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.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Imperial Dragon/Chinese/Carlisle

The Imperial Dragon is a Chinese Restaurant situated on London Road in Carlisle.

A large building, the bottom floor is the restaurant and above it some private dwellings.

There is plenty of parking, a few places on the front and more around the back. It is accessible by bus, or would take around 45 minutes to walk, from the City Centre.

You enter via the door on the front, walking into a bar area where people sit while waiting for their take-aways. After asking for a table you are directed into the restaurant.

The restaurant is functional, not hugely atmospheric, but clean & tidy.

They do a great deal, eat-as-much-as-you-like for £13.50. The best bit about this deal is it is all cooked to order, no helping yourself out of luke-warm buffet trays.

Four of us went on a Sunday evening, we had the whole place to ourselves, only to be joined by one other couple later on into the evening.

We ordered a huge selection of starters, opting to choose main courses (should we need them) after we had finished the starters, and we are glad we did - they certainly were not shy with the portions, which were all served in this fabulous "lazy susan" style serving dish.

One slight issue is that the Veggie Spring Rolls were just chucked in with the prawn and chicken dishes, there was enough space for them to be kept separately really.
We could barely manage a main course so we opted to order just half portions. I got a Mushroom Egg Fu Yung, with curry sauce - we shared rice & noodles.

My friend got Orange Chicken.

All the food was delicious, we have been a few times before and it is consistantly good. They seem to be very busy with take-away orders, which probably keeps them going as the restaurant is often quite empty.

The waiter was really good, helpful and happy.

The bill, not including a tip, for four people was £70.60, for 4 buffets, a carafe of wine, beer and soft drink.

The only real downside of this restaurant is the state of the bathroom, the Ladies anyway, it is really quite tatty, smells of damp and in urgent need of a real good overhaul.

The contact details are:
Imperial Dragon
264-266 London Rd
01228 819 989

Let us know if you go.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Houghton Hall/Cafe/Carlisle

Houghton Hall is a lovely Garden Centre, just off Junction 44 of the M6. (Leave M6 jct 44, 1 mile on A689. )

Plenty of little consessions to look round if you go, such as a Food Hall, Craft Centre, Minatures Shop, Model Shop as well as the Garden and Gift centre.

After a wander around a friend and I decided to try lunch there. There are a decent amount of options, along with some specials on a chalkboard.

I opted for Soup - Butternut Squash and Apple, with a roll. A nice smooth base with huge chunks of apple. It was nice and hot, but very sweet - almost like stewed apple, in fact it wouldn't have been wrong with a drop of custard :) However, it was nice to have something different, and I would probably have it again.

My friend had BBQ Chicken Melt Panini, served with crisps and salad.

Decent coffee, nice and strong.

Nothing much more to report, pretty unoffensive, resonably priced food, worth a visit if you are visiting the Garden Centre.

Contact details for the Garden Centre are:

Houghton Hall,
CA6 4JB.
Tel 01228 400610

Monday, 13 September 2010

The Salutation/Pub Food/Carlisle

This is a nice little public house, in the Village of Irthington, just a few miles from Carlisle

You can get to it from the A689 road from Carlisle to Brampton, turning left at the sign for Irthington, the Pub is just as you enter the village.
Plenty of parking behind the pub.
We have been trying to visit for a while, having been before and knowing how nice it is, but every time we phoned they were fully booked, so always book before going.

We parked around the back in the car park, but the back entrance to the Pub was being used as a smoking area, and it does feel a little daunting to have to excuse yourself and walk through a group of smokers, so we walked around and in through the front door.

The inside is quite modern, and is split into three sections. A pool table area, a small bar area and a restaurant area. You are asked to sit in the bar section while you look at the menu, then you are taken through to your table.

The menu is good, with some nice choices on and there is a specials board with different items on each time. What is excellent though is that they offer Quorn pieces as an option when choosing one of the "Meat with Sauce" dishes. Genuis idea, and very much appreciated.

For a starter I chose one of the specials from the blackboard - Oven Baked Mushrooms filled with Garlic Butter & Mozzerella Cheese, served with crusty bread.

It was very tasty, and the Ciabatta bread mopped up the mushroom juice perfectly.
Hubby had Chicken Coujons. He said the chicken was beautifully tender and just the right amount of spices and herbs in the breadcrumbs. It was served with mayo.

For mains I went for a Chicken Diane dish, swapping the Chicken for Quorn pieces, and requesting no onions. It was served as ordered and tasted divine, the Calvados Cream sauce was amazing, and the home-made chips complimented it perfectly.

You have the choice of Salad or Veg, we chose Veg, it was perfectly cooked, very fresh, and served hot & steaming.

Hubby had his usual Gammon & Egg - I don't know why he doesn't get bored with eating the same thing, but he never seems to!! Thought it might have been served with some trimmings, but he doesn't mind.

Said it was very good, but like me he did really enjoy the home-made chips.

We were so tempted to have a pudding, there was loads of lovely options on the desserts board, but we really couldn't fit it in.

The bill, not including a tip, was just under £40. This was for two starters, two mains, two cokes and two regular wines.
Would happily recommend this place. The food has always been good, and the choices excellent.
Don't forget to book though.

Can't find a website, but here are the contact details:

Salutation Inn
016977 2310

Let us know if you go.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

The Golden Fleece/Pub Food/Carlisle

After a busy weekend working, my Husband and I decided to go out for dinner. We thought we might try somewhere different, and as we had often passed The Golden Fleece on the A689 from Carlisle to Brampton, we thought we would give it a go.

I telephoned before going to check they had Vegetarian options on the menu, the girl who answered the phone explained that there was nothing written on the menu but the Chef would be more than happy to make me something, and she mentioned curries, stroganoff, stir-fries.
Sounded good, so off we went.

Loads of parking outside, we entered via the back door which lead out onto the carpark.

We were shown into the restaurant part where we had a choice of tables. The tables were nicely set with pretty tableclothes and modern table mats. Pity the background music was the local radio station though, not too bad music, but the repetative commercial adverts were a little irritating. The seats were past their best with the springs collapsing underneath you when you sat, actually once sat down they were quite comfy, but other dinners were shuffling about swapping seats, so they must have been all the same.

The waitress was a nice young lady, very friendly and helpful, but quite inexperienced. She had to go and check almost every query with the Chef, such as what the Soup was (asked by another diner) and whether they could do a dish without peppers.

The menu looked quite good, with some nice options that you don't find elsewhere, such as Duck Wraps, and Pate Stuffed Mushrooms, along with the regular offerings - Gammon, Scampi etc...
To start I chose the Brie, served with chunky pickle. I requested it without onions or peppers.

It did have peppers on, and the salad did taste of onions, so perhaps they had just been picked off. The Brie was lovely, and a nice sized piece for a starter, not too large.

Hubby had the Duck wraps, and he really enjoyed them. So far so good.

Onto the mains. As usual Hubby had Gammon, with egg and chips.

He said it was a lovely piece of Gammon, and the chips were good too.

I asked for a Mushroom Stroganoff, with no onions or peppers. It was offered with rice, but I asked if I could have half rice half chips instead. That was fine.

Unfortunately, when it came it had both onions and peppers in it. It was served by someone who came from the kitchen rather than the waitress, so I politely mentioned I had asked for no onions or peppers, and she apologise nicely and took it away to be re-made, warning me that it would be a few minutes. That was fine as I was nibbling on the chips that had been served seperately.
True to her word 5 mins later a new meal arrived back and I was looking forward to tucking in.

It was horrible!
It had the most bitter taste, of which I still cannot work out what it was. I am usually very good at picking out flavours, having working in kitchens before, but this was like nothing I had tasted before, and I am a fan of Stroganoff so I know how it generally tastes. My tastebuds were rejecting it, telling me not to eat it. It really was quite foul. My mouth still had a bitter taste two hours later, and I only had two mouthfuls.
The waitress walked past a dozen times but didn't stop to ask if everything was ok. I had decided I wasn't going to send it back again, I would just eat the chips. We are not moaners and anyone who knows me knows I eat almost anything.
When she finally came to take our plates she asked if everything was ok, obviously sending a full plate full of food back I had to say something, so I explained it had a really odd bitter taste, and perhaps the Chef would like to taste it. She said she would "pass on my comments", but then stacked the side plate on top before carrying it off to the kitchen.
We waited for some kind of acknowledgement from the Chef via the waitress, but she walked passed us another 4 or 5 times before we finally just asked for the bill. She directed us to the bar.
So we went to the bar to pay, and while the manager (??) was totalling up our bill, my Husband said, "Did the waitress tell you there was an issue with the Stroganoff?" The young lady was standing there looking like a rabbit in headlights, and told the manager that "she hardly touched it, the plate is still on the drainer". At this, to our complete amazement, the manager tutted loudly and throwing the kitchen door open was obviously going to check.
He came storming back and announced to my husband that he would only charge us £4.00 for it - half price. Hubby argued the point saying he was happy to pay for the chips I had eaten (£1.95 a portion on the menu) but not for the meal, as I had hardly touched it. He finally relented but not before giving us a filthy look. He snatched the money, and threw back the change with not a word, then turned and smashed the ticket down on the ticket spike in a temper.
Given the managers reaction I am not surprised the poor girl looked as uncomfortable as she did.
We left!
We were not rude in the slighest, but the service we recieved back was nothing short of disgraceful.
If this was dealt with in a proper manner by simply apologizing and removing it from the bill we would have probably gone back and tried it again, afterall it was just one quarter of the whole meal we had an issue with, but due to the appalling behaviour of the man behind the bar we will never be back, nor will we recommend it to anyone.
As always, here are the contact details, in case you want to try it.

The Golden Fleece Hotel
01228 573 686

Feel free to comment.


We have been in the Metrocentre many many time, and eaten there nearly every time, but never at Chiquitos. However, after visiting a Chiquitos in Edinburgh and really, really enjoying it, we decided to give this one a go.

Is it tucked away in the corner, just before you go up the escalator to the Train Station in the Blue Mall, opposite Pizza Hut.

We wandered in at around 1.30pm, and were told there was a 30 minute wait for a table, which was fine. We ordered a drink and sat in the bar studying the menu. You are given a buzzer which alerts you when your table is ready.

It was only actually about 10 minutes when we were shown to our table, strangely there was loads of empty tables, around half, so I imagine the wait was a staffing issue rather than a space issue :)

The staff we have met so far in both Edinburgh and the Metrocentre have been excellent, going out of their way to make sure you have everything you need.I did have a meal in mind (Chimichangas) but there was a great lunch deal - £5.95 for one course / £7.95 for two courses / £8.95 for three courses, so we went for that instead :)

We were presented with a bowl of crispy fresh Tortilla Chips and chunky salsa while we waited for the food.

I decided on Corn On the Cob as my starter, you had a choice between Lime & Chilli Butter, or Seasoned Butter. I chose the Chilli one as I had had it in Edinburgh, but I think I got the seasoned one, nevertheless it was lovely and juicy.

Hubby had Garlic Flatbread Tostadas, and I stole a bit :) It was really good, like thin crispy pizza crust dribbled with Garlic Butter.

For mains I had Full House Burrito (Oven baked soft flour tortilla packed with Mexican spiced rice, refried beans, chilli con queso & melting Jack cheese. Topped with ancho-chilli-tomato sauce, sour cream, guacamole & smoky salsa)

Hmmmm, delicious. Gorgeous flavours going on all in one wrap. And I got a cute little green flag !! :)
Hubby had a burger, with fries (skin on), he says it was a really good burger.

We really really didn't need a pudding, but the Banana Taquito sounded way too good to miss out on !
(Banana wrapped in a cinnamon tortilla and fried until golden. Served warm with Cajeta toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream)

And it was, so glad I managed to force it down :)
Hubby had the Churros (Delicious soft dough fried until crispy. Dusted in sugar and cinnamon, with warm chocolate fudge sauce for dipping)

The bill, not including a tip was Just under £33 for two 3 course meals, two large wines and two soft drinks.

Would definately recommend this restaurant chain, so find one near you :)

The website with the menu and restaurant locations on it is...

Feel free to let me know if you have been.

Thursday, 2 September 2010


What a job it was to find an Italian on a quiet Sunday evening in Sunderland.
We went through a few on Trip Advisor, but all were closed. Then we tried Yellow Pages, most were closed as well, except this one - Marcellos.

On the corner of Albion Street in Sunderland, there is a car park on the next corner, we were advised by a Taxi driver when asking for directions to park, not to park on the street.

A nice looking building, we went in and were faced with two doors. On one door was a note "This side closed, use other door and walk down the stairs", so we did.
This took us underground to a cellar restaurant, I love places like this, they are so atmospheric and cosy.

We were shown to a table with a horribly stained tablecloth, one I wouldn't have minded one stain but there was a good 4 or 5 different splodges. The waiter came to light the candle but we asked not to have it (flickering lights cause headaches).

Menu looked good, but the Veggie options were mainly mushrooms - Mushroom pasta and Mushroom Risotto, and a vegetable pizza.

I ordered a 50cl bottle of wine, perfect size, but the wine was pretty rough to be honest. Didn't drink it all, and that is not like me !!

We were brought a slice of bread and given a pat of butter while we looked at the menu.

A really lovely waitress came to take the order and as I fancied mushrooms for starter, I didn't really want them for mains too, so I asked if a dish could be adapted, she had only been there for two days so she went of to get (the manageress?) "Sophia".
When Sophia came over she reached for the candle on the recently vacated table next to us, to put on our table, I politely declined it explaining we didn't like the flickering, to which she slammed it back on the table in a really abrupt manner, like she was having a strop! We could hardly keep a straight face. Anyway, yes, the main could be adapted.

So, I went for the Mushroom starter - A mixture of mushrooms in a cream and whisky sauce on a toasted ciabatta.

The mushrooms were delicious, the different types of mushroom made a pleasant change from just having button mushrooms, and the sauce was really nice, however the bread was half an untoasted roll which was as tough as old boots !
Hubby ordered Garlic Pizza Bread.
It arrived and it was massive !! But he struggled to eat it, well actually he struggled to cut it, in his own words he said it was like "trying to cut through an old tea-towel" he nearly asked for a steak knife. Also they had thrown a good handful of dried herbs in the middle, which clogged up the mouth, so he left the centre.

We were feeling a little dissapointed at the point, and wondering what on earth the mains would be like.

I had ordered a Prawn, Courgette Pasta in a Saffron Sauce (without Prawns), and they totally redeemed themselves. It was delicious, the pasta was beautiful and buttery, tasted fresh and home-made. Really really enjoyed it and was dissapointed I couldn't finish it all.

Hubby had Lasagne, it looked very good, with loads of layers. Again, they redeemed themselves, he said it was lovely.

The bill (not including tip) was around £35 which was for two starters, two mains, a 50cl bottle of wine and a soft drink.

So, I would happily recommend the pasta, but avoid the pizza unless you want jaw ache :)

Here is their website with all their details on it.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Siam Bay/Indian & Thai/Whitley Bay

Having been for a very very windy walk around St Mary's Lighthouse on the North East coast, we had certainly worked up an appetite, so looked around for someone for lunch.

We came across an Indian & Thai restaurant offering an "all-you-can-eat" buffet for just under £10 per person, so we thought we would try that.

Siam Bay is situated right on the sea front, a large painted white building, it has a great view of the sea from it's large windows. You can park in a pay & display car pack just a few minutes walk further down the sea front.

We went in and asked if the had Vegetarian options on the buffet, the waiter happily showed us around the food on offer and there was an adequate amount of veggie food, although a few more choices would have been nice.

We decided we would give it a go, and I thought I would treat myself to a glass of wine, but alas, only French wine was available by the glass, and I really dislike French (and all other European) wines! So I ordered Tap Water, I got a bottle of still water priced at £2.50 ! Still, it tasted nice :)

And onto the food. We wandered down to the buffet for some starters - Veggie Spring Rolls, Samosas and an Onion Bhaji ***.

(***a little note on anyone who has read my reasons for hating onions, I can eat them if I cannot "see" them, so when they are deep fried in a Bhaji I can just about manage them, as long as I don't think about what they are :) )

The food was sadly luke warm, the onion Bhajis not even luke warm, more like room temperature, which was an absolute shame as the food itself had beautiful flavours and was nicely cooked. The salad was lovely, fresh and crisp with a choice of some really good sauces - mint, satay and sweet chilli.

Hubby had Chicken Sesame Toast, Chicken Satay, Onion Bhaji and Tandoori Chicken with a spoonful of rice. Again, everything was luke warm or cold, but he said it all tasted good except for the Chicken Sesame Toast which was soggy and undercooked.

I like food to be red hot, he doesn't generally mind when things are a little cooler, but even he said it was way too cold.
Unfortunately foods without a liquid base does not lend itself to being kept warm in a 'bain marie', they either go cold, go soggy or dry up.

Perhaps we should have paid up and left, but we are not ones for making a fuss, so we battled on.

For mains I had Cauliflower Bhaji, Bombay Potatoes, Mushroom Rice and another Onion Bhaji.

The cauliflower and potatoes were drowning in a pool of orange oil in the bain marie, I fished out some bits leaving as much oil as possible, and to be honest they tasted great, just not sure it was necessary to have all that oil, and they were a good temperature, but the rice was cold. Even though I had tried to leave as much oil in the pot as I could, there was still a good amount left on the plate!

There was desserts on offer, supermarket cheesecake and a host of sliced fresh fruits - hubby had some watermelon as it's his fav, I just finished my large bottle of water - I had paid for it, I was going to drink it !

Now strange as it might seem following this rather negative blog, I would go back to try it again. I believe when cooked fresh and served hot the food would be fantastic, maybe they should drop the buffet and preserve their reputation.
Oh, and the Chef is apparently fantastic at fruit sculpting, I must admit I was pretty impressed at his watermelon !!

The total bill, not including a tip, was just under £25, for two buffets, a bottle of water and a coke.
They have a magnificent website where you can order takeaways, and it shows all the menus too.
Let me know if you go or have been :)