So with be being so busy making posting difficult (this may all be due to change soon, watch this space), I decided that I really need to get this post out before it becomes March. After all we went before Christmas so it is already really flippin out of date.
Early last year Lisette and I went to the sister restaurant of The Burnt Truffle, The Sticky Walnut in Hoole Chester for my birthday lunch. It was brilliant, so we decided to try The Burnt Truffle down the road in Heswall for Lisette’s birthday lunch just before Christmas. It is the second venture of Gary Usher who recently opened a third restaurant Hispi in Didsbury, Manchester. That’s another one for the “to do” list. When we went to the Sticky Walnut, Liz was pregnant with her youngest and not on the ale, this is beginning to be a running theme as she couldn’t drink this time as she is feeding. Great for me though as she was driving and I could drink. As she isn’t planning on further expanding her little family maybe I will need to get up the duff for our theoretical trip to Hispi and do the driving.
The restaurant is a bit weirdly situated, it’s in a little row of terraced houses set back from the main road. They have decided to keep what it effectively the front garden as a outdoor seating area. It makes it a little quirky and interesting but makes it a bit easy to walk past and not realise it is a place to eat.
The decor inside is very similar to the Sticky Walnut although Liz felt it was a little cosier and she found that chair more comfortable. If you read my post about the Sticky Walnut you might recall that she had a little rant about how uncomfortable the chair was. I have to say I hadn’t noticed; but I wasn’t pregnant.
Like a lush, I decided to started my meal with a drink. Mulled prosecco £7.50 (prosecco, gin and mulled fruits), sounded the most festive so I went with that, but I was also a little nervous as I am not the biggest fan of gin, in fact I think it tastes like when you accidentally lick your fingers after using nail polish remover. It was interesting having a mulled drink that wasn’t warm and it was a pleasant start to my meal with a subtle hit of spice and sweetness. Liz had a little taste and said she had to resist having another sip or she would want the lot.
We took ages trying to decide what to have, sorry I mean I took ages deciding what to have. The menu was £15 for two courses or £18 for three. Liz being semi-vegetarian had the soup which was butternut squash and I got the beetroot salad. We added on some soda bread £3 partly because we weren’t sure if Liz would get bread with her soup (it didn’t say) and partly because I proclaimed that I f**king love soda bread. Liz wasn’t sure if she knew if she had had soda bread and when I described its general appearance and texture she asked “is it the bread that is like a sponge?” Which made me look at her like she was either nuts or confused thinking that soda bread was like cake sponge. Turns out that she meant natural sponge (from the sea) which I think is a pretty good description. This lead to a conversation about how soda bread starters are made and I started talking about early bread being leavened with the yeast from the air. Liz decided that I must be taking the piss and not serious about yeasts floating about in the air which lead to some fact googling. I then went on to later talk about other natural yeasts and the beer that you can get thats made with of yeast from a ladies “ahem.”
Strange conversation to be having over dinner, but it was absolutely lovely to be catching up with Liz. One of the most rubbish things about being an adult is how little time you have to see your friends. Especially as we are all so mobile about the place these days and live all over. Most of the time you have to book in months in advance to try and find a date and time you are both free. I was lucky when we went as I had a short grace period in my new job due to rota negotiations that meant I was not working shifts which was making things a tad easier as I at least knew I didn’t need to be nocturnal or work the weekend. Unfortunately my stupid masters on top of my day job is continuing to put writing on the back foot.
Back to the bread, it was gorgeous as I expected and Liz was raving about it as well. It came with a quenelle of truffle and walnut butter. Sooooo good! Bread and butter is deffo up there on my “last meal on death row” list, because you know, that’s obvs going to be a question I will need to answer one day.
My roast beetroot salad with goats cheese and walnuts had excellent plate appeal. It looked gorgeous and had more wow factor than Liz’s hearty looking bowl of soup. I was eager to try it as I occasionally make roast beetroot and goats or sheep cheese at home. The little dollops of goats cheese looked like mini merengue and vibrant colours looked lovely. I was little disappointed with my first bite, I somehow had managed to get a whole fork full without any seasoning and so it was a bit bland. Thinking I had made a huge starter choice mistake I took another bite, much better this time! Beetroot and goats cheese go so well together and the nuts added an extra earthiness and some crunch. I wondered what the yellow substance was as I wasn’t getting any other flavours through. So I tried a little bit by itself. Aha! That’s why i’m not getting any other flavours through, it’s pureed yellow (golden) beetroot. I have never tried yellow beetroot, I have seen it on TV but not even sure if I have seen it in real life before. I have wondered what it tasted like compared to our normal purple beetroot was it sweeter?? Turns out it tastes just like beetroot. Funny that. The salad as a whole was delicious, light and fresh but not very wintery with it being cold roast beetroot, but I guess it was a salad. Nontheless I enjoyed it.
Liz didn’t have any earth shattering descriptive chat about her soup. She did say it was lovely. She scoffed the lot, and with it coming with another slice of the gorgeous sour dough bread she proclaimed she was absolutely stuffed and worried about managing the main. She soldiered on though, after all this was the season of gluttony.
Finishing my starter I thought great, now on to some red wine. I was stuck with wine by the glass as it was just me drinking and I didn’t want to get wasted at lunchtime. The waitress who was lovely suggested that I try the Pazo do Monterrey Mencia a small glass for £4.50. She said it was their last bottle and there was only enough left for two small or one large (£8.50). It came and it was delicious, so light! Great to have with lunch and would probably even go well with fish. I handed it to Liz to have a sip as she isn’t a red drinker and I thought it would be a great introduction to red for people who don’t find it as slurpable as white. This was definitely slurpable and I instantly regretted only getting the small glass. Not to worry, I knew I was going to be able to get another glass later. I promptly looked the wine up online when I got home and intend to get a few bottles for when I next have people over.
Again preferring a veggie option Liz went with the Caramelised cauliflower and couscous, spiced shallot bhaji , manchego cheese and toasted almonds. It looked great even if not as colourful as my beetroot salad. This was definitely the prettier of the two mains. Her being stuffed swiftly went out the window and she seemed to be demolishing it because it was so good. She commented that she needed to slow down to really appreciate all the lovely flavours.
I had the butter roast pheasant, savoy cabbage and butterbean mash for my main. Not as pretty on the plate as Liz’s but it was yummy. The pheasant was beautifully cooked, it was perfectly seasoned and was fantastic with my lovely wine. Exactly what you would have expected from the description and done really well.
We then deliberated over puddings. While we mulled over the choices, I went to the bathroom, which, like the sister restaurant the Sticky Walnut was clean but looked like it could do with a little refurb sometime soon. We were still stuck, they all sounded like they were going to be nice. We saw a few being passed to one of the other tables and I mentioned that the orange and almond sponge looked like a nice winter one, as it looked a bit like sticky toffee pudding. In the end we decided to get two and share them both.
We decided we liked the look of the sponge and went for it. It was an Orange and almond sponge with butterscotch and creme fraiche sorbet. The sponge was zesty and the right level of stodgy and sugary for a good winter pud. It reminded me of school canteen tray bakes in the nicest way.
The other pud we chose was tonka bean custard, fromage blanc, dark chocolate and hazelnuts. It was incredibly light, fragrant and creamy. Liz said that she did feel like it was almost too light, she was waiting for substance that didn’t come and so wasn’t as satisfying or filling as it could have been. This is from the woman who had said she was stuffed. She described it as “like eating beautifully flavoured air.” I think it would be a great pudding for someone worried if they were going to fit another course in.
I did like the deserts, but they weren’t mind blowing. I can’t help but compare them to the unbelievably amazing pudding I had at the Sticky Walnut (see my other post about that), and they did come near it. Although it was pretty bloody amazing so anything else would have a hard time competing.
Liz managed to polish everything off like a trooper, as did I. Really enjoyed my lunch and hope to get to Hispi soon. Liz and I walked out in to the cold winter afternoon happy, only to find we had gone over in the car park by 10mins and had gotten a ticket. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.
Foodie x x
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