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.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Stanwix Tandoori/Indian/Carlisle

After not visiting this restaurant for a long time, it was suggested we should give it a go.
Situated on Stanwix Bank, above the shops, you need to walk up a flight of stairs, so no good if you cannot manage steps.
You cannot park outside, but there is a car park opposite - you have to take the risk and cross 4 lanes of traffic though, not hugely recommended. Otherwise you can sometimes park around the back on the residential streets.

We went on a Monday evening, at around 8.45pm. We were the only ones in except for some friends of the waiter in the bar area, and no one else came to dine whilst we were there.

The usual Indian fayre on the menu, no special Veggie dishes apart from the usual side dishes, but all curries available with 'mixed veg'.
Ordered the house wine, which was nearly see-through raspberry pink, rather than a nice deep red wine.
We started with a poppodum each with dips.

For starters I had Vegetable Pakora.

The portion sizes were quite large, nice tasting Pakoras served with fresh salad and Mint Sauce.
Hubby had Chicken Pakora, again a large portion and tasted nicely seasoned with a crisp batter.

For a main I decided to go for Vegetable Biryani, served with Vegetable Curry. I asked for no onions & the waiter went to the trouble of checking I wasn't allergic to onions as although there would be no chunks they were used to make the base of the sauce. Great service.

Unfortunately the rice in the Biryani was cold, although the veg curry was piping hot. I sent the rice back and they re-heated it for me, but really there isn's an excuse for cold food when we were the only people in the restaurant !!

The rice tasted nice, but the curry sauce was very very bland, it tasted like my home-made vegetable soup before being seasoned. What a shame. It was so bland that I didn't even bother asking for the left-overs (which there was quite a bit of) to take home. I should have gone for a curry dish perhaps.

Hubby had Chicken Tikka platter, came on a sizzling dish with just chicken, which was unusual - usually there are onions on the platter too, but this was just chicken. He said it was nice though.

He had egg fried rice (which was also cold) and we shared some chips. The chips were gorgeous, great big fat ones that tasted home-made.

We also shared a Paratha (fried bread), which was gorgeous, really tasty.

I think we need to return and try something else, as sadly what we had for mains wasn't too exciting due to lack of flavours.
No website that I can find, but here are the contact details.

Stanwix Tandoori
11a Scotland Rd
Tel: 01228 531495

Feel free to comment.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Costas/Spanish Tapas/Penrith

Went to this restaurant last May after lots of recommendations, up until then I had never heard about it.

We booked, and lucky we did as it was crammed full and very busy. This time we booked and it was empty.

The reason we have had a gap of 6 months or so between visits is we were not too sure whether we enjoyed it or not, so decided we should give it one more go.

Situated on Queen Street, a back street just off the main street through Penrith, no parking directly outside but walkable from most of the parking spots around the town centre.

When you walk in you are immediately transported to somewhere else, it is full of nick nacks, photos pinned everywhere, and plastic grapevines. The main waitress, who I believe is also the owner, wears traditional Spanish Dress which looks great.

A bad point is the seating - bar stools ! You just cannot get comfy on a bar stool at all, if you have an ample bum you tend to slip off, and if you are too short, your legs just hang there uncomfortably. You tend to end up standing with your bum just perched on the edge of the stool.

We ordered some wine, priced around £14 a bottle, this was unavailable, we were offered another one which was nearly £18 on the menu, so we re-chose a different £14 one.

The menu is vast, but a lot of it is unavailable due to some of the products being seasonal. I asked for the baked Courgette dish in May - out of season, same in October, although you can still buy courgettes in Morrisons!

The Tapas portions are quite large, you are advised to have no more than two per person, and you certainly won't need more than two each. They also have a 'main meal' section too.

There were 4 of us dining, 3 choosing Tapas and one main meal.

We started with some Garlic Bread, gorgeous crispy bread dripping with Garlic Butter and a pot of Garlic Mayo. (ignore the bite out of the corner)

There are 4 mushroom dishes on the menu, but after ordering Garlic Mushrooms we were told that "The Chef is only doing the Blue Cheese mushrooms tonight", so blue cheese mushrooms it was. They were surprisingly nice to be honest, not being a blue cheese fan.
Got to wonder why he couldn't do the other mushroom dishes though, unless everything is pre-prepared.

To go with them we ordered Garlic Potatoes and Tomato Potatoes, a huge portion, even between 4 of us we couldn't finish them all.

I asked if the Spanish Omlette could be made without onions, but was told "no, the mix is already made", but my friends ordered one anyway, it looked good. What a shame they cannot adapt dishes, something as simple as leaving out an ingredient.

My friends also ordered a Sweet chilli beef dish, which I missed taking a photo of, but it was a sizzling dish with rolled up slices of beef in a sticky sauce, they said it was divine.
She also wanted another dish which was off the menu, so she was advised to have the peppers with soft cheese, deep fried. (The photo shows just half the portion as we ate them before we remember to take a photo!)

They were really nice, and came with an interesting looking garnish. I caught the passing waiter and asked what it was, he said "Russian Salad", there was a pause and he added "Do you not know what Russian Salad is?" I said I didn't and he said it was Tuna based !!! Tuna salad on two Vegetarian dishes?? And the waitress who took the order knew I was Veggie as she was advising me what to have. How very odd.

We were a good way into our Tapas, wondering where Hubbys main meal was, it took around 10 mins to arrive after the tapas. He ordered a chicken dish with the sauce on the side in case he didn't like it, but it came smothered in the sauce. Not wanting to send it back and wait he just scraped the sauce off.
Again a large portion, but at £15 you would expect that, it was served with potatoes and green beans. He said the chicken itself was "fine".

The 'side' salad was enough for 6 people !

We opted not to have a dessert as the only things on offer were bought in ice-cream pre-prepared desserts. If there had been an authentic, or hand-made dessert we might have been tempted.

The bill came as a little shock, all the Tapas we chose from the main menu were around £5-£6 each, the beef dish my friend ordered from the specials menu (which had a note saying, please feel free to ask for the price of any dish) was £15 ! This was for 8 thin slices of beef in a sauce, so a bit pricey in my opinion. If you go, do check the prices on the specials menu.

The bill was just under £80 not including a tip, for 4 people. 6 Tapas dishes, on main course, 1 Garlic Bread, 1 bottle of wine, 1 lager and 1 soft drink.
Here is their website.
Let us know if you have been.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

The Black Lion/Pub Food/Carlisle

Situated on Durdar Road on the outskirts of Carlisle, just past the Racecourse. Plenty of parking outside, but a bit too far to walk from the City Centre.
An older style local pub, clean & tidy but almost stuck in a time warp. You can choose from two areas, the bar and the lounge, both are similar so it's just a preference of where you prefer to sit.

A good menu with plenty of options, and a good few Veggie options too.

I started with Garlic Mushrooms, they were served with some french stick and salad. They tasted good, but they came with a skin on the top and the bread was stale, like it had been pre-cut and left out for a while.

Hubby had Garlic Bread, which was a supermarket style garlic baquette. At least you know what you are getting :)

For a main course I went for Macaroni Cheese, it came with either chips or your choice of potato, and salad or veg. I went for chips and veg.

The macaroni cheese was tasty, thick chunky chips, and some nicely cooked veg. A nice meal.

Hubby went for his usual Gammon, served with egg AND pineapple, veg and a seperate dish of chips. Very nice he said.

There is a display carousel of puddings as you walk into the lounge, sometimes they can look amazing, other times they can look slightly tired. Have never had room enough to try one yet though.
The owner (?) is an unsmiling man, makes very little conversation or contact with the customers, which is a shame.

Quite a nice pub to sit and relax in after your meal, there never seems to be any rush to move you on, so it's nice to sit and have another glass of wine or a coffee after your food.

No website to be found, but here are the contact details.

Black Lion
Durdar Road
01228 520 931
Please do comment if you have been.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

The Jubilee/Pub Food/Cleveleys

Having visited the fabulous Harvester pub in Sunderland, we decided while in Lancaster to hunt down another.

The closest was the one in Cleveleys, called The Jubilee, which was about 15 miles away, so off we went.
On entering, the place didn't look as tidy as the Sunderland one, and there was a 15 minute wait for a table, which was fine as we were not in a hurry. We got a seat by the window looking out onto the seafront. Pity about the weather though :)

There is a good choice of Veggie options on the menu, as mentioned in the previous blog, so I went for the Soya & Mushroom sausages with herby white sauce.

Actually, they were not very nice really, dry and cloggy with a half (very small half) of grilled tomatoes and a spoon of cold peas. Mean portion of chips too.
Hubby had steak, it looked quite scraggy to be honest, and was very thin, overcooked and chewy.

The salad bar in Sunderland was full and fresh looking and clean, this one was messy with food spilling into other pots, some pots were empty and needed refilling, and when I asked if the coleslaw was the same as in other Harvesters (onion free) I got a "yeah" with no eye contact as the waitress scurried past.

Would definately go back to a Harvester again, as the salad bar is so good, but not sure if I would bother going back to this one.
Here are the contact details for you.
The Jubilee
Jubilee Park
North Promenade
Tel: 01253858128

Let us know if you have been.

Friday, 5 November 2010

The Stork Inn/Pub Food/Lancaster

During a weekend away we consulted on of our favourite websites - Trip Advisor - and came across this place, it had some good reviews so we thought we would give it a go.

In a little village around 6 miles out of Lancaster, it is a large building, stood on it's own on the side of the road, plenty of car parking just opposite.

A cosy looking pub, where dogs seem to be welcome as a couple had theirs under a table. Another two rooms seem to be 'restaurant' style rooms with beautiful rustic olde worlde furniture - nice, clean and simple.

There is a large extensive menu, plus lots of specials on the chalkboard. They also show a list of their local suppliers - hand made speciality breads, ice-creams and cheeses. The menu has some South African influences on it too.

A wonderful Vegetarian section on the menu, with four options on the main menu and another on the specials board.

A good choice of wines by the glass, not just French, which makes a nice change.

I started with a Mushroom paté served with onion chutney and red onion bread. Being a non onion liker I asked for no onion chutney and could the bread be changed, that was fine. Unfortunately there was a little mix up as Hubby had ordered Garlic Bread for his starter and it all came on one plate - they must have thought I wanted the GB instead of the Red Onion Bread. The plate was put down and seeing my puzzled face the waitress reaslised something was amiss and jumped into action to sort it out - quickly, smoothly and without fuss - fabulous service !

The paté was amazing - a smooth mousey style paté with lumps of different mushrooms and fresh herbs. It ended up being served with some gorgeous farmhouse style bread which was delicious.

As mentioned Hubby had Garlic Bread, which was really really good, crusty bread soaked in garlic butter with a sprinkling of fresh herbs.

For a main I went for the option on the chalkboard - Baked Butternut Squash with spicy lentils, chickpeas and feta cheese, served with an apple & walnut salad.

It was divine, perfectly cooked, and so tasty. Would definately have it again.

Hubby had his usual, Gammon. Served with a poached egg and big crispy chunky chips.

He said it was a "really nice bit of gammon"! I can vouch that the chips were nice as I stole one ;)

The desert menu had loads of options on, lots of which were alchohol based. As hubby doesn't partake in the intake of alcohol he didn't fancy any of those, so we decided to share a "Peppermint Crisp Tart" instead. This is a South African dessert, not so much tart as we know it in the UK (ie pastry) but more like a tiramisu texture.

It was delicious, very rich and minty, and a very large piece so plenty to share.

So, everything was excellent, would definately return and recommend.

The bill was around £45 for two starters, two mains, one pud, two wines and two cokes.

Here is their website for you.

Let us know if you go.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Fibber McGees/Pub Food/Lancaster

We came across this place while wandering through Lancaster doing a bit of tourist shopping. Being strangers to the town we just had to bite the bullet and take a chance.

Walked in to a very "wooden" bar, wooden floors, tables, chairs, everything seemed to be wood. Sat down at a table, which like the others, was built from slats of wood. Nice from a distance but when you get sat down you notice all the old food, dust and grub in the grooves - urgh !!! Stick a cloth in and give them a wipe PLEASE !!

As we were looking at the menu another customer was yelling quite loudly at the barmaid, demanding a refund as they had "no food", and telling the whole pub what a horrible attitude she had. The barmaid got on the phone and asked her superior to "come downstairs and give this gentleman a refund as apparently I have a bad attitude" whilst looking like a petulant child. The person on the other end of the phone must have authorised the refund as she then went and opened the till and handed him his money. A couple of minutes later, the supervisor who was on the other end of the phone came downstairs. How brave ! She should have really come down and sorted it out herself.

Still, it was entertaining :) And we decided to stay. Turns out the only food they didn't have was burgers, which to be honest removed a third of the menu as there was a good few burger options, although they did have the Veggie burger, so I was happy. I went for that.

It was served with big thick chunky chips, which looked amazing, but sadly they were cooked in very old stale fat and peppered with black burnt remnants from previous fryings. (having working in kitchens over the years, I have grown to recognise the taste of fat when it needs changed)

The burger was good though :)

Hubby had a jacket potato, perfectly cooked with crispy skin and fluffy potato. It was topped with beans and cheese.

We wanted salt, but none to be found, so Hubby queued at the bar for ages to get some, there was only one barstaff on who was serving drinks at the bar, and taking the food out.

Once he got to the bar he was told that the salt was in the sauce pot on our table, we had to empty all the sauce sachets out of the little bowl to find the little salt packs laying at the bottom !

Luckily we weren't too worried about service or quality as we were just grabbing a quick lunch, good job really. So if it's just a bite to eat the place is ok, but just ok, if I was in Lancaster again I would try somewhere else.

You get what you pay for as they say :)

James St,
01524 63720

Let us know if you have been.

Golden Dragon/Chinese/Lancaster

We were visiting Lancaster for a weekend and initially we were looking for a nice Indian to eat at, but having looked on Trip Advisor we found that the Indian restaurants mentioned there did not serve alcohol. Now I do like a nice glass of wine with my food, so we changed our plans.

After asking a friendly policeman on the street, we were directed to The Golden Dragon Chinese in George Street.
No parking outside and I couldn't suggest a good parking place as I do not know the area, we parked on a side street a few streets away.

We walked in and found a bustling, busy restaurant, with waitresses in Chinese dresses looking very smart. Sadly, the first thing I noticed though was the filthy, worn carpet, could do with being cleaned or covered. Everything else seemed clean & tidy.

We were greeted with a smile and seated at a well set table with a pot of salted peanuts in the centre. That was a good move on their part as we were ordering a 2nd drink before our meal order was taken due to the salt :)
Chose to have a Rosé wine by the glass (or two!!) as the red was French, and not my wine of choice. Could have had a bottle of course, but didn't want to drink that much.

Lovely menu, with plenty of choice, and even better than that a Vegetarian section, with a good selection of options, not just the 'mixed veg in sauce' ones either.
I started with Vegetarian Won Tons with sweet & sour sauce. 6 freshly cooked Won Tons, served very hot and crisp, although a tiny bit greasy, with a tasty sauce & plenty of it.

Hubby had Chicken Satay, really nice pieces of skewered chicken again served with plenty of really nice sauce.

For mains I went for a Vegetable Foo Young with a curry sauce (as suggested by our waitress). We shared a noodles and rice.

The Foo Young was delicious, one of the best I have had, with a lovely selection of veg in it.

Hubby had Cripsy Chicken in pancakes with Hoi Sin Sauce. A nice change from Duck, he said, and not as fatty.

The food was served incredibly quickly, hardly pausing for breath inbetween courses, as soon as they had taken the main course plates away they put down a plate of orange slices for us along with some hot hand towels.

At this point a table of 10 came in, and we got forgotten about. We had spotted Toffee Bananas on the menu, which having had in other Chinese Restaurants, we know are delicious, so we wanted a portion to share. Catching the eye of a server proved to be a little bit tricky. In the end we managed to stop someone on their way past and ask for a dessert, but it was a good 15 mins later.

However, when it arrived it was gorgeous. A thick crunchy batter on slices of banana, then rolled in sesame seeds in toffee sauce - yum !
The bill, not including a tip, was around £48 for two starters, two mains, two sides, two wines and two soft drinks.

Cannot find a website, but here are their details:

11 George St,
01524 33100

Please feel free to add a comment if you have been.