When will we ever learn?

Received a big mystery parcel a couple of days ago. Wondered what surprise was in it?

Opened ALL THIS packaging, to find…

…my very small products , and free gift (very nice), from Clinique via Debenhams.

Just wondered why all this packaging?

Surely not necessary. And with all the media coverage about recycling, plastic and saving the planet, I think not!

I’m not fooled into thinking I’m getting more for my money just because it comes in a big box. Come on big companies, get your act together.

What do you think?

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!


Hot dog, anybody?

Juno came to visit us today. Thought it was worth a mention…

Isn’t she cute? It’s Juno’s first day away from mummy but you wouldn’t know it. At eight weeks old Juno is inquisitive and confident. She knows where the treats are kept and where to go poop. After playtime, cuddles and learning how to ‘sit!’, she has a well earned nap before going on a long car ride to her new forever home with Ben and Laura.

Right, that’s enough cuteness for today thank you.

Food · Lifestyle

The Old Tile Works at Barton

This area was once the brick and tile-making capital of Britain, due to the natural clay deposits found in abundance in this part of North Lincolnshire. The industrial revolution saw this industry blossom. 1850 saw the abolition of the Brick Tax, and tiles slowly took over from the thatched roofs of old. The William Blyth tile works, under the shadow of the Humber Bridge, was established in 1840 and there has been a site here ever since. In 2013, the Tile Works were fully restored and the yard sympathetically restored.

Which brings me around to mentioning the coffee shop and restaurant.

This is a place for ‘ladies that lunch’. It’s smart and spacious with a fine display of cakes that greet you at the counter. Well that’s a bit unfair because they have an extensive cafe-style menu and a reasonable selection of wines. They cater for all tastes and all ages, and it’s good. But, every time I’ve been at lunch times, this establishment is full, and I mean full, seemingly with ladies of comfortable circumstances who like cake.

So, what’s good about the coffee shop. Well, the food, the tea, and, oh, yes, did I mention the staff. They are excellent.

And the not-so-good points? From my experience of today’s visit, unidentified floating objects in the milk, which was rectified immediately. A slice of cake for the price of a full cake you could buy from a shop, and tea that is nearly £2 per small pot. The rest of the menu, in my opinion, is quite pricey. The restaurant being large and of high ceilings results in it being quite noisy at peak times. It’s not a place for an intimate and reflective coffee. So, does this put folks off from frequenting the place? Most definitely not. It’s very popular. My advice is steer clear of lunch time, and be prepared for the bill! Well worth a visit.

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.

Food · Lifestyle

Out and about in Kingston upon Hull

It’s that time of year again when the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull hosts its annual open art exhibition. Both amateur and professional artists display their work, which includes a truly diverse selection of artworks in a variety of styles and media, some of which are also for sale. However, art being art, presenting your treasured piece for display is not simple, and proudly booking it in online complete with photos and payment is no guarantee that your painting will ever be accepted. It is the three ‘chosen’ judges that decide. Even lowbrows like us, who have despaired at baffling, and just plain silly Turner Prize exhibits, have tried and failed to have work accepted over the years. I reckon, in my opinion, that year by year standards are getting lower, with occasional exceptions. One notable exhibit this year was described as a self-portrait and, I kid you not, valued at £5000. It wasn’t good, and caused much hilarity and incredulous head-shaking stares from the public. Let’s face it, art is not for us mere mortals to understand.

Went to the cafe for sustenance but it was closed. So we left Ferens Art Gallery and called in at McCoys; an interesting and historical building full of character. It was time to reflect on the insane world of art on a cold Saturday afternoon.

Cosy and quirky, this place is great for a snack or lunch, and has a great choice of coffee.We have been to McCoys many times and the counter staff are always welcoming and helpful.

It was unfortunate that my choice of lemon meringue was disappointing. The lemon filling was still frozen solid and the meringue topping was just plain strange; more marshmallow than egg white. Anyway, we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt this time and hope it was just a one off.

For atmosphere on a cold winter’s afternoon, give McCoys a try. You’ll find it next to the art gallery in the city centre.


Wingfield Farm Sunday Lunch

Sunday Lunch in the UK is a tradition. It used to be family time and lunch was cooked by Mum. Steaming veg, condensation and the smell of roasting potatoes made our Sundays. A time to catch up (and hours to ‘wash up’, if I remember right!). Great memories, alas no more. Nowadays it’s quicker, easier and often cheaper to go out for lunch. So the nightmare of phoning around for a Sunday carvery begins on Wednesday. Good luck there, then. But all is not lost. Welcome to Wingfield Farm.

Part of a chain of restaurants, Wingfield Farm is purpose-built for feeding the masses. It’s big, and it’s very popular. No airs and graces here at the Carvery. You pays your money and you takes your choice. Small, medium and large portions paid for at the bar till, and how anybody has the courage to go for a ‘large carvery’ is beyond me. But what about the actual food, you may ask? Well, it’s good. Not Mum’s cooking and certainly not fine dining, but this shouldn’t put you off. It’s good, wholesome food.

Fancy pudding?

Or icecream to finish your meal off?

And the price?

On a Sunday, for a medium carvery, a small (don’t be put off by that description!) vege carvery, a pint and a Cola comes in at under £20.

So, what are the ‘not-so-good’ points? Well, it’s always busy on a Sunday. I reckon people are arriving by 11:00am for lunch so you may have to wait. Then you have to queue at the till to order. You may be some time. The staff work hard but service at the till is very slow. Next comes the biggest shock, which is the queuing at the self-service carvery counter. A common wait can be 25 minutes, and maybe more! The vege option of the mushroom pie is to be avoided at all costs, in our opinion. Car parking at peak times is always difficult.

One great practice here is that families with young children have their own dining space. I once ate in this area and lost I my hearing for an hour afterwards. I joke, but it’s loud – bless ’em!

And a special mention to the staff. All are welcoming and very attentive. 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