February 2017 marks the sixth anniversary of my eating adventures and, as ever, I'm excited about what the coming months will bring for us foodies! In case this is your first visit (if not, welcome back), I'm a 30-something female with a very healthy appetite!...I promise to share with you my experience of each restaurant, café or bar in which I set foot...so, let's go out!

Friday, 7 June 2013

The Hobgoblin - Gloucester Road, Bristol

Forgive me for stating the obvious but The Hobgoblin is a typical Gloucester Road-based establishment; complete with a ‘local pub for local people’ ambiance (a largely student-centred clientèle) and an acceptable level of grunginess that seems almost integral to what we’ve come to recognise as BS7’s eclectic vibe. Besides all the usual attributes, this pub's strength is its cuisine which was unsurprisingly the factor which brought its whereabouts to my attention – I mean, it’s rather a long shot from my last review given that it's seriously lacking in the dainty department and yet as an alternative, its fare constitutes that glorious three-point comfort food ensemble: Meat, cheese and carbs. Modest eaters need not apply, step aside...I’m going in!!

Date and Time: Saturday 18 May 2013, 19:00
Name of Establishment: The Hobgoblin (a.k.a. The Hob)*
Location: 69 - 71 Gloucester Road, Bristol
Reason for visit: Erm…Meat, cheese and carbs!

With an assortment of furniture; solid table-tops and bar stools intended for dining and squashy sofas for serious slomping, this is a laid back watering hole in which to kick back for a couple hours; a homely space providing respite from the hustle and bustle of the Gloucester Road strip. It’s both people-friendly and animal-friendly; the latter meaning that a little interaction with the resident doglettes may become part and parcel of your visit – this, in addition to helpful service and value-for-money makes for an amicable ambiance - you may suggest counteracting the pub's minimalistic décor and shabby-looking toilets which really do appear to have seen better days...!

The menu is made up of a range of Tex-Mex style burgers and sandwiches; with portion sizes to satisfy the...erm, generous appetite. The BBQ’d brisket sandwich (£7.45), made with home-made blue cheese coleslaw and the ‘Goober Burger’ (£7.95) - featuring bacon, a fried egg and peanut butter (yes, really) - particularly caught my eye; the combination of some of my favourite foodstuffs playing on both my will-power and when it came to the latter, my curiosity! The star of the show is undoubtedly the ‘Kraken Burger’ (£25) which, simply speaking, comprises a grotesque amount of food, I quote; ‘a triple bypass burger (that's 21 ounces of beef, people...), plus a portion of dirty, dirty fries, 12 chicken wings, coleslaw, pickles and a variety of sauces’ – phew! This is to be eaten within 45 minutes in order to claim your dinner (enough to keep you going for the next week I’d imagine) free of charge, plus a celebratory t-shirt and the honour of having your name inscribed on the hallowed wall of fame! Only one gutsy individual has achieved this to date; thus it's clearly a force to be reckoned with!

The girls and I shared the dirty dirty fries (£7.45) which were in fact, really really good. Teetering above its platter-style base, this sizeable feast had been fused into a peak with melted cheese (both regular cheddar and blue) and contained an ample quantity of succulently smoky pulled pork. Finished with a drizzle of home-made coriander mayo, it's fair to say that cheesy chips will never be the same again! That said, sharing is clearly the way forward here; the chow-down that ensued slowing progressively as the carb-hit took hold! In light of this, dessert was out of the question; though I have on good authority that the Oreo and Peanut Butter Ice Cream Pie is altogether uh-mazing – remind me to sport an elasticated waistband next time...! When it came to liquid refreshment, we identified all the usual suspects and at prices that wouldn't break the bank – thus, the Sauvignon Blanc that the girls and I chose came in at a mere £10.75 a bottle; proving an adequate accompaniment to our edibles. Whilst we're on the subject of affordability, it was noted that the student population are appropriately accommodated; those with a valid NUS card able to bag a cheeseburger, plus fries and a pint for just £6 on a Wednesday.

I like that the fare is somewhat reminiscent of 'Epic Meal Time' and that although we're undoubtedly talking purpose-built wow-factor, this is not to the detriment of the overall tastiness, nor the quality of the ingredients which really have been thoughtfully sourced and prepared; with produce from nearby allotments, bread from The Bread Store and meat bought-in from the local butcher shop. The pulled pork is smoked in-house for up to 24 hours in an authentic Webber Smoky Mountain BBQ which is no doubt testament to its appeal. It's fair to say that you're not going to be hungry for 24-hours after the gastonomical feast that awaits you and you'll either kill it in the gym the next day (like yours truly) or lie for some time with your stomach on a cushion like Brian Butterfield after treat day (in the style of my very honest dining companion) but it really is worth the necessity for recovery; this isn't epic meal time, this is simply epic!

And now for the second opinion...
My dining companion gave The Hobgoblin a rating of 8/10 and in three words, summed up her experience with: 'Meat. Fries. Happiness'.


Tuesday, 4 June 2013

In the wake of Tea and Cake: A heartfelt goodbye to the Lahloo Pantry and Swinky Sweets

It is a sad, sad day when you learn that another of your regular haunts is shutting up shop – sad to the extent that I felt compelled to document my sorrow in an altogether mournful (yet fondly reminiscent) manner. For, less than a week after the announcement that Clifton's Lahloo Pantry has had to admit defeat in the face of the increasingly troublesome financial climate, the genius behind Swinky Sweets informed his loyal Facebook following that he had decided to up-sticks and re-locate in the 'big smoke'...seriously, you turn your back for all but 2 minutes (well a week actually) and disaster strikes ...!
Lahloo Pantry: Once it's scone, it's scone!
I have many memories of each establishment and it's fair to say that both have featured, rather heavily in fact, upon recommending Bristol's finest to those who ask me for details of the city's not-so-hidden hot-spots. I'd been known to visit the Lahloo Pantry for a spot of brunch; the Keen's cheddar scone with crème fraîche and sweet chilli jam proving a particular favourite – and then pop into 'Swinky's' on route to the centre for a cupcake to go (and perhaps a scrumble or two as an amply boozy chaser...) It had also become customary to source my birthday cake from Mr Swinky's kitchen – testament to the fact that my very first experience was love at first bite; ah, the Cadbury's Cream Egg cupcake - which quite incidentally, is now the star of my work-place desktop – will provoke what can only be described as a pilgrimage towards our cosmopolitan capital in search of this seasonal sweetness.
Not just for Easter...
Back to Bristol and yes there will be other cafés, new-found favourites even but those which have enhanced the city's café culture (however momentary) will not be forgotten. That said, if you find yourself in need, there is always the Lahloo online store and the plethora of reputable outlets that stock Kate Gover's fantastic range of loose-leaf teas. Meanwhile, Mr Swinky (a.k.a. The lovely Gareth) has promised to keep us up-to-date with news of his move which will no doubt amount to resounding success; London: 1, Bristol: Nil! I wish Lahloo, Swinky Sweets and the individuals behind them the very best of luck in the future; 'Life is Sweet' but it's unquestionably sweeter with a red velvet cupcake in-hand or a hearty mug of 'Bristol Brew'!
Happy Birthday to Me...Oh, wait...!