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Restaurant Review | Bisou De Vin, Bournemouth

Restaurant Review | Bisou De Vin, Bournemouth

If there’s anything that a Friday night needs, it’s cheese and wine.

Just before heading back to uni, I got to visit the brand new restaurant Bisou De Voin, in Bournemouth’s town centre. With bare brick and white tiled walls, the restaurant is welcoming, friendly and warmly lit.

The owners have kept the menu simple and classy – a vast range of cheeses from around the world, a lovely selection of cold cut meats and a massive wine collection.

If you are a bit daunted by choosing a wine off their impressive list, the friendly waiters are on hand to recommend ones that compliment your platter.

I went for a Waipara Hills Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand which was a very fruity white wine that went down a little too quickly…

There are different sized platters, from an intimate board, where you can choose three kinds of cheese and three types of meat (£29.50), party board, with a choice of 8 cheeses and eight meats (£59.50). Finally, the big boy – the ultimate board, with a selection of 12 kinds of cheese and 12 types of meat (£89.50).

All boards are served with olives, pate, cornichons, feta stuffed peppers, sundried tomatoes, hummus and grapes, as well as bread and crackers, chutney and pickles.

For our board, we chose a Spanish manchego cheese, Brie de Meaux and a Neoploen cheese. We decided on the prosciutto, bresaola and lamb Lucanian salami.

The manchego was rich and had an almost fruity flavour. It was perfect with the crackers and chill jam. The brie was so creamy and was very strong in earthy flavours.

The Neopolean cheese was a harder cheese that has quite a nutty flavour. It tasted very good with the pate on the freshly baked bread.

The meats were just heavenly. The bresaola was so tender and salty. The salami was meaty, and it didn’t taste like it was out of a packet from a shop – it felt expensive. The prosciutto was not too salty as you can get sometimes, and it was a perfect compliment to the manchego cheese also.

From the moment you arrive, you are welcomed and made to feel very at home. The staff service was terrific and I will be returning here for more cheese, more meat and more wine!

Bisou De Vin, 14 Post Office Road, BH1 1BA / 01202 610330

Restaurant Review | Zouk Tea Bar and Grill | Pre Theatre Dining Menu

Restaurant Review | Zouk Tea Bar and Grill | Pre Theatre Dining Menu

Going to uni just down the road from this place, I have been meaning to go to Zouk for absolutely ages! The flower wall itself is just one reason to visit (obviously got to get that Instagram photo!)

The pre-theatre dining menu is available for two courses (£15.95) and three courses (£19.95).

Now, I’ve had many a curry in my life, but I’ve never been to an Indian and Pakistani restaurant before. For those newbies to it too, the flavours in Pakistani curries is a bit tamer than usual, and a lot richer in taste.

The layout inside is very simple, with just lots of tables fitting lots of hungry customers – even though when we dined, it wasn’t too busy.

To start, we were offered popadoms and chutneys to dive into, and what you see is what you got with these. The sauces sadly weren’t too exciting, but still tasty (I mean you can’t go wrong with the classic mango chutney, can you?)

The cocktails were strong but tasty. I went for a fruity and fresh cocktail made with gin and mango! Lovely!

My friend chose the virgin strawberry daiquiri, which was very bland and didn’t have any sweetness to it, sadly.

For starter, I chose the vegetarian Samosa Chaat, which was served in a large metal martini glass, which was quite challenging to eat out of. It was a traditional Pakistani chaat, made of chickpeas, with a crunchy samosa, tamarind sauce and raita. This was the tastiest part of the meal, and I could easily eat one of these as my main too, as it was a generous serving!

My friend tried the humous, made with chickpeas, lemon and Mediterranean herbs and spices. Sadly, the humous just tasted like chickpeas crushed in a blender – we didn’t get any spices or lemon. The homous was served with naan bread and some crudites vegetables.

For the main course, I chose the butter chicken curry. Now, it might be because I’m not used to the flavours of Pakistani curries, but I felt that the curry was quite tame with spice. It was very creamy, and the chicken was cooked perfectly. I had the curry with naan bread, and the serving was more than enough for two people.

My friend has the Chicken Jalfrezi – chicken pieces cooked with peppers and onion in a thick spicy sauce and finished with masala and coriander. She had this with rice. The curry was full of flavour, but sadly a little too oily for her liking.

For dessert, we were very excited about what was on the menu, but sadly we couldn’t have these and weren’t told why until after the meal (they didn’t have a pastry chef at this point.) We were served strawberry gateau and chocolate cake. The chocolate cake was very moist, but very heavy. The strawberry gateau was light and fluffy, and the strawberry sauce was sweet. They were tasty, but not showstoppers.

Despite the slightly underwhelming food, the experience was enjoyable. The venue is gorgeous. I hope that it was just that the kitchen was having a bad day because I’d love to come again and eat here.

It’s an excellent location to eat if you are seeing a show at the Palace Theatre, which is only a couple of minutes walk from the restaurant.

The pre-theatre menu is available every day, between 5pm-7pm.

Zouk, Chester Street, Manchester M1 5QS / zoukteabar.co.uk

Restaurant Review | Vero Moderno, Salford

Restaurant Review | Vero Moderno, Salford

The Lowry is a theatre that I frequently visit for shows and musicals and Italian is one of my favourite cuisines, I wanted to find somewhere in Salford that would cover both needs. And then I found Vero Moderno.

After passing this restaurant nearly every day on my journey to work, I knew I needed to try this place out.

The basis of the restaurant and inspiration for owner Beppe is delivering classic, fresh, real food with a modern twist.

Starting off with a cocktail from Vero’s signature cocktail menu, which are all cert reasonably priced at only £6 each! I chose Cupido which involved ingredients that I never thought was go well together. It was a mix of strawberry, basis and Absolut Vodka, with a gentle touch of sweet balsamic vinegar syrup. Fresh, sweet and very pretty.

For starters, I couldn’t visit an Italian restaurant without sampling their focaccia and mozzarella, so opted for the parma ham, buffalo mozzarella and Italian focaccia bread (£8.95).

This starter is more than enough for two to share, or if you were only looking to eat a small dish, try this one! The mozzarella was so smooth and rich that I think it was the freshest and tastiest mozzarella I’ve ever tried (and I’ve eaten a lot in my 21 years on this earth!)

The parma ham was salty yet had a slight sweet touch it, and the focaccia was crispy on the outside, yet springy and soft on the inside! The simple ingredients all served together creates something really special.

From my main course, I went for a gorgeous pasta dish called Cavatielli con salsiccia italiana e funghi Porcini. Basically, for those non-Italian speakers like myself, it was fresh shell pasta with authentic Italian sausage, cherry tomatoes & Italian Porcini mushrooms. Heaven in a bowl for only £14.25.

The mushrooms were so full of flavour that made the dish better than any other pasta I’ve had before. I will be trying to recreate this dish at home when I get the chance!

Finally, and as everyone knows my favourite course, for dessert I chose the three cannolini shells, filled with lemon cream, chocolate and sweet ricotta. You can not really go wrong with cannolini, but these were so tasty and won’t break the bank, costing only £4.50!

If you are on your way to Salford Quays, or just around the Salford area and looking for somewhere new to try, then head down to Vero Moderno. They will look after you very well. Not only was the food delicious and fresh, the service I received was second to none!

Vero Moderno, Chapel Street, Salford

Restaurant Review | Côte Brassiere, Manchester

Restaurant Review | Côte Brassiere, Manchester

Cote Beassiere is a wonderful French restaurant that doesn’t get enough credit. Hidden just behind the main road to Deansgate and next to a very sweet little park, Cote Brassiere celebrates everything French and fabulous- including a very tasty and diverse Pre-Theatre dining menu.

Serving up classic French dishes as well as some well loved classics, everyone in your group will find something they love on the menu.

We started off with some fresh french bread, salted butter and a selection of olives, complimented by a lovely glass of rose wine. The french know their wines, and the wine list is so extensive beyond my knowledge of grapes, so the waiter is always on hand to recommend one that goes well with your choice of food.

For starters, I went for the warm ratatouille with goats cheese and chargrilled bread. It was heavenly, and the crunch of the chargrilled bread compared to the softness of the tomato and goats cheese was a party for the tastebuds. I just wanted more!

My guest chose the calamari from the main menu. The squid was covered in breadcrumbs, then sautéed in garlic, lemon and parsley and the flavours were powerful but not overbearing. It was served with a tarter sauce in a hot skillet, which makes the dish that little bit fancier and perfect for that Instagram worthy photo!

For my main course, I chose the pan roasted breaded chicken breast, served with Provençale sauce, rocket and lemon with a side of gratin potato. The sauce was gorgeous, with black olives and the chicken was cooked to perfection. The potato was creamy and the perfect side to the chicken.

My guest went for the steak, and to put simply – it was cooked to perfection! Served with thick cut chips and a side of French beans – the peppercorn sauce was gorgeous!

If Lewis’s face isn’t enough to tell you how tasty the food here was, I don’t know what will!

After having my arm twisted, I decided to go for a pudding as well (let’s all be honest, I didn’t tast that much convincing). I chose the tarte au citron, which was served with Normandie creme fraîche. Sometimes, lemon tartes can be too sharp, but luckily this was just right.

My guest chose the classic creme brulee, which has the perfect crack as Lewis broke the caramelized top. Smooth, sweet and perfect.

Lewis and I both thoroughly enjoyed our meals and look forward to returning to Cote with our friends to try more of their menu.

Cote Brasserie

4-12 St Mary’s St, Manchester M3 2LB

Restaurant Review | Pre-Theatre Dining Menu, Grafene

Restaurant Review | Pre-Theatre Dining Menu, Grafene

It seems to be my weekly activity at trying the pre-theatre dining menus in and around Manchester (I mean, I’m not complaining at all!). Last week, I was fortunate enough to be invited to try the new menu at Grafene. I have been waiting to try the food at Grafene since moving here, so as you can image I was very excited to be able to come and sample some of their favorutirs before heading to the Palace Theatre for an night of entertainemtn.

Grafene’s menu features a British Tapas selection, which is a reflection of brand new head chef Ben Mounsey’s thoughts and feelings about modern British life. Dishes on the menu include cleverly reconstructed classics and plates, giving the customer the opportunity to sample dishes from the dinner menu in a more relaxed format, with three plates for £20.00 and five for £30.00.

Menu

The British Tapas menu.

To start, I had a Passionfruit and White Chocolate Martini, which is a twist on the classic Pornstar Martini. Almost tasting like a mix between a White Magnum ice cream and a Solero ice lolly, the combination of flavours was heavenly, and definitely one I will try again in the future.

Passionfruit and White Chocolate Martini

My passionfruit and white chocolate martini, served with a passionfruit coated with melted white chocolate inside and caramelised on top.

The cocktail menu was very impressive, with original cocktails being added to the mix of more classics, including “The Mancunian” and “Grafene” just to name a few.

But, more importantly, I was immensely impressed with the mocktail list. My guest isn’t drinking alchol at the moment (maybe I should take a leaf out of her book…). Usually, you get the classic tiny section of the drinks menu for the mocktails, where it’s just a Virgin Mojito or something of the similar with a Virgin infront of it.

Grafene are the rule breakers, with an incredible mocktail list that has been carefully thought out. Definitely try one of the mocktails, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

To start, we were presented with two loaves of bread – mini loaves! You had a garlic bread, served with garlic butter. The other was a treacle and rye loaf, served with corn on the cob butter. Both were lovely and warm, which melted the butter, which complimented the flavours of the dough. And don’t they look adorable!

To start I went for the corn fed chicken wing, served with croquettes, charred gem cauliflower. The chicken was so tender that it felt like it melted in my mouth. The char grilled veg was flavourful and the crisp texture matched the soft chicken wing.

My guest is a vegetarian, so went for the veggie option of this dish – which didn’t loose any of the flavours that were in the meat version. She also went for the beetroot, granola, spinach and verjus salad, which looks so beautiful with lots of colour and the presentation was lovely. The granola and beetroot gave the salad a sweet kick to it, which was a pleasant surprise.

I then went for the rendered duck leg, herbs, beet piccalilli and I’ve never had lamb so juicy before, it was excellent! I’ve never really like piccalilli before, but this beetroot sauce was beautiful, and complemented the dish wonderfully.

My guest ordered the mushroom, truffle soup that was packed full of flavour and presented beautifully.

To finish, we both chose the brownie in a bowl. The brownie was more like the texture of meringue, which was great because it made the desert not to heavy and rich. The brownie was served with chocolate shards and mint mouse.

Overall, the service at Grafene was wonderful and the food was very tasty and the presentation was incredible.

If you are looking for somewhere for a pre-theatre dining menu with a bit of sass and swarve then you need to visit Grafene!

Grafene, 55 King Street, M2 4LQ

www.grafene.co.uk