Wednesday, 29 May 2019

The Guinea Grill, Mayfair, London pub food review

Located in the heart of Mayfair, the Guinea Grill is a glorious old boozer and grill house which has occupied the same site since 1675.

Best known for their high-end mixed grills, multi-award winning steak and kidney pies and curly haired landlord Osian Rogers, the Guinea serves a concise bar menu (from which I ordered) alongside a more extensive restaurant menu.

When I arrived at midday on a Friday, a bunch of suits were already tucking away their lunchtime pints. I joined them with a pint of hoppy and easy drinking Founders All Day IPA. 

A very good scotch egg (£4.50) combined tightly-packed, well-herbed sausage meat, a golden-yolked runny egg and a crisp crumb. As Osian is the founder of the Scotch Egg Challenge, the UK’s foremost scotch egg competition, I wouldn’t expect anything less. 

The ruffle-necked steak and kidney pie (£14) was even better. A thick and crisp yet not too heavy suet crust provided the canopy for thick shreds of big-flavoured beef bound with gravy and flecked with the occasional mushroom and kidney. 

A bowl of crisp skin-on and meaty beef dripping cooked chips (£3) and a dollop of fiery English mustard was the perfect accompaniment. 

The Guinea serves delicious, high end pub food in the middle of London. I recommend it.

The Details:

Address -
The Guinea Grill, 30 Bruton Pl, Mayfair, London W1J 6NL
Web -
Telephone - 020 7409 1728

Saturday, 25 May 2019

The Staith House, North Shields, Tyne and Wear gastropub review

Not all restaurant awards are created equally.

Some provide a helpful guide for where to eat when you’re in unfamiliar territory, are handed out sparingly and judged by people who know their onions.

Others seem to be set up purely to extract cash (normally via tickets to overpriced award ceremonies) from restaurateurs looking to promote their businesses. To make matters worse, they're given out like confetti and therefore don't really provide any indication of the best places to eat.

Two accolades which I trust are Michelin Bib Gourmands, awarded to restaurants serving three courses of good food for £28 or less. And the Top 50 Gastropubs list, a who’s who of the UK’s best pubs including The Crown at Burchetts Green, The Hardwick and The Pony and Trap.

North Shields’ Staith House currently holds both a Bib Gourmand and is 11th in the top 50 Gastropubs list.

Located 20 minutes from Newcastle on the Tyne and Wear coast, this fish focused pub is a sister restaurant to Newcastle’s brilliant Route

Their well-priced menu incorporates a crowd pleasing mix of hearty comfort food and cheffier dishes. 

I’m always up for a four course meal so we kicked off lunch with a few snacks.

Monegasque anchovies (£4) were an exercise in first rate ingredient sourcing. The savoury, salty, oily and tender fish fillets were balanced by an acidic kick of sherry vinegar 

Beautifully blistered padron peppers (£4) were served with a good dollop breath threateningly good aioli. 

Onto starters and a creamy burrata (£8) tempered the fiery heat of ’nduja lying beneath. Cold sweet peas, fresh mint and wild garlic added fragrance and complexity. 

A big plate of bisected langoustines (£12) were sweet and tender with their bisque-like head juice pleasingly present and correct. A slick of wild garlic butter gave the dish a luxury garlic prawn vibe. 

Mrs G won when it came to mains. A delicately cooked meaty piece of cod (£16) stood up well to a huge flavoured chorizo and vine tomato stew with a good hit of smoke and spice. If there was any shortage of flavour, more of that honking aioli and herb butter left no doubt. 

My lightly crumbed ling fillets (£13.50) looked a little sparse on the plate and were a touch firm in texture. There were no faults with the accompaniments - earthy beetroot, citrusy shavings of fennel and warming harissa mayonnaise. 

I didn't manage to pilfer any of the beer battered fish and chips (£12.50) but it was a whopper of a portion served with proper marrowfat mushy pieces and thick tartare sauce. 

Desserts were as well considered as the rest of the meal.

Creamy warm rice pudding (£6.50) with vanilla twanged ice cream was a lovely pairing of hot and cold. Fruit compote brought vital fragrance and acidity to the dish. 

A unique bit of comfort food saw a big dollop of rich and golden cold baked treacle tart filling (£6.50) served with vanilla ice cream and tart poached plums. 

A textbook lemon posset (£6) was a perfect balance of smooth, creamy, sweet and sharp. It was topped with a super fresh raspberry compote and crunchy biscuit crumb. 

The Staith House serve well-priced and delicious seafood in a lovely seaside spot. It’s another win for the Michelin Guide and the Top 50 Gastropubs list.

The Details:

Address - The Staith House, 57 Low Lights, North Shields NE30 1HF
Web -
Telephone - 0191 270 8441

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Seoul Street Hot Wings at Hogwurst, Cardiff restaurant review

North Road's Hogwurst appears to have undergone a form of restaurant-ception. For a Korean hot wing restaurant has opened within it.

Hogwurst's menu of tasty hot dogs is still very much in existence; although they now use German sausages instead of Native Breeds' award-winning frankfurters.

But, alongside their hotdogs, the Hogwurst team are now serving a menu of chicken wings branded Seoul Street Hot Wings. I guess the separate brand, social media feeds and website is a canny move to stand out on food delivery platforms like Uber Eats and Deliveroo.

The menu is compact, featuring only three wing options - a mild, medium and a nuclear hot naga ghost chilli variety. As I'm not a masochist, I put the two less spicy options through their paces. 

I drank an iced tea but it's well worth knowing that Hogwurst / Seoul Street allow you to bring your own booze without any corkage. 

The Red Hot Chilli Peckers (£7.99) wings were very good indeed. A sextet of wings saw tender meat and a seriously crisp crumb coated in sticky, lip-tingling, slightly sweet and savoury soy-twanged chilli sauce. A drizzle of coriander flecked sour cream provided some acidity and fragrance.

Accompaniments included lightly pickled cucumber and carrot, crisp yet unseasoned fries (thankfully there was a salt grinder on the table) and a bed of shredded white cabbage which was a handy mop for the sticky chilli sauce. 

A portion of mild sour cream and coriander wings (£7.99) were merely tasty in comparison. Essentially the Red Hot Chilli Peckers without the chilli sauce, they were crisp of crumb and tender. But, the crumb was a bit on the bland side, lacking both spice and seasoning. Unfortunately, a drizzle of coriander sour cream didn't deliver a big enough hit of flavour. 

I'm no Korean wing authenticity expert but I think Seoul Street Kitchen's Red Hot Chilli Peckers are delicious. I'd gladly guzzle them down again alongside a hot dog and a few BYO beers. 

The Details:

Address - Seoul Street Kitchen, 56 North Rd, Cardiff CF10 3DZ
Telephone - 07902 112891

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Verdant Seafood Bar, Falmouth, Cornwall restaurant review

Brilliant craft beer. Brilliant seafood.

These are two of my favourite things.

So, when Cornwall’s Verdant opened a seafood bar it was always going to be bang up my street.

Hidden away in a subterranean space on a Falmouth side street, Verdant Seafood Bar has seating for barely more than 20 people and they don't take reservations either. I was certain there’d be no room for our party of 10 on a Saturday lunchtime. Fortunately, Poseidon was looking favourably on us.

The craft beer gods must have been in a fine mood too as when we arrived, the bar team had just finished taking photos of half a dozen beers for Instagram. As they'd have otherwise been going down the sink Mrs G and I were given them as complimentary pre-lunch apƩritifs.

Unsurprisingly, all the Verdant beers were bobbydazzlers. From resinous, dank and boozy Double IPAs such as Unique Damage to citrusy and hoppy classics such as Headband pale ale, Verdant's beers are some of the most hyped in the UK for good reason. 

Their beer prices are well priced too - two thirds of a pint of Lightbulb pale ale will set you back £2.60. You'd pay a good whack more for this anywhere else. 

With beer this good, the seafood had a lot to live up to. Thankfully, the small plates more than met the beers' match. Mrs G and I worked our way through pretty much the whole menu just to make sure. 

A free snack set the standard for the rest of the meal; crisp jet black cuttlefish fritters delivered a big flavoured squidge of seafood and parmesan whilst a punchy wild garlic aioli brought vibrancy. 

Thinly sliced toasted sourdough (£7.50) overflowed with sweet and light crab meat and dainty batons of delicately pickled cucumber. 

Meaty monkish (£8.50) was given heft from a huge flavoured crab sauce and levity from al dente spears of purple sprouting broccoli. 

A hake dish (£6.50) wasn't much of a looker but it made up for it in flavour - funky wild mushrooms, including trompettes, and a rich Jerusalem artichoke puree delivered a ton of taste. 

Crisp leaves of lettuce (£4.50) cocooned lightly battered haddock goujons, fiery sriracha mayo and the tang of pink pickled onions. 

A light, zesty and fragrant John Dory ceviche (£5.50) made with verjus was coupled with the crunch of almonds and slices of fresh grape. 

Perfectly caramelised scallops (£7), with the roe thankfully left on, were joined by cauliflower puree and nuggets as well as a big flavoured curried butter. 

Onto puds, and a top drawer trifle (£4) was layered with tart rhubarb and a really clever custard with a good thrum of ginger. 

A generous wodge of salty and slightly socky Helford White cheese (£4) came with excellent toasted sourdough and pear and apple chutney. 

With its excellent beer, fish and service, Mrs G and I loved Verdant Seafood Bar. It’s exactly the kind of place I would gladly spend a whole afternoon grazing and boozing.

The Details:

Address - Verdant Seafood Bar, 4 Quay Street, Falmouth, Cornwall TR11 3HH
Telephone -  01326 712132

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Wild Thing, Grangetown, Cardiff vegan cafe review

Reusable napkins, metal straws, no takeaway cups or containers (except for any spare second-hand yoghurt pots and boxes lying around) and an entirely vegan menu.

Wild Thing commendably combines all of the above elements into an eclectically decorated corner spot in Cardiff's Grangetown.

Seeking respite from an Easter weekend of solely consuming lamb, chocolate and beer, Mrs G and I headed to Wild Thing to catch up on a few of our five-a-day. Thankfully, their all day menu includes dishes like apple and celeriac fritters with pickled cucumbers and oat flour pancakes with ginger baked apple and nutty granola. 

House made ginger kombucha (£2.50) delivered a big hit of the warming root balanced by a delicate fizz and sourness. 

Both mains were deceptively hearty. In fact Mrs G and I were stuffed by the time we were through with them.

Light and soft pancakes (£7) were fragranced with sweet pea and topped with creamy, nutty tahini, tender broccoli and crunchy candied walnuts. It was a lovely balance of sweet and savoury. 

My whole-food bowl (£8) combined hot and cold, acid and sweet, salty and sour. Highlights included spiced marinated cauliflower and my first foray into tempeh - crisp, seed-studded cubes of fermented miso-like soy marinated in soy sauce and warming ginger. 

Other lovely elements included hot roast beetroot, red cabbage sauerkraut, ribbons of sweet pickled carrot, chunky beetroot hummus and tahini dressing. Bulk came in the form of a hot mix of quinoa, seeds and lentils which would have benefitted from a bigger punch of flavour. 

A dainty cupcake (£2.50) combined moist sponge with matcha twanged icing and a dusting of coconut. 

We had a lovely brunch at Wild Thing. When I’m looking to lay off the bacon and butter, I’ll be heading back for some more of their hearty food.

The Details:

Address - Wild Thing, 104 Clare Rd, Cardiff CF11 6RT
Web -
Telephone - 07846 577003