whatever the chef gives you (like goat’s cheese – one for, one against), but it should be a real experience for the adventurous. You get to try things that you may not usually choose.

Starting with a glass of pink fizz and the seemingly customary roasted garlic, olive oil and a cube of ‘special’ bread, we began on the food marathon of culinary delights. Here goes…

Roast tomato veloute with red chilli pesto followed by burnt (on purpose!!!) goats cheese with red wine poached pears, hazelnut and watercress. Then it was time for scallops, artichoke, prosciutto, and truffle. Chicken tortellioni, sweetcorn veloute, pine nut and basil oil. Then monk fish in black ash (yep, black ash!) and beetroot. My favourite was the delicious Chateaubriand; cooked to my liking and carved at the table, and served with potato terrine, fois gras snow, mushrooms and spinach. The vege main; aubergine parmegiana, fried tomato and mozzarella gnocchi and pasta crisp, was a tasty alternative but in my opinion could have been a bit more of a generous portion. Just as I was recovering, out came a pina colada palette cleanser, followed by a very tasty white and dark chocolate mousse with sorbet and passion fruit. Last but not least came coffee with gorgeous homemade chocolates. The wine went down a treat.

And a quick mention in praise of the full alternative vege menu. Fantastic food from the amazing Pietro, and for a pleasant change in restaurants I’ve visited, not just an afterthought.

So, what wasn’t quite so amazing? On entering we were welcomed by an English lady who poured out our fizz. So far, so good. But then someone, presumably the sommelier, hurriedly gave us the menus and the wine list, and within a couple of minutes was asked if we’d chosen the wine yet. We felt we were being a bit rushed. Yes, sounds a bit snowflakey, however, after being led to our table, Mr. Grumpy asked us for our wine choice again and I asked for another two minutes to decide. Within the two minutes he was back again, before we’d even had a chance to peruse the contents, looking anything but happy, and pretty much demanded our choice. With smiles and apologies from us we quickly chose a bottle of their rose house wine. No thanks from him as Morose Mario walked away, returned, poured and disappeared.

We were looked after by a young (and presumably) Italian waiter who was cheerful, personable and pleasant. Offering humour and just the right amount of conversation to not be intrusive, he introduced the dishes and asked for feedback. However, the occasional dish was delivered to our table by another mature staff member who refused any conversation, with no eye contact and then ignored us. Other dishes were delivered by an attentive female staff member who made up for any ill feeling. I don’t know, but maybe it was a bit of a culture clash; the two mature staff nearly spoiling the whole San Pietro experience. Did we complain, you may ask? Well, considering Pietro hails from Sicily, (Mafiosa, etc.) we thought better of it! We didn’t want to wake up with a horses head on the pillow.

It is unfortunate that the San Pietro restaurant is not in the best of locations and the popularity of the restaurant means car parking is not great. But if you can find a parking space, close your eyes to the drab surroundings of the general area and immerse yourself in the beautiful interior of the restaurant, then Pietro’s eating experience is a must. Be prepared to give your bank card a bit of a hammering!

dining · Food · Lifestyle

Sunday Lunch in Lincoln

The Swan Holme

So Sunday came around fast! And today we enjoyed a long awaited family meet up at The Swan Holme near Lincoln.

We were seated in the comfortable dining room with a welcoming open fire and ordered drinks at the bar. The food order was swiftly taken by a very friendly staff member who was knowledgeable about the menu including vegetarian and vegan options and we didn’t have to wait very long at all before the food arrived.

The steak and ale pie was almost family sized and came with carrots, cabbage, mashed potato and gravy. The pastry was ‘outstanding’ and there was plenty of meat inside.

I chose the roast without meat. I could have had a vege alternative but fancied Yorkshire puddings and roast potatoes. The roast parsnips were very tasty and the Yorkshire pudding delicious.

For dessert there is something on the menu for everyone. We chose a creme brule and sticky toffee pudding with custard. yummy…

The Swan Holme is a very welcoming establishment in a picturesque setting. There are tables outside overlooking the lake for summer days and the bar is ‘dog friendly’; great if you’ve been out walking, but not great if you’re not a ‘dog person’. Nothing was too much trouble for the friendly staff and we did not feel rushed. The Swan Holme is great for families with plenty of table space and extra for pushchairs and high chairs. In our opinion well worth a visit.


Friday Night Dinner

The Wheatsheaf

On Friday we called in at The Wheatsheaf in Barton Upon Humber at about 6pm.

Barton upon Humber is a small market town on the south bank of the river, close to the Humber Bridge where there are a number of places to eat.

The Weatsheaf is a traditional ‘local’ pub serving real ale and home cooked food.

We had not booked a table but there was one available for us despite it already being quite busy. There was plenty of choice on the menu, I chose a spicy bean burger and Brian chose a rib eye steak from the specials board.

We waited for about twenty minutes which we thought was excellent.

If you’re particular about how your steak is cooked, I have to say that the chef here got it just right; succulent and seasoned, with home made chips, tomato and mushroom, and plenty of crispy, fresh salad.

The spicy bean burger was just that, a spicy bean burger, probably from the freezer. But it was well presented in a tasty brioche bun with chips, salad and homemade coleslaw. It was good to see a selection of vegetarian options clearly labelled on the menu.

Overall we enjoyed our evening at The Wheatsheaf. For the two meals, a pint of Lager and a medium wine we paid about £34, which we thought was reasonable for freshly prepared food. The atmosphere was friendly and the staff were polite and helpful. The one downside is the small car park which we struggled to get out of. Alternative parking was available across the road but those arriving after us preferred to squeeze in.

Remember, this is quite a small and often busy place so while we were lucky we would recommend booking. In our opinion well worth a visit.

dining · Food

Welcome …

Thanks for checking out our blog. Like us you probably enjoy eating out. We are based around North Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire in England UK. We thought we’d share some of our experiences with you to make choosing somewhere to eat out a little bit easier. We hope to highlight what we think are the good points, as well as the not-so-good points of selected cafes and restaurants we have visited. We acknowledge that everyone’s tastes and budgets are different, therefore it’s not possible, or fair, to compare a roadside eatery with a chic Michelin-starred establishment.We hope you will join in with the discussion and perhaps share your experiences too.

So where do we begin? Well, for a start we are based very near to the Humber Bridge in the UK. Where’s that you may ask? So ask Google maps. But we also tunnel out occasionally and eat further afield, therefore we’re not limited to any specific area. In fact it would be nice to hear from anywhere as long as it’s on a tourist map somewhere.

What is the purpose of this blog, I hear you ask? Well it’s certainly not to find trivial faults with restaurants, which tend to be hard work and not necessarily over-rewarding to the restaurateur. The amount of independent places that close on a weekly basis in the UK is testament to that. They are also run by human beings just like us, and we all make mistakes sometimes. What’s important is how mistakes by staff are rectified, how they react to reviews, and whether the whole experience is what you expected for your money. Where possible, we would rather this blog to be a site of recommendation so that when you fancy trying somewhere new to eat, you know exactly what to expect. But please remember that all posts are just our own opinions.

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well”

Virginia Woolf