Food Quest: Hickory’s Chester

Hickory’s Smokehouse, Chester

Is everyone back eating normal food again, after the January diets?  Good, then it’s about time for another Food Quest.

Hickory’s Smokehouse offers authentic USA style barbecue food, and plenty of it.  This is real Man vs Food style cooking, with plenty of smoked ribs, pulled pork and burgers to fill up even the heartiest of appetites.

The Chester premises are located right by the River Dee, in an idyllic location just a short walk from the main centre.  It’s a vibrant scene, especially lit up at night.  Inside is a welcoming venue with walls decorated with appropriate items (guitars, American football paraphernalia, you name it). hickorys

There’s a large drinks menu, but I like to opt for a big old pint of Brooklyn lager, a particular favourite of mine.  Although you can pick this up in bottled form from supermarkets now, an actual draft pint isn’t easy to come by.  Mrs Platinum Al opted for a Jack and Coke, and we enjoyed some complimentary popcorn while we ordered.

On previous visits we have tried some starters, including a freshly baked giant pretzel served with hummus that was delicious.  There’s plenty of choice, but on this occasion we abandoned the appetisers as we had something major in mind for the main course.

We decided to order the Smokehouse Platter, a massive combination of signature dishes for us both to share.  Good job we were hungry.  The platter consists of:

  • Memphis style baby back ribs, hot links, jumbo beef rib, Kansas style ribs, beef brisket, BBQ pulled pork, fries and slaw

It was a massive amount of very tasty food, but we gave it our best shot.  The ribs were amazing and I couldn’t pick a favourite between the varieties on offer.  In particular I enjoyed the BBQ pulled pork – the meat was super tender and served with beans, a top notch dish if ever there was one.  The hot links were also popular, I’ve never had them before – they’re basically small sausages and they are so, so good…

Unfortunately, we couldn’t quite finish all the food – but what we had was delightful!

Mrs Platinum Al and myself have made a few trips to Hickory’s, and I’m sure we’ll go again.  With first rate food, great beer and even quality tunes (plenty of proper Blues – I remember hearing Howlin’ Wolf – one of my faves) – you can’t go wrong.

Highly recommended!

Food Quest Test

  • Food: A huge choice of exciting food to try; I’ve tried plenty and it’s all great!
  • Drink: Again a huge choice and with Brooklyn Lager on tap you can’t go wrong
  • Service: Excellent (shout out to our waitress – Sena?)
  • Environment: Cool USA inspired decor that’s like being on a TV set; brilliant music!
  • Cost: Good value for large portions

Hickory’s Smokehouse, The Groves, Souters Lane, Chester CH1 1SH

01244 404000

The Hickory’s website is here.

The Hickory’s Facebook page is here.

Food Quest: Quay Fine Dining

Quay Fine Dining, Connah’s Quay

A family gathering provided a recent opportunity for my second trip to Quay Fine Dining.  The restaurant is located at the top of Connah’s Quay near Morrison’s supermarket, on the site of what was once known as the Top Kwiks.

Also, incidentally, very near where a young Platinum Al (only aluminium in those days) spent some of his childhood years.

The casual bigot may be confused at the idea of “fine dining” in Connah’s Quay.  However I will proudly declare that this town deserves some respect, and indeed a quality restaurant.  The first thing that strikes the eager food lover when entering Quay Fine Dining is just how smart the interior is: up to date, modern, clean and luxurious.  It’s really quite spell binding.

The menu is largely Indian, with Thai and Greek options available also.  On this particular visit, I opted to stick to an Indian theme.  This began with the classic, if obvious, couple of popadoms (together with the usual chutney accompaniments).

Before taking this gastronomical journey any further, I should point out that Quay Fine Dining is not a licensed restaurant.  But you can take along your own booze (which the staff will very kindly keep cool for you if desired).  This means that the night out can work out reasonably cheaply, but you must plan this well!  More on this later…

For our starters, Mrs Platinum Al chose chicken chaat puri, which was “lovely”.  I tried some and can confirm that is was very good indeed!  My own choice was chicken pakora, not something I have had very often.  I made a good choice, it was excellent.

There was quite a wait between courses, unfortunately.  As we were the only group in there at the time, I’m not sure why this was.  This also meant that I ran out of drink before my main course arrived.  Yes, I had somewhat underestimated the amount of booze required; though regardless the time between courses was a bit much.

Eventually the main courses arrived, and Mrs Platinum Al was very happy with her choice of chicken tikka shahi.  This is one of my favourite Indian dishes, though I had picked something different.

My choice was chicken shashlik, a dish I have enjoyed elsewhere in the past, but not ordered for a very long time.  I just felt that this would be a good choice.  I wasn’t disappointed.  It’s an impressive meal, brought sizzling to the table.  The side salad/garnish was a bit limp and superfluous, but the dish was very tasty and highly recommended.  My only mistake was ordering keema rice to go with the meal, there was plenty enough to eat without it (the dish is also served with a very nice curry sauce).

In conclusion, Quay Fine Dining not only offered a wide variety on the menu, it was also able to deliver a superb standard of food.  Plan your drink right and you’ll be rewarded with a very fine dining experience indeed.

Food Quest Test

  • Food: a massive choice, and from experience – great quality food without being over faced.
  • Drink: not licensed, so take your own.  No problems if you plan ahead.
  • Service: slow between courses, but the staff are exceptionally helpful and friendly.
  • Environment: visually impressive, modern and – dare I say it – extremely elegant.  Classy.
  • Cost: regardless of whether you save a few quid with the drink situation, the meals are very good value.

Quay Fine Dining, Ffordd Llanarth, Deeside Shopping Centre, Connah’s Quay CH5 4UP

01244 836565

The Quay Fine Dining website is here.

Food Quest: The Royal Oak

The Royal Oak, Kinnerton

It was a family affair at the Royal Oak in Kinnerton, so off Mrs Platinum Al and I went to sample the culinary delights.  My Dad’s birthday was the occasion, and there were a few of us out for a pleasant time and good food.

The Royal Oak itself is a quaint, very attractive traditional pub – plenty of wooden fixtures and a damn fine array of ales.  Lager, too – for the yobs like me.  It’s a welcoming atmosphere, and an ideal venue for a cosy winter pint.

For our food, we were seated in the nearby dining area.  Again, spacious and also bright.

Mrs Platinum Al ordered Chinese belly pork with noodles for her starter.  This was delicious (I’m quoting here), and although rich, could have made an excellent main course.

My starter was a chorizo, black pudding and tomato salad, though I asked for the mushroom dressing to be removed.  This was replaced by a perfectly adequate non-mushroom based dressing.  I hate mushrooms.  The starter was excellent, very tasty.  It wasn’t a massive portion, it was just right – which is surely a good thing when there’s plenty more food to come.

Our mains were a burger with cheese and bacon for Mrs PA, which was served with chips and lots of salad.  This too was extremely good, and a lot to eat!

I opted for a chicken, gammon and leak pie.  This was a great choice, the pie not only filled the entire plate but was really good.  It tasted excellent; the chicken was in large chunks, and the sauce full of flavour.  The pastry was well made and there was plenty of it – I wasn’t left with a plate of pie contents with no roof.  The pie was served with large chips – these were OK, though to be honest I’m a skinny fries guy.  Also there was a huge dish of peas to accompany the pie – I found this a little strange having another totally separate plate.

All in all however, the meal was excellent.  Regular readers will know that generally I prefer more exotic dishes than traditional British fare, however I found the meal to be delightful.  It would be nice to see a wider variety of different food on the menu (and less mushrooms), but in all honesty, that wouldn’t be in keeping with the manner of the Royal Oak.  Traditional food here is far from familiar and boring, it is both plentiful and full of flavour.

One final commendation for the Royal Oak must go to the staff: they were all very friendly, patient and helpful.  An exceptional job.

Food Quest Test

  • Food: solid traditional meals that are well prepared and tasty, good portions
  • Drink: good variety of real ale and lagers to cover all tastes
  • Service: Exceptional
  • Environment: traditional country pub atmosphere, the real deal
  • Cost: not cheap but worth it

The Royal Oak, Main Road, Kinnerton Lane, Higher Kinnerton CH4 9BE

01244 660871

I can’t find any web page or social media for the Royal Oak.  If you go, please tell them to get online!