Sunday, 23 October 2016

Dinner at Nova...

This week I went along to dine at Nova*, a restaurant in the Wirral town of Heswall which is run by Moyo and his wife Jana. Moyo has years of experience as a chef and he is also classically trained in the art of French cuisine. I had heard good things about Nova, so I was keen to experience dining there. We were seated at a cosy table where we were welcomed with chilled prosecco which was a nice touch. The design aesthetic at Nova is contemporary with details such as abstract art, vases of flowers and candlelit tables which combine to create a homely ambience. The restaurant was already busy, a good sign for a midweek evening. 

Mini beef and lamb sliders served on doughy buns with a piquant tomato sauce proved to be a tasty introduction to the meal.

We were informed that Moyo takes a great deal of pride in baking his own bread, which he also supplies to nearby deli Whitmore and White and the bread selection we sampled was fresh and springy with a fine crumb. 

For his starter, my dining companion selected the goats cheese crémeux with beetroot served with an ice cream which had honey running through it. The tangy goats cheese was sensational with the earthy beetroot and the sweetness of the honey offset the other flavours well. This was a feast for the eyes too, with striking presentation to the dish.

My starter of butternut squash soup was a hearty winter warmer, with a silky texture and delicate sweetness.

For the main course my breast of chicken was grilled to perfection, with a smoky crispiness which gave way to succulent white meat. 

My dining companion chose the sirloin steak cooked medium rare, with red wine sauce and skinny fries on the side. The steak was notably colossal in size and it had been cooked to retain the perfect level of juiciness, the red wine sauce added a velvety depth which did not overwhelm the meat and the impressive scale of the steak was matched in terms of flavour.

A variety of seasonal vegetables and a portion of golden chunky chips complemented our meals and I sipped a crisp Western Cape South African Chenin Blanc, which had zesty apple and tropical notes. 

We had already marvelled at the chocolate soufflé as it was brought to a neighbouring table and it certainly did not disappoint when I ordered my own for dessert. The soufflé was incredibly light, with a texture reminiscent of mousse and the accompaniment of sorbet was creamy with a subtle chocolate flavour. 

My dining companion enjoyed the artfully presented cheese board, which had a varied selection of mild and stronger cheese including Red Leicester Sparkenhoe, Celtic Promise, Brie de Meaux, Kidderton Ash goats cheese and Blacksticks Blue with a platter of crackers, fruit, quince jelly and chutney which offset the cheeses well.

The meal was still not at an end as we settled back to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere over some coffee and handmade petit fours of coconut and buttery shortbread. 

The food at Nova was polished and accomplished, with an eye for refined flavours. The use of local and seasonal produce was evident in the quality of the dishes and the convivial atmosphere also made me want to dine here again. 
I was impressed with the level of attention to detail too, such as the inclusion of a preliminary course and petit fours. The standard of cuisine illustrated Moyo's expertise and in my opinion the whole experience was worthy of a fine dining restaurant, but with a relaxed and appealing atmosphere. 
Service was friendly and efficient from the knowledgeable team, who were on hand to chat about the menu and recommend dishes too. 
68 Pensby Rd, 
CH60 7RE

0151 342 9959

What do you all think, do you like the sound of Nova and which of these dishes would you like to try? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post. 

Until next time,



*I was a guest of Nova, this meal was complementary. Opinions expressed herein are my own and honest. 

Monday, 17 October 2016

Dinner at The Lawns Restaurant...

The Lawns Restaurant at Thornton Hall Hotel and Spa holds 3 AA Rosettes and it is also mentioned in the Michelin Guide.  Last week I had the opportunity to dine at The Lawns* again, to try the new menu devised by Head Chef Ben Mounsey. 
The first thing which is striking about The Lawns is the interior design, with decorative wooden carvings, an intricate ceiling and crystal chandeliers. We were shown to our table where we consulted the à la carte menu, reading through the intriguing options in anticipation. 

Firstly, we were treated to smoked crackers with olive tapenade and Bresaola as a pre-dinner snack, as well as an orange and iced tea drink which refreshed the palate.

Freshly baked warm loaves of treacle and rye bread served with ground corn butter were served, which tasted amazing. I am more than a little obsessed with finding the perfect bread, and this had a deep and satisfying flavour complemented by the corn butter.

A 'snack' of beetroot with goats cheese smoke was a sensory experience, with clouds of smoke and tangy goats cheese which sat well with the beetroot. 

My starter of cabbage, consommé, goats curd and scallop was filled with interesting flavours. The beetroot consommé was poured over the starter at the table and the fusion of ingredients worked well with the tender and slightly sweet scallop, while the beetroot consommé added earthiness to the dish. 

My dining companion selected the bacon and egg for his starter of cheek, sourdough and mooli. The crispy bacon and scrambled egg foam were a treat together while the sourdough crisp added texture and the brown bread savoury ice cream was enjoyable. Taking a classic breakfast dish and turning it in to a sophisticated starter in this way was an impressive feat. 

The second bread of olive and tomato focaccia with French salted butter was a taste of the Mediterranean with a springy texture which was complemented by the creamy butter. 

My main course of tuna, celeriac, dashi and caper was simply stunning. The oyster crisp garnishing the dish melted in the mouth delivering a subtle taste of the sea and the tuna itself was a revelation, tender yet with a slight crispness which was elevated by the dashi broth and tuna tartare added a sharper flavour. This dish was so well executed, it was a privilege to experience it.

My dining companion chose the rare breed pork loin, with Lyonnaise and apple gel. The meat was succulent with a mild flavour which was enhanced by a rich jus and the Lyonnaise potatoes were the ideal accompaniment, creating an elegant main course.

The pre-dessert, based on a blackberry crumble with custard was a surprise, with a solid shell which contained sharp and sweet blackberry, delivering a taste of autumn. 

 We moved on to the dessert course and our first choice of chocolate with prune, Matcha green tea and lime was a revelation with an airy Matcha green tea sponge and bitter chocolate which paired well with the sweet and tangy prune.

I was especially eager to try the second dessert, for which Ben Mounsey drew inspiration from some of his childhood favourites. He came to the table in person to serve his signature cereal dessert, which was topped with a swirl of mascarpone cream. This dessert was a bowl of fun, with light flavours, texture from chewy rice crispy, a hint of toffee from the bananas and a creamy milk skin which added further charm to this whimsical dessert. I love dishes like this which break the mould of the traditional idea of fine dining which can sometimes come across as intimidating and slightly stuffy, so it is refreshing to see this new vision of fine dining from a chef.

We moved on to coffee and handmade petit fours, which included beetroot, Florentine, pâte de fruits and an indulgent pear chocolate. A perfect note upon which to conclude an exquisite meal.

Dining at The Lawns is a must for fans of fine dining and there is a choice of the tasting menu, a six course gourmet menu and the à la carte menu as well as lunchtime dining and afternoon tea. The food is a journey for the senses and the opulent dining room is reminiscent of a stately home or castle. This is a good choice of restaurant to celebrate a special occasion or simply to treat yourself to a wonderful meal.

The Lawns Restaurant
Thornton Hall Hotel & Spa
Neston Rd
Thornton Hough
CH63 1JF

0151 336 3938

It was a pleasure to meet Ben and to experience his food. His enthusiasm shines through in the clean, refined flavours of his dishes and his creativity is self-evident, with touches of excitement in terms of flavour and presentation. This is imaginative cooking at its best, with the ability to surprise and delight in equal measure.

What do you all think, do you like fine dining and which of these dishes would you like to try? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,



*I was a guest of The Lawns Restaurant, this meal was complimentary. Opinions stated herein are my own and honest. 

Friday, 14 October 2016

The Old Stables...

It is always interesting to have the opportunity to try somewhere completely new when it comes to dining out and this week I did exactly that when I went to dine at The Old Stables*. The newly opened restaurant is situated at Allerton Manor Golf Club a short distance from Liverpool city centre and we drove up the sweeping driveway to see trees adorned with fairy lights twinkling outside. The design aesthetic within is cool and contemporary, with a stylish green tiled bar area and there is a large outdoor terrace too. We were seated at a table by the window where we consulted the menu, which has a good balance of classic comfort food and sophisticated dishes including steaks, seafood, burgers and pasta as well as sharing platters which are a nice option if you feel like trying a few things. I had a good catch up with talented Head Chef Paul Feery, who is skilled at creating satisfying dishes with elegant flavours. 

We started the meal with a board of farmhouse and seeded bread served with oil, which was enjoyable as we awaited our starters. 

My starter of pan fried tandoori spiced scallops was excellent, with perfectly seasoned tender scallops served with pickled carrot and orange purée, fennel tips and sesame seeds. This dish showed flair worthy of a fine dining tasting menu, with a tangy smoothness delivered by the purée which complemented the juicy scallops and aromatic tandoori spice. 

My dining companion had the soup of the day, a hearty and rustic winter vegetable soup with a mild, creamy flavour ideal for this time of year. 

For the main course, my dining companion chose the 12oz sirloin steak, cooked to his preference of medium rare. The steak was succulent with an irresistible flame grilled, slightly smoky taste and the accompaniments of grilled tomato, mushrooms and watercress complemented the steak. The hand cut chips were crisp and chunky, while the blue cheese sauce was rich in flavour.

For the main course I selected the house curry, which was available with either chicken or vegetables. I went for the vegetable option and it was just the kind of curry I like, fragrant, creamy and mild at first but with a fiery finish which really woke up the palate. The accompaniments of Basmati rice and grilled naan bread were both pleasant and the strips of pepper in the sauce gave the curry added texture, this reminded me of a street food style of curry with a simplicity which allowed the individual flavours to shine. 

 A Cambio 7 Chilean Merlot was a good wine pairing for the meal, with notes of plum and black cherry as well as a slight spiciness. There was a varied choice of wines including sparkling on offer and a well-rounded cocktail list too

On to dessert and who could resist classic sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce, which was so indulgent with a light sponge and rich butterscotch.

Our second dessert of warm chocolate brownie with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream was another hit, this was one of the best brownies I have tasted in some time, with a chewy freshly baked texture and a rich chocolate flavour. 

I enjoyed a liqueur coffee and we settled back to enjoy the relaxed ambience of The Old Stables, which is a perfect place to unwind for casual dining or a Sunday Roast. 

The Old Stables
Allerton Manor Golf Club
Allerton Road
L18 3JTM

0151 428 7490

What do you all think, do you like the idea of a restaurant which offers a selection of classic and refined main courses and which of these dishes would you like to try? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,



*I was invited to dine at The Old Stables, this meal was complimentary. Opinions are my own and honest. 

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Castle Street Townhouse...

Castle Street Townhouse opened its doors last week bringing a sophisticated new all-day dining venue and bar to the area, located in a Grade II listed building in the shadow of Liverpool Town Hall. There is a sweeping marble bar area with opulent mirrors and the ambience of understated elegance continues in the restaurant beyond, where the stylish interior design features plush green velvet booths and bowler hat lighting.

Last week I attended the launch party and there was a great atmosphere, as we sipped champagne and enjoyed canapés which gave an insight in to the menu, including smoothie shots, tender chicken skewers and the ‘townhouse tier’ laden with goodies.

On Friday evening I went back to Castle Street Townhouse for some evening drinks and small plates, plenty of people were already enjoying a drink at the bar and there was an inviting warmth to the atmosphere. I was impressed by the excellent service as I was shown to a comfortable sofa where I sipped chilled Pinot Grigio rosé and looked at the menu, where several small plates caught my eye.

There is so much to offer on the menu including breakfast, brunch and small plates. Bircher muesli and granola are good options for a healthy breakfast and dishes including the ‘full house’ cooked breakfast, rump steak with straw potato and fried eggs and French toast are ideal for when you are feeling a little bit more indulgent. I was impressed to see a ‘full veggie’ breakfast on the menu too. Brunch is served from 11am and the food on offer is pleasingly varied with fish, meat, salads, superfoods and eggs available as well as the aforementioned 'townhouse tier' (cornfritters, poached egg with chorizo jam, French toast and bacon, Danish & French pastries, fresh fruit and smoothie shots) as well as bottomless brunch which sounds good too.
We settled down with our drinks and I ordered a selection of small plates which are good to share. Chicken with quinoa and sweetcorn, beef hash with red onion jus, straw potatoes and toad in the hole with savoy cabbage was what we decided on after significant deliberation. The first dish I tried was the chicken, which was tender and the quinoa and vegetables added further layers of flavour.

Toad in the hole has to be one of my favourite comfort food classics and I enjoyed this mini version of it, the Yorkshire pudding was golden and light while the Savoy cabbage added an earthy taste which sat well with the sausages.

The beef hash cake was rustic and filling with a fluffy texture and crisp edges, it was full of hearty flavour offset by the the rich red onion jus.

The crispy straw potatoes we ordered proved to be the ideal accompaniment to the other small plates,and the array of dishes we chose showed off simple yet satisfying flavours.

The lights were turned down low and there was a relaxed mood as I ordered a Mai Tai to round off the meal in style and we lingered for a little longer, something which is easy to do at Castle Street Townhouse.

This is certainly a bar and restaurant which has a lot to offer, not least the refined setting which exudes style and glamour. The menu consists of a multitude of tempting dishes served throughout the day, so it is a perfect place for a leisurely breakfast, lunch or dinner with friends or simply an impromptu evening cocktail or two.

Castle Street Townhouse 
Castle Street 
L2 7LQ 

What do you all think, do you like small plates and which of these dishes would you like to try? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,