REVIEW: Lakes Bistro at Pine Lake Resort

I recently enjoyed a short break with Mike and my boys at Pine Lake Resort in Carnforth. We stayed in a wooden lodge overlooking the lake. Although we ate breakfast and dinner in the lodge and spent the days out and about in the local area, we returned to the resort every evening for a quick swim and to eat dinner in the resort’s restaurant, Lakes Bistro. Initially, we had only planned to eat there once because we had a limited budget for our break. However, the food was so good we ate their both evenings. Here is a review of the Lakes Bistro at Pine Lake Resort, Carnforth.

Children’s Menu at Lakes Bistro, Pine Lake Resort

My pet hate when I eat out with my children is terrible children’s menus and I even check out the children’s menus when I am eating out without the children. Thankfully, I was very pleased with the menu options at Lakes Bistro, Pine Lakes Resort. There were the usual options of burger, sausages, or pizza, but there were also other options, such as pasta dishes and salads. The children’s pizza was made on the premises in the pizza oven rather than the usual frozen option offered by many establishments. There was also a small eaters menu that had smaller versions of dishes from the adult menu. My youngest son opted for the pizza on both nights while my middle son had the battered fish and chips on the first night and the chicken nuggets on the second night.

Steaks at Lakes Bistro

Steaks are my go-to choice when eating out, so both my partner and I opted for the rump steak on the first night. This was served with chips in a trendy little basket, oven roasted cherry tomatoes on the vine and a flat mushroom. The steaks were cooked a little more than we would have liked, but they were delicious and tender nonetheless. We also ordered a side of onion rings. I hate it when places serve frozen onion rings with a reformed onion centre, but that wasn’t a problem at Lakes Bistro as these were real onion rings made to order with a delicious, crisp batter. I also ordered a port and stilton sauce to accompany my steak. I usually opt for pepper sauce, but I thought I would try something new. The sauce was a little thin but absolutely gorgeous. My partner also had a steak on the second night and said it was just as good as the first. 

Pizza and Pasta Dishes at Lakes Bistro

After seeing my youngest son’s pizza on the first night, I decided to try a pizza on the second evening of our stay. This is not usually a dish that I would order as I am very fussy about the pizza dough being cooked correctly. I ordered the Americana pizza, which was topped with pepperoni and jalapeno peppers. It was oozing with cheese and very spicy, which is just how I like it. My oldest son ordered the spaghetti carbonara on both evenings as it is one of his favourite dishes. He described it as creamy, full of flavour, and cooked to perfection. 

Atmosphere

Lakes Bistro at Pine Lake Resort has a contemporary look with walls in a bold red color, wooden flooring, and wooden furniture. Despite this dark color choice, the restaurant is filled with light and is bright and airy. The tables are nicely spaced out so you do not feel like the people at the neighbouring table are sitting on your lap or listening to your conversation. A very relaxed and comfortable vibe.

Customer Service

The staff at Lakes Bistro, Pine Lake Resort, delivered an outstanding level of customer service. Really friendly and welcoming, quick service, and just the right level of attention. 

Price

Reasonably priced venue considering the quality of the food served. Some examples of the prices you can expect to pay are:

  • Steaks- £15-20 price range
  • Pizza and pasta dishes- Under £10
  • Children’s meals- £4.95 or £ 6.95 for small plates
  • Side orders- £2.95 for sauces, chips, onion rings, etc. 

Check out this restaurant for yourself at https://www.resortpinelake.co.uk/dining

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REVIEW: Lunch at Portland Hall Spa

spa pic

Each year, I go away for one night with my mum and my sister. We usually look for a Groupon deal for a spa break and my sister and I pay for this as a treat to my mum for Mother’s Day. This year, we were all in need of more of a break than ever. Both my sister and I are busy with our own businesses and we have seven children between us. All three of us have been impacted by the death of my father earlier in the year. This year, we headed off to Southport to stay at the Prince of Wales Hotel and spend a day at the Portland Hall Spa Hotel. 

We had picked up a package for a Mother’s Day treat at Portland Hall Spa. This included a back and neck massage, a full facial and the option of either a head massage or a leg massage. The deal also included a two-course lunch. As this is a food website, it is the food that I will focus on in this post (although I have to say that the treatments were excellent!).

Starters at Portland Hall Spa

All three of us chose different starters which makes for a better review! My mum opted for the chicken skewers which came in a tasty coating and with a sauce that was similar to hoisin, but a bit sweeter. She said the chicken was tender and I had a taste of her sauce with some of her salad garnish and it was delicious. 

My sister opted for the vegetarian tart, which was described as being made with goats cheese and caramelised onion. I had expected this to come as a small, round pastry casing with caramelised onion on the bottom, topped with goats cheese. However, this was not the case. It was a slice cut from a larger tart and my sister passed me a taste across the table. It looked a bit like quiche and certainly had the same sort of eggy texture but had the consistency of a sponge cake. I wasn’t keen on the dish as it was not what I had expected but my sister enjoyed it.

My choice was the homemade pate served with wholemeal toast. It arrived with the pate served in a small pot and was one of the best pates I have ever eaten. It was rich and meaty with a nice consistency and texture. I was initially disappointed that there was no butter to go with the toast, but I really didn’t need it. I spread the caramelised onion that was served with this starter over the toast and then added the pate.

Main Courses at Portland Hall Spa

Again, we all ordered something different. For her main, my sister chose the tossed spaghetti. This was a less creamy version of carbonara as it had pancetta, mushrooms, and Parmesan. I didn’t taste this dish personally, but it looked nice and my sister enjoyed it. The spaghetti looked like it had been cooked perfectly. I have a thing about soggy spaghetti!

My mum decided to order the chicken stroganoff with rice. The rice was served in a separate bowl with the rice on the side. This was a dish she thoroughly enjoyed as the chicken was still moist and the sauce was thick and luscious. It was made with wholegrain mustard, so it was spotted with the seeds. 

After my enjoyment of the starter, I was thoroughly looking forward to my main. Sadly, I was a bit disappointed. I chose the vegetable bake, which was described as layers of aubergines and tomatoes, topped with Mozzarella. First things first, there were slices of aubergine and it was topped with Mozzarella, so this part of the description was correct.

Unfortunately, there were no tomatoes in the dish. There were some courgettes at the bottom, which was a bonus as I love courgettes. However, I had been looking forward to the tang that tomatoes give a dish and this was missing. My other criticism was that this was a pasta dish and there was no mention of pasta on the menu. The aubergines were layered between sheets of pasta and topped with a bechamel sauce. It should really have been written as aubergine lasagne. However, I must add that it was perfectly well cooked, it was just not what I wanted or had expected. 

Drinks

There was some pretense that we were being healthy by attending a spa, so we ordered a jug of water. Unfortunately, we also ordered a jug of sangria to accompany our meal (well, we only do this once a year!). It was fruity, alcoholic, delicious and the perfect accompaniment to what was, for the most part, a good meal.

The menu has changed every year I have been, so no doubt I will have some different dishes to describe next year. Although I had a few minor issues, these related more to the descriptions of the food than the quality or flavour. 

 

 

My Disappointment with Tourist Food Abroad

 

 

I might be alone in my view on this, but why do tourist hot spots in European destinations cater to the Brits rather than serving delicious local cuisine? If I only wanted to eat English breakfasts and steak and chips, then I might as well stay at home.

When I go abroad, part of the travel experience for me is eating the traditional food of the country I am visiting. That is not something that has happened on my last two holidays. In fairness, these two trips were both last-minute short-breaks in British tourist hotspots. I might have had better luck had I travelled to somewhere less ‘touristy’. 

In 2015, I spent five days in Fuerte Ventura with a friend. Every single day I hunted for somewhere that served local cuisine. Every single day I ate an English breakfast and steak and chips. 

Last year, I went to Alcudia, Mallorca, with my sister for a long weekend. I was absolutely determined to eat Spanish food while we were there. Unfortunately, most of the bars and restaurants catered to the tastes of the British market and the menus could have been picked up in Fuerte Ventura and directly transplanted onto the tables in Alcudia. 

On our penultimate night, we walked along the promenade and into the posher part of the town and found a decent Spanish restaurant. We had to pay a high price for the luxury of eating traditional Spanish cuisine, though, as it was significantly more expensive than any of the other restaurants that we passed. 

We enjoyed some tapas, that included fried green peppers and chicken wings. We then shared a mixed meat and seafood paella, which was delicious. Once I had eaten that, I was finally satisfied that I had enjoyed some traditional Spanish cuisine and was happy to return to a British bar for my evening meal the following day.

Am I alone in wanting to try the local cuisine when travelling abroad or are other people happy to stick to the food they know from home?

Food News: The Growing Trend Towards Veganism

fruit and veg

More people than ever are deciding to follow a vegan diet. While for some, this is for ethical reasons, others are choosing to follow a plant-based diet as they believe it is beneficial to their health. There are also others who follow a temporary vegan diet as a way of cleansing their systems and those who continue to eat meat but are including more vegan dishes in their diet. This trend is also being followed by the food industry with vegan eating establishments popping up all over the world. 

Matthew_Kenney_talking_at_TEDxOKC

One such example of this is plant-based chef Matthew Kenney (pictured left) who has recently opened a vegan restaurant called ‘Alibi’ in the Ovolo Hotel in Sydney. Although many traditional Australian dishes are based on steak or seafood, the chef believes that his food can compete with these dishes and has described it as sexier. In fact, the famous chef believes that vegan lifestyles will become even more the norm in the future.

‘Alibi’ has a diverse menu that serves dishes including tacos, burgers, pizza, and lasagne. These dishes would usually contain meat and cheese, but Matthew Kenney has redesigned these meals so they are completely plant-based. He has even found a way to recreate cheese using ingredients including cashew nuts and sunflower seeds.

Will.i.am_2008

The trend towards plant-based diets is also obvious in the number of celebrities who have now become vegan. Will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas (pictured right) announced in January that he had made the transition to veganism. He has credited following a vegan diet with his dramatic weight loss and improved health. 

 

Sources: 

https://www.plantbasednews.org/post/future-of-food-is-vegan-says-leading-chef

https://www.livekindly.co/will-i-am-credits-vegan-diet-improved-health-weight-loss/

 

REVIEW: Whitegate Inn Beefeater, Manchester

beefeater

The other day I posted that I was excited that I was going out for a meal with my in-laws as it was a while since I had eaten out. You can read that post here. As promised, I can now review the restaurant in which we ate. 

whitegateWe visited the Whitegate Inn which is part of the Beefeater chain of restaurants in Failsworth, Manchester. There were ten of us eating and we hadn’t booked in advance. As a result, we didn’t have a table straight away but we were happy to wait and enjoy a drink in the bar area. 

Once we were seated, our lovely waitress quickly took our order. My partner and I both ordered the sirloin steak with chips and pepper sauce. Most others around the table also ordered various steak options, although two of our party opted for burgers. 

As the restaurant was so busy, it took a while for the food to arrive. This gave me time to assess the restaurant better. Everyone in the place seemed to be having a good time and I couldn’t see any food being returned- always a good sign. The place had a comfortable and fun vibe and there were several families with children eating at the restaurant. Our waitress kept us topped up with drinks until our food arrived.me and mike fail

 

When the food arrived, the steaks were cooked perfectly as requested. Everyone at our table was happy with the meal they received. Some went on to order puddings, but I was full. 

Overall, the food was what you would expect from a chain steakhouse and the prices were reasonable. The waitress was friendly and helpful, answering all our questions and bringing us extras and sauces. A good time was had by all. 

Gordon Ramsay to Open a New Atlantic City Restaurant

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Although Gordon Ramsay already has one restaurant in Atlantic City, he is now set to open a second. His new restaurant is the Gordon Ramsay Steak and will be at Harrah’s Resort. This will replace The Steakhouse at the resort and will join Harrah’s other restaurants; a Spanish and Mexican restaurant called Veracruz and Martorano’s, an Italian. This will be a great addition to the food scene in Atlantic City, which already includes Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill. He is partnered in this restaurant by Caesars Entertainment.

Ramsay already has two Gordon Ramsay Steak restaurants operating in the United States. The first was opened in 2012 and is located in Paris on the Las Vegas strip. The second restaurant, which opened in 2017, is in the Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore.

Customers who visit the new restaurant can expect chic décor and a fantastic ambiance for socializing and eating food of the highest standard. The menu is expected to include the finest cuts of meat, including American Kobe and 28-day-matured beef.

If the menus of the other Gordon Ramsay Steak restaurants are anything to go by, then it is also likely that there will be influences taken from Ramsay’s British roots. Beef Wellington is one British classic that diners are likely to see on the menu and it is possible that the dessert menu will include sticky toffee pudding.

This new restaurant is just the latest in Ramsay’s ventures as he already owns over 40 restaurants in various locations across the globe. Thirteen of these are in the United Kingdom and the United States is home to a further twelve.

Aside from these businesses, Gordon Ramsay has achieved success and fame on both sides of the Atlantic as a celebrity chef and appears in many television series. These include ‘Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares’, ‘Hotel Hell’, ‘The F Word’, the United States version of ‘Masterchef’, and ‘Hell’s Kitchen’.

Source: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/the-insider/gordon-ramsay-steak-to-open-at-harrahs-in-atlantic-city-20180126.html

Image: Flickr- labelled as free to use for commercial purposes with modifications allowed

Review: Breakfast at Marmaduke’s Town House Hotel, York

four stars

I recently spent a rare evening away from home with my partner and we stayed at the beautiful Marmaduke’s Town House Hotel in York. Although this is a food blog, I must begin by saying that the room was a delight with antique furniture and a free-standing bathtub. Also, the reception staff was exceptionally friendly and helpful. However, as the focus of this blog is food, I should move on to the breakfast we enjoyed during our stay. 

The dining room was light and airy, which made eating there a relaxed and pleasant experience. The waitress was lovely and explained that the menus were on the table and a continental breakfast was available on the side for us to help ourselves. She took our drink order immediately, and this was something that was welcomed as we had enjoyed a few drinks in the city the night before and were in need of a strong coffee. 

We both opted for a full English breakfast, which came with bacon, Yorkshire sausages, half a grilled tomato, mushrooms, black pudding, toast, and an egg cooked either fried, poached, or scrambled. The speed at which the breakfast arrived was quite surprising and everything was cooked perfectly.

Particular mention must go to the sausages as I am very picky about which sausages I will eat and I often decide as soon as I see a sausage on a plate that I won’t even touch it. The sausages served by Marmaduke’s Town House Hotel were what I describe as ‘real sausages’. By this, I mean that they clearly had a good meat content and had a good firm consistency. They are the type of sausages you buy from the butcher’s rather than those terrible processed sausages bought in packs from a supermarket. 

Overall, the breakfast at this hotel was great and our stay, as a whole, was very enjoyable. I would definitely recommend this hotel to others and would go there again.