Friday 12th of May 2017
Our Newcastle branch manager Allan suggests you get yourself to the nearest greasy spoon for a breakfast stottie (stotty). A stottie, known as a Geordie loaf, is a large, round, flat bread that has an indent in the middle produced by the baker. Stotties have a delightfully stodgy texture and are quite ‘heavy’, and this is where the name comes from. In Geordie dialect, to ‘stott’ means to ‘bounce’ and if you drop your stottie, in theory, it should bounce due to its dense texture.
It’s no secret that we love our scran up here in the Toon and it doesn’t come much better than those little treats that you can only get in Newcastle. Whether its the stotties that fill our bait box or the pease pudding that visitors don’t understand, we love it all.
Must-Visit: Quilliam Brothers Teahouse
Our Exeter branch manager Cheryl suggests a traditional Devonshire cream tea with scone, jam and clotted cream. You can’t go to Devon without having a famous Devonshire scone and though there any many, many tea rooms in Exeter only the long-standing do it well. Rumour has it that afternoon tea was introduced by Catherine of Braganza (Charles II’s wife) to bridge the gap between lunch and dinner in the 1850s.
Whether you have strawberry or raspberry jam on your scones, or prefer Earl Grey to English breakfast tea Otterton Mill in the heart of Devon is a glorious setting to sit down and relax with a cream tea or two. Their scones are made fresh every day using their finest flour milled on site, with the all important accompaniments sourced only 30 miles away.
Must-Visit: Otterton Mill
Our Dublin branch manager Mark suggests heading to the pub for the best food in Ireland. Obviously, you’ve got to get a pint of Guinness but the best pub grub in Dublin consists of rare-breed pork, beer-pickled silverskins, black pudding scotch egg (yes, that’s right) whiskey & peppercorn sauce and plenty of ale-themed dishes. It seems in Dublin that alcohol can find it’s way into any dish, even the desserts!
Dublin has some fine gastropubs. With menus that reads like the who’s who of the finest Irish food producers right now, such as Arun bakery and 3FE coffee. Mulligan’s menu is a smorgasboard of mouth watering options, like “Pan-fried mackerel fillet, gubben chorizo, pistachio pesto and samphire salad”. Plus there are craft beer recommendations for each dish.
Must-Visit: L. Mulligan. Grocer
Our Edinburgh branch manager Graeme suggests Scottish Bannock – a type of bread about the same thickness as a scone, traditionally made from oatmeal (although sometimes plain flour is used) and cooked on a griddle. These days, many people use an iron skillet instead. The bannock’s popularity has spread throughout the world thanks to Scottish settlers. One of the most famous Scottish versions is the Selkirk Bannock, which, ironically, is more of a fruitcake than an oatcake.
When you first visit Edinburgh, Scotland, you would appreciate a culinary guide to tell you what was actually in haggis, or that Scottish shortbread is addictive, or to put a little salt in your Scottish porridge. So here’s some help with the must-try food in Edinburgh from yours truly. If you are in Melrose try Dalgetty’s Tea Room. Toasted Bannock is no longer a well kept secret. The strawberry jam is also the best I have in years. Dalgetty’s has real coffee – I only drink black coffee and a good cup never needs anything added. Dalgetty coffee is really good.
You sit out of the cold and watch the world go by.
Must-Visit: Dalgetty’s Tearoom
Our Cardiff branch manager Rebecca suggests the best welsh rarebit ever made. The welsh have a mild obsession with good cheese in fact, in Madame Fromage there’s 150 different varieties available from award winning farmhouse producers. You won’t find any average-tasting mild cheddar here. Found in the Victorian Castle Arcade, it’s seen as the leading specialist cheese shop in the country. Take a seat in the main restaurant or smaller cafe, and enjoy a garlicky Welsh Rarebit made with Black Bomber cheddar and Welsh ale in the ‘secret, Madame Fromage way.’
Essentially, it’s a creamy cheese sauce on thick toast. The secret is that there is no correct recipe, with ale, mustard, cayenne pepper, paprika and Worcestershire sauce being the varying additions.
Must-Visit: Madame Fromage
Our Liverpool branch manager Paul suggests you can’t go wrong with a good burger. And Liverpool has some of the best burger bars in the whole country. A few american-style restaurants have cropped up in the last ten years and they all do a really good scouse burger with all kinds of winning toppers but the ultimate burger for me is the Double Wonder. A monstrous burger patty topped with Cheddar, American Cheese, Bacon, Wonder Onions, Pickles, French’s Mustard, English Mustard, Bacon Ketchup and Pepper Mayo.
Forget a traditional bowl of scouse (lobby), scousers have so much better comfort food to offer. Burgers, Pizzas, Mexican food, it’s all here in the trendiest part of town and will almost definitely have been posted on instagram about 20 thousand times for you to browse and drool over.
Must-Visit: Almost Famous
Our Manchester branch manager Meg suggests that desserts are the new thing in Manchester and loads of places have scooped up a large sweet-toothed customer base by selling all things ice cream. Like an ice cream van for the grownups, these dessert wagons are to be mainly found after dark, when the children are safe in bed, roaming the streets of south Manchester. All kinds of ice cream flavours to enjoy in toasted brioche, with hot puddings, affogato style, or milkshakes. Even the Manchester Tart is a pudding many Mancunians of a certain age will remember from their school dinners.
All the classics are in there, Marmalade on Toast, Chorlton Crack, Plum Crumble, as well as more esoteric experiments like “English Country Garden” – Rose/ cucumber & mint lollies. There’s ice cream cakes, ice cream canapes, hot ice cream desserts like the “Tutti Frutti baked Alaska”, and “French Elvis” (toasted sandwich with peanut butter ice cream, banana and jam), award winning “Monkey Gone To Heaven”.
Must-Visit: Ginger’s Comfort Emporium
Our Central London branch manager Stefan suggests people don’t often think of Kings Cross as much more than the railway station and a few street food stalls, good for grabbing a quick bite before dashing off on the train somewhere. But in fact, Granary Square has quite a few decent outdoor eating areas for those willing to brave the elements. I would say that special breakfast items such as crushed avocado on toast and eggs benedict with truffle are the tastiest dishes on offer right now.
Health-kick lovers continually flock to Grain Store for its’ eclectic menu. Although many dishes have a meat or fish element, vegetables are given equal billing, if not the starring role. Fermented, sprouting, pickled and smoked ingredients feature alongside the fresh and the seasonal. Flavour above all else is king.
Must-Visit: Grain Store
Our Gatwick branch manager Irfan suggests partridge pudding as a truly traditional Sussex dish. Nothing says quintissential english countryside than a little cosy pub serving game pie and roasted vegetables with lashings of gravy. Sussex is the county already famous for its puddings for a good century, the home of puddings – not desserts – puddings. Suet pastry encases game (wild bird meat) filled with rich red wine gravy and added belly pork.
It is simply the very best pudding I have ever tried, so good that it’s almost worth weathering the winter simply to have an excuse to sit next to a roaring fire with a glass of apple brandy and a slice of Sussex heaven.
Must-Visit: The Duke of Cumberland Arms
Our Belfast City branch manager Andrew suggests when coming to Belfast, you absolutely have to try Lough Neagh Eel. Caught from the large freshwater lake in Northern Ireland, this wild eel is shipped all over the world as a delicacy. Where better to try it for the first time than as-fresh-as-you-can-buy, lightly smoked at Ox on Oxford Street. Among other incredible fish dishes, the lough neagh eel is rightly famous for being packed with flavour.
Think of Northern Irish food and what springs to mind – an Ulster Fry? Tayto crisps? Comber spuds? Fish and Chips are known across the world as a British meal but it’s Northern Ireland’s capital city of Belfast that serves up the freshest fish and tastiest chips. Walk down any high street or seaside front and you’ll see what everyone raves about.
Must-Visit: Fish City
Our Glasgow branch manager Daniel suggests unfairly Scotland is occasionally known for their unhealthy eating habits and doing ghastly things to sheep intestines and fish heads. However, you haven’t lived until you’ve eaten spicy, deep-fried pakora as a post-pub late-night snack to see you home. To Glaswegians onion bhajjis are not pakora, to the rest of the pakora eating world they are. Glaswegians have gone to town with pakora and they locally cook it with haggis, venison, and salmon.
At the end of a heavy night of drinking my missus won’t let me back in to the house unless I have a bag of pakora and some salt ‘n’ chilli chips as an offering. It’s delicious. There is a local Chinese takeaway called the Lemon Tree on Great Western Road which serves the best chips, no question. Crisp and with overtones of chilli, soya sauce and unknown aromatic Chinese flavourings they are superb.
Must-Visit: The Left Bank
Our Leeds branch manager Jibby suggests the best truly yorkshire food is yorkshire pudding, served on a big roast dinner. Fancy a proper Yorkshire day out to accompany your roast? In that case, a trip out to the dales is in order, and you’ll find no finer Sunday roast out there than those served up at The Dalesway, a short train away from Leeds out in Ilkley. The delightful mix of friendly staff, a relaxed atmosphere and a fine selection of ales at a proper pub is guaranteed to make you feel proper Yorkshire. A stroll up to the Cow and Calf to walk it off and you’re golden.
It’s a bit different but if you’re around Burton Row there’s even a street food vendor that’s famous for their twist on this Leeds favourite – Pulled Pork and Yorkshire Pudding Wraps. Magnificent, messy and proper food.
Must-Visit: Market Wraps
Our Shrewsbury branch manager Damien suggests a traditonal Shrewsbury Cake should be bought whilst in town but for an amazing meal out, the famous Fidget Pie (as seen on Hairy Bikers Food Tour of Britain) has seen something of a renaissance by bringing the dish to a new generation. With layers of cider and mustard-infused ham and apple encased in rich shortcrust pastry, chefs have added an additional county twist by using Wroxeter Cider from the Roman vineyard just down the road.
Despite it being our county dish, it seemed to have fallen out of favour over the past few decades and a lot of younger people have never even heard of it. But after showcasing it on their TV show, The Hairy Bikers have brought fidget pie back to the forefront of Shropshire food and it is already proving to be a diners’ favourite.
Must-Visit: The Wroxeter Hotel
Our Southampton branch manager Charles suggests italian food is done really well in Southampton. For one of the finest dining experiences one could ask for, a trip to Ennio’s is a must. Ennio’s overlooks the sparkling Southampton water from the ground floor of a renovated Victorian warehouse. The restaurant’s head chef has arranged a menu bursting with exciting flavours and traditional recipes. Every dish, from the antipasti to the secondi piatti is prepared with the freshest high-quality ingredients. The best-selling item is the grigliata mixta, a mixed seafood grill made with fresh-caught fish.
Customers who’ve travelled all around Italy say the food, wine and service matches the best of the best. Whether you choose the lamb, the duck or even a simple dressed ‘insalata’ you cannot go wrong with the food here. Especially from a window seat overlooking the water.
Our Preston branch manager Diane suggests chinese food can be done very well in Lancashire if only you know where to go for it. Right in the city centre is a good standard chinese buffet serving everything you could ask for. Also situated nearby is the very large and authentic Great Times Chinese Restaurant for fresh, good value food.
Tang has been here for years and does the closest to authentic Chinese Dim Sum, Cantonese and Sichuan cuisine to the local and discerning Chinese student communities of Preston and Lancaster. We think without a shadow of a doubt it’s the best Chinese takeaway you’ll ever eat.
Must-Visit: Tang Restaurant