Friday, 23 March 2018

Eating around the World with The Butterfly Quarter | Middlesbrough

One of my favourite things to do is go out and try new restaurants. I'm sure I may have said that once, or twice... This week one of Middlesbrough's healthy restaurants decided it was time to change up and become a cocktail and tapas venue. I have to say, I'm very happy about that. My friend Rachel and I love tapas, antipasto and charcuterie boards and we're pretty much on a mission to try all of them in Teesside. We've already been to Alchemy & Co., Lost Property and No.34, but we're always looking for something new so we were very excited to try The Butterfly Quarter.

The Butterfly Quarter - Middlesbrough - Tapas Review
The Butterfly Quarter - Middlesbrough - Tapas ReviewThe Butterfly Quarter - Middlesbrough - Tapas ReviewThe Butterfly Quarter - Middlesbrough - Tapas Review

The Butterfly Quarter is a quaint and striking space with an industrial edge. When we sat down we were given two menus each, one full of cocktails and the other laden with tapas options. We were in heaven. On the tapas menu, there was a deal which gave you three plates and a glass of wine for £15. We instantly knew this was the one for us and got to selecting six options for us to share. We chose Bruschetta Di Pomodori (Italy), Croquetas De Jamon (Spain), Arancini (Italy), Patatas Bravas (Spain), Funghi All'aglio (Italy), Mozzarella In Crosta (Italy) and as another extra we chose bread with three dips; Moroccan hummus, red pepper romesco and aubergine mutabai. As we'd chosen the special deal, our three choices each came on a wooden board with our bread as a cheeky little extra.

Each of the dishes were super delicious. My favourite was the Croquetas, followed closely by the Patatas Bravas and the Bruschetta. Oh, and the Mozzarella sticks and their dip was delicious too. We tried our best to clear our boards and did a pretty good job but we maybe aimed too high when we ordered the bread too.

Whilst we were there, they had an acoustic artist who really added a lovely vibe to the night without overpowering conversation. The staff at The Butterfly Quarter were friendly and very accommodating considering they were just getting used to the new elements as well.

There are quite a few local places coming around to the idea of tapas, but I think The Butterfly Quarter have really set a high standard and I would definitely be back again. If not to eat tapas, to definitely work through their cocktail menu.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Taking a bite out of Sunderland Restaurant Week | Saturday 17th to Sunday 25th March

When I received an email through inviting me to another Safari Supper in Sunderland, I jumped at the chance. The last two I've attended have been fantastic and shown me some great restaurants that reside in Sunderland. From tapas Indian to large slabs of cake, this city has so much more to offer than I'd first anticipated. To show off the foodie scene, Sunderland BID is hosting Restaurant Week from Saturday 17th March to Sunday 25th, which will provide fantastic discounts allowing visitors to try out as many as places as possible without breaking the bank.

The 'Safari Supper' allowed us to have each course in a different restaurant. First, we started with drinks and canapes in El Nido, which is a small Mexican restaurant hidden away on Frederick Street. It's an extremely cosy little space with an authentic atmosphere serving food with heat. Even the drinks have an edge to them as we found out with one of the cocktails containing jalapenos! 

We were provided with a number of small plates showing the variety of options they have on the menu. There were dishes with spicy beef, fruity chicken and exotic jackfruit which gave us all an opportunity to find a favourite. For Restaurant Week you can get a starter and a burrito, or two tacos for £10, and add a dessert/side/cocktail for £15.

Sunderland Restaurant Week 2018 - El Nido Cocktails
Sunderland Restaurant Week 2018 - El Nido Cocktails and Food

From El Nido, we trekked across to 2 Church Lane for our starter. I didn't expect much when we walked into the venue. It was across the road from the Sunderland Empire Theatre and was a typical pub atmosphere. When the food started to come out, I could see that the team behind this place were up-to-date with what people want and had definitely delivered. Our large table started to be filled with plates of halloumi fries, meat-filled burgers, chips doused in chilli and cheese as well as a whole host of vegan options.

It was clear that a lot of thought has gone into the food that is being served at 2 Church Lane with the specially baked bread buns, the seriously delicious chips and many options for the growing vegan movement. With an offer of a burger and fries for £5, the addition of another course for £10 and three courses for £15, it is definitely a place to consider during Restaurant Week.

Sunderland Restaurant Week 2018 - 2 Church Lane Vegan Burger
Sunderland Restaurant Week 2018 - 2 Church Lane Onion Rings Halloumi Fries

After our stop at 2 Church Lane, we walked over the road to the Engine Room. When a group of bloggers walk into a restaurant as photo-worthy as this, a repurposed fire station, you know there will be a million photos before you've even sat down. This place is just stunning, they've done a fantastic job of keeping all the authentic elements of the fire station, whilst making it into a modern restaurant.

Here we were to have our main meal and were overwhelmed with lots of dishes of food. After already filling ourselves in the last venue, we knew we'd made a grave mistake. Fish and chips, vegan curry and burgers were just some of the meals we had the opportunity to try. 

The Engine Room is collaborating with Sundaes, which have a shop on Yarm high street, to create some cocktail-inspired ice cream flavours for the Summer. We had the opportunity to try the pornstar martini flavour as well as a scoop of their standard ice cream flavours. For a hearty meal with a couple of drinks, this venue is a great stop and during Restaurant Week, you can get three courses for £15.

Sunderland Restaurant Week 2018 - The Engine Room Vegan Curry
Sunderland Restaurant Week 2018 - The Engine Room
Sunderland Restaurant Week 2018 - The Engine Room Burger and Fries
Sunderland Restaurant Week 2018 - The Engine Room Sundaes Ice Cream

When we had just about as much savoury as we could handle, it was time to cross over the road to The Peacock, which is owned by the same group that runs The Engine Room, for our dessert. We were served up three dishes to try which included carrot cake cheesecake, a brownie with jaffa cake ice cream and cherry bakewell sponge with custard. Although I wasn't a fan of the cheesecake, you had to roll me home after devouring the brownie with the amazing ice cream and the comforting sponge with custard. As with The Engine Room, The Peacock will be doing three courses for £15 which includes these fabulous desserts.

Sunderland Restaurant Week 2018 - The Peacock Desserts

After our adventure around these restaurants, I have to say I'm really impressed with the restaurant options in Sunderland. There are some really reasonably-priced venues serving quality food which can cater to a variety of visitors. If you are considering taking the trip to Sunderland, make sure to go during Restaurant Week and make the most of the brilliant discounted offers available which are all are listed on Sunderland BID's website.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Lunching at Five Houses, Crathorne

I’ve been a bit of a stranger to the food scene here in Teesside. Christmas really takes a toll on the number of times you’re able to go out for food in the New Year with a lack of funds and an overstretched waistline. Also, January was the first attempt at Veganuary for me, so we didn’t venture out much for food. When February rolled in, we were eager to get out.

I’m a lover of shopping local and getting package-free wherever possible. I pop to Stokesley every Saturday to get my fruit and vegetables from the friendly greengrocers all without plastic. So whenever I hear about a new farmers market or farm shop, I want to visit. 

One that’s been around for a few months now that I haven’t yet been able to visit is Five Houses in Crathorne. Opened by the brains behind Kitson and Sons Butchers, Five Houses hosts a shop filled with fruit and vegetables, fresh pies and plenty of quality meat. On top of all this, they have a wonderful cafe where they use all their produce to make some delicious meals.

I wanted to write this post after my first visit with Matt, but a week on and I still hadn’t put fingers to keys... and then I went again. This time with my Mum, Sister and Nephew. If anything, I think this means I have more of a solid view on this local cafe.

Each time I visited was on a Saturday and on both occasions it was pleasantly busy. We were found a seat in quick time as the turnover of visitors was pretty speedy. To place an order, rather than having people to take your order at the table, you have to go up to the counter which is filled with attractive, tempting cakes. The menu has some classic English favourites, changing specials and numerous alternative dishes for meat eaters and veggies to enjoy.

On my first visit, I chose the steak pie which was the best decision. Although we were waiting 40 minutes for our food on this occasion, which was a disappointment, the pie made up for it and made me forget all about our wait. The meat was just perfect and the pasty was wonderfully crispy.

Matt chose the steak sandwich which I then had on my second trip. The meat again was lovely and tender, and there was a lot of it. The only downside of this sandwich for me is the caramelised onions made it a little too sweet for me but the salty chips and salad were a good compliment to this.

The staff were very accommodating to other requests such as change of sides and making special sandwiches for toddlers. The cafe is very relaxed and at no point do you feel rushed to let other guests in. It's a lovely place to go for a meal with your family as well as a great venue for a catch up with friends for breakfast or lunch.

I really enjoyed visiting Five Houses and would go back in a flash. If you are going there, I recommend getting a pie. Even if you take one away, you have to have one! I've now had three in two weeks, let's not talk about it, shall we. I will refrain from going back this weekend...
© gingerbread smiles.

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