Friday, 12 January 2018

Food: Yard and Coop, Manchester

Style: Casual dining                       Location: Manchester                      Price: £ (Around £9 for a main)

The venue

Finding myself in Manchester for an evening before getting a flight (I'm so glamorous), I checked Miss Pond's blog and found her review of Yard and Coop. As you can guess, they specialise in fried chicken, alongside a load of other chickeny goodness, sides and sauces.

They've decorated the place in the cutest way, half 1960's diner, half chicken coop, with modern touches. It's pretty large and airy (like a coop? I don't know, I'm not a chicken) with pretty fairy lights, a spacious bar and a buzzing atmosphere.

They were busy when I arrived but I was able to wait at the bar and have a Clover Club while waiting for the table.


An excellent drinks menu featured a good variety of cocktails (Clover Club, plenty of gin-based cocktails, sours). I was pleased to see several featured egg white, a clever touch considering the theme of the restaurant.

With my dinner, I chose a drink from the Premium Serve page. This term has come to be used for double shots of good quality spirit in a large glass with a mixer and appropriate garnish. I chose the Black Cow Vodka (£6.50) with bitters, tonic and a lemon garnish. Black Cow vodka is amazing stuff; it's actually made with milk, giving a peculiar but moreish taste to the spirit. It worked well with the tonic. A variety of other vodkas and gins are also available.

The food

There was no question: I had to have wings. They sell them by the basket with a choice of sauces: BBQ, the trendy Korea, super hot, hot honey and lime and my favourite Buffalo. I was almost swayed by Bees Knees (the honey one) but Buffalo won. The wings (£6 for 5 full wings) were juicy, good quality meat, tossed in spicy, tangy Buffalo sauce. I asked for some Blue Cheese dip (50p) on the side.

Amaizeballs (£3) because the name made me laugh: deep fried sweetcorn balls with peas, chilli and coriander. They weren't as sweetcorny as I would like. Mac and cheese balls were good but no longer seem to be on the menu.

I also had a side salad with tomato and onion, there's a feta and watermelon salad which sounds splendid too. If you fancy a burger, a wrap, some southern fried chicken, they've got that too.

I loved the atmosphere, the drinks and the tasty chicken. I would certainly head back next time I'm in Manchester.

Yard and Coop, Edge Street, Manchester

Photos by Helen

Food and drink were paid for myself and they did not know I would review. 

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Afternoon Tea at Rofuto

Well, this post is going to be slightly different to what I expected. In-between eating the delicious Afternoon Tea and writing this post, it's been announced that Rofuto will be closing at the end of January. I'm not sure what happened, but they certainly never quite figured out what they wanted to be. I've been there for really lovely (slightly over-priced) mid-week meals, for excessively loud and dark Saturday night meals and once for cocktails, good but expensive again.

The best experience I had there was my most recent and, sadly, I suppose, my last. Luckily, you still have time to head to the top of the Park Regis Hotel at Five Ways and give the Japanese-inspired Afternoon Tea a whirl.

Style: Afternoon Tea                          Location: Five Ways, Birmingham City Centre

Price: ££ (£25 pp) 

I have some specific requirements for a good afternoon tea:

A Good Tea Selection

As well as free-flowing prosecco, there's a superb range of teas on offer. I certainly don't want English Breakfast tea with delicate sushi and sweet treats, but it is, of course available.

The teas were loose-leaf and included Sencha green tea, Oolong and Earl Grey. I picked Lapsang Souchong, which is a smoky, fragrant black tea. Again, this was unlimited.

Interesting Savoury Options

I don't care that much for normal sandwiches. I'll enjoy a salmon and cucumber or a chunky ham and chutney, but so often they're uninspired, lacking in flavour or have less than generous fillings. So it lifts my heart to see something other than sandwiches on the savoury tier.

Naturally, a Japanese-inspired Afternoon Tea features sushi. 

L-R Red pepper nigiri, avocado nigiri, smoked salmon urumaki . I didn't care for the avocado- not enough difference in texture- but the red pepper was superb. I don't usually enjoy a roll, finding them a little too much, but this one was excellent, with tasty orange roe complementing the salmon within.

I found the coronation chicken bao less successful. I thought it was such a cute idea, with coronation chicken sandwiches being a traditional Afternoon Tea staple. However, the soft bun needed a different texture to the creamy, mild chicken filling: give me sticky, crispy, rich, spicy.

Absolutely Loads of Seriously Beautiful Little Cakes.

How many little cakes do you usually eat at lunch time? One? None? A kit kat?

So five is excessive?

The sweet tier was incredibly pretty. Eyes were drawn instantly to the bright pink object, which happened to be a salted chocolate caramel mousse under all its decoration. This was delightfully rich and gooey.

Equally sweet and attractive was the white chocolate peanut butter lolly. I foolishly left this until the end and couldn't finish. It was rather too heavy for me but was popular with many other bloggers at the table.

The cutest treat was the mango and coconut sesame roll, an adorable bumble bee cake. This toned down the sweetness perfectly.

A rose lychee macaron was also just my cup of tea. The yuzu cheesecake didn't leave its mark on my memory but I'm not a cheesecake person.

Enough Cream for the Scones.

You can give me interesting flavoured jams and curds and top quality scones all day long, but if there's not enough clotted cream to cover my scone generously then I don't care. And I don't want to ask. 

Not enough clotted cream for my greedy belly aside, most aspects of Rofuto's Afternoon Tea were spot on. I'm pretty sad  it's going and I don't have time to see if they've made any tweaks. You however, have until the end of January. Click on the link below to find out more.

Rofuto, Park Regis Hotel

Photos by Helen

Food and drink were complimentary for review purposes. 

Monday, 8 January 2018

Blue Box Coffee

Style: Subscription box 

Price: ££ (From £7.99 per month) See the bottom of the post for discount.

In my last post, I wrote about treating yourself to hot chocolate but actually what many of us need in January is coffee.

I recently received a lovely email from a gentleman at Blue Box Coffee . They source excellent coffee from around the world and send you one or three packs of fresh coffee a month.

You can request beans or if you want it ground, you choose whether it's for a cafetiere, dripper or espresso. One coffee pack a month is £7.99 or a box of three is £16.99. This sounds expensive but it's far less than you'll pay picking up a take away coffee twice a week. Significantly better quality too.

I'd never considered knowledgeable about coffee (tea, yes) but even I could spot the difference in taste, texture and richness. Personally, I like a lighter, fruitier coffee so I appreciated the tasting notes, which went into great detail about where the beans came from and what impact this has on the final product, but also simplified by telling me to look out for hints of 'fig and cherry' or similar.

Above all, the coffee was excellent and has put every coffee I've had since to shame. I loved that every coffee was distinctly different and so fresh.

Discount for your first box

Blue Box Coffee 

Photos by Helen.

Coffee box was complimentary for review purposes.