A rather wet and wild month has seen many of us searching for shelter amongst the latest hot spots and familiar favourites, finding warmth by the fireplace and in the food, our latest compilation of places we have enjoyed during February is certain to prove the perfect tonic to any winter weariness.
Vanderlyle in Cambridge
I had heard good things about Vanderlyle in Cambridge, run by Masterchef winner Alex Rushton, and it didn't disappoint. Whilst it is not described as a vegetarian restaurant, as yet he has not served any meat and what he does with the veg is fabulous. They are rich and moreish. He focuses on local and seasonal as much he can and this is best reflected in the salad that comes with many different leaves and veg. It is definitely worth a visit.
Arguably the BEST burger I have ever eaten! The secret is in the sauce… just yummy!
Paradise, Soho, London
The latest restaurant to delight Londoners with flavourful and aromatic Sri Lankan cuisine. In the spot where Spuntino used to reside, this new opening showcases a wondrous selection of ingredients and dishes that deliver chilli heat, herb fragrance, sweet and mouth-watering sour notes. Hoppers sit by the side of coconut and chilli pol sambol and the dinky mutton shoulder rolls pack an incredible flavour punch. The roasted baby squid curry, cardamom, coconut tastes as impressive as it looks.
The Nitery by Gizzi Erskine, St Martins Lane, London
The perfect hideaway for a Valentine's Day meal filled with plenty of treats and surprises, masterminded by Gizzi Erskine.
Stealing the spotlight was the starter of Steak Tartare, featuring the deep umami flavour of Marmite paired with the beef dripping toast, topped off with a deep orange cured yolk to offer a touch of silky smooth creaminess to the dish. A roast chicken with wafer thin, crisp and crunchy fries was perfect alongside a generous portion of (deeply underrated) bread sauce; adding a homely touch to the dish. The Queen of Puddings drew the evening to a close, providing a light as a feather mix of chewy meringue & buttery breadcrumbs atop both rhubarb and blood orange; the only heartbreak this Valentine's Day was the empty dish by the end of it.
Café Diwali, Salisbury
This Indian Street Food Café aims to give a taste of authentic Indian cuisine, and it doesn't disappoint. It has become a favourite spot for me and my family when we visit Salisbury, with tasty reasonably priced food, this is a haven on a wet winters day, with a garden I can't wait to go there in the summer too! Salisbury has struggled to get back on its feet after the poisonings a few years ago, with food like this it can only make locals and tourists alike want to visit the city regularly. I had Aloo Kulcha with Chicken Mappas, a popular Punjabi dish with crisp and soft unleavened breads stuffed with potato filling, served with chicken mappas and a selection of chutneys, with so many flavours and texture it is amazing! A complimentary dish of rice pudding for dessert finished the meal perfectly – this was just sweet enough and perfumed perfectly with cardamom.
Darts Farm Restaurant and food hall, Devon
Really lovely café and restaurant in Devon just outside of Exeter, serving lots of local produce, cakes and sandwiches.
The food hall is amazing, with cheese and meat counters, loads of local produce, jams, honeys and locally made alcohols.
Holyrood 9a, Edinburgh
Holyrood 9a is a cracking wee boozer just up from the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh's Old town. Refurbished a few years ago, the bar is one of the first in the city to embrace the craft brewing scene now with 20 plus taps of local brews (as well as a few guest ales from international brewers). Food is good, treading on the side of comforting pub grub, but it is the brews that will keep you coming back. My pick, on my last visit, was a the Old Engine Oil stout from the Alloa based brewery, Harviestoun. A dark stout with flavours of caramel, chocolate and toasted nuts….yummy!
The Set, Brighton
For a Sunday roast alternative, The Set, in Brighton's Artist Residence boutique hotel, offer a special 'set sharer' on Sundays.
Starting things off was their house soda bread with marmite butter. The butter is so addictive that no lover or hater could easily resist eating the butter on its own. Selecting from either a meat or vegetable menu, each diner gets 3 different main elements, together with 9, yes 9, side dishes to share. Everything you can possibly want from a Sunday lunch, but much more fun and interactive. Sounds a lot, and it is, but for £25 with welcome drink and two dessert courses, it is hard not to leave full, satisfied and needing a stroll along the beach, or a lie down, to carry on with your Sunday.