Reviews: Shedding light on Bath and London

Did you know that we are not just the Foodie Boys, but we are also Foodie Boyfriends? As in, we both have girlfriends – not that we are going out with each other. Tony actually feels uncomfortable when a man comes within two feet of him. As in, stands near, not ejaculates. I think a stranger ejaculating within two feet of you would be disturbing for anyone.

We digress. With girlfriends (did we mention we have girlfriends?) come commitments (as in commitments arise, not ejaculating commitments – although that is sort of part of the package) including trips away for the weekend (or “minibreaks”) and visits from their friends and relatives to London.

So while Tony explored Bath, Toby played tour guide in London.

Tony does Bath

Ah, Bath! Who doesn’t love a bath? Well, me for one, I prefer a shower. I actually find the idea of baths quite horrid – sitting for an hour in hot water surrounded by your own muck. Vile.

The city itself is far from vile, it’s actually rather pleasant.

Review Olive Tree restaurant Bath

On Friday night we headed to the Olive Tree restaurant. I’d enjoyed some excellent banter with them on Twitter.com so was really looking forward to this.

Thinking that our online friendship might buy me favour when it came to the bill we ordered Chris Cleghorn’s signature menu with wine pairing.

Unfortunately I was mistaken and received the full priced bill. Even more unfortunate is that I can’t seek revenge by writing a scathing review because it was really bloody great. #BloggerFail.

The standout dishes were: the turbot with smoked eel and fried mushrooms; and the veal pictured below.

They also let us swap the dessert we were supposed to receive for one on the other menu. The muscovado mousse, milk chocolate sorbet and salted caramel.

“The mousse is lovely. The thing encasing it reminds me of an Aero.” I remarked.

“Yes, I suppose you’re right.” My GIRLFRIEND answered enthusiastically.

“I like Aeros,” I continued.

“Yes, I know you do.”

“I watched a thing about how they get the bubbles in them on TV recently.”

“Yes, I was sat next to you.”

“Were you? Are you sure?”

“Can we get the bill please?”

This was the veal dish

This was the veal dish

Aero type chocolate dish

Aero type chocolate dish

This meal really was excellent and the wine and service were great too.

Four and a half boys out of five.

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Toby Stays in London

Toby went to the TRAMshed! You can’t spell this without the word “meat” which perhaps goes some way to explaining their approach. Diners have two main options; steak or chicken, with a few different approaches.

IMG_20160520_183821And, despite the massive Damien Hirst cow in a box artwork suspended above me, I fancied the half chicken with fries. It would normally come with stuffing but I can’t have onion so I had to do without. It really knocked the stuffing out of me!

Here’s all the things I had. Half of a massive chicken, including a foot. Apparently they’re not battery hens but they must be genetically modified, as we all know, chickens do not have feet. Not a problem for me though.

It came with plentiful fries and a decent gravy. I also ordered, off the waitress’ recommendation, a tomato salad.

“What’s tomato with you?” I asked jokingly.

“Nothing,” she said, “I just think you’d like the salad.”

“No, I meant… don’t worry, I’ll have the tomato salad.”

“Oh what’s tomato! Like what’s the matter! Very good.” She laughed unconvincingly.

Eagle eyed readers may have noticed I got an Innis & Gunn beer. This was extremely tasty and our guests were impressed with my selection, as I expanded on the history of East London and its gentrification. After speaking at some length, it became apparent they didn’t know what gentrification meant, as this not a common word in Denmark.

IMG_20160520_193404But overall, the meal went rather well.  I even high-fived the chicken. I wonder if the freakishly large chicken ever knew its body would be used for physical comedy after it died? I like to think it would find that comforting.

My girlfriend didn’t think the steak was too good.  We accepted the waitress’ offer of dessert menus.

“You’ll get your just desserts,” she winked.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I snIMG_20160520_201202apped back before remembering our previous exchange. The tension was quickly defused and I ordered the chocolate mousse.

This came with honeycomb pieces, which gave it the taste of a fancy Crunchie bar. The flaky chocolate on top was much like a Twirl. A real selection pack of a dessert.

Three boys out of five.

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FoodieBoys food tour of Kent #LongRead

“There are only so many London restaurants, we don’t want to run out before our domain registration, www.foodieboys.com, expires.” Tony sighed.

“Too true, perhaps we should go and review some places in Kent. After all, Kent is much like London. They have similar accents, for example.”

“I was thinking the exact same thing.”

And so it was we took the evening train heading East, towards a little place they call Birchington Vale Caravan park.

Friday

To get there we alighted the train, with all our personal belongings, at Westgate-on-Sea.

“Okay Google” shouted Toby at his Android phone, “Westgate-on-Sea foodie locations.”

Next thing you know, we’re standing outside Paul’s, which came complete with a 4.2 Google rating from five reviews. We entered and immediately noticed the delightful outside area.

“It reminds me of a Spanish garden,” Tony mused.

“I knew a girl who had her bum hole licked in a Spanish garden,” Toby shouted slightly too loudly as we pulled the door open.

After explaining ourselves we were granted permission to stay.

“Hi, we’re the FoodieBoys and we’d like to try some of your local, seasonal fare,” we said in unison.

“We’ve got burgers,” the barmaid said.

“That is SO London.We’ll have two.”

“How would you like them cooked?”

“Medium-rare please, we’re foodies from London.”

The burgers arrived, topped with blue cheese and bacon. They were perfectly pleasant, although neither of them were medium-rare. Perhaps to be expected in the sticks.

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Not a medium-rare burger.

After devouring our medium-well burgers we asked at the bar for a cab to take us to the caravan park.

“Call for carriages!” Tony shrieked.

“Sorry?” the barmaid responded.

“We need a taxi to take us to the caravan park.”

“Oh.”

And so the taxi driver came, hunched over, into the bar. “TAXI FOR THE FOODIE BOYS!” He was quite the character and even asked if he could work with us on our website. We of course declined.

The Birchington Vale Caravan park came fully equipped with a bar, full to the brim of drunken men and children high on litres and litres of slush puppy.

We perused the menu to see what sort of culinary delights we might enjoy.

Chicago Town pizza or Chicago Town pizza were the options. Washed down with slush puppy.

“We’re going to need that freak taxi driver again,” Toby said with delight.

Saturday

Sure enough Saturday arrived, how predictable.

During the day we ate Hula Hoops, biscuits and Feast ice creams acquired from the shop, as well as some exquisite flapjacks.

When evening arrived we headed to the bustling, seaside town of Margate – FoodieBuoys more like!!

After a pleasant hour chatting to locals on the seafront, we decided we needed to book a table at a local bistro.

“OKAY GOOGLE,” bellowed Toby, much to the bewilderment of the locals.

But before he could complete the sentence, Tony chimed in, “what about this place?”

The website’s mobile site confusingly hid the menu from us so we decided it must be exclusive. We used our influence on Twitter to acquire a table at Giorgios – an Italian/ Greek / Mediterranean restaurant depending on which site you read.

Walking in, we found that a huge stag party had also found their way into the place, but we recognised the commercial imperative that large venues have to get as many people in as possible to make their restaurant economically viable. Plus, we were hungry and didn’t know anywhere else to go. So we snapped up our table.

Cocktails! Personally, we can’t have a meal without having at least one before. That’s because we’re London foodies, you may feel differently. We ordered espresso martinis but received one more than we asked for*! Whether this was a genuine mistake, or an attempt to butter up #FoodInfluencers we can’t be sure.
(*Full disclosure – we did not request this but these “mistakes” are a perk of the job.)

We ordered our food.

Starters: Tone opted for scallops with bacon and asparagus, while Tobes went for a mozzarella and tomato salad.

“It freaks my nut every time I piss after asparagus,” Tony told the owner.

Mains: Sea Bass with lemon and white wine jus and a ‘Grigliata Mista’ – steak, chicken, sausage, aubergine and chips.

“I can see why you call it a Mista!” Toby said to the waitress as it was placed before him.

“Sorry?” she replied.

“I can see why you call it a Mista!”

“I’m not sure I follow.”

“You wouldn’t called it a Missus, would you?”

“Erm, no. Can I get you any more drinks?”

“Because it’s too big for a woman isn’t it? Really. Unless she had a particularly large appetite, which is fine, I actually like women who eat more than me. Have you ever been in a Spanish garden?”

“JUST some tap water please!” Tony interrupted.

The food was fine. Look at the pictures and taste it for yourself. Do we really have to explain everything to you?

Although we were stuffed, we thought we’d order dessert. Chocolate fudge cake and a chocolate fondant.

Sadly, when thrusting my spoon through the fondant it did not deliver a gooey ending. If this had happened in London I would have demanded to see the chef, but I presumed the ovens in Kent may not work as effectively, so let them off.

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Solid fondant

Sunday

Another day of eating like four year old children left to their own devices for the first time at the caravan park left us hungry for more of Kent’s foodie scene.

So, obviously we went to Broadstairs.

We were busy debating our favourite type of sausage in the back of the taxi when the driver began to talk.

“Charles Dickens used to live here you know.”

“I think the Lincolnshire is better than the Cumberland and you’re never going to be able to persuade me otherwise.” Tony declared.

“Charles Dickens used to eat sausages here.” Said the driver, desperately.

“Bollocks.” Toby said, we threw a tenner at him and jumped out. He shouted, “THIS HAS GOT CHARLES DICKENS ON IT” as he drove away.

We walked around the corner and BAM! The Charles Dickens pub.

“He was right!”

What does Sunday say to you? To some it would say “church,” others would say “The Observer,” but to Tobes it would say “Roast.”

So he ordered the lamb roast but Tony went for the fish and chips, as he’d spent the day looking at the sea and wondering if fish eat potatoes.

We had a top seat, right next to the kitchen. An exclusive spot! We saw our food being plated up which was a real treat.

“HEY! What are you doing to his fish?” Toby yelled.

“I’m just checking its temperature,” the chef said as he removed the metal thermometer from the cod.

“Bit late for that, mate, it’s already dead!” Tony quipped, but sadly they’d disappeared around the back of the kitchen so they couldn’t hear it.

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Fish with lemon in a little bag, “the best invention I’ve ever seen,” – Toby.

Monday

Time to go home.

We bid farewell to the oddballs at the caravan park ( including the topless man shouting “this is the life eh mate?” as he drove past on a sit on mower) and headed back to Westgate-on-Sea. With an hour to kill before our train we spotted an opportunity for one last foodie adventure.

We approached the man working at the train station.

“Hello, do you know anywhere we can get a coffee?”

“I’m not from here,” he barked at us.

“Oh, so you don’t know anywhere that sells coffee near the station where you work?”

“No.”

With this horrid interaction ringing in our ears we disconsolately trundled up the street. Fortunately, about 200 metres from the station were three cafes.

“Perhaps he’s blind?” Toby tried to justify the station master’s actions.

“He wasn’t blind! He was just a massive twat.” Tony shouted as we flung the door to the Beano cafe open.

“I’ll have the breakfast special and a flat white please.”

“A flat what?”

“White.”

“Make it two coca cola, a special breakfast and a sausage and chips please, buddy?” Toby interrupted, bored of this second difficult interaction of the day.

“Look at that plastic washing-up bowl full of bacon,” Tony said, for there was one.

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Mmm special

We speculated as to why the cafe was called the Beano cafe, and settled on the fact there must have been a character who made shit breakfasts, maybe one of the minor ones in the middle you didn’t read. Like Beryl the Peril.

Kent’s food scene clearly wasn’t prepared for us and we’ve come to the conclusion that London is better than Kent.

Kent gets two boys out of five.

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Review: Henry VIII (Hever)

To celebrate the day of birth of my lady friend, I decided to take her to a castle. I chose Hever Castle – the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. If the childhood home of a woman executed by her husband doesn’t scream: “ROMANCE!” I don’t know what does.

We enjoyed a picnic in the grounds during the day, this included: bread, pâté and of course, Quavers – Quavers being Thomas Cromwell’s favourite snack.

Thomas Cromwell enjoying some Quavers

Thomas Cromwell enjoying some Quavers

After enjoying the grounds and the spacious room we had acquired for the evening we headed off for dinner at the Henry VIII pub a short walk down the road.

Thomas Wolsey enjoying a cold can of Oranjeboom.

Thomas Wolsey enjoying a cold can of Oranjeboom.

We ordered a bottle of wine and of course a pint of Oranjeboom – Oranjeboom being Thomas Wolsey’s favourite lager.

We perused the menu for a short while before I had a brainwave.

What struck me was a missed opportunity to use the name’s of Henry’s wives to create dishes.

I came up with one immediately and called for the waitress to come quickly.

“Is there anything I can help you with, sir?” She enquired.

“Catherine of Tarragon!” I shouted at her.

“Sorry?”

“Catherine of Tarragon! You should have a chicken and tarragon pie on the menu called ‘the Catherine of Tarragon pie’.”

“Oh, I see. I’ll pass that on to the manager.”

“No! Wait, there are five more! Fetch a pen and paper or something.”

Now, in my haste I hadn’t thought about the others. When she returned I rather meekly muttered, “Anne of…Cloves – perhaps a pork dish with cloves.”

As not to hurt my feelings she wrote this down and asked if we were ready to order. I went for the garlic king prawns and the lamb’s liver from the specials board.

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I very deliberately ordered the king prawns as I had a plan to humour my wench.

I held the first prawn aloft and bellowed: “YOU HAVE FAILED TO GIVE ME A SON! OFF WITH YOUR HEAD!” as I pulled its head off.

The next prawn: “MY PRIVY CHAMBER RECKON YOU’VE BEEN SHAGGING ABOUT! DIE!”

I enjoyed this all so much that I actually can hardly remember eating the lamb’s liver. Although I’m sure it was excellent.

As I paid the bill I found myself struck once again by inspiration: “Katherine Parr-ma ham!”

I look forward to returning and seeing the new menu in all its glory.

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The White Swan – 8 October (London Cocktail Week)

With London Cocktail Week in full swing we had a bit of a thirst on. Good job we know a pub which does a few yummy cocktails at a great price!

The White Swan sits next to Highbury & Islington station and has enough room to swing a very big cat, or enough room to accommodate two pretty cool ones!. We found a table towards the back and plotted our purchases.

Woo Woo and a Tiger!

Woo Woo and a Tiger!

Tony did the honours and proudly ordered a pitcher of Woo Woo at the bar, which came in at a very reasonable £8.99. Woo Woo consists of Peach Schnapps, vodka and cranberry juice – a sweet sensation in the mouth! The Wetherspoon website lists the ingredients incorrectly, but don’t worry I have tweeted them to correct their mistake.

I think they’ll be correcting that very soon!

After a hard Wednesday at work, the tummy’s bound to start rumbling. That’s where the Chicken Club came in. The White Swan do a great offer on their chicken dishes on Hump Day so we both promptly ordered the chicken strips with chips and coleslaw for a cool £6.59. After a heated debate about whether we should order different dishes so we could review more than one thing, it was decided that we both just really wanted the chicken strips.

Chicken strips and chips

Chicken strips and chips

The chicken was crumbed to perfection and when you slathered on some sauce of the barbecue variety, you’ve got yourself a feast – ranch style! The chips were not groundbreaking, although Tony supplemented his with their own spicy powder (20p surcharge) – a warming potato experience.

We also got a free can of Six Point craft beer (sorry Five Points, they’ve gone one better) with our meal. Tony went for the Tiger, Toby went for The Crisp. That didn’t stop us from following up with a nice pint of This.Is.Lager from the inimitable BrewDog mind you! Wednesday? WetNoseDay more like.

All in all, we had a great time. The place had everything, including friendly locals who dined alone, some merrily chatting away to themselves. We even got to watch the Great British Bake Off final, granted it was muted, but that meant we got to do our humorous Paul Hollywood impressions, much to the delight of the other diners.

We’re thinking of making #ChickenWednesday a regular thing. Get in touch here, or on Twitter if you’re interested in joining our supper club.

Alright there, mate? I'm Paul Hollywood like.

Alright there, mate? I’m Paul Hollywood like.

RS Hispaniola – 7 October

Last night I met some friends for a drink near Waterloo as it’s a handy, central location which we can all get home from.

Cucumber Gin and Tonics

Cucumber Gin and Tonics

We met at Topolski, a gallery and bar/cafe named after Feliks Topolski a Polish artist. Feliks would have been licking his whiskers at the prospect of the happy hour! I enjoyed two cucumber gin and tonics and two glasses of house red for just £13!

We contemplated eating there too, but fortunately I managed to persuade the party otherwise. It was all sharing boards of meat and salmon and olives etc. The thing is about ‘sharing’ boards is you don’t really share do you? It’s one big build up to the inevitable moment where you all stare at a piece of salami for 45 minutes desperately trying to convince each other you don’t want it.

One of my co-drinkers proudly exclaimed to be the owner of a Taste card, boasting of 25% off at certain restaurants. He gave me his phone with the app on and said, “hey buddy, if you won’t share cold meats find us somewhere to go.”

And I did!

Steep ramp

Steep ramp

A short walk over a bridge and we were all searching for RS Hispaniola. We didn’t find it for ages. Then it dawned on me…I’d booked for us to eat on a boat. After the name calling had finished we went to have a look. We were confronted with a very steep ramp at the entrance. If you’re planning on taking elderly family members or wheelchair dwellers be sure to have your wits about you.

Once aboard we saw there were only approximately 3 other diners in the place. Unperturbed, we decided to stay and ordered some wine and main courses.

As we were on a vessel I decided I should probably have some fish, I mean, hey, if you’re not going to eat fish when you’re on a boat when are you? The pan fried salmon, pancetta, savoy cabbage, white wine and butter sauce was a lot more enjoyable than I had anticipated. I shared a laugh with the waiting staff when I asked whether the salmon had been caught locally! I think she thought it was funny, or may have just been polite, a good thing either way.

In summary, if you’re looking to eat on a boat with a view of the London Eye you can’t say fairer than the RS Hispaniola.

Salmon

Salmon

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