The Diary of a Foodie

These food blogs are made up entirely from my own personal views. I do not work for, or get paid by any of the establishments that I mention.
It is a personal account based on a personal experience, and should be treated as such.
Please use the search box to search for your favourite style of food.
If you would like to suggest anywhere for me to try, please feel free to get in touch.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

The Auctioneer/Pub Food/Carlisle

It has been years since I went to the Auctioneer, but having found it on a website featuring places to eat in Carlisle, thought we should try it again.

Situated on the Rosehill Industrial Estate in Carlisle, just minutes off Junction 43 of the M6, this is a large building that has two sections - The Auctioneer which is a restaurant style establishment serving Pub Food, and The Shepherds Inn, which caters for parties such as weddings and corporate events.

Loads of parking outside. Walking would take a while from Carlisle Town Centre (about 40 minutes) but there is a bus route close by.

We went on a Saturday for lunch, we were having a later lunch and arrived at 1.45pm, they stop serving lunches at 2pm, so we just made it.

Nicely set out with a huge bar area, nicely dressed waiting staff in crisp white and black. It is set on two levels so doesn't feel too much like a canteen.

The menus were in acrylic holders on each table which kept them nice and clean, and easy to look at.

Really really fancied the Nut Roast which is on the menu online, but alas it wasn't on the menu inside, instead they had a Vegetable Kiev which sounded really nice so I chose that. It was really nice to have something different offered to Veggie Folk, and really quite simple - other places take note! The alternative Veggie option was a Vegetable Lasagna, another choice on the menu would be appreciated....please :)

Hubby chose Haddock. Both were served with vegetables, salad and a table service of a large portion of chips.

Food arrived very quickly, nicely presented and plenty of it.

The one minus point for food would be that the Veggie Kiev tasted of fish, I am guessing they cooked it in the same fryer as Hubbys Haddock, slightly dissapointing, but as we got there later perhaps they had turned the other fryers off - that is presuming they have a seperate one for Veggie food.

We did plan to have a dessert as they looked amazing (they were kept in a cabinet by the bar) but we were too full in the end, which means we will have to go back another time :)

We were aware that we were probably keeping the staff back due to the time, but the people on the next table were told they could sit a while as they didn't close until 3pm - however, once that couple had left and we were the only ones left (at around 2.30pm) the music went off and the cleaning began. We had finished eating so drank up and left.

Would probably return, but there are more exciting places to eat.

Excellent website with loads of information on it, including sample menus.

Feel free to comment if you have been.

Friday, 30 July 2010

The Beehive/Pub Food/Carlisle

My daughter and I were meeting my son for lunch somewhere in town. We decided on the Beehive, as it was close to where he lived and it is a good price for lunch (2 meals for £7.75 - from a list of options)

Situated on Warwick Road in the City, you could walk to it from the City Centre in about 10-15 mins.

Easy enough parking, we parked on street, you can get 2 hours free using a parking disc, but there is also space round the back of the pub for a few cars.

The menus were rather grim, very old and wrinkled with old food stuck on them - one of my bug bears is dirty menus, there is just no need for it really.

I was pleased to spot an old favourite of mine (having eaten it previously at The Gosling Bridge, another "Spirit" owned pub) Asparagus & Brie tart, decision made ! But when we went to order I was told they didn't have any of them as they were in the process of changing menus. I was a bit dissapointed, but never mind, I asked what they had as an alternative - Quorn Chilli - and that was it !

I really didn't fancy Chilli, so I asked if I could get Egg, Chips, some veggies - the man taking the order said "You could just have a couple of starters - the Mushrooms or Potato Wedges", well, yes I could have, but we were planning to have a mixed sharing platter between us to start which had both of those on it. When I question why I couldn't have Egg & Chips he said that he didn't know how to put it through the till. My daughter, who works in a Pub, said "We just put it through as a gammon or something, then go through to the kitchen and tell them 'no meat'" , but he didn't seem to want to do this.

I would have had a wrap sandwich, but there wasn't one Veggie option wrap on the menu at all !!
At this point I am feeling like a really fussy pain in the bum !

In the end I went for Nachos to be served as a main course.

So we started with the mixed sharing platter - Mushrooms, Onion Rings, Garlic Bread, Potato Wedges, Chicken Wings, Chicken Bites and Dips.

Was ok, regular 'chuck it in the fryer and serve' type food, I picked a couple of mushrooms off and the kids ate the rest.

We did take a little time with the starter as we were chatting lots, the minute my son took the last bit the plate was whipped away, and before he had finished his mouthful the mains were served. With RED HOT plates, where they must have been kept warm while we were eating.

The Nachos came ( a little bit burnt at the edges) with melted cheddar on top, and a pot each of sour cream and salsa. They were way way too salty, I nibbled at the ones with the cheese on, dipped in sour cream, but had to leave all of the plain ones. At the end the waitress asked if everything was ok, I mentioned that the Nachos were too salty and she agreed as they were like that when she had them once, but otherwise were they ok? Well, what do you say to that?

I only ate about 1/4 of the portion.

My son had a Mixed Grill, the steak was lukewarm and the chicken was very dry - and for him not to clear his plate is really unusual.

My daughter had sausage & mash, which she enjoyed. No complaints there :)

Then she went on to have a Treacle Sponge and custard, which was microwaved until an inch of it's life, scalding hot and had a thick custard skin on it.

I guess what it all comes down to is that you get what you pay for. For meals as cheap as this you shouldn't really expect quality food and good choices.

I know people that think it's a great place to eat, if you order something like fish and chips I suppose you cannot go far wrong in cooking that - drop it in the fryer and check your watch.

Not good for Veggies though.
Total bill was £32 (not including tip) for one sharing starter, three mains, one pudding and 5 soft drinks.

Here are the details in case you want to try it..

The Beehive
Warwick Road,
01228 549 731
If you have been, feel free to comment.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Del Villaggio/Italian/Birmingham

Situated in the Bullring Shopping Centre in Birmingham, you will find Del Villaggio.

Right opposite Pizza Express, it was a hard decision to make. We decided on Del Villaggio as we do not have one of those in our home town and thought it might be a nice change.

Decided against starters as it was just lunchtime, and went for a pizza each - Margerita for himself and Calzone for me.

When I ordered my Calzone, it was listed on the menu as Ham and Mushroom, so I asked to swap the Ham for Black Olives. I then double checked there was definately no onions in the Calzone, as I have been caught out by this once or twice. The waitress said as it wasn't on the menu it was unlikely but she would check anyway.

The pizza arrived and were huge, looked amazing. I nibbled the end of my crust, then thought I better check for Ham, but when cutting into it I found the hugest chunks of onion ever ! My heart sank.

The waitress was quite hard to attract back to the table, so we decided to just share Hubby's margerita and pushed my pizza to one side. Eventually we caught her eye and asked her to remove it from the bill - she had to go off and check this was ok, luckily it was - I wasn't planning to pay for it anway ! She pondered about how it could have happened. Good job I hadn't just tucked in.
So we ate, and made a hasty exit, mistakes always make you dissapointed and just wanting to get away.

The bill was £17, not including a tip, for one pizza and 2 soft drinks.
Next time we will opt for Pizza Express :)
Cannot find a website, contact details are:

Del Villaggio (Bullring) Restaurant.
Level 2,
B5 4BG
Tel: 0871 2070182

Indian Dream/Indian/Didcot

We had a dinner date with friends from Wantage, Oxfordshire, and on their recommendation we decided to go to Indian Dream in Didcot.

Parking available directly outside, but this was on an evening, not sure what it would be like during the day.

Beautifully decorated with very modern fittings, clean and inviting, and the staff were really friendly and pleasant.

Great wine list, with an impressive wine rack on one wall.

We started with Poppadums, with dips. The dips were impressive and really tasty, with fresh crisp poppadums - both Spicy and Plain.

I asked for a Vegetable Pakora which was not on the menu, but they were happy to cook for me. I did ask for no onions, unfortunately it came with a generous scattering of diced red onions. I just shook them off, but would have prefered it to have come without them.

The Pakoras were a bit too soggy for my taste, would have been nicer a bit crispier, but the selection of vegetables inside was good.

I followed with Garlic Mushroom Balti - how nice to find a Veggie dish on the menu without it being "mixed veg", and I have to say it was very nice indeed.

We shared rices and naans, but no desserts - too full.

The total bill for four people was £85 not including the tip. This was for poppadums, starters, mains and sides each, plus a bottle of wine, 2 beers and 2 cokes.

Will definately return if we are in the area.

Here is the website for you.

Ocean City/Chinese/Bournemouth

Found this restaurant when driving past. It was quite late in the evening when we checked into our Guest House in Bournemouth and needed somewhere to eat.

It was suggested we went to a Thai Tapas Bar in Bournemouth, but unfortunately it was fully booked, on the way back to the Guest House we spotted this place, which looked nice, and they were still serving so we decided to eat there.
Inside was very funky with sparkly lights and a very modern feel.

One thing we did notice in Bournemouth was how expensive the starters are in Chinese restaurants, nearly as expensive as the main courses, so we skipped that course and went straight onto the mains.

I chose a "Sliced Cabbage in a Cream Sauce" dish, along with Pineapple Rice and Seaweed (no fish power stuff on the top, please)

Hubby had Chicken Satay and Noodles with Beansprouts.

The cabbage dish was quite horrible sadly, it was so tough and fiberous that I could hardly chew through it. I gave in after a couple of bites.

I asked for Pineapple rice and couldn't see any Pineapple so was searching through the rice in search of it, when I found something else! I called the waiter over to ask what it was and he said "Chicken". I explained I asked for Pineapple Rice, and he said it was Pineapple Rice, it came with Chicken in it. The chicken was so finely diced it was not apparent it was there.

It certainly did not say on the menu that the pineapple rice came with chicken, and as there was meat rices clearly offered it didn't occur to me to ask. Nearly ate it too!

The waiter did happily change it over for me though.

The rest of the food was ok, Hubby enjoyed his Satay, and the noodles were tasty.

We had to attract attention for extra drinks, and at no time were we asked if the food was ok.

Even when the plates were finally cleared, the staff did not ask why the cabbage was relatively untouched. I would have just explained that I did not like it, I wasn't going to send it back as I didn't know if that is how it should be or not, never having had it before, but it would have been nice to have had a satisfaction check.
We decided to treat ourselves to puds. The offerings were the usual 'bought in' iced deserts plus fritters and toffees. Hubby had his regular Orange Sorbet, and I chose Toffee Bananas. The bananas were gorgeous, crispy, sweet and syrupy.

Mistake - don't give a Cumbrian chopsticks, we barely even get offered them in Carlisle, and no wonder, just look at the mess I made!

The bill came to £47, not including tip, for 2 mains, 3 sides, 2 desserts, 2 wines and 2 cokes.
Would I go back? I believe everywhere should get a couple of chances, it could have just been bad choices on my part, but as we live a long long way from Bournemouth the chances of a return visit are quite low.
Cannot find a website, but the contact details are:

Ocean City
38 Christchurch Road
BH1 3
01202 552 903

Owens/Modern Cuisine/Tewkesbury

Staying in Tewskesbury at the Premier Inn, we needed somewhere to eat, that catered for a fussyVegetarian. The obvious choice would have been the Brewers Fayre attached to the Premier Inn, but the Veggie choices were appauling so an alternative needed to be found.

We wandered into the main street of Tewkesbury and found a charming little Restaurant called Owens on Church Street.

Loads of parking just across the road in the Abbey car park.

We took a chance and walked in, there was a wine-tasting event going on, but we were told if we popped back in half an hour we could eat. So we went for a drink elsewhere and returned 30 mins later.

Full of 'olde worlde' charm with dark wooden beams, white paint and wooden floors. Wooden tables and rustic minimal deco. Beautiful and clean, and the staff were very friendly.

The menu changes constantly, there was one Veggie option as a main when we visited but it suited me, you might want to phone and check when booking.

A jug of water was placed on the table without us asking - a lovely touch. The wine list was very good with plenty of options.

As a starter I had ....
Roasted Beetroot Caponata & Grilled Goats Cheese Toast.

It was delicious, beautiful deep red beetroot and cabbage mix, slightly sweet with a creamy tasty goats cheese melting on top.

Hubby had home-made bread, as he is not a fan of "Posh Food" and likes things rather plain. The bread was served with real butter.

My choice for main was...
Sweet Potato & Coconut Polenta, Broccoli, Sugar Snap Peas & Peppers with Chilli.

I asked for no peppers, but unfortunately it came with them, but they were easy enough to pick off, and the waitress was extremely apologetic when she realised and admitted it was her fault as she forgot to tell the Chef.
Otherwise it was very very yummy, perhaps a little too much polenta as it was quite rich, more broccoli in it's place would have been nice, but that's just a personal thing. The taste was divine.

My Hubby asked for Steak with Garlic Butter, which was on the menu displayed in the window, but was not part of the wine tasting dinner that night, but they happily cooked it for him, and he enjoyed it very much. Perfectly cooked apparently.

The main courses were brought to the table by the Chef himself, and he didn't have to ask who ordered what either. He went round the tables asking diners if the food was ok. A nice touch.

No room for pudding unfortunately, but they looked nice on their way past our table to other diners.

The toilets were immaculately clean with some wonderful touches, like posh handwash and a basket of paper towels. It is little touches like this that give you confidence in an eatery.
Pity we do not live closer, but if we are in the area again we will definately be back.

The bill was £39 not including a tip. For 1 starter, 2 mains, 1 wine and 1 soft drink.

Here is the website for you.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

The Greyhound Inn/Pub Food/Bothel

Had heard a few times how good The Greyhound in Bothel was, so when we needed somewhere to meet some friends from Wigton, it was decided this was the place to try.

Situated in Bothel, near Wigton, on the main road from Carlisle to Cockermouth. Very busy road and easy to drive past.
Large car park, although it was quite full the night we went.

The pub itself has a bar area, and a designated restaurant area. We had a table booked for 7.30pm, and a good job we did as it was packed, people were eating in both the bar and the restaurant. The restaurant was busy, lots of families with small children, and it was very warm, but we opened the window beside our table to get some fresh air.

The menu was impressive, with lots of hand-made fayre on it. Three Veggie options (Mousaka, Lasagna and Cauliflower & Broccoli Bake) - a little dissapointing when the rest of the menu was so vast. The meals looked huge as they were being delivered to other diners.

I wouldn't have chose to have a starter based on the size of the portions, but the friends we were with said they were too good to miss. Well, with a recommendation like that how can you not?

So I opted for Deep Fried Brie and Cumberland Sauce. It was HUGE, perfectly cooked to gentle oozyness, and resting on a bed of sauce.

Hubby had Chicken Coujons - hand battered, beautifully crisp and served with two fabulous sauces, garlic and sweet chilli mayo. Some really lovely additions to the garnish, kiwi fruit, grapes and coleslaw.

To follow I chose the Home-made Broccoli & Cauliflower Bake. I requested it with chips instead of salad - who can resist home-made chips? Had I realised the bake came topped with potatoes I might have just had salad :)

It was served with beautiful Garlic Bread dripping with Garlic Butter. The downside was the actual Broccoli and Cauliflower, it had been obviously made and re-frozen, which made the vegetables incredibly chewy and leathery. That was a huge shame as the taste of the dish was very very nice.

My hubby had his usual Gammon & Egg, served with double egg and a good selection of vegetables.

The chips came separately, and there was LOADS, far too much in fact, we had two dishes between 4 of us, when in fact one would have done quite nicely.

We were pretty much stuffed !

Our order was taken at the table, but we had to keep popping to the bar to top up our drinks. Would have been nice for drink service at the table too, but that's just a little niggle.

The total bill came to £76 not including the tip, for four people. 2 courses each and 3 drinks each.

All in all, would definately go back, wouldn't have the same dish, but there is a couple more to try.

Here are the details, don't forget to book a table if you plan on visiting.

The Greyhound Inn
016973 20601

A Vegetarian Rant.

Some musings from me, or a discussion if you like, happy to have some comments and hear your views.

So, Vegetarian Food, when out and about - why is it SO hard for places to cater for us? When I say "places" I generally mean British Pubs.

If you go to an Italian restaurant you can have loads - Pizza, Pasta, almost anything. Spaghetti Carbonara ({no ham please) is one of my favs and so easily adapted.

Same with Indian & Chinese restaurants, they are always happy to adapt, leave things out, swap things around.

I never worry about the menu if we are eating Italian, Indian or Chinese.

But Pub Food? Why do they get it so wrong?

OK, there are exceptions like The Lane End Inn (Hayton, Carlisle) who have a Veggie chef and therefore have a good few options, but usually you get two choices if you are lucky. Sometimes just one, which then removes the choice totally.

Then you get the expected option - some kind of risotto, or spinach canelloni.

If I wanted Canelloni I would have gone to the Italian, if I wanted Vegetable Curry I would have gone to the Indian.

So, what DO I want? I want Pubs to KEEP IT SIMPLE.

How hard is it to do a Veggie Burger? Surely as easy as doing a meat burger? Easy enough to store in the freezer, pop under the grill, drop in the fryer, and slap in a bun.

What about a stuffed mushroom? Chuck some stuffing mix in and top with brie and grill - easy peasy.

Broccoli Quiche, Veggie Haggis, even a Veggie "Mixed Grill" (Fried Egg, Mushroom, Tomato, Pineapple, Peas and Chips)

Its the good old British Pub Food we want when we go for a Bar Meal - with CHIPS ! Get rid of the Pasta Bakes, and the Veggie Lasagna (actually, that IS a Pasta Bake!)

I have even in the past ordered Gammon without Gammon (gets you some funny looks when the waitress brings it to your table and shouts GAMMON, NO GAMMON). It was lovely though, chips, egg, pineapple, tomato, mushrooms and peas with ketchup :) I don't have a fryer at home, so it's a treat when we go out.

Starters and Chips, is the other option of course - deep fried Brie & chips works well, garlic mushroom & chips is good too. Put them on the main menu for us and make us feel like we have a choice.

Rant over, I am off to make dinner - Veggie Sausage Toad In The Hole !

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


Situated on Lonsdale Street in Carlisle, just beside the bus station, this is a fresh looking, un-fussy style restaurant.

Parking is an issue during the day, you would probably have to use one of the City's car parks and walk, but to be perfectly honest, the only once I went during the day would not tempt me to return at lunch time. We were the only ones in, and felt like we were disturbing the waiter (dressed in a football t-shirt and jeans) whose English was not good at all and we were having to try and get across what we wanted to eat !
On an evening, if you are lucky you can park outside Alternative Gift Shop, otherwise park around St Pauls Church and walk back.

We used to frequent this restaurant a lot, usually most Sunday evenings as they do a cracking dinner deal on a Sunday Evening - 7 course for under £10.00 !

Unfortunately the quality started to lack quite considerably, and after three chances to get things to be right, we stopped going. Main issues were cold food with skin on, very watery mint sauce, stained tableclothes. We had continued to go as we remembered just how good it used to be, but finally gave up.

However..... three months later, we thought we would give it a final go with some friends, and they have started to restore our faith - it was back to being good. Hopefully this is now the norm and not just a lucky day !

So, the "7 courses" for under a tenner, consists of...
  • Poppadums & Dips
  • Any starter (ex King Prawn)
  • Any Main (excluding King Prawn
  • Any Side Dish
  • Any Rice
  • Any Naan
  • Coffee

Now the portions on this deal are not massive, but why would you want them to be? There is plenty to eat without feeling bad that you have left loads.

They serve a wonderful red coconut with the poppadoms, this is the only place I have seen this served, and it is a lovely accompaniment.

To start I had Vegetable Pakora - 2 Mushrooms in crisp tasty batter, and 2 slices of Aubergine - as I say, not huge portions on this deal, but I actually prefer that.

The mint sauce was a good consistancy which was nice.

To follow I adapted a meal and had Mushroom Massala, they have the usual "Mixed Vegetable Curries" on the menu, but they were happy to cook my request for me.

I had this with Peas Pilau, which was really delicious, Cauliflower Bhaji side and Garlic Naan.

Oh, and a few chips that I stole off my partner.

Big fresh fluffy naan breads :)

There is a good wine list, and even better a single serve wine list - it actually works out cheaper to buy the single serve bottles believe it or not (or it did at the time of writing this!)

I am not willing to shout from the rooftops about this restaurant just yet, but based on the last meal we had, we will definately be back to try it again.

One change I would make however is the young man who seems to be floor manager, used to be such a happy cheery sole, but these days hardly cracks a smile. So if by chance he happens to read this blog, a message just for him - "Turn your frown upside down" :)

Cannot find a website, but the contact details are:

7 Lonsdale Street

01228 537 779