Spring is here, the days are getting longer, and the weather was meant to be getting warmer - but that seems to be on hold. What's sure though is that it's time for the latest thefoodpeople loves... for April, highlighting some of the best places we've been last month. In no particular order:
I tried out Kricket's Indian twist on a Sunday roast and was not disappointed! I went for the veggie option – a tandoori cauliflower, which came with all the trimmings including curry leaf roast potatoes and jaggery roasted heritage carrots. Always unable to resist dessert, I can also testify that the spiced sticky date cake is well worth squeezing in, and the super sour tamarind soda is a great option to wash the whole thing down.
If you don't follow these guys on Instagram you have to. The ever changing menu is fresh, seasonal and inspiring – not to mention delicious. My favourite thing about Crispin is once you have salivated over the entire menu you see they offer the option 'one of everything £28pp'. The whole menu is always my preferred ordering option.
Each dish is treated so carefully and there isn't an out of place or wasted ingredient on the plate. The cuttlefish was tender and sat in a chilli broth that was perfectly balanced between spice, sweetness and saltiness from the monks beard. The beef cheek ragu certified taglioni as my favourite pasta at the moment, expertly cooked with just the right level of bite and thin enough not to compete with the rich sauce.
Mare Street Market, London
After a winter full of comforting carbs, lovely to start tucking into fresh spring salads and vibrant bowls - like this lovely tuna poke bowl at Mare Street Market
The Secret Herb Garden, Edinburgh
This biodynamic culinary heaven on the outskirts of Edinburgh is part plant nursery, café, restaurant distillery, brewery and furniture shop. Run buy the energetic couple Hamish and Liberty – nothing is off limits when it comes to their creativity and drive. Hamish is a wine expert and a herb expert – these have collided in him making a Scottish vermouth and three wild gins. Along with the sheep, bees pigs etc, they also run full moon dinners through out the summer – housed in their huge green house. Featuring a different guest chef each month, we went to the a dinner by the team from the Gardeners Cottage. Snail ravioli, mutton with lovage and crisp pork skin with stout mayonnaise just some of the wild dishes.
Rick Steins, Sandbanks, Poole
Had a lovely meal at Rick Steins at Sandbanks, fantastic restaurant overlooking the sea, I had Ragu of Turbot in white miso sauce to start then Monkfish Gratin which were both just delicious.
Barricane Beach Café, Devon
This is a little secret (kind of) beach hut on Barricane beach just off Woolacombe beach in North Devon, through the day they serve tea and sandwiches. Most evenings if the weather is good they serve authentic Sri Lankan curry on the beach, with two different types of vegetable curry and a chicken curry. Both the vegetable and chicken curry are warming and fragrant with the creaminess of coconut milk used and taste all the better for being served outside on the beach!
Cinnamon Stick, Oxfordshire
Well what can I say, the restaurant serves Lebanese food (my favourite cuisine). This was on par with my best ever Lebanese meal, the food was full of flavour. The owner recommended that we should have all the courses together to make it more interesting, something that my local hasn't recommended before. It was my sisters first Lebanese meal so we ordered the Mezze starter, with this we had chicken shawarma (the best I have ever had) and laham mashwe (lamb in cumin). The meal was packed with the most amazing flavours, our palates were buzzing for hours after. For dessert I had muhlaya, an almond creamy dessert scented with orange blossom and topped with nuts, it was divine! I was driving so couldn't drink, I discovered a Lebanese non-alcoholic apple malt 'beer', it was as appley as Appetiser, but much less sweet, with a malty tang, delicious!
The Pond – Brighton
One to add to the 'best kept secrets' list! The Pond boasts a great selection of craft beers, but it's the food that's the real star. The menu is small and simple – bao buns and/or dirty fries (with a few Asian-twist comfort foods as 'small plates') – but incredibly tasty. All killer, no filler! There's even a sweet 'Donut Bao' - black sesame ice cream with condensed milk OR peanut butter ice cream and jam.
The Grey Canary, Memphis, USA
Named after the canaries sent down the mine to determine the air quality, is the dark hued restaurant The Gray Canary, with a huge central kitchen full of fire and flame. The menu is designed for sharing and comes a plate or two at a time, going from vegetables, to fish to the heavier meats. Likewise, the cocktail menu is also laid out in the same way with the lighter ones on the menu first, these I might add didn't come out one or two at a time – just the one!
So, next time you are in Memphis, I can fully recommend.