Coconut Bar & Kitchen Restaurant Review

For my big, scary quarter of a century birthday Will took me to a fairly new restaurant in Reading: Coconut Bar & Kitchen

Before coming to eat I had been here for cocktails for a friend’s birthday a couple of weeks before. This restaurant has a great atmosphere with good background music, and even for a busy Friday night I was served quickly and soon found myself sipping on a ‘Passionate Peach’ – with vodka, peach liqueur, passion fruit purée, pineapple, fresh lime and vanilla, you can see why it’s their best seller!

When I came back for my birthday dins it was a lot quieter, being a Tuesday evening, however the relaxed yet fun atmosphere remained and the food was fresh, well presented and delicious.

With a range of Yakitori starters and South Eastern Asian main dishes it was a hard choice! But after some amazing Yakitori dumplings, for our mains I went for an Indonesian satay pork chop stir fry, and Will went for beef steak doldot bibimbap.

Yakitori Starters!

Yakitori Starters!

My stir fry, including red peppers, red onions and pineapple along with the tender pork, was in a sea of deliciously thick satay sauce. As a big fan of stay sauce, this was one of the best I have tasted! Unlike shop bought or what you are sometimes given in other restaurants, this was 100% home made and I enjoyed every bite!

CoconutBarKitchen.3

Will’s Bibimbap was something I have never seen before, arriving in a hot stone pot he had a bowl of coconut rice, steak and sautéed vegetables topped with an egg. The combination of everything together in the bowl was really good, especially as it continued to sizzle and develop amazing crunchy bits throughout our meal. To top it all off this dish was served with Kimchi sauce (I had never heard of this before but Will LOVES it!) which was the perfect partner to the meal.

CoconutBarKitchen.2

As well as good service and fresh tasty food, it is also very reasonably priced. I would highly recommend you pay a visit if you fancy some South Eastern Asian food, I will definitely be back!

Advertisements

The Wellington Arms

I’ve grown up with this restaurant and watched it grow into an award winning gastro pub, thanks to the wonderfully talented owners Simon (front of house) and Jason (head chef).

The Wellington Arms is a lot more special than your typical gastro pub. Lots of great little things go into making it a superb pub that I love to go to. I have visited many times before and I can see myself continuing to visit for a long while yet.

The pub is tucked away in the village of Baughurst, but this doesn’t stop people coming from far and wide for a meal there, which I suggest you must do if you haven’t been before! One thing that makes this pub so special is that there are only a handful of tables. Originally, there were only 8 tables, so you can imagine how you had to book in advance! Since then the pub has been slightly extended to allow for a few more tables and a little more space, but this has done nothing to diminish the homely country pub feeling you get when stepping inside.

The select and delicious evening menu which is chalked up on a blackboard changes daily in line with the produce Simon and Jason grow themselves. As I have my own vegetable and fruit produce and chickens at home, it makes it extra appealing to me that The Wellington Arms grows all its own fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as sourcing all meat, fish and other things as locally as possible.

Needless to say, the food is fabulous! Some of my favourites include:

  • Twice baked Marksbury Cheddar soufflé on braised leeks with a little cream & parmesan
  • Baked potato gnocchi panfried in butter with garlic, broad beans, peas, broccoli, thyme & parmesan

As mentioned before, their menu can change daily, so I have also enjoyed the gnocchi with butternut squash, walnuts, and many other glorious additions!

There isn’t one dish that I’ve tried that I can possibly fault, but in particular I love their lamb and cod dishes, as well as their (when I’m feeling very hungry) whole roast partridge with parsnip crisps, the picture for which (below) I have taken from the website:

welly2

Puddings, as you can imagine, are also all freshly home made, including sticky toffee pudding, chocolate pudding, marmalade sponge and a selection of delicious sorbets and ice creams, served with a little home made shortbread – naughty but oh so nice! I recently went here for dinner for my birthday, and was thoughtfully presented with a candle in my sponge, so I made my parents sing happy birthday!:

Happy Birthday to me!

Happy Birthday to me!

As well as eating a beautiful dinner here, Simon’s mum makes knitted tea cosies for tea pots and eggs, and you can buy jam, eggs and other wonderful produce or home made items. However I think I need to invest in a smaller teacup to go with my teapot:

welly4

Lastly, if travelling from afar or just fancy a night away at a lovely hideaway like this, complete with glorious food, then there are three unique and stunning rooms available to stay in, you can have a look at these rooms here: http://www.thewellingtonarms.com/accommodation/

I hope you find the time to visit The Wellington Arms, as it really is a country pub gem you can’t miss out on! I’ll end with a couple more pictures from their website which demonstrate the points I have made throughout this review, hope to maybe see you there one day soon! 🙂

welly5

//

The Boathouse – Newquay

Last weekend I ventured down to Cornwall with the girls I lived with at Uni for a mini break away! We stayed about 10 minutes inland from Newquay, and luckily my friends like eating out as much as I do, so we were on the search for a nice fish restaurant to go to on our last night.

On one of the days it rained (typical English weather!) so we hit up the spa, and one of the beauticians recommended a seafood restaurant called The Boathouse to us, which we were informed is great for a nice evening meal, so after perusing the mouth-watering menu online we booked a table for our last night.

The restaurant is in a great setting overlooking the harbour, and the only route to it is down some stone steps. Once you reach the bottom you are greeted by pools of the biggest fresh lobsters I’ve ever seen! 😀

Once inside, the restaurant has a great atmosphere, with a lovely homely, country feel. With a warm wooden interior and large candles on every table, the atmosphere is immediately relaxing and friendly. There is also a restaurant black lab, who when we were there happily trotted up and down the beach before curling up in a warm corner for a nap. The restaurant has a decking area where you can admire the view (roofed overhead with open sides) – they have thought ahead here and the decking is provided with multiple heaters to keep you warm, as well as plastic covers that roll down and fasten shut along the open sides to protect you from the typical English weather, which came in handy as even though it was glorious when we arrived, it was long before the rain and wind started to howl!

View from the decking

View from the decking at low tide

The only gripe I have is that the service was quite slow. We were all seated for quite a while before even our drinks orders were taken. By the time a waitress came to take our drinks order we were ready to order our food, but were informed she had to check to see if the kitchen was ready before we ordered?! This seemed a bit odd, and meant we had to wait even longer before ordering. Despite this, it didn’t affect our evening too much, and I think this tends to be a more laid back approach that many places adopt, which can come across as slow when comparing to London’s fast hustle and bustle!

We decided to just go for mains, and they were all delicious! I had one of the dishes from the specials, which was poached turbot in white wine and cream sauce, with asparagus and saffron infused rice. A few of my friends had the fish pie, another had the dressed crab and the last had the lobster pasta. We all thoroughly enjoyed our meals, definitely one for the seafood lovers to try!

//

Wahaca

As mentioned in various places on this blog, Will and I love Mexican food, and Wahaca is by far our favourite Mexican restaurant. Created by a past MasterChef winner, Thomasina Miers, this was always going to be a winner!

Currently Wahaca only exists in London, but as Will lives in London I get the chance to go quite regularly. We’ve now visited about half of the locations, most recently going to the new Islington location, conveniently just down the road from Will, it’s as if they knew 🙂

Encompassing a Mexican street food vibe, you are not able to book a table, however I don’t see this as an issue. Even though it does get very busy, the staff are always more than happy to help you set up camp at the bar, with some nachos and salsa/guacamole and one of their famous tequila cocktails, until a table becomes free. In most of the locations there are also a few table football tables to play a few games on to work up an appetite!

All of the restaurants have an exciting and colourful interior that transports you to Mexico. You can get a taste of what you are to expect by visiting the website, which is set up in the same style, accompanied by the kind of music you are likely to hear as you deliberate between the hundreds of dishes on the menu: http://www.wahaca.co.uk

Wahaca interiors

Another great thing is that if the bar is located away from the main eating area, such as with the tropical downstairs bar in the Soho location, then you are given a buzzer to alert you when you table is ready, which works really well.

There is nothing on the menu I haven’t liked when I’ve tried it, but my favourites have to be the Pork pibil tacos, Chipotle chicken quesadillas and the sweet potato side with caramelised mojo de ajo, so good!

wahaca

There are always a couple of street food specials on, which we seem to always have, and they never fail to please! A recent one is pictured below – spinach, spelt, feta and sweet potato salad, garnished with a light dressing and pumpkin seeds, delicious!

wahaca2

In terms of pudding, the salted caramel ice-cream is to die for, infused with shavings of Valrhona chocolate this is by far one of the best ice-creams I have tasted anyway, ever!

Check out all that’s on offer here: http://www.wahaca.co.uk/html/ASSETS/Downloads/Wahaca_menu.pdf

One location that is a must is the South Bank Experiment, which is a relatively new temporary restaurant designed specifically for trialling new dish ideas and recipes, of which are successful are introduced to the main menus across the locations. And by experimental, I mean dishes like ‘Chapulines fundido’, commonly known as grasshoppers! You may cringe at the thought, but fried with shallots, garlic and smoky chipotle chillies, they’re pretty appetising 😛

The service is always good and friendly; it’s the perfect place for both a quick working lunch as well as a longer more relaxed dinner with family, friends, or your partner. I highly recommend it!

//

Criterion Restaurant, London

Afternoon, Abi here.

After much deliberating over many yummy possibilities, I decided to take Will to Criterion for his birthday lunch! What swayed me in the end was the beautiful interior (that’s featured in quite a few films!) and history of the restaurant. Check it out here: http://www.criterionrestaurant.com/

Upon first stepping into the restaurant we were taken very good care of, the atmosphere was great, it didn’t feel like we were in the middle of a busy tourist filled London at all!

For my starter I decided to go for the beef carpaccio, which isn’t something I usually go for, but I was intrigued by the way it was described on the menu – coming with a parmesan basket that was filled with beetroot and rocket, with a balsamic glaze. It was as tasty as the below picture shows:

Criterion 3

I absolutely love duck, and there was a very appetising duck main on the menu which I had no trouble deciding on! It was accompanied by red pepper glaze, cranberry puree and kumquat jus, which sounds like a lot of different flavours on one plate, but it all tasted great when eaten together with the juicy pink duck breast.

Criterion 4

After these two decent sized portions my boyfriend and I decided to do the sensible thing and share a dessert, there was no way I was missing out on one! I have to say the dessert was definitely my favourite course, we chose the panna cotta, which came in little delicious cubes that melted in your mouth, with tiny pieces of crunchy shortbread, a rhubarb ice cream that was finished off with a basil sorbet and raspberrys and basil leaves dotting the plate.

Criterion 5

It was a slightly pricey place – for 2 courses each, a shared dessert and 2 glasses of wine the bill came to just over £100 – but it was definitely worth the money! As well as beautiful food, the service was wonderful and interior was amazing. A great place for good food on a special occasion.

//