Back to The Smokehouse

January 19, 2015

If you scroll back through this blog you’ll find a couple of positive write-ups of  The Smokehouse on Braunstone Gate, Leicester.  When it came to visiting – anonymously  – for my Leicester Mercury review I was a bit nervous whether the novelty of Southern US barbecue might have worn off or the quality fallen.  Fortunately that wasn’t the case – in fact it was possibly the most enjoyable food I’ve yet had there. I maybe got a little bit carried away in the review but my ox cheek starter was a quite spendid dish. Speaking to chef Liam Watson after the meal it was good to hear he’s got plenty of ideas for introducing new and possibly more adventurous dishes.  I’m looking forward to seeing where they can take it.

You can find the review here.

Marco to open in Leicester

January 14, 2015

Well I mentioned the last one, so I suppose I better mention this one. Another Marco Pierre White branded restaurant is to open locally – this time in the City Centre in the Mercure Hotel, known to you and me as The Grand. This time it’s the Marco’s New York Italian concept (be afraid Frankie and Benny’s!), currently providing steaks, pizza, and pasta to hotel guests venues such as such as Exeter Airport and the Holiday Inn, Kenilworth.

The franchise is expressly designed to help hotels turn more of their guests into diners by the promise of a little celebrity stardust and a bit of quality control through operational support. Having stayed and dined for work purposes in many mid-range hotels in English provincial cities, anything that can improve standards would be very welcome and I suspect I’d be only too happy to encounter a decent, straightforward steak rather than the dull attempts at feigning fine dining I’ve often endured.

Marco will visit – it’s more or less promised in the franchise agreement – but obviously that’s about the extent of his involvement. Good news that 20 jobs will be created – here’s hoping that the development company Sanguine Hospitality insist on paying the living wage.  If not, they should do – MPW could always go out and flog a few more stock cubes.


Marco could barely contain his excitement at the thought of opening a restaurant in Leicester






Turtle Bay

January 13, 2015

The latest review of my reviews to go up on the Leicester Mercury website is of the Caribbean chain in Highcross,  Turtle Bay. Can’t say my expectations were skyhigh but it wasn’t too bad. It’s a big noisy environment and the food, while not being exceptional, avoided some of the worst aspects of chain blandness – my jerk pork ribs weren’t exactly succulent but there was no holding back on the chilli and the all spice and the other distinctive flavours. Same went for the curry goat. Partly my mood may have improved by the company of my friend Gill who brightens up the day no end, but whatever, I enjoyed it: Turtle Bay (use of adblocker recommended).

Fine dining in Mountsorrel

January 12, 2015

Well here’s an interesting thing.  A new fine dining restaurant, opened by an alumni of Roganic no less, with ambitious pricing of £47 for a three course dinner – and it’s opened here in Leicestershire.

Chef John Duffin has returned to the family farm to open John’s House at Stonehurst Farm in Mountsorrel.  Can’t say I know a lot about him but it appears he has an impressive CV and that he’s using as much home-grown and farm-produced ingredients as possible. If I was going tomorrow  – I’m not – I’d be starting with parsnip dumplings, braised oxtail, madeira and ox tongue before moving on Stonehurst hogget, wood blewits, onions and thyme, and finishing with caramelised apple, meringue, vanilla ice-cream and honey wine.

There’s a serious looking eight-course  taster menu at £70 – which puts it not far behind Hambleton Hall.

Have to say I’m intrigued. Feedback welcome from any one who goes.


(picture from John's house website)

(picture from John’s house website)

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