Monthly Archives: March 2016

Visits in Exeter

We have been on a trip to Exeter, visiting relatives and friends, we left early Friday morning made good time and when we arrived we went straight to our first visit.  From there it was on to the hotel, The White Hart.  This is a pub in the centre of town with free parking so two plusses already, there are rooms in the old part of the pub and more rooms at the back in the “modern” part, built in the 1970s is my guess.  We got there about 12 and check in is at 2pm but they let us leave the car in the car park and so went for a walk along Exeter Quay, nipping into the little shops in the old warehouses and then along the river.  After our walk we went for lunch at The Prospect Inn,IMG_1481 an independent pub that prides itself on using local ingredients.  To eat we both had paninis, a blue cheese and mushroom for Alison and a Serrano ham, goats cheese and fig jam for me,  both came with sweet potato chips, to drink we had a white wine spritzer and a pint of Legend, from Dartmoor brewery, whilst at the bar I noticed a gin called Wicked Wolf IMG_1483which is distilled in Exmoor, so we thought we would give it a try, it would be rude not too!  All of the above were very nice and we would recommend giving the Prospect a try if you are ever in Exeter.  From there it was back to the hotel, a good five minute walk, to check in.  The hotel is a little bit dated front of house and there is a knack to using the lift, but the room was warm and comfortable and as I said earlier it is central with free parking.


For our evening meal we thought we would try the Fat Pig, sister pub to the Rusty Bike where we had been on a earlier visit to Exeter, the Fat Pig is a pub / restaurant / brewery / smoke house / distillery!  We arrived at 19:30 with out booking and the place was heaving put they managed to find us a small table for two, which was fine. Having tried their beer before at the Rusty Bike, I thought this time it would be good to try their gin, they distille three types, a sipping gin, oak gin and chestnut gin, the later two referring to the barrels it is matured in, the gin is called Bad Fagin’s, they also distille a vodka, a whisky and an “Apple Pie Moonshine”.Out of the three gins the oak was our favourite.  Whist trying the first gin, the sipping, we had a look at the menu and after much umming and arring we went for oliIMG_1492ves and smoked bread and garlic butter to share as a starter followed by polenta, butter nut squash, roast onion and parsley dressing for Alison and smoked and glazed shoulder of pork, with bbq haricot beans form me, both were very nice, mine also had slices of smoked sausage in.  For desert we had smoked banana parfait IMG_1494and chocolate which again was lovely.  The Fat Pig is another place that try to use local seasonal ingredients and is another place worth a visit if in the area.  From there it was back to the hotel for an early(ish) night, well we had been up since 05:30!

The next morning it was up for breakfast which is held downstairs in one of the bars, breakfast was “interesting”  as well as the hotel guests it is also open for none residents to get breakfast, so it was busy.  It was self service for tea, coffee, juice , cereals etc, with a menu for the hot breakfast with the order taken by one waitress.  The coffee was from one of those big filter machines so was a little stewed, but still drinkable, there was not a great choice for fruit, mellon slices, apple and very under ripe bananas! but there was some nice Greek yogurt and plenty of choice of cereals, for the cooked Alison ordered the sausage sandwich and I went for the “Breakfast Stack” this caused some confusion as the waitress taking the order didn’t know what it was, so I pointed it out to her on the menu, she still didn’t know about it!  I went for the full english with fried egg!  After finishing breakfast it was off on more visits, the second of these was in Exmouth, so we decided to get there early and have a walk along the front and round the 10639836town, while going round the town we came across The Oddfellows another pub with a sister pub in Exeter, as it was a bit chilly we decided to nip in for something warming, this was a coffee with some dark rum in!  Alison wasn’t hungry but I was, so I had Devonshire Rarebit, like Welsh but using a local Devon cheese and vey nice it was too.  From there it was off to visit friend then back to the hotel to change before going out on another visit, this time to have a curry and watch the rugby.  Breakfast the next day was every bit as chaotic as the first day only this time they ran out of tea pots!

On the way home we visited Knightshayes a National Trust property, where we went round the house and gardens and had a little snack in the tearoom, potato skins with cheese and bacon.

All about the beat!

Last week has been all about music, on Friday it was Post Modern Juke Box at the Albert Hall in Manchester and on Wednesday it was the Puppini Sisters at  the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale.  For the Friday Alison had booked us into the Victoria and Albert Hotel, so we could stay over.  We got into Manchester about 12:30 pm after braving the snow on the way in and we did a little shopping.  For lunch we thought we would try El Gato Negro a new tapas restaurant and bar that has opened on King Street.  When we arrived we were informed that the restaurant was full but that there was space in the downstairs bar, where they have a small Charcuterie menu, we took a seat in the window and the waitress brought us the menus and some water flavored with rosemary and coconut.  We ordered a bottle of rosé (Centelleo Tempranillo Rosado 2014, VdT Castilla) to drink and Padrón peppers with Halen Môn sea salt, roasted corn kernals, IMG_1431gin-cured salmon with Greek yoghurt and truffled honey on coca bread, pork chicharrón with crackling, apple purée, olive oil and toasted sourdough the waitress also suggested that we try the Bikini (toasted sandwich with jamón ibérico and Manchego).  The food was lovely and we were glad we were persuaded to have the Bikini!
IMG_1434We were not going to have a desert, thinking we would go on somewhere for cake and coffee, but the waitress again persuaded us to have a look at the desert menu and we ended up choosing the chocolate fondue, marshmallow and fresh fruit which again was a good choice.  The service was a little slow and haphazard, but I think this was due more to the fact that it had only recently opened and things were still “bedding in”.  After we had finished we got taking to the manger who told us about future plans and offered to give us a tour, which we took up.  The ground floor is the bar area with a small charcuterie area, in the summer the front window wall will open up onto King Street, where there will be tables and chairs.  The next floor is the restaurant which has large windows overlooking the street, the kitchen is open with passé bar which I am looking forward to trying.  On up to the top floor which is The Black Cat at El Gato Negro cocktail lounge, with its retractable roof!  It looks like it will be a great place to sit in the sun during the day or watch the stars at night, weather permitting.  There is a lot of bare brickwork Edison lamps and the large windows let in lots of daylight, even on a snowy gray Manchester day!  We will definitely be back to try both the restaurant and the cocktail bar.

From there it was off to the hotel, the Victoria and Albert hotel, which was originally a warehouse built in 1844 on the banks of the River Irwell, check in was quick but we did have a little trouble with the key card, the room was a good size, warm, with a very big comfy bed and IMG_1435in the wardrobe there was plenty of proper coat hangers!

After getting washed and changed we made are way to Épernay champagne and cocktail bar, where we met Alison’s daughter Jess for a few drinks before the gig.  Alison started off with a Sloely Going Crazy (Botanist gin, sloe berry infused plum sake, Dolin dry vermouth, spiced cranberry syrup, orange juice and orange bitters), Jess had a Candy Shop Sling (Absolut raspberry vodka, Briottet fraise de bois, Vimto liquer, citric acid solution, lemonade garnished with gummy bears, cola bottles and sour cherry sweets)  I went for a Cobbled Together (Mount Gay Black Barrel rum, Grahams port, orgeat Luxardo Sangue Marlacco and ginger ale.  IMG_1439Next it was a classic Mojito for Alison, Cinema Highball (buttered popcorn infused Diplomatico Blanco rum,  Coca-Cola topped with popcorn) and I had an Inedit Damm.  We have been to Épernay a couple of times and it is somewhere we like, it is especially nice in the summer when you can sit on the balcony.

After saying goodbye to Jess we went across the road to the Albert Hall for the gig, this was our first visit to the Albert Hall, which is an old Wesleyan chapel, it is a fantastic space and great for a gig, with its large open space, balcony and the stage backed by the organ pipes and stained glass windows.

The show was excellent and they are a very talented bunch of artists, if you get the chance to see them do go and defiantly take in the videos on their website or YouTube channel.  Afterwards we got to hang with them too!

From there it was off to Mr Cooper’s House & Garden one of our favourites, where Alison had a French Martini (vodka, Chambord, and pineapple juice) and I had a gin and tonic (Gin Mare, garnished with olives and rosemary), IMG_1447IMG_1450we also had some of their caramel, chilli and black pepper popcorn, we followed this with a couple of espresso martinis to finish off the evening.  Then back to the hotel, where we had some fun getting into the room.  The room card did not work and there was a do not disturb sign on the door we had not put there!  The night manger was very helpful and we got back into the room and more importantly it was no one in our bed!

IMG_1457The next morning it was up at the crack of 11:00 am and of to 47 King Street for breakfast, which was a smoked Scottish salmon and cream cheese bagel for Alison and a full English for me accompanied by two Engl-ish Breakfast Martinis (Ish gin, Cointreau, lemon juice and orange marmalade)

Wednesday Started off with a meal at Linguine in Sale, we have been before but not for  some time.  When we got there is was very quite, but it was early on a IMG_1464Wednesday evening.  IMG_1465We where told we could sit were we liked were given the menus and informed of the specials.  For starters it was Salmone Affumicato (smoked Scottish salmon, with
a pink pepper corn and dill dressing) for Alison and Bruschetta alla Linguine (cherry tomatoes, grilled peppers, goats cheese and mushrooms) for me.  Mains were Taglitelle alla Sorrentina (Tagulitelle cooked with chicken, courgettes, pine nuts, chilli and pesto) for Alison, which she said was very tastyIMG_1466 and Filetto Rossine (Fillet steak cooked in a red wine sauce, with pate on a toasted crouton, served with seasonal vegetables) for myself the steak was perfectly cooked and tasty, IMG_1467with this we had a bottle of Vero Sangiovese.  From there is was over to the Waterside to see the Puppini Sisters, as they let you take drinks int the auditorium we got a prosecco for Alison and a Black Sheep for me,  The gig was very good the Puppini’s close harmony was a joy to listen to and there band were very tight.  One of the numbers they did was a compilation and there was a prize of a double brandy for the person who guessed how any songs there where in it, we won this, I think mainly due to my big gob!  After the gig we stayed to get a CD signed and have a little chat to the girls.  Again check out there videos on their website and You Tube.  From there it was over to Vida for a cocktail, we went traditional with a Porn Star Martini and a Long Island Iced Tea.  IMG_1468The owner came over with a bottle of Limoncello and a couple of shot glasses, he had just become a granddad and so to celebrate  poured  us a couple, then a couple more, then a top up!  After giving him our congratulation we left and where going to go home but somebody suggested the Steamhouse Alison said it was me, I am sure it was her!  Once there Alison had a G & T with Monkey Shoulder gin and I had a beer brewed in Chorlton, sorry I can’t remember the name!  Both where good, we also got chatting to two girls who had been at the gig.  At chucking out time we made our slightly unsteady way home…..

For those of you that are interested we now have an Instagram account #cocktailsfortwouk.