The Curzon Arms

August 17, 2012

I’ve written positively here before about Sunday lunch at the Curzon Arms in Woodhouse Eaves. Not every report I’ve heard since has been so enthusiastic I but am happy to give them another shout out after a splendid lunch from their regular menu today.  A big thick hunk of sage-roasted pork loin was tender and flavoursome and served on a mountain of what was described as bubble and squeak, though to me it was just (very good) mash and veg. There was also lovely crispy kale giving a salty, iron rich tang like seaweed in oriental cooking and a great cider gravy.  Gill’s herb roasted chicken breast was similarly tender, tasty and generous. It came with roasted new potatoes and chickory which may have the dish a bit monochrome but who really cares – the flavours were excellent.

Desserts were simple but shared the same virtues –  I had three balls of very superior ice-cream, Gill had strawberry and lavender Eton mess which had palyed it too safe on the lavender front but was delicious. At £12.50 for two courses we walked out think this was excellent value. Service from a young team in jeans and t-shirts was friendly and efficient.


August 9, 2012

If you’re vegetarian or work at De Montfort University, the New Walk Centre or the Leicester Royal Infirmiary, you probably know about Shivalli. If not, you may have just zoomed past it, sited as it is on an unfriendly bit of Welford Road racetrack.   But it’s definitely somewhere worth having on your list for casual dinners – and especially lunches – with friends.

I met with one DMU worker for lunch today and the  £4.95  buffet lunch counts as an excellent value treat.  It’s a freshly cooked, small-batch buffet of South Indian food which makes the increasing number of deep fried, kept-warm-under-lights bland international  food barns even more pointless. So start off with poppodoms, salad, pickles and sauces and a couple of light and fluffy wadas (sort of savoury doughnuts) with a spicy sambhar accompaniment.  Freshly-prepared mini masala dosas are then brought to you as you eat along with puffed up poori breads. 

You can then go back for rice and a selection of curries  – today we had a pretty good saag paneer, a Keralan speciality of cabbage thoran  and a really lovely pakoda curry – spicy little vegetable dumplings.  If  there’s any space left you can even have finish up with a little bowl of a light but creamy rice pudding with fruit and nuts. 

It’s run by some of the team behind Halli – the first incarnation of the restaurant that is now the wonderful Kayal (there’s a story there, but not one I can tell here really) – and staff are helpful and friendly. There’s lunch boxes to take out, there’s a full a la carte menu in the evenings and I’m told vegans are well catered for too. If you’ve not found it yet, or you’ve just a got a thing about vegetarians, go along and try.

Oil and Vinegar

August 9, 2012

I have  just discovered Oil and Vinegar – an interesting opening in Highcross.

Oil and Vinegar is on the lower ground floor of Highcross Leicester in Unit L7

It’s likely to be the kind of place you’ll either love or hate.  It’s somewhat high concept – the core offer being big glass dispensers full of oil and, well, vinegar. Then there’s all sorts of cute little bottles, phials, flagons and whatnot which staff will fill at your request.  There’s a big range of simple olive oils,  oils flavoured with garlic,lemon, chilli and so on and versatile vinegars including fig balsamic, marc de champagne vinegar and even sweet vinegars such apple,lime and elderflower.  They had a couple of balsamics put out for tasting and they were stunning.

The rest of the shop is very definitely in the gift food market. Pricy but appealing bottles and jars of  marinades, sauces and looks-good-but- not-sure-what-I’d-do-with-it items such as creamed pistachios or artichoke and garlic paste. It’s like a floated-off section of an upmarket department store food hall and the kind of place that doesn’t usually open in Leicester –  so welcome to them and I look forward to trying out a few vinegars.

The Wicked Witch

August 4, 2012

News reaches me at last of  Dameon Clarke. It was a great shame when he had to close his Stamford restaurant Assiette late last year, so it’s good to see that  he’s pitched up again in the region, this time at The Wicked Witch in Ryhall, a few miles north of Stamford. The restaurant is a glammed-up village pub that reopened earlier this year when a Peterborough-based team including Darren Ferguson, son of Sir Alex and manager of Peterborough United, decided that there was scope for another venue for people who regularly pack out places such as the Olive Branch in Clipsham and the George in Stamford.

Judging from the website it looks smart, aspirational and a teeny bit sterile.  The food should be great whatever – the menu looks a lightly reined-in version of Clarke’s trademark  technical  exuberance.  My first order would  be hot ham hock, quail egg and pea puree, followed by pan friend fillet of sea bass with cauliflower textures, lobster caviar and ginger bhaji, ending up with choclate tonka bean mousse, pistachio marshmallow and orange jelly.  

Good luck Dameon – hope this works out for you.

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