29-09-2015-Browns, Birmingham

One of my female friends and I decided to have a couple of days away from it all, so having deliberated about where to go, we decided Birmingham might be worth a try. There seemed to be plenty of shopping opportunities, and the promise of a bit of night life as well, and it was far enough away to feel that we had gone somewhere without being too far to travel. As usual, I was the typical Girl Guide and did plenty of homework with regard to where the gay area was, so that we would have somewhere to go at night. And, as usual, we did Friday to Sunday without going anywhere near the gay area Ÿ?? we just lived a normal City Centre life without any hassle whatsoever. Having arrived down there mid-afternoon on Friday, we made ourselves comfortable at our Hotel, and then set off to explore the shops. We were right in the centre of town Ÿ?? literally next door to Primark, and less than 50 metres from the Bullring shopping Centre. We had a light afternoon snack at Baguette du Monde in the Bullring, and then following a wander around the local streets, we went back to the Hotel for a couple of drinks in the bar. Next it was back to the room to change, and before long we were glammed up and ready to go out to eat. We had asked a few questions during the afternoon, and our research led us to an area just off the end of the Bullring, down by St. Martins Square, which was home to several eateries. We decided to give Browns a try, and went in to ask for a table. It was fairly full, but they were able to seat us pretty centrally quite near to the kitchen and the bar, so there was plenty to see! It’s a modern building, located at Unit 1, 7 Spiceal Street, St Martins Square, Birmingham, West Midlands, B5 4BH, and the d€÷cor is modern, but interesting. You can have a peek by visiting http://www.browns-restaurants.co.uk/res … birmingham . We were soon offered drinks and provided with menus, and it didn’t take long for us to be sat facing two wine and sodas, whilst we excitedly discussed what we were going to eat. I decided to start things off with Pan seared scallops with Cauliflower pur€÷e, curried cauliflower tempura, sea rosemary, grape & shallot vinaigrette, and my friend chose the Mushrooms with Cep dusted puff pastry, and Madeira cream. They weren’t too long in appearing, and equally quick at disappearing. We soon sent two empty plates scuttling back to the kitchen. My Carer decided that for main course she would try the Duo of lamb – Lamb cutlets and a pulled shoulder of lamb shepherd’s pie topped with minted pea mash, saut€÷ed samphire, and chestnut mushrooms, and I broke from the fish tradition by ordering the slow cooked salted pork belly with Smoked Bramley apple pur€÷e, buttered mash, braised cabbage, apple brandy & Pink Lady jus. We, as always, added a side portion of Buttered baby potatoes with mint and Maldon sea salt, just to make sure we didn’t go hungry. And we didn’t. The food was served fairly promptly by a more than friendly waiter, and our conversation diminished somewhat whilst we tackled the job of clearing the plates. It was a job soon completed, and it wasn’t long before we were back chatting and putting the World to rights again. The Restaurant as I said before was busy, and there were also people sat at the bar, just having a drink. It was a very mixed age group, with three Ÿ??youngstersŸ? sat at a table to our left, and a couple I would say in their seventies to our right. We were somewhere in the middle Ÿ?? both position and age wise! Everyone seemed content with what they were getting at Browns, and no-one at all seemed concerned that there was a Manchester Transvestite amongst their midst. I must admit, it would have put me off my food if I had seen her, but luckily she must have been sat just out of my eye line. As always happens towards the latter end of a visit to a Restaurant, our waiter arrived at our table armed with two dessert menus. We had both commented that we had maybe visited Baguette du Monde for our afternoon snack a little later than we should have, but it was just how circumstances dictated. So the question was, were we too full to eat a dessert? The answer was yes. We were too full to eat a dessertŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?í. each! So we decided to share one. We shared our desires with our waiter, and he trotted off, only to return several minutes later carrying a rather splendid Great British mess – Clotted cream custard, meringue, strawberry compote & scone pieces. And what a mess it was! It sat resplendently in the middle of the table, whilst being attacked from each side by two rather eager dessert spoons. It put up a bloody brave fight, but alas, it stood no chance! We reduced it to an empty dish in absolutely no time. I have to admit, though, by now, we were well and truly stuffed! It was an above average to very good meal Ÿ?? nothing out of this World, but certainly nothing to complain about. The surroundings were pleasant, the Clientele were pleasant, and the Staff were perfect. I didn’t visit the ladies, but my friend informs me that they are more than fit for purpose. As time was going on, we quickly paid our bill, and said our goodbyes. We then set off through the streets of Birmingham, and were soon sat in a local bar called the Shakespeare where we were able to sit and enjoy a couple of drinks surrounded by locals and Rugby supporters. I can’t say my presence went unnoticed, but it went without a hitch. We shared some fantastic banter, and didn’t leave until the final bell had been rung! Then it was a short walk back to the hotel, and the end to another perfect day. I will just take the time to answer the three questions we always ask ourselves: Is Browns TV friendly? It certainly is Ÿ?? as is all of Birmingham. It was Birmingham Festival Weekend and also there was some Rugby Tournament on whilst we were down there, and the whole City was heaving. I got no hassle whatsoever and had a lot of fun everywhere we went. Value for Money? The meal described above along with drinks cost ô?75-00 with a tip, so as far as I’m concerned good value. Would I go again? Yes I would, and I hope that some time I will.

15-09-2015-Portofino, Lytham St Annes

Well, what a turn up for the book! Met a guy, he asked me to go out with him on a date, I agreed (surprise surprise!), and he turned up! This one was different Ÿ?? a Ÿ??more matureŸ? man Ÿ?? maybe not my type on initial looks, but having spoken to him, I discovered he had a personality, at least half a brain, and best of all, a sense of humour. He also obviously had a sense of adventure. He comes from Ÿ??somewhereŸ? near Warrington, but suggested we should spend a pleasant Sunday out in Lytham. I must admit, my suspicions were immediately aroused. Why Lytham? OK, he was married, so maybe it was far enough away from home for him to play away, or was it something more sinister? Did he have a Ÿ??holiday homeŸ? that was conveniently located in the northern seaside town of Lytham? Only time would tell. Anyway, even if he did, it didn’t necessarily mean I would be going on holiday with him did it? After all, I could always say Ÿ??NoŸ?. Probably. It was agreed that we would meet on Lytham Station car park at around 9-30am on Sunday morning. An early start, but as it’s long been said, the early bird catches the worm. I always ask myself which saying applies to the early worm! I guess it just gets caught! This meant an early start for Paula, who by the way, didn’t get to bed until 3-00am from her night out in Manchester. Somebody will be overtired. I had already washed my hair, and chosen a longer than normal dress, along with three different sets of footwear. Some big heels, some flat shoes, and some knee length boots. I would wear the heels, and the rest would be in the car Ÿ??in caseŸ?. Sexy, flattering underwear was chosen and worn, make up was applied, and by 8-45am, Paula was ready to set off to Lytham. It was a lovely sunny morning, and I was feeling better than good! I jumped in the car, punched a few digits into the Sat Nav, and set off feeling a little bit special, a little bit nervous, and more than a little bit tired! The journey was pretty uneventful, and I found myself rolling onto the car park bang on 9-30am. I knew what kind of car he drove Ÿ?? he had rather proudly let it slip during our conversation. I hadn’t yet informed him that I drove a more powerful, newer, convertible version of the same car Ÿ?? just that my car was dark green. Thought I’d let him find out the hard way. He took it on the chin, as a man should! I’d spotted him parked down a side street as I had approached the Station, so it was no surprise to see him roll into the carpark within seconds of me parking up. He was an obvious petrol head, and was more excited with my bloody car than he was with me! It won’t take me long to change that. I have to say though, he was a perfect gentleman, rushing off to the ticket machine where he promptly bought us a ticket each, and insisted that he paid for it. I like this guy already! He then took my hand, and proudly led me off down the street to the centre of Lytham where we sat outside a coffee shop and ordered two coffees. It was a lovely morning, and although I had taken a jacket with me, I was comfortable sitting outside in just my dress, enabling him to decide whether I was actually as attractive as he had first thought. Luckily, I was. We chatted, asking each other lots of questions, and generally sussed each other out a bit. It was a very busy coffee shop, and many people walked past us on their way in. We were also joined outside by several people, none of whom seemed to be troubled by the fact that they had a transgendered person in their midst. This was cool! I was feeling great. As a matter of fact, I was feeling better than great. As the morning progressed, he suggested we went back to the car park, and took one of the cars for a drive down the coast. I wasn’t sure whether this was the time that he introduced me to his holiday home, or whether it was his way of trying to get a ride in my car. I felt the safest way to handle things would be for me to drive, and he seemed to be edging towards this option, so it looked maybe like he just wanted my car. Not me. I therefore, called his bluff and suggested that as he appeared to know the area better than me, we should go in his car. I sensed disappointment, but he’ll get over it. So his car it was, and I very gracefully slid into the passenger seat ensuring that my dress covered everything that it should when sat in a low slung leather sports car seat. It just managed. And he noticed! Off we went, past Fairhaven Lake, along into Blackpool, through Blackpool, and ended up in a place called Rossall, along a narrow coastal road right next to the beach. He swung into a parking space and I was immediately aware that the properties behind were very much chalet / holiday type places. Once again, I started to wonder why we were here, and wondered if I had walked straight into the trap I was certain had been set. I hadn’t. We merely got out of the car, walked down to the beach and sat on a wooden bench watching the fishermen and the waves lap the shore. It was lovely. Almost romantic! We probably sat for about 20 minutes, when my tummy rumbled. This was a good way of hinting that it was lunchtime, and he rose to the bait quicker than the sea fish were doing. With no more ado, I was escorted back to the car, the door was opened for me, and I was allowed to once again gracefully slide across into the seat. This time he got a glimpse, but I wasn’t bothered, I thought it might help make the decision as to what kind of lunch I was worth! Back through Blackpool to Lytham, parked back on the Station car park, and off hand in hand back into Lytham we wandered. He seemed to know where we were heading, and was soon ushering me through the doors of an Italian Restaurant by the name of Portofino. It is situated on Henry Street, Lytham St Annes, FY8 5LE, and can be investigated further by visiting http://www.portofino-zest.com . It is a pleasant, well decorated, airy Restaurant, and there were already 10 other people in besides us. We were shown to a nice central table, and I could tell from the pleasantries and generally happy faces, that the staff had no issues with my presence. Neither it would appear, did the other 10 people. We sat down, ordered a diet coke for me and a bottle of some kind of beer for him, and set about studying the menu. As it was lunchtime, and later rather than sooner, I wasn’t looking for a massive meal. I was hungry, but needed to be disciplined (I mean with regard to food, not with regard to a bullwhip and hand cuffs!). We decided to share a garlic bread and asked if it was possible to have it half cheese and half tomato. It was possible, and it didn’t take long to appear. I decided to follow on with fettuccine al salmon – fresh Scottish salmon, tomatoes, cream, chilli & dill, and smoked salmon roulade. My new found friend treated himself to an Italian roast ham, pineapple, tomato and mozzarella pizza. Both meals were quickly served, and well presented (as far as you can go with pasta and a pizza), and judging by the empty plates that soon appeared, equally as tasty. We passed on the desserts and the coffees, finished our drinks, and then I politely went to powder my nose whilst he handled the paperwork. The ladies toilets were very well presented, clean, and well lit. The mirrors were perfect for a girl that needs them, and everything else was exactly as it should have been. We then said our goodbyes to the Restaurant staff, and made our way back the car park where we sat and chatted briefly, before saying farewell and heading for home. He did wangle his way into my car briefly, but I made sure that he stayed on one side whilst I occupied the other. He had treated me like a total Lady all day, so there was no point in me behaving any differently at this stage of things. I had escaped the possible introduction of a conveniently positioned Ÿ??padŸ?, so I felt that any further advancement in our relationship should be put on hold for another day. That said, I must admit, it had been a fairy-tale date. I realise I haven’t said much about the actual eating side of things, but I think we have already gathered the answers to the following three questions: Is Portofino TV friendly? Yes it is, as is Lytham in general it would appear. Would I go again? Yes I would if I get asked! Value for money? Extremely so! It didn’t cost me a penny! I would say looking at the menu, that there should be no reason for complaint. If there was, I was not within earshot when it occurred. I suppose on this occasion there may be a fourth question: Will I see Jim again? I will if he asks me. And I guess I hope he does.

22-08-2015-La Bandera

My trusty fish eating friend and I decided to sample the culinary delights of Manchester again last Wednesday night, so it was my turn to come up with a suitable venue. I had been assured that the recent lapse into the eating of meat was a definite one-off caused by too much wine and not enough self-control, so I needed to ensure that wherever we went was in a position to cater for both our tastes. Not difficult Ÿ?? we’re easily pleased! I consulted my old friend Google, and was soon in the process of booking a table for two at La Bandera ( http://www.labandera.co.uk ) which is located at 2 Ridgefield, Manchester, M2 6EQ. I have to admit, the address vaguely rang a bell, but as my research told me that this was a relatively new Restaurant, I wasn’t sure. When we arrived, we both remembered having eaten here a few years ago when it was obviously a different name. If I get chance I might trawl through my previous blogs and see if I can remind myself what it was called. My research also told me that it was a top quality restaurant that was frequented my local footballers in both red and blue shirts. Only time would tell if this was correct! Wednesday night soon came around, and after a quick drink and Ÿ??helloŸ? in Concord, we found ourselves stood on Sackville Street waving our arms and anything else that seemed appropriate at a passing cab. In we jumped, and off across town we sped, looking forward to the adventure ahead. We soon arrived at Ridgeway, and it didn’t take long to find La Bandera, or to confirm that we had in fact eaten in this property before. It had changed, however, and was a lot more modernistic and Ÿ??posherŸ? than when we last visited. We were welcomed at the reception desk, and quickly shown to a table. The surroundings are crisp and clean, and the d€÷cor is good. There were quite a few other diners in, and it was obvious that there was a bit of a clique going on. Everyone seemed to know everyone else, and most of the customers seemed familiar to the staff. Apart from us that is. As yet! We made ourselves comfortable, and studied the menus we had been given. The young lady who had shown us to our table took our drinks order, and briefly explained that we could have Tapas, or we could have one of the main courses and use the Tapas section as a starter menu. We decided that we would do Tapas. She did explain that the Tapas would arrive at the table as and when it was prepared, which sounded a bit as if we were going to get it piecemeal. I couldn’t imagine this happening, and decided that she just meant it might take longer to arrive due to it being fresh, Time would tell. We set about sharing the glasses and reading the menu, and had soon managed to cobble together an order of several Tapas dishes. We decided to start with Toasted baguette with fresh tomato and garlic, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and we then followed on with Patatas Bravas – Deep fried potatoes served with alioli and spicy Ÿ??bravaŸ? sauce, Parrillada de Verduras – Grilled seasonal vegetables, Champi€¤ones al ajillo – Saut€÷ed mixed wild mushrooms pan-fried with butter, garlic and parsley, Gambas al ajillo – King prawns in a garlic and parsley sauce, Rabas de Calamar – Deep fried fresh squid in batter, served with alioli, and Alb€ndigas de la Abuela – Traditional Spanish meatballs in a rich vegetable sauce (which were obviously just for me!!) We felt that that little lot should fill a corner! Within a couple of minutes, we had our worst fear confirmed Ÿ?? our waitress delivered a solitary plate of Patatas Bravas. It looked like things were going to be piecemeal Ÿ?? we hadn’t even had the bread yet! I was just about to protest when she returned with some form of chicken dish. Aahh! We had got the wrong order; maybe things were going to be OK after all. She apologised, moved the food along a few tables, and soon returned with the bread. Normal service had been resumed. We tucked into the bread, and before long, she returned, this time with our Patatas Bravas, and one of the other dishes. Just one of them. It would appear that our interpretation of her explanation was in fact correct. Basically, we got the rest of our meal in dribs and drabs as and when it was ready. This meant that you had finished one dish before you got the next, denying you the chance to mix and match on your plate. I have to admit we weren’t impressed by the idea. We would prefer the chance to mix our potatoes with our fish, and our vegetables rather than eat them one at a time in the order the chef decided to prepare them. The food was good, but that’s all it was. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t anything special. We continued to eat as it was served, and it didn’t take long before we had emptied all the dishes, and sent them all back gleaming to the kitchen. Our waitress was very friendly, and when she came to try and tempt us to some desserts, she also took the opportunity to strike up conversation and Ÿ??sussŸ? me out. Once she saw how open I was, she poured out a thousand questions! All inoffensive, but all relevant to a young girl who very clearly didn’t understand how the Transgendered World works. Why would she? Most of us don’t understand how it works! I answered every question honestly as I always do, and she kept apologising and asking more. I told her not to apologise Ÿ?? it was nice to meet someone who wasn’t afraid to broaden her knowledge base in such a straightforward way. I’m not embarrassed to say that I honestly think she enjoyed our chat, and I hope that somewhere in her life she will benefit from it. It also worked two ways Ÿ?? it sort of created a diversion that helped us to avoid the dessert trap. We actually managed not to have one! It was at this time that my fish eating partner decided to nip to the facilities (which I didn’t visit, so can’t really comment on Ÿ?? I don’t want to rely on hearsay). And it was also at this time that the owner / manager made his move. As my friend quite eloquently put it, he moved across to me quicker that a rat up a drain pipe! Very friendly and quite charming he was too! He asked how our meal had been, so I felt it best to be honest and explained that food in dribs and drabs wasn’t our thing. He seemed surprised, and informed me that it was usually very popular and that both Manchester United footballers and Manchester City footballers frequented the venue and loved it to bits. I pointed out that it wasn’t as much a criticism, more of a preference, and I also agreed that what suits some doesn’t always suit others. I also pointed out that football was far too masculine a game for me, and that I wouldn’t recognise a footballer if I saw one! This was my ploy to see if there were any in for me to meet, but as he didn’t rush to point anyone out, I can only guess that he is very discreet, or there weren’t any in. In view of the fact it seemed to be the major point of his marketing strategy, I think it’s safe to say there were none in. Once the Pescatarian returned, he seemed to disappear quickly, leaving an awkward conversation where I got accused of once again flirting with people I shouldn’t. As if I would. He was just keeping me company whilst I was alone. That’s all. Honestly. Our waitress returned with a free liqueur each and of course the bill. We drank the liqueur, paid the bill, said Ÿ??thank youŸ? and Ÿ??good byeŸ?, and walked off into the Manchester night in search of a cab back to the Village. The only bit I have to do now is answer the three questions that summarise the night: Is La Bandera TV friendly? It was before we arrived, and it most certainly is now Ÿ?? at both staff and management levels! I also went pretty unnoticed as far as customers are concerned. Value for money? A difficult one. The bill with a tip was ô?80-00. In view of the fact that we only rated our evening as Ÿ??about averageŸ?, I don’t suppose it was as good a value as we have had elsewhere. Would I go again? I wouldn’t scream Ÿ??kidnapŸ? if someone tried to take me there, but I have a feeling it’s further down the list than most

10-08-2015-Tattu, Manchester

Every so often, you go out for a meal somewhere and it hits the Ÿ??wowŸ? button. Last Saturday night was one of those occasions. It was a last minute decision made between me and my pescatarian friend that we should eat, so to make a change, I handed over the responsibility of the looking and the booking, and eagerly awaited the outcome. I wasn’t disappointed. I wasn’t told where we were eating; only that it was pretty busy, and we weren’t able to get a table until 9-30pm. That wasn’t a problem Ÿ?? we spent the afternoon drinking Prosecco and putting the world to rights, and then early evening, I proceeded to change from my Ÿ??afternoon casual lookŸ? into something a little more appropriate. Actually it was something a little more little! It was purple, or what bit of it there was was purple, it was strapless, it had lots of bling on it, and even if I say so myself, it looked OK! Matching underwear, matching bling, and matching eyeshadow completed the transformation, and after a quick drink with a couple of dejected Tottenham supporters in a local bar, we hijacked a cab and headed into Town. This is the bit where I got to know where we were going. We were going to Tattu, which is located at 3, Hardman Square, Gartside St, Manchester M3 3EB and can be looked at by visiting http://www.tattu.co.uk . It was pretty appropriate actually, because I had spent part of the previous day stretched out on a couch having a little more coloured ink applied to my shoulder in the form of yet another rose. I would prompt you to look at the website, just to see what a spectacular venue it is. I dread to think how much has been spent, but it certainly looks the part. Our cab driver dropped us right at the door, and we were shown inside by the obligatory hunky black doorman. Things were looking good, and that was just the doorman! We introduced ourselves at the reception desk, and were shown through to the ground floor bar area where we were immediately relieved of ô?12-00 for two glasses of Prosecco. Not cheap, but you could tell nothing was going to be here. They wouldn’t let us put the drinks on the food bill, and wanted a credit card for a Ÿ??tabŸ? which was a bit of a nuisance, so we just payed cash and got on with enjoying the night. At first there was standing room only, but we were lucky enough to grab a couple of stools at a centre bar area when a couple made a move, and we were able to sit, chill, chat, and have a good look around. Plenty of people to watch, and an impressive d€÷cor to look at. I was starting to like Tattu. It was reaching out to the little bit of snob that lurks within me (aaaawwww come on girls, there’s a bit in all of us somewhere Ÿ?? even me!). Shortly before 9-30, a young lady approached us, ensured she had got the right couple, and then showed us upstairs to the first floor dining area. She left us to carry our own drinks, which I always find a little discourteous Ÿ?? especially when there is a staircase and a Ÿ??girlŸ? in big heels involved, but it seems more common practice than not nowadays. What is happening to good old fashioned service and manners? Anyway, I managed to make the journey complete with drink and handbag in a dignified, uneventful manner, and was soon sitting at a table for two next to the window, just to the side of the magnificent Ÿ??treeŸ? that is the centre piece of the first floor theme. It certainly is a lovely place to dine. The dining room was full, or certainly pretty much full, but I honestly couldn’t tell you how many people were involved. It isn’t a massive amount Ÿ?? maybe 50, maybe more (maybe less! Lol). I’m just not sure, I was too busy enjoying myself to do a head count. We were offered more drinks, and presented with menus by out hostess Ÿ?? Gerda, who was obviously of foreign extraction. We weren’t sure where from, but she was very polite and friendly, and gave us a perfect level of service throughout the meal. We also shared the services of a more senior girl who visited us from time to time to check we were happy. Again, she was attentive without being intrusive. The menu was impressive Ÿ?? or should I say the choice of food on it was. It was one of those occasions where you are spoilt for choice. Several different items needed sampling, but we had to pin it down to only one! I can see we will have to come here again. Eventually after several minutes of debate, and having passed the Primarni spectacles between ourselves many times, we managed to make decisions. It wasn’t easy, but it had to be done. My non- meat eating friend had eventually decided to go for the hand dived scallops with sweet soya noodle and caviar which was served on a big seashell, and I chose the Chilean sea bass spinach parcels with sweet orange vinegar and candied orange zest. They were gorgeous. Tasty pieces of fish wrapped totally in green spinach leaves with the orange vinegar poured all over them and little pieces of candied orange zest sitting on the top. I got four parcels, and would have eaten forty! They were heavenly. Having purred our way through the starters, we had a short break, before we were then presented with our main course. We used this time well to enthuse over what we had just eaten, take a few piccies, and watch the other diners. It was obvious there were a couple of birthday parties in Ÿ?? the candles and cakes gave it away, and then there was the usual mix of couples, couples of couples, and groups. Nobody including guests and staff seemed to care that Paula was sitting amongst their midst. I felt very comfortable and was treated with the greatest of respect by all concerned. It wasn’t too long before our main courses arrived. These had taken just as much choosing as the starters, and I was looking forward to seeing if they could match the quality. They could, and they did. I sat facing a plate containing saffron miso black cod with razor clams, Chinese sausage, kohlrabi, sea spray and sweet wine jelly. I have never seen a piece of fish like it before. It is difficult to describe how Ÿ??silky smoothŸ? it was. My knife just fell through it, and the taste and flavour was divine. There was a cauliflower puree on the plate which I swear was more realistic than a cauliflower itself. How on earth something so small could taste so cauliflowery I just don’t know. I’m so excited telling you about what I ate, I almost forgot my friend! Obviously, being a Pescatarian, we know it involved fish, but I have some exciting news to reveal shortly. The main course of choice was Lobster and prawn with ginger noodles, yellow bean, stem ginger, spring onion and chilli. Once again it looked (and tasted Ÿ?? I pinched a bit) fantastic. As it was late, and we hadn’t eaten much all day, and we had cleared two bottles of Prosecco plus four further glasses between us, appetites were high. In view of this fact I added a portion of duck egg and sausage fried rice and a portion of steamed mixed vegetables, ginger, and garlic to our order. The rice was lovely and tasty Ÿ?? duck egg is a stronger flavour than hen egg, and also there was the Chinese sausage in it. My enthusiasm leaked across the table and aroused the curiosity of my non- meat eating, only fish eating friend. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I sat and watched a non-meat eating, only fish eating person tucking into half of my duck egg and SAUSAGE fried rice. Not veggie sausage I might add, but proper meat based sausage. It’s amazing what an appetite and a bottle and a half of Prosecco can do to a person’s inner strength. Some definite ammunition for a little blackmail at a later date methinks! The question on Sunday morning went something like Ÿ??Shit, I must have had a few yesterday Ÿ?? did I eat meat last night?Ÿ? to which I answered, Ÿ??Yes on a couple of occasions!Ÿ? I’m sure you can work it out! AnywayŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?í. Back to Tattu. As I am sure you will already have worked out, we quite quickly sent back a full set of empty plates and dishes to the kitchen area of the Restaurant. All that was left to do was make a quick decision on the Dessert situation. It didn’t take a lot of thinking about. There’s no way you should visit an establishment such as this and not go the full hog, so, we went the full hog. We were given the dessert menus, and Gerda took the time to run through each dish with a description of what it was. The fish eater (or ex fish eater hehe), quickly decided that the dessert of the day was the chocolate satay which was a sort of chocolate brownie affair, covered in all sorts of delightful sauces and creams along with snickers flavoured ice cream, whilst I nestled up closely to the queen of fruit with mangosteen, white chocolate and liquorice. There were all sorts of fruits, along with a sort of brandy snap type thingy, and thick liquorice sauce. I can’t describe it adequately other than to say you have to try it! We had partaken in a further drink during our meal, and by the time we had finished all as described above, the clock was now pushing midnight. We sat and chatted for another few minutes, and then sadly, it was time to leave Tattu. I know one thing for sure; we’ll probably go back before too long! I didn’t actually make use of the Powder Room, but I would hazard a guess that they will be fine. I’m annoyed with myself for not checking, but there’s always an excuse to go back again. We paid our bill, said goodbye to everyone, and walked off across Spinningfields to find ourselves a cab for our short journey back into town, both feeling fed, watered, and happy. I will of course exercise due diligence and answer the all-important questions: Is Tattu TV friendly? Too true it is! No problems in that direction at all! Would I go again? Of course I will Ÿ?? I have to check the facilities! Value for Money? The first two glasses of Prosecco were ô?12-00. This prepared me for a big bill, but in fairness, another two glasses and the meal as described above including a 10% discretionary tip was a grand total of ô?110-00. A lot of money in some ways, but as far as I’m concerned, we got value for money. We had a night out, not just a meal, so we were more than happy.

27-06-2015-The Fence Gate Inn, Fence, Nr. Burnley

As Sue and I continue our quest to spend the occasional Friday night exploring the Culinary delights of the surrounding area, the other Friday evening saw us heading over Pendle Hill to the Fence Gate Inn ( www.fencegate.co.uk ) which is located at Wheatley Lane Road, Fence, Burnley, BB12 9EE. The Fence Gate is a long established venue and is well known throughout the area for functions, and Weddings etc, as well as being a popular eating and drinking venue. It is owned by the same guy who owns The Eagle, at Barrow Ÿ?? another of our regular haunts. It has gained a reputation recently for being the Ÿ??place to be seenŸ? on a Friday night, so who better than Paula to put and end to that one! On our arrival, we had to get fairly well to the back of the car park to get a space, and there was a stream of taxis at the front door, both dropping and collecting fares. The signs so far were good. We entered into the Bar area, and announced our arrival to the Lady behind the desk, and agreed with her that we would sample a drink at the Bar before dining. It was very busy indeed. There is the choice of dining pub style in the Bar Lounge, or eating in the Restaurant. This meant that the area around the Bar was quite busy Ÿ?? most of the available seating was being used by diners, resulting in the drinkers squeezing in where they could. I quite often find people to be extremely well mannered when I arrive at a venue Ÿ?? they seem to stand well back and let me through! Amazing, really! Lol. Anyway, it wasn’t many seconds and I was stood right at the bar getting served with our first drinks Ÿ?? two diet cokes. Out of fairness to everyone else, we then moved away from the Bar a little, just to allow others a chance of getting served. It was busy, but well staffed, so everything seemed to be working OK. I can’t say I went unnoticed, but I wasn’t drawing any untoward attention, until…………….! Until a gang of business type chaps all dressed in suits and ties arrived in, on their way home from a day at the races. How did I know that? Easy Ÿ?? half of them told all and sundry where they had been, and the other half had little badges pinned to their lapels that even told us where they had stood! They had all had a drink. Some of them had had more than one drink I suspect. In fact, most of them had had more than one drink, but none of them expected to bump into Paula Falisia. Out of all the predictions they had made that day, not a single one of them had put money on the fact that they would end up stood in The Fence Gate next to me. Some were scared, some were fascinated, and some were down right interested. Unfortunately, the one who was most interested had coincidently had the most to drink. He was also Ÿ??knownŸ? to me in my other life. Whilst, as you are well aware, this doesn’t affect me in the slightest, I didn’t want to freak him out. He looked like he had been through enough that day, and a Waitress arriving to announce that our table was ready, has never been better timed before. Ever! I was relieved, but disappointed at the same time, but as Sue pointed out, we had come to eat, not intimidate poor innocent business men at the end of a boy’s day out. We sat at our table, and set about studying the menus we had been presented with. We also took the chance to order another drink each. The menu is typical of so many places around us and offers a wealth of choices ranging from good old fashioned Ÿ??pub grubŸ? through to something a bit more Ÿ??daring, and Ÿ??posherŸ?. It didn’t take us long to choose and as our waitress returned with the drinks, we were able to place an order for our food. Sue had decided to go with the Soup of the Day, which was French Onion Ÿ?? one of her favourites, and I was drawn towards the Smoked Salmon Ÿ?? double oak smoked, whisky washed smoked salmon with red onion, baby capers, and brown bread. And what a plateful I got! Instead of the usual folded piece of smoked salmon, I got a small dinner plate totally covered with two or three slices. It was more than a snack in itself! I was just halfway through my starter when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I played it cool, not wanting to show any particular emotion by spinning around in some form of panic. It also gave me time to check Sues face out; to see if that gave me any clues to my assailant. I knew the business men were still in the building Ÿ?? I could hear them! The smile on Sues face was enough for me to realise it wasn’t a threat, so I turned around to see her friend Julie. It was Julie’s birthday, so she had been out for dinner with her fellow John, to The Waddington Arms, and had decided to come up and catch a drink with us after our meal. Brilliant! We had a brief chat, and arranged to catch up with them soon. Now, it was time to concentrate on completing our starter course, so that we could be ready for Chef to present us with something further to sample. This was done in no time, and our empty plates were soon cleared away. Main course was soon to arrive. Sue had pondered long and hard over several choices, in the end succumbing to the offer of 35 Day, Dry, Aged, 10oz Char-grilled Sirloin Steak, served with onion rings, confit tomato, garlic portobello mushroom, and hand cut chips. Oh, and lest I forget, a portion of peppercorn sauce. I, however, had taken very little time to decide that I quite fancied Pork Belly with whole grain mustard mash, baked apple topped with a blackpudding fritter, cumin carrots & calvados sauce. We also added a side order of skinny fries and shared each others fries thus giving us a mixture of hand cut, and skinny. As with the starters, the portions were more than adequate. In fact, although we managed to send completely empty crockery back towards the kitchen, we both agreed that desserts were a no-go area. We didn’t even look at the menu! We sat and chatted a while, and then decided that we would go and find Julie and John. On our way through, we stopped at the desk, and paid our bill which was a very pleasant ô?60-00. The Lady behind the desk informed us that there two pianists entertaining in the large room behind the Bar, and asked us if we were going to spend some time having a drink and maybe listening to the music Ÿ?? think that answers the Ÿ??TV friendlyŸ? question? We said we certainly were stopping, and went in search of Jules, who was sitting to the side of the bar, with a couple of seats kept just for us! We were just in time to watch the businessmen leave, which was even more fun than watching them arrive. Some had fared quite well, but others really were worse for wear! They were all being Ÿ??men togetherŸ? helping each other out, each and every one of them believing they were quite sober. It was hilarious! We sat and chatted, and people watched. It was whilst people watching that my eyes kept returning to a couple of girls by the bar, who were obviously having the same problem with me. I don’t think it was that they found me completely irresistible, or indeed, me them. There was just something causing a rumble between us. Eventually I got the chance to go to the bar and test things out. One of the girls looked at me and said Ÿ??Paula?Ÿ? Ÿ??YesŸ? I replied, Ÿ??You live over here and we met on Canal StŸ? I don’t know how, but I had suddenly remembered. We had met about 3 years ago whilst they were on a girl’s night out, and during our conversation it had emerged that they lived sort of near where I lived. It’s a small World. Julie and John decided to leave, but Sue and I stayed a while longer, just enjoying the busy atmosphere, watching and listening to people of all types and ages. The Fence Gate certainly is a busy spot on a Friday night. Eventually, reality kicked in, and Sue and I decided we should head for home and prepare ourselves for the day to follow. We left the Fence Gate around midnight, just as busy as when we found it. All I have to do now is answer the three questions: Is the Fence Gate TV friendly? We’ve answered it establishment wise up above. With regard to the customers, I had no problems and had a laugh with several people. Value for money? I think we’ve answered that one above as well! Go again? Bet we do! PS can’t comment on the facilities, as neither of us used them!

15-06-2015-Sakana, Manchester

As I mentioned to you in a recent blog, the fish eater and I have rekindled the flickering flame of our relationship, and are slowly getting back to treading the boards of Manchester again. Whether it will ever be like Ÿ??the good old daysŸ? or not remains to be seen, but our philosophy at the moment is let’s enjoy what we can, while we can. As you can imagine, besides other things, this has involved the intake of food again. With this in mind, we decided to once again sample some of the culinary delights of Manchester the other weekend, leaving me with the unenviable task of choosing a venue. I used my favourite search engine, and after a lot of research and a couple of emails found a reply in my inbox informing me that a table for two was reserved in our name for 8-30pm the following Saturday evening. This reply came from Sakana, which is located at 23 Peter Street, Manchester M2 5QR (http://www.sakanapan-asian.co.uk ). Things were looking good! Saturday night saw me dressed in a little black strapless number with matching shoes and accessories as usual, and it also saw us both heading in to town looking forward to the evening ahead. We were a little later that sometimes setting off, and so decided to drive straight into town and park rather than hitting The Village for a drink first and then taking a cab. Couldn’t have been simpler. Could it? Well actually, yes. It could have been! I hadn’t taken into account the fact that half the centre of Manchester is closed off due to the ongoing works in connection with the Metro Link. The knock on effect of this was that the half of Manchester that isn’t closed off has had parking restrictions put in place. I must have driven down Peter Street and the surrounding area a hundred times looking for a space! OK, maybe not a hundred, but it was a lot! It was so many times in fact, that by 8-25pm we still hadn’t managed to park. My co-pilot made a quick call to the Restaurant to warn them we would be late, and in a final state of frustration, I headed back out of town to The Village, parked the car, hailed a cab, and paid ô?4-00 to be driven back to where I had just been. Not the best of starts, but I am a lot more tolerant when in the guise of Paula, so I managed to be quite philosophical about it all and certainly didn’t let it spoil the night. My male alter ego would have hit the roof, thrown his dummy out of the pram and probably sulked for the rest of the night. How different we both are! Anyway, as per usual, I have already written 472 words, and so far told you nothing, so I better shape up and tackle the job in hand Ÿ?? which is………………..? Ah, yes, I remember, Sakana. Well, here we are, at least we had finally got there. We apologised, but it wasn’t a problem to them at all. We were shown to the bar where we ordered a glass of prosecco and a diet coke, and we chilled down and managed to survey the surroundings. Very nice, and very busy! People of all ages, sizes, and types in pairs and groups, all about to eat, eating, or talking about what they had just eaten. There are some private dining areas, and a main L shaped dining area, bending off towards the kitchen servery area. We were quickly shown to our table, where our waitress introduced herself as Becki, and we were handed menus. We were also given a quick tutorial on how the menus worked and offered as much advice as we needed to be able to place an order. We perused the menus, trying to work out the different options available, whilst retaining at least some of the advice Becki had so generously offered. It wasn’t that difficult. Being the foodies that we are, it didn’t take us long to master the menus and put together an order that we could discuss further with Becki when she returned. She was very impressed with our attempt, and after a couple of tweaks, we had managed to choose a meal for two! We started off with Sushi Ÿ?? we got a portion of salmon balls (no, I didn’t know that salmon had balls either!), and a portion of soft shelled crab and mango, and then we pick and mixed! They were obviously served up with lots of little dabs of extras and sauces and rice and things Ÿ?? far too much to write about, and I’m sure you’ve got the idea anyhow. I then followed on with Teppanyaki sea bass served with ginger, spring onion and leek, and my companion tackled a portion of Teppanyaki swordfish served with champagne, yuzu, miso, and pomegranate. We also had a side order of stir-fry noodles and a side order of stir-fry greens which we duly shared out between the two of us. This was enough food to cause a silence to fall over our table, but as you can well imagine, not for long. We both had another drink each during the meal, and in little or no time at all, we were proudly sat in front of a table full of empty crockery. The food was hot, tasty, and well presented, and Becki was more than helpful without being over the top. The Restaurant was continuously busy throughout our meal, but the sight of a full blown Transvestite sitting across the table from an equally full blown Pescatarian didn’t appear to be causing any concern to Patrons and Staff alike. After a short pause in proceedings, Becki was back. She was back with the menus, to see if she could tempt us with coffee, or desserts, or indeed anything else that we may decide to partake in. We certainly didn’t fancy coffee, and cocktails were slightly off limits due to me driving later on, so that just left the question of desserts. And what a question that was! Out of politeness more than anything we agreed to at least have a look at the menus, but we both admitted to being pretty full. It did look like tonight could be the night that Paula and friend may win the battle over the desserts. Neither of us was certain we could manage one. We did at one point debate the possibility of a one dessert, two spoon situation. I, however, decided that wasn’t to be. In my mind, you either want the glory of having won the battle outright, or you want the equally glorious outcome of a sticky, calorie ridden dessert each. To be seen sharing one would be very un-cool! We went for the glorious rather than the glory. Two desserts and two spoons was the outcome. I tucked into a brown sugar tart (as only I can), whilst the pesco had a brief but passionate affair with a portion of chocolate crumble. By the end of that bit, we really were both full! Seemingly, Sakana has a bar upstairs for the use of diners, and Becki had no hesitation in inviting us to visit the said bar and partake in a few bevy’s. We declined the invitation, but I think that already answers question number one. I did take the trouble to visit the Ladies and powder my nose (think I had a wee as well Ÿ?? can’t remember!), and I’m pleased to report that all is perfectly in order in the water closet department. So, now all we had to do was pay the bill, and then find a cab to take us back to the car which was another ô?6-00. Having managed to park for free, it then cost ô?10-00 to get from the car to the Restaurant and back! I certainly didn’t win that one! Never mind, as my late Dad kept telling me Ÿ??you can’t take it with youŸ?. Now all I have to do is answer three very simple questions, and then I can finally leave you in peace: Is Sakana TV friendly? See above. No problems at all, and an invite to stay! Value for money? I didn’t pay, but For the sole purpose of compiling this report, I managed to ascertain that the cost of the above was ô?56-00 for food and ô?15-00 for drinks. A total of ô?71-00. I think we could class that as more than acceptable. Would I go again? I’m beginning to wonder how many of these places I will actually manage to revisit as my quest for somewhere new continues. Needless to say, though, if the opportunity arises I certainly won’t hesitate.

06-06-2015-The Waddington Arms, Waddington, Nr Clitheroe

It had soon come back around to night out time for Sue and Paula. Having been to the Higher Buck in Waddington the other week, we had spotted the Waddington Arms ( http://www.waddingtonarms.co.uk – believe it or not, in Waddington near Clitheroe!), and we decided that it was probably worth a try. How right we were! Sue has been off work this week Ÿ?? she has moved her horses from one stable yard to a new one after seven years, so we have had a busy and emotional week at our house. You wouldn’t believe what is involved when horses Ÿ??move houseŸ?! I have also been very busy at work, still battling hard to get a house renovated and onto the rental market. The end is in sight Ÿ?? just! This meant that we were both ready for Friday night, maybe more than usual. I finished work at 5-00pm, had ten minutes on the sunbed, bought a lottery ticket, and rushed home with a new dress that had been delivered, hoping it would fit and look OK. Once home, it was a quick shower, try the dress on Ÿ?? perfect, and then get ready. A few layers of cosmetic product, perfume, jewellery, new dress, stupidly high heels, and some hair. By 7-15pm Paula was ready to travel. Sue had also been going through the same motions, with significantly less cosmetic product being both needed and used, and she also was ready for the off. We travelled the ten minutes or so to Waddington, parked the car, and by 7-45pm we were sat at a table for two. The Waddington Arms is a pub / restaurant. It is focussed on food rather than beer I guess, but it isn’t a silver service restaurant. It’s comfortable with a large wood burning stove, traditional d€÷cor, and stone flag floors. The menu is relative to this, offering a mix of traditional pub grub with a bit of Ÿ??poshŸ? thrown in for good measure. We had got ourselves a drink on arrival, and were shown straight to our table. I had noticed it was pretty busy, but due to the shape and layout, it was difficult to ascertain how busy. We were soon to find out. A rather pensive looking young lady approached our table, looking like she had been asked to throw us out! She started off by apologising for her colleague’s failure to advise us that due to the fact they had just taken an order for a table of twenty, they wouldn’t be able to take our order for another ten to fifteen minutes. In view of the fact that we were early anyway, this wasn’t going to affect our evening in any way, and we told her so. Even so, I think it was a very wise thing to do rather than have us sit there expectantly waiting. True to her word, within fifteen minutes, they were back on track, and ready to take our order. The choice on the menu was good, and we were informed that the specials were on the specials board Ÿ??over thereŸ?. Over there was about 150 yards away in another section of the pub. I could see the board, but I certainly couldn’t read it. As you know, it is one of my pet hates when Chef has gone to the trouble of creating Ÿ??specialsŸ? and they advise you of them by way of a board on the wall. It isn’t fair for the people sitting under the board when half the pub is staring over their heads trying to read it, and it isn’t fair on those of us who really can’t be arsed to get up, walk across, read it, memorise it, and choose from it! The result being I haven’t a clue what was on the specials board, and Chefs talents had once again gone to waste. In fairness the choice on the menu was more than adequate, and I guess had it not been, we would probably have made the pilgrimage across the pub to read the said board. Anyway, let’s not worry about what we don’t know about and concentrate on what we actually chose to eat. Sue decided that she was hungry, so we started off with a Garlic Ciabatta with Cheese. This was followed by Soup of the Day Ÿ?? which was mushroom, for Sue, and Seared Scallops, Curry Spiced Cauliflower Puree, Slow Cooked Pork Belly for me. Scallops and Pork belly on the same dish Ÿ?? I had to work hard not to have a full blown orgasm! The waitresses (of which there were several) were cheerful and efficient, making sure clean cutlery wrapped in a serviette was provided for each section of the meal, offering drinks at the right time, and clearing away crockery and glasses that were finished with in good time, yet without making you feel rushed in any way. There were plenty of other people in the Waddington Arms; with I would guess about 85% of them eating. Nobody seemed to care, or indeed, even to have noticed that they were in the company of a transvestite, and the staff certainly had no obvious issues with it. Sue and I chatted about this and that, with brief pauses as required to accommodate the intake of food. All in all, a pleasant evening so far! Once we had scraped the pattern off the starter plates, they were taken back to the kitchen for cleaning and re-patterning and our main courses made an appearance. Sue had decided that the thing to tickle her taste buds would be the Lancashire Hot Pot, with Pickled Red Cabbage and Vegetables, whilst Paula was intent on making friends with a plate of Pan Fried Salmon with Saut€÷ed Potatoes, Prawns, Parsley and Capers. As you would, we also ordered a side of skinny fries which arrived at the table overflowing from an adequately sized receptacle. For a brief period, silence fell over our table whilst we tackled the job in hand of emptying our plates. The girls checked throughout the meal that everything was to our satisfaction, and overall, I rated the service as good to excellent. I really think they got the balance of attention just right. Once again, we returned well scraped plates back to the kitchen, failing to eat just a few of the skinny fries. Oh, and I left some of the Ÿ??green sh*tŸ? that was draped all over everything. It looks nice, but I really must question as to why they imagine you would want to eat so much grass! As always seems to occur, that time was approaching again. The time when young attractive ladies approach your table, trying to lead you down the wrong path of life. The time when you have lists of sticky, high calorific value dishes thrust in front of you – the time of complete and utter temptation to stray from trying to lead a reasonably respectable life towards a life of greed, self-indulgence and total debauchery. Both Sue and I had commented as to how full we were feeling, and I was quietly confident that on this occasion we would have no problem in sending the temptress scurrying away from our table orderless. How wrong I was! In less than a minute, the menus were pushed in front of us, we were forced to read them, and our waitress was walking away with an order. How the bloody hell did that happen? We really must try harder! The result of this unfair temptation was a dish containing two scoops of Bonoffee ice cream being placed in front of Sue, whilst I had to become acquainted with a portion of Sticky Toffee Pudding with Toffee Sauce and Bonoffe ice cream. Oh well, these things happen. I have to say, my Sticky Toffee pudding was perfect. Sometimes, I think it can be Ÿ??over stickyŸ?, but this was really light and easy to eat. The sauce was obviously hot, which helped to melt the ice cream, resulting in another near orgasm. Two in one night – at my age!! (I wish!). By the time we had managed to eat the above desserts, we really had slowed down. The conversation had become slow and unintelligent, and our eyes had become heavy. We were showing signs of food overload. It was an easy decision to make when we were offered another drink. No thanks! It was time to sit and reflect, and a time to summon the energy to leave our table, pay our bill, and walk the 50 yards or so to the car. We finally arose, and walked across to the bar to pay. The place was far less busy than when we arrived, and I had a picture of people all over Clitheroe and the surrounding area, making their way quietly home having eaten to capacity at The Waddington Arms. Our bill including all the above food with 6 Diet Cokes thrown in (Oh yes, Sue and I know how to party!) came to a grand total of ô?60-50. Add a tip and you purse leaves with ô?65-00 less in it than when you arrived. Blood good value as far as I am concerned! SoŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?í here we go again. The three questions that make it all worthwhile: Is The Waddington Arms TV friendly? It most certainly was whilst we were there, and I have no reason to suspect otherwise. Would I go again? I think you know I would! Value for money? As I said above, I think so without doubt, but only you can decide for yourselves.