January. The excesses of the Christmas season are now memories and thoughts turn to detoxing and embracing healthier life choices. Dry January and the Dryathlon are two charity initiatives where people give up alcohol for the month of January. Veganuary is a campaign to encourage people to become vegan in January while also providing advice and information to help those who wish to transition to a vegan lifestyle. To mark Veganuary, I decided to write about a delightful and independent vegan wholefood shop in Portsmouth which also happens to have a takeaway counter and juice bar, Wild Thyme Wholefoods. Continue reading
Type of food: Gastropub
St. Bart’s Brewery is a craft beer gastropub located opposite London’s historic Smithfield Market. In addition to serving a selection of lager and beers (including some from the local Camden Town Brewery), they also serve English wine and cider from the Kent based Hush Heath Estate and Winery. The menu changes regularly and the food includes bar nibbles such as Scotch eggs and Welsh rarebit and more bistro style food including steak tartare and salad Niciose (with seared tuna loin). The space is large and there are two floors – the top one is the formal dining area but you can order food to eat on the lower floor. Continue reading
There are many coffee shops in Brighton, from international chains to smaller chains such as the excellent Taylor St Baristas, to independent shops. If you are a coffee connoisseur, then a trip to Bond St. Coffee is a must: these folks take their coffee very seriously. Bond St. Coffee is an independent shop and is located (as the name suggests) in Bond Street in the North Laine. Their coffee is roasted by Horsham Coffee Roaster and they serve speciality coffees from around the world – the menu changes regularly. You will find expresso based drinks such as the Americano and wonderful long black and milk based espresso drinks such as latte and cappuccino on the menu. You can also have tea and hot chocolate too. They also serve a selection of cakes and pastries from local suppliers.
JSW is currently one of a handful of Michelin starred restaurants in Hampshire and is located in the small market town of Petersfield. JSW are the initials of the restaurant’s chef and proprietor, Jake Saul Watkins, who attained his first Michelin star in 2002. We visited recently on a fine Summer evening for dinner. The restaurant is housed in a former 17th century coaching inn and is inviting and modern with crisp white tablecloths and wooden beamed ceilings. There are also a few elegant line drawings on the wall – the artwork opposite me was that of a female nude, a tasteful one of course! There is no background music which may be a little disconcerting if you’re one of the first to arrive. Continue reading
Type of shop: English café
I visited Charleston, the beautiful South Downs countryside home and retreat of the Bloomsbury Group, a few weeks ago on a glorious early summer day. The house and gardens are open for around seven months a year and feature designs and art work by the artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. The house is a museum piece with the rooms presented to look as it did when it was lived in and entrance on most days is by guided tour only. A visit to Charleston is a must for anyone with an interest in the Bloomsbury Group or early 20th century English art.
Refreshments were required after my guided tour and where better to stop than than the on-site café, The Outer Studio Café? The cafe is open from midday and is housed in Charleston’s out-buildings which once functioned as the family laundry, apple store and garage. Continue reading
We visited the charming Devon seaside town of Sidmouth recently on a cool day in May. It was still outside the main holiday season and the beach was desolate, although there were some young surfers braving the cold. We had a small wander and then decided on lunch, fancying something hot rather than a sandwich. We chose The Loft Restaurant on Old Fore Street. The menu changes regularly and is described as Mediterranean. The ingredients are locally sourced – dishes included a nice selection of sharing boards, salads, pizza, Italian flatbreads and a tapas menu on Friday evenings. They also serve breakfast and homemade scones. Those on gluten free diets were well catered for with all of the pizzas, most of the pasta dishes and scones available as gluten free. Continue reading
The Isle of Wight (known also as The Island) is a place that has a huge feeling of nostalgia of times past, despite playing host to the Isle of Wight Festival and International Scooter Rally. We visited the Island over the August Bank Holiday which happened to be when the scooter rally was on. We stayed in the seaside town of Shanklin – I do like English seaside towns (we went to Weymouth earlier this year and amongst other places, went to the curiously named Manbo’s Bistro).
We were in Sandown and came across Bellamy’s, a restaurant that calls itself both a bistro and a cafe. From the outside, it did seem more like a bustling cafe – black and white checkered table cloths, bottles of malt vinegar on the tables and happy diners tucking into large plates of pie and mash, fish and chips and ice cream sundaes. There was also a table of people eating a lobster platter. We were intrigued. The menu was indeed eclectic: main courses ranged from home made steak and kidney pie, chicken curry, pasta, chilli con carne to various seafood dishes. Starters included soup of the day, prawn cocktail and crab cakes. The seafood was caught locally. Continue reading