Many visitors will have visited the Lake District without ever passing through, or stopping in, the lovely Lyth Valley. They're missing out on a treat, especially in spring when the many damson trees are in blossom. It's close to Kendal and yet off the usual routes, but the quality of the food at the Punch Bowl at Crosthwaite is, on its own, reason enough to visit. A traditional Lakes building with stylish and welcoming interiors, and an interesting menu with excellent food, it's one of my favourite places to eat - and was as good as ever on my visit last week.
For those whose appetites don't stretch to a full meal, there can be no finer pub in Lakeland than the Golden Rule. Beautifully unchanged in decades, it is a haven for locals, walkers, tourists and anyone lucky enough to stumble across this hidden gem off the main street. Food is limited to excellent pork pies and scotch eggs and the ale is all from local breweries. Evening guests may find themselves participants in an impromptu singsong. A national treasure.
The Kirkstile Inn is tucked away under the fells of the western Lakes and is a must for anyone seeking excellent food (and real ale) with glorious scenery thrown in. The menu is far removed from the usual scampi and chips; much of the food is locally sourced and contributes to such delights as the Cumbrian steak and ale pie and slow roasted Lakeland lamb. Vegetarians are equally well catered for, and desserts are superb (try the Eton Mess with damson sloe gin berry compote). The Inn serves excellent real ale, including the award winning Loweswater Gold.
Most free houses have real ales, but this pub has its own on site brewery too (try the Tag Lag). It's seventh heaven for beer lovers. And foodies. The restaurant is stuffed with delicious locally sourced food (the game pie is to die for) and the wine list is big enough to suit all tastes and pockets. After all the fine dining and beery imbibing at lunchtime you won't want to move, so book a room and enjoy it all over again at dinnertime!
This friendly pub with its own brewery, a huge range of real ales, real pub games, newspapers and comfy chairs and newspapers prides itself on "food for drinkers" - all made to order on Fridays and weekends. After a hike up Black Combe, to contemplate the late Harry Griffin's favourite view, the pies, with a filling of your choice are well worth the half-hour wait as they cook. Opposite the railway station on the West Cumbrian line it's an old fashioned pub with a wonderful panorama of the Duddon estuary. Cumbria for those who know it and accessible to all.
Notwithstanding Mike Harding's quip about Barrow being 'a town at the end of a 32 mile cul-de-sac', south Lakes is an un-touristy (aka quiet) and stunning part of the Lake District. Great Urswick is a sleepy, pretty village, all whitewashed cottages and a tarn complete with ducks, and the pub is a cracker. Roaring fires, flagged floors and cosy snugs, well-kept beer and a menu that might surprise you. Chef/owner Craig Sherrington is doing clever things with local produce (expect sea bass, mackerel and rabbit) in an innovative but unpretentious way. Avoid the crowds in Ambleside and Windermere; this place is a treasure.
The Weir Cafe at Whalesborough Farm now offers a 'Tramper'scooter to hire which enables wheelchair users and those with difficulty walking to the farm and Bude canal. It can go up and down slopes, over bumps and tree roots, through shallow puddles, mud and soft ground at a top speed of four miles per hour.
The cafe is in a beautiful setting and offers great food day and night.
I love this place, which offers much more than the name suggests, including baguettes and gâteaux and a wide selection of filling and tasty pastries. My favourite savoury snack is the totally un-pc Sýrový šnek (literally "cheese snail"), a pastry spiral made with mozarella and gouda, making it slightly gooey. The sweet pastries are excellent too!
Rembrandt Donuts is a little more expensive than the average Prague bakery, but the higher prices are definitely worth it.
After 6pm, you can buy many items are at a reduced price. Some branches are little more than holes in the wall, but others have seating areas.
It seems as if there’s a pizzeria on almost every street corner in Prague, so it can be hard to know which are are the best. I’ve found Pizza Coloseum (their spelling) one of the most reliable. The selection of pizzas and pasta dishes is quite extensive, and although I’ve seen prices rise quite a lot in recent years, the restaurants are still very reasonable, and main course prices average around CZK 150-200.
The Paneria bakery chain offers a wide variety of items, from croissants and typical Czech goodies such as koláč (a sort of tart), to chocolate cake. The shops also serve savouries including panini and quiche. Paneria is a little bit more expensive than the average Prague bakery, but the quality is decent and there are several branches, all of which have seating areas. A good choice if you want to grab a quick coffee and pastry while you’re exploring.
Tucked away in a grubby walk-up on Hollywood Road, you wouldn’t find TBLS unless you were looking for it. But this is a little gem of a restaurant that I definitely suggest you go looking for.
A private kitchen with well-deserved rave reviews and a two month waiting list, TBLS does comfort food with a gastro twist. The TBLS philosophy is simple enough, a seasonal, fixed six-course menu of trusty favourite dishes created using the best quality ingredients and a dash of haute cuisine magic. It’s HK$650 a head (just over £50) but when you factor in that you're guaranteed an evening of pure, unabashed indulgence, it’s actually great value. Plus you save on astronomical wine list pricing as it's BYO.
The restaurant itself is pretty basic - a cosy (read small) space with minimalist décor (read bare white walls and standard issue black tables and chairs) leading out to a large terrace perfect for a pre-dinner drink or alfresco eating during the cooler months of the year. The real thought and creativity has been invested in the food which is whipped up by Vietnamese-American chef, Que Vinh Dang and his team in the large stainless-steel open kitchen in the centre of the room.
When we finally managed to bag a table and were informed that the evening’s menu was themed ‘American Supermarket Foods’ I couldn’t help but feel that perhaps we’d been slightly shortchanged. A massive misconception.
Our six courses of decadent deliciousness kicked off with a soup and sandwich. But this wasn’t any old soup and sandwich, this was TBLS’ indulgent, gourmet soup and sandwich – a punchy, earthy mushroom soup with sautéed shitakes, roasted garlic and rosemary oil with a miniature sloppy Joe sandwich – all buttery brioche and juicy beef smothered in a tangy, spicy sauce. Next up mac and cheese, so good that one of our party ate it twice (feigning an allergy to one of the ingredients in another course to ensure a double serving). Following swiftly after, two further dishes of beautifully presented morsels of heaven on a plate, apparently inspired by a fish sticks TV dinner and tinned pork and beans.
And then it was time for dessert.
No matter how near to burstingly full you may feel, skipping dessert would be criminal. As we loosened our belts, out came ramekins of Banana Moon Pie - an ambrosial creation consisting of baked bananas, chocolately crumble, homemade vanilla bean ice-cream and a wicked little dash of bourbon. Spooning up the last of the boozy, sticky bananas and declaring ourselves completely defeated, yet another dessert, the pièce de résistance floated into sight – a macaroon sandwich. Two semicircles of the palest mint coloured macaroons, homemade and just the right mix of crisp and chewy, sandwiched together with a thick round of creamy mint choc-chip ice-cream and a layer of unctuous raspberry jam. We all suddenly seemed to find a second wind and gobbled up every last crumb with relish.
TBLS really is something a little bit special; an insider's secret not to be missed. My advice? Spend the day of your booking working up a proper appetite - say, hiking up perilously steep hills or shopping like your life depends on it. Better yet, engage in full on starvation. This is a feast and a half which warrants a monumental appetite.
TBLS, 7th Floor, 31 Hollywood Road, Central,
Hong Kong Island
+(852) 2544 3433
Google map: bit.ly/NQJijN
* Natalie is our local for Hong Kong. You can read all about her here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/hong-kong-local-natalie-robinson.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/natalierobinson
She also has her own blog at: www.3badmice.com/
Modern pub attached to the Hawkshead Brewery (which moved to Staveley from Hawkshead some years ago), backing on to the River Kent. Excellent cask and bottled beer to drink there or take away. Pub grub with a regional twist. Informative brewery tours Weds, Fri, Sat (book in advance) or groups by arrangement.
Pub with home cooked pub food - the chicken is especially recommended.
Live music on some nights including Blues and jazz.
22 Narrowgate Brow, Royton, Oldham, Greater Manchester OL2 6YD
Google map: bit.ly/PCInR4
Pub with good pub grub.
Warm atmosphere, reassuringly old fashioned decor and has its own football team.
Menu is home cooked and has some hearty favourites.
Angry Alys restaurant and wine bar. A small establishment selling freshly cooked food and reasonably priced drinks. It is tucked away in a small row of shops in Southsea. Always busy with locals and tourists. Friendly atmosphere.
69 Castle Road, Southsea, Hants, PO5 3AY
+44(0)23 92 816825
Google map: bit.ly/TDLTwc
Croft 36 supplies fresh croft produce from a purpose built hut outside the house - fresh bread, cakes, scones, quiches, dressed crab - all fantastic quality and value. And even better for when you are on holiday - meals to be picked up or even delivered if you are in South Harris. We had the Seafood Thermidor one night and the Goan Fish Curry another - they were both great! And the crab soup was to die for!
Croft 36, 36 Northton, Isle of Harris - on the right as you drive though from the main road - you can't miss it.
Google map: bit.ly/Nk9zXi
Join Verona's workers for lunch in San Matteo Church. Tucked away off a side street, this self service restaurant serves a good range of salads, pasta and pizza. You can eat very well for under 10 euro with drinks and it's air conditioned too.
The Dolphin House Brazzerie is a lovely little stylish restaurant just around the corner from the main Barbican, overlooking Sutton Harbour.
Wonderful food and excellent service. Good selection of vegetarian dishes and they said they can cater for gluten-free diets.
Well worth a visit.
This is a small seafood restaurant on the western side of Helsinki. It has plenty of seafaring memorabilia on the walls.
Head along Bulevarden and at the end of the road it is to the right facing the water.
The pricing was decent and the food was delicious.
A viking-themed restaurant tucked away in a small shopping corridor opposite Stockmann, Harald is a bit pricey but worth the money. (Most restaurants in Helsinki tend to be a bit more expensive.)
The staff were nice and the atmosphere combined with the lovely food (I had bear) made a great evening.
Citykäytävä 2. krs, Aleksanterinkatu 21, 00100 Helsinki
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