Kash Taprooms

k1

A friend introduced me to Kash bar in Chester a while ago, as friends do.  Since then it’s become a favourite haunt.  The beer is exceptional and although I’m not in Chester that often, I often pop in before a gig in The Live Rooms.  I’ve introduced a few others to the wonders of this place too, as a way to “pay it forward”.

On previous visits to Kash, I’d been distracted by the food, which looked excellent.  Eventually I couldn’t resist any longer, so Mrs Platinum Al and I went on a mission to Chester to enjoy the full eating experience at this venue.

Kash is on Brook Street, so not in the main town centre.  It’s not too far out of the way though and well worth the effort.  On entering, the visitor finds an elaborately decorated venue with a chilled vibe and some cool tunes.  Not to mention, of course, the myriad beverages available, many of which are brewed on site.

To kick things off, I went for a pint of Gold Digger, from the home Blueball brewery.  It’s a very tasty golden pale ale, not too strong but full of flavour.  My companion went for the ever reliable Brooklyn Lager, one of our favourites.

The food arrived without much of a wait, starting with some tortilla chips and dip to share.  Excellent choice – simple but effective.  The dip itself was a really good, tangy sauce.  We had a couple more beers – I went for a Brooklyn lager too, this time.  It’s getting easier to find bottles of Brooklyn these days, but it’s great to have on draught.

We both opted for burgers for the main event, although the choice was difficult.  So much to sample…  Mrs Platinum Al opted for The Pioneer, which was a burger on a bun with Swiss cheese, caramelised onions, mushrooms, bacon and garlic mayo.  It looked damn fine, but mushrooms are my green kryptonite so I didn’t venture a try. IMG_20151114_193250466

No matter – my own burger was awesome enough for me.  I chose The Bomb, a burger topped with bacon, cheese and Kash’s Blueball ale chilli.  The chilli was rich and full of flavour, I loved every mouthful.  Both burgers were served with chips that were like wedges shaved into fries.  I’m no fan of the big chubby chips, so these fries were perfect.

All in all, the food was fantastic.  Great quality comfort food with loads of flavour, prepared with obvious pride and care.  There’s so much to choose from that Kash demands another visit (next time it’s Mexican for me!).

Plus you’ve got a massive choice of excellent beers on offer – so much that there’s surely something for everyone.  With a warm welcome, attentive staff and relaxed atmosphere, Kash is now the premier bar in Chester.  Think you can beat this?  Good luck.

Kash Taprooms Bar & Grill, 121 Brook Street, Chester

01244 401777

Kash is also on Facebook and Twitter: @Kash_Chester

Food Quest – Greek Night at The Gallery Coffee Shop

The Gallery Coffee Shop, Hawarden

There is a small piece of the Mediterranean, like a little Greek island, to be found in North Wales.  I’ll take you there in this edition of Food Quest.

In the village of Hawarden in Flintshire, right there on the Highway, you will find the Gallery Coffee Shop.  It’s open daily offering refreshments exactly as you would expect – tea and coffee, breakfasts and lunches in a cosy environment.  Once a month, however, the Gallery transforms into a Greek taverna, with all the food and vibrant atmosphere that entails.

I have been to the Greek night at the Gallery on a few occasions.  Each time has provided excellent Greek cuisine with the right summer holiday vibe, helped by the music and dancing!Greek flag

The premises are not licensed, so you will need to take along your alcohol if you wish.  That wasn’t a problem for me, as I could easily pick up a few bottles of Mythos from Tesco.  Hunt around and you’ll find retsina – Tesco no longer stock it so Lidl is your best bet.

Greek music welcomed us in to the Gallery, and we were soon seated.  There wasn’t long to wait before the hors d’oeuvres were served.  This began in traditional style with some pitta bread, olives and various dips such as tzatziki and garlic.  These were shared enthusiastically amongst our group.

Next up were several meze dishes.  On my last visit, this included dolmades (stuffed vine leaves); feta sagnaki, Greek salad and calamari.  I’m no fan of squid – on other visits a different option had been offered.  However the food was both well prepared and delicious.

The main course has also varied on different visits, with usually a couple of options to choose from.  On this last visit I chose chicken with ouzo and cream; this was served with potatoes and vegetables.  Again the meal was excellent; combined with the atmosphere I could have been in a Greek taverna enjoying a pleasant holiday evening.

After the food, the fun really gets under way – with table balancing from owner Spiros and plenty of music to dance to!  The Gallery really manage to capture the fun of a night in Greece and everyone was happy to let their hair down.

The Gallery Coffee Shop manages to create an enjoyable and authentic Greek night that will liven up anyone’s weekend.

Please be aware though that they are very busy and often booked up months in advance – book your Greek night soon!

Yiammas!

Food Quest Test

  • Food: No menu as such, but no need to worry as food is both delicious and authentic
  • Drink: Not licensed, so take your own
  • Service: Excellent
  • Environment: You will be magically transported to your own Greek island
  • Cost: Very reasonable – no bar bill, plus a full evening’s entertainment

The Gallery Coffee Shop, 10 The Highway, Hawarden CH5 3DH

01244 533446

I can’t find a website for The Gallery, there is a listing on Facebook if you search.

Barburrito Lunch

My constant search for fine Mexican food has found many treats for my craving belly.  One such emporium is Barburrito, which offers fine street food of the Mex variety.  Although there are several Barburritos across the land, the Liverpool branch is the one I’ve visited on a few occasions.  On my trips to the city I have occasionally treated myself to some food from this excellent establishment.

The menu offers various tortilla filled delights, which the hungry hombre (or chica) can enjoy.  Basically, you make your choice and build your meal to your own tastes.  A bit like in Subway, where you add the fillings as you please.  Only here, it’s Mexican themed all the way. 5

On this trip, I opted for a burrito, filled with spicy shredded beef.  To this I asked the helpful serving staff to add rice, spicy beans, lettuce and cheese.  I selected the chipotle salsa, which was the hot option.  There were plenty of other ingredients to choose to individualise your meal exactly how you want it.  A great many British people stress out, thinking Mexican food will be too spicy – this is simply not the case.  Certainly not at Barburrito, where the food can be ordered just how you like it.

As per other restaurants, the meal can be augmented with extras; in this case items such as nachos and drinks.  A great thing about Barburrito is they sell beer, so I chose a bottle of Negra Modelo – a favourite Mexican beer of mine. barburrito

There’s no such thing, in my book, as bad Mexican food.  There is lazy, below par Mexican food though.  Happily, Barburrito is good quality Mexican food – prepared quickly but with skill.  It’s tasty, filling and extremely enjoyable.

My burrito was a bit on the spicy side, but not too much.  I made a good choice and really enjoyed my lunch time treat.  Great beer, too – though this combination wasn’t the cheapest option.

Food at Barburrito is well prepared and tastes great.  It’s also a lot of fun to eat there.  I’ve never been to Mexico (boo!) so can’t comment on authenticity, but Barburrito is a relaxed alternative option to the obvious high street choices.  Highly recommended.

The Barburrito website is here.

Food Quest: The Shared Olive

The Shared Olive, Hawarden

It was a special occasion: time for a special venue.  Mrs Platinum Al’s birthday demanded an experience that was to be savoured, and the Shared Olive would be perfect.

This restaurant is set close to the heart of Hawarden village, and offers a safe haven for food lovers in the area.  The Shared Olive offers a homely, but contemporary atmosphere – it is a welcoming refuge that somehow also manages to feel both relaxing and vibrant at the same time.  Offering tapas and Mediterranean food, the meals at the Shared Olive are both exciting and varied.  so1

We began our gastronomical journey with some olives and a glass of wine; with a beer (Estrella – good stuff) also for me.  The restaurant was particularly busy on this evening, yet the staff managed to cope well with the pressures and were very attentive.

Our starters were extremely impressive.  We decided to go “tapas style” for the first course, though making a choice from the dishes on offer isn’t easy.  Chorizo and manchego croquettes, with goats cheese pesto, for her.  Seabass and chorizo paella for me.  I was looking forward to my starter, and the dish honestly exceeded my expectations!  The croquettes were also popular, I managed to get a taste before they disappeared…

A glass of wine and onto the main course.  We had decided to choose different courses on this evening, rather than go for a few tapas selections to share.  I’m glad we did. SO2

Mrs Platinum Al’s choice was a very nice chicken and wild garlic risotto with dolcelatte.  I went for pulled pork tortiglioni, with plum tomatoes and caramelised fennel.  I’m quite a fan of pulled pork these days; it’s often served USA style on burgers, so I was keen to see how this meal would work.  Work it did: the chefs performing an Enzo Ferrari style example of finely tuned skills and passion for their craft, in admirable Italian style.  shared olive

Having said that, I also tried some of the risotto.  Now I’m not the biggest risotto fan in the world, but found that this was very much to my taste!  Possibly even better than the tortiglioni..?  Dare I say it?

We are extremely fortunate to have a restaurant like the Shared Olive in the local area.  Quality food, well prepared with skill and obvious enthusiasm – yet without being too exclusive price-wise.  Great atmosphere; though you’re definitely eating in a restaurant, it can feel like you’re in your own front room.

Food Quest Test

  • Food: excellent, authentic Mediterranean food with a wide choice
  • Drink: varied and affordable
  • Service: a little slow at first on this visit, though it was extremely busy – the staff soon turned it around
  • Environment: friendly and down to earth with a splash of glamour
  • Cost: great quality food makes it a good deal

The Shared Olive, 68 The Highway, Hawarden CH5 3DH

01244 530053

The Shared Olive webpage is here.

The Shared Olive Facebook page is here.

Follow the Shared Olive on Twitter: @SharedOlive

Food Quest: The White Bear

The White Bear, Mancot

Not too long ago, Mrs Platinum Al and I went for a meal at the White Bear in sunny Mancot.  I should say “another meal”, as we’ve been there many times.  Here’s a quick round up of our experience.

The White Bear is a great little village pub.  There are numerous events throughout the week – every week – making it a lively, welcoming place.  Drinks are affordable – no-one’s getting ripped off.  The food is also affordable – but unlike many other local boozers, the grub manages to be damn good stuff.

Our starters were mushroom and brie bake (for her, you must know what I think about mushrooms by now); and chicken wings for me.  Both great.  The wings were tasty but no overkill on the spice, a commendable job.  My only suggestion would be to provide a finger bowl for this, and other messy food such as ribs.  31029-1_main

Despite the pub being very busy on the evening we visited, the staff were very helpful and attentive.  You can buy drinks at the bar, or one of the waiting staff can bring them over for you.  They are battle hardened and ready to move tables and seats around, provide advice and attempt any task to help their customers.

The main courses were The Legendary Fish and Chips for her; and Kick Ass Chicken for moi.  The fish and chips are indeed the stuff of legend: you get three substantial fish goujons plus chunky chips and good ol’ mushy peas.  Highly recommended – I can speak from experience.

The Kick Ass chicken is not a pretend superhero.  It is in fact a dish consisting of chicken and bacon topped with cheese, in a tangy barbecue sauce.  What’s kick ass about that?  I forgot to mention the JALAPENOS.  Served with chips and peas, this meal is pleasantly spicy, but soon warms up.  By the end, the Kick Ass chicken totally kicked my ass.  But in an “I’ll be back for more next time” way.

For dessert, Mrs Platinum Al went for a brandy snap basket with ice cream and toffee sauce.  I indulged in toblerone cheesecake – never before experienced, my mouth soon forgave me for the jalapenos.

Personally, I cannot believe how the White Bear manages to provide such excellent food – consistently, I might add – for a reasonable price.  There’s plenty of choice on the menu, the surroundings are warm – I can’t recommend it highly enough.  This is pub grub, done the right way – and so much better than the local rivals*.  Good size portions, great taste – the White Bear ticks all the boxes.

Food Quest Test

  • Food: Great taste, large portions
  • Drink: Affordable = good.  A mid strength quality lager would be great (ie bring back Stella 4%!)
  • Service: Friendly, helpful
  • Environment: Traditional pub, busy later on
  • Cost: Very reasonsable

The White Bear, Mancot Lane, Mancot, Deeside, Flintshire CH5 2AH

01244 539077

The White Bear Facebook page is here.

The White Bear web page is here.

*Rhymes with Pubic Hair.  You know the one.

Lunch at Taco Bell

Buenos dias, compañeros amantes de la comida!

I went to Manchester yesterday, for a general look around and to spend some money on tat.  My plan, while I was there, was to have lunch at Taco Bell.  There is now a Taco Bell in the Arndale Centre food court, and it’s one of the few such restaurants in this country.

Back in 2000, I visited the USA and was able to persuade my travelling companions at the time to try Taco Bell one lunch time, rather than the Golden Arches.  As a fan of Mexican food, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  So the opportunity to eat there again was one that I could not pass up.

Lunch time at the Arndale Centre food court was fairly chaotic, with hundreds of people bustling about and queueing for their fast food of choice.  Chairs were scarce and the vibe was more seething ghetto than high class eating.  However, most punters were opting for the obvious Mac or KFC, so the Taco Bell area was slightly less busy.

I opted for a meal deal consisting of two soft tacos, served with fries and a drink.  As I was as hungry as a mountain bandido recovering from a heavy night on the tequila, I also decided to add an extra “Craver” to my tray.  There followed an anxious adventure to find a seat. 1939521_10152342074678714_1669132817_n

The Craver was first, as I treated it as a starter.  Cravers are smaller, appetite beating choices, like the 99p menu at other restaurants.  The option I chose was a soft tortilla wrap, containing chilli beef and cheese.  Not overly spicy, it was still a good start to my culinary trip south of the border.

I’d chosen Pepsi as my drink, and after the Craver started on the Mexican fries.  Though they were more chip than fry, I have to say that they were the best fries I have ever had from a fast food joint.  Basic chips coated in spicy seasoning, they were simply fantastic.  Highly recommended.

Along with the fries, my meal deal consisted of two tacos.  I chose chicken, in a soft tortilla (rather than crispy); with cheese, sour cream and diced tomatoes.  Very messy, but very tasty.  Other options are available, including beef – plus you could go for burritos, quesadilla, or numerous other options.

If you are a fan of Mexican food, or have been to a good Mexican restaurant, then don’t expect Taco Bell to live up to those standards.  But as an alternative to the standard burger and fries fast food choice, this was an enjoyable – and fun – replacement.  I just hope that the British public can forget it’s reluctance to try “spicy” food (it’s not spicy!) and try this out.  I’d love to see Taco Bell everywhere in the UK.

Good points:

  • A new, different option for lunchtime
  • Traditionally boring British palates mean that most punters are too unadventurous to try this – so the queues are smaller
  • It’s Mexican food – good or bad, that beats everything else in my book!

Could do better points:

  • It’s messy – clean up towels (like KFC) would be a good idea
  • The food could be spicier, and who knows how traditionally Mexican this is?!
  • Better seating arrangements would be better at this particular venue – I was there on a Thursday, so why was it so busy?

¿Dónde está la taqueria?

Check out the Taco Bell UK website here.

Go straight to the menu here.

Questions #9: On Toast

What’s your favourite thing to eat on toast?  A simple question, yet this one offered a lot of interest and whole load of suggestions.

Toasted bread is a very simple idea (even I can cook that) – but it’s appeal is massive, judging by the response to this question.  Some of the suggestions I received are obvious, some sound delicious – others are a matter of taste.

Q: What’s your favourite thing to eat on toast?

Nathan: coleslaw

Matt R: bacon

Sian: bacon & sausage

Terry: Bacon

Jamie: butter and tomato sauce

Iain: peanut butter and jam

Sam: marmalade

Jayne: bacon

Mike R: salmon & scrambled egg

Mike Stone: mushy peas

Nick Jones: melted cheese

Mark “Hungry” Harper: peanut butter (smooth)

Lindsey Over: butter

Dan Graham: sardines

Irene Thomas: peanut butter, honey & banana

Annette Evans: spaghetti hoops

Steph Cottam: tomato puree, sliced tomatoes, sliced bratwurst, cheese (grilled)

Sarah Docherty: Branston pickle and cheese

Colin Pugh: sausage, fried egg and tomato sauce

Greeny: apple sauce

Adam Halliday: black pudding and cheese

Andrew Redman: strawberry jam & butter (on white bread)

Lisa Lord: Tomato puree, mature cheddar, Henderson’s relish and black pepper

Sarah Fickling: Dairylea and cucumber with a little black pepper

Claire Bujeaud: beans

Jayne H: sardines

Snips: Runny poached egg, fresh ground black pepper and Anglesey sea salt

Ade Cappadona: cold chilli con carne

Neil Calloway:  poached egg and lashings of marmite

Cheryl Jones: pot noodle

Mark Dutton: crispy bacon and marmalade

Adam Butler: butter

Brian Hall: HP sauce

Matt Barnes: lard

Michaela Jjones: peanut butter and raspberry jam

Laura Jones: Marmite with a poached egg and cheese on top, sprinkle of salt and pepper

Vanessa: cheese and beans

Belinda Spry: Vegemite (+ cheese)

Peter Higginson: thinly sliced haloumi with sliced green olives, dash of black pepper

Zoe Cullen: beans and cheese

Corrine Bufton-Sales: peppered mackerel

Mandy H: cheese and tomato

Donna: cold caviar on piping hot toast with Dom Perignon

Bryn: bacon lardons, red onion and cheese

Mike W: bacon and cheese

Richard Pearson: roast dinner

Me: peanut butter (crunchy) and chocolate spread

There you have it: some excellent ideas.  Some very simple suggestions – like good old butter – we often forget how good that tastes.  Then there’s the Full English options, right the way through to some that sound like they could be on a menu.  I’m also partial to sardines on toast, so nice to see that crop up a couple of times.  One or two of these “favourites” may well be jokes, but I’m not sure…

Sweet or savoury, there are some great ideas here that I would like to try.  I’ve not picked a winner, I hope this fun exercise has given you some “food for thought”.  But – roast dinner on toast?  Regular readers will be able to guess what I think of that…

Questions #6: The Ultimate Burger

We’ve just installed a new burger grill at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub.  Here’s the deal: you get one super supreme grilled burger, inside a quality bun.  You can have four toppings of your choice on your burger – anything you like, but only FOUR.

Now we’ve got lots of toppings to choose from.  The obvious to the obscure.  What would you choose?

The only freebie you get is sauce – whatever sauce you want, it’s not one of the four toppings.

Q: Which four toppings would you like on your Ultimate Burger?

Jon

  1. Smoked bacon
  2. Goats cheese
  3. Jalapenos
  4. Chorizo

Terry

  1. Extra burger (!)
  2. Lettuce (!!)
  3. Onions
  4. Tomatoes

Jamie

  1. Chorizo
  2. Cheese
  3. Bacon
  4. Onion rings

Sian

  1. Cheese
  2. Onions

Matthew

  1. Extra burger
  2. Bacon
  3. Cheese
  4. Gherkin

Sam

  1. Bacon
  2. Cheese
  3. Chicken nuggets
  4. Chicken noodles

Nathan

  1. Chilli con carne
  2. Cheese
  3. Onions
  4. Chorizo

Iaian

  1. Cheese
  2. Chorizo
  3. Chicken breast
  4. Jalapenos

Me

  1. Cheese
  2. Chilli con carne
  3. Tortilla chips
  4. Chorizo

There you go – just a few ideas for you.

The burger grill is on.  When you’ve had a couple of virtual drinks and a soak in the virtual hot tub, slink on out and head over for a virtual burger.  Your Ultimate Burger, your way.

Let me know what four toppings you would choose – leave a comment below.

* All burgers, drinks and hot tub are purely virtual…

Questions #5: Sandwich Fillings

We’re getting peckish once again at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub.  Time for a snack.  How about a sandwich, filled with whatever you like?

Here’s the proposition.  The Virtual Hot Tub snack bar will create any sandwich you like, with up to three fillings.  You can have whatever bread you want, and as much salad as you can cram in there – a bit like Subway.

Except grated carrot.  Why would anyone want carrot on a sandwich???

Anyway, just pick three items to fill your sandwich with.  The Virtual Hot Tub sandwich makers will put it together for you, whatever you like.

Q: Which three items would you pick for your ideal sandwich filler?

Jayne

  1. Chicken
  2. Bacon
  3. Cheese

Jack

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Cheese
  3. Bacon

Si

  1. Meatballs
  2. Onion
  3. Cheese

Terry

  1. Ham
  2. Cheese
  3. Bacon

Dan

  1. Chicken
  2. Bacon
  3. Cheese

Ash

  1. Sausage
  2. Bacon
  3. Cheese

Joe

  1. Beef
  2. Ham
  3. Cheese

Natasha

  1. Cottage pie
  2. Sausage & mash

Stu

  1. Sausage
  2. Fried egg
  3. Hash brown

Ben

  1. Chicken tikka
  2. Glastonbury mature cheddar cheese
  3. Nachos

Jon

  1. Smoked salmon
  2. Cream cheese & chive
  3. Rocket lettuce

Mike

  1. Turkey
  2. Cranberry
  3. Stuffing

Sam

  1. Fishfinger sandwich

Me

  1. Chorizo
  2. Cheese
  3. Chicken

There you go.  What three would you choose?  Please leave a reply below and let us know.

Questions #3: Pizza Toppings

What three toppings would you pick for your favourite pizza?

A basic Margherita (base, with cheese and tomato) is all you get to start.  You choose three toppings only.  If you want Barbecue sauce base, for example, that counts as one of your choices.

Here’s what we came up with:

Q: What three toppings would you choose for a pizza?

Terry

  1. Ham
  2. Pepperoni
  3. BBQ Sauce

Ashley

  1. Spicy Beef
  2. Spicy Chicken
  3. Pepperoni

Ben

  1. Spicy Chicken
  2. Bacon
  3. Onion

Mark D

  1. Chocolate
  2. Marshmallow
  3. Space Dust

Wolfie

  1. Pepperroni
  2. Jalapenos
  3. Red Onion

Woody

  1. Chicken
  2. Pepperoni
  3. Ham

Jamie

  1. Pineapple
  2. Ham
  3. Mushroom

Joe

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Jalapeno
  3. Sweetcorn

Dan W

  1. King Prawn
  2. Chorizo
  3. Chicken

Me

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Anchovies
  3. Meatballs

It’s nice to see that mushrooms weren’t a popular choice.

What are your three choices for a great pizza?  Reply below and let me know.